I am a knitting newbie…..with a wool allergy. It's perfect for your favorite shawl pattern. Many blends can be machines washed. Unsurprisingly, the hairs are finer. That’s why you’re not going to see merino wool towels hit the market any time soon. Thank you for the info on the coating process. The knee-jerk reaction to wool can be a reminder of all things itchy, scratchy, uncomfortable, and too warm. They tend to be very silky and lovely to wear, although my experience was that they will pill. Since merino wool is super soft & it’s fibre shaft are smoother, those whom only have sensitive skin &/or allergic to lanolin can tolerate superwash wools. Your hands are much less sensitive than other parts of your body that may be covered in this finished garment, so they are not the best judge of texture or itchiness. That’s why baby alpaca easier on my skin than standard alpaca; fewer of those guard hairs. I made a Boxy Pullover out of Superwash Malabrigo Rios and it seems to pill. As it happens I have made only one in Superwash and I simply hate the way this cardigan has turned out: it stretches, fanning out at the hem. (Yes, as with anything, the possibility of a sensitivity or allergy does exist, but for the purpose of this section we are assuming this is not an issue.) Mechanical? Ahhh, allergy. Still, too soft for my taste…. I usually knit hats and scarves with them. I’m talking less about sock yarns and sock knitting, and more about using superwash yarns for knitting garments or accessories. Each hair of wool is made up of scales. But the bad news: wool can be prickly. Lambswool is a multi-purpose natural fiber that is a favorite among knitters and spinners. A long time ago I only knitted with acrylic. It has the outer "scales" removed and is pretty itch free. This method of testing seems like a lot of hassle, but just imagine how much worse it is to buy all the yarn, knit the entire sweater, and then hate how it feels. Trying to even the stitches out again, has become a nightmare. Luckily it is flat stockinette and I can shave those pills off. Had NO clue at the time as to why. I also worry about the enviromental impact – though some company’s use “eco methods” (though I don’t know enough about the process to feel confident about it). Instead, she suggests doing the “bra test”: knit a swatch with the potential yarn and tuck it under your bra strap (or in the waistband of your pants for those who don’t wear bras). I’m that knitter that likes to find the yarn first and then a pattern. Silk is wonderful, although slippery to knit with. A beautiful sweater that was truly warm — without making me sweaty — was pretty elusive. Any comments about this? It balances softness with strength and has a beautiful luster. ), but the recipients would not appreciate hand was or dry clean gifts. would that include colorwork issues? I have used two different brands of ‘eco-wash’ superwash wool, which uses a different process for neutralizing the scales on the fiber. I’d appreciate a piece clarifying and comparing the environmental costs of non-fuzzy animal choices (superwash, synthetics) and maybe others as well (cotton, bamboo, linen must go through some processing as well). But I want to knit another one and I want to be sure that I’ll have the right size. The wool is soft and comfortable to wear. Same here. But there is something so nice about throwing it in wash and dryer. Pictured above are three superwash merino yarns, from the top: Neighborhood Fiber Company Studio Sock (shade: Hampden), Malabrigo Rios (shade: Apple Green), and Fiberstory Core Bulky (shade: Flutter). I just finished a gorgeous sweater in Rios and after washing and blocking it is much larger than expected. Spirit Trail, which just closed its doors (sob! Hand-dyed yarns add an artisanal touch to everything you make. link to All about Knitting Needle Sizes (Hooray! If you find it’s itchy, you might be having an issue with the staple length and you would need to find a longer staple yarn.” This is why you often see Merino wool used in infant and baby clothing. I only made a shawl and it doesn’t pill but it’s not like a sweater that we wear all the time and there’s friction. That acid treatment doesn’t make the fiber any thinner or finer of course. I am a crocheter. I'm the Furious Knitter (FK), and I write KNIT FURIOUSLY to share what I've learned from over 15 years of knitting. Oh it’s funny! This machine-washable and dryable yarn offers you a selection of solid and heathered colors that will compliment any project. No one will be surprised that my gauge is different with superwash yarn. There are many wonderful things about superwash merino wool but it wouldn’t be fair to tout its benefits without sharing its drawbacks. I know about O-Wool eco superwash, what brands did you use? Merino wool, on the other hand, is ultra-fine, giving it a soft quality. Sign up now to receive 10% off your next order in the MDK Shop! Now, I am a yarn snob and want to use wool exclusively. Depends on the brand, & the superwash process used, but generally speaking yes, superwash yarns do need to go through a warm dryer. I can run a skein of wool across my neck and red blotches/itching begin. The stuff is just no longer “wool” as you do well describe. That cabled swatch is also flat and limp because that particular yarn is not spun tightly. Experienced knitters know that using the right needle size can mean the difference between a well-fitting and overly large sweater. Unless it’s treated to be superwash. Thank you! Loosely spun yarn will pill, regardless of fiber. Having some or all of the scales altered decreases the elasticity a bit, so it’s got extra drape. I haven’t distinguished between Superwash and other wool when making sweaters for my partner. Remove and smooth the scales, and the fibers have no natural way to grip each other. What an interesting article! Thank you! If you’re going to put in the money, and more importantly, the time into hand-knitting something, you should be sure that it is actually something that you or the lucky recipient will feel comfortable wearing. These articles are fascinating; opening up a new world of knowledge for me. The most common way to create a superwash yarn is to remove the scales and then coat the yarn to smooth it (more about this process in an upcoming post). Not all wools are the same But according to an msnbc.com article, a new wool processing technique claims to eliminate the itch factor. Have you noticed that superwash yarns are grand and glorious, but they don’t really act the same as non-superwash yarns? Why do we love them so much? Regular wool has lots of this natural ingredient and that is the main source for wool being so itchy. Some people told me to knit the small instead of the medium and other people told me to keep the size but decrease the needles. And don’t discount cottons. The insides of my wrists are relatively sensitive, so I put back any yarn that I absolutely can’t stand the feel of in that area. Some of us are, unfortunately, sensitive to the structure of the animal hair itself. I blamed the design, but this was unfair I realize. Please let us know about them. I love malabrigo and I don’t want to stop knitting with it. It’s the yarn! Unlike other wool fibers, Merino wool is very fine and thin. There are a few reasons why this wool different from the others: Fiber lengthMerino wool has an excellent fiber length. I used Lansinoh religiously when I breastfed my four children. My friend in the photo is holding two damp swatches. The people who try to tell you merino wool is super soft are probably the same ones who tell you so-and-so veggie burger tastes exactly like real beef. Forest floor - 20g mini skein - 4ply platinum sock yarn - 75/25 BFL (Blue-faced Leicester) superwash wool and nylon - green, brown, gold sillylittlesheep. It will instantly soften whatever it’s blended with, as well. Eco-Concerns About Superwash Wool. So…..as beautiful as the yarn looks, I’m a non-superwash-lover ! It’s one of the few wool yarns I could wear next to my neck. Another soft option is yarn made from Bluefaced Leicester wool, though it is harder to find than Merino. Merino is prized for a low micron count and is one of the softest wool available. My daughter and son-in-law are both too busy to be handwashing garments, but they ALL love it when I knit for them. This website (knitfuriously.com) is owned and operated by the Furious Knitter (FK) and is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Wow thanks for this article! If I go inside wearing it, I break out in a sweat immediately – and moisture does not get wicked away like with non-superwash. The breed of sheep, as well as living conditions, diet, and age, etc., all contribute to the diameter of the fibers in the fleece and therefore, its itchiness. Knit it too loosely, & yes, it will stretch. If you’re choosing a pattern on Ravelry, I highly recommend looking through the projects people have made. Fleeces that are coarse, thick, or scraggly typically end up in carpets, not in garments and or the skeins that you see at your local yarn store (LYS). I think the quality of the yarn can make a big difference in the feel and look of a final product. I do not care about washability, but it is more likely to be next to skin soft. Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Yarn is available now at Jimmy Beans Wool with Free U.S. Flat Rate shipping for orders over $75, $5 U.S. Flat Rate shipping on all other orders! Is it soft or rough, stiff or drapey? A lanolin allergy is sometimes cited as the root cause of adverse reactions, but some medical research indicates that no such allergy actually exists (Kligman, 2007). Sigh. I don’t use wool for things I knit for my grandchildren due to allergic-type reactions + the machine-washing issue, but have never used superwash because I’d read about the non-elastic problem and the stretching. Is there a difference between superwash and “real” in how prone to run a bright yarn is? I use crochet thread sometimes to support heavier yarns. Expensive yes; but really soft. I like them a lot. When the fibers are shorter, or if wool has a wider fiber length, it will cause an itchy feeling. I use the dryer and find it shapes back up. The hand of the fabric and stitch definition are often the spots where love either blooms or dies on the vine for the knitter considering superwash yarn for projects that are not socks. But then, so will untreated wool. Double whammy! I will research that before buying. Asking a superwash yarn to have superior stitch definition is like trying to thread cooked angel hair pasta through the eye of a needle. I have to go down a needle size to get the same gauge I get with a similar sized non-superwash yarn that knits to the same gauge. I use superwash when making things for my granddaughter, because my daughter won’t handwash. I was thinking to switch to malabrigo worsted because it is not superwash but I heard that it pills a lot. Kligman, Albert M. (2007). The structural information all makes sense now. They are twisted around each other, but not locked together. I can now fully absolve myself from blame for the sagging mess of a hooded vest I made years ago. Thread did not seem to change the gauge, but supported the weight. That’s why it behaves more like acrylic and not like wool anymore; it’s essentially a mixed fiber. A tighter spin, like in the other 2 yarns, makes up for some if the properties that superwash can be lacking in. Rarely does fresh superwash yarn look fuzzy. Worsted Merino Superwash: 1—100g skein EACH for the Hat or Mitts color 56 Aquamarine Gauge: 20 sts, 28 rows = 4” in st st on US Size 7 (4.5mm) after blocking, 12 sts= 1 ¾â€ in Cable Pattern on US Size 7 (4.5mm) after blocking. I also find it a little bit more fragile. I’m in no way saying that superwash yarns are bad, wrong or anything negative, but they have a feel and behavior very particular to themselves. “After all, wool is made from the same protein as human hair and fingernails, and people have worn wool for millennia without complaint.”. Note, however, that Hemmons Hiatt (2012) surmises that the rise in cases of “wool” allergies stems from the proliferation of man-made materials, which can be sharp and irritating on the skin. I’m so confused what yarn would work best. You live and learn. I love super wash yarns – some of the best ones feel like cotton without the stiffness. I’m very pleased with the results, but I will only be wearing the cardigan over a shirt. You can definitely be allergic any any animal proteins. Other factors that may contribute to itchiness include: The diameter of wool is measured in microns, typically ranging from 8 to 70 microns (Hemmons Hiatt, 2012). 100% Superwash Merino Wool 4.5-5 sts/inch (US 7-9) 200 yards / 4 oz Machine Wash Cold. Yes, you need to make sure you are picking up the thread as you knit, but it has not seemed a problem. So, you can blame the itchiness of your least favorite sweater on the thickness of the wool strand. So informative. Together with woo/acrylic blends, they’re hard to beat for children’s & young adult gifts. BTW…can’t get Anny Blatt in Australia any more…. Wollmeise feels like cotton to me. Yeah, superwash yarn is weird. I’d like to make them in something soft but wont stretch out. It doesn’t stretch out any more than any other type of wool yarn as long as you knit it to the proper gauge. Merino wool is the finest fiber, with a diameter of 10-15 microns, and many consider it to be the softest. Thanks! There are some interesting fibers out there made of things like soy and milk. Baring that, however, there are simple measures that might alleviate itching and enable a person to wear wool. My impression of superwash is that it is really stretchy compared to “regular” wool. That is one flat cable. I’ve learned to be extra careful wet blocking superwash garments, and I expect them to take a little longer to dry because of the density of the yarn. Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Yarn - Worsted Merino Superwash from Plymouth is a fabulous yarn. Snippets is the Saturday newsletter full of MDK news, specials, and first look at new offerings. Additionally, where you wear the fiber affects the perceived itchiness. I was shocked the first time I felt the Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift yarn, which is used for iconic Fairisle sweaters. Some fibers are itchier than others, so with thoughtful selection and know-how, you can find the perfect yarn for your project. Superwash yarns remind me of my neighbor’s cat: beautiful, and when you pet her in exactly the right place she happily purrs. Most medical experts, while not discounting the discomfort caused by wool sensitivity, say that true wool allergies are rare. So colourful! Superwash wool is a special wool product that has been treated or processed in a way that allows it to be machine washable. Raíz by Amores Yarn Studio is dyed just for us in a palette of harmonious contrasts. Because more dye makes a deeper color, and altering the scales on the fiber allows for increased absorption of dye. Color is always what always brings me to superwash yarn. Love this article! The colors are gorgeous, but I would have to wear any garment made of Jamieson’s over top of a long-sleeved tee-shirt. Does Merino wool itch? Thank you! The sweater pattern was knit with a merino, alpaca, silk blend. Needles/Notions: US Size 6 (4mm) & … A process called “scouring” removes some but not all of this waxy coating before the wool is made into yarn. I’ve never liked superwash and only use it for gifted baby things. Over the years I have hand washed and machine washed these (on warm gentle cycle) and they still look and feel fabulous! I love the feel & drape of superwash yarns for shawls & scarves, not to mention the intensity of the colors. They also work just fine for mitts & hats as long as you pay attention to your gauge. I now need a secluded cat free area for blocking!! FK is a mostly self-taught knitter who has opinions on things. Stay tuned for more info on superwash than could fit in this article, which focuses on how these yarns behave. These days, pretty much anything I knit will pill and I have used a great variety of brands including chain yarn. Superwash yarn feels delightful; it’s smooth and supple. But with a bit of a dull knit, variegated thread adds spark. The article further says people shouldn’t argue against superwash b/c that will damage the American wool industry, while acknowledging that perhaps it is not an environmentally friendly process. Instead of swearing off knitted items for good, learn about the factors that contribute to the dreaded itchiness. I think your confusion is merited, but what is not commonly understood is that not everyone who has a problem with wool is reacting to the lanolin (or chemicals used on commercial wool). There are so very many different yarns available from which to choose, that I bet you’ll be able to find some that are just right for you. Polymers can be either natural or manmade. Thank you for the wonderful article on superwash yarns. It’s not even cotton. Look for superwash wool. Also, it seems to pill more. Might you share just what the process is that removes the yarns scales? Keep up with her exploits at jillianmoreno.com. Someone told me it was because it was washable wool but I didn’t quite believe it until now! I now know to avoid Superwashed wool when structure is important (not much of an issue since I mostly do socks). And I love knitting for them, but boy I don’t enjoy the feel of superwash yarns. There’s going to be a follow-up article apparently. They say you can put superwash in the dryer(gasp) to get it back to size. I am fading away from the “superwash”. Also receive daily new post notifications, It’s Not You, It’s the Yarn: Superwash Edition, how to save this article in your MDK account with one click, Knitter’s Notebook: Warm Hats and Good Friends, Yarn Detective: The Mysterious Phenomenon of the Gauge Shifters, Grist: A Secret Measurement for Substituting Yarn, Yarn Detective: Twist and Knitting Style, Part 2, https://www.pigeonroofstudios.com/from-the-studio/2017/9/5/superwash. This is partly due to the demand from their customers and friends. How it’s processed makes a big difference in how the skin reacts to it. So they may be better for accessories than a hard-wearing sweater. In addition, it was itchy. At the same time, we can buy non-s/w wool that has been raised locally or at least in the US. Maybe you’re visiting a quaint yarn store on vacation and don’t have time to purchase a skein and knit a swatch, let alone wear it under your bra all day. You also have trouble with alpaca? I am terribly allergic to non-superwashed wool. While sheep’s wool is notorious for its potential itchiness, lambswool is generally softer and less likely to cause skin irritation. It also reduces pilliness. A too-tight cast-on makes even the most beautiful pair of socks unwearable if you can't get it... Hello! I was confused and just continued. And I personally never want to wear anything itchy. It may be coated, but it still is a protein fiber at heart and retains many of the inherent properties of protein fibers. The young sheep provide soft, fine wool that makes for great clothing and home items. You have the warmth of wool, plenty of yardage and the added benefit of machine washability! It’s also worth noting that merino, like all wools, takes ages to dry, stretches out, is ‘warmer when wet’ when compared to cotton, rather than being truly warm, and wears out quickly, which is why it’s so often blended with synthetics. Wool is made “superwash” by running it through an acid bath. Should I use Superwash, wool blend, cotton? It slumps on the body. Some wool fabric makers try to do what is called superwash the regular wool to remove the lanolin and to make it more hypoallergenic. For non-animal options, there are also several plant-based fibers, such as cotton, linen, silk, and bamboo. Thank you for this insight into super wash wool. Linda. Little sister to Ultra Wool and Ultra Wool DK, Ultra Wool Fine is the fingering weight entry in the Berroco line. If, however, I suggest to her I’d like to pet her in a way that works for many other cats I know, but not her, I find teeth and claws attached to my hand. Superwash yarns, especially superwash merino, are some of the most loved yarns in the knitting world.  They are as seductive as an ice cream van jingling its song up your street on a hot day. I want to make these great slippers I found on YouTube. In doing this research, I was surprised to find that modern research indicates that wool allergies may not–gasp— even exist! You are not limited to just sheep’s wool when knitting; there are many fibers out there. Merino and those breeds that have a lot of merino in their breeding are my go-to for spinning and yarn buying. The hand is how a knitted fabric feels. The yarn compresses since some of the structure is missing. Oh, what a enlightening article! However if the garment is likely to be machine-washed (mainly for babies and children with very busy parents), I use a yarn that will stand up reasonably to the process, either Superwash wool, cotton or a mixture like Baby Bamboo. Even if it seems totally smooth, there are still tiny prickly bits that will set me off.). Zallmann, Michaela; Smith, Pete K.; Tang, Mimi L. K.; Spelman, Lynda J.; Cahill, Jennifer L.; Wortmann, Gabriele; Katelaris, Constance H.; Allen, Katrina J.; Su, John C. (2017). I had to laugh when you said you must ‘cleanse your palate’ with real wool, because I am the same way! The scales are removed via a chemical process, not mechanical. Wear it for a few hours and see if you can tolerate the feeling of it close to an area of sensitive skin. However, this is not the best way to determine if the yarn will be itchy. Merino fibers are much finer and softer than standard wool and easy to wear all day. Wool that is on a sheep has an oily coating called lanolin, which acts as a natural water repellent and softener. I use it for gifts because even those who know better sometimes pitch a scarf or hat into the wash without thinking, although I did knit myself a sweater from superwash because, YES, the COLOR! In today’s world where we are drowning in our own waste, consumers need to be informed as to what exactly we are buying before making a choice to buy or not. It’s a great approximation of what wearing a sweater made from that yarn would feel like! This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. A recent review of various literature from the past hundred years found that the wool fiber itself does not cause allergic reactions, just irritation. Now I know why I keep buying superwash even though I tell myself I prefer “real” wool — it’s the color. To Be or Not To Be a Hypocrite: American Superwash Wool https://www.pigeonroofstudios.com/from-the-studio/2017/9/5/superwash Maybe your “local shepherdess” ought to learn something about her industry before she mouths off. Then I washed it and VOILA it stretched to the pattern! But people frequently comment they can’t wear wool because it’s itchy, or uncomfortable or they think they’re allergic to it. I’m not sure if wearing it next to my bare back/stomach would cause a flare up. Debunking the Myth of Wool Allergy: Reviewing the Evidence for Immune and Non-immune Cutaneous Reactions. Disclaimer: I will be using "itchy" and "scratchy" interchangeably and incorrectly throughout but I'm doing it intentionally to be gramatically whimsical. (Superwash yarns therefore are not candidates for gauge shifting.). Due to the coating and/or removal of scales, superwash wool can feel smoother or softer than other yarns. It balances softness with strength and has a beautiful luster. Let’s push the American wool industry to support less toxic and more environmentally responsible s/w processes and, in the meantime, let’s continue to raise awareness of what the s/w process is and why it needs to change. No reaction. I have 3x 30 year old (approx) handknits I made from Anny Blatt No.4 and there is still not a pill in sight. In fact, wool very rarely causes allergic reactions and does not promote growth of bacteria, which is part of its secret to remaining fresh and clean through many wears. We commonly wear merino shirts as daily pieces, but they’re also our articles of choice for long-distance activities like backpacking or marathon running. However, I knitted a wonderful sweater with Rios and when I blocked it grew like twice the size. Consider line drying your superwash wool crochet items. I’ve only used the dk but loved it, too: made a highly textured baby sweater and texture totally popped, which hasn’t been my experience with regular SW wool. (You can read about superwash in this blog post.) Swans Island has a sport, dk & aran. Superfine and ultrafine Merino wool do not activate sufficient c-fibres to cause itch, are … This tells me not to stray looser than the suggested gauge. What do these yarns look like when used in a crochet? It's also sometimes referred to as washable wool. As one reader said “some of us are allergic to wool or have super sensitive skin and merino wool is itchy.” Another reader added how “Merino is a short staple wool. Luckily, that wasn’t my only experience with wool clothing. Started using super wash wool this past year for baby things and went on to make a crib blanket in it and was generally disappointed. (Also, camel! Since some of the natural structure is missing from the yarn, it’s splitty, less elastic, and it compresses easily. As one who uses superwash for a lot of gifts, I have knitted a lot of samples (my word for swatch) to look at the colors and patterns. Autocorrected! You can often find her on the couch, eating snacks and knitting furiously (in both senses of the word). Not all wool yarn is itchy. Good luck, and, Happy Knitting! Up to this point, after looking and touching, I am deeply in love with superwash yarn, but what happens in the swatching and knitting is what makes me a cautious superwash lover. I know my stash is stuffed with colorful superwash yarns of all sizes. First, try yarns made with Merino wool, particularly fine and ultra-fine. This worsted weight yarn is incredibly soft, a great choice for everything from afghans to baby projects, and comes in a wide range of fabulous colors, including shades specially chosen by author, designer, instructor and D.I.Y. The would like to hear about them. This approach may not work for all with critter allergies or sensitivities but I am ever so happy it works for me. What makes superwash yarns both super and washable is the removal and/or suppression of the tiny scales that cover each individual fiber. Even if science eventually determines that a wool allergy is not actually an allergy, that doesn’t mean that wool will magically feel smooth and nice to some people. I would appreciate it. Great blogpost. Although we don’t use Superwash, we still want to achieve a soft quality. Just after I let a comment I went to malabrigo site to read about the yarns and I just saw that chunky is not really superwash! ? A fair price but worth it if you can afford them. I, like many others who commented, prefer non-superwash outside of sock knitting and gifts for people who won’t hand wash. Great article. “coat the yarn to smooth it” isn’t fully addressed. Buffalo! But that doesn’t necessarily follow! Are there other great fibers that would work for me besides wearing a turtleneck under all my projects? IMore thought and swatching now imperative thanx!!! This irritation is undeniable, though the severity varies from person to person. yes, superwash really behaves differently – but even more: not long ago I knit a beanie in some superwash, but I don’t like wearing it anymore because I either sweat or freeze in it. A quick trip through the dryer (warm/permapress setting) in a lingerie bag, but along with other regular laundry, & the Rios snapped back to its originally knitted size. Specially the hats I don’t wet block because I don’t want them to get huge. Sweaters with superwash are a recipe for disaster and disappointment. I knit furiously, meaning that I am a fast and prolific knitter and that I swear loudly every time I drop a stitch. And you have options! Even though most are machine dry, they often last longer if they are dried on a line (or laid flat to dry). If the yarn were not superwash it would have almost no bend, instead it hangs there like Droopy Dog. Like the samples in the article above, you may find that the pattern looks baggy, stretched out, or loses the stitch definition in those projects. (And yes, I raise alpacas). I am looking for a yarn for a sweater pattern. For reference, Merino clocks in between 60 and 90, and the vast majority of wool has a count between 40 and 60. When the yarn hits the water all of my beautiful knitting goes limp like a tired toddler asked to pick up toys (shrieking, optional). It’s easy to see why people feel allergic to wool. ), link to How to Knit an Actually Stretchy Cast-on, recent review of various literature from the past hundred years, any chemicals for processing or added fragrance, “leftovers” in wool that was minimally processed, such as bits of hay, twigs, or pollen. Is there any “best” way for changing threads (eg Russian join, knot) in superwash? — And you WILL block it, right? It would be interesting to include discussion of the chemical process used when creating superwash yarns. And another thing: odors stay in the fabric untill they’re washed – with non-superwash it’s enough to air the garment. Coating the yarn, like putting pomade on your hair, compresses and smoothes the fibers, making the yarn dense and even. (2012). Did NOT realize all this was true about Superwash. ), had a worsted & a dk weight (Luna & Selene) and they both were wonderful. It does become very soft though but I usually knit with it for that drape. Lambswool is quite literally wool from lambs. I have heard recently that some people in the U.S. are making it using less toxic methods. Bamboo also. So back to the drawing board. This is such a good article! I’m not a sock knitter but might consider using SW for that. It would be great if you would publish an article on how to block/resize superwash. Characteristics of wool also vary greatly among breeds. And of course knitting means you can frequently recognize them — they stick out from the twist, right? Yak! Happy knitting!! I was wondering the same… Gonna have to get myself some and find out…. These altered scales can make the yarn and its resulting fabric  a little tricky. Superwash wool is still a popular choice for those who like to hand-dye yarns. She also mentioned how it squeaks when knitted, and how it stretches out. What is the best option? My goodness… I bought Cloudborn superwash yarn and the crochet stitches were tighter than what was projected on the pattern. I always need to have a good woolly project going at the same time to cleanse my pallet after all the slickness of the superwash. Zallmann et al. I just used a silk/baby alpaca blend to knit my first cardigan, and it’s lovely. A few years ago, I saw an interesting thread on Ravelry (the social network for fiber folk) about the annual tradition of griping about ungrateful recipients of knitted Christmas gifts. So far, we’ve seen that a blanket avoidance of sheep’s wool is not necessary to prevent itchiness. I have learned the hard way, how it can react in a garment if not knit to a tight gauge, but I love it for shawls, accessories, and baby gifts. Some knitters find that their sensitive skin can tolerate alpaca, angora, and cashmere. New York, NY: Touchstone. The bra test saved me from spending over $100 on Icelandic yarn that I saw online; it was way too scratchy for me. But I don’t like the softness. Here 8n Australia you can buy merino undergarments. Great info! I checked the Malabrigo website for any washing tips and it says to dry flat. Louise Scolley of the excellent WoolWork podcast rejects this way of testing yarn, which she calls the “hand-squish-grab” method. For example, “lamb’s wool” comes from sheep that are less than eight months of age and typically feels softer and finer than wool from older animals. However, bear in mind that the processing of superwash affects the natural absorbency of wool and may cause more moisture to accumulate on your skin, leading to other discomfort and irritation. Isn’t there a test you can do with yarn samples that will identify plastic coatings on yarn, a burn test? I haven’t been able to find out much about the processes used though. Merino generally feels soft and stays together, whereas I find Mohair/Angora is generally itchy and sheds a lot so I breathe it in. A person with wool allergies has an allergic response, just like a person with an allergy to cats or pollen would have when they come into contact with those allergens. In this case, my go-to method for a quick test is to rub the yarn against an area of delicate skin. It feels heavy for merino yarn, but it’s a languorous heft. The original poster brought up the extremely useful point that you should not waste your time knitting wool garments for people who think wool is too itchy. A soft, undercoat-like fiber is wonderful, but I feel every little guard hair that’s gotten caught in there, and they make me break out. Now I know not to block like I would other yarn. There is nothing approaching crisp stitch definition unless it is knit tightly. I really want and have wanted to knit with non-superwash wool for years now, but what has stopped me are the colours. Wool has a reputation for being itchy, primarily due to the make-up of the individual yarn fibers. She wrote the book Yarnitecture: A Knitter’s Guide to Spinning: Building Exactly the Yarn You Want so she could use all of the fiber words. Instead I have a stash of polyester/acrylic that I use for hats and mittens etc for the family. I also seem to have trouble with alpaca. The Principles of Knitting. I’ve knit all kinds of things out of superwash yarn in a variety of gauges, and the knitting and the resulting fabric are never quite what I expect. Due to the coating and/or removal of scales, superwash wool can feel smoother or softer than other yarns. If you are looking for a cable that stands at attention, superwash yarns can be a little, um, flaccid. Non Allergenic and Antibacterial While many people claim to have wool allergies, for many they are mistaking an allergy for sensitivity to coarser wool fibers, which can be itchy. I guess the merino puzzle in my case may be because allergies mean I’m very sensitive to generally itchy fibres (mohair, alpaca with long guard hairs, even my own hair) as well as allergic to specific fibres if I inhale them or they get into my skin. I know my shepherdess and her sheep, and I like buying yarn from her because I like supporting local farmers. Only 3 available and it's in 2 people's carts. Most knitters who are not allergic or sensitive to wool love using that natural fiber for warmth, springiness, and great wearing in … Swish is the superwash of knitters’ dreams! Superwash Merino wool is a wool yarn that is machine washable and dry-able (at certain weights) and much less rough feeling than traditional Merino and other, thicker, wools. Cutaneous irritation from wool relates to high fibre diameters (≥ 30-32 µm). I’m surprised because it grows a lot! The defensive line is not as structurally sound. If you are creating a pattern that requires some degree of natural felting, such as for steeks, a very soft yarn may not be the best option. However, the enzyme we use is an environmentally friendly enzyme also used in laundry detergent. The Myth of the Lanolin Allergy. My biggest complaint about the fibers I can use is that they tend not to have much spring in them. I usually knit my scarves a little bit shorter because after blocking it becomes longer. I also suggest that you investigate different breeds of sheep and keep experimenting with touching wool. Same goes for sweaters. True, they aren’t as enjoyable in the hand as knitting with an animal fiber, but it’s hardly a struggle. If you do knit tighter, that further compresses the yarn and makes the fabric heavier. Oh wow how serendipitous this post was!!!! It feels dense and squishy. Under this process, there is no need to coat the yarn with resin. It combines both the fineness and the micron diameter. I know there’s a lot of debate back and forth on Superwash to begin with, but this completely gives me a different sense of perspective to consider in the future. I also feel bad about using it – that the yarn has been destroyed, effectively, to make it easier to clean. And, of course, blends of all these fibers can tone down the itchiness of 100% wool. Jill thank you for a great lesson. haven’t been able to for a long time. Why? I am looking forward to more info on how the “de-scaling” is achieved. Your analagies really helped me connect with your ideas. My guess is that I am irritated by the wider end of the hair shaft, possibly because it was cut rather than having a tapered end like the other side. It is important to remember that the softness of finer wools comes with a trade-off. I haven’t used superwash yarns before, but now I can since I understand what it means….thanks again. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I’ve read that there is concern about the large amount of chemicals that are flushed into the waste water during the superwash treatment process. Because the fibers aren’t hanging on to each other, superwash yarns work best if knit tightly to help give them some of the structure that they are missing. Hi! Itchy. Are there other great fibers that would work for me besides wearing a turtleneck under all my projects? That’s easy: washability (duh), softness and color. My own kids had real wool sweaters that I washed carefully. N.B. I’ve spun wool, starting right from the sheep, and the lanolin makes my hands soft; they don’t break out. Thanks for this but I am disheartened! I struggle with deciding to knit with superwash. Love this environmently friendly wash cloth idea. So I began to stabilize the ‘samples’ I made with whatever I had on hand: I added thread for light yarns, usually in an matching color to make it invisible. I can run a skein of wool across my neck and red blotches/itching begin. What do you look for if you don’t want yarn to pill? I too fell to the color and washability. I wear it anyway even if it was more beautiful before. but it is plasticated! From shawls and scarves to lightweight sweaters, this family-friendly yarn … Due to their natural smoothness, they are not likely to cause skin irritation in those who cannot tolerate sheep’s wool. Irritating. You may have more luck with baby alpaca (suri) than just “alpaca”. Our Valley Yarns Valley Superwash is made from 100% extra fine Merino wool, and it's machine-washable in cold water with a mild detergent or Eucalan. Sometimes a superwash wool will be a little softer. The colour, lovely in the skein, just doesn’t satisfy me knitted up. I always put a towel or two in with it. While these are not “wool,” they are natural fibers from animals that will retain heat and give you a similar look to sheep’s wool. One good thing, my LYS (Stars Hollow in New Preston, CT) has some superwash that is minimally processed and not coated in plastic. Sign up for our weekly newsletter full of MDK fun, and you'll save 10% on your next order. Superwash merino is a joy to wear. I hope pattern designers make an effort to indicate if super wash is appropriate for a given pattern. The sensitive skin around your neck may not tolerate scratchier wools, but your arms and forehead may do just fine with a rugged Shetland sweater or hat. Like you, Maureen, I only knit with superwash yarns when making garments for our grands. Any advice is appreciated, but please do not suggest I quit knitting!!! My only guess is that as a breed merino was isolated a long time ago and is just…different. It is, however also because the fibre absorbs water and dye much more quickly than wool in it’s natural state. (And, as a plant comparison, linen is a general no-no for me for the same reason. Thank you. So far, I have used superwash because minus scales I seem to be okay. Now, I am new to blocking and try to do it right but I now have a sweater I can’t wear. Just the ticket for children’s clothes, afghans, charity knitting and gift knitting. Even though some researchers still consider wool an unlikely allergen, recent data has identified a specific component of lanolin that may … Thank you! Most of the wool comes from China where they process it into superwash using toxic chemicals to remove the scales, and resins/ plastics to coat it. Hemmons Hiatt, June. Anecdotally speaking, I am much more likely to develop a rash (which looks like an allergic reaction) to certain fibers than my husband. And of course there are many alternatives to wool too. DILLING’s organic range is an example of untreated wool. I’ve heard of acrylic squeaking, but not superwash yarn, ever. The factor that most contributes to itchiness is the diameter of the wool strand. So far, I have used superwash because minus scales I seem to be okay. Two questions: How about a guide to the most vivid colors in non-superwash yarns? I am a knitting newbie…..with a wool allergy. Plastic washes out of fabrics right into our waste water that we will eventually drink. A micron is one-millionth of a meter or about .00004 inches. Question: why does some yarn pill and others don’t? Having tested allergic to everything with fur or feathers, wool and hair included, I can nonetheless wear high quality merino next to my skin. This is what gives wool it's itchy feel and it's remarkable ability to shed water, body oils, etc. Merino turns the notion that wool is itchy and uncomfortable completely on its head. YES!! For example, if you’ve seen “Merino wool” advertised on storebought sweaters, that is most likely a marketing tactic to capitalize on the association with fineness and quality. But even with seemingly soft animal fibers I can have problems. Wool has been worn for centuries—and for centuries people have itched while wearing wool. Trying to decide if that is a big mistake. Case in point, a Better Bucket hat knit for my sister in Malabrigo Rios would have fit a basketball when it came out of a handwash bath in Eucalan. Silk is another animal-produced fiber, though it has a distinctive look and does not have the same heat-retaining properties. And it’s slippery somehow; installing the zipper was a nightmare. Not cashmere, soft as it is, not bunny. But it does smooth off the scales on the outer surface of the hair. I also seem to have trouble with alpaca. The cable swatch in the photo is knit with bulky yarn, with many plies, at the gauge suggested by the ballband. For the most part I have never had family or friends who knit (online has been an all time bonus! Have you tried yak or camel? I like them for my grand kiddos garments…but I used a Superwash to knit Marie Greene’s Foxtrot KAL. Sleeves and body lengthened by 4 (!) SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash Worsted **POWER BOOST - 100%** This machine-washable worsted weight yarn is a workhorse and suitable for just about everything. The one on the right is knit to the gauge suggested by the ballband (4.5 stitches to the inch) and the one on the left just slightly looser (4.25 stitches to the inch). Do you have any experience making garments with this yarn? I was loving my Millamia fair isle WIP – so soft! Will heed your advice to not stray from gauge. The Bradford system is a traditional but “hand-wavy” index to indicate the quality of wool. Knitted gauge according to pattern, but gauge must have looser than called for by the band! So if it’s so soft, why don’t we all just knit with 100% Merino all the time? They give wonderful drape, but the look of the quintessential snuggly woolen sweater still eludes me. Thanks Jillian. When you're knitting something that needs to stretch, you need the right stretchy cast-on to match. Alpaca is supposed to be hypoallergenic as compared to sheep’s wool as it doesn’t have the lanolin sheep’s wool has. Plastic is now believed to be in our water cycle. However, according to recent medical research, this condition is much rarer (if not non-existent) than the many claims would have you believe. Supposedly the manufacturing process is kinder to the environment. In addition, wool that is extremely soft and smooth (especially superwash) will not naturally cling to itself as readily as coarser yarns. Therefore, our wool undergoes an enzyme treatment to remove any itchy hairs from the wool fibres. Is that a misnomer!!! Reply Anne February 12, 2015 at 1:41 am. The thick wool uniform was like wearing a sweatsuit. No more superwash for me! As someone who suffered with scratchy wool socks & clothing as a child, all in the name of warmth, you can keep the so-called natural stuff for anything but carpets & outerwear that will never come within 5 yards of bare skin. Jillian Moreno spins, knits and weaves just so she can touch all of the fibers. Superwash is actually more elastic than acrylic. Do superwash yarns pill any differently than regular wool? Let’s go! 5 out of 5 stars (63) 63 reviews $ 5.54. Superwash yarn is extra smooth, and the color is so intense that it looks like a cartoon idea of yarn. My favorite yarns are both superwash: malabrigo Rios and malabrigo chunky. If you want to knit a sweater with superwash yarn (and – truth be told – sometimes that’s the way to go, especially if itchy yarns bother you), be sure to keep in mind that it’s going to grow in length when you block it. When I washed and “blocked” I was furious. (This is why superwash yarns are great for socks.). Looking forward to it! But choice is useful. Tania Fiber Arts have a non-superwash washable yarn and so do Rosy Green Wool. Thicker strands feel itchier and coarser. (You can even do a search through them.) I avoid Superwash if I’m knitting for myself or for somebody that I know I can trust to hand wash. I’d much rather use some lovely Shetland, Blue Face Leicester or alpaca yarn that mellows with age. I have no other explanation for why something would feel soft in hand, but be unwearable on my neck or back. Is that a good combination? Of course, you will. Thank you for the eye opening article on Superwash yarns! And pill. Merino definitely ain’t silk. After reading this article, I feel like I need to get rid of all my yarn, everything is Superwash! For me this shows up most when superwash yarns are wet. Superwash wool is a tried-and-true favorite of so many fiber artists because it is deliciously soft, a natural fiber, and you can wash it! When you’re starting out, you may gauge the softness of wool by squeezing the ball or skein when you’re at your local yarn store. The yarn cannot be trusted over that weight of fitted fabric. Can you elucidate? As a life long knitter, I’m rather nervous about doing that. I get inchiness rashes, hives, sore throat, coughing and wheezing. All about Knitting Needle Sizes (Hooray!). (2007) found that fine and ultrafine Merino did not trigger skin irritation, so this is a great place to start. Many people, my mom included, have been told and/or believe that they have a wool allergy. Can you wear itchy wool, or do you opt for soft yarns only? Instead, you want to look for yarns that are made with finer fibers that don’t irritate the skin. I’ve seen knitters blame themselves for superwash knitting that goes a little awry, but as I always say: it’s not you; it’s the yarn. But I still prefer good old wool. Items made of softer yarns will pill and wear out quickly, so consider how durable and long-lasting you want your finished item to be when picking yarn. Fiddling with the scales on the fibers in the superwash process affects how the fiber behaves. If you have torn off the offending garment in protest and noticed a rash or red skin, it is most likely due to your skin being irritated by the coarse fibers, not an allergy (Zallmann et al., 2017). Merino wool isn’t itchy _for you_, but it’s itchy for plenty of people. The lack of elasticity allows your block to hold all of those YOs open. A highly spun superwash can have lovely crisp stitch definition! It brings a languid drape to your shawl, like reading and swinging in a hammock on a summer afternoon. If you have a wool allergy, or specifically a lanolin allergy, this may be true for you. If you are a lace knitter, particularly with a penchant for lace shawls, the smooth heaviness of superwash gives your piece swing. Acta Dermato-Venereologica, 97, 906-915. https://doi.org/10.2340/00015555-2655. However, bear in mind that the processing of superwash affects the natural absorbency of wool and may cause more moisture to accumulate on … It stretched beyond belief. There are some wonderful cottons out there, and I’m currently making myself a cotton pullover that I can use to transition into fall. These yarns are much closer to non-SW wool in my experience – bouncier, less dense, feel more wooly. Cheap wool will likely be itchy. Wool Allergies . My next sweater is going to have colorwork and all three skeins are superwash. 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