Additionally, where you wear the fiber affects the perceived itchiness. 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). (Superwash yarns therefore are not candidates for gauge shifting.). And yes, dearies, there is always silk, and then linen, bamboo, cotton, hemp and other scrumptious fibers. Many blends can be machines washed. 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 partly due to the demand from their customers and friends. Some fibers are itchier than others, so with thoughtful selection and know-how, you can find the perfect yarn for your project. Instead, you want to look for yarns that are made with finer fibers that don’t irritate the skin. I, like many others who commented, prefer non-superwash outside of sock knitting and gifts for people who won’t hand wash. Great 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 thick wool uniform was like wearing a sweatsuit. However, according to recent medical research, this condition is much rarer (if not non-existent) than the many claims would have you believe. But there is something so nice about throwing it in wash and dryer. However, bear in mind that the processing of superwash affects the natural absorbency of wool and may cause more moisture to accumulate on … 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. I’d like to make them in something soft but wont stretch out. Snippets is the Saturday newsletter full of MDK news, specials, and first look at new offerings. 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. You may have more luck with baby alpaca (suri) than just “alpaca”. (You can read about superwash in this blog post.) Now I know why I keep buying superwash even though I tell myself I prefer “real” wool — it’s the color. 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). The wool is non Superwash. You can definitely be allergic any any animal proteins. My next sweater is going to have colorwork and all three skeins are superwash. I also feel bad about using it – that the yarn has been destroyed, effectively, to make it easier to clean. No reaction. This machine-washable and dryable yarn offers you a selection of solid and heathered colors that will compliment any project. When it’s knit looser than suggested gauge it really doesn’t hold the shape of the stitches well, dry or wet. Superwash is actually more elastic than acrylic. You have the warmth of wool, plenty of yardage and the added benefit of machine washability! 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. The bra test saved me from spending over $100 on Icelandic yarn that I saw online; it was way too scratchy for me. Needles/Notions: US Size 6 (4mm) & … I usually knit hats and scarves with them. And it’s slippery somehow; installing the zipper was a nightmare. haven’t been able to for a long time. Jillian Moreno spins, knits and weaves just so she can touch all of the fibers. What is the best option? I do not care about washability, but it is more likely to be next to skin soft. Brilliant article, I had no idea there was such a difference, thank you so much!! Thank you for the info on the coating process. There are some wonderful cottons out there, and I’m currently making myself a cotton pullover that I can use to transition into fall. 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. 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. I love super wash yarns – some of the best ones feel like cotton without the stiffness. Also, it seems to pill more. A long time ago I only knitted with acrylic. These yarns are much closer to non-SW wool in my experience – bouncier, less dense, feel more wooly. Is there a difference between superwash and “real” in how prone to run a bright yarn is? I always put a towel or two in with it. Eco-Concerns About Superwash Wool. I use crochet thread sometimes to support heavier yarns. “After all, wool is made from the same protein as human hair and fingernails, and people have worn wool for millennia without complaint.”. A micron is one-millionth of a meter or about .00004 inches. I also find it a little bit more fragile. When I study a yarn, I look and touch first, then I swatch. I blamed the design, but this was unfair I realize. 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. Is that a misnomer!!! They give wonderful drape, but the look of the quintessential snuggly woolen sweater still eludes me. So far, I have used superwash because minus scales I seem to be okay. Therefore, our wool undergoes an enzyme treatment to remove any itchy hairs from the wool fibres. I like them for my grand kiddos garments…but I used a Superwash to knit Marie Greene’s Foxtrot KAL. Wollmeise feels like cotton to me. Thank you! I’m like you — one of the big benefits of learning to knit was being able to wear a sweater that wasn’t nylon, cotton, or acrylic — it’s really limiting when you go shopping. The structural information all makes sense now. 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. Please let us know about them. For non-animal options, there are also several plant-based fibers, such as cotton, linen, silk, and bamboo. 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. Sweaters with superwash are a recipe for disaster and disappointment. I think for those of us who mostly buy online, that’s especially potent — it’s hard to appreciate subtle colors online. The yarn compresses since some of the structure is missing. Then I washed it and VOILA it stretched to the pattern! Now I know not to block like I would other yarn. This is why you often see Merino wool used in infant and baby clothing. It feels dense and squishy. Unless it’s treated to be superwash. There are the very occasional stiff hairs, but those are easy to pull away as you knit. I used Lansinoh religiously when I breastfed my four children. Same here. Try to find projects that were made with the type of yarn you’ll be using (or similar). Superwashed wool I can wear with no problem for the most part. 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. My goodness… I bought Cloudborn superwash yarn and the crochet stitches were tighter than what was projected on the pattern. 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’m not sure if wearing it next to my bare back/stomach would cause a flare up. But that doesn’t necessarily follow! Should say Tanis Fiber Arts. I was loving my Millamia fair isle WIP – so soft! A fair price but worth it if you can afford them. I think O-Wool is one of them . But I still prefer good old wool. Did NOT realize all this was true about Superwash. I now know to avoid Superwashed wool when structure is important (not much of an issue since I mostly do socks). 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). It’s not even cotton. It makes me nervous to think of extra drape ‘releasing’ the ends….. Plastic washes out of fabrics right into our waste water that we will eventually drink. To Be or Not To Be a Hypocrite: American Superwash Wool Maybe your “local shepherdess” ought to learn something about her industry before she mouths off. YES!! Will heed your advice to not stray from gauge. Spirit Trail, which just closed its doors (sob! I love the feel & drape of superwash yarns for shawls & scarves, not to mention the intensity of the colors. It’s the yarn! But that superwash is done with synthetic chemicals … It balances softness with strength and has a beautiful luster. I am going to frog back beyond the pockets and redo shorter, then if it stretches it won’t matter. 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. Color is always what always brings me to superwash yarn. Knitted gauge according to pattern, but gauge must have looser than called for by the band! 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. While sheep’s wool is notorious for its potential itchiness, lambswool is generally softer and less likely to cause skin irritation. DILLING’s organic range is an example of untreated wool. I made a Boxy Pullover out of Superwash Malabrigo Rios and it seems to pill. I was shocked the first time I felt the Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift yarn, which is used for iconic Fairisle sweaters. Merino definitely ain’t silk. Little sister to Ultra Wool and Ultra Wool DK, Ultra Wool Fine is the fingering weight entry in the Berroco line. A too-tight cast-on makes even the most beautiful pair of socks unwearable if you can't get it... Hello! Thank you for the wonderful article on superwash yarns. More chemical pollution in our water we don’t need, right? Are there other great fibers that would work for me besides wearing a turtleneck under all my projects? That said, the colors are so bright and alluring! The worst thing you can knit is the item that you won’t wear. It may be coated, but it still is a protein fiber at heart and retains many of the inherent properties of protein fibers. So if it’s so soft, why don’t we all just knit with 100% Merino all the time? This is such a good article! Pilling has more to do with how tightly a yarn is spun, rather than superwash treatment. Knit a Norwegian sweater for son 2 years ago. Louise Scolley of the excellent WoolWork podcast rejects this way of testing yarn, which she calls the “hand-squish-grab” method. But according to an article, a new wool processing technique claims to eliminate the itch factor. Even rugged outdoorsy types might notice: wool against the tender skin at the neck, at the wrists, can be torture. Any comments about this? 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. Another soft option is yarn made from Bluefaced Leicester wool, though it is harder to find than Merino. This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. They tend to be very silky and lovely to wear, although my experience was that they will pill. Trying to decide if that is a big mistake. No one will be surprised that my gauge is different with superwash yarn. Unlike other wool fibers, Merino wool is very fine and thin. A recent review of various literature from the past hundred years found that the wool fiber itself does not cause allergic reactions, just irritation. Cutaneous irritation from wool relates to high fibre diameters (≥ 30-32 µm). I also suggest that you investigate different breeds of sheep and keep experimenting with touching wool. But I want to knit another one and I want to be sure that I’ll have the right size. The stuff is just no longer “wool” as you do well describe. This highly twisted yarn is soft, spongy and has excellent stitch definition. I can now fully absolve myself from blame for the sagging mess of a hooded vest I made years ago. Merino and those breeds that have a lot of merino in their breeding are my go-to for spinning and yarn buying. Finishing a couple commissioned blanket and was pondering an Autumn sweater for myself in superwash fingering!!!! They also work just fine for mitts & hats as long as you pay attention to your gauge. I would appreciate any feedback. For reference, Merino clocks in between 60 and 90, and the vast majority of wool has a count between 40 and 60. But with a bit of a dull knit, variegated thread adds spark. It would be interesting to include discussion of the chemical process used when creating superwash yarns. I made a second sweater “Roger”, but this time a little tighter tension and have not blocked yet. But then, so will untreated wool. 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. First, try yarns made with Merino wool, particularly fine and ultra-fine. Love this environmently friendly wash cloth idea. Due to their natural smoothness, they are not likely to cause skin irritation in those who cannot tolerate sheep’s wool. Forest floor - 20g mini skein - 4ply platinum sock yarn - 75/25 BFL (Blue-faced Leicester) superwash wool and nylon - green, brown, gold sillylittlesheep. I have used two different brands of ‘eco-wash’ superwash wool, which uses a different process for neutralizing the scales on the fiber. I read that a garment made of superwash wool should be dried in the dryer in order to maintain its shape. Keep up with her exploits at Superwash yarns (mainly merino, but other superwash yarns, too) have properties that make a knitted fabric that is a little different from their non-superwash sisters. The scales are removed via a chemical process, not mechanical. Some knitters find that their sensitive skin can tolerate alpaca, angora, and cashmere. Merino generally feels soft and stays together, whereas I find Mohair/Angora is generally itchy and sheds a lot so I breathe it in. Superwash yarns remind me of my neighbor’s cat: beautiful, and when you pet her in exactly the right place she happily purrs. Oh, what a enlightening article! 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! Merino turns the notion that wool is itchy and uncomfortable completely on its head. At the same time, we can buy non-s/w wool that has been raised locally or at least in the US. However, some of the softest yarns on the market these days are wool yarns and wool blends. Jill thank you for a great lesson. She also mentioned how it squeaks when knitted, and how it stretches out. Because more dye makes a deeper color, and altering the scales on the fiber allows for increased absorption of dye. I know about O-Wool eco superwash, what brands did you use? My daughter and son-in-law are both too busy to be handwashing garments, but they ALL love it when I knit for them. Merino fibers are much finer and softer than standard wool and easy to wear all day. 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. A tighter spin, like in the other 2 yarns, makes up for some if the properties that superwash can be lacking in. Two questions: How about a guide to the most vivid colors in non-superwash yarns? Yes, you need to make sure you are picking up the thread as you knit, but it has not seemed a problem. I also seem to have trouble with alpaca. Thank you! 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). This website ( 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 Many people, my mom included, have been told and/or believe that they have a wool allergy. 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. I use superwash when making things for my granddaughter, because my daughter won’t handwash. I can run a skein of wool across my neck and red blotches/itching begin. I can run a skein of wool across my neck and red blotches/itching begin. But it does smooth off the scales on the outer surface of the hair. 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). Sign up for our weekly newsletter full of MDK fun, and you'll save 10% on your next order. 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. Stay tuned for more info on superwash than could fit in this article, which focuses on how these yarns behave. It’s one of the few wool yarns I could wear next to my neck. Should I use Superwash, wool blend, cotton? One good thing, my LYS (Stars Hollow in New Preston, CT) has some superwash that is minimally processed and not coated in plastic. By selecting high grade Merino wool (20.5 microns), we have been able to produce a machine washable yarn that is super soft - definitely worthy of being worn against a baby's skin. The lack of elasticity allows your block to hold all of those YOs open. 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. 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. Is it soft or rough, stiff or drapey? Hi! I am a knitting newbie…..with a wool allergy. Lambswool is quite literally wool from lambs. I have heard people complain that cotton is stiff or hurts their hands, but the ones I’ve used don’t really bother me. Trying to even the stitches out again, has become a nightmare. BTW…can’t get Anny Blatt in Australia any more…. Thank you! Loosely spun yarn will pill, regardless of fiber. My only guess is that as a breed merino was isolated a long time ago and is just…different. Thank you! Sign up now to receive 10% off your next order in the MDK Shop! Wow thanks for this article! It balances softness with strength and has a beautiful luster. Still, too soft for my taste…. I was confused and just continued. 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. Oh it’s funny! 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). And you have options! Instead of swearing off knitted items for good, learn about the factors that contribute to the dreaded itchiness. Cheap wool will likely be itchy. Reply Anne February 12, 2015 at 1:41 am. So they may be better for accessories than a hard-wearing sweater. Even if it seems totally smooth, there are still tiny prickly bits that will set me off.). IMore thought and swatching now imperative thanx!!! Ahhh, allergy. 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. 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). Bamboo also. I’m that knitter that likes to find the yarn first and then a pattern. Can you elucidate? All about Knitting Needle Sizes (Hooray!). But even with seemingly soft animal fibers I can have problems. It’s a great approximation of what wearing a sweater made from that yarn would feel like! And of course there are many alternatives to wool too. The young sheep provide soft, fine wool that makes for great clothing and home items. 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. In this case, my go-to method for a quick test is to rub the yarn against an area of delicate skin. It is also why regular wool is not considered to be hypoallergenic while alpaca wool is considered to be hypoallergenic. 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. I’m surprised because it grows a lot! FK is a mostly self-taught knitter who has opinions on things. Why? Sigh. Silk is another animal-produced fiber, though it has a distinctive look and does not have the same heat-retaining properties. Fiddling with the scales on the fibers in the superwash process affects how the fiber behaves. 100% Superwash Merino Wool 4.5-5 sts/inch (US 7-9) 200 yards / 4 oz Machine Wash Cold. Does Merino wool itch? Superfine and ultrafine Merino wool do not activate sufficient c-fibres to cause itch, are … Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Yarn - Worsted Merino Superwash from Plymouth is a fabulous yarn. I am sure some of you out there have chemistry backgrounds and can share suggestions that would make reading yarn labels easier. Thread did not seem to change the gauge, but supported the weight. But choice is useful. 5 out of 5 stars (63) 63 reviews $ 5.54. A beautiful sweater that was truly warm — without making me sweaty — was pretty elusive. I am a crocheter. I will research that before buying. I would appreciate it. ? You also have trouble with alpaca? Happy knitting!! This irritation is undeniable, though the severity varies from person to person. This article is very informative. I have heard recently that some people in the U.S. are making it using less toxic methods. Might you share just what the process is that removes the yarns scales? For me this shows up most when superwash yarns are wet. 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. After reading this article, I feel like I need to get rid of all my yarn, everything is Superwash! So, you can blame the itchiness of your least favorite sweater on the thickness of the wool strand. Sometimes a superwash wool will be a little softer. If you’re choosing a pattern on Ravelry, I highly recommend looking through the projects people have made. — and pull them as you knit (as I mention in my other post below). 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. The color of superwash yarn can be concentrated and much brighter than the same color on a non-superwash yarn of the same breed/blend. Over the years I have hand washed and machine washed these (on warm gentle cycle) and they still look and feel fabulous! I’ll just have to throw it in the machine and not treat it like he heirloom I was hoping. And don’t discount cottons. It’s the Superwash! Hemmons Hiatt, June. I have no other explanation for why something would feel soft in hand, but be unwearable on my neck or back. Disclaimer: I will be using "itchy" and "scratchy" interchangeably and incorrectly throughout but I'm doing it intentionally to be gramatically whimsical. Oh wow how serendipitous this post was!!!! Swish is the superwash of knitters’ dreams! You are not limited to just sheep’s wool when knitting; there are many fibers out there. Mechanical? 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, Linda. 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.” Thanks Jillian. I too fell to the color and washability. Luckily it is flat stockinette and I can shave those pills off. “coat the yarn to smooth it” isn’t fully addressed. Some wool fabric makers try to do what is called superwash the regular wool to remove the lanolin and to make it more hypoallergenic. Now, I am new to blocking and try to do it right but I now have a sweater I can’t wear. I was thinking to switch to malabrigo worsted because it is not superwash but I heard that it pills a lot. 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. That’s why it behaves more like acrylic and not like wool anymore; it’s essentially a mixed fiber. Only 3 available and it's in 2 people's carts. The cable swatch in the photo is knit with bulky yarn, with many plies, at the gauge suggested by the ballband. I’m talking less about sock yarns and sock knitting, and more about using superwash yarns for knitting garments or accessories. The Myth of the Lanolin Allergy. It slumps on the body. I’ll never use it for a sweater again. Lambswool is a multi-purpose natural fiber that is a favorite among knitters and spinners. SweetGeorgia Yarns Superwash Worsted **POWER BOOST - 100%** This machine-washable worsted weight yarn is a workhorse and suitable for just about everything. These altered scales can make the yarn and its resulting fabric  a little tricky. Merino is prized for a low micron count and is one of the softest wool available. 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. Without prior knowledge even researching the ‘ingredients’ isn’t easy. Is that a good combination? It squeaks! This is what gives wool it's itchy feel and it's remarkable ability to shed water, body oils, etc. Most knitters who are not allergic or sensitive to wool love using that natural fiber for warmth, springiness, and great wearing in … Merino wool is the finest fiber, with a diameter of 10-15 microns, and many consider it to be the softest. It does become very soft though but I usually knit with it for that drape. Buffalo! When the yarn hits the water all of my beautiful knitting goes limp like a tired toddler asked to pick up toys (shrieking, optional). 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. The takeaway: Come for the color and softness, but arm yourself with a little knowledge about how this yarn likes to be knit. I’ve never liked superwash and only use it for gifted baby things. Polymers can be either natural or manmade. How it’s processed makes a big difference in how the skin reacts to it. In general, sheep’s wool has a specific reputation for being itchy, so we’ll start with that. I know my shepherdess and her sheep, and I like buying yarn from her because I like supporting local farmers. I also seem to have trouble with alpaca. 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 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. Anecdotally speaking, I am much more likely to develop a rash (which looks like an allergic reaction) to certain fibers than my husband. I had to laugh when you said you must ‘cleanse your palate’ with real wool, because I am the same way! And I love knitting for them, but boy I don’t enjoy the feel of superwash yarns. The Bradford system is a traditional but “hand-wavy” index to indicate the quality of wool. Wool & Softness. — And you WILL block it, right? Due to the coating and/or removal of scales, superwash wool can feel smoother or softer than other yarns. I crochet. Thank you! N.B. I know my stash is stuffed with colorful superwash yarns of all sizes. The colour, lovely in the skein, just doesn’t satisfy me knitted 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. 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. ), 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. Plastic is now believed to be in our water cycle. If you are a lace knitter, particularly with a penchant for lace shawls, the smooth heaviness of superwash gives your piece swing. A single facility was built for the superwash process to ensure military requirements are met. My local shepherdess ( who is biased ) told me about superwash, and why she doesn’t like it. Autocorrected! My friend in the photo is holding two damp swatches. From shop sillylittlesheep. I’m very pleased with the results, but I will only be wearing the cardigan over a shirt. Yes…more please on what superwashed yarns are treated in the US with healthier chemicals. Since some of the natural structure is missing from the yarn, it’s splitty, less elastic, and it compresses easily. Together with woo/acrylic blends, they’re hard to beat for children’s & young adult gifts. New York, NY: Touchstone. I haven’t used superwash yarns before, but now I can since I understand what it means….thanks again. But people frequently comment they can’t wear wool because it’s itchy, or uncomfortable or they think they’re allergic to it. It brings a languid drape to your shawl, like reading and swinging in a hammock on a summer afternoon. Instead I have a stash of polyester/acrylic that I use for hats and mittens etc for the family. I struggle with deciding to knit with superwash. You can often find her on the couch, eating snacks and knitting furiously (in both senses of the word). 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! Tania Fiber Arts have a non-superwash washable yarn and so do Rosy Green Wool. Regular wool has lots of this natural ingredient and that is the main source for wool being so itchy. However, I knitted a wonderful sweater with Rios and when I blocked it grew like twice the size. Superwash wool is still a popular choice for those who like to hand-dye yarns. That’s why baby alpaca easier on my skin than standard alpaca; fewer of those guard hairs. Here 8n Australia you can buy merino undergarments. Do superwash yarns pill any differently than regular wool? 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! 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). They say you can put superwash in the dryer(gasp) to get it back to size. Again, making it a great option for conveniences’ sake. Unsurprisingly, the hairs are finer. The list goes on!) Any advice is appreciated, but please do not suggest I quit knitting!!! link to All about Knitting Needle Sizes (Hooray! You live and learn. I just used a silk/baby alpaca blend to knit my first cardigan, and it’s lovely. 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. (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.) 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. It's also sometimes referred to as washable wool. Although we don’t use Superwash, we still want to achieve a soft quality. ), had a worsted & a dk weight (Luna & Selene) and they both were wonderful. 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. Most medical experts, while not discounting the discomfort caused by wool sensitivity, say that true wool allergies are rare. Debunking the Myth of Wool Allergy: Reviewing the Evidence for Immune and Non-immune Cutaneous Reactions. Had NO clue at the time as to why. The factor that most contributes to itchiness is the diameter of the wool strand. Alpaca is supposed to be hypoallergenic as compared to sheep’s wool as it doesn’t have the lanolin sheep’s wool has. (And yes, I raise alpacas). If the yarn were not superwash it would have almost no bend, instead it hangs there like Droopy Dog. What makes superwash yarns both super and washable is the removal and/or suppression of the tiny scales that cover each individual fiber. So back to the drawing board. Is there any “best” way for changing threads (eg Russian join, knot) in superwash? Acta Dermato-Venereologica, 97, 906-915. Raíz by Amores Yarn Studio is dyed just for us in a palette of harmonious contrasts. Thicker strands feel itchier and coarser. 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. The scales on fiber are what help yarns hold together when they are spun and plied. That’s easy: washability (duh), softness and color. These articles are fascinating; opening up a new world of knowledge for me. I’ve spun wool, starting right from the sheep, and the lanolin makes my hands soft; they don’t break out. It feels heavy for merino yarn, but it’s a languorous heft. Wool Allergies . Swans Island has a sport, dk & aran. When I washed and “blocked” I was furious. Thank you. When you're knitting something that needs to stretch, you need the right stretchy cast-on to match. I checked the Malabrigo website for any washing tips and it says to dry flat. It doesn’t stretch out any more than any other type of wool yarn as long as you knit it to the proper gauge. I think the quality of the yarn can make a big difference in the feel and look of a final product. I usually knit my scarves a little bit shorter because after blocking it becomes longer. Good luck, and, Happy Knitting! 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. The hand is how a knitted fabric feels. 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. I mean, does anyone actually want an itchy sweater? 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). (Also, camel! I am looking for a yarn for a sweater pattern. Thanks! Same goes for sweaters. Just the ticket for children’s clothes, afghans, charity knitting and gift knitting. 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). Not all wool yarn is itchy. True, they aren’t as enjoyable in the hand as knitting with an animal fiber, but it’s hardly a struggle. ), but the recipients would not appreciate hand was or dry clean gifts. It is, however also because the fibre absorbs water and dye much more quickly than wool in it’s natural state. Looking forward to it! I’m not a sock knitter but might consider using SW for that. Wool that is on a sheep has an oily coating called lanolin, which acts as a natural water repellent and softener. (Also, buying an extra skein of yarn to test with gauge swatching is never a bad idea.) 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. Not cashmere, soft as it is, not bunny. Zallmann et al. I breakout in a lovely rash. It stretched beyond belief. 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. These fibers simply are not as strong and durable as yarns made from thicker, coarser ones. I just finished a gorgeous sweater in Rios and after washing and blocking it is much larger than expected. Coating the yarn, like putting pomade on your hair, compresses and smoothes the fibers, making the yarn dense and even. 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. Yak! Wear it for a few hours and see if you can tolerate the feeling of it close to an area of sensitive skin. Each hair of wool is made up of scales. Many people erroneously think that they simply cannot wear knitted garments, but it might actually be the type of fiber or how the yarn was processed that affects them. Like you, Maureen, I only knit with superwash yarns when making garments for our grands. Remove and smooth the scales, and the fibers have no natural way to grip each other. If your mom, nephew, or friend says that they find wool itchy, it’s not worth your time and hard work to knit them a beautiful sweater that they won’t wear, even if you think it’s soft. 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. If you are looking for a cable that stands at attention, superwash yarns can be a little, um, flaccid. And I personally never want to wear anything itchy. I’m so confused what yarn would work best. A process called “scouring” removes some but not all of this waxy coating before the wool is made into yarn. Also polymer does not equal plastic. inches after wet blocking. There are many wonderful things about superwash merino wool but it wouldn’t be fair to tout its benefits without sharing its drawbacks. Characteristics of wool also vary greatly among breeds. Wool has a reputation for being itchy, primarily due to the make-up of the individual yarn fibers. This tells me not to stray looser than the suggested gauge. Silk is wonderful, although slippery to knit with. Having some or all of the scales altered decreases the elasticity a bit, so it’s got extra drape. What do these yarns look like when used in a crochet? I haven’t been able to find out much about the processes used though. Experienced knitters know that using the right needle size can mean the difference between a well-fitting and overly large sweater. Finally, acrylic and other synthetic fibers are an option if sheep’s wool is simply not an option for you or the recipient of your knitting. 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. You already put your valuable time into your projects … So informative. Irritating. There’s going to be a follow-up article apparently. Even though most are machine dry, they often last longer if they are dried on a line (or laid flat to dry). Take another look at the electron microscope picture from above. I have had eczema all of my life, and one of my triggers is definitely guard hairs (not sure what they’re called with fiber animals, but that’s what they are on dogs!). Rarely does fresh superwash yarn look fuzzy. As a life long knitter, I’m rather nervous about doing that. (And, as a plant comparison, linen is a general no-no for me for the same reason. I like them a lot. Another soft option is yarn made from Bluefaced Leicester wool, though it is harder to find than Merino. 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. However, this is not the best way to determine if the yarn will be itchy. Kligman, Albert M. (2007). Let’s go! I haven’t distinguished between Superwash and other wool when making sweaters for my partner. Contact Dermatitis, 39(3), 103-107. 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. My biggest complaint about the fibers I can use is that they tend not to have much spring in them. Depends on the brand, & the superwash process used, but generally speaking yes, superwash yarns do need to go through a warm dryer. It’s coated with plastic. Yeah, superwash yarn is weird. I am looking forward to more info on how the “de-scaling” is achieved. The wind blows right through the fabric although it’s knit really tightly so I get cold. Great blogpost. It will instantly soften whatever it’s blended with, as well. If you have a wool allergy, or specifically a lanolin allergy, this may be true for you. Merino wool, on the other hand, is ultra-fine, giving it a soft quality. My favorite yarns are both superwash: malabrigo Rios and malabrigo chunky. 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. Coarser wools - aran /icelandic type stuff makes lovely outer wear -warm and weather proof but not next to the skin. It has the outer "scales" removed and is pretty itch free. (2012). Superwash merino is a joy to wear. 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. I have 3x 30 year old (approx) handknits I made from Anny Blatt No.4 and there is still not a pill in sight. 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. 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). The colors are gorgeous, but I would have to wear any garment made of Jamieson’s over top of a long-sleeved tee-shirt. but it is plasticated! Superwash yarn feels delightful; it’s smooth and supple. Isn’t there a test you can do with yarn samples that will identify plastic coatings on yarn, a burn test? Specially the hats I don’t wet block because I don’t want them to get huge. I knit furiously, meaning that I am a fast and prolific knitter and that I swear loudly every time I drop a stitch. 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. It combines both the fineness and the micron diameter. I wear it anyway even if it was more beautiful before. 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. Someone told me it was because it was washable wool but I didn’t quite believe it until now! I am a knitting newbie…..with a wool allergy. 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. However, the enzyme we use is an environmentally friendly enzyme also used in laundry detergent. 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. The knee-jerk reaction to wool can be a reminder of all things itchy, scratchy, uncomfortable, and too warm. I want to make these great slippers I found on YouTube. This approach may not work for all with critter allergies or sensitivities but I am ever so happy it works for me. (2007) found that fine and ultrafine Merino did not trigger skin irritation, so this is a great place to start. What do you look for if you don’t want yarn to pill? My impression of superwash is that it is really stretchy compared to “regular” wool. would that include colorwork issues? Just my 2 cents worth, but as long as the addition is strong it works for me, ( but you have to remember that I am an improper knitter. 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. Thanks for this but I am disheartened! Even though some researchers still consider wool an unlikely allergen, recent data has identified a specific component of lanolin that may … Are there other great fibers that would work for me besides wearing a turtleneck under all my projects? But it’s not scratchy like regular wool, either. The would like to hear about them. Can you wear itchy wool, or do you opt for soft yarns only? And, of course, blends of all these fibers can tone down the itchiness of 100% wool. Consider line drying your superwash wool crochet items. The sweater pattern was knit with a merino, alpaca, silk blend. So it is gonna get saggy and smelly. I'm the Furious Knitter (FK), and I write KNIT FURIOUSLY to share what I've learned from over 15 years of knitting. It is important to remember that the softness of finer wools comes with a trade-off. 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. A highly spun superwash can have lovely crisp stitch definition! Have you noticed that superwash yarns are grand and glorious, but they don’t really act the same as non-superwash yarns? 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. Your analagies really helped me connect with your ideas. I was wondering the same… Gonna have to get myself some and find out…. Now, I am a yarn snob and want to use wool exclusively. Do you have any experience making garments with this yarn? 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. I am terribly allergic to non-superwashed wool. For the most part I have never had family or friends who knit (online has been an all time bonus! Wool has been worn for centuries—and for centuries people have itched while wearing wool. And pill. It’s easy to see why people feel allergic to wool. Love this article! It also reduces pilliness. The wool is soft and comfortable to wear. I use superwash for socks and I will use it on every once in a while on shawls/mitts/hats (for the ability to wash and dry more easily), but for the most part I avoid it. Some of us are, unfortunately, sensitive to the structure of the animal hair itself. From shawls and scarves to lightweight sweaters, this family-friendly yarn … If you do knit tighter, that further compresses the yarn and makes the fabric heavier. But the bad news: wool can be prickly. The defensive line is not as structurally sound. Of course, you will. Under this process, there is no need to coat the yarn with resin. 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. While it was blocking my cat pulled two very long strands out from the front panel. It is jamieson and smith for me all the way now 🙂. The article you link to explains how superwash yarn revitalized the American wool industry, apparently in large part due to the military need for superwash wool and the requirement that it buy American. I love malabrigo and I don’t want to stop knitting with it. Thank you for the eye opening article on Superwash yarns! So far, we’ve seen that a blanket avoidance of sheep’s wool is not necessary to prevent itchiness. Thank you for this insight into super wash wool. 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. 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. 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. I really want and have wanted to knit with non-superwash wool for years now, but what has stopped me are the colours. And another thing: odors stay in the fabric untill they’re washed – with non-superwash it’s enough to air the garment. But I don’t like the softness. Due to the coating and/or removal of scales, superwash wool can feel smoother or softer than other yarns. 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. Question: why does some yarn pill and others don’t? (You can even do a search through them.) There are some interesting fibers out there made of things like soy and milk. 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. No more superwash for me! And of course knitting means you can frequently recognize them — they stick out from the twist, right? That acid treatment doesn’t make the fiber any thinner or finer of course. That cabled swatch is also flat and limp because that particular yarn is not spun tightly. That is one flat cable. 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. Luckily, that wasn’t my only experience with wool clothing. 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. In addition, it was itchy. 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. Double whammy! I now need a secluded cat free area for blocking!! This is why I don’t buy loosely spun superwash anymore. Supposedly the manufacturing process is kinder to the environment. Look for superwash wool. 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. So far, I have used superwash because minus scales I seem to be okay. Baring that, however, there are simple measures that might alleviate itching and enable a person to wear wool. Better to be sad when choosing a pattern instead of after putting in all of the expense and time of knitting something you don’t love. Been knitting for 45 years and I didn’t know this.

is superwash wool itchy

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