One could forever explore the versatility of yarn. From toothy yarns that grasp at each other in colorwork motifs, to smooth, superwash skeins that slide effortlessly over our needles—there seem to be yarns for every project, with every quality. Cushy cashmeres, shiny silks, squishy merinos, and then delicate, haloed yarns.
These yarns seem to glow from within, color radiating from the core out into each fuzzy fiber that lifts away from the yarn. The haloed fibers, breaking away from the constraint of a single strand, seem almost pulled outward by static. These skeins intrigue and pull in knitters of all skill levels, prompting so many questions. What will I make with this? Will it be hard to knit with? It looks so fine; do you have to double-strand it? Yarns that have “haloes” easily add luminescence and airy grace to simple projects. With the right application and a few tricks and tips, you’ll be knitting glowy, wispy projects in no time!
Halo takes up extra space in knitting, so when used as the primary yarn in a pattern, haloed yarns are often knit on larger-than-expected needles. This gives the halo room to breathe, so to speak. Since larger needles often produce drapier fabrics, these yarns are usually built with a fuzzy yarn that becomes the outer halo, and a sturdier inner yarn that holds these drifting fibers together. Mohair, alpaca, yak, angora, and cashmere are all fibers commonly seen in yarns that have a halo, although some wools (like Wensleydale and Masham) have haloes as well.
Some of our favorite “wispy wonders” at Knit Purl are blended with mohair. Shibui Silk Cloud, which is 60% kid mohair and 40% silk, takes advantage of the strength of silk to hold the delicate mohair together. Both fibers take color vividly and have a bit of sheen, creating a heavenly yarn, and resulting fabric. Knit singly, like in the Mohair Bias Loop pattern from Churchmouse Yarns & Teas, you’ll get a fabric that seems lighter than air. In garment pieces like Veer, Silk Cloud is stranded with another yarn to give the fabric opacity and extra drape.
We also suggest trying one of these textured yarns as a substitution in simple stockinette patterns that typically call for smooth yarns. The Kozue Scarf by Kirsten Johnstone is originally designed for a lace-weight, cashmere Habu yarn. When paired with a yarn like mYak Lace, the stockinette stitches blend and become a swathe of elegant fabric in a minimalistic, classic shape.
These yarns can have a lot of character, too, as with Handmaiden’s Maiden Hair. 67% silk, 23% mohair, and 10% nylon, this yarn has a crimped structure that adds wild texture to the unknit skein. Reign in some of the energy and choose a pattern like Shibui Mix No. 9 to showcase the vibrancy of the colors.
Whatever you choose to make, it could be beneficial to test out the right combination of needles, stitches and yarn in a swatch. Since yarns that have halo can be difficult to rip out, complex stitch patterns can become difficult to correct if something goes awry. Cables, intricate lace, and details can become obscured by the brushed look of the resulting fabric—stockinette and wide-paneled lace motifs (on big needles) can produce lovely effects.
In addition, consider the opacity of your yarn when choosing a pattern! In Shibui Mix No. 2, Silk Cloud is used to excellent effect to produce a sheer fabric. Just think of all of the beautiful wraps, sweaters, and elegant flowy tops that can be executed in haloed yarns. The possibilities, much like the qualities of yarn themselves, are limitless.