This week (6–12 October 2014) is UK Wool Week, The Campaign for Wool’s event showcasing British wool in fashion and interiors. So what do I think about wool?
I was brought up firmly in the ‘acrylics are best camp’. I believed wool to be itchy (not helped by a jumper from my gran, which was beautiful with its cottage garden intarsia on the front, but so itchy I couldn’t wear it!). But things have changed. In the past year I have had the privilege of doing some design work for Knit Now magazine, and, as they have a commitment for all their designs to feature yarns that contain 50% natural materials, I have been sent some wonderful yarns to knit samples from, many of them British. My particular favourite is West Yorkshire Spinners Bluefaced Leicester Aran, which I made my Fluffy White Clouds blanket from. It is possibly the softest yarn I have ever worked with, and once it’s been washed it becomes even softer, definitely a yarn I would recommend. I have great respect for West Yorkshire Spinners and their philosophy that yarn should be local and costs should be kept low to make real wool affordable to everyone; obviously their yarns are the real selling point though, and even though I don’t knit socks (two the same? I struggle with the convention that jumpers should have two sleeves!) the colours of their sock yarns could definitely tempt me.
Image copyright Practical Publishing, 2014
I do still believe that sometimes acrylics are best, or easiest at least – as I have a new baby, I am aware that reading the washing instructions is beyond even the best launderer when they’re running on not enough sleep, so I generally make baby blankets for non-knitting friends from machine washable acrylics, and do the same for toddler clothes which get a lot of wear and tear. But I did make my baby a merino wool hat, as it is so soft against her skin, breathable so she doesn’t overheat and it is machine washable, with care (not that I took quite enough care when washing it when she was four days old; it did get a little felted, but fortunately didn’t shrink, and she still wears it and it still gets a lot of compliments, in spite of the odd fluffy bit). Last week I also finished a cardigan for her (Granny’s Favourite by Georgie Hallam, great pattern; I’ve already knitted started a second), again in merino, and it is simply wonderful, and I’m now functioning on enough sleep, so fingers crossed it should stay that way!
So what will I be doing for British Wool Week? Well, I still have a few balls of that Bluefaced Leicester Aran in the cupboard, and Tin Can Knit’s Antler has been calling my name for some time now, so I might just cast on one of those. And in baby size I should be able to whip on up in no time; remember, babies definitely need luxurious knits, after all, it’s all about the pleasure of the knitting.