I responded to a query on the KnitList about laceweight mohair yarns yesterday. Specifically, the knitter wanted input about Super Kydd, a new yarn from Elann.com. While I haven't used this yarn yet, I have used many of the others so I emailed the lady with my input. I received a lovely reply with an addtional question about softness with nylon vs. silk as the secondary component in the yarn. After composing a detailed response I thought gee, I should post this on my blog for future reference. So here it is:
I've been thinking about your last email and the question of softness with silk vs. nylon in laceweight mohair yarns. Let's see, this is what have I used:
Rowan Kid Silk Haze - 70% super kid mohair, 30% silk ($14, 25g/229 yds)
Madil Kid Seta - 70% super kid mohair, 30% silk ($12, 25g/230 yds)
Colinette Parisienne - 70% kid mohair, 30% polyamide ($13.75, 25g/221m)
Habu Textiles 1/12 silk mohair kusa - 60% mohair, 40% silk ($8.69, 14g/186 yds)
Doceur et Soie - 70% baby mohair, 30% silk ($11.55, 25g/225 yds)
So let's compare. The KSH and De S are extremely soft and luscious and get my top rating for all around yummyness. KSH has exceptional vivid colors while DetS has a wide range of pastels that I so love. The Kid Seta is also very soft and has the bonus of variegated colorways. What makes all of these brands distinct is the fact that they use the finest baby mohair which is where the softness really comes in IMHO.
The Parisienne uses only kid mohair, not super kid, so it isn't going to be as soft. I suspect that's why Colinette, a company known for their high-end luxury fibers, opted to use poyester as the stabilizing fiber rather than silk. The silk is used for strength in all these yarns, the softness and luster are just a bonus really.Nevertheless, Parisienne is still soft and very nice to the touch and it has superior ombre colorways that make it stand out from the rest of the fine mohair yarns. I would see this yarn as comparable in texture and softness to the Super Kydd
The Habu textiles yarn has the most silk, but it isn't nearly as soft as the others. Once again, I think this has to do with the quality of the mohair. This yarn is much finer and less halo than the other yarns and I found it required a smaller needle size to get a lace that was pleasing to my eye. Once again though, this yarn would still be considered a soft yarn and nice against the skin.
So to answer your question yes, silk would add to the softness but the nylon should still be adequately soft because the key fiber is kid mohair. When you factor that in with the fact that the Elann Super Kydd is less than half the price of the KSH, etc. I would absolutely go for it. The only reason I haven't purchased any myself is that I have more than enough either OTN or in the stash already.
Probably the only reason I would hesitate to use the Super Kydd would be if my wearing was very sensitive to things that might itch and the shawl was going to have a lot of skin contact (which mine don't). To increase the softness, when you wash the finished shawl in preparation for wet-blocking (a must!!!), add a little hair conditioner to the final rinse water. It works wonderfully and will help increase the softness even more.
Isn't it wonderful to have such a wide variety of fine, fuzzy yarns from which to select? I'm looking forward to trying out the Super Kydd to see how it stacks up to the others. Certainly nothing beats the price point--a very good thing in my book!