Friday, February 8, 2008

True Plies: A Taste of Ye Olde Country

True Plies: Jamieson's of Shetland 'Spindrift'

Jamiesons of Shetland has been producing Shetland wool yarns for over a hundred years. Mostly known for their Jamiesons' Shetland Books, I have to admit I never considered using the yarn for anything but Fair Isle or cable work. On a lark, I decided to try out their Spindrift yarn, one of the more popular Jamiesons lines. I wish I had been fast enough to finish the project I started with it, but at least it's halfway done.

Realizing I needed another pair of mitts, I bought two balls of the yarn in the color "Mulberry" (at $5.00 for 115 yds/ 105 m, it wins the economics award) and CO the first of another pair of
Campanula Mitts. While it is intended to be worked at 7.5 sts/ inch on US 3 needles when knitting Fair Isle or cables, I decided it'd look grand in lace work on US 5's. Turns out I wasn't wrong (for once):


The yarn is crisp (gives good-to-great stitch definition) and has a nice loft (it's well-plied and airy). Since I've mostly spun my own Shetland wool before this experiment, it was interesting to start with the yarn already made. A lot easier, too.

One thing I did miss was the fact that when spinning from fleeces you can pick out the finer wool (from the Shetland Sheep's neck) and use it separately for lace and baby garments. This yarn was probably a mix of the entire sheep's fleece, and thus an average of the different parts of the coat.

Still, it was rather soft for an unblended rustic sheep and quite pleasant to knit with. All in all I really liked working with it - the plies didn't split, it didn't break or crackle at all, and it's also colorfast (notice the pink stains on my Brittany's? Those came from something that wasn't colorfast).

Last night I finished the first of my Campanula Mitts, wove in the ends (this yarn is nice and "sticky", so I think the ends won't pop out), and blocked it with a steam iron. It went from being kinky and scaly (we all know how awful unblocked lace looks) to something I would proudly wear in public:


I wish I could have gotten a better picture of the first mitt, but I'm sure the idea is expressed. The yarn blocked beautifully. That there next to the mitt and yarn is the second mitt (not a Brillo Pad) that I cast on this morning. At the rate I've been knitting on this (and every other project I have OTN), I might actually finish them before the end of the month.

My review, in the end? I like this yarn. And while I wouldn't recommend it for baby garments, it would be fantastic for outerwear and, you guessed it, socks (it's not super wash, but that's beside the point). I'm definitely going to keep it in mind for future projects. Maybe one day I shall even attempt Autumn Rose.

... or maybe not.

Next week? Oh, the choices! What shall I review?

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