I’ve recently become very interested in knitting with a greater variety of natural fibers. I’ve had plenty of experience with the standard merinos, alpacas, silks, and cashmeres readily available at my LYS (local yarn shop). Then, a couple of years ago, I discovered BFL (blue-faced leicester) and I developed a schoolgirl crush on this springy wool.
I spent some of my birthday money this year on some 1-ply gossamer weight shetland supreme from Jamieson & Smith in the natural grey shade (purchased from Yarns International because I live in the US). After narrowing down my long list of queued lace wraps on ravelry, I decided that what could be better for shetland wool than a shetland-inspired lace pattern. I settled on Jared Flood’s Stonecrop, wound the yarn into a delicious little wooly cake I couldn’t wait to sink my needles into, and then I cast on with a nice sharp pair of Addi Turbo Lace needles and a favorite set of handmade stitch markers. I was so enamored with the yarn that I was inspired to write a little ode to my shetland wool in prose.
The knitted fabric is scratchy-soft and springy in my hand. Garter stitch ridges mimic the color and pattern of undulating rows of a freshly plowed field. The varying natural woolen shades can be catalogued like botanical specimens: mooskit, shaela, moorit, gaulmogot, sholmit, katmollet, yuglet. My worsted-spun singles resemble the color of loblolly pine bark, of weathered boat docks, of lichen-speckled rocks jutting out into the sea. The crisp wiriness of the fiber is softened by a wooly halo, and its slightly sheepy smell evokes memories of chilly nights and flickering firelight. Seemly as insubstantial as cobwebs, the woolen stole warms my lap as I work, warding off the creeping chill that advances under the cover of night.
Smooth circular brass needles slither through the stitches, the yarn entwined about them like vines. The shiny sharp tips flick in and out of the looped yarn like the tongue of a garden snake – catching and grabbing the wool, undulating through the rows, charming my fingers.