Yarn Profile: Berroco Vintage Wool
I personally have a strong preference for natural fibers. When knitting for myself, that's all I'll use. But I also have great respect for the power of the blend. Sometimes—whether for durability or economy or practicality—it just makes sense to use a less expensive, easy-care yarn. Not everybody can afford to spend large sums of money on yarn for every project; and not every project should be knit in yarns that require careful feeding.
It's been my experience that lengthy care instructions tend to intimidate some gift recipients to the point where they simply put the gift away and never dare wear it. And sometimes we're knitting for folks who have no control over their laundry, or who have no laundry facility at all. My point is that sometimes you need a good inexpensive machine-washable yarn.
Finding that yarn is a challenge, and the waters are muddied by many acrylic blends that just don't deliver. In Vintage Wool, Berroco made a concerted effort to give knitters a yarn that has all the qualities of a good wool but with an easier care label and substantially lower price tag. It still contains wool—40% in fact—but that fiber has been blended with 50% acrylic and 10% nylon.
Berroco Vintage Wool currently comes in 32 colors that include deeply saturated solids as well as more subtle heathers.
Vintage Wool has a subtle sheen to it that almost suggests silk, but that's most likely the acrylic and/or nylon talking. The 40% wool gives the yarn a gentle fuzz along its surface, and the smooth nylon and acrylic fibers have also been set with a fine crimp pattern to further mimick the look and feel of wool.
The yarn flowed smoothly through my hands without much of that telltale "sticky" feeling that can sometimes accompany a pure synthetic yarn. My stitches were mostly even, although the yarn clearly didn't want to forgive the few spots where my tension had strayed.
Blocking / Washing
Wool loves water, but the high synthetic percentage in this yarn resulted in my swatches taking quite a long time to dry.
While the acrylic and nylon fibers have been artificially crimped to better blend with (and mimic) the wool, they still lack one very important feature: scales. Wool fibers are lined with tiny microscopic scales that help the fibers adhere to one another in yarn and, consequently, in your fabric. With no such surface force to help the fibers adhere to one another, they began to slip and slide under abrasion.
A halo readily developed across the swatch surface. Those fibers became particularly dense in some spots, developing what would eventually become clump-like pills very close to the surface. Because the synthetic fibers tended to have a longer staple length—sometimes nearly the same length as the wool fibers, sometimes several inches longer—those clumps were deeply rooted in the fabric. When I tugged on them, entire stitches started to move. It'd be far safer to snip them off with a sweater shaver.
Bottom line? When you need a yarn that is soft, inexpensive, and can be tossed in the washing machine without worry—but you also want a yarn that will feel good against your hands while you're knitting—Vintage Wool is a solid contender.
4.5 to 5 sts per inch on US 7-8 (4.5-5mm) needles
Average retail price
Where to buy online
Weight/yardage per skein
217 yards (200m)
Country of origin
Manufacturer's suggested wash method
Machine wash inside out in cold water, gentle cycle. Lay flat to dry.
Color used in review
Chana Dal (5192)