Northwest Angora
Northwest Angora

Yarn Profile: Northwest Angora

Note: Unfortunately, as of January 2003 Northwest Angora's Web site has been discontinued. Northwest Angora may be gone, but this review can still help you understand what to look for in an angora yarn.

First Impressions
It doesn't take long to realize that this is a special yarn. Soft, succulent, and buoyant, it is expertly spun with only slight variations in thickness and a few rare flecks of vegetable matter.

The fiber combination is subtle and unusual: angora for softness, merino wool for elasticity and strength, and a smidgen of silk for good measure. There's nothing scratchy or irritating here. Northwest Angora currently only offers this specific blend in grey and silver, but please don't let that deter you.

I can honestly say that this yarn is more satisfying to work with than cashmere. If you think of it that way, the $12 you'll pay per skein is a true bargain.

Learn more by reading our profile of Northwest Angora and its founder, Gretchen Beedle.

Knitting Up
The yarn knit up easily. No snags, no unraveling, nothing. The only thing that occasionally broke my rhythm was when I had to stop and pick out a fleck of organic matter or, quite honestly, just to admire the beauty and softness of my swatches.

The merino and silk tame the angora fluff, helping give it an overall solid, substantial feel while maintaining a buttery softness.

Knitting was much too slippery with Addi Turbos, so I switched to Clover bamboo needles, which grabbed the yarn perfectly.

Blocking / Washing
The yarn washed up beautifully. The curled edges flattened with minimal prodding, and the previously tamed fluff expanded without drastically changing the overall texture of the swatches.

There was no fading, or if there were, I couldn't tell since the yarn is light grey. However, the swatches did expand slightly to a gauge of 21 sts per 4 inch square (from a previous 22 sts). Chances are you'll be using this yarn for scarves or other small items where gauge won't be so critical, but do keep this expansion in mind.

Despite the presence of merino wool, which adds a great amount of durability to the otherwise high-wear angora and silk, this is still a luxury yarn and should be treated accordingly. That means no socks or sweaters for overactive teenagers.

The swatches softened and became increasingly fluffy with wear. The only sign of age came as occasional flecks of silk separated slightly from the yarn.

This yarn is a rare find. I've never seen angora, merino, and silk blended together so effectively.

Because of its lightness and moderate loft, this yarn would have only a medium drape. Still, any type of textured stitches or lacework would show nicely.

As for its use, the $12/skein pricetag is somewhat limiting. It'd be best used for socks, scarves, or anything else you'd wear against your skin. If you just use it for special details on other projects, one skein can go a long way.

Previous reader comments
"My secret find is not a secret anymore! Last winter, I purchased two hat kits and one scarf kit from Northwest Angora to make as Christmas gifts. The yarn was so soft, like knitting with butter. I agree that the price tag is a little steep - but the wool blend will turn a simple scarf or tam into a special gift for someone." crbissell, 9/12/2001

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