One serious advantage of sample knitting for Plymouth Yarns is getting to sample a variety of the yarns that they have on offer. I'm working with a yarn right now that I have used before and enjoyed every second of working with it! So, if you're looking for something new to try, I'm suggesting Plymouth Yarn's Baby Alpaca Ampato.
Yardage: 128 yards (117 meters)
Weight: 100 grams (3.53 ounces)
Gauge: 16 stitches = 4 inches
Fiber: 100% Alpaca
Alpaca yarn in general is considered to be stronger, softer and warmer than wool. It's also hypo-allergenic for those that have wool allergies but want a more luxurious fiber to work with. The structure of alpaca fiber also means that it's not prone to pilling, staining, or tearing - which is important if you just spent hours upon hours knitting up a garment but don't want to worry about whether it will hold up with wear.
What I loved about this yarn is...well pretty much everything. If I could only use one word to describe it, it would be buttery. In fact, I kind of want to curl up with it. Some yarns can be a little tough on the hands after a while, but this just keeps sliding through the fingers making it an effortless knit. It is a plied yarn but I didn't find it to be splitty or difficult to work with because it maintains a nice smooth feel as you are using it. I also found that it has terrific stitch definition so is perfect for cables, and also maintains a wonderful drape. All in all, a wonderful yarn to have up against the skin. The only downside to this particular yarn is that it's not cheap - approximately $14 for the 128 yard hank, which I think places it firmly in the "luxury" yarn category - but well worth it even if it's just a small project. Highly recommended!
FYI - The tunic pictured here is one that I knit up used this yarn so you can get an idea of how it looks as a garment, and it looked even better in person. You can buy the pattern for this tunic at Webs for $4.00. I like it as is, although it could be easily converted into a shorter sweater if that's more your thing.