Touch Yarns would have to be New Zealand’s most well-known artisan yarn company. Producing a fantastic range of yarn all the way from lace weight to bulky, this yarn company caters to the needs of every project.
Summarising from Touch’s website: The brainchild of Marnie Kelly, Touch Yarns came into being in 1991, after research into hand knitting and weaving yarns in New Zealand revealed that while there was a lot of product in the market, there was very little using fibre under 23 microns and none using Superfine Kid Mohair, Merino and Polwarth wools.
An avid spinner and weaver, Marnie noticed that fine wools did not have the ‘prickle’ factor. So began her quest to breed natural coloured Merino, halfbred sheep and mohair goats with the same fine wool qualities.
Marnie then began to sell the yarns that she developed and dyed. Today, Touch Yarns exports to the major knitting markets of the world, and is widely sold in New Zealand.
To cope with demand, the fibre used for the yarn is now sourced from neighbouring sheep stations in the Central Otago region of New Zealand, where Touch is based, to strict specifications for quality and micron count. All Touch yarns and colours are still designed by Marnie Kelly, inspired by the stark beauty of thyme fields, mountains and the historic goldfields of Central Otago.
Touch Yarns are stocked in New Zealand by yarn stores that cater to the serious knitter. I understand you can buy from the website but my own queries there have gone unanswered. My advice is to try to find it in a yarn store. Stockists are listed on the website, which is also a good reference point to see the whole luscious range, although the images on the website have very unfortunately been set with too much brightness and contrast, and are not accurate representations of the true colours.
The website also lists the address of their showroom that you can visit if you are down that way. One day, I shall make a pilgrimage just to see the wonder of the entire range. I doubt I’ll stop at just looking!
Touch first came to my attention for several reasons: all the yarns consisted of natural fibres; they had the most amazing soft, cottony feel; the colours were stunning and it was reasonably priced enough to be affordable.
(ranges from 2 ply merino/mohair, 2, 4 and 8 ply plain and variegated 100% merino, slub and chunky)
Touch Yarns have a beautiful range of lace and fingering weight yarns that are ideal for beautiful shawls in pure merino or merino/mohair blends. Each 100g hank of laceweight yarn has approx 900m to it, which means you only need one to make a large shawl or wrap. The fingering weight yarn has approx 450m to each 100g hank, which also makes it suitable for shawl making purposes.
Touch yarns are processed to avoid pilling and colour run. The label on the single colours state that the yarn is machine washable. I have thrown a swatch of a variegated 8 ply merino into the washing machine with a regular wash (to test its suitability as a patch for my jeans), and found that it didn’t shrink or felt. Although I’d probably wash entire knitted garments on the wool cycle just to be safe.
Touch is incredibly soft due to the fact only fine wools are used. My children wear it without complaint, which is no mean feat. Processing has caused the yarn to lose some of merino’s natural loftiness, but it is still very light, and the knitted fabric retains healthy stretch and spring.
The only place I have seen the single colours sold in the North Island so far is the Knit World in Wellington (Cuba Mall). The single colours are generally not bright and garish, but colourfully muted, subtle and ideal for use for all ages, both men and women.
It is also one of the few yarn companies besides the big brands that offers patterns (helpful to the less confident knitter).
I regret that I didn’t take more photos of projects I knitted with Touch before giving them away. But here are the fingerless gloves I knitted from the 4 ply (used double) as a present for my daughter at Christmas:
(Brushed or boucle, 12 ply, 74% kid mohair, 20% merino, 6% nylon binder)
I have knitted a wrap for my mother in the boucle. It has an incredible lustre, and is soooo soft. I don’t know how it washes as I confess I didn’t block the wrap before sending it off. The drape was so good it wasn’t required.
I haven’t tried the brushed mohair, but it looks very lovely and different to Little Wool Co’s in that there are variegated colours too. Both companies have very different colour offerings though.
There is also a sock yarn, in a range of very sock-like striping colours, but given I’m not a fan of knitting socks I can’t say much about it except that I’m sure sock knitters will get all excited over it!
Touch also do a limited range of 60% wool, 30% possum, 10% nylon in solid and hand-dyed colours (420m per 100g hank). Recommended needle size is 3.75mm, which also indicates a lightweight yarn. By comparison, The Wool Company’s possum merino has 220m per 100g ball and is a worsted (8 ply) weight.
My review of Touch’s possum yarn can be found here.