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I have knit with the bulky merino and the handspun bulky and the merino is definitely the bomb! Super soft just like the worsted except there is no variation in thickness, I actually like the bulky better although they knit up about the same. The handspun is not as soft as the merino but still *way* softer than any other wool I've felt, it's just once you've had the merino it's hard to go back ykwim? Either one you wouldn't need more than one skein for the size shorts you're looking at. I've seen the thick thin but not knit with it myself and I would think it wouldn't be all that ideal for soakers because the thin parts can be very thin... I have longies and capris for my dd in the bulky and I love them, would definitely work for shorts too, the bulky is maybe slightly more substantial than the worsted merino. Hth
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