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GGH Alaska
GGH Alaska

Yarn Profile: GGH Alaska

First Impressions
As untamed as the U.S. state after which it was named, this Italian-manufactured German yarn has a lot going on inside each strand.

First you have the wool, a straightforward Lopi-esque fleece with lots of loft and elasticity. It is then blended with a smidgen of alpaca for softness before being bound into a textured boucle with fine, almost wiry synthetic strands. The result is a fiber that produces a lofty, light fabric with a thick and unusual texture.

Knitting Up
As with any boucle yarn, first tie a knot at the end of your strands. Otherwise just a gentle tug will undo the boucle and leave you with a flat strand that is significantly less attractive.

Alaska may have a quick-knitting gauge, but it's tricky stuff to knit. All those loops are like a pile of coat hangers -- they like to stick together.

My needle kept snagging loops instead of strands, and once I had a stitch, I had to be gentle and patient in pulling it through the previous loop.

I started the swatches with Addi Turbos but noticed that it was significantly easier with Brittany birch needles because they grabbed the yarn and gave me better control.

I wouldn't recommend this yarn for beginners. Besides the loop control issues, it's virtually impossible to see your stitches or find any dropped ones.

Blocking / Washing
All swatches washed up beautifully, even when I used a basic Ivory soap. They bled slightly, but I saw no discernible color loss once they dried.

The fiber relaxed without losing its bounce, giving way to a slightly more felted texture. It also became considerably softer.

Here's where that 30% synthetic content comes in handy: This yarn wears well.

It even survived a 20-minute rendezvous with a pair of jeans in the dryer (on the fluff cycle - even I wouldn't dare subject it to heat). There was no pilling or fiber degradation whatsoever.

Alaska produces a thick, bouncy, fuzzy fabric. The yarn has enough texture that you won't need to use any fancy stitches to make it interesting. I can imagine a wonderful Jackie O-style jacket made out of this, or a squishy yet durable stuffed animal.

One caveat: Although it's made up of 70% natural fibers, I could still feel that telltale stickiness of the 30% synthetic content. Washing helped, but if this kind of thing bothers you, you might want to think twice about Alaska.

Otherwise, if you have a few projects under your belt and are ready for a challenging, interesting yarn that still knits up relatively quickly, consider Alaska.

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