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A skein of Aurora Karabella 8
A swatch of Aurora Karabella 8

Yarn Profile: Aurora 8

First Impressions
Whenever I visit yarn shops, I always ask the staff about their personal favorites. When the folks at San Francisco's Atelier Yarns and Little Rock's Handworks Gallery both raved about this yarn, I knew I had to review it.

A smooth yet lofty Italian merino, Aurora 8 disproves wool's reputation as a scratchy material. It is incredibly soft, with a buoyancy and elasticity that make it a pleasure to work with.

Knitting Up
Anyone who's read these reviews for a while knows I have problems with multiple-ply yarns. Usually the strands come unspun, causing repeated snags and irregular stitches. If I look away for even a moment, all is lost.

Aurora 8 -- made up of eight two-ply strands spun in a tight, almost perpendicular twist -- didn't snag at all. Only a few times did the strands come un-spun at the ends of rows. This is a common trouble area since you're usually reversing the twist of your stitch from knit to purl, adding twist (or lack thereof) to your yarn.

Aurora 8 has the thick elasticity of yeasted bread dough, yet it is surprisingly lightweight. My stitches appeared beautifully even, consistent, and well-defined. I quickly gathered steam and was able to knit by touch alone without any problems.

Blocking / Washing
Aurora 8 is transformed with just one wash. My swatches relaxed and softened considerably, and the surface texture took on a pleasant peach-like fuzz.

Stitches lost a small bit of their surface definition but formed a cohesive, nicely draping fabric in the process. The swatches didn't lose any elasticity.

Merino wants to felt. I put Aurora 8 through the "oops" test by dropping one swatch in the washing machine with a load of laundry. Much to my surprise, the swatch came out a bit misshapen but otherwise in good condition. It even survived a brief stint in the dryer without felting, although I'd never recommend such treatment for this yarn.

Lesson learned: Aurora 8 is a safe yarn to use for gifts where the recipient may forget and drop them in the washing machine by mistake. (To learn more about washing handknits, click here.)

ou can't have everything. Although merino is exquisitely soft, it won't wear as well as many of its scratchier cousins. The fiber's short staple length results in more rapid pilling, regardless of the quality of the merino used.

Aurora 8 withstood an average amount of wear before beginning to pill. It didn't lose its elasticity and the overall fabric remained thick and strong, but I'd still recommend investing in a sweater shaver to keep your Aurora 8 garment looking good.

As I write these reviews, I keep a small list of yarns I want to use for my own projects. Aurora 8 joins Mostly Merino as my all-time merino favorite.

It's marvelous to hold and knits up at a quick pace. Its high stitch definition would support any textured garment beautifully.

The yarn's loftiness doesn't come with the usual oppressive weight, making it ideal for people in warmer climates. Its softness, no-scratch nature, and ability to survive machine washing without total destruction also make it ideal for special baby items.

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Previous Reader Comments
"I'd been looking for a while for soft wool that didn't scratch, but that was durable to make into scarves. This is it. A pure pleasure to knit with and very fast too. It glides through your fingers. I'm on my third scarf for Christmas presents. My knitter friends have fallen in love with it too." anniehall1, 10/01/2001

"I agree - the Aurora 8 yarn is wonderful stuff. I made the 'luxury baby set' out of the Patternworks catalog, held the cables beautifully - not a bit scratch too, you'd never know this was wool yarn. I have to get some for myself now!!!!" Colleen, 5/31/2001