All you need to know about merino wool yarn

All you need to know about merino wool yarn

Posted by Team NZNC on 13th Nov 2020

Merino wool is a superior natural fibre.

If you visit New Zealand Natural Clothing frequently then you will already know how much we value merino wool.

However if you are brand spanking new, you’re ready to learn all about merino wool and why we love it so much.

Today we’re focusing on merino wool yarn and we're going to deep dive and learn everything we can about what makes it so spectacular.

This is what we’re going to cover:


  • What is merino wool yarn
  • What a merino sheep is
  • Why merino wool is expensive
  • Whether merino wool pills
  • Does merino wool itch
  • The difference between merino wool and lambswool
  • Does merino wool shrink
  • How to wash merino wool


What is merino wool yarn?

Merino wool yarn comes from merino sheep. Merino sheep are famous for their extremely soft wool.

The most popular merinos are Australian Merinos. They have played a big role in the yarn industry since 1800.

Merino wool is really soft because it’s micron is really low between 21 and 24.

Merino wool is such a wonderful choice for knitting yarn because it offers a long smooth fibre that is really warm and lightweight.


What is a merino sheep?

Merino sheep are prized for their wool and are also becoming utilised as a source of meat.

These sheep are very adaptable and great grazers, they are bred mostly for their wool but they are more commonly being bred for meat too now.

A Merino sheep produces 4.5 to 6 kilograms of wool per year.

Fine Merino wool and the quality we’re really interested in is less than 21.5 micron, extra fine is under 19.5 micron.


Why is merino wool expensive?

There are multiple reasons why Merino wool is more expensive than other yarns.


  1. Merino sheep are shorn between August and November so they have a coat for the winter. Their coat also has to be the right length before shearing.
  2. Each sheep is carefully assessed for quality before shearing to ensure it hits the right expectations.
  3. Merino sheep welfare is taken very seriously. They are free range and need proper nutrition and water to grow the fleece we so love.
  4. Merino yarn is such a quality grade wool so the demand is higher hence it being more expensive.

Worth the investment when you’re getting the comfort of a warm, soft hug every time you pop your Merino knitted item on!


Bed Sock Dots

Will Merino wool yarn pill?

Pilling or bobbling is when fuzzy balls pop up on wool garments. It is caused by rubbing during wear.

The most common areas are around the elbows, armpits, sleeves, belly and the sides of the garment because this is where the arms are always rubbing against the body.

Merino wool yarn doesn’t pill because of how long the fibre is. However if you purchase lightly spun yarn it can pill because of the spinning and not the fibre itself. Make sure to check this!


Bed Sock Dots

Does Merino wool yarn itch?

Merino wool yarn is finer so it’s softer.

It’s also low allergenic which definitely helps keep it soft against skin.

So no, Merino wool doesn’t itch. Be aware that whilst the label may state 100% merino there are many different grades of merino, spun thicker & thinner and knitted to different specifications.


What is the difference between lambswool and Merino wool?

Lambswool is taken from the sheep’s first shearing, approximately seven months after their first coat comes on.

It can only be taken when the fleece is 50 mm or under. It’s a very fine fibre and because of this needs very little processing.

Lambswool can come from any breed of sheep so the micron can vary quite a lot. Like sheep’s wool, lambswool contains lanolin so it is used for quality knitwear.

Merino wool only comes from Merino sheep, they get shorn every season and the quality of wool depends on the micron which is very carefully monitored.

Merino wool contains lanolin and has antibacterial properties. It is also very warm, durable and wicks moisture away from the body.

While Merino wool can be expensive, it is more affordable than cashmere.


Does Merino wool shrink?

Merino wool can shrink when it is agitated. This can happen with hot water or heat agitation, like from a dryer.

If the wool has felted, it can’t be unshrunk and should be repurposed but if it hasn’t felted there is a way to unshrink your merino wool garment.

Merino wool needs very gentle care so take note of the washing instructions and follow them to preserve your garment.


How to wash Merino wool yarn

We already know Merino wool garments need special care but what does this mean?

You can wash Merino wool items in a washing machine but make sure it’s on a cool gentle cycle to avoid any agitation!

Don’t ever put your Merino garments in a dryer because that is where this high quality natural fibre goes to die. Lay it flat to dry and keep out of direct sunlight to protect the dye.

Hand washing is optimal. In a basin with cool water and a specific wool wash. Don’t wring it out, rather roll it out in a towel to get rid of any excess moisture.


Our favourite Merino wool yarn products

Bed Sock Dots

Wear it many ways

Bed Sock Dots

Created from a lightweight, warm & luxurious blend of possum fibre (20%) , superfine merino (70%) and silk (10%)

Bed Sock Dots

Who doesn't like a bit of lounging around

Bed Sock Dots

Tidy summer dress shirt no stains and wear it for a few days odour wicking fibre

Bed Sock Dots

Well priced light weight jersey

Bed Sock Dots

Best socks on the planet


We love our natural fibres and we’re Merino wool’s biggest cheerleaders because of the phenomenal quality of wear.

You have all the information you need to assess whether Merino wool is for you but if you have any questions, we are always here to help.

We’re fibre fanatics and we love talking shop!

Just drop us a line in the chat box if you have any questions.