By Kim Ryan, Owner – Kim Ryan Makes
For the past decade or so, I have been knitting with only two products: Merino wool and Alpaca fleece. For me, these are the Rolls Royce of yarns. Yes, they are a bit more expensive than other yarns, but they more than make up for the extra costs in warmth softness and several other key factors.
Merino wool and alpaca fleece are natural, sustainable products (i.e. good for the environment). Merino wool comes from Merino sheep, an ancient breed originally from Spain, but now raised worldwide. Alpaca Fleece comes from the Alpaca, a native of South America and a member of the cameloid family (Cameloids also include camels and llamas). Alapacas are also bred worldwide, including Canada.
If you were to put a bunch of different yarn samples under a microscope, you would see most are made up of a series of scales. Generally speaking, the larger the scales, the itchier the material. From the photo below, you can see that plain wool (far left) has large, protruding scales which makes it pretty darn itchy.
Fine wool (Merino) and Alpaca have much smaller, flatter scales, making them much softer – ideal for people with sensitive skin.
Polyester yarn has no scales since it is a chemically treated and extruded petroleum product (Yuk). Polyester is certainly soft, but because it is a petroleum product, it lacks many of the important qualities (i.e. breathability) found in natural materials
Alpaca, to most people, feels closer to the silkiness of cashmere than to Merino wool. A fine merino wool though is still pretty soft …about twice as soft as regular wool.
Softness Advantage: Alpaca Continue reading “Merino Vs. Alapca: Which Yarn is Best?”