Fibre Sampling Sessions: Merino

By Grace Verhagen, yarn enthusiast and baker of cookies

Last week, I sampled the three different bluefaced leicester blends that SweetGeorgia dyes to order at the studio. If you would like to learn more background information about my sampling project and check out my previous results, please follow the link here.

Part Two: Merino Mania

Merino Skeins: (from left to right) Merino, Superwash Merino, Merino+Silk, Merino Bamboo Silk

Merino Skeins: (from left to right) Merino, Superwash Merino, Merino+Silk, Merino Bamboo Silk

Merino is the fibre that comes to mind when most people think of ‘fine wool’. This ultra-soft sheep wool has a short sample length that can be tricky for beginners to spin, but makes it popular in everything from long underwear to shawls. SweetGeorgia offers four different blends that feature this popular and versatile fibre; Merino, Superwash Merino, Merino + Silk, and Merino Bamboo Silk.

Fibre Base #4 – Merino (100% merino wool)

Merino in "Tapestry"

Merino in “Tapestry”

The appearance of this top is quite different from BFL. At first glance, I can see that it does not have the same long wavy crimp. Some gentle pre-drafting shows me how short the staple length is. This big and bushy top is comfortable and satisfying to spin with, though it does not draft quite as smoothly as a silk blend. The yarn this fibre creates is so shiny and smooth, even without the addition of silk!

Fibre Base #5 – Superwash Merino (100% superwash merino wool)

Superwash Merino in "Tapestry"

Superwash Merino in “Tapestry”

Wow — the superwash treatment of this top has really ‘poofed’ up this merino! This roving was the plumpest of all to work with. This fiber is extremely soft and drafts exceptionally well. The colours also appear to be much more brilliant and bright on this fibre than on the natural merino wool; they almost look like a ‘cartoon’ version of this colourway!

Fibre Base #6 – Merino + Silk (50% merino wool, 50% cultivated silk)

Merino+Silk in "Tapestry"

Merino+Silk in “Tapestry”

This fibre just glistened in my hand when I picked it up. The silk adds depth to the colourway and a beautiful shimmer to the top. At first, I found this delicate blend a little trickier to draft, but after I pre-drafted slightly, the fibre just slipped through my fingers. You can see the silk shimmer in your drafting zone before the twist enters — it makes you feel like you are spinning fireworks.

Fibre Base #7 – Merino Bamboo Silk (50% fine merino wool, 25% bamboo, 25% tussah silk)

Merino Bamboo Silk in "Tapestry"

Merino Bamboo Silk in “Tapestry”

A stunning combination. White streaks of bamboo highlight this roving, and give the resulting yarn a slight tweedy feel. This fibre drafts like a dream, and the finished yarn is really bouncy and soft. The ‘Tapestry’ colourway appears totally different in this fibre than the other merino blends, much more mature and subdued, but I love it! Note to self — this would make great sweater yarn!

Check out the differences in the three swatches pictured below — what a range of colours! I find it fascinating that the type of fibre you choose can so radically affect the overall colour of your yarn, as well as the the strength, bounce, and softness.

Merino Swatches: (from left to right) Merino, Superwash Merino, Merino+Silk, Merino Bamboo Silk

Merino Swatches: (from left to right) Merino, Superwash Merino, Merino+Silk, Merino Bamboo Silk

Spinning silliness

Spinning silliness

Next week, I am going to dive into the rest of the SweetGeorgia fibre repertoire — all the luxury silk and cellulose blends I know you can’t wait to hear about. I think I need a break first though — too much spinning can lead to spinning silliness.

Cheers, and happy spinning!
— Grace