Mythral, a unique yarn

In its pure, natural colour, Stansborough Grey looks and handles like liquid silver.

You can see a little of the lustrous gleam where the naturally blue-grey yarn catches the sun:

This is Mythral (100% New Zealand Stansborough Grey).  It’s gorgeous.

I love it in all its natural grey and overdyed colours:

Here’s Royal Mythral (100% New Zealand Stansborough Grey lambswool).  This yarn is natural dark grey and comes in three overdyed shades:

I have updated my page about Stansborough with specific details of this yarn, which you can access here or from the menu bar above.

In this post, I will talk about aspects of Mythral that I haven’t added to the page, as well share some of my personal thoughts.

Royal Mythral’s colours are called Kokako (grey), Rata (red), Kakariki (green) and Takahe (blue).  Mythral’s colours are the same name, with the addition of Manuka (pink).

What do the names mean?  Kiwi readers will have to excuse me while I explain to international readers:

Kokako (ko’ka’ko) is the name of one of New Zealand’s highly endangered native wattlebirds. This naturally blue-grey yarn is named after the Kokako’s soft grey plumage and surprising blue wattles around its cheeks.  Here’s a link to the Department of Conservation’s site if you’d like to see a picture of this fascinating bird.

Rata (ra’ta) is the name of one of our endangered native trees which has a beautiful red flower. One variety of rata starts life as an epiphyte, which over a hundred or so years, grows roots that envelop its host tree, and becomes one in its stead.  Here’s the link for the image and more interesting information about the rata.

Kakariki (kar’kar’ree’kee) is the name of New Zealand’s native parakeet.  It has a pretty green plumage. See this link for more fascinating information about this little parakeet.

Takahe (Ta’ka’hey) is the name of another rare New Zealand bird.  It is the largest living member of the rail family, and for many years was thought to be extinct, until it was discovered by chance in a remote location of the South Island of New Zealand in the late 1940’s.  It has a stunning blue green plumage, hence the name for this yarn.  Link for more information and images is here.

Manuka (ma’nu’ka) is the name of one of our native hardwood shrubs.  It has a delicate pink flower.  Fortunately, it is common throughout New Zealand and is a valuable first-growth forest regenerator.  This shrub/small tree has a long list of useful properties:  This is the manuka from which bees make a very tasty honey that is very highly prized for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal qualities.  Its wood makes wonderful, durable small wooden articles. The scrap wood is sold as a premium firewood, as it burns with a very hot heat.   Salmon smoked with manuka wood has the most delicious, sweet, aromatic taste.  The essential oil from this tree is even more effective that tea tree, and is used to treat the same illnesses/infections.  Unfortunately, manuka is not highly prized by farmers, and is often treated as a pest plant because of its liking for colonising open land. Here’s a picture of some manuka:

What makes this yarn special to me?

When I first found the prototype of this yarn about three years ago, I was simply excited because it was another beautiful New Zealand wool yarn that I could play with.  Not to mention it was the same wool that was used to make those now-famous magical cloaks in LOTR!

However, the more I used it, the more I appreciated how special it is.  It isn’t merino soft. It’s got body, it’s robust, and it’s got a true-blue wool feel that only comes from sheep with ancient genes.  It does have the most sensational silky feel – the yarn threads so smoothly through the hands when you knit with it.

Royal Mythral is lofty and soft.  Mythral has a more substantial, buttery feel.  Once washed, the yarn blooms and softens considerably, with a beautiful drape in a strong, crease-proof fabric.

It’s the way this yarn performs and looks once knitted that makes me love, love, love it.

While it probably isn’t the best yarn to knit for against-the-skin projects, there are other qualities to it that more than make up for the lack of ‘merino soft’.

Take for instance, definition:

And just look at the lustre – caught in the light, there’s a sparkle to the yarn that almost makes you feel like there’s a little something extra mixed into it!  There isn’t.  It’s simply the natural quality of the wool.  It has incredible drape:

You can see why it makes a fantastic interiors/upholstery yarn.  This is a cushion cover I have in progress.  It gives great definition to cables.

Its drape and ability to hold form also make it fantastic for lace work.

The fibre’s ability to bloom after washing makes it perfect for colourwork.

Every breed of sheep has a wool that performs to purpose.  The Stansborough Grey has been bred specifically as a wool breed, for use in fabric and knitted garments of durability and style.

If my experience is anything to go by, projects knitted in Stansborough will produce favourite pieces that turn into heirlooms.  I truly believe this yarn is destined to become a timeless classic for knitters around the world.

11 thoughts on “Mythral, a unique yarn

  1. Thanks for introducing us to this yarn…at some point I’ll get some, but since it’s not so readily available in the States, holding off just a bit…

  2. Can’t wait to see your version of the Lothlorien cape knitted in this beautiful yarn!
    Have a plan to go to Australia and New Zeland next April. IF this comes true, I will ask sis to stash some of the Mythril for me 😉

  3. That sounds like such a lovely yarn! You really sell it well. As an admittedly ridiculous LOTR fan, I was tickled to read your bit about Mythral being the same wool they used for the cloaks 🙂 I hope to some day have the chance to use this yarn you are so very fond of.

  4. I am now trying to figure out how I can get back to NZ in the not to distant future. I may have to bring an extra suitcase for yarn.

  5. Thanks for the in-depth run-down! I’ve used the prototype yarn for an Ishbel shawlette and loved it. Looking forward to getting my hands on a few balls of the new stuff (perhaps for a cabled hat and mittens)…

    1. Deco is such a gorgeous pattern! I think if you used the lambswool, it would work. Royal Mythral has a slightly finer gauge to the Mythral. The cushion covers I knitted were either 3mm or 3.25mm and they’ve come out beautifully, with great definition in the cables.

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