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Merino Wool Yarn

Merino wool yarn is among the softest wools you can work with - and the yarns pictured below are some of the most beautiful (and affordable!) we've seen...lovingly crafted from the best fiber in the world. From wonderfully sophisticated italian merino from Artyarns to funky and fabulous thick Aquarella or slightly felted Rasta Merino Wool, these are all wonderful variations on the same theme: Merino makes the best Wool Yarn. We're working on expanding our collection, focusing on local spinners and dyers - if you know a great yarn source - please, tell us!

Malabrigo Rios Worsted wool yarn   Malabrigos Arroyo DK merino wool   Malabrigo Finito Yarn fingering weight merino   malabrigo baby merino lace yarn   madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light superwash merino wool fingering weight yarn   malabrigo aquarella        

Rios Worsted Merino Wool Superwash yarn


Arroyo Sport Merino Wool Yarn


Finito Fingering weight Merino Wool


Baby Merino Wool Lace yarn from Malabrigo


Madeline tosh merino light, DK and sock


Aquarella Thick and Thin Handspun Merino

  malabrigo merino yarn solids   Malabrigo Merino Bulky Rasta Yarn              
Zen Yarn Garden Hand Dyed Superfine Bulky Merino Wool


Malabrigo Merino Wool Yarn


Malabrigo Rasta Yarn


Pudgy Ultra Bulky Merino Yarn (great for Arm Knitting!)


Bagsmith Big Stitch Yarn Bumps - Alpaca or Merino!



Artyarns Handpainted merino wool yarn is truly lovely to behold, and a joy to work. Gliding easily on and off, creating even, colorful knitted pieces, this is truly a yarn worth it's weight in gold.


Beautiful Malabrigo Merino Yarn Fleece dyed-in-the wool Merino Wool Yarn, for the most beautiful of colors, with a depth and lustre that you only ever find in pure merino wool. Ultra soft, wonderful to touch, and to wear, this merino will become a staple in your stash.









Artyarns Supermerino                            

Artyarns Supermerino Yarn


What is merino wool yarn?

Merino Wool Yarn is yarn made from the fleece of the merino wool sheep. Merino are prized for their incredibly soft coats, and in turn, produce the most amazing of fleeces, and even more amazing yarns for knitting. There are all kinds of merinos - the most famous and well-known are australian merinos. Australian merinos have been a staple of the yarn industry since the 1800 - Australia, over the prior 100 years, had one in the wool wars with Germany, and Australian Merinos because the standard against which all merino was weighed against.

There are quite a few types of merino breeds - the Ramoubouillet and the Peppin were the two main breeds that really developed the merino line in australia. Merino is so soft because of it's low count - 21. 24 (the higher the micron count, the rougher the fiber). 24 and below are the softest, and these are what the merino sheep produces.

What is a merino sheep? How is Merino Wool produced, and where does it come from?

The merino is one of the most populous breed of sheep in the world. Prized for its wool, it is also becoming a food source. Super fine merinos are regarded as having the finest and softest wool of any sheep. There are two basic strains of Merino: poll animals have no horns (or very small stubs), and horned merinos have long, spiral horns which grow close to the head.

Although the merino is an excellent grazer and very adaptable, it is bred chiefly for its wool, because it matures slowly and its meat (mutton) has generally of poor quality, excepting the related South African Mutton Merino and Merinofleischschaf derivative breeds. As noted above, this is changing. The wool is tightly crimped and springy. Staples are commonly 2.5–4 inches (65–100 mm). A merino produces 7–13 lb (4.5–6 kg) of unwashed wool in one year. Merino wool is generally less than 24.5 micrometres (microns) in diameter. Fine merino wool is less than 21.5 µm and extra-fine merino is under 19.5 µm.

The beauty of the fiber itself is evident in intense, cold-weather or high-performance applications, where merino distinguishes itself from cotton and polyester fabrics by offering superior breathability, temperature regulation, moisture control, and inherent anti-microbial properties. Unlike "traditional" wool, merino is much finer, softer, and, best of all, itch-free for all but those with severe sensitivities or lanolin allergies. If you are looking for really incredible merino wool yarn, I'd reccomend checkout our madelinetosh line of yarn, or artyarns or malabrigo yarn, all of which produce high quality merino yarns for knitting.

The term "merino" is widely employed in the textile industries with very varied meanings. Originally it was restricted to denote the wool of the merino sheep reared in Spain, but owing to the superiority of Australian and New Zealand wools the term now has broader use. In the dress-goods and knitting trades the term "merino" still implies an article made from the very best soft wool. "Merino" is sometimes employed to mean knitwear produced with a special worsted yarn made of 100% wool.

To get some idea of the volume of wool that a merino sheep can produce, check out this before and after picture!

Arles Merino Wool Sheep before shearing   Arles Merino Wool Sheep after shearing  
An Arles Merino Sheep - pre-shearing   An Arles Merino, post shearing  

Where in the world are the most merino sheep raised and bred?

Merino are the top breed in regions where sheep are bred for their wool rather than their mutton, as in New Zealand, Australia, Argentina, South Africa and the western United States. There are different 'blends' of merinos, as well - for instance, in New Zealand, the merino has been crossed with Lincolns, Leicesters, Shropshires, Suffolks and other breeds to improve mutton quality. The merino is not commonly bred in the United Kingdom, as the humidity engenders wool rot and cotting (matting which is caused by movement of the fleece relative to the sheep).


The Merino Wool Sheep in History

The merino appears to have originated from the crossing of Spanish with Berber sheep breeds in the 14th and 15th centuries. Merino breeders were associated in the Mesta and maintained a monopoly on the race. Sheep exportation was forbidden, and wool commerce through the ports of the Hermandad de la Marina de Castilla (the local shipping authority at the time) to Flanders and England was a source of income for Castile in the Late Middle Ages.

Eventually, because of the popularity and lucrative commerce stemming form the raising of these beautiful sheep, and the success in breeding and cultivating softer and softer variations of the wool from them, Merinos spread across Europe, especially to Austria-Hungary, Germany and France. The best-known derivative breeds are the Rambouillet, a large merino named after the village near Paris, to which it was exported towards the end of the 18th century, and the Negretti, which stands in closer relationship to the old Spanish stock and has shorter wool but a more wrinkled fleece. The so-called "American merino", the Delaine, the Vermont and the Rambouillet, are well-known derivative breeds in the United States. They were first brought over to Maine from Portugal in 1810 illegally by Capt. Ephraim Sturdivant.

Where did they get the name MERINO?

There are two proposed origins for the Word - one is Spanish, and the other may be even older, or derived from Latin: Merino may be an adaptation to the sheep of the name of a Castilian official inspector (merino), who may have also inspected sheep pastures. This word is from the medieval Latin majorinus, a steward or head official of a village, from major, meaning great. Merino may also have been derived from the name of a Berber tribe, the Marini (or in Castilian, Benimerines), which intervened in the Iberian peninsula during the 12th and 13th centuries.

-Judy Schmitz