There is a Norwegian saying that goes something like this: A much loved child is known by many names. And so goes the story with this type of yarn, lush, warm and quite intriguing, known as Unspun, Pre-wool, or Plötu – but what is it and how to work it? 

Plötu in Icelandic is directly translated to 'board' or 'disc' in English, and as you can see it does not come as a hank or a ball, but as what we would describe in yarny terms as a wheel. Traditionally used by Icelandic spinners to be spun tightly straight from the wheel to then be knit up into those iconic Icelandic yoked sweaters, new generations of knitters have now discovered the gorgeousness that results from knitting it up as it is. To my joy, I've noticed more attention towards it as this type of yarn has been discovered, cast-on, loved and developed into stunning projects by a new generation of designers, and what is more, as I've seen the popularity of these grow beyond the Nordic borders, new yarn makers are embracing this way of producing a yarn making it available in a variety of fibre blends.

Here at Knit With Attitude we are now the proud stockists of Unspun 2109 by Raincloud & Sage, a limited edition batch, completely traceable from start to finish, a sustainable and eco-friendly yarn, with oh so many creative possibilities. What better opportunity than to take a proper look at this yarn.

Unspun 2109

Unspun 2109 is a carded but unspun single ply yarn. Carding is the first step in the yarn-making process that actually alters the wool beyond cleaning it. Essentially it involves combing out the wool so that it can be loaded onto the spinning machine or to be spun by hand. At the Raincloud & Sage's mill this happens on a giant carding machine, made up of several sets of interlocking carding drums. The wool enters in at one end and makes it’s way through these carding drums, which are essentially rotating metal cylinders with small “teeth” that pick through the wool, opening it up to prepare it for spinning. This results in what we call a batt - a large, thin sheet of wool. Then in the final step on the carder, the batt is separated and comes out in long thin strips of un-spun fibre. And in the case of Unspun 2109, that's it – the production is complete. 

Unspun 2109 is made up by a blend of Merino, Bergschaf, Milchschaf, and Gotland. It is light and airy and the fabric it creates is incredibly warm still unbelievably lightweight. It is deliciously rustic and sheepy, while also often so much softer than a spun yarn of the same fibre content, due to how bouncy it is. AND it is more affordable, since it requires much fewer steps in the manufacturing process to create. 

Due to the thickness, or more accurately in this context, the width of the ply, it is classified as a DK yarn. However, as mentioned, the carded wool contains a lot of air, making the yarn suitable for a range of needle sizes depending on the structure you want for your finished fabric. Due to its unspun nature it is quite fragile in its raw form, so a delicate hand is required while working with it, and probably doesn't make the best travel project or something that will be thrown around while being worked on. However, the final fabric is strong and hardwearing when knitted up. My best tips when working with unspun yarns are: Don't pull the yarn from the wheel, but simply unwind a few lengths, knit this up and then unwind some more. And if it breaks, simply put the two ends together into your palms and gently roll to splice them together again. The yarn can be knit up singly, or held double or triple for more substantial fabrics. Swatching is especially recommended to see the fabric and gauge.

Now, lets dive into the really exciting stuff – what you can make with it! The possibilities are endless, and I've gathered a few suggestions for you to get your creative juices flowing.

Flax jumper

Flax by Tin Can Knits

Lets kick this party off with a true classic, the Flax jumper (link to FREE pattern on their website). As part of their Simple Collection, this is a basic jumper for everyday wear, made as an ideal first jumper project, still it features some gorgeous details that will keep interest for the more advanced knitter. Size inclusive, going from newborn to 6XL, this is a wonderful project for trying out the Unspun 2109

Cumulus jumper

Cumulus Blouse by Petite Knits

Originally designed for two strands of silk mohair held together, to create an airy and fluffy look, the Cumulus Blouse (link to pattern on their website) is another classic wardrobe piece. I would do this one in a single strand of the Unspun 2109, providing the airy look, but preventing all those fluffy fibres from getting stuck in my nose while knitting. 

Felix jumper

Felix Pullover by Amy Christoffers

A very easy and very quick knit, with the loveliest result. The Felix Pullover (link to pattern on Ravelry) is bound to become your next favourite! A cropped top down raglan with an eyelet motif incorporated into the raglan increases, it was designed to be the perfect sweater to wear layered over tunics and dresses though it is well suited to high waisted pants as well. In Unspun 2109, this will become a lightweight layer that offers much warmth on chillier days.

Big Love Cardigan

Big Love by Ankestrick

Big Love – Big Hug. This unisex cardigan will embrace you and warm your soul! Big Love (link to pattern on Ravelry) is worked seamlessly, top down, so you can try it on as you go, making sure you get a fit that is perfect for you.

Snowy Forest Sweater

Snowy Forest by Midori Hirose

Elegance on larger needles! Originally published in Laine Magazine Issue 10, to be worked with two strands held together, I would make mine in a single strand of Unspun 2109. Snowy Forest (link to pattern on Ravelry) is practical still gorgeous, keeping your style impeccable whether you are going on a forest hike or popping out to your favourite cafe for an inner city latte. 

Fields of Gold

Fields of Gold by Isabella Clark

Featuring a straw motif combined with enticing stitch textures, Fields of Gold (link to pattern on Ravelry) is a stunning creation. This design is best suited for an intermediate knitter who would like to learn new techniques, it is an interesting knit that will keep you entertained throughout the process. 

Gro Shawl

Gro Shawl by Fiber Tales

Gro means grow in the Scandinavian languages – and this lovely embrace of a shawl was inspired by spring in the designer's little garden when everything starts to grow. The Gro Shawl (link to pattern on Ravelry) is a triangular shaped shawl worked sideways, mostly in garter stitch, featuring a pattern of flowers and leaves running alternately along the cast on edge and braids running diagonally across the shawl. Lately I've been searching for a neutral coloured but textured shawl as a capsule piece for my wardrobe, and I do believe I've found my match – so stay tuned for this one …

Unspun 2109