Hello everyone! Tara here—
Wool yarn has been a favorite amount both crocheters and knitters for a very long time, so it’s only fitting that we talk about it in this fiber series.
First, let’s talk about some of the properties most types of wool have in common.
Wool is known for being a strong, durable fiber that’s light-weight and warm. It has some elasticity, making it a wonderful fiber for wearable projects. It’s wrinkle-resistant and it doesn’t hold odors.
It’s impossible to look for wool yarn without seeing the beautiful hand-dyes options out on the market, and that’s because wool is one of the easiest fibers to dye.
When you block a wool project, it will stay in that shape.
Something else to think about—if you’ve never been exposed to wool, it’s always best to start with a blended yarn or a yarn with standard wool to see how you do with it. There is nothing worse than spending a lot of money on wool yarn for a project like a sweater or afghan and finding out that you’re allergic to it. While standard wool is a bit itchy in general, it isn’t uncommon for people with wool allergies or sensitivities to develop hives or other skin irritations, watery eyes, and runny noses.
#1- Standard Wool
Standard wool is the most common wool, and it’s usually the cheapest. It tends to be fairly itchy and it isn’t always the most comfortable against your skin. That doesn’t mean it’s something to avoid though! Standard wool is incredibly warm and, paired with the affordable price tag, it’s definitely a favorite.
You have to wash projects made with this yarn by hand, or it will felt together and shrink—both of which are irreversible. A large adult hat and shrink down to a child’s size, if not a little smaller.
#2- Merino Wool
Merino wool is another common wool you can find. It’s a little more expensive than the standard wool you can find, but it also tends to be a bit softer as well. It comes from the merino sheep, which can be found all over the world! Because the sheep can survive almost any climate, the wool can handle most temperatures, does well in the rain and has some moisture-wicking properties. That makes this one incredibly versatile for the type of project you can use it on.
Like standard wool, you have to hand-wash merino wool.
When a wool says it’s Superwash (either standard wool OR merino wool), it means that the yarn has been treated and processed. This is meant to stop it from felting and to help prevent it from shrinking if you put it in your washing machine.
While you can throw it in your washing machine (in theory), it’s not something I’m willing to do. Superwash merino wool and Superwash wool can be expensive and I would much rather hand-wash the projects I make with it to prevent anything from going wrong.
Because it has been processed so much, superwash wool is usually the most allergy-friendly of the sheep wools. It’s usually incredibly soft and the dyes are much more vibrant in a Superwash wool than an untreated wool.
The extra steps and chemicals used in the process do make this yarn much less environmentally-friendly though.
Lambswool is another popular one for yarn because it’s the warmest and softest wool a sheep will produce in its lifetime. It’s a bit harder to find than most wools, and it can be a bit more expensive as well.
#5- Blue-Faced Leicester Wool
Blue-Faced Leicester wool comes from the sheep in England with the same name. The wool they produce is white (which is ideal for dying), and it has a soft sheen and drape to it that many other wools don’t have.
It isn’t as soft as merino wool, but it’s much softer than standard wool. It also has a bit of a higher price point than merino.
There is so much more wool than just those in this list. You can find Argentinian wool, Shetland wool, Lopi wool (from Iceland), Peruvian Highland wool, and countless others to create with.
What’s your favorite kind of wool? Let us know in the comments below!
– Tara Orchard, Editor of Crochet! Magazine