Sunday, August 30, 2009

Product Review: Mini Mochi from Crystal Palace

I have heard a lot of buzz about Crystal Palace's Mochi line of yarn. I've also seen some beautiful patterns float by on the Ravelry pattern page. They started with Mini Mochi, a fingering weight, but have added Mochi Plus, a medium (number 4).
I love mochi (the Japanese food made of pounded rice) so I was predisposed to like this yarn. It didn't hurt that I have a weakness for slow-changing colors, and that the range of colorways dances all over the place from the subtle Autumnal Rainbow (above) and Feldspar (un-numbered below, no. 116 in the catalog) to eye-searing Flame Rainbow (102, below).
Strawberry Lime Rainbow (106 below) is particularly fun , but my favorite colorway so far is Neptune's Rainbow ( 108, below). Other names include Jungle, Baby Face and Bossa Nova.
Turns out the yarn itself is named after a lovely marmalade short haired Scottish Fold kitty.
I got a chance to knit with it this weekend for the first time, and can see why this yarn has become a "love it or hate it" sort of thing.

Early user reviews of the yarn on Ravelry didn't bode well. Comments included complaints about too many knots, lack of twist and felting/shrinkage despite following the washing directions. Other comments mentioned that at smaller gauge the halo turned into plain old fuzz, obscuring stitch definition.

Crystal Palace has stated that some of the early runs were not up to par, and has offered to replace skeins with some from newer lots to some people who were disappointed. If you are one of those, here is the contact info:
Contact Crystal Palace Yarns with Questions or Problems? email: cpyinfo -at- straw.com
(replace the -at- with @ for email)
My first attempts at knitting with a needle slightly smaller than recommended were a little frustrating. When casting on with the long tail method, the thumb-side yarn became tightly twisted while the over-the-needle yarn became fluffy and almost like pencil roving, although stronger.
It was hard to capture the stitches on the first round until I switched to a slightly blunter needle. There was one small knot near the beginning, but the rest of the yarn was fine.
After that first round, things got a little easier, and my stitches less tense. This was with a skein of Baby Face, lot number 27.

From the same shop I also got a skein of Autumnal Rainbow, lot number 43 and that was a little easier to deal with. Still a little splitty, but even with my sharp Addi Turbos (in a size recommended on the label) I was able to go along smoothly with only a few hitches to put split stitches back on the needle for a second try. I wonder if the darker dye changed the texture enough to make the difference? (Dark yarn tends to have more dye absorption, changing the texture sometimes).

Would I make socks out of this? Nope. Can't see it happening. The low twist leads to fear of quick wear, even with the nylon content. Although soft, it loses some of it's smooth hand when knit at a tight gauge. I think the tighter the gauge, the more the low twist becomes an issue in split stitches.

HOWEVER I think it would make a stunning fabric knit on larger needles. If I used us#7 (4.5 mm) needles or larger, I think the loft of the construction would be in it's element.

On the whole, I don't think I'll try a small-gauge project with this yarn again, but it is definitely worthy of a place in my stash for making truly spectacular shawls and scarves with a drapey fabric.

I have only used the mini mochi, but I look forward to trying out the worsted when the right project comes along.

My Rating Mini Mochi Only:
For socks, 3 out of 10
For larger gauge projects: 8 out of 10.

Deets:
80% Superwash Merino Wool/20% Nylon
195 yds/50 gr ball

a Self-Striping fingering weight, single ply yarn
Perfect for any fine knit projects: baby, socks, lace, scarves and more.
16 self-striping colors - 7-8 sts/inch on size 1.5-2 needles
Hand or Machine wash gentle cycle in cool water with mild soap/detergent. Dry flat.
(all images from Crystal Palace Yarn)

3 comments:

Leslie said...

Just saw this in the LYS, thanks for the review. I may wait on purchasing it til the kinks are worked out.

morewithles said...

Super helpful info -- thanks.

Beverly said...

I really love the detail you go into in your reviews. It is a great help in the online decision making process! Thank you!