Bleached, Washed, or Natural: What’s the Difference?
This is a question we get a lot, and for good reason! The shades are fairly similar, so why the three different colors?
Bleached White is the brightest of the whites. Its hand is comparable to that of the dyed yarns.
Pros: Best for dyeing brighter colors. Generally has a 'fluffier' feel.
Cons: It undergoes a little more processing than the others which is a turnoff for some, though it is considerably less than an acrylic or even superwash merino.
Washed White is a sort of 'happy medium' between the three. As the name implies it undergoes a little more washing. It is a favorite for dyers, and the result is a cream color.
Pros: Good compromise between the two, dyes well, popular.
Cons: If you're expecting a snow-white, washed white is still not there. It's the sheep's own natural color, so it is an off-white.
The 'darkest' of the three colors, Natural White is processed even less than the typical color. It has more lanolin and spinning oil left in. As a result, Natural White often has a spongier, more sheepy feel.
Pros: More natural and untouched, has a lovely wooly smell and a beautiful sheep color.
Cons: Because it does not undergo a final vigorous wash, it sometimes appears thinner while you are working on it, then fluffs up after washing. This could possibly throw off your gauge. Also, a word of caution for dyers: the amount of lanolin in the yarn affects how it will take the dye.
While it's hard to go wrong with any of the whites, hopefully this helps you decide which white works best for your projects.