According to the feedback we've gotten from our readers, some of you would be interested in seeing yarn reviews on the blog, and Barbara bravely volunteered to be the first to take on the challenge.
First, the facts about the yarn. Sahara by Stacy Charles is a mixture of 44% Viscose 20% Linen and 36% Bamboo. It's a tape or ribbon yarn, composed of 5 strands woven in a kind of flat grid pattern. The washing instructions are to hand wash/lay flat to dry (dry cleaning is okay). There are 87 yards (80 meters) in a ball. The recommended gauge is 4 stitches to the inch (16 stitches to 10cm) on US size 9 (5.5mm) needle. The price is $10 per ball.
This is clearly a summer yarn. It's very light and airy, with a distinctly "gauzey" look. The sun-bleached colors are mottled with a linen-brown low-light. (Click on the picture at right for a close-up of the yarn.) Because of the hand-wash requirement, Barbara decided to knit a sleeveless top that can be worn over a tank or tee (though the yarn is plenty soft to be warn next to the skin). She worked up her own pattern that combines stockinette with seed-stitch edging at the hem and arm holes, decorated across the torso with moss-stitch-filled eyelet diamonds.
The yarn knit up nicely to its stated gauge, and though light and airy, the fabric is not at all see-through. Barbara found it easy to work with and her needle tips did not catch in the holes in the tape, which she feared they might. She noted that because of the holes, this may not be the best yarn to work with super-pointy lace needles. "There's plenty of elasticity" she reports, so this yarn should not cause any unusual hand strain.
The stitch definition is only so-so, and Sahara is probably not a good choice for cables, or any intricate pattern. However, the yarnovers are very pretty, so we recommend it for lace along with garter, stockinette and reverse stockinette. We didn't try any ribbing.
There aren't a lot of patterns created specifically for this yarn yet, but judging by its gauge, it should be workable substitute for any pattern calling for a heavy worsted weight.
Once Barbara finishes her top, it'll probably hang in the shop for a bit for our customers to evaluate. If you like the pattern, let us know and we may write it up! Let us know in the comments if we can add something to make this review more helpful; and especially let us know if you've knit with Sahara -- we'd love to know what you think of it!