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A skein of Sublime Angora Merino
Sublime Angora Merino yarn
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Yarn Profile:
Sublime Angora Merino

First Impressions
In my book I talk about "calculated yarn risks." We take them when common sense tells us that a yarn would probably not be the best choice for such-and-such a purpose. But it's so soft, so colorful, so whatever that we use it anyway. Sublime Angora Merino invites calculated yarn risks with abandon.

Sublime is a new line from the English yarn company Sirdar. Their yarns are very similar to what you see from Rowan, with the exception of this one. Spun in Italy, Angora Merino is a plush blend of 80% superfine Merino and 20% angora presented in two loosely spun, lightly plied strands. If any yarn could carry a sign that says "squeeze me," this is it.

Fiber blends are calculated by weight, and angora weighs next to nothing—so this yarn's 20% angora content actually adds quite a lot of fluffy fiber to the mix.

This yarn is currently offered in a small range of colors (11 total) including several blues, two types of purple, a rich cranberry, and a traditional baby-girl pink. For this review I chose the aptly named Chalky (#46).

Knitting Up
The yarn felt soft and pleasant in my hands. I was a little surprised that it didn't have more bounce to it, what with the 80% Merino and all. The yarn was a tad slippery on the needles, so I stuck with dull-tipped bamboo and birch DPNs to maintain better control and a relatively even tension.

The two plies produced a shadowy, almost rice-like texture on the stockinette surface of my swatches—a trait of two-ply yarns in general. I found myself missing the roundness that a third ply would've added, but hoping that the angora halo would balance out the shadows from the two plies.

I encountered a few tiny neps of what I presume was angora that hadn't been fully blended into the yarn. They were pretty easy to pick out without disturbing the yarn around them, so that's what I did. I missed a few while knitting but was still able to pull them off the knitted swatch later.

I would definitely encourage you to swatch this yarn and make sure you get a gauge of at least 22 stitches per 4 inches (10cm). My first swatch came out at 20 stitches per 4 inches and it sorely lacked sufficient body to hold together. I played with smaller needles, all the way down to a US 4 (3.5mm) and much preferred the stronger, denser feel of the fabric. But ultimately, the point is to swatch, and wash your swatches, until you like the fabric on your needles. Then and only then, proceed to find a pattern and start knitting.

Blocking / Washing
My swatches had a distinctly "hairy" smell when I took them out of the wash—not the smell of barnyard or even dirty bunny cage but, for lack of better words, the smell of a wet but kindly fluffy little animal. That's the angora talking. When the swatch dried, the smell went away.

When an angora or angora-blend garment is wet, you have to be very careful how you treat it in the wash. Angora has very little elasticity or body to it, so it'll move wherever you pull it when it's wet. I took extra time to tap and tug my swatches back into shape before letting them dry flat.

Don't be alarmed if your swatches (or garment) still look rather flat and lifeless after they wash. The fibers just need fluffing up again. In a larger garment, you can put it in your dryer on air/tumble (no heat!) for 10 seconds or so. With my smaller swatches, I simply fluffed them up by hand.

Wearing
This yarn has the telltale dry, almost powdery feel of angora set against a discreet backdrop of Merino. To the average fingers, it's an exceptionally soft yarn. So I took the test to the next level and tucked one of my swatches down my shirt for an afternoon stroll outside. I felt just one or two moments of itch, otherwise nothing.

My bigger concern wasn't softness but strength and shedding. Even on the skein I could pinch the fluffy fibers and pull them off, which I could also do on the swatches themselves. With a small amount of friction my swatches started to blur and eventually pill.

The fibers put up a much better fight in the tighter-knit swatches, which indicates that garments knit at the tighter gauges would most likely pill less and better hold their shape. The drawback? The finer gauge produces a tighter fabric that isn't as plush and fuzzy. Give it time and the fuzz will return.

Angora is an extremely warm fiber on its own. With 20% angora in the mix, this yarn produces a suitably warm fabric that isn't overpowering. The Merino adds a little loft and bounce to keep things more flexible and comfortable, too.

Conclusion
I was so intrigued with this yarn that I bought several extra skeins that wouldn't get destroyed in this review. And if you want to hear about calculated yarn risks, guess what I'm going to do with them? I'm going to knit myself a decadent pair of house socks.

That's right. Yes, I'll need to use much smaller needles. And yes, the socks won't have tons of elasticity and they'll pill pretty quickly—even on smaller needles. I know this. But I don't care. My house is cold in the winter, and I want this yarn on my feet. At $12.95 per skein, this heavenly pair of socks would cost me a little over $25 and give me hours of knitting and wearing pleasure.

A medium-sized women's cardigan, meanwhile, would require approximately 10 skeins. That's still pretty reasonable for quality fibers that have been spun in Italy. But I'd definitely knit up any larger garment at a finer gauge to slow the pilling and give more life to the finished product.

 

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