Yarn, Ho! My Knitpicks order arrived. Thus it is that I am prepared to tackle one of the truly important controversies of the day head-on.
Creationism vs. Evolution may still be exercising the thoughts of some, but there is a more pressing question: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes vs. Elann’s Peruvian Highland Wool. Both of these yarns are 100% wool at acrylic prices. Both skirt the whole Australian wool issue. And both have their followings. Since I now have both on hand at once, I am prepared to approach this burning question: which is better?
First, consider the numbers. Wool of the Andes is $1.79 per 50 gram skein, with free shipping when you buy $30 worth. Peruvian Highland Wool is $2.25 per skein, with shipping on $30 worth running at $6-$8. Andes claims 110 yards per skein and Highland claims “approximately 109.” This may be modesty, but we still must accept that Andes beats Highland on price. If you are buying 20 skeins to make a large sweater, you would pay roughly $53 for the Highland and $36 for the Andes. If you just bought a couple of skeins, it wouldn’t matter much. (Elann beat Knitpicks on delivery by a day. If that matters to you, you don’t have time to knit anyway.)
Above is the Highland Wool I bought last Christmas for my Alice Starmore cardigan. It is a little sad that it is still sitting there being yarn rather than a cardigan, but handy for purposes of comparison.
Above is the newly-arrived Wool of the Andes. I can assure you that I did not use any different criteria in choosing colors in the two cases. I know how chancy color is on computer monitors, but I expect that you can still see that when it comes to range and subtlety of color, Highland is the winner. You could not use Andes to make an Alice Starmore cardi. However, the colors are very nice and saturated. If you want red or blue, you will have no complaints. It is only if you want rose or periwinkle that Highland is way ahead of Andes.
So far the two yarns are neck and neck.
I swatched them both, using a single set of #3 dpns for maximum accuracy of comparison. (The bamboo needles are not a new technique — I just stuck them in the cast-on edge to make the tiny swatches behave.) The gauge is identical — 10.5 stitches over 2 inches. The Highland wool felt marginally harsher as I knitted, but I was not able to distinguish the two in a blind test. Both are very nice to work with, without splitting or tangling or any of the rest of the stuff that makes knitters whine in their blogs about their yarn. Both knitted up evenly with good stitch definition.
I’ll keep you posted as I knit with these, but thus far it is pretty clear. When color matters, go with Elann. When price matters more, go with Knitpicks.