Yesterday, I was very privileged to be invited to critique the prototype for Stansborough’s new knitting yarn. I am a lucky, lucky girl! 🙂
For those who are not yet in the know, Stansborough is the creator of the magical fabric used for those now famous elven cloaks in Lord of the Rings. They also wove the beautiful fabrics used in Narnia and a number of other hit movies since then. By popular demand, they have started to develop a knitting yarn range using their unique Stansborough Grey sheep. The first yarn from which (lambs wool) I review in my page about Stansborough.
This new yarn is FABULOUS!!! Unlike the lambs wool yarn, which is spun by plying the same threads that create Stansborough’s unique woolen fabric, this yarn has been especially developed for knitting. It contains none of the milling oil you get in the lambs wool, which means it is light, airy and ‘needle ready’ (ie. no need to wash the yarn first).
It is still the very same wool which made up those famous cloaks. So rest assured, all LOTR fans, you will not miss out by using this yarn!
The yarn is still in developmental stages, and I am not sure when it will be ready for sale. I should expect within the next few months. Current plans are to offer a good colour range – most likely in the natural light, medium and dark greys, plus overdyed rich red, moss green, powder blue, mid-pink and brown. The overdyes will look the same as the lambs wool colours.
This yarn has been woolen spun with 100% ewes wool. It is an 8 ply, or DK weight which will make it very easy to use. Of course, I just had to knit up the sample I got the moment I arrived home to see how it performed!
Using 4mm needles, my sample knitted up to a tension (gauge) of 21s to 28r over 10cm (4″) in stocking stitch. However, when I started a swatch for a garment with cabling and ribbing detail, I found it will probably do better on 4.5mm needles, with a tension of 20s to 26r over 10cm. So it’s a flexible yarn.
It is still beautifully soft and silky, with the same gorgeous lustre, drape and halo of the lambs wool, but is less dense. It has a lovely handle, which made it a real pleasure to knit with. There is still just enough lanolin left in the wool so that your skin does not get dried out while knitting. And for those who are wondering, yes, there is a very faint, “sheepy” scent left in the yarn, although you do need to burrow your nose into the ball to detect it. Which presents its own aspect of sensory stimulation – so soft, so squishy…
Back to the sample! When washed and blocked, the swatch was extremely exciting. I want to knit a garment in it, now! Here’s the comparison between the lambs wool and the ewes wool swatches:
The more mature wool has allowed the natural lustre to show through a lot better – it really glimmers in the sun! This sample is also a lighter colour than the lambs wool, but with the full range from light – dark grey being made available, there’s a choice of colour to use.
Comparing the two swatches, I think knitters will find the ewes wool easier to use for multiple projects because it does perform more like a normal DK weight would (lies flat, has great stitch definition and works to a standard tension).
I am imagining a flowing, iridescent scarf in this – I might even use beads with it for the first time in my knitting history. But I can also see it in that nice top-down cross-over top I have my eye on, a pair of gloves, a vest, a pullover and a hat – basically anything that you can use a DK weight for.
So, well done Stansborough! I am fully confident that when it is available for sale, us knitters will have been given another gift of a rare and special wool to work with.