Knitting With Beloved Worsted Weight

Anzula For Better or Worsted yarn

When I began knitting many years ago, I used worsted weight yarn only. I practiced making winter hats and the little old lady who gave me lessons had a shop that sold lots of wool. I was in New Hampshire at the time, and it only made sense to knit for winter with heavy wool. “Peace Fleece” was one that I remember she sold.

Back then, I knew very little about yarn weights, knitting gauge, and the difference between superwash and non-superwash. Now that I have been knitting with all types of yarn for a few years, I’m beginning to find some favorites, and they are not machine washable. I have come to love wool.

Often people will think “scratchy” when wool is mentioned, but times have changed! Wool that is minimally processed can be quite soft, and many yarn sellers will tell you all about their yarn and how it’s processed. Many wool yarns get softer after hand-washing and even wearing can soften them up.

Sweaters Should Be Wooly and Warm

When I plan a knitting project I am thinking about warmth. Sweaters, hats and mittens should all be knit in a warm fabric, which looks good and will last. I like the idea of wearing something that came right off a sheep. Natural fibers will be warm and that just makes sense. Wool is excellent for colorwork knitting as well.

Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Narwhal for a sweater
10 Skeins of Shelter in Narwhal gray to knit a sweater

I don’t want pretty mittens that won’t keep my hands warm, or a sweater that won’t do the job. I fell in love with Rauma Finnulgarn (fingering) and Jamieson & Smith (fingering) when knitting colorwork projects like Katie’s Kep. Then, I wanted to find some good wool like this in worsted weight.

When I began knitting the Cobblestone Cardigan in beautiful #1: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter I realized how nice a wool sweater can be. It’s been a pleasure knitting with this yarn. The end product is light to wear, yet warm – this comes from being woolen spun, where air is trapped in the fibers.

Projects go along quickly when the yarn is thicker (worsted weight) and I’ve used Shelter for fingerless mitts as well.

Hand washing a sweater made of wool is not a chore. This type of sweater will lay flat to dry and it will dry quickly! If you use a leave-in wool wash, such as Eucalan, there is no rinsing needed.

#2: Woolstok wool yarn by Blue Sky Fibers gets excellent reviews at Ravelry. The link goes to Wool and Company, where I buy a lot of my yarn. The skeins seem to come in either 50g / 123 yds, or 150g / 370 yds, but not both. I am dying to try this yarn for a project! It is 100% Highland wool.

Lots of people give good reviews of #3: Cascade 220 wool. I have knit with it and was not super impressed with softness, but it comes in loads of colors. Many people love this yarn (see Ravelry reviews here), and it is not super expensive. I think it would be nice for a sweater worn over clothing – like a cardigan. The plied yarn is made of Peruvian Highland Wool.

More Worsted Wool Ideas, Not Superwash

  • Malabrigo Worsted, single ply – Personally, I don’t like single ply yarn. This must be hand-washed
  • The Croft Aran Colors – no link here because many colors are out of stock.
  • Scholar Worsted (The Plucky Knitter) – Quite expensive yarn of Merino wool and Cashmere.

Reasons to Avoid Superwash Yarns For Sweaters

Umpqua sweater yoke pattern colors
Umpqua pullover knit in washable yarn

Some knitters don’t like using superwash yarn. Anything labeled “superwash” may be easier to care for, because it can go into the washing machine, but the yarn tends to stretch after washing. Some garments, like sweaters and hats, can end up much bigger than anticipated because of this. This happened to me after knitting my first pullover sweater (Umpqua) in Malabrigo Rios yarn. It ended up quite large.

Sometimes pilling can be a problem with superwash yarns. If you are a member at Ravelry, look up a yarn and then read the comments. This is where I got my information – from actual knitters who have worked with the yarn.

Washable yarn (meaning in the machine), IMO, would work better for kid’s clothing, things that can stretch a bit (scarves and shawls) or anything that will not be hand-washed by the recipient. The Malabrigo colors are really gorgeous, but I would not choose to knit another sweater using it.

Superwash Worsted for Those Who DO Want It

  • $$$ Anzula, For Better or Worsted (about)- I love this yarn, but would use it for other than sweaters. It is not cheap but the feel…. amazing…. and the colors…. so wonderful. Personally, I look for sales, but it can be purchased at many online sites such as Purl Soho. I made the Namu Cowl in “root beer” and it’s very soft and beautiful. ($35)
  • $ Rowan Pure Wool Worsted – affordable and washable (I have never used it). ($13.95)
  • $$ Emma’s Yarn Washable Worsted Wool – from right here in Florida, at the Four Purls yarn shop. ($28)

What are your favorite worsted weight yarns made of wool?

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