Updated June 2015
Mithril (formerly known as Mythral), in 100% New Zealand Stansborough Grey wool, is a 3ply woolen-spun yarn. The sheep are farmed in the Wairarapa, and the fleece is spun in Wellington, New Zealand, especially for hand knitters and crocheters.
The wool that this yarn is made from is mainly used by Stansborough to weave their beautiful, unique fabrics, and is most famously associated with costumes for movies especially by Weta Digital, most notably, Lord of the Rings, Narnia and the Hobbit movies.
This is an image of the one-of-a-kind sheep, as seen on the ball band:
Mithril, 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, Mithril 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! The yarn has been overdyed using biodegradable dyes, designed to cause less damage to the environment.
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 at fine yarn stores. I have seen it at Holland Road Yarn Company, Nancy’s Embroidery and Mynx. Beautiful kit boxes with patterns featuring some of the dwarves’ costumes in the Hobbit are also available at Weta Cave and other outlets. You can also contact Stansborough direct where you can make an online purchase.
Mithril: (from left to right) Kakariki (green); Kokako (grey – natural colour of the sheep), Raupo (brick); Takahe (blue), Rata (red) and Manuka (pink) (shade seen above).
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 project in your washing machine at normal revolution. To prevent shrinkage, do not rub your knitted project or agitate vigorously during washing. 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.
More of my posts about Mithril:
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.
Here is a tee I knitted with this yarn.