Fibre Talk - Merino
This post was originally written by Natalie Selles and published on our blog back in 2015. The Fibre Friday posts have now been edited to reflect our current selection of yarns, under the new heading Fibre Talk.
This week we are talking about merino wool.
Merino wool! you may say, That's not a summer yarn. It's all sheepy and warm and not at all good for summer knitting. Well, we are here to disagree!
Merino sheep were first bred in Spain, and were highly prized
Long before the invention of synthetic fibers, the fabric of choice for sportswear and outdoors was wool. Did you know that cyclists in the Tour de France wore wool jerseys, even in the middle of the summer? In 1947, when the Tour first tried to introduce the first synthetic threads on the iconic Yellow Jersey by their sponsor Sofil (a synthetic thread maker) there was outrage among the riders. Louison Bobet, the rider who was to wear the yellow jersey, flat out refused, saying that it was a matter of hygiene and that pure wool was the only way to go. The company had to make a new, 100% wool jersey over night for him to wear!
One of the reasons for this is the breathability of wool. It naturally cools the wearer down in the summer, and keeps them warm in the winter. It can absorb 35% of its weight in water before feeling wet to the touch, as well as repelling moisture (or sweat) away from the wearer, reducing clamminess.
The primary difference between Merino wool and other sheep wools is that Merino can grow longer and finer fibres. This characteristic leads to some distinct advantages over coarser wool. Such as: merino isn’t itchy. The itch factor is why there is much more Merino wool clothing on the market than that made from other kinds of sheep wools. Merino wool dries faster than coarser wools. All types of wool are moisture wicking and extremely absorbent. But, coarse fibers soak up so much water that they take longer to dry. Merino’s lighter weight creates the advantage of superior moisture management that both wicks vapor off the skin and releases the moisture into the air at a faster rate that keeps the wearer dry.
Now, we aren't advocating that you all run out and knit your own cycing jersey. Merino works very well as a light layer for regular, everyday use, which works well for summer time. A lightweight merino jumper would work well over a sundress in cool evenings, or with a lace pattern for a summer top. Here in the UK we are rarely battling really, truly hot temperatures, which makes wool an excellent choice year round.
Wool is a very sustainable and renewable fiber, which is one of the reasons we love it so much! As with any product that we carry, we are conscious not just of it's impact on the environment but also on the people and animals that are involved in the process. For this reason we make sure that all of our merino comes from farms that do not practice museling, a surgical process mostly common in Australia to protect the flocks against flystrike.
Due to all the wonderful and versatile qualities of Merino wool, you'll see that it is often used as a component in a huge variety of fibre blends, in this post though we're focusing on the yarns we carry here at Knit With Attitude which are either close to or 100% pure Merino.
Socks Yeah! (75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon) is a fabulous sock yarn with a gorgeous palette in a wide range of colours designed by Rachel Coopey, Socks Yeah! is hardwearing and can be machine washed at 30 degrees. It has a high twist and a brilliant stitch definition to show off those structured stitches and colour work whether you use the yarn for socks, shawls, mittens, hats or what ever garment you fancy really. Socks Yeah! comes in a huge palette ranging from delicate neutrals to proper true neons! We carry Socks Yeah! in both 4ply and DK weights.
Amble (70% Easy-wash Merino, 20% Easy-wash Alpaca, 10% Recycled Nylon). When The Fibre Co. set out to design a sock yarn, they stayed true to their guiding principle of harnessing the beauty that nature provides in a way that is gentle on our planet. To whole heartedly be able to stand behind such a yarn, they waited until a recycled nylon and an alternative to the standard chlorine processed washable wools became available. Amble, the end result is a soft yet durable yarn from Merino wool and alpaca fibres processed with an eco-friendly anti-shrinkage Easy-wash treatment. The recycled nylon adds strength and durability. We carry Amble in both full 100g hanks and also in 25g Minis.
Sockyarn #04 (80% Merino / Corriedale, 20% Ramie) is the 'happiest' of yarns, handdyed by Jule Kebelmann using mostly plant material which is organically grown or which she has gathered in the Berlin-Brandenburg wilderness herself. Sockyarn #04 is a blend of Merino and Corriedale, but what's more is that unlike a lot of similar sock weight yarns the Sockyarn #04 is not strengthened with nylon but with ramie! Ramie is one of the strongest natural fibres and it exhibits even greater strength when wet. Ramie fibre is known especially for its ability to hold shape, reduce wrinkling, and introduce a silky lustre to the fabric appearance. In other words - a completely natural sock yarn - and what can be better than that?
Schafwolle #03 (Organic Merino / Black Face) is a heavier yarn than the Sockyarn #04, still just as happy from the steaming dyeing pots of Hey Mama Wolf! Schafwolle #03 is a sturdy yet soft worsted weight yarn with a crisp stitch definition making it the perfect choice for colourwork and textured stitches. This yarn is perfect for sweaters, cardigans and of course kids wear! Schafwolle #03 is a blend of Merino and Black Face sheep fibres from organically bred small flocks in Germany.
Vivacious (100% Superwash Merino) is hand dyed in Peru to Fyberspates' specifications. Spun to perfection, it is a high twist superwash Merino, which gives a soft and light weight multipurpose yarn suitable for those lush favourites, still it is hard wearing and will handle being worn again and again. With its amazing stitch definition, this yarn is perfect for showing off lace and cabled knits. We carry the Vivacious 4Ply and the Vivacious DK.
G-uld No.4 (75% Falkland Merino, 25% Gotland wool) has the most wonderful shine and is made from the softest fiber blend, in a gorgeous palette of colours specially developed for Knit with attitude, making it impossible not to fall in love with it. No.4 is a light 4Ply weight yarn with a lovely twist, making sure you get a superb stitch definition. This Falkland Merino/Gotland blend has a generous meterage of 650m per 100g and can be used as a single, double or following thread. A luxurious yarn perfect for your new favourite jumper, cardigan, hat or shawl, the possibilities are endless. Each colour is labelled with the natural dye material used to develope that specific colour. We have No.4 as both 100g hanks and 25g Minis.
Merino Singles (100% Superwash Merino). Inspired by everyday life, architecture, paintings, music and Petra's current mood, the Black Elephant palette is just stunning! Ranging from the deepest rich shades to soft soothing hues - Petra's sense of colour is amazing! The Merino Singles are dyed in the Black Elephant studio in Sheffield, the production is environmentally consious and they aim towards a zero waste production. With a glorious colour palette including speckles and semi-solids they are ideal for creating perfect fades and colour combinations for small and large projects alike. The posibilities are endless.