Updated July 2013
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.
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.
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.
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 pretty colours to tempt the sock knitter.
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.
They have also recentlhy released a nice-looking 2 ply (laceweight), 50% merino, 30% possum, 20% silk that looks rather tempting!
My review of Touch’s possum yarn can be found here.
Cashmere and angora
Since writing this review, Touch have added a cashmere and an angora range to the yarns on offer. I will add further comment once I have reviewed them, but from what I can see, they look delicious!