A skein of Eco Wool
Eco Wool once knitted up
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Yarn Profile: Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool

First Impressions
Most of the minimally processed wools I've tried are rich in lanolin and have an overall "raw" feeling that gives you the sense of being right there at the farm with the sheep. In the case of Ecological Wool, although the fiber is undyed and has not been chemically processed, the yarn is otherwise as smooth and clean as its processed counterparts.

Perhaps this could be a byproduct of the fiber itself, a wool from sheep raised on the vast Peruvian highlands. Does altitude impact the quality of a sheep's fiber? I don't know—but this is one clean eco-friendly yarn.

The first major difference you'll notice with Ecological Wool is that it is composed of smooth, relatively long-staple fibers that have been worsted-spun. This means you have a very smooth, "unjumbled" yarn with a flatness and drape reminiscent of alpaca.

It comes in enormous 478-yard hanks in four natural, undyed shades ranging from white to brown.

Knitting Up
Ecological Wool knit up quickly and effortlessly. The two plies are relaxed and seemingly loose on the hank, but when held under tension, they stayed tightly together and did not snag on my needles. Stitches appeared even and consistent.

The stitch definition with this yarn is so lovely, in fact, that I was sorely tempted to stray from protocol and add cables and other embellishments to my swatches.

Blocking / Washing
Washing was an easy, painless process. My swatches stayed strangely firm in the wash, not immediately relaxing as I'd expected.

Although the label advises cold water, my swatches did perfectly fine in warm water too.

With the warm water and a confident bit of thrashing, the swatches relaxed and filled out into lovely, cohesive pieces of knitted fabric without any change in gauge. Stitches were even more consistent, and the swatches formed perfect squares—there was no need for blocking.

Wearing
The general rule is the longer the fiber staple, the more durable the yarn. But the longer the staple, the rougher the fiber tends to be.

This yarn walks the line and remains soft to the touch, with only a faint hint of scratchiness around sensitive areas such as the neck. It's no merino, but it's close.

From a durability standpoint, Ecological Wool was a trooper. Standard wear and tear produced very little visible signs of distress in the swatches.

Fibers remained intact, with only faint signs of pilling on the fabric surface. A few seemingly thinned areas popped back into perfect form with one or two tugs.

With more friction, the swatches gradually did cross the line into blurrdom, but it seemed somehow fitting with the yarn's already soft, unadorned nature.

Conclusion
We have many choices out there for straightforward wool yarns. This one is soft, relaxed, and slightly unusual, having had no chemical processing and no dyes. It is not as straight-from-the-sheep as other eco-friendly yarns I've reviewed (Green Mountain Spinnery's Granite State Green and Marr Haven Fine Wool Yarn are two exemplary examples), which may work to its advantage for those seeking a cleaner look and feel.

At $15 per 478-yard yank, the yarn is an excellent value. You'll probably end up buying three hanks for any medium-sized project with stitchwork, giving yourself leftovers for a hat or mittens—all for under $50.

The only potential issue I foresee is one of color aesthetics: If you like bright purples and blues and other distinctively dyed hues, you may need to pass on Ecological Wool. But if you find creative inspiration from the natural whites, creams, and browns found in nature, you'll be well served with this yarn.

 
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