Well, Wednesday I returned to Italy and immediately opened the package of yarns that had arrived in the meantime. I found 5 beautiful balls of yarn: Bio organic wool (a 100% organic wool in a soft one ply yarn with lots of loft), Gaelic (a tweedy wool and nylon blend two ply with good twist), LW125 (100% lambs wool in a soft, 8 ply yarn), Luna (a single ply merino wool, alpaca and acrylic blend) and Wizard (a 100% merino superwash in a soft and squishy constructed or "chained" yarn).
I tried to "deconstruct" the yarn to understand the principle behind the "chained" look. Essentially Wizard is a single ply with very little twist that is then worked into an Icord to produce a constructed yarn with a chained look. This type of construction creates a soft, squishy and, in this case, super bulky yarn with lots of loft. A yarn with high loft creates a warmer garment because lots of air can be trapped between the fibers and, in the case of a constructed yarn, in all the nooks and crannies created.
The label suggests working the yarn with a 9mm/10mm needle to achieve a knitting gauge of 8 stitches and 11 rows in a 10cm x 10cm. I used a 9mm needle and got a gauge of 12 stitches and 16 rows in a 10cm x 10cm swatch. The stitch definition is fairly good, however I would not necessarily try cables with this yarn unless I were looking for a very bulky garment or accessory. Being a superwash, the gauge held well after hand washing and air drying. I did not machine wash the swatch.
All and all I was very happy with the results. I would definitely use this yarn for hats, scarves and perhaps a vest or bulky cardigan. I was not provided with a price list for the yarns, but after a bit of on-line window shopping I came up with a price range of €3.95 (http://www.yarnovertuscany.com) to €4.50 (http://www.handmadeberlin.net), excluding shipping costs, for a 50g. ball. An economic price for a quality 100% merino superwash yarn, made in Italy.