Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where does yarn come from?

Sheep, of course! And alpaca, llama, cashmere goats, mohair goats, angora rabbits, musk ox, yak, and even buffalo. And those are just some of the sources of animal fiber. There is a similar litany of cellulose fibers with cotton and linen the most well-known. But sheep give us the wonderful wool so perfect for knitting - forgiving, resilient, soft, strong, absorbent and insulating. Don't you think that is what this sheep is saying?

This is a Churro sheep from the Canyon Wren Ranch in Arizona, photo courtesy of the Tucson Handweavers and Spinners Guild. The Dine (AKA Navajo) have used Churro wool for centuries to spin and weave their beautiful rugs. Churro wool yarn can be found in breed specific yarns.

Knitters are less likely to use Churro as it can be coarse. We gravitate to luscious Merino, lustrous Blue Faced Leister, soft Targhee, sturdy Corriedale. These are some of the breed specific yarns available now at wool festivals and online. Merino has led the way and has been in yarn stores for years where lace knitters seek it out as their preferred yarn. As knitters become even more discerning, we may choose Corriedale for sweaters, Romney for jackets, 3-ply Merino/silk blends for socks- tailoring the best features of the sheep breed to our knitting.

The National Needlework Association will be held later this week. It will be interesting to see if there are more breed specific yarns for the market this year. No doubt there will be new and even more beautiful yarns and goodies for knitters. Check out your local yarn shop in the coming weeks to see what is in store for us.

Book Signing at Kiwi Kniting with Antje Gillingham

Antje Gillingham will be in Tucson at Kiwi Knitting, Tuesday, January 24th from 3-4 pm to sign her book Knitting Circles Around Socks. It is always interesting and informative to meet and talk with authors. It is especially nice to have them in town with us. Going to conferences out of town is fun but they can be crowded and hectic. Our local shop allows us more time and conversation with visiting authors and designers. See you there.

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