Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wool, part 2 -- the texture issue

Soft wool is not always the best for every project.  Sometimes coarse wool (I won't call it scratchy, due to the negative connotation) simply works better.  Some knitters and crocheters don't like working with coarse wool, which is fair enough.  But there are some advantages to NOT choosing the softest wool on the shelf.  Namely, soft wool felts and pills much more easily than coarser wools do.  Felting can sometimes be desirable, and pills can be shaved off, but who wants to shave your sweater's underarm every time you wear it?

The kinds of projects that work better in coarser wool, in my opinion, are items that you don't want to felt that are going to get a lot of heavy wear, but won't be directly next to your skin.  Sweaters are an excellent example.  As a bonus, I've noticed that cables "pop" more in  a slightly coarser wool.  My husband, for example, is incredibly rough on sweaters.  He would DESTROY Malabrigo.  If I were to make him a sweater, I would choose something a little more rustic.  Black Water Abbey's yarns come to mind.

On the other hand, sometimes you NEED the softness.  Socks, for example, need to be pretty soft, as to gloves, scarves, and hats.  Thankfully most of these items also don't receive heavy wear.  The exception of course is socks.  This is why most wool sock yarns are blends of wool and nylon (or, in the old days, silk).  The nylon (or silk) gives much needed reinforcement to the wool, which gives the sock the durability it needs without giving the wearer itchy feet.

Am I going to talk about wool some more?  YES, I'm going to talk about wool some more!  Next time (the final installment) I'll give a brief summary of some of my favorite sheep breeds.

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