I would not normally write about mainstream commercial yarns. But as this one is new and fairly unusual, I thought it might be useful to share my impressions.
When I spotted the Opal Relief range in Row by Roe, it looked more like an arts-and-crafts project for kindergarteners, than sock yarn! The line is called 'Relief' because the colour changes in the yarn facilitate knitting raised motifs, such as baubbles and various textured off-hangings. The examples on the labels (you can also see them on their website) looked delightfully insane, but not exactly what I would call appealing (or comfortable, in a sock)! And yet, I experienced an immediate and irrational attraction to this yarn. I needed some mindless, non-work-related knitting for over the holidays, and so I bought 2 skeins, to knit a pair of socks for my husband and also for myself. I have now finished his, and am half way done with mine, and these are my impressions so far.
The Opal Relief is a fingering-weight sock yarn, 425m/100g, 75% mixed wool and 25% nylon. It is a matte yarn of average softness. Of all the sock yarns I have worked with, it reminds me most of Sirdar Heart and Sole in terms of feel.
The colours of the Opal Relief line are somehow simultaneously vibrant and muted, and even the dark charcoal background of the Ring colourway looks nearly faded. Examining the strands up close, this is probably because the dye does not always saturate to the underside of the yarn, creating an almost stone-washed effect in some portions of the knitted-up fabric. I don't dislike the look personally, and only mention this so that others know what to expect.
Admittedly, I did not make use of the relief motifs suggested by Opal, but used a modified version of my Firefly pattern for both pairs of socks, which features repeats of the Knot stitch.
The Knot stitch does show off the relief properties of this yarn, albeit more so in the pastel Square colourway than in the darker Ring. That said... I think the whole relief thing would work just the same with any variegated yarn that contains staggered stripes of contrasting colours, if that makes sense?
The Opal Relief yarn is a fun concept, if you fancy adding crazy textured bobbles to your socks. If not, it is still a pretty cool, reasonably priced, variegated sock yarn available in several pleasant colourways.
More than anything, knitting with this yarn raised my interest in Opal sock yarns in general. And if these socks prove to be durable in wear, I will surely stock up on some Opal in their uni-colour range.