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New Yarn resolutions lead to woolly discoveries

Hebridean sheep

I’ve discovered the secret of making New Year resolutions stick!

For years I would make resolutions negative ex. The no sugar resolution -that lasted less than a week. Then there was the no caffeine resolution. I could barely manage 24 hours without getting a pounding headache. Oh, and then possibly the most egregious- no yarn stash enhancement. I probably managed a month before I caved to some sumptuous yarn I just had to have in my collection.

With each broken resolution I would feel failure and frustration, until I discovered that a positive resolution was much more doable. It started with the recognition that my yarn collection was a hobby in it’s own right. My yarn purchases could be based upon enhancing that collection without guilt around what or when I was going to knit with the yarn!

One year my resolution was that my purchase a skein of locally hand dyed yarn wherever I traveled. It didn’t matter if I had a project for it or not. The following year, I pledged to focus on fiber sourced, spun and dyed in the country of purchase. The most persistent and successful resolution however has been to try wool of different breeds of sheep. Did you know that there are over 45 recognized breeds of sheep here in the US? Around 72 different breeds in the UK, never mind the crossbreeds! That gives me plenty of room to grow that stash! I mean fine yarn collection.

It’s this last resolution to collect and learn more about the fiber I knit with that has enhanced my love of fiber arts the most and what I want to share with you.

The wool we knit with here in the US is predominately from the Merino sheep breed. The fleece of Merino sheep is fine, and just like human hair, the finer the hair, the softer it is to the touch. That fineness, which we measure in microns, makes Merino yarn a bit more delicate than those fibers of thicker micron. Merino’s delicate nature is also why the yarn is often blended with nylon to give it a little more strength for socks. The thickness of the fiber is only one variable in whether a fiber is next to the skin soft. The shape of the hair ends and how long the hairs are, all play a role.

Why should we, as fiber artists, care? Just like painters and their choice of medium, different wool breeds, heck different fibers lend themselves to different projects. Merino fiber also has lots of crimp, think seriously squiggly, which gives it bounce and some elasticity and ability to hold shape say compared to silk fiber. While Merino or Blue-Faced Leicester fibers with their fine micron size are soft enough to wear next to the skin, the fiber from Romney Marsh sheep is coarser and may suit outerwear better. The stickiness of Shetland fiber makes it wonderful for color work. Another fiber might show of a textural stitch better…you get the picture.

In the shop you can find yarn of many different fibers. Maybe your focus this year can be on plant based fibers or different wools including Shetland, Merino and Blue-Face Leicester fiber, which we have also have in the shop. This year let’s learn more about the material we create with!

What fibers are you interested in investigating? We want to hear what you’re interested in investigating this year. Please complete this survey to share what you want to see more of.

 

 

Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller

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