What is Merino Wool Yarn? - A Complete Guide
In the knitting world, you might have come across with wool named as merino yarn— a highly-regarded yarn by most of the advanced knitting and weaving brands. Plus, you may have already noticed its widespread prevalence in the industry, which makes its market value transparent.
Now, the question is; why is merino wool yarn praised on such a large scale? What makes it better than regular wool? And why are people head over heels obsessed with this product? Read on to get all the answers to every pondering thought in your head. So, let’s dig in.
Merino Wool Yarn
As the name implies, it comes from a special breed of animal merino sheep known for its finest quality wool. It is prized as one of the softest wool produced by any sheep species. It was discovered back in the 12th century, and over the course of time, people explored its unrivaled potential.
During all these years, they improved the quality ten times over using the techniques of selective breeding. Now, the wool has conquered the knitting industry and is used to make the softest fleece and quality yarn for knitting.
Why is merino wool yarn softer compared to regular yarn? It does depend on the microscopic physical characteristics but mainly, the softness relies on the micron count, the smaller the count, the softer the wool. And large micron count means rougher fibers. The range for merino wool yarn lies between 21-24, smaller count means finer quality, whereas we can call wool around 24 as merino wool bulky yarn.
What are the types of Merino Wool Yarn?
It isn’t easy to understand all the types available in the marketplace. To make things simpler, we have categorized the types into sections:
Types Based on Staple Diameter
Merino wool comes in different staple diameters, each type having varying suitability for blending with other fibers. The wool comes in the following thickness:
- Ultra-fine (11.5–15 μm)
- Superfine (15–18.5 μm)
- Fine (18.6–19.5 μm)
- Medium wool (19.6–22.9 μm)
- Strong wool (23–24.5 μm)
Later, the fineness decides which type can be used for what purpose. For instance, the ultra-fine and superfine merino wool yarn is usually used for blending with other fibers like cashmere and silk.
Types based on the Spinning Process
They are usually spun in two common ways woolen and worsted. The worsted method includes aligning the length of the fibers with each other and to get them long. This merino wool yarn will be softer and smoother. On the other hand, woolen has both short and long fibers, making it a little rougher than the previous one.
Types based on Merino Blend
Whether to choose 100% merino wool yarn or not, depends entirely on the project you have in your mind. Here are a few possible blends and their characteristics:
Blend of Silk and Merino
Blend of Cashmere and Merino
Blend of Nylon and Merino
Blend of Mohair and Merino
Blend of Cotton and Merino
Blend of Alpaca Wool and Merino
Super wash Merino Wool Yarn
It is the wool that undergoes a super wash treatment to make it suitable for machine washing. Super wash merino wool has a merino base layer of acid or microscopic resin which helps the material to retain its geometrical characteristics.
Everybody knows that wool easily shrinks when exposed to enough moisture. This is mainly why people avoid working with such material. But a super wash treatment can prevent shrinkage, allowing you to use it without worry. Also, it is a great material for baby clothes, which requires a lot of washing. Plus, the material is softer, making it a perfect choice for a delicate baby’s skin.
Benefits of Merino Wool Yarn
From lasting performance to elegance, everything about merino wool makes it the best choice for any knitting project. That said, following are some of the benefits you can expect from this material:
Thinking about regular wool makes you grind your teeth because the scratchy surface isn’t very pleasing. Even more so, it is uncomfortable and makes your skin itchy. On the contrary, merino wool is the softest material available out there, having fine fibers which are perfect for optimum comfort.
Warmth and Coziness
Nothing rivals the coziness of a chunky merino wool yarn blanket. It is knitted using the arm knitting technique with huge stitches, making the merino wool yarn chunky for a fluffier appearance. You can use them anywhere, from the living room to bedroom, and make yourself a cozy sitting area. These chunky knit blankets come in all colors, and stitch designs, giving you a wide range of options to choose from.
A chunky merino wool blanket that is resistant to wear, tear and wrinkles is everything a travel enthusiast looks for. For instance, it can provide warmth for a ten hours flight without getting all wrinkly in that smushed and small area on an airplane. All thanks to the amazing quality of merino wool.
Another beneficial characteristic that is worth mentioning is its water-repellent nature. The wool extracts water vapors off your skin surface and absorbs them without getting damp. That is exactly why it also has a fire-repellent nature.
Super wash merino wool fabric can survive gazillion spins of washing machine without getting shrunk. The retain ability usually depends on how well the super wash treatment is carried out.
Looking at garments made from voluminous wool, you would assume that they are heavy and uncomfortable. The reality, however, is quite the opposite for merino wool. The material is surprisingly light weighted, making it suitable for every season.
Regular wool have a signature smell that gets stronger with the passage of time. And shortly, the stench becomes so strong that it isn’t bearable anymore. Merino wool, on the other hand, is odorless and remains that way no matter how many times you wash it. However, failure to wash the fabric properly may cause a lingering smell but not as strong as the regular wool.
Tips for selecting the Best Merino Wool Yarn
In case you are intending to buy merino wool yarn, these tips can prove to be useful:
- If you plan to knit something for infants, go for 100% merino wool.
- For socks and gloves, a blend with synthetic fiber will be better.
- If you are allergic to fine fabrics, blend merino with alpaca wool.
- For knitting children clothes, super wash wool is a better choice.
- Less fine wool is better for making merino wool chunky.
- If you look for a great stitching definition, choose worsted merino yarn.
Brands that sell Merino Wool Yarn Clothing
Out of a myriad of options, we have enlisted the ones that touted to be the best:
- Western Rise
- Mission Workshop
- Darn Tough
What are the easiest Merino Wool Yarn Crochet Patterns for Beginners?
If you are new in the field, some of these patterns will keep you busy:
- Granny square blanket
- Simple dishcloth
- Easy crochet necklace
- Slouchy beret
- Basic beanie
- Super-speedy cowl
Now, you know why merino wool is popular and remains desirable all year round. Whether you want to initiate small knitting projects or work on a big one such as a blanket, merino wool is the best material you can use. It comes in several blend options and types, giving you a plethora of options to choose from. Whatever you select will surely end up becoming something you love. It may be more expensive than other wool types, but one thing is for sure; the investment will pay off.
Frequently Asked Questions
Being new to this material may have aroused tons of questions in your mind. Let’s find the answers.
How Much Merino Wool Is Needed For A Blanket?
For every square foot of the blanket, you require half pounds of wool. It is a simple formula to estimate the requirement for all sizes. Small throws require one to two pounds, medium ones require four to eight pounds, whereas large blankets need twelve to twenty-five pounds of wool.
What Are These Used to Make and Which Season Is Best for It?
They are used to knit garments of all sorts, including mittens, hats, and socks. However, smaller projects are harder to complete, considering the tiny details. Therefore, we recommend them for bigger knitting projects like baby garments, shawls, scarves, sweaters, and blankets. Depending on the temperature, you can wear it in both winter and summer seasons. But of course, the weather needs to be cold enough. During summer, the material absorbs the extra moisture, drying your skin faster.
Where to Buy Merino Wool?
Various brick and mortar shops sell merino wool but a more convenient place would be online yarn stores. You can also go for sites like Amazon and eBay.