warm soft chunky pretty
September 30, 2018 9:58 AM   Subscribe

A yarn sourcing question.

Hello everyone - pursuant to my question of despair yesterday, I have decided to immerse myself in a few knitting projects so that I can distract myself from the current catastrophe of my life and give out some handmade gifts at holiday time.

I would like to make a scarf for my brother. I bought a mostly wool (with some acrylic) yarn that's kinda charcoal and tweedy. It's very pretty. However, it's also very scratchy, and as I knit it I'm wishing that it was a bit thicker, as I think a chunkier knit is warmer and thus better for winter in NYC Metro. I've hit up all of my usual low end (Michael's, AC Moore, Joann's) and higher end (boutiquey knitting store in town, boutiquey knitting store an hour from town) yarn supply places and have yet to find the right yarn for this. I would like to turn to you, knitters of AskMe: does this yarn (parameters below) exist? And if so, where can I buy it? I'm happy to go to a brick and mortar location (I live an hour from NYC) or order online.

soft AF, like soft enough that you want to pet it
chunky weight (like maybe something that would use no smaller than a size 9 or 10 knitting needle)
grey, charcoal, or black but with something unique - tweed would be my preference, but I'm open to other ideas

Thanks in advance!
posted by thereemix to Shopping (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Malabrigo chunky is the first thing that came to mind. Sooo soft and so nice, and Malabrigo has the best colors (tortuga from this year would be perfect for you). But it's not cheap.

I think Downtown Yarns in the east village just stocked it, and knittycity on upper West side sometimes carries it as well, but I'd call to confirm. (Both are super friendly stores)
posted by larthegreat at 10:15 AM on September 30, 2018 [5 favorites]

I would use Malabrigo merino worsted for this. Ravelry says that they sell it in Knitty City on 79th. You can also get it from many places online. It's very soft, reasonably priced, and knits up beautifully. It does pill a bit, but that is part of the trade-off for such softness. It is kettle dyed, so many of the colorways are complex and unique. No tweed, though.

Malabrigo also makes a bulky yarn called Caracol that is really visually arresting. It is sold at the Argyle Yarn Shop in Brooklyn and is also available online. It's not cheap, but it is special.

Happy knitting!
posted by sockermom at 10:16 AM on September 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

I ran this search at WEBS - basically blacks, bulky, and 100% wool. Of the yarns this spit out, I'd consider the merinos -- merino wool is impossibly soft and nice to pet (but doesn't necessarily take wear that well! Should be ok for a scarf :) ). Anything but the lopi should be pretty soft, though. (The ones there are all solids, but you should be able to click on anything you're interested in and see what variations they offer - tweeds or space-dyed or whatever.) Cascade yarns in particular are wonderful and come in all the colors!

I've also had a lot of joy from the wool yarns WAK carries -- they're all single-ply, so you get a relatively low twist, lots of air, and really showing off how soft the yarn is. I linked to The Wool, which is pretty bulky -- I'm knitting it now on size 15 needles, and it's a very good density, would definitely be drape-y and nice for a scarf. Most of their yarns are on the bulkier end, too, so there's quite a lot to pick from.

If you wind up in a yarn store again, and want to get ideas on where to start looking:
In general -- single ply and/or merino will be the softest yarns you can find. I've worked with soft acrylics before, but I think 100% wool is the way to go for this, to be honest, although I'd also consider looking for some wool/silk blends. Look for woolen-spun yarns (the wool fibers all kind of lofted and jumbled up) rather than worsted-spun (the wool fibers neatly aligned before being spun) as well; worsted-spun can sometimes have an almost hard hand, with little loft.
posted by kalimac at 10:19 AM on September 30, 2018

Nthing Malabrigo; it’s lovely stuff. I’d also recommend alpaca yarns - alpaca is a really soft, really warm fiber, a little more pricey than merino but not crazy expensive. (Misti Alpaca used to make a chunky yarn that I loved, but it seems to have been discontinued.)
posted by Metroid Baby at 10:46 AM on September 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Another vote for the Malabrigo! I also want to knit something with Woolfolk Hygge, which I have handled in shops. It's a very soft merino/alpaca/mulberry silk blend and comes in charcoal. Not cheap and not a tweed, but the silk gives it a subtle shine.
posted by kiripin at 11:13 AM on September 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

I really love Cascade Eco Cloud. I have used it for a few project, most recently a cuddly afghan.

I'm pretty sensitive to scratchy wool, and the Eco Cloud is not scratchy, but instead it's soft and squishy in a warm way. It's a chain construction yarn - not sure of the right word, but that also helps with the warm, cuddly aspect because the yarn has a lot of dimension to trap air.

It shows stitch definition beautifully, if you're planning any cables or other interesting stitch patterns.
posted by Squeak Attack at 1:33 PM on September 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

Plymouth baby alpaca chunky comes in a great heather grey. Nice and dark. Softer than a kitten. Two ply. Fluffy. Utterly dreamy to knit.

Someone might have two balls in their ravelry stash for sale.
posted by bilabial at 1:46 PM on September 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

Malabrigo's an excellent choice. In general, you want the wool to be a merino. Generic wool, lambswool, "100% virgin wool"--all will be scratchy, and no matter what they tell you, there's no fixing it. Alpaca and cashmere are also soft but tend to be considerably more expensive.
posted by praemunire at 4:31 PM on September 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Adding to the Malabrigo chorus. That stuff is super soft.
posted by sarcasticah at 7:43 PM on September 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

Alpaca also has the disadvantage that it tends to pretty quickly, I say as someone who made a ton of alpaca scarves for people.

(Wow, I miss Knitty City.)
posted by Smearcase at 8:26 PM on September 30, 2018

Your specifications turn up these rough results on Ravelry. At first glance, Rowan Cocoon looks like it might fit the bill. A lot of other beautiful yarns along these lines seem to be discontinued (Debbie Bliss Donegal Luxury Tweed! Arg!).

If you're going for super cheap, I actually really like the Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick and Quick Tweeds, which you can get at any craft store. You can knit double-stranded with big needles for a very plush effect.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 11:03 PM on September 30, 2018 [1 favorite]

The other thing that occurs to me is that, if you're feeling creative, you could knit with two similarly-toned worsted yarns together for a nicely variegated effect. I'm doing something similar (one row each) with some yarns that are all sort of charcoally from Purl Soho, and if you knitted together Mulberry Merino with Flax Down (which has little bits of white in it from the linen, which doesn't take up the dye always), you would get a unique effect at about the right gauge.
posted by praemunire at 9:22 AM on October 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

I came in to suggest Malabrigo Chunky. For such a soft yarn, the pricepoint isn't terrible, either.
posted by freezer cake at 3:07 PM on October 1, 2018

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