When merino is the best – and when it’s not

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(Single strand lace weight merino)

Even though yesterday’s post mentioned that there is not much knitting going on right now I still have a very dorky knitting observation to share with you. My all-time favourite fiber so far is merino. It’s soft and lovely and even if you are sensitive to the itchiness wool sometimes provide, merino works for almost everyone.

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(Plied lace weight baby alpaca silk blend.)

Lately I have realized that I tend to look away from yarn that are spun in singles, and instead I prefer yarn that is plied in two or more strands. 2-ply yarn looks tidier and I think it’s nicer to knit with, I think it behaves better.

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So, I prefer merino above other fibers (even though BFL is working hard to run passed the merino) and I prefer plied yarn above singles. What happens when these two preferences are put together? Well, I didn’t expect this result at all but it turns out that if I have to choose between the look of single strand merino in lace weight and plied wool in lace weight, I pick the wool. Single strand merino in lace weight (and in other weights as well) have a tendency to felt and get burled when worn, especially in places that are a little warm and where the knitted garment rubs against another knitted surface, like armpits and under the sleeves. That’s not something I like happening to stuff I’ve worked hard for many hours to make.

Windward-10

Then I looked at my Windward shawl and realized that it’s single strand wool. And it does not felt or get burled! The choice was easy – especially since I’m not particularly sensitive to wool. Hitherto I’ve only seen this tendency in lace weight but I know I favor plied worsted weight merino over single worsted weight merino, I just haven’t had time to compare it with wool yet.

Plied merino is obviosuly still the best but it seems that so far plied vs. singles is a more important issue to me than merino vs. other fibers. Who would have known?