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Painterly Yarn Combinations: layering mohair over a base yarn

May 30, 2019

Lately we’ve been having great fun combining lace weight mohair yarns with other yarns, resulting in beautiful painterly effects. Our new Love Note sweater and Posy shawl patterns both use this yarn combination.

Years ago at Edinburgh Yarn festival I impulse-bought a couple single skeins of La Bien Aimée yarn in ‘Aimée’s sweater’ and ‘neon static’. I also found myself irresistibly drawn to this hot pink Skein Queen Floof. It was a set of impulses that would really come together! Last year, I had a wedding to go to, and the world’s love of pink was really ramping up, so I decided a pink sweater had to happen, right?!

I swatched various yarns that I had alongside the pink mohair, and could tell right away that the speckle would be a winner! On the far right you can see the pink mohair and next to it the yarns I swatched alongside. What a difference combining makes!

Alexa saw my photos and said ‘WE MUST PUBLISH THAT PATTERN’. So I got to work perfecting the details and developing colour combinations that would work with the soft and romantic palette I envisioned for our Paris trip.

Through extensive swatching, I have some strategies to share on how to select colour combinations when combining a lace weight mohair with a sock weight yarn!

Combining or ‘blending’ mohair with another yarn

There are a few different ways to blend mohair with another yarn; using a yarn that is the same colourway, a darker colourway or a lighter colourway. Are you curious about how, physically, to knit two yarns together? We’ve got a post here all about marling, and a post here that explains how to work with two strands held together.

mohair + yarn in the SAME colourway

The top left of this swatch is La Bien Aimee’s ‘yellow brick road’ colourway on both mohair and merino. Underneath is the ‘yellow brick road’ mohair with ‘romance’ merino.

When working a mohair lace with a sock yarn in the same colourway, the blended colour will essentially come out very much the same as if you were knitting in a single colour; while the mohair lace takes the dye slightly differently than the merino yarn, the overall effect is fairly similar. The above example is a blend of La Bien Aimée Merino Singles with La Bien Aimée Mohair Silk , both in the iconic ‘yellow brick road’ colourway.

This is Alexa’s Love Note holiday sweater in the works. She is knitting it up in La Bien Aimee singles and mohair, both in the ‘shire’ colourway. You can see that while they are the same colour, the merino is lighter while the mohair adds a darker halo.

Alexa is also making herself a holiday party sweater Love Note in La Bien Aimée Merino Singles and Mohair silk in ‘shire’; a deliciously vivid green. You can see how the mohair and merino are slightly different colours, and the depth and shine this adds to the finished fabric.

Sticking to a single colourway is a beautiful way to combine yarns, but I’m personally more intrigued with mixing DIFFERENT colours, and finding out what kind of effects I can achieve!

darker mohair + lighter yarn

When you blend a darker or more saturated mohair with a lighter yarn, the paler colourway seems to glow underneath a deeper halo. I REALLY love this effect, it’s what we used when I made the Love Note sweaters, and for the heavy-weight version of the Posy shawl too.

The Love Note pullover uses La Bien Aimee … over ..

The deep dark Love Note is a blend of La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in ‘rust’ with La Bien Aimée Mohair Silk in ‘undergrowth’.

Top-to-bottom: La Bien Aimee ‘rust’ mohair over ‘rust’ merino, then ‘undergrowth’ mohair over ‘rust’ merino, then ‘undergrowth’ over ‘undergrowth’. While the single-colour combinations are beautiful, the two-colour blend has a fascinating liveliness.

The pale ephemeral Love Note is a blend Rainbow Heirloom Solo Light in ‘driftwood’ with Rainbow Heirloom Kidsilk Cloud in ‘sweet dreams’. To my eyes, this is technically a more saturated colour over a less saturated one, with the value of the two yarns being quite similar.

Top to bottom: Rainbow Heirloom ‘sweet dreams’ mohair over ‘driftwood’ merino, then over ‘apparition’ mohair. The difference between the colours of the merino is subtle, but the warmness of the ‘driftwood’ makes for a very different effect overall.

The original hot pink Love Note prototype I made is a blend of La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in ‘neon static’ striped with ‘Aimée’s sweater’ held with Skein Queen Floof in a vivacious hot pink (I lost the yarn tag, oops, but I think it was like ‘barbie’s handbag’).

The subtle neon speckle shines through underneath a halo of vivid mohair.
When I made the first swatch, I assumed that the hot pink mohair would work best combined with a deeper, darker colour, so I tried a red/orange, a medium pink, and then a deep plum. While these speckled / marled effects not without appeal, I wasn’t satisfied. Lastly I tried the pink over the pale speckle and got VERY excited. This combination was perfect!

The soft yellow Posy Shawl is a blend of La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in ‘romance’ with La Bien Aimée Mohair Silk in ‘yellow brick road’.

You can see how La Bien Aimee’s ‘yellow brick road’ mohair is a much more saturated colour over the speckled colourway ‘romance’. I love this combination; the speckles are muted, and the mohair colourway itself is toned down too.

For Bodhi’s Love Note that JUST popped off the needles, Alexa used La Bien Aimee Mohair in ‘pb&j’ over Singles in ‘neon static’. I love the way the purple ‘softens’ the speckled neon static.

lighter mohair + darker yarn

When the mohair is paler than the other yarn, the blended colour comes out closer to the darker single, with the fuzzy halo of the fabric being lighter. I find this combination a little less compelling, but it can also bring a subtle beauty.

This tiny size of the Love Note pullover was knit in Tosh Merino Light in a green/gold and Debbie Bliss Angel in ’11-mint’

value matters

The difference in value (relative darkness or lightness) between the two colours you are combining matters. The swatch below illustrates this.

I find the dark teal mohair over the pale grey to appear more ‘speckley’, with an effect that seems more marled than blended. Where I’ve used the dark teal mohair over the mid teal, the difference in value is more moderate, and the yarns colours ‘blend’ more effectively.

Top to bottom: Rainbow Heirloom ‘wicked pacific’ mohair (quite dark) over ‘apparition’, then Madelinetosh Merino Light in ‘esoteric’, then Rainbow Heirloom in ‘wicked pacific’. I LOVE the combination in the middle, in which the merino is somewhat lighter than the mohair, but find the top combination, with the high-contrast pairing, to be too ‘speckley’.

So from my perspective, combinations with a moderate rather than extreme value difference between a darker mohair and a lighter yarn feel more ‘blended’ and effective.

A similar example is illustrated by the swatches below. On the left, Alexa swatched two options for her Love Note sweater; La Bien Aimée mohair in ‘shire’ over ‘life aquatic’ (top) and ‘shire’ (bottom). The mohair in ‘shire’ is quite a deep dark colourway, and we agreed that the effect was just a little too ‘speckley’ to feel right for her.

On the other hand, ‘shire’, in the merino was quite vibrant and bright, so despite the fact that they were the same colourway, the fabric has that glowy depth she was aiming for.

Top left: La Bien Aimée ‘shire’ mohair over ‘life aquatic’ merino. Bottom left: LBA ‘shire’ over ‘shire’. Top Right: LBA ‘elise’ mohair over ‘life aquatic’. Bottom Right: Walk Collection ‘jungle’ mohair over LBA ‘life aquatic’.

I took the LBA ‘life aquatic’ merino home from Paris with me, and decided to try combining it with a couple of mohair options. The top mohair is LBA ‘elise’ and the bottom is Walk Collection in ‘jungle’. I decided that ‘elise’ was the winner. To my eyes, it’s just a bit less harsh a contrast than the ‘shire’ mohair over ‘life aquatic’, and this difference means the blending works.

Get started swatching! Blending mohair with other yarns is a VERY fun way to essentially ‘build your own yarn’, and you can begin using materials from your own stash! Try it out, I think you’ll enjoy it.

my next mohair + projects

I got started pretty quickly on a modified Lush cardigan. I think I’ll be cropping it too, and working relaxed bell sleeves… I can never seem to follow a pattern as it’s written, even my own, sigh!

This yarn blend would work exceedingly well for other projects too… I considered hacking a Boardwalk or Lush cardigan, and you can see what I settled upon! I am working it on 6.0mm needles at the same gauge I did the Love Note sweater on, and thus I’m adjusting the pattern for a different gauge (we’ve got a tutorial on that here).

This mohair blending method would also work very well for a ‘fade’ type project. You could gather your sock-weight scraps and organize them within a similar value, or to create a fade. Then you could blend them all together with the addition of a single colour of mohair held alongside each through the project. I’m imagining a faded oversized flax sweater in my future…

mohair stripes, mohair solo

The bottom swatch is mohair worked in 2-row stripes with sock-weight yarns. The top is mohair lace worked on its own.

Yet more swatches! I’ve got about a million plans in my head, and one of them is a Playdate, or adjusted Boardwalk using stripes of mohair + sock yarn. I’m also intrigued by the possibility of a sweater made entirely in mohair lace… perhaps a Bonny lace top?

So, what will you blend? Do you prefer a lighter halo over a darker yarn or vice versa? We can’t wait to see what blended gems you come up with!

14 Comments leave one →
  1. Claudia Divis permalink
    June 5, 2019 7:45 pm

    Thanks for this analysis. I like to combine sock yarn and mohair/silk for gloves.

    • June 10, 2019 1:44 am

      Sounds like a lovely use of the combination! If you’re working gloves, I would suggest knitting the combined yarn at a much tighter gauge than what we’ve shown on these swatches. Enjoy! Emily

  2. Roberta permalink
    June 3, 2019 9:32 pm

    What if you can’t wear mohair? What yarn do you suggest for your sweather?

    • June 4, 2019 4:33 am

      Hello! You could either mix a sock-weight yarn with a lace-weight of another type (wool, silk, or synthetic), OR you could just use a DK weight yarn of your choosing on its own.

  3. Louise permalink
    June 3, 2019 7:45 am

    This layering post is just amazing info – I love how you have illustrated it and have made it so very clear.
    Thank you

  4. June 3, 2019 1:19 am

    Such a great post thanks for the ideas

  5. Carol Urban permalink
    June 1, 2019 8:57 pm

    Can I just say that I love them all? :)

  6. Virginia Gray permalink
    June 1, 2019 4:02 pm

    This is such an interesting article. I have a nice stash of mohair, will be fun to play! Thanks!

  7. May 31, 2019 8:29 am

    Thank you for sharing all these swatches, a lot of inspiration. Last winter I knit an entire sweater with a cream fingering weight yarn layered with different lace mohair color, creating a large striped marled effect. Pairing color with speckles result in a more impressionist pattern.

  8. May 31, 2019 12:18 am

    Cool.))) You have opened a new space for creativity for me! I’m gonna go mix my blue mohair with all the strings I can find.

  9. May 30, 2019 10:04 am

    I love this post!! I’ve been super into mohair lately (feels like most of the zeitgeist is getting that way) and this is a brilliant post on how to use mohair with other yarns for loads of depth and colour play. Fantastic!

  10. May 30, 2019 6:27 am

    I just completed a sweater for my granddaughter using a fine mohair/silk PurlsSolo Tussock in bright hot pink held with variegated and speckled pink/violet Koigu KPPPM + a solid pink KPM. Your posting felt like reading my own experience vastly expanded! I wish I could post a photo. I have also knit more than a dozen hats with Shibui Silk Cloud held with Koigu, one in a seed stitch that I kept is similar to the Rust/Undergrowth sweater above.

    • May 30, 2019 6:30 am

      I should have mentioned that the sweater is in two-row stripes and the Koigu is sock weight.

      • Li Fén permalink
        June 10, 2019 10:03 pm

        Aren’t you on Ravelry ? You could post there a picture…

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