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

(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.

(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.


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.


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?