THE SECOND SKIN

Have you ever encountered a person, culture, a book, or had a mesmerizing experience that changed the way you see the world? Have you made the kind of connection that profoundly shifts something within you, so profoundly that you are no longer the same you?

What if I told you that I once met a fiber that changed me in that way? A particular kind of fiber, with which I conversed for a long time before it told me how it wanted to be knit: this is the story of the Second Skin.

Destined Meeting with a Thread

Some time ago, we started to explore different yarns and threads, trying to find suppliers whose production would fit our cravings. Luckily, we had a chance to encounter the Japanese company Sato Seni. The company whose entire approach, from techniques and devices to attitude and philosophy, was rare.
Fortunately, Sato Seni was visiting the Baltics at the time, and we had a chance to meet the owners. As much as we were mesmerized by their yarn, we were stunned to meet people from the other side of the world who spoke our language concerning the creative process and philosophy of making. As they presented their products, we realized that they too had a dialogue with their materials: they were not trying solely to sell their yarn. Instead, they wanted to make sure that it meets an understanding designer.
The story of the Second Skin yarn has begun. We studied the sample to understand it better. The nature of the delicate and lightweight wool – so thin that it was impossible to talk any industrial knitters into experimenting with it, as I had initially wished.

The compelling need to turn the yarn into fabric

We moved on with other designs and fibers. However, the mysterious Japanese yarn could not leave us alone, so we felt compelled to return to it and begin experimenting again. One of the things we did was try to knit with it on manual knitting machines, but that didn’t work. Then we noticed the similarity between it and another yarn we had – an experimental one. It seemed like both yarns tried to become something else when knit.
Every yarn reacts in a particular way to the process of being knit. One can usually predict how it’ll behave, depending on its craft. But the Japanese yarn appeared to be a rebel or rather a primordium. While we tried some techniques, the results were not what we wanted.
Once again, I was back in search of a factory that could fulfill the dreams I had for what had become “my fiber.” Then I found a Lithuanian company that had the expertise I was looking for. It took a long time until we discovered how the Japanese yarn could best be knit. It was a highly technical process, but the outcome was a knitted fabric unlike any other I had ever worked with.

How the “second skin” got its name

We call the fabric second skin because it is what it feels like to its wearer. We cannot explain the phenomenon in merely scientific terms. It is magical to see how the fabric established a unique connection to each body. Maybe it is our skin microbiome – who knows? The only word we can come up with to describe both the fiber and the phenomenon is alive.
While wearing it, the material lies so nearly to our skin that it allows for a continuous dialogue between us and it. We especially love wearing the Second Skin during the winter, when it becomes an extra layer – warming but almost powder-like – that embraces the body. It seems almost unbelievable how a see-through fabric can be this balmy and soothing during the cold season.
We have a couple of sweet and funny love stories between my customers and the Second Skin; some have confessed that they love the touch of fabric so much as they sleep in it. Others have described it more as an emotion brought to them by the material – calming, light, and soothing, like a gentle hug or a warm bath. That warm feeling that the Second Skin transmits through the fabric's tiny loops. They contain air, which is warmed up by our body temperature. Therefore, the fabric is also warmed up, and as it's wool – the material maintains the temperature well.
Besides being warm and calming, the second skin looks compelling as well – it's sheer and allows the wearer's skin to glisten through it. And, indeed, the fabric comes to look like a part of you, like a somewhat forgotten layer we decide to put on whenever we need an extra layer of protection.