Updated 19 January 2012
A gorgeous new Stansborough yarn, Mythral, arrived in mid-June 2011. Mythral is available in both lambswool (Royal Mythral) and 100% wool (Mythral).
Mythral, in 100% New Zealand Stansborough Grey wool, is a 3ply woolen-spun yarn, grown, processed and spun in New Zealand, especially for hand knitters and crocheters.
This is an image of the one-of-a-kind sheep, as seen on the ball band:
Mythral, 8 ply (DK)
100% New Zealand Stansborough Grey
Tension (gauge): 20 – 22 x 30r over 10cm on 3.75 – 4.50mm needles
50g balls, 104m (113yd)
Lofty and lustrous, Mythral is a treat in rare breed yarn.
Coming from the ‘Stansborough Grey’ sheep (of which there is currently only one flock in the world), this is a long wool that produces a yarn that is very silky and much more lustrous than the ‘average’ wool yarn that you’re used to. It has beautiful draping qualities, superior strength, crease-resistance, durability and lustre. It literally shimmers in the light!
Projects knitted in this yarn are destined to become heirloom pieces – lasting a lifetime, without going out of shape or looking pilled and rubbed.
This yarn is becoming available from fine yarn stores. Current stockists are Wellington’s own Holland Road Yarn Company, all 10 Knit World shops around New Zealand, Fantail Fibres in the US and at Ecoyarns in Australia.
I’m delighted that The Yarnsisters (US) and Lanamania (Europe) have recently agreed to take this quality brand to their respective markets. If you are from these areas, queries about where to purchase Mythral (both wholesale and retail) can be directed to them. Hopefully, it will soon be stocked more widely in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe and Australia.
You can also contact Stansborough direct where you can make an online purchase.
Mythral: Kokako (grey), Rata (red), Kakariki (green), Takahe (blue) and Manuka (pink).
Royal Mythral (this lambswool yarn is a finer, loftier version of Mythral. It’s a darker natural grey than Mythral and therefore has a deeper colour shading): Royal Kokako (grey), Royal Rata (red), Royal Kakariki (green) and Royal Takahe (blue) – pictured below:
Finishing recommendation: After knitting, hand wash in hot water (hand-hot) with plenty of wool wash. Leave to soak for 15 minutes, and then spin out the yarn in your washing machine. To prevent shrinkage, do not rub your knitted project or agitate vigorously. Rinse water (if you use it) should be the same temperature as the wash water. You can safely use your spinner on 800rpm with no ill effects. This yarn is so robust you can hang your project to dry and it will not stretch or go out of shape. Like all wools, you should not use your dryer to dry the project.
Hand washing your project in hot water the first time causes the yarn to bloom beautifully, bringing out the true nature of this beautiful, drapey, shimmery yarn.
Subsequent washes can be done on the wool cycle in your washing machine.
More of my posts about Mythral:
Patterns using Mythral yarn:
|The Market Day Hat (free)|
|Cheryl’s scarf (free)|
|Wrist-warmer fingerless gloves (free)|
|The neck warmer (free)|
|Sylvia shawl (NZ$5)|
Famously known as the maker of fabrics for the Lord of the Rings, Narnia and other movies filmed in New Zealand, Cheryl and Barry Eldridge own and run Wellington-based Stansborough. A world-class operation, Stansborough makes fashion fabrics, accessories, interiors, baby wear, corporate gifts, and now, by popular demand, knitting yarn!
A farm-to-fabric operation, Stansborough’s products are based on the fibre of a specific wool breed developed by the Eldridges, ‘Stansborough Grey’.
18 years ago, Cheryl and Barry Eldridge discovered a primitive breed of rare grey sheep used by the Vikings in ancient times. The Goth sheep were highly prized by the Vikings for making sails for their ships to carry them to new horizons. These were intricately woven in small pieces and joined together. The wool was light and durable, didn’t rot and was strong enough to hold up against the inclement weather. Cheryl’s love of fibre prompted her to begin breeding the sheep to bring out the inherent qualities in the fleece that she could see would be so suitable for woolen fabric production.
By selective breeding, the Eldridges created a unique grey sheep from the original flock, which they named ‘Stansborough Grey’. It is now a Registered Breed in its own right with the NZ Sheep Breeders Association. These sheep are the only ones in the world – producing a truly rare fibre.
The original kemp and guard hairs have been largely bred out of the sheep so that what is left is a fine wool fleece with a long staple and increased crimp. Producing a natural blue grey fleece, the animals are clipped twice a year to control the high quality of fleece and length of the staple, and to stop the fleece naturally matting if left to its own accord. Individual hand sorting of each fleece at shearing is essential to yarn consistency. The fibre is personally hand sorted by Cheryl at each shear into several shades of natural grey. The whole flock is shorn at the same time twice a year to make sure each fleece meets the strict criteria for suitable yarn production for either weaving or knitting yarn.
The emphasis at the Stansborough Mill is on quality not quantity and in being totally eco-friendly. The wool is minimally processed, and not bleached prior to dyeing. The overdyes used are biodegradable, and the wool is processed and spun in New Zealand mills. Fabrics are then woven traditionally at the Stansborough Weaving Mill in Wellington, on historic looms which date back to the 1890′s, and exported all over the world.
The prototype yarn
About three years ago, Stansborough put out a prototype of Mythral. The original spin of this yarn contained milling oil, which made the yarn stiff to the feel, but after washing, bloomed and softened to show off its true nature. The first spin also contained angora, but in subsequent lots, this content was removed.
The label stated 4 ply, but it was actually a DK weight.
If you have some of the original yarn, I recommend washing the yarn before knitting as it still contains the milling oil used in spinning, and by using it washed you can see its true nature. It should be washed with the hottest water your hand can tolerate, with a grease-cutting liquid soap (I used wool wash, which seemed to work pretty well). Please note that this does not apply to the new Mythral yarn.
It seems to go against the laws of knitty nature to wash yarn in such hot water, but you get lovely fluffy, soft yarn afterwards that hasn’t shrunk or felted. Just swish gently, rinse, and squeeze out the excess water in a towel. Hang up to dry, and presto!
Once washed, the handle is gorgeous. And much more pleasurable to knit with than the oiled yarn. The sensation of knitting with this yarn is not like any other wool I have used. Threading through my fingers as I knit, the yarn provides a wonderful sensation – so silky, so springy! I’ve attached a picture of the yarn both pre and post wash. You can see how fluffy the yarn gets compared to the very tight looking yarn on the ball.
Here’s a picture of the yarn knitted up once washed. Note that the Kokako Grey (pictured grey sample) is the natural colour of the wool, and this yarn is particularly soft and silky. Once dyed, the yarn becomes a tiny bit less fluffy, which does make it a bit more flexible to use.
I recently knitted a tee with this yarn. I did not follow my own advice, but washed if after knitting – the thought of having to skein all that yarn all over again and then carefully ball it up again after drying was just a bit much.
Fearful of shrinking or felting it now that it had been knitted, I used warm (not hot) water, but plenty of wool wash. This had the desired effect of removing a lot of the milling oil, although it will probably be one more wash before the true nature of the wool can be released. It’s not quite as silky soft and fluffy as when I knitted the washed yarn.
It does behave quite differently to a normal wool when knitted – in fact, it’s a little bit alpaca-like in its drape and refusal to crease when worn. I really like it!
Having now worn it for two winters, I’m pleased to report that it does not pill, or stretch, and my vest continues to be an often-worn favourite.