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YarnSub News: August 2015

Rowan have released a lovely new range of super-fine merino yarns, but are there decent budget-conscious alternatives? I decided to experiment! See the article below.

All the new and discontinued yarns are listed at the end. Katia's new Catena Merino caught my eye, as it looks very like the long-discontinued Rowan Cork that I wrote about in the last newsletter. Maybe I can make Kathy cardigan number 2!

Wendy

Comparison of Merino S-on-S plied yarns
across the price range

Katia Merino 100% - an S-on-S plied yarn

What is an S-on-S plied yarn?

S-on-S yarn deconstructed

S-on-S plied yarns - also called multi-thread or millefili yarns - are constructed from ultra fine single plies that are S-twisted into a 2 ply yarn. So far so normal. But multiples (often 6) of these are plied together themselves with an S-twist, hence the name S-on-S.

This differs from traditional yarns where most often a single ply is spun with a Z-twist, and then two or more of these are plied together in the opposite direction, giving a yarn with a final S-twist.

The newer construction gives flexibility to the big mills, which can use the fine yarns for commercial knitwear, while also having them as building blocks for yarns suitable for use by the handknitting industry.

The result of the S-on-S construction is a light, airy yarn with lots of bounce. But it's also sleek and well-behaved, with the high level of twist keeping the fibers firmly caught up within the body of the yarn. Since the fibers can't escape easily, the finished fabric is not prone to pilling.

They're usually made with superwash wool, treated to smooth the individual fibers (and stop the naturally-present scales from locking together and felting). That also means that the finished fabric is liable to relax and stretch with only a little encouragement, i.e. from washing, blocking or gravity.

But with many manufacturers now offering these yarns, and having seen the wide range of prices on the market, I wondered whether paying less would still give a good quality yarn.

To find out, I swatched a range of S-on-S plied, DK weight, 100% superwash merino yarns with a recommended retail price in the UK ranging from £2.80 to £5.75 for a 50g ball (at current conversion rates that $4.35 to $8.95 in US dollars).

I blocked the finished swatches by soaking them in warm water, drying them in a towel and then pinning them out. I assessed them by eye for the quality of the finished fabric and by touch for softness - sorting them into 'soft' and 'very soft' piles with my eyes closed!

S-on-S yarn swatching results

*The Patons Merino Extrafine DK is made by Patons UK

S-on-S yarn swatches

Peter Pan Merino Baby defects

The finished fabrics were of good quality, apart from one. There were multiple defects in my Peter Pan Merino Baby swatch:

  • two slubs of unplied fiber within the yarn
  • some non-wool fluff twisted in with the yarn that didn't pull out; I had to cut it away
  • a partly-broken strand
  • an area of about a meter that was strongly over-twisted

The rest of the ball didn't look as bad, so I swatched again, and it was better. The amount of twist was still inconsistent, and there were permanent kinks at intervals throughout the ball too. But the finished fabric was okay.

So do you need to pay more for a good quality yarn of this type? The short answer is no! The three most expensive yarns that I tried produced a smooth, consistent, bouncy and soft fabric. However, leaving aside the Peter Pan Merino Baby, the less expensive yarns also performed well. In general my stitches didn't block as evenly and the fabric felt a little less plush. But none of the swatches had any prickle factor.

My top budget buy would be the Drops Merino Extra Fine, which was not only the least expensive, but gave one of the softest swatches and a smooth, good quality fabric.

Where money's no object, I'd choose Debbie Bliss Rialto DK. The yarn fulled and bloomed with blocking, leaving an attractive, squishy, even fabric that I loved.


New and Discontinued Yarns

New yarn: Quince and Co Willet

New

Austermann
Delgada – Bulky – 57% Wool, 43% Viscose – Fuzzy – Solid colors

Classic Elite Yarns
Big Liberty Wool – Bulky – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors, Tonals
Song – DK – 50% Cotton, 50% Wool – S on S plied – Solid colors

Hayfield
Chunky Tweed – Bulky – 74% Acrylic, 20% Superwash Wool, 6% Viscose – Tweedy – Tweed colors

Juniper Moon Farm
Herriot Fine – Light Fingering – 75% Baby Alpaca, 25% Nylon – 2 plies – Solid colors, Heathers
Moonshine Chunky – Bulky – 40% Wool, 40% Alpaca, 20% Silk – Single ply – Semi-solid colors

Katia
Astra – Bulky – 100% Acrylic – 2 plies – Self-striping marls
Azteca Fine – Aran – 53% Wool, 47% Acrylic – Single ply – Self-striping (gradient)
Baby Soft 3.5 – DK – 50% Acrylic, 50% Nylon – Plied – Solid colors
Big Merino Tweedy – Super Bulky – 55% Merino Superwash Wool, 45% Acrylic – Tweedy – Tweed colors
Catena Merino – Bulky – 94% Merino Wool, 6% Nylon – Chained – Solid colors, Heathers
Clown – Super Bulky – 70% Acrylic, 15% Nylon, 15% Wool – Chained
Cotton Merino – Heavy Worsted – 70% Cotton, 30% Merino Wool – Chained – Semi-solid colors, Tonal colors
Jumbo – Super Bulky – 100% Acrylic – Chenille
Kathmandu – Super Bulky – 70% Acrylic, 30% Wool – Single ply – Self-striping marls
Kilt – Super Bulky – 46% Acrylic, 46% Wool, 8% Nylon – Fuzzy – Multi-colored
Look – Super Bulky – 75% Acrylic, 25% Wool – Thick and thin – Multi-colored
Merino Super-Sport – Super Bulky – 98% Merino Superwash Wool, 2% Polyester – S on S plied – Solid colors
Merino-Silk – Worsted – 70% Merino Wool, 20% Silk, 10% Nylon – Chained – Semi-solid colors

King Cole
Drifter DK – DK – 69% Acrylic, 25% Cotton, 6% Wool – Plied – Self-striping
Raffia – Bulky – 100% Viscose – Raphia – Tonal colors

Knit Picks
Mighty Stitch – Worsted – 80% Acrylic, 20% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors

Lang Yarns
Mosso – Aran – 70% Superwash Wool, 20% Nylon, 10% Acrylic – Single wrapped with thread – Multi-colored
Nova – Sport – 48% Merino Wool, 32% Camel, 20% Nylon – Fuzzy – Solid colors, Heathers
Royal Alpaca – Light Fingering – 100% Alpaca – 2 plies – Solid colors
Super Soxx 6-ply – DK – 75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon – Plied – Solid colors
Virginia – Super Bulky – 100% Superwash Wool – Single ply – Solid colors
Virginia Flamé – Super Bulky – 100% Superwash Wool – Thick and thin – Solid colors

Lion Brand
Scarfie – Bulky – 78% Acrylic, 22% Superwash Wool – Plied – Self-striping (gradient)
Vanna's Complement – Worsted – 100% Acrylic – Fuzzy – Solid colors

Mirasol Yarn
Sisa – Aran – 60% Wool, 40% Alpaca – Chained – Solid colors, Heathers
Yaya – Super Bulky – 100% Wool – Single ply – Solid colors, Heathers

Miss Babs
Keira – Fingering – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Tightly plied – Solid colors, Tonal colors, Multi-colored

Mountain Colors
Twizzle Foot – Fingering – 70% Merino Superwash Wool, 17% Silk, 13% Nylon – Plied – Multi-colored

Novita
Aava – Bulky – 72% Acrylic, 18% Superwash Wool, 10% Nylon – Chained – Self-striping (gradient)
Alpaca Wool – Aran – 50% Alpaca, 50% Wool – Plied – Solid colors, Undyed
Nordic Wool – Worsted – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors

Patons (UK)
Soft Mix – DK – 45% Nylon, 30% Baby Alpaca, 25% Merino Wool – Fuzzy – Heathered colors
Wool Aran – Aran – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors
Wool DK – DK – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors

Phildar
Capture – Aran – 100% Cotton – Plied – Solid colors

Queensland Collection
Rainbow Beach – Sport – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Self-striping marls
Rustic Merino Sport – Sport – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Plied – Tonal colors

Quince and Co
Willet – Sport – 100% Cotton – Plied – Solid colors

Rowan
Alpaca Merino DK – DK – 83% Alpaca, 7% Wool, 10% Nylon – Chained – Solid colors
Big Wool Silk – Super Bulky – 70% Wool, 30% Silk – Plied – Solid colors
Hemp Tweed – Worsted – 75% Superwash Wool, 25% Hemp – Tweedy – Semi-solid colors
Pure Wool Superwash DK – DK – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors, Heathers
Super Fine Merino 4-ply – Fingering – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – S on S plied – Solid colors
Super Fine Merino Aran – Aran – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – S on S plied – Solid colors
Super Fine Merino DK – DK – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – S on S plied – Solid colors

Schoeller + Stahl
Cascara – Super Bulky – 67% Acrylic, 30% Superwash Wool, 3% Nylon – Chained – Multi-colored
Delgada – Bulky – 57% Wool, 43% Viscose – Fuzzy – Semi-solid colors
Lorna – Super Bulky – 49% Acrylic, 49% Superwash Wool, 2% Nylon – Chained – Multi-colored
Ninette – Super Bulky – 75% Acrylic, 25% Nylon – 2 plies – Multi-colored, Self-striping

Schoppel-Wolle
Welle – Super Bulky – 53% Acrylic, 47% Superwash Wool – Looped – Multi-colored

Stylecraft
Alpaca Tweed Chunky – Bulky – 77% Acrylic, 20% Alpaca, 3% Viscose – Tweedy – Tweeds
Cabaret – DK – 98% Acrylic, 2% Polyester – Single wrapped with thread – Self-striping (gradient)
Mosaic Super Chunky – Bulky – 80% Acrylic, 20% Superwash Wool – Plied – Multi-colored marls
Special Effects – DK – 100% Acrylic – Plied – Self-striping

Sublime Yarns
Extra Fine Merino Worsted – Aran – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – S on S plied – Solid colors
Phoebe – Bulky – 94% Merino Wool, 6% Nylon – Chained – Solid colors

Valley Yarns
Greylock – Fingering – 100% Cashmere – 2 plies – Solid colors, Heathers, Marls

Discontinued

Aslan Trends
Royal Alpaca – Worsted – 100% Alpaca – Plied with a soft haze – Solid colors

Be Sweet
Extra Fine Mohair – Lace – 100% Mohair – Bouclé – Solid colors

Bernat
Tiny Tickles – Aran – 100% Polyester – Fleece style – Solid colors, Multi-colored

Berroco
Abode – Aran – 100% Wool – Thick and thin – Semi-solid colors
Mojo – Super Bulky – 56% Wool, 35% Acrylic, 5% Nylon, 4% Mohair – Single wrapped with thread – Multi-colored

Classic Elite Yarns
Ava – DK – 86% Merino Wool, 9% Viscose, 5% Metallic – S on S plied – Solid colors with metallic thread
Toboggan – Super Bulky – 70% Merino Wool, 30% Superfine Alpaca – 2 plies – Solid colors
Verde Collection Chesapeake – Heavy Worsted – 50% Organic Cotton, 50% Merino Wool – Plied – Heathers

Debbie Bliss
Blue Faced Leicester Aran – Aran – 100% Blue Faced Leicester Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors
Blue Faced Leicester DK – DK – 100% Blue Faced Leicester Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors

Filatura Di Crosa
Charly – Aran – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors, Multi-colored, Tonals
Sportwool – DK – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors

Hayfield
DK With Wool – DK – 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool – Plied – Solid colors

Imperial Yarn
Tracie Too – Sport – 100% Columbia Wool – Plied – Solid colors

Jojoland
Fantasia – Bulky – 100% Superwash Wool – Plied – Marled colors, Self striping marls

Katia
Alpaca Ondé – Super Bulky – 75% Superfine Alpaca, 25% Wool – Single wrapped with thread
Alpacotton – Bulky – 66% Cotton, 34% Superfine Alpaca – Fuzzy
Andes – Sport – 100% Alpaca – Plied
Nina – Super Bulky – 50% Acrylic, 25% Nylon, 17% Polyester, 8% Mohair – Chained – Solid with metallic thread
Oxford – DK – 50% Superwash Wool, 45% Acrylic, 5% Rayon – Tweedy
Siberia – Super Bulky – 80% Acrylic, 20% Wool – Plied
Textura – Super Bulky – 50% Superwash Wool, 46% Acrylic, 4% Nylon – Chained – Heathered colors

Lotus Yarns
Mimi – Lace – 40% Angora, 13% Wool, 30% Viscose, 17% Nylon – Plied with a soft haze

Madelinetosh
Pashmina Worsted – Worsted – 75% Merino Superwash Wool, 15% Silk, 10% Cashmere – Plied – Semi-solid colors, Multi-colored

Miss Babs
Alpacacita – Lace – 70% Baby Alpaca, 30% Silk – 2 plies – Solid colors, Tonal colors, Multi-colored

Noro
Shiraito – Fingering – 45% Angora, 45% Cashmere, 10% Wool – Single ply – Self-striping

ONline
Supersocke 100 Cotton Stretch – Light Fingering – 41% Superwash Wool, 39% Cotton, 13% Nylon, 7% Polyester – Plied

Rowan
British Sheep Breeds Fine Bouclé – Bulky – 91% Wool, 9% Nylon – Bouclé – Undyed
Frost – Aran – 80% Viscose, 20% Alpaca – Fuzzy – Tweeds
Tumble – Super Bulky – 90% Alpaca, 10% Cotton – Fuzzy

Sirdar
Country Style DK – DK – 40% Nylon, 30% Acrylic, 30% Superwash Wool – Plied – Solid colors
Ella DK – DK – 49% Cotton, 48% Acrylic, 3% Metallic – Plied – Solid with metallic
Hush – Lace – 44% Acrylic, 27% Mohair, 22% Nylon, 7% Polyester – Fuzzy
Snuggly Baby Cotton DK – DK – 100% Cotton – Plied
Wash'n'Wear Double Crepe – DK – 55% Acrylic, 45% Nylon – Crepe – Solid colors

Sublime Yarns
Extra Fine Merino Lace – Lace – 100% Merino Superwash Wool – 2 plies – Solid colors


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