Yarn selection is a lot like wine selection. Sure, the crap you get at the gas station will get you drunk. If you’re partial to experimentation, you can take the raw materials and make your own, calibrated exactly to your tastes. But if you want the kind of wine you could propose over, or the kind to serve at your wedding, or a bottle to give as a gift, you’ll get the good stuff- and be prepared to pay much, much more for something that will do functionally the same thing as its less expensive counterparts. With wine, you get what you pay for. Anzula Yarns are worth paying for. Move over, Artyarns, Anzula is the champagne of colored string.
I’m getting used to a paradigm of fingering weight yarns: a 100% merino, a merino-nylon for socks, a silk blend, and a 80/10/10 merino/cashmere/nylon. That 80/10/10 blend has become so iconic, it has an acronym: MCN. Usually, that’s the creme de la creme of hand-dyes, and while sometimes people are a little leery about paying the average $28-35 price tag for one, they acknowledge that this is a much more coveted yarn, and if they don’t want to pay for it, someone else will, and very soon. With an Anzula base, at least a little bit of cashmere content comes standard, and if there isn’t any, it’s because they replaced it with something else even more intriguing and exotic. Their standard sock yarn, Squishy (buy it here), is one of those MCNs that people covet. But then they up the ante and offer Dreamy, with even more cashmere (15%), and replacing nylon with silk. You know, for the hell of it. It’s like coming home to a husband who was already making you a chocolate cinnamon roast, and decided to hand-fold some raviolis for you, because if he’s already cooking, he might as well.
And since you’re already professing your undying devotion to this sock yarn, why not give you more of what you love? Cloud is the same yarn, with the same fiber content and the same stitch definition, on a laceweight (buy it here); Cricket is the same on a DK, and For Better or Worsted, on a, you guessed it, worsted (buy it here). They also switch it up and keep it interesting by playing with linen, camel, sea silk, milk fiber, glitter/stellina, yak, alpaca, tencel, and soy. But this isn’t even my favorite part about Anzula. If you buy a kettle dye from Cascade, you can expect a flat, matte color. If you buy a kettle dye from Lorna’s Laces, you can expect a verrry slightly variegated single color- what you would expect if you boiled some water, dumped a glug of vinegar into it, and then put some soaked yarn in. But an Anzula color has this weird effect where, the more you pay attention to it, the more complex it is. It has depth.
And if you’re lucky enough to catch them at their Trunk Show Madness like I was, they’ll actually stop and help you select the exactly-right color for your project- Sabrina, the owner and one of the dyers, helped me narrow the two dozen colors I really loved down to the four that would go best together for my project, and was in my corner long after the local yarn shop had given up.
You might have noticed that my links above for where-to-buy don’t direct to Anzula’s web page. That’s because they’re an awesome company who supports local yarn stores, and won’t sell directly to consumers- but there’s no minimum order for a local yarn shop, so you can special order exactly what you want. Here’s a map of all the local yarn shops that carry their wares. And if your local yarn shop only carries one base, but you really want to try something Anzula currently makes that’s a little more exotic, the yarn shop doesn’t have to carry what you want in their usual stock for them to be able to place your custom order.
Sabrina and Robert are fantastic, and I’m enough of a fan that, when they announce their open dye days, I seriously think about flying out to California to participate. And it’s a pricier yarn than most, so it’ll be hard to make it a staple yarn or afford enough to crochet for yourself a king-size aran blanket. If you really want to, you can knit with something less luxurious, and still your knitting and be a prefectly good knitter. But Anzula is the best, and the best is worth paying for, and honestly, if you divide the happiness you’ll have while knitting with it by the dollars you spent for it, it’s an amazing deal.
(Oh, and ye DIY Craft Brewers of the yarn world- hand spinners and hand dyers- Anzula offers naked base yarns and roving, as well. Far be it such an amazing fiber arts company deny you any avenue of your yarny creativity).