Wovember 2015

This year, I am joining the Wovember WAL and NaKniSweMo, and thought that this would be a good time to finish my 100% wool sweater which has been on hold for no good reason (Two Hearts, a pattern by Lisa Lloyd).

WovemberWAL projects need to be 100% wool.  I have chosen to knit Two Hearts in 100% NZ Romney lambswool.  This felt to me to be probably similar in structure to the original handspun used by Lisa Lloyd, a handspun Bluefaced Leicester blended with Mohair (I bought it from Hallblacks, who appear to be on hiatus at the moment.)

Two hearts

Pure wool that is not Merino and that is not superwash treated can tend to initially feel ‘scratchy’ and a little bit stiff. This can be off-putting for the non-pure-wool initiated.   Indeed, it took me a while to get over that. I’ll tell you a little story about how that came about:

My experiences with pure (non-superwash) wool began when I took the plunge with a cardigan which I knitted out of Anna Gratton’s 100% pure Corriedale wool.  The wool was nice, but I never liked the design very much.  I was constantly tugging and yanking at it because it kept slipping off my shoulders – looking at this photo now, I can see that the shoulders as designed were far too wide for my frame.  I did not know enough at that point in my knitting life to think about measuring myself and comparing it with schematics.  Eventually, I stopped wearing it despite the fact that I did find the fabric itself very comfortable.

Gooseberry Cardigan

Then I knitted Bedford, which by now, you’ll probably be sick of hearing about because I cannot stop raving about it!


It was also knitted in Anna Gratton’s 100% pure Corriedale wool (Oatmeal/Pumice colourway).  At first, it was a tiny bit scratchy.  It didn’t matter much because I mostly wore a merino underlayer with it.  It is now three years old, and has been washed (by hand) multiple times, and worn almost continually for the entire time.  The wonderful breathable properties of pure wool mean that I can wear it in almost all weathers, and still feel comfortable.

These days, it is soft, with a comforting ‘lived in’ feeling.  As you can see from the photo, there is no pilling at all, and it has not gone out of shape.  I may have picked off a few initial balls of fluff when it was first knitted, but the wool has now settled into a structure that will stay like this for the rest of its life.  I haven’t been kind to it – I wear it gardening, when cleaning out the animals’ enclosure, when chopping and carting wood, out walking, to the supermarket… It has suffered a lot of abuse, and I have managed to damage it, but I still have leftover yarn from this project, and have been able to repair the damage and keep wearing the sweater.  How many man-made fibres would you say continue to improve with age and just look and feel better the older they are?

I then knit another number, also in Anna Gratton 100% wool: my Shepherd’s Hoody:

The Shepherd Hoodie

It’s funny because this is one of the few garments that I wear which receives compliments from strangers.  It is extremely warm and makes a great coat!

And so, I knit my Romney lambswool sweater in the faith that it too, will turn into a well-loved favourite, still looking amazing and being worn in 10 years’ time.  I certainly need it.  Winter in the Wairarapa is quite a bit colder than in Wellington, and a few more woollen sweaters will not go amiss!

22 thoughts on “Wovember 2015

  1. Thank you for endorsing non-superwash local yarns. I’m constantly moaning to my knitting friends about horrid pilly commercial yarn, which I find has a weird squeeky feeling to it. I can’t wait to get my hands on some of the yarn you’ve talked about lately!

    1. I think you’ll really love Anna’s Corriedale if you haven’t already tried it. One thing I forgot to mention is that the 4 ply is worsted spun, and the 8 and 12 ply are woollen spun. There is a tremendous difference in the way the two yarns look and feel as a result.

  2. It was you who put me on to Anna Gratton’s yarn so thank you.
    I’ve not tried the 100% corriedale but the wool/mohair mix is a delight.
    I’m also using some irish wool which I have used before.
    Unwashed it is scratchy and harsh.
    After soaking in conditioner it just relaxes…
    Happy Knitting

    1. I really need to try some Irish wool one of these days. I love the tweed ones especially. I would recommend you try one of Anna’s natural yarns in Corriedale (available in 2 – 12 ply) . They are my favourite.

  3. Those are MY kind of cables, what a gorgeous pattern. In fact, you ‘MADE’ me buy the book 🙂 thank you.

  4. Wonderful cables, (the Instagram close up is fab). I think knitting with pure wools is a graduation thing, by which I mean the more you knit the more you want and love and appreciate the “real” yarns.

  5. I LOVE that cabley-goodness you are working on. Spectacular. After knitting with super wash wool for some time now, I am returning to the non super wash yarns. I seek them out and I’m happy that some of the indy dyers here in the US are producing them. It’s too bad that a lot of new knitters never use it, because it performs so much better than super wash. No sagging, growing, and they’re so light! Anyway – I’m a fan. K

  6. I can’t wear Anna Gratton’s wool/mohair blend, beautiful though it is to look at and knit with – but I really appreciate her corriedale yarn. It don’t pill much at all and feels nice yet sturdy. also the other day I was unexpectedly overdressed for the day in a long sleeved tee under a short sleeved jumper knit from Maniototo yarn. It was so hot I decided to risk itchiness and removed the tee layer. And was pleasantly surprised that it was not at all scratchy!

  7. I love me some non-commercial wool yarn. You are spot on regarding the lack of scratchiness to it. I think more people should try.
    Now about all your beautiful knits. I would be hard pressed to chose a favorite amongst them, but Bedford is rather fantastic. 🙂

    1. So glad to know you share my sentiments! I would agree that Bedford is my favourite too. I find it so comfortable to wear too, which is my most important consideration these days!

  8. Love your shepherd hoodie. Is it your pattern or is it available elsewhere?
    We had a wonderful 3 months in NZ several years ago, and I came home with a suitcase full of yarn, most of which has been knit up. I think I would order the Anne Gratton yarn to knit the hoodie – like you, I resent the effort to knit a sweater, only to have it look messy with pills.

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