Wool yarn - all the popular types of wool yarn

Wool yarn - a knitters' favorite!

At Önling we have a large selection of soft, amazing wool yarn, because wool is simply the all-time knitters' favorite. Wool is a wonderful, natural material, that in addition to being a joy to work with also has outstanding qualities in use. Wool fibers can be spun into thin wool yarn as well as chunky wool yarn, and they can be combined with other fibers, to create a myriad of yarn types. See our full collection of wool yarn above, with yarn from well-known Isager yarn and our own Önling yarn.

What to knit with wool yarn?

Wool yarn can be used to knit almost anything, from baby knit, over socks to chunky sweaters and elegant cardigans. The most important part is therefore to find the right type of wool yarn for your project. Thin wool yarn can for instance be used to create light sweaters with elegant details and patterns, whereas chunky wool yarns are great for warm sweater and cozy cardigans. If you want to knit baby clothes or something that is worn right on your skin, it is of course important to choose an extra soft yarn, this could for instance be merino wool yarn, which is made from a particularly soft breed of wool.

When you visit each of the yarn types above to read more and see the color range, you will also find links to knitting kits and knitting patterns suitable for that particular yarn. Are you looking for more inspiration for knitting projects with wool yarn, you can find knitting kits with wool yarn here as well as all our knitting patterns for wool yarn here.

Great qualities of wool yarn

Most importantly, wool yarn has a natural heat regulating quality, that helps the body adjust and stay at a comfortable temperature. This is particularly known for cold temperatures, where it is easy to stay warm and comfortable in a woolen sweater. But it is also relevant in warmer temperatures, as wool is breathable and helps transport sweat away from the body, thereby helping the body to cool down. In addition to this, wool has a self-cleansing quality, so woolen clothes do not require washing as often as other textiles. Often it will be sufficient to hang wool clothes outside to freshen up.

Wool yarn and sustainability

Wool has a series of sustainable qualities. First of all, it is a renewable resource as it "grows naturally" on sheep. In addition to this, it is relatively easy to transform sheep wool into yarn, and the production therefore does not require a resource intensive transformation. In use, wool has the water and energy preserving quality, that is does not require washing as often as other textiles, as mentioned above. You can read more about Önling's sustainable values and approach to products and design here.

When you knit garments by hand, you put a lot of energy and devotion into creating each piece of garment, and hand knitted clothes are therefore often used a lot more and for more years than clothes purchased of the rack. This further contributes to making hand knitted clothes a sustainable choice, whether it is knit in wool yarn or other types of yarn.

FAQ about wool yarn

We regularly receive questions from both new and existing customers about our wool yarns. Below we have collected the questions we most often receive in an FAQ - here you may find answers to your questions about wool yarn:

What is wool yarn?

Wool yarn is a common term for yarn that consists of wool - usually from sheep. But there is also wool available from certain goats, camels, rabbits and a few other animals. There are many different types of wool sheep, and the wool from them results in just as many different types of wool yarn. The 'finest' and softest wool yarn is obtained from merino sheep, which is a type of sheep that lives in their natural habitats in Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and South America.

In Denmark we also have merino sheep, but not at all enough to be able to supply the wool industry. Most sheep in Denmark are used for meat and milk production, and the wool from these sheep is in most cases not used for anything, as it typically results in a very rustic wool, which by many would be considered itchy.

Where does wool yarn come from?

Woolen yarn can come from many different kinds of animal fibers. Most often, wool yarn comes from sheep, as it is one of the cheapest wool fibres. By far the majority of sheep,  used to produce wool from, live in Australia and New Zealand. Here, the sheep live in the open in large outdoor areas, and the wool protects them from wind and weather. The sheep must be sheared at least once a year so that they do not get too hot in the summer heat. Furthermore, the fur is a breeding ground for parasites, so the sheep benefits from being sheared.

When the wool is shorn from the sheep, it is washed and disinfected, after which it is ready for dyeing and spinning into yarn skeins, cones and balls.

Types of wool yarn

Merino wool:

Merino wool comes from the merino sheep and is basically the 'finest' and softest type of wool yarn available. The yarn is typically very light and does not scratch - and in addition, merino wool is very durable and breathable and is therefore often used for the production of underwear, ski clothing, training clothes, etc. The merino fibers are thinner than what you see in most other types of wool, and this means that you can spin a light, thin and durable thread out of merino wool.

At Önling you can choose between 5 different yarns, all of which are spun from merino wool. See our merino wool yarn here

Shetland wool:

Shetland wool comes from a breed of sheep that primarily lives on the Scottish north coast - close to the Shetland Islands. The wool from Shetland sheep is coarser than the wool from Merino sheep, and if you are the type of person who finds wool yarns are often scratchy, you will find that Shetland wool is one of them. Therefore, it is a suitable yarn for the middle layer and outer layer of your clothing, so that you do not wear it directly against the skin. Shetland wool is a high-quality type of wool and it comes in many different varieties. Shetland wool is a good choice for multi-coloured knitting, as the colors knit up nicely and are often a little mottled and just as rustic as the yarn itself.

See Önling's Shetland wool here


Lambswool basically means wool from lambs, and is a term used for wool that comes from the lamb's very first shearing. Lambswool is therefore typically very, very soft and is considered high quality. We are talking about lambswool from all types of wool sheep, and there will of course be a difference in quality and softness when talking about lambswool from Shetland sheep versus lambswool from Merino sheep.

At Önling, you can choose lambswool yarn here

Why does wool scratch?

Woolen yarn is often associated with yarn that is coarse or scratchy. Since woolen yarn comes in many different qualities and types of fibers, by definition there is also a big difference in how much they scratch (or don't scratch). There is a big difference in how fine the wool fibers are from the different types of wool sheep - and the finer a wool fiber is, the softer the wool result will be. Shetland sheep, for example, gives a rather coarse wool fiber, which therefore also scratches more.

The finest wool yarn, which scratches the least, is merino wool and lambswool. In addition, you can mix wool with softer types of yarn to get a super soft yarn. Here we often see that wool is mixed with angora, alpaca or cashmere, which gives the wool a much softer look and feel.

Which wool yarns do not scratch?

There is a big difference in how tolerant different people are to different types of (wool) yarn. Some people are fine with even coarse wool directly against the skin, while others find that even the softest types of wool slightly itchy. As a starting point, you would define merino wool and lambswool as very soft and most would say that it does not scratch.

In addition, woolen yarn, which is mixed with other softer types of yarn, will have a softer appearance. For example, wool is often spun together with angora, alpaca or cashmere and the result is very soft and lovely. Very few people will find this kind of wool scratchy.

At Önling, we get 2 of our wool yarns produced by an Italian supplier, who spins air into the yarn, and the result is a super soft yarn that does not scratch in the slightest. This is Önling No 1, which is a merino yarn mixed with 25% angora and Önling No 2, which is 100% pure merino wool. See our soft wool yarn here

Why is wool good for baby knitting?

Wool has a number of properties that make it suitable for use in baby clothes and baby knitwear.

First of all, wool is a natural material, and since we don't want our babies and children to be exposed to chemicals and artificial products, wool is a good choice 

The natural material is also warm and breathable, so it will keep the baby warm and cozy during their nap – whether they nap outdoors or indoors. Wool has an ability to transport sweat away from the body and it is temperature regulating - even if it gets damp. In addition, wool is naturally antibacterial and does not absorb odors.

When you take all these properties into account, and at the same time combine it with a soft wool fiber such as merino, angora or cashmere wool, wool is a fantastic choice for knitting baby's wardrobe.

We recommend that you knit for your baby in either Önling No 2 (pure merino wool) or Önling No 11, which is a wonderful mix of merino wool and cashmere. You can learn more about baby knitting at Önling here.

The best way to store my wool yarn?

There are many ways to store your woolen yarn – from using it as a brightly colored display in your living room to randomly storing it in plastic or paper bags. However, there is no doubt that your woolen yarn will be best stored in a plastic box with a tight-fitting lid. It is by far the best way to store your yarn at home - below you will find 5 good reasons for this:

Store your yarn in plastic boxes with lids because they can be stacked, so you can make the most out of the space. It is particularly useful if you stick to the same box manufacturer, so that the boxes fit in size and can be stacked.

The boxes are typically transparent, so you can see which yarn (type and color) they contain.

The UV light is not as harmful to your yarn when it is in boxes as when it is out in the open. The UV light can cause your yarn to fade in color over time, and then it is a shame to have a large, expensive stock of yarn.

Moths and other small predators cannot access your yarn when you store it in a box with a tight-fitting lid.

Dust cannot enter the boxes and damage your yarn. A tip could be to put a piece of paper towel with a few drops of red cedar oil or to put a few scented rings of red cedar in the box to be absolutely sure to avoid moths in your yarn.