Thank you! If you’ve ever removed an impossibly tiny, shrunken sweater from the washing machine, you know that most wool does not fare well in the laundry. “Superwash wool was the answer to our desire to machine wash and dry our knits. Someone told me it was because it was washable wool but I didn’t quite believe it until now! I usually knit hats and scarves with them. It's also sometimes referred to as washable wool. Trying to decide if that is a big mistake. Brilliant article, I had no idea there was such a difference, thank you so much!! And of course there are many alternatives to wool too. I’m not an expert by any stretch, but I’ve read that there is concern about the large amount of chemicals that are flushed into the waste water during the superwash treatment process. So it is gonna get saggy and smelly. 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. What is the best option? This tells me not to stray looser than the suggested gauge. Jillian Moreno spins, knits and weaves just so she can touch all of the fibers. And pill. Since some of the natural structure is missing from the yarn, it’s splitty, less elastic, and it compresses easily. Mechanism of felting shrinkage of wool (Hassan & Carr 2019) There are two ways to prevent felting from happening. And don’t discount cottons. I was wondering the same… Gonna have to get myself some and find out…. Thank you for the wonderful article on superwash yarns. It would be great if you would publish an article on how to block/resize superwash. I read that a garment made of superwash wool should be dried in the dryer in order to maintain its shape. I was thinking to switch to malabrigo worsted because it is not superwash but I heard that it pills a lot. And I love knitting for them, but boy I don’t enjoy the feel of superwash yarns. BTW…can’t get Anny Blatt in Australia any more…. It’s the yarn! 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). Sweaters with superwash are a recipe for disaster and disappointment. Loosely spun yarn will pill, regardless of fiber. That’s why you’re not going to see merino wool towels hit the market any time soon. Share on Social. If you prefer natural wool, you will have to wash it by hand, cold and dry it flat ... which is in any case advised with all wool … Some of us are, unfortunately, sensitive to the structure of the animal hair itself. would that include colorwork issues? Weight: Bulky (5) Contents: 100% Superwash Wool Skein Weight: 3.5 oz. Superwash yarns, especially superwash merino, are some of the most loved yarns in the knitting world. I haven’t been able to find out much about the processes used though. My impression of superwash is that it is really stretchy compared to “regular” wool. A single facility was built for the superwash process to ensure military requirements are met. Some types of fabrics are typically made out of shorter wool fibre. Ready to knit from outside of the ball! They give wonderful drape, but the look of the quintessential snuggly woolen sweater still eludes me. Here are some helpful tips when washing 220 Superwash®: Over the years I have hand washed and machine washed these (on warm gentle cycle) and they still look and feel fabulous! The wool has been put through an acid bath that removes the scales from the fiber, or by coating it with a polymer that prevents the scales from attaching to each other in the wash and causing shrinkage (felting). Love this article! However, as I mentioned, superwash is a controversial topic in the knitting community. ), but at the same time, can affect the ability for those stitches to hold their shape, and – most frustratingly – shows off inconsistency (boo!). Before learning about superwash wool, it is useful to understand why natural wool garments felt in the washing machine. Then I washed it and VOILA it stretched to the pattern! I’ll just have to throw it in the machine and not treat it like he heirloom I was hoping. This yarn contains: Superwash Wool (68%), Alpaca (29%) and Polyester (3%) This yarn has more drape. The scales on fiber are what help yarns hold together when they are spun and plied. 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. Might you share just what the process is that removes the yarns scales? The removal and coating of the scales also affect how superwash wool takes up dye. 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. You may have seen “Superwash” wool written on the label of a yarn hank and wondered what exactly this distinction meant. If you do knit tighter, that further compresses the yarn and makes the fabric heavier. No reaction. I haven’t distinguished between Superwash and other wool when making sweaters for my partner. but it is plasticated! Alpaca is supposed to be hypoallergenic as compared to sheep’s wool as it doesn’t have the lanolin sheep’s wool has. This results in a yarn that is generally stretchier than natural wool because the strands slide past, rather than cling to, each other. I too fell to the color and washability. The good news here is that merino wool sweaters are not only easy to find but also available in a range of styles and price points. Not cashmere, soft as it is, not bunny. Coating the yarn, like putting pomade on your hair, compresses and smoothes the fibers, making the yarn dense and even. But with a bit of a dull knit, variegated thread adds spark. This will come as no surprise, but you can wash superwash wool in the washing machine! These days, pretty much anything I knit will pill and I have used a great variety of brands including chain yarn. And yes, dearies, there is always silk, and then linen, bamboo, cotton, hemp and other scrumptious fibers. I love super wash yarns – some of the best ones feel like cotton without the stiffness. Each strand of wool is covered in microscopic “scales”. Since it's washable, it's great for baby projects!Love 220 Superwash Sport? 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). Been knitting for 45 years and I didn’t know this. It’s coated with plastic. I was loving my Millamia fair isle WIP – so soft! Even if it seems totally smooth, there are still tiny prickly bits that will set me off.). How to avoid those annoying fuzz balls I always put a towel or two in with it. They say you can put superwash in the dryer(gasp) to get it back to size. Author. The silky fiber and long hairs of alpaca wool limit pilling. Luckily it is flat stockinette and I can shave those pills off. Consider line drying your superwash wool crochet items. So colourful! Superwash wool was the answer to our desire to machine wash and dry our knits. I like them for my grand kiddos garments…but I used a Superwash to knit Marie Greene’s Foxtrot KAL. I love malabrigo and I don’t want to stop knitting with it. It seems to be a hot-button issue in the knitting and crafting industry, with many strong opinions about avoiding anything plastic. Here it can also come down to several factors. That said, the colors are so bright and alluring! When introduced to heat and agitation, such as the movement and hot water in the drum of a washing machine, these scales lock together with neighboring strands, producing a denser, felted material. This approach may not work for all with critter allergies or sensitivities but I am ever so happy it works for me. Rarely does fresh superwash yarn look fuzzy. Knotions Magazine. 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. A tighter spin, like in the other 2 yarns, makes up for some if the properties that superwash can be lacking in. I have 3x 30 year old (approx) handknits I made from Anny Blatt No.4 and there is still not a pill in sight. Heritage Silk is a super-soft yet durable yarn that is machine washable and dryable because of its blend of superwash merino wool and silk. Thanks Jillian. But I don’t like the softness. Depends on the brand, & the superwash process used, but generally speaking yes, superwash yarns do need to go through a warm dryer. It slumps on the body. / … I would appreciate any feedback. A wool may or may not note that it's superwash, but if it says it's machine washable, you know that it must be! Thank you! 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. I first heard about superwash wool in the knit.fm podcast. The yarn cannot be trusted over that weight of fitted fabric. A compromise for the sake of convenience. I used Lansinoh religiously when I breastfed my four children. That is one flat cable. Isn’t there a test you can do with yarn samples that will identify plastic coatings on yarn, a burn test? I’ve heard of acrylic squeaking, but not superwash yarn, ever. 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. If your choice is for "Superwash" wool, it is important to remember that it is more elastic - making a sample is necessary. As with most environmental things, it comes down to personal preference. This is why I don’t buy loosely spun superwash anymore. I was confused and just continued. Truly a machine-wash and machine-dry yarn, the 220 Superwash from Cascade is 220 yards of the softest Peruvian Highland wool for all your washable projects. N.B. And another thing: odors stay in the fabric untill they’re washed – with non-superwash it’s enough to air the garment. 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. No one will be surprised that my gauge is different with superwash yarn. The takeaway: Come for the color and softness, but arm yourself with a little knowledge about how this yarn likes to be knit. Shorter fibres have the tendency to create pills. I’m not a sock knitter but might consider using SW for that. But then, so will untreated wool. Sock yarn is almost always a mixture of acrylic for elasticity and superwash wool. link to All about Knitting Needle Sizes (Hooray! Oh, what a enlightening article! The yarn compresses since some of the structure is missing. The hand is how a knitted fabric feels. Local customers may select the Pickup option when placing orders online. Also polymer does not equal plastic. You live and learn. This is such a good article! Bamboo also. 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. I use it for gifts because even those who know better sometimes pitch a scarf or hat into the wash without thinking, although I did knit myself a sweater from superwash because, YES, the COLOR! This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies. If I go inside wearing it, I break out in a sweat immediately – and moisture does not get wicked away like with non-superwash. Finishing a couple commissioned blanket and was pondering an Autumn sweater for myself in superwash fingering!!!! Care: Machine wash warm, tumble dry. Superwash wool is a specially treated wool to prevent pilling and allow machine washing. Similarly, a medium-high wool content and an admonition to handwash only in cool water means that yarn will probably felt if you encourage it. A long time ago I only knitted with acrylic. Autocorrected! Have you noticed that superwash yarns are grand and glorious, but they don’t really act the same as non-superwash yarns? All about Knitting Needle Sizes (Hooray!). That cabled swatch is also flat and limp because that particular yarn is not spun tightly. Anecdotally speaking, I also find superwash yarns to look a little bit shinier than those made of natural wool. (This is why superwash yarns are great for socks.). Check out the rest of the Cascade Yarns 220 Line for even more options!Available online only. Why? Is there any “best” way for changing threads (eg Russian join, knot) in superwash? I made a second sweater “Roger”, but this time a little tighter tension and have not blocked yet. But it’s not scratchy like regular wool, either. This is because merino wool “tends to be strong and when used in a tightly wound sweater would be less likely to pill,” according to WSJ. It stretched beyond belief. I don't notice any difference from regular wool. 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. But even with seemingly soft animal fibers I can have problems. When they are noticeable enough to remove without ruining the garment, I do. Though it may have started as this, superwash Merino has taken on a life of its own and is a mainstream fiber these … My local shepherdess ( who is biased ) told me about superwash, and why she doesn’t like it. 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. It may be coated, but it still is a protein fiber at heart and retains many of the inherent properties of protein fibers. For me this shows up most when superwash yarns are wet. I typically block superwash like I would anything else, the first time, so it looks really nice for gifting and pictures. And you should generally not put superwash wool in the dryer. IMore thought and swatching now imperative thanx!!! However, it does so to a lesser extent than other types of wool. Good luck, and, Happy Knitting! I'm the Furious Knitter (FK), and I write KNIT FURIOUSLY to share what I've learned from over 15 years of knitting. Superwash wool also resists felting in items that are exposed to a fair amount of moisture and movement, like socks. Is there a difference between superwash and “real” in how prone to run a bright yarn is? This article is very informative. I will research that before buying. Under this process, there is no need to coat the yarn with resin. But I want to knit another one and I want to be sure that I’ll have the right size. There are many wonderful things about superwash merino wool but it wouldn’t be fair to tout its benefits without sharing its drawbacks. That’s why it behaves more like acrylic and not like wool anymore; it’s essentially a mixed fiber. Superwashed wool I can wear with no problem for the most part. I can now fully absolve myself from blame for the sagging mess of a hooded vest I made years ago. I have used two different brands of ‘eco-wash’ superwash wool, which uses a different process for neutralizing the scales on the fiber. If the scales can’t lock together, then the knitted item can be tossed into the washing machine with reckless abandon (sort of). Spirit Trail, which just closed its doors (sob! There are some wonderful cottons out there, and I’m currently making myself a cotton pullover that I can use to transition into fall. Cascade 220 knitting yarn is now available in Superwash! Characteristics of wool also vary greatly among breeds. (Superwash yarns therefore are not candidates for gauge shifting.). I also seem to have trouble with alpaca. Should I use Superwash, wool blend, cotton? 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. They tend to be very silky and lovely to wear, although my experience was that they will pill. When you have a wool garment that pills, there are also several reasons why this happens. I hope pattern designers make an effort to indicate if super wash is appropriate for a given pattern. You will most probably experience pilling with wool sweaters. Do you have any experience making garments with this yarn? So…..as beautiful as the yarn looks, I’m a non-superwash-lover ! Stay tuned for more info on superwash than could fit in this article, which focuses on how these yarns behave. The fibres will also be entangled because of curly fibre. The cable swatch in the photo is knit with bulky yarn, with many plies, at the gauge suggested by the ballband. Also, it seems to pill more. BUT ... there are problems with superwashing that, depending upon the intended use of the fiber, can outweigh the advantages. They’re cruelty-free, durable fibres that can certainly withstand a more vigorous washing than natural wool. Absolutely not. So back to the drawing board. Expensive yes; but really soft. Jill thank you for a great lesson. I knit furiously, meaning that I am a fast and prolific knitter and that I swear loudly every time I drop a stitch. I breakout in a lovely rash. The superwash treatment makes the wool easier to wash, and it also keeps the yarn from expanding or blooming as much as it would in its natural state when wet finished. Garments made with alpaca wool eventually will show some pilling, especially where there is a lot of friction, like underneath the armpits. Let’s go! “coat the yarn to smooth it” isn’t fully addressed. I also find it a little bit more fragile. Some people love the feel of a “wooly-wool” and others can despise them (and the way they smell when wet). Merino Wool is much softer than other wool yarns because it is a finer … Sock yarn makers often blend superwash with a bit of nylon to add even more toughness. Nonetheless, what can’t be denied, is that non-superwash wool does not go through this process. Here 8n Australia you can buy merino undergarments. 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). I knit with superwash wool, primarily in the form of sock yarn as gifts for my mom. There are some interesting fibers out there made of things like soy and milk. If you are a lace knitter, particularly with a penchant for lace shawls, the smooth heaviness of superwash gives your piece swing. These harsh chemicals and pollutants are therefore avoided. inches after wet blocking. Sigh. 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. But that doesn’t necessarily follow! Merino and those breeds that have a lot of merino in their breeding are my go-to for spinning and yarn buying. Purchasing is, at a very small level, voting with your money. Also polymer does not equal plastic. Thanks. Ahhh, allergy. Question: why does some yarn pill and others don’t? I’m not sure if wearing it next to my bare back/stomach would cause a flare up. Plastic washes out of fabrics right into our waste water that we will eventually drink. Together with woo/acrylic blends, they’re hard to beat for children’s & young adult gifts. Wow thanks for this article! You may have seen “Superwash” wool written on the label of a yarn hank and wondered what exactly this distinction meant.
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