Yarn Review: Knit Picks High Desert

hands holding three balls of yarn

You might already know this about me, but I’m a sucker for natural wool – especially when it’s sustainably sourced. So when I first heard about Knit Picks’ new High Desert Yarn, my fiber senses started tingling. Better still, High Desert was created in partnership with Shaniko Wool Company, located just a hop, skip and a jump away from me here in Oregon. 

Tell. Me. More. Right?

About Knit Picks High Desert Yarn

The official Details – from their website: 100% American grown and spun Merino and Merino/Rambouillet wool from Shaniko Wool Company. Farmed throughout the American West, High Desert is processed in South Carolina, dyed and milled in North Carolina, and comes in an earthy jewel-toned spectrum of 12 beautiful colors inspired by the landscape and skyline of Oregon’s high desert. A smooth, rounded yarn with a soft hand, available in sport and worsted weights, High Desert is ideal for knitting texture, cables, and colorwork.

Fiber Content: 100% USA Shaniko Wool (20.5 Micron)
Weight: Sport (Note: there’s also a worsted weight option)
Yards: 298 (sport weight)
Grams: 100
Care: Hand Wash / Dry Flat

Knitting with High Desert

If you tend to shy away from non-superwash wool because you’re worried about scratchy fiber, let me be the first to reassure you: High Desert is just about as soft and squishtastic as a non-superwash yarn can be. At a micron count of 20.5, the fiber is buttery soft next to the skin, and yet still retains its full body structure. Could you wear this yarn right around your neck? In my opinion, absolutely. It’s smooth, soft, and not the least bit scratchy.

a hand squishing a skein of grey yarn

The relatively high twist in the strands offers a bit of bounce for excellent stitch definition – High Desert yarn would be gorgeous for cables, texture, and twisted stitch patterns. You might also notice (in the photo above) that there are very slight variations in the twist of each strand, which – to me – reinforces the small-batch, human element involved with producing this fiber. I love it when a fiber reminds me where it comes from, so I’m happy to see these subtle variations in a skein. 

Does It Hold Up to Frogging?

Yes, indeed. I went through at least 8 iterations of this beanie-in-progress before I settled on the texture I wanted for this design, which meant a LOT of frogging and re-knitting. In fact, I specifically did not cut the yarn at all, because I really wanted to see how well it would hold up to the process of multiple attempts. High Desert kept its form, showing only minimal signs of a halo even after the 8th round of frogging. Considering how soft it is, I was impressed at its resilience. Wool is amazing, isn’t it? 

P.S. This resilience gives me confidence that High Desert would be a great choice for sweaters!

three balls of yarn attached to a small knitting project in progress

High Desert: The Final Assessment

If you love yarn that retains its sense of place and comes with a sustainable pedigree, High Desert is a great choice. At $18.99 USD per 100 gram skein (at time of writing), it’s a mid-priced fiber that can give you a lot of bang for your buck. The super soft feel makes it perfect for close-to-the-skin projects. And if you love knitting texture – it’s absolutely worth a try. 

One caveat: the color palette isn’t incredibly robust (there are currently 12 colors at time of writing), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing; having more choices can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. But if you’re planning colorwork and need a lot of variety, you may not find every shade you’re looking for. 

At the end of the day, High Desert is a great mid-priced, sustainable, non-superwash wool, that you can feel good about adding to your collection. 

Have you tried High Desert? What did you think?

This is not an affiliate post. However, I did receive the yarn for free in order to give it a spin and share my honest review with you. I will only review and recommend products that I personally love and use. Rest assured that if you’re reading about a product on my website, it’s something I have personally used and am willing to recommend.

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