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Monday, October 22, 2012

Pure Wool

 Last week was Wool Week, which was created to promote the use of wool. It didn't focus specifically on British wool but wool in general. I love using wool when I knit but I must admit my favourite wool is merino. After receiving 'Pure Wool' by Sue Blacker I'm starting to think I'm missing out on something though.
Sue runs the Natural Fibre Company which is actually located less than half an hours drive from where I live in Cornwall and yet I've never been. I must ask Sue if I can visit the mill soon. I'm sure it'd be really interesting. 

Sue has her own flock of Gotland sheep and is passionate about wool which comes across in this book. Through the Natural Fibre Company she's used to dealing with a variety of sheep breeds and she really knows her stuff. Sue regularly has stalls at shows like Wonderwool Wales, Woolfest and other shows around the UK.
 The term 'wool' used to be used as a generic term for knitting yarn in the UK and I must admit it did use to annoy me, when I first got back into knitting several years ago, when I went in to our local 'wool shop' & bought a skein of 'wool' & it didn't have any wool in it. 

This book is about sheep's wool and in particular British sheep breeds. Wool from different sheep breeds have different qualities and are suitable for different things. 
'Pure Wool' covers a large variety of sheep breeds and the properties of each breed. The patterns in this book are designed specifically with a specific wool in mind. The book takes the reader through a lot of sheep basics such as 'from sheep to yarn', how fleece is turned into yarn and there are fact files on specific sheep breeds. 
 Several well-known designers have worked with Sue to create the designs in this book including Rita Taylor, Tina Barrett (who lives near me in Cornwall), Myra Mortlock, Amanda Jones, Amanda Crawford, Sian Brown and Sasha Kagan.

 Living in Cornwall I'm used to seeing sheep 'in the wild', ie on the moors in Devon and Cornwall, but I never really think much about different sheep breeds apart from the fact that I love merino and Bluefaced Leicester (which are both very soft wools). It's really interesting reading about the number of sheep breeds in this book. 
 And there are some pretty cute photos too.
 This book has several designs for women, men and home. The women's waistcoat below by Rita Taylor is one of my favourite designs in this book. 
 When i first got back into knitting i had a thing about knitting bags and I designed and knitted several of them and the bags below made me want to knit another one. I especially love the natural brown colour.
 There are several sweaters featuring cables.
 I'm impressed with this book and I'm looking forward to reading it more. At the back of the book it has a yarn selector to help you choose the right yarn for your project which is kind of the basics of what this book is about. 
 If you normally use the term 'wool' to refer to any knitting yarn then I recommend you start looking at the labels of the yarns you buy and check out Blacker Yarns. They have a gorgeous selection of British breeds in natural and dyed colours. Who knew sheep came in so many colours? Pure Wool covers 17 different breeds and has 20 designs. Get it here.


Changing topics slightly.

 My online class Professional Finishing Techniques started yesterday but the first proper class started today and you can still join us. This is the last chance this year to do this class online. I won't be repeating this class this year. You keep indefinite access to the course and can watch the video lessons when and where you want to where ever in the world you live. Sign up here.

If you live in the South West of England you can join my Professional Finishing Techniques class at Social Fabric in Totnes, Devon on 23 November.


Liz said...

I generally use the term yarn - and I always check labels as I'm allergic to sheep wool :(

Sea said...

What kind of sheep is the beastie with four horns?

Anonymous said...

'Sea' I'm not sure what sheep that is. I've looked through the book and it doesnt say but he's pretty cool, isn't he?!

Liz, are you allergic to all sheeps wool? Even supersoft merino? I'm sensitive to some wools but merino is fine.

Liz said...

I've not found any yet that doesn't make me itch, although I have found I can tolerate a small percentage in some blends - but for each one it's a case of trial and error. I'm okay with alpaca and am currently knitting with something that's camel and that seems to be fine.

It's very sad because there's some really gorgeous sheep yarns out there!

Womble said...

He's a Manx Loaghtan ram - a british rare breed, originating in the Isle of Man.

Lovely sheep! :-)