Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Have You Any Wool?

More times than I can remember, when we in The Shop ask our customers, "Can we help you?", the answer is "I'm just here for some wool."

But that's not always the case.

Rather, they're usually 'here for some yarn'.  It's just that our customers are in the habit of referring to all yarn as "wool" -- because once upon a time, it pretty much was all wool, all the time.

Nowadays, we're doing our best to change their terminology -- mainly by showing them actual wool in the weight they said they were looking for.  If they want other yarn -- say, cotton or acrylic, or alpaca, or silk or a blend -- this startles them, and they let us know pretty quickly!  😊

"Heeland Coos"
(Highland Cows)
I'm just back from Scotland, touring castles, lochs, and crofts (among other things)...and revelling in the hilly countryside dotted with "coos" and sheep.  Over there, they are very particular about yarn terminology!  Wool is wool, and that's all there is to it!  It comes from sheep, and everything else is...well...just..."yarn".

Another notion about wool that's common with customers is that it is always scratchy.

I'll grant that some folks have a true allergy to wool (sometimes, sadly, to all animal fibre).  Handling it in any way makes their hands tingle, their fingers itch, and some even break out in a rash if they try a wool garment next to their skin.

Sheep grazing - on the road between
Edinburgh and Inverness
And it's true that the wool from some sheep breeds is 'scratchier' than that from others.  This is due in large part to the composition of the fibre: its diameter (in microns), its staple length and its crimp structure.

As author and yarn expert, Clara Parkes, writes in The Knitter's Book of Yarn (2008), "The finer the diameter of a fibre, the softer it feels against your skin." (p.14).  And..."A general rule of thumb...The shorter the fibers, the softer they will be against the skin." (p. 15).  As for 'crimp' -- the fibres with tinier crimp tend to be the ones that are bouncier, loftier and warmer (think hats, blankets, sweaters), while those with larger 'ringlets' (as Clara calls them) produce a denser, stronger, more lustrous yarn (think 'drape' for shawls, throws and elegant garments).

What does all that mean?  Simply that no two types of wool are alike -- and barring a true allergy to it, there's generally a wool available to suit your purpose!

This week's Special Sale offering is wool -- 100% wool.  It's labelled as "roving", which means it's not really spun.  Though it's a 'single' (ply), it's still strong enough to be knit or crocheted -- and there are some projects on Ravelry that show off beautiful stitch definition when knit up.  A 'woolly wool', it's ideal for jackets, hats, and outdoor sweaters not worn next to the skin.

It's not been treated for machine washing though, so it's better served in items meant to be hand-washed or felted.  That means it's ideal for felted slippers or tote bags that will be comfy and sturdy at the same time.

And the price is right!

Diamond Select
Pure Wool Roving

100% Wool
100 grams per skein
137 metres (150 yards)
Regular Price: $7.00

75% Off!
Sale Price: $1.75

Posted by Margaret, TCL employee, who's happy to help you find the right wool -- or yarn -- whatever your project!

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