Sock Yarn Longevity: Merino-Cashmere-Nylon Blends

A daily mini-series in which I give an updated review of some sock yarns I have used, having given the socks some wear. For first post and longer explanation, click here. Pattern link below is to my original review of the yarn when the socks were completed; yarn link goes to Ravelry.

Patterns: “Denmark” and “Santa Fe” from Knitting on the Road by Nancy Bush
Yarn: “Bugga!” by Cephalopod Yarns (no longer in operation)

In the yellow socks, the blue contrast color is more Bugga! left over from the blue socks; the red-brown is leftovers from an indie yarn.

Years Worn: 2

Verdict: These socks look like crap. I mean, really crap. Every time I put them on, I want to write this post, because I am so mad about it.

So, a few years ago, maybe five years because time is moving too fast, it seemed like I was seeing MCN blends everywhere. Merino-Cashmere-Nylon – it seemed like the perfect way to make the most luxurious socks. I saw a lot of indie dyers going for it, and charging premiums for it – 32$+ for a skein, rather than the 20-24$ I’d see for a normal top-end merino-nylon sock yarn (USD). I was pretty excited to finally try some for myself; I used it for two pairs of socks on my last knit-through-a-book.

The knitting was dreamy, and the initial product was fabulous. The moment they were finished, the Denmark socks were my favorite pair to look at and touch.

They sat in this pristine state on my dresser until all the other socks from the book were finished. Then about five seconds after I started wearing them, these socks exploded into a terrifying mess of pills. A shag carpet so bad you can’t even tell there’s cabling on the blue ones. I machine wash them, but only ever on handwash cycles, and that hasn’t helped or hindered. Just being used pretty much ruined them visually.

The reason I’m writing about this discontinued yarn from a dyer no longer in production is because I believe it’s a problem with the genre, not just this one base. A few years ago, Mom knit me a completely luxurious sweater out of a beautiful aran-weight MCN. I was there when she bought it; it was staggeringly expensive. She put a lot of work into a cabled sweater for me. I was motivated and committed to treat it right.  It didn’t matter: Literally, after wearing it once, it was a mess of pills. I looked like a hobo wearing a ratty old sweater.

Now, the sweater is still really comfortable, if saggy, and I wear it, but just around the house. The socks, too, are highly functional (if a little hot), and considering they’re mostly jammed into slippers and boots, maybe I shouldn’t be touchy about the aesthetics. But I am, dang it. 

There. I finally got that off my chest. I suspect the MCN fad is over, but I still needed to say it. Beware of MCNs. .5 stars as sock yarn. Use them for maybe a hat.

(If you know something I don’t on the MCN issue, please correct me in the comments. I’d love to be missing something. My hopes were so dashed.)

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