Why Knit with Non-Superwash Wool Yarn?
So, why would you want to use non-superwash yarn?
It’s a valid question and one I’ve seen come up more than once in knitting groups– especially among newer knitters. Superwash wool is easy to care for and who wouldn’t want that?!
There are many articles readily available discussing the unsustainability of the superwash treatment to process these yarns. A quick google search will help you find that information. That’s not what I’d like to cover today.
For me the question is why wouldn’t you want to use non-superwash wool?
Pure and unadulterated, it’s wool in its purest form.
Wool is naturally antimicrobial and wicks away moisture while also keeping us nice and warm or cool…as long as it hasn’t been tampered with. Water pollution and toxic chemical use aside, the superwash treatment strips and then coats the outer layer of the wool fiber. And just like that all of these very wonderful properties have been removed from the fiber. If you’d like to understand more about why this happens, scientist-knitter Anna of the dunkelgrün vlog explains it very well in this episode. This is a full knitting episode so skip to about 35:00 for her explanation of the Hercosett Treatment.
Now this next point could prove to be controversial, but I’d argue it’s worth some consideration.
While it’s true that superwash wool is typically softer than one hundred percent wool, the superwash treatment sucks the life out of it. Everything that makes wool beautiful and springy and full of life is taken away. Pure wool running through your fingers connects you to the earth– deeply. Maybe the reason for that is because it feels more like, well, an actual sheep than an overly processed fiber.
However, just as not all wool is created equal, the same is true for non-superwash wool. Some pure wool can be, well, a bit unpleasant. It really comes down to sheep breed, micron count and how the yarn is processed. But we can talk about that another day.
Tell me in the comments, what do you love about one hundred percent wool? I’d love to hear your thoughts.