What Is Merino Yarn?

Posted by on May 18, 2014 in Crocheting, Knitting |


If you touch a merino yarn in your local yarn store, you won’t soon forget how it feels. Merino knitting and crochet yarn is the yarn I’m always drawn to, the yarn I can’t stop touching. Its softness is like no other wool, and I have so many favorites that I can’t even begin to name them all. But like any other yarn, you need to know what projects work best for merino knitting and crochet yarn.

Get cozy with luxurious merino wool as we answer questions about what merino yarn is, plus some of the best ways to use it in your knitting and crocheting.

Colorful Merinio Knitting and Crochet Yarn

What is merino yarn?

Merino yarn is one of the softest wools you’ll find. It’s a fine wool, which makes it super soft. However, because it’s so soft, that also means it’s not as durable as other wools. The softness also means that merino will wear down after lots of abrasion. Deborah Robson, instructor of the FREE Craftsy class Know Your Wool, advises to go for merino when you crave warmth and luxury.

And while we’re on the subject, what is extra-fine merino wool? Extra-fine merino yarns can be even more luxurious. The Filatura Di Crosa Zara Yarn pictured above is one example of an extra-fine merino wool. This particular wool is superwash, so you won’t have to worry about it felting so easily.

Which projects are best for merino yarn?

When you’re choosing a project to match your merino yarn — or vice versa — keep in mind the two main characteristics of merino: soft, but not durable. Merino wool is great for luxurious shawls and sweaters, but be sure these are shawls and sweaters that will be handled gently.

Sometimes merino combines forces with other fibers to make a yarn that is more durable. If that’s the case, go ahead and use it. But beware of 100% merino wool if you plan on knitting or crocheting something that’s going to get a lot of wear. I keep a knit cardigan in my car in case I ever need it, but it’s acrylic because it’s constantly being tossed around. Save merino yarn for items that you’re going to guard with your life. And when you do wear those 100% merino wools, you’re going to get lots of compliments!

As with any yarn, be sure to swatch your merino before you begin the project. Even though merino yarn shares the same characteristics, merino yarn can behave differently depending on how it was spun and prepped, or depending on what other fibers it might be paired with. Swatch your merino and make sure it behaves the way you want it to before you knit or crochet with it.

Merino yarn patterns

Ready for the ultimate luxury yarn? Try some of these Craftsy knitting and crochet patterns that are perfect for merino yarn.

Blue angel shawl kit

Blue angel shawl

Well hello there, merino! There’s no better example of luxury than a pretty shawl you can wrap yourself up in. This shawl is knit using Cascade Heritage, and 25% of the yarn is nylon to give the soft merino a little stretch, too.

Get the Blue Angel Shawl Kit.

Craspedia cardigan kit

Craspedia cardigan

If you’re craving luxury, this crochet cardigan has everything you need, including a Miss Babs Yet yarn that’s a blend of merino and silk.

Get the Craspedia Cardigan Kit.

Merlot opera gloves

Photo via Craftsy member HappySeamstress

Merlot opera gloves

Here’s another glorious merino-silk blend for you to drool over, this time in the form of gloves. Don’t worry, that lace panel won’t stop the merino from keeping you warm!

Get the Merlot Opera Gloves Pattern.

Melange fingerless gloves

Photo via Craftsy member MonPetitViolon

Melange fingerless gloves

Merino pairs up with equally-soft alpaca yarn for these crochet fingerless gloves. Even better? It’s a one-skein project, so it’s the perfect time to use that really expensive yarn you’ve had your eye on without breaking the bank on a bigger project.

Get the Melange Fingerless Gloves Pattern.

Are you a fan of merino yarn? What do you make with it?