Sublime Angora Merino
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
80% extra fine Merino
22 sts and 28 rows per 4 inch (10cm) square on US6 (4mm) needles
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Weight/yardage per skein
50g / 130 yards (120m)
Country of origin
Spun in Italy
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
Hand wash cool, dry flat. Reshape while wet.
Color used in review
In US: Knitting Fever Inc.
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