If memory serves, the Petite Wool by We Are Knitters was the very first premium yarn I ever used. It’s safe to say that I never looked back! For some reason, though, I’ve put off reviewing it. I don’t know if it’s because these posts take a long time to research and write when I should be writing my thesis, but here we are now!
The Petite Wool is one of WAK’s more iconic products. Many of their kits use this yarn and there’s little question in my mind that it’s at the core of the WAK brand. There’s certainly a lot of hype around it – but does it live up to expectations?
In writing this review, I wanted to make sure that I could offer some useful information about the Petite Wool as someone who has used it a lot over the last couple of years. I went to Instagram and asked what you wanted to know. As such, the structure of this review is slightly different to my normal review posts to make sure that your questions get good answers.
This is a big ol’ post, so let’s get into it!
The Petite Wool is a 100% Peruvian wool single-ply yarn that is spun into a single (fairly dense) strand. It’s on thicker side – WAK classify it as a worsted-/aran-weight yarn. However, they also classify their Baby Alpaca yarn the same way despite it being about half the thickness of the PW, so make of that what you will… I find it more helpful to note that WAK recommend 8mm needles and a 7mm crochet hook for the Petite Wool but, as we shall see, I think this yarn can be used across a range of needle sizes for different effects.
To produce a 10x10cm swatch on 8mm needles, WAK recommends that you work 12 stitches over 16 rows. Crocheters will want to work 14 stitches over 16 rows in single crochet. I haven’t made a crochet swatch as I don’t have the right size hook. I used the shade Spotted Pink in my swatch.
A single skein weighing 100g and measuring 140m usually costs £8. As with all WAK yarns, you can buy it in bundles and get a pretty good discount – from 15% to 25% off – in the process. Unless the yarn is on sale, this is how I typically get the Petite Wool. A 5-skein bundle costs £34 with a 15% discount; a 10-skein bundle costs £64 with a 20% discount; and a 15-skein bundle costs £90 with a 25% discount. There are some more expensive colour ways, namely Colorado, Sprinkle Denim and Marshmallow, which all cost £11 for a single skein and the same relative discounts on bundles. I think the price point for the regular £8 range is very reasonable but have always hesitated to buy much of the £11 skeins – but if you love the colours, it’s worth it!
What’s it like to knit with?
I really enjoy working with this yarn and think it’s particularly good for beginners as the weight makes it very easy to handle. It works well with lots of different stitches and techniques, from lace and cables to simple stitches like my favourite Andalusian stitch.
Personally, I like the Petite Wool best on 7mm needles (with a strand of mohair – more on which later!), as I think the stitches look beautifully plump. You can use it for most of my Aosta designs, the majority of which use 7mms, very comfortably. It is a pretty versatile yarn – you can go down to 5mms fairly comfortably and up to 9-10mms for lace knitting with great results. I did use it to make the Hanstholm Sweater by Petite Knit for my partner when I was first learning how to knit in the round, but it wasn’t really appropriate for the 4.5mm needles.
I have found the the ‘Spotted’ colour ways are prone to splitting a little bit. These colours consist of two strands of wool that are twisted together to form a single strand. I’ve included photos in the Colour Range section below to illustrate this. I have sometimes found that my needles were more prone to separating the yarn than the solid colours.
It’s also worth noting that this isn’t the easiest yarn to seam with. I find that it has a tendency to pull apart from itself as you work. The best remedy for this is to knit your pieces in the round (the added mohair helps too…), but I recognise that this isn’t always possible/preferable…
What’s it like to crochet with?
I haven’t crocheted with the Petite Wool for a while, so am not the best person to ask! But, from what I remember, it’s a great yarn for crochet. Because it’s a single strand, hooks can grip the yarn pretty easily and produce pretty, plump stitches.
I made about 10 AlpaWAKs a while ago as gifts and used the Petite Wool to make them. If I may say so myself, I think they turned out very cute.
It’s a great free pattern, particularly if you’re new to crochet. Check it out here.
Is it okay for people with sensitive skin?
When I asked what people wanted to know about the Petite Wool on Instagram, this was one of the most common queries. Without knowing everyone’s sensitivities, it’s really hard to say. We all have different triggers. For instance, I am not at all sensitive to wool but I know that some people find them unbearably itchy. I can only speak from my experience as a person with chronic dermatitis on both hands, mainly triggered by cleaning agents, cold weather and stress.
I don’t have any reaction to any shades of the Petite Wool. I’ve tried a lot of shades (some with rich dyes) and have never noticed any extra dermatitis where I hold my working yarn. However – and apologies if this is TMI – I do find that this yarn catches on my very dry skin sometimes. It’s no big deal and is easy to sort out, but it does sometime slow my knitting down. I also have this issue with the Meriwool, so I think it might be that these types of spun, single-ply yarns are more likely to catch. Lovely!
How does this yarn wear?
This was another very frequently asked question! Looking through the comments on my post about the Petite Wool, it seems that some people have experienced extreme pilling and shedding. Personally, I’ve never had too much trouble with this yarn. At the same time, I do think that it’s important to manage your expectations when it comes to this kind of product and to understand why pilling occurs. Allow me to go on a little digression to explain…
So: pilling/shedding tends to occur in parts of a garment that is exposed to friction. Common problem areas are the underarms and the sides of the body of a sweater. It is more likely to occur when the individuals fibres are short. Essentially, the fibre breaks down and re-forms into small knots – or pills. All wools can pill, from cheap acrylics to bougie cashmere.
I have long been under the impression that pilling is more closely related to the softness of the yarn than it is the quality. When I worked in retail, for instance, the shop I worked for sold cashmere sweaters that cost almost £200. They were beautifully soft but, my god, did they pill! All this is to say that just because this is a more premium yarn doesn’t mean that it won’t pill.
But what can you do to manage pilling? It’s important to use a D-shaped comb to remove pills as they form to keep your knits looking perfect. I also like to add a strand of mohair to give the fabric a little bit more integrity and find that this helps with pilling as an added bonus.
If you feel that your garment made with the Petite Wool is shedding/pilling more than is reasonable, it may be worth getting in touch with WAK’s customer service.
How does this yarn wash?
The Petite Wool is VERY satisfying to wash. I pop it in my sink with some delicate detergent and let the piece sit for about 20-30 minutes. Once I’ve drained the water, I try and press the excess liquid out without distorting the fabric. I then plop it on a bath towel and place a hand towel on top of the garment. I then roll the towels up around the knit like a sushi roll and tread on it until the towels are saturated with the excess water. Yes, this process does make a lot of extra washing but it’s worth it for the quicker drying time! Victorian houses are too damp and cold to have wet knits all over the place.
Once it’s had a bath, the Petite Wool feels so much softer and gains a silky quality that I don’t otherwise feel. It’s all very lovely!
It’s worth noting that you CANNOT put this yarn in the washing machine. EVER. In ANY circumstances. Even for a spin cycle. In my experience, it will felt and shrink significantly. This is not the fault of the yarn – it isn’t superwash – and, trust me, you will kick yourself.
How sustainable is this yarn?
From what I can tell, the Petite Wool is a pretty sustainable wool. Sustainability is an important part of the WAK brand, but it wasn’t all that easy to find explicit, quantitative information about their production. So if the following paragraphs read like marketing, it’s because I’m reciting what’s the the website!
The Petite Wool is produced in Peru, near to the Andes, and in collaboration with local communities. WAK list their mulesing-free, Standard 100 OKEO-TEX and Fair Trade certifications on their Sustainability page, along with a few other certifications. However, I’m not sure which of these apply to the Petite Wool. I will try and get in touch with their marketing team for more info. For the time being, though, this is a bit of an open question for the time being.
Of course, if you’re a vegan knitter, you might be inclined to think that any animal-based yarn is unsustainable. This is a rabbit hole and I’m not going to get into the details of this because I’m just not well-informed enough and know my limits… But I wanted to acknowledge this point, just in case 🤷♀️
What’s the colour range like?
The Petite Wool is normally available in 27 colours, with the occasional addition of Yarnicorn. At the time of writing, however, only 4 colours are in stock… Which sucks! In any case, let’s go through the colours.
Neutrals first. There are 2 white shades (Ivory and Natural – not sure what the difference is, to be honest. I assume that Natural is undyed?), a black (Black), and 2 greys (Grey, Spotted Grey, and Pearl Grey – the latter being my favourite shade in the line up).
As for colours, there is a good mix of warm and cool tones across a range of light and dark colours. There are some beautiful deep shades, like Wine, Navy and Forest Green, as well as more delicate shades like Spotted Mauve and Spotted Beige. Your basic reds, blues, pinks, and greens are all covered, but there are also beautifully nuanced colours like Millennial Pink, Cinnamon and Ochre. If that isn’t enough, there are also some really fun shades like Neon Yellow, #skylovers, as well as the pricier colours like Marshmallow, Spotted Denim and Colorado. There are 6 ‘Spotted’ colours in the range, which offer a softer hit of colour. In my opinion, this is one of WAK’s best colour ranges.
It’s also worth noting that the Petite Wool takes dye very nicely. I dyed a batch of the shade Natural using avocado skins and pits a few months ago. The held up to the dying process really nicely, despite my lack of expertise! I used the yarn for my Aosta Cardigan and love the results.
How accurate are images online?
In my experience, the photography for the Petite Wool is very good. I’ve never been horrified when I’ve opened a parcel. Again, if there are issues within the line up, it’s with the Spotted colours. I think the photos lean a little bit warm and a bit overexposed. They therefore don’t show off the variation of the colour within the strand of yarn as well as they could. This is a bit of a shame, in my opinion, since the colours are so pretty!
It’s also worth noting I’ve also found that the dye lots are pretty consistent when I’ve had to mix and match. Of course, you should always try and over-order if you aren’t sure if you are going to have enough yarn for your project.
How would I use it in a project? What patterns would work for this yarn?
Shameless self-promotion aside… This is an incredibly versatile yarn. I’ve used to to make everything from mittens and hats, to chunky jumpers. Again, it’s a great option for beginners because it is appropriate for such a great range of projects.
When you’re looking for a pattern for the Petite Wool, I would recommend focussing on the needle size rather than the weight of the yarn stated in the pattern. Again, I think that you should be okay with anything from 6mm to 9mm for a standard sweater, slipover or cardigan. I think 5mm might be too tight for a garment like this, unless you knit very loosely. Equally, if the sweater is lace-y, then you can add 10mms to the list.
For accessories, I think you can go down to 5mms. Anything smaller than that and the yarn is just too thick, in my experience.
Are there any good substitutes on the market for this yarn?
Yes! A quick look through yarnsub.com shows a fair few good options across a range of budgets. I’ve tried the first on the list, Re:Treat by West Yorkshire Spinners, and can confirm that it’s a good match. It’s a shade thinner than the Petite Wool, but the knitting experience is very similar and it’s about £1.50 cheaper. My lovely pal Abbie (@abbieknits on Insta – check out her website here. She has amazing free patterns and blogposts!) also rates Hobbii Snowstorm (currently sold out) as a dupe. I haven’t tried this myself but trust Abbie’s knowledge.
FWIW, I think that the Petite Wool can be used fairly interchangeably with the Meriwool. I swatched them both in my review of that yarn and you can see that the Petite Wool is slightly thicker. For my designs, at least, they are close enough that you can use either yarn.
Would I use it again?
Forever and always. I really do enjoy working with this yarn and there is always space for it in my stash. I put in an order for some Yarnicorn back when it was on pre-order and I’ve so excited for it to arrive – I have so many ideas! The Petite Wool isn’t as soft as, say, the Meriwool, but it’s a dependable and comforting product. It’s a WAK hero for a reason!
How to finish all this?! There are a few key points I think you should take away from this review, so let’s start there.
- I really think this is a great option if you are learning to knit or crochet. It might not be the easiest yarn to care for, but it almost knits itself and there’s a lot to be said for that when you’re new to the craft.
- It may not be the most hard-wearing yarn (again, though, I’ve never had any major issues), but it is versatile and forgiving across a wide range of techniques.
- The colour range is excellent; there is something for everyone.
And that’s it! Have you tried the Petite Wool? Are you a fan too? Let me know in the comments below!