A skein of Sahara
Sahara once knitted up

Yarn Profile: Noro Sahara

First Impressions
I must confess a certain ambivalence about Sahara. From its picture, I'd assumed it was thick, plush, and luxurious, rather like a Noro rendition of Jaeger Chamonix.

But when I finally laid my hands on a sample, I was surprised at the yarn's dry, firm hand and occasional rough scratchy hairs.

Knitting Up
Sahara knit up without any major problems. The stitches appeared perfectly even, and the two-ply spin gave the resulting swatches a dappled, almost tweed-like look.

I encountered one knot in my skein, plus a few particularly scratchy hairs I had to remove. One, to my surprise, was actually a bright green strand of unknown wiry substance.

Only a moderate amount of fuzz came free from the yarn.

Blocking / Washing
My swatches washed up fine. I couldn't detect any bleeding, but then again I was using a non-bleeding yarn color. Blocking was simply a matter of laying the swatches out to dry.

I'm a bit surprised that Noro chose to use spiky angora instead of a higher-grade angora fiber. Spiky angora includes the harder fibers on the rabbit, rather like the guard hairs of a sheep. Once knit up, these fibers can produce an annoyingly hard-to-identify itch rather like a pesky mosquito bite.

The rest of the fibers feel wonderful against the skin. Camel fiber feels like a cross between cashmere and alpaca, with no bounce and loads of softness. The silk adds a cool, dry feel.

With only a small amount of wool fiber, Sahara is inelastic and has a moderate drape. With wear, the swatches became increasingly fuzzy -- and the fuzz became increasingly airborn. The swatches began to stretch and lose their shape.

Sahara is easy to work with and has a moderately luxurious fiber content. I just can't seem to get beyond the fact that Noro chose spiky angora, especially considering the yarn's price. Sure, it adds a bit of spikiness to the fuzzy halo, but this comes at the expense of overall softness.

Sahara runs almost $10 for a 44-yard skein, and is available in only a few colors. An average woman's sweater will run you more than $250.

If it's Noro you're after, I'd recommend Noro's silk/wool/cashmere/nylon cousin, Cash Iroha. It has a pure buttery softness and is available in a multitude of rich colors. Or if it's plus angora you want, I'd highly recommend my perennial favorite, Jaeger Chamonix.

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