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.)
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.
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:
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!