What is Merino Wool Yarn? - A Complete Guide

In the knitting world, you might have come across a wool named merino — a highly-regarded wool by knitters and crafters.

Madelinetosh Tosh DK

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. So, let’s dig in.

Merino Wool Yarn

As the name implies, it comes from a special breed of animal. Merino sheep are known for the 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.

Merino Wool Sheep

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. Large micron count means rougher fibers. The range for merino wool yarn lies between 21-24, smaller count means finer quality. 

What are the types of Merino Wool Yarn?

It can be confusing to try to understand all the types available. 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)

The fineness decides which type can be used for what purpose. For instance, the ultra-fine and superfine merino wool yarn are great for making items that will be worn next to the skin as it's the softest. It can also be used for blending with other fibers like cashmere and silk to make it even more luxurious.

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

  • Luxurious softness
  • A little sheen
  • Machine washable
Blend of Cashmere and Merino
  • Luxurious touch
  • Delicate feel
  • Super soft

Blend of Nylon and Merino

  • Easy to wash
  • Smooth and soft
  • Durable against wear and tear

Blend of Mohair and Merino

  • Soft and smooth
  • Warm and lightweight
  • Wrinkle resistant
  • Some find it itchy

Blend of Cotton and Merino

  • Easily washable
  • Inexpensive
  • Inelastic 

Blend of Alpaca Wool and Merino

  • Strong and durable
  • Silky and warm
  • Hypoallergenic

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.

Superwash Merino Wool

Everybody knows that wool easily shrinks when exposed to enough moisture. This is mainly why some people avoid working with it. 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:

Incredible Softness

Thinking about regular wool might be unappealing 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 wool 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 designs, giving you a wide range of options to choose from.

ReLove Yarn

Wrinkle-Resistant

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 small area on an airplane. All thanks to the amazing quality of merino wool.

Water Repellent

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.

Machine Washable

Super wash merino wool fabric can survive the spins of washing machines without getting shrunk. This ability usually depends on how well the super wash treatment is carried out.

Anzula For Better or Worsted

Lightweight

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. If you use fine weight merino wool yarn it will be very comfortable on cold or warm days.

Odorless

Regular wool have a signature smell that can get 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

If you are intending to buy merino wool yarn, these tips can 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.
  • If you are look for a great stitch definition, choose plied 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
  • Smart-wool
  • Mission Workshop
  • Icebreaker
  • Patagonia
  • Darn Tough
  • Minus33
  • Buff

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
  • Scarf
  • Slouchy beret
  • Basic beanie
  • Super-speedy cowl
  • Granny square blanket
  • Scarf
  • Slouchy beret
  • Basic beanie
  • Super-speedy cowl

Conclusion

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.


1 comment


  • Laurie wallace

    Hello,
    I am so very interested in the picture in this site, the variegated gray knit. Is the yarn bought like that or is it several different skeins put together somehow?
    Thank you


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