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Old 08-20-2007, 03:32 PM   #11
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I have this problem with wool, too. With regards to merino wool, in my humble opinion, there seems to be different grades of that too, because Patons Classic Merino (100% merino wool) seems a bit scratchy for me, but I made a scarf using Takhi brand's 100% merino wool (can't remember the specific brand), and it's not scratchy at all. As others posted, I think it's all about the microns, as well as the wools that are reputed to be softer, like the cashmeres and merinos. I stay away from stuff simply labeled "wool" unless it's in a blend. I can wear Lion Brand's Wool-Ease with no problem--it's a blend of 80% acrylic with 20% "wool" (no specification of what type of wool), it's machine washable and dryable, it's really warm, and has a nice loft to it.
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Old 08-20-2007, 03:44 PM   #12
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Are microns and deniers the same thing?

A denier is the weight in grams of 9,000 meters of a fiber or yarn. The smaller the denier the finer the fabric. For example, microfiber has a denier of less than one.

I googled micron and only came up with a couple of examples of shoes made out of microfiber.
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:16 PM   #13
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I'm not familiar with the term deniers, but I believe that microns in yarn talk have to do with the yarn's diameter, and the smaller number of microns, the softer and finer the yarn.

For what it's worth--with regards to alpacas--this site gave the following information on microns:

less than 20 microns (Royal alpaca) pashmina-type scarves, vests
20 23 microns (baby alpaca) fine knitwear, lightweight worsted material
23 26 microns worsted outerwear - jackets, suits, medium weight knitting yarn
26 29 microns - knitting yarns, rugs, blankets, interior products
greater than 30 microns bags, interior furnishings, carpets
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by AnnaT View Post
I keep hearing that merino and alpaca are very soft and don't bother sensitive people. I am working on a sweater now that is 80% acrylic, 10% virgin wool, and 10% mohair. It was not expensive at all and I thought it was just right for my first attempt at a sweater. However, I think I will have to wear a t-shirt under it. It's a little prickly. That's assuming, of course, that it's wearable.
That could be the mohair, too. While some wools are itchy, I have found many (including merino), to be soft enough to wear against my skin. But anything mohair? I just can't do it. It feels fine on my hands, but anywhere it's just too itchy.
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:23 PM   #15
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Old 08-20-2007, 05:26 PM   #16
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the micron count actually refers to the diameter of each individual strand of wool, not the diameter of the spun yarn. you could spin bulky yarn with very fine alpaca, and likewise, you could spin a lace weight with a coarse mohair.
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Old 08-22-2007, 12:49 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Jan in CA View Post
I think there are different kinds of sheep that produce a softer wool... merino I think is one, but I think that part of the softness is in processing. I usually can't wear wool at all, but I was at my LYS and someone was using Lorna's Laces 100% superwash wool and it was soooooo soft! Can you shop online? I know shipping can be a problem for those of you out of the country.

Yes, I can shop online and will probably do so from a shop in England, once I ever decide what I want. The shipping doesn't cost nearly as much as from the states.

I am just tired of scratching around in my LYS (pardon the pun, how awful) and never finding quite what I want/picture/imagine. Thanks for the tip on Lorna's Laces!
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Old 08-22-2007, 12:54 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Stiney View Post
That could be the mohair, too. While some wools are itchy, I have found many (including merino), to be soft enough to wear against my skin. But anything mohair? I just can't do it. It feels fine on my hands, but anywhere it's just too itchy.


I had no idea.

The yarn I am using now (with the 10% mohair) looks exactly like my cat. It's the exact same shade of light brown and the mohair used in it is white, so it looks like my cat's white guard hairs sticking out. This choice must say something about me, but I don't know what.
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Old 08-22-2007, 01:27 AM   #19
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IamtheWalter,

Thank you for that post. That's exactly the sort of information I was interested in learning. There's a big textile/fiber/yarn industry here, but that absolutely does not equate with cute, quality yarns in the shops. I think you hit the nail on the head in the paragraph about meat sheep. Certainly people eat a lot of sheep here, and also eat plenty of sheep milk cheese and yogurt. That is the main use of sheep here, I am sure. In addition, there's a big industry of heavy wool carpets.

I was looking through your provided link about sheep breeds, and can't believe how many they are. I'd like to know what kind of sheep some people in my village have, and think it looks quite a bit like the Sicilian Barbary, but the page says it "usually" has dark spots on the face and legs, and these don't. I haven't been through the whole list yet, though. These sheep are sadly very ugly, with goatlike faces. They grow these huge fleeces and when they are shorn, it seems like there's nothing left of the sheep! They are also very tall, and can stick their head in my car window when I am waiting for them to pass by. They are almost all cream colored, but very occasionally I will see a lamb with black or brown patches.

At any rate, now that I knit, I see them in a whole different way!
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Old 08-23-2007, 06:31 AM   #20
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As Jeanius80 said, the micron count has to do with the diameter of the individual wool (or alpaca or silk or angora or mohair, etc) fiber, not the yarn. Fibers with a low micron count are more suited to being spun thin but that does not mean that they have to be.

If you google wool micron you'll find results relating to wool and micron count.

I think that paton's merino is a very nice yarn and I've never had problems with it but it is on the coarser side of the merino spectrum so I could understand if someone with really sensitive skin might find it itchy.

I still haven't found a great table online yet but I did find these two:
Wool By Grades
Fiber Grades (PDF)

The first chart for some reason only includes the bradford scale numbers for some wools. The Bradford system is and older way of measuring fineness based on how many 560 yard skeins of yarn can be spun from a pound of a specific fiber. In this instance, the higher the number, the finer the fiber.

The second chart includes the bradford scale and it's corresponding micron diameters, and has micron counts for exotic fibers.

I did a little more searching and found some stuff on the UN food and agriculture website about the indigenous sheep breeds of greece:
Here's a list of indigineous breeds, though most don't have pictures.

Here's the page of greek sheep pictures.

Here's a document from 1979 entitled "declining Mediterranean Sheep Breeds with a little bit of info on greek sheep. On the figures page there are some pictures but they're in black and white and aren't the best quality.


While some of those sheep produce medium wool, most of them produce very coarse wool, suited for rugs and carpets, and maybe even ropes or twine.
There may be finewool sheep being raised somewhere near you, but none of the native sheep produce exceptionally fine wool.

As for alpaca never being itchy, I personally find that alot of alpaca yarns feel very "prickly" to me. Alpaca is a very straight and silky fiber so it feels nice to the touch, but if the fibers are thick, it will still feel itchy next to the skin. That is not to say that all alpaca is itchy to me, the nicer stuff like baby/cria, royal, or superfine, never bothers me.
Mohair is similar: it's a smooth fiber but most adult mohair is really coarse so that's why so many people find it so soft to the touch and so itchy next to the skin.
Kid mohair is nice though, it's smooth and lustrous, and creates a nice fluffy halo, though not as big as adult mohair, but it's alot finer and shouldn't bother most people.
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