Light as Air! Woolen-Spun Yarns

The difference between worsted-spun and woolen-spun yarns lies in how the fiber is handled before the actual spinning. The fibers of a worsted-spun yarn are first straightened and then oriented in the same direction, making the yarn smooth and shiny, which gives your knitted fabric lots of stitch definition. Woolen-spun fibers, on the other hand, are not straightened; the individual fibers lie in all directions, creating a yarn with lots of air pockets. This approach makes for a lofty, lightweight yarn that traps warmth. Woolen-spun yarns have a matte finish with a soft halo and lend themselves well to extra-warm projects that won’t weigh you down—perfect for camping trips! Here, we take a closer look at some of the industry’s top woolen-spun yarns.

woolen-spun yarns
1 Blacker Yarns Classic British Wool DK

Content: 100% pure new wool Put-Up: 119 yd [110 m]/13⁄4 oz [50 g] Construction: 3-ply Care: Handwash in cool water Recommended Gauge: 20 sts and 28 rows = 4″ (10 cm) on size 6 (4 mm) needles

“Woolen-spun yarn creates little air pockets in the fiber; I like to think the process is similar to backcombing one’s hair,” offers Blacker Yarns’s Sonja Bargielowska. The Classic British Wool yarn line is available in four thicknesses and fifteen heathered colorways.

2 Elsawool Company Sport Weight

Content: 100% Cormo wool Put-Up: 350 yd [320 m]/4 oz [113 g] Construction: 2-ply Care: Handwash gently or machine wash without agitation; dry flat

Elsawool creates both woolen- and worsted-spun yarns, all from the soft wool of purebred Cormo sheep, available in natural undyed colors. “They’re lofty yarns, so they make lightweight, absorbent fabrics,” Elsa Hallowell says, “which feel cooler when it’s warm and very cozy when it’s cold.”

3 Harrisville Designs flyWHEEL

Content: 100% pure virgin wool Put-Up: 170 yd [155 m]/1 3/4 oz [50 g] Construction: 2-ply Care: Handwash gently in lukewarm water Recommended Gauge: 24 sts = 4″ (10 cm) on sizes 3–5 (3.25–3.75 mm) needles

Flywheel is a sportweight version of Harrisville’s well-loved Watershed. Flywheel is light and airy and lends itself well to both lace projects and warm, cozy sweaters. Choose from twenty rich rustic heathers and support the Hydropower Project with your purchase. The project aims to restore the hydropower installation to produce clean energy from the waterway that runs under the mill.

4 Briggs & Little Heritage

Content: 100% pure wool Put-Up: 215 yd [196 m]/4 oz [113 g] Construction: 2-ply Care: Handwash with mild soap in lukewarm water Recommended Gauge: 17 sts = 4″ (10 cm) on size 8 (5 mm) needles

“Our mill has been in production on the same location for 158 years, so we do have some history in producing woolen-spun yarn,” says John Little of Briggs & Little Woolen Mills. “Our most popular workhorse yarn is the Heritage two-ply, but if you want even more wear, the Tuffy is an 80/20 blend of wool and nylon.” Heritage comes in forty-five colors of the rainbow, including plenty of neutrals and heathers.

5 Brooklyn Tweed Shelter

Content: 100% American wool Put-Up: 140 yd [128 m]/13⁄4 oz [50 g] Construction: 2-ply Care: Handwash; dry flat Recommended Gauge: 17–20 sts = 4″ (10 cm) on sizes 7–9 (4.5–5.5 mm) needles

Shelter is a medium-weight yarn that varies in gauge, working differently and beautifully on small to large needles. This Targhee-Columbia wool blend comes from Wyoming sheep, and the fiber is fleece-dyed (dyed before spinning), which is made visible in Shelter’s thirty-two heathered colorways, especially the darker ones with lighter hues intermixed.

woolen spun yarns

6 Solitude Wool Clun Forest

Content: 100% Clun Forest wool Put-Up: 185 yd [169 m]/3.8 oz [107 g] Construction: 3-ply Care: Handwash with low agitation; dry flat Recommended Gauge: 18 sts = 4″ (10 cm) on size 7 (4.5 mm) needles

Solitude Wool hand-picks its fleece from small U.S. farms and then has yarn spun at different mills around the country. The Clun Forest yarn is lofty and warm, hand-dyed in variegated and solid colorways, and also offered in undyed white.

7 Imperial Yarn Native Twist

Content: 100% wool Put-Up: 150 yd [137 m]/4 oz [113 g] Construction: Singles Recommended Gauge: 12 sts and 16 rows = 4″ (10 cm) on size 11 (8 mm) needles

The bulky single-ply Native Twist is a 100% wool, soft-spun singles and is Imperial’s most popular yarn. The weight makes it great for outerwear, and the texture and structure allow for beautiful felted work. Native Twist is available in twenty-nine bold, earthy, and jewel-toned solid colorways.

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