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Friday, August 24, 2007

. . . more from Chic Knits TGIF Library . . .


Temperance writes: “Yummy yarn, love the green, but the red is truly luscious. I am feeling ignorant, however, rare breed yarn? How is it different / better then common sheep yarn?”

It took a tour of a barnful of sheep at the first fiber fest I went to for me to realize just how many types of wool might be in the world.

I’d really never thought of it before!

Indeed. Just what Fiber had traveled my Handiwork Highway? Well. Merino Definitely. Hmm. Shetland — actually owned and wore many cabled sweaters in high school. Uhm.

That’s IT!

Yet out in the greater world, the world of Alice Starmore, Gladys Thompson or Shelagh Hollingworth, there were many other types of wool: Bainin, Harris, Guernsey, and more — and they might not have been made from the same breed of sheep.

I became interested on a personal level a few seasons ago when I started making sweaters to work outdoors in. I’ve worked as a photographer for many years and my *uniform* between October and May (!) is a long-sleeved black turtleneck, cabled aran-weight sweater topped by a black or dark brown down vest. (Colorful scarves rescue my femininity from oblivion!)

It quickly became apparent that many of the wools out there for handknitting were not up to rigors so I started the Quest for the Worker Yarn. I was especially romantic about Bluefaced Leicester and Wensleydale Long Wool, both produced from small flocks in the U.K. hence the *rare breed* designation. A spinner friend of mine told me about this book:

In Sheep’s Clothing

This tome is a most useful handbook. Although it’s subtitle is “A Handspinner’s Guide to Wool”, for a knitter, it is a most enjoyable and enthusiastic introduction to the fold.

Breed information is presented in chapters by wool types and then a sample of each fleece is pictured with details about their characteristics.

All in all a most informative read and bookshelf staple.


Summer 2007 in the USA has been filled with romance. Even if your dance card isn’t too full, chances are your closet is! Everywhere I go, I see skirts, ballet flats, ribbon-tied wedgies, slip-dresses, and lace.

And we have in our house, a designer most accomplished in the language of lovely sentimental knitting:

Romantic Hand Knits

The incredible Annie Modesitt has put together a collection of 26 designs of the most feminine sort. Here you will find lace, ruffles, texture and color combining in ways that charm and enchance the wearer.

Annie calls romance “falling in love with life” and her designs reflect the joy of the female form. There are flirtatious trimmed wraps; cabled and laced tops; fitted, fetching skirts and wonderful accesories you will not see anywhere else. I am especially in love with a hat called “High Society” a ribbon-trimmed lace cloche.

Form and function with beauty is what we love about clothes. Making them is what knitters love doing.

“Romantic Knits” gives you the blueprints and palette to create your own masterpiece.


the Chic Knits TGIF Library is always open HERE. . .

7 responses to “Friday, August 24, 2007”

  1. Carol says:

    Two great recommends! Thank you for insightful detail, although I always trust the Annie M name in designs! Happy weekend!

  2. Temperance says:


    I feel even more stupid now. my brain must have totaly disconected. I totaly forgot that merino was just a diffrent breed of sheep. And we have a herd of Jacob sheep local, so I really should have known better.

    But the book recomendation is great. It will really help me figure it all out. Out of curiousity when a label says wool what kind of sheep is it from?

  3. Teresa says:

    This is part of why I love ‘Spin Off’ magazine. I’m not a spinner but if you are a lover of wool, it’s priceless.

  4. Vera says:

    I’m sorry I missed you at the Michigan Fiber Fair, I did see a few girls from the “Chicago” bus but lost them in the shopping frenzy. If you’re looking for some specific breeds the Michigan Sheep Breeders Association has four farmers who have Wensleydale and seven who raise Blue-Faced
    Leicester ( The database needs some work and when the first frost comes I’ll get on that task. But I think a group of those farmers have a group called Mason Fiber Farmers, can’t find much but here’s something:
    I’ve met Neil Kentner at annual Michigan sheep conference in Lansing and his farm, Wynsmoor Manor, is listed on this site

  5. Wanda says:

    Hmm, it is definitely good to learn more about various types of wool. You’re absolutely correct that a merino wool would not be good for an outdoor wool sweater/jacket. I’m interested in trying some various blends. I’ll be on the lookout for this book.

  6. Patty says:

    Bonne Marie, you make the world a better place. Thanks for that educational insightful post!

  7. Becky says:

    Oh…another thing to put on the wishlist!

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