Ria + June | Episode #2 Wool

Hi everyone! I’m diving into Principles of Knitting, but straying just a bit from June’s recommendation to work from cover to cover in order. I had fiber on the brain after getting back from the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, so I thought I’d skip ahead to Part 7 Materials, Chapter 27 Fibers (page 539). I quickly realized that WOOL deserved its very own posts, so I’ll be tackling non-wool fibers another day.

Knitters who knit with wool already know that wool is an amazing fiber. In just a few pages, June illuminates WHY. I’d like to stress that this project isn’t intended to replace her book–I’ll only be touching on the highlights, and facts I found especially interesting.

It’s clear that June favors natural fibers, and so do I, but she allows for synthetics when they make sense. It’s interesting to note that technology hasn’t been able to replicate what nature does so well in wool. People avoid working with wool for a lot of reasons, but June manages to counter all of them with sound logic.

Cost is an issue, but she echos Cat Bordhi is urging people to save up for the best materials they can afford–your knitting deserves this, and your purchases encourage future textile production.

Allergies are another roadblock, but June points our that animal fibers are made up of keratin, the same protein that comprises human hair and nails. Its a contentious issue to be sure, but even people suffering from wool irritation tend to fall silent in the face of soft, smooth Merino (the type of wool used in every Zealana yarn).

One of the most interesting facts I read was that Queen Elizabeth I won Merino sheep from the Spanish Armada, which in turn fueled the British wool industry and the expanding empire. That means Zealana wool may have royal lineage!

Another fun fact: fleeces are shorn in one piece and they average about 10 pounds. I was curious and did the math. That equals about 90 50 gram balls of yarn, or about 8-10 adult sweaters. It’s an inexact science of course, as some of the weight will be lost in the scouring process that removes “barnyard,” dander, grasses, seeds, lanolin and whatever else the sheep happens to be hiding in its coat.

Watch the video to learn even more about wool, and to see a bit of footage from my trip to Rhinebeck!

More soon,

CR

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