Breed Mesa

January 29, 2016

IMG_2225This project really belongs to last year. I finished it just before New Year. Curiously, the last Enchanted Mesa I finished during the same period a year ago!

IMG_2221Enchanted Mesa by Stephen West is such a liberated, fast knit and a great opportunity not simply to use up single skeins in the stash but to explore particular themes. My last one explored yarns I bought and spun from the Australian Sheep and Wool Show that year. This one explores various sheep breeds including Merino, Finn, Gotland, Shetland and contrasts a hand painted yarn with a range of natural fleece shades.

Enchanted Bendigo was made in sports weight using a 3.75 mm needle and is quite fitting. The yarns for this Breed Mesa are mostly DK weight and I used a 4 mm needle throughout. It has significantly more ease but is not overly large.

IMG_2220These are the yarns I have used from top to bottom:

  • Plum: Finnsheep, raised and handpainted by Susie Horne in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia. I bought a single skein of this at my first Australian Sheep and Wool Show maybe seven years ago. It is next-to-the-skin soft, a really lovely yarn.
  • Cream: Unlabelled stash yarn but most likely to be Patons Merino Totem Machine Washable. This came from an op shop purchase, some was labelled and some was just wound into balls but it looked like the same stuff.
  • Silver: New Lanark DK in Limestone, purchased from the mill shop in 2012. The trip to New Lanark, in Scotland was a wonderful day for me…labour history, utopianism and hydro-spun yarn, all in the one place!
  • Light gray: Granite Haven Gotland, homespun style in silver purchased at Cheryl Crosbie’s open farm day a couple of years ago. This is a plump, soft and squishy yarn, more of a light worsted weight than DK.
  • Dark gray: Shetland handspun by Ingirid Eunson (hand written on a luggage label), bought in Lerwick by my parents on a trip many years ago. It is slightly lighter in weight than the rest and this creates a soft drape right where it is needed. It is woollen spun, lighter than air and the slight, natural variegation is beautiful.
  • Black: New Lanark in Natural Black. The New Lanark yarns are a blend of Swaledale, Cheviot, Hebridean, Kent Romney, Jacob, Shetland from the UK and Merino from New Zealand. They are woollen spun and have a slightly coarse feel which softens after washing much like the Shetland yarns do.

IMG_2226Just by accident, this project also explores the fabrics created by simply processed yarns and a machine washable yarn (which I had in my stash and was the shade and weight I needed). On its own, I have never really considered the feel of machine washable yarn. I don’t often buy it as it is considerably more resource intensive in its production. When knitted up next to these other yarns however, I can see how it drapes heavily lacking the barb-like projections of the un-treated wool fibre shaft. It lacks the structure, life and character of the other yarns. The bits I am referring to are the first cream wedge closest to the neck and cream sleeve cuff. It feels very very different from the other fabrics, which whilst all different in their own way have a quality that makes them distinct from this highly processed yarn.

I am glad the machine washable yarn is in here. It demonstrates in a sensory way the implications of additional yarn processing. I am also enjoying all the breeds in here and their various sensory qualities. It feels like wearing a sampler.