Last week, a little package of sock yarn delight arrived in the mail courtesy of Zealana. It made me extremely happy.
My fellow knitters, I am excited to introduce COZI, Zealana’s first sock yarn!
Cozi has been anxiously anticipated by me for what seems like at least a year, ever since I heard a little whisper that there was going to be a Zealana sock yarn. The wait has been torturous!! I am not sure the yarn lasted an hour after arriving in my house before it was doing its thing on my eager needles!
Cozi is every bit as lovely as I hoped it would be. Zealana’s aim is to make amazing yarn, and they have done it again with Cozi, producing one of the most interesting sock yarns to enter the market this year! Let’s have a closer look to see why!
Cozi is made from 58% merino, 15% New Zealand brushtail possum down, 5% baby alpaca and 22% nylon (2% of that is elastic nylon). This creates a yarn that feels luxuriously special, is very soft and yet durable.
The yarn had me smiling all over from the moment I cast on. It is a beautifully plump, cohesive strand, with the most surprising spring and just the right amount of ‘squish’ factor. Knitting with it, you quickly develop a smooth rhythm and even tension as the yarn slides easily over the needles and sits nicely in hand.
The tight twist and finely balanced combination of fibres has created a smooth strand that holds together very well. I am very good at splitting yarn whilst knitting, yet I experienced only one incident of a strand not making it onto the loop with its siblings – a record for me, and a testament to the good construction of Cozi. There is also no shedding of fibre as you knit.
All Zealana yarns are constructed thoughtfully, and Cozi is no exception. If you have knitted with a possum sock yarn before, you are likely to have found it lacks much spring. Cozi is different. It is delightfully springy! Jimad Khan, Marketing Manager at Zealana, tells me that using Zealana’s unique finishing technique, the 4 ply yarn was semi-felted around an ultra-fine texturised nylon filament (elastic nylon). This elastic nylon amplifies the spring from the twist by adding extra recovery to the fabric. Add to this the qualities of possum down (softness and warmth and reduction of pilling) merino wool (body, spring and all of wool’s wonderful properties), baby alpaca (more softness and warmth) and nylon (for strength), and you get a super cushiony fabric which is soft, warm, light, comfortable to wear and adorably hugable – all trademark qualities of Zealana yarns.
I was initially concerned that the high nylon content would impact the feel of the yarn. I’m not a fan of yarns where you can feel that nylon squeak. My fears were at once pacified when I got hold of the yarn. None of the beautiful feel of natural wool, alpaca and possum has been compromised at all.
I was very interested to see that the merino wool used in this yarn has not been superwash treated. This aspect has also contributed to the spring and body in Cozi because the merino wool has lost none of its super springy characteristics. I also like the implied environmental benefits of not using strong chemicals to treat the wool. Jimad also told me that a higher micron merino wool was used, which should make it a more robust yarn. The benefit gained in fabric texture and overall sock durability as a result far outweighs the traditional expectation of machine washability. Given the nylon content, it is not likely that this yarn will shrink easily. I am a reasonably careless washer of my hand knits and wash my possum garments (none of which are technically machine washable) on the handwash cycle using cold water. They always come out without mishap. The same will apply to garments in this yarn.
Another side benefit of this beautifully textured yarn is that there is a bit more surface tension happening in the knitting than in most sock yarns. If you happen to accidentally drop a stitch, you will find it sits meekly where you left it, waiting for you to pick it up, as opposed to naughtily running a couple of rows down like a few other sock yarns I know…
Cozi has been made heavier (meaning, fatter) than most sock yarns. At its recommended 28 sts/40 rows over 10cm/4 inches, (7 sts to 2.5cm/one inch) it sits on the outer edge of a typical sock yarn gauge. Experienced socks knitters will recall that the standard sock gauge is usually closer to 32 sts/48 rows over 10cm/4 inches (8 sts to 2.5cm/one inch). The heavier weight of the yarn has also influenced the meterage: each 50g ball has only 170m (186y). Many sock yarns are closer to 180m (200y) and above per 50g. With 22% nylon and 15% possum down (both very light fibres) in the mix, you would expect more yardage in the ball – obviously, the extra weight has gone into a bulkier strand.
Because Cozi is a sock yarn on the heavier end of the spectrum, I strongly recommend experimenting with 2.5mm to 2.75mm needles when you first knit with this yarn to avoid extreme discomfort when knitting. My own sock in Cozi is knitting at 32 sts over 10cm (8 sts to one inch) using 2.5mm needles, which I find is creating a very dense fabric and sits on the outer edge of my knitting comfort tolerance. Even though the yarn itself may be comfortable to knit, if you create a fabric where the gauge is too tight, this can be very uncomfortable to knit as it becomes a struggle to manipulate the needles correctly. I am surprised that despite using a larger needle than recommended, my gauge is still smaller than the indicated gauge, but this should mean that you will be able to get reasonably good results with most sock patterns that call for a yarn with average sock weight. Zealana’s website recommendation for this yarn of 2.25 – 3.25mm is a good indicator of needle size range.
The possum fibre in this yarn does not make itself fully known until after you start knitting, and creates just the gentlest haze over the fabric surface. Zealana has cleverly used possum down in this yarn, the same possum down as used in their very coveted AIR range. It creates a yarn with a very fine halo that is barely noticeable yet feels wonderfully soft to brush your fingers over it.
You never know how much a possum yarn will bloom until you wash it though. Here is a comparison between a sock that has been soaked in warm water and a not-yet-washed sock.
In reality, there is not much visual difference at all, apart from the washed sock (on the right) looking more ‘finished’ than the unwashed sock. However, wet blocking (ie. washing) has brought the possum down to the surface, and the gentlest soft-focus haze covers the knitting. My stitches have also evened out nicely.
I decided to tempt fate and used warm water to soak this sock (the ball band recommends cold washing). It has not affected size at all. However, if you were to put your socks in the handwash cycle of a machine, I would recommend sticking to the cold wash recommendation.
Here’s a closer look at the washed sock:
And the yet-to-be washed sock:
Cozi produces superb stitch definition and would suit any pattern that uses gansey-style stitch patterning, knit/purl combinations or cables. You could get a lace pattern with reasonable amounts of stockinette to work but I’d be cautious about using it for anything too intricate.
Cozi was so compulsive to knit that I finished one sock in a weekend. Slipping it on, I discovered another little secret to the elasticated yarn: it creates a sock that really hugs your foot! It felt like a warm, gentle embrace and most definitely cosy! I did not want to take it off!
Although designed specifically for socks, the yarn’s great stretch recovery means that it would make amazingly cosy gloves and hats as well, and I can even imagine stretchy baby garments in this yarn.
Sitting in Zealana’s cost-effective Artisan range, Cozi retails at NZ$14.50 a ball. Given that the yarn contains 15% possum down, I’d say this is pretty good value. It compares very favourably against other possum sock yarns in the market.
I think it is safe to assume that Cozi will take its place as one of the ‘must haves’ in the stash of any hard-core sock knitter. Will I personally be knitting with this yarn again? You bet!! In fact, I was so anxious about using up the balls I received from Zealana, that I promptly ordered more online from Mynx! I am yet to see this yarn listed at any of my local yarn stores, but I doubt that will be the case for much longer.
I can see much knitting of Cozi socks (and gloves, and hats) in my future!