Friday, October 01, 2010

The Right Stuff

"May I ask what will you be making with your yarn?" I ask my customers that question frequently. Yes I am being nosey, but more than that I am interested in making sure they are happy with their purchase, and if they are new to knitting, I want to help them to choose the correct fiber or combination of fibers for their project.

There are so, so, so many things to consider when you purchase your yarn, with end product being the #1 factor. Our super-soft Angora and down wool blend knits into a wonderful hat, scarf, pair of mittens, sweater or vest. Sure it would make warm socks, but being composed of fine down fleeces, and even though it is spun at a worsted weight, they would be extremely thick. Without a stronger longwool type fleece such as Romney or the even stronger Mohair fiber in the blend, I would be concerned that it heels would wear out. So softness does not always lend itself to durability in a garment that would see the type of constant use as socks.
Our Romney Mohair blend would make very durable socks. It is spun from adult and lamb fleeces and adult and kid mohair. Our Romney fleeces range from medium to fine grade as does our mohair. It has been spun into a light, almost DK weight, so - less bulk, and soft and durable. For some people though it might feel itchy. So a sweater or vest, more of an outwear garment might be a better choice depending on their skin's sensitivity. The heavier long wool and mohair give better drape to a knit fabric than the springy down wool. This brings us to what I consider the #2 factor. Your sensitivity to fibers.

I get a little tickle from folks who say that wool is itchy. Well it is wool after all and it's structure, with it's tiny overlapping scales, can feel itchy to some folks. But it those little scales that can cause irritation to some, are important to the structure of the fiber. Wool is the only fiber with the natural structure of overlapping scales which allows the fibers to cling together and create felt. No synthetic equal has ever been created.

Wool is flame resistant, warms and cools you, can keep you dry, and is just plain wonderful. If you are super sensitive to wool but love to knit and have woollen pieces in your wardrobe, then knitting outwear is a good choice. I suggest to my customers when they aren't sure of their own sensitivity to rub the yarn under their chin on their neck - a very sensitive part of your body. I also suggest that you sew a small strip of flannel around the neckline of a sweater or vest, or headband of a hat creating a soft barrier for your skin.

The third factor that I consider very important to a finished piece is drape. The weight and content of the yarn determines this as well as the way the fiber is spun. Woollen spun yarns are "poofy" and "fulled". A mohair blend will lay much differently that a 100% wool yarn that has been spun from down fleeces. The weight of the mohair makes for more of a flowing garment, where the down wools knit into a lighter weight end product. Longwool fleeces tend to have better drape as well, but can be a bit less soft than the down wools.

So if you visit our farm and I seem a bit nosey, it is only because I want you to leave satisfied with your yarn purchase. Your satisfaction with your finished project it as important to me as your experience here. Leaving excited about the piece you are about to create means I have done my job well. And please remember to send me a picture of what you make with our yarns to showcase on our website!:)

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