Breed Specific Yarns
This week I want to talk a little bit about what I’m loving on my needles this year: breed-specific, sheepy yarns. They have so much texture, bounce, and personality - and I can’t get enough of them. Later this week, Samantha from Lavender Lune and I will be releasing Forest Finds. This sweater uses Roan, which is 75% Cormo and 25% Corriedale.
Meet Corriedale & Cormo
Corriedale is a rustic-ish wool, with a fiber diameter of 21.5-24.5 microns* (medium to fine). Bred from merino and Lincoln or Leicester sheep, it combines the bounce and softness of merino with a touch of glossiness and a long staple. In Roan, 10% of the Corriedale is colored, contributing a rich undertone to the yarn’s color.
Cormo is a blend of Corriedale and merino, with a micron count that ranges from 16-23. Together, Roan is bouncy, stable, and delicately thick-and thin, with low pilling and lots of structure. It is light and warm for sportweight, without a lot of bulk. Finally, it’s absolutely made for textured knits - that crisp stitch definition shines in a design with lots of stitch contrast, and its nearly-matte appearance means that light bounce isn’t hiding all your definition.
*Microns & knitting - your scratchy sweater explained
Understanding microns is the key to knowing if a yarn will be itchy. The wider the fiber, the more coarse. Having a tablespoon of sand in your bed is more irritating than having a tablespoon of flour in your bed, right?
Tip - we all have a different threshold at which we find yarn irritating. If you have a fiber you love and can wear comfortably - contact the manufacturer and find out what the micron count is! Then you can predict yarn success even when shopping online.
A micron is one-millionth of a meter, and in fiber, is a measure of the diameter of each strand.
Merino varies from 15-25, although it can be even lower.
Yak, alpaca and superfine merino are some of the lowest micron counts, but Cormo and Rambouillet are right behind and overlapping them.
Mohair, in contrast, ranges from 25-40, which is why it feels so soft in the skein, and can be so dang itchy on the body. The wide range also explains why sometimes mohair is totally wearable against the skin, and sometimes feels like taking a bath in spiders.
Lettlopi is a rustic yarn, with a micron count of 36+ on the exterior fibers.
Isn’t ‘Sheepy’ yarn… itchy?
For me? Actually, yeah.
But you know what? We ALL deserve to get to play with special fibers. I got sick of always making yarn substitutions to work around my limitations and this sweater is my answer - we’re going to work with them instead.
Forest Finds is for layering. It has a wide neck, so the collar isn’t sitting along your skin. It has a hip-grazing length, so it doesn’t depend on a high-waist and it therefore won’t graze your belly - and also because if it’s a layering piece it ought to keep you warm! There’s a smidge of extra length on the sleeve with a generous cuff, so you can flip it back and have your shirtsleeves just poke out, without looking like you messed up your sleeve length. The armholes are a smidge deeper than normal, so you can layer beneath it comfortably - but still slide it under a coat. At medium to fine coarseness, this is a yarn that most knitters will be able to wear comfortably. But even if you’re sensitive, this sweater is still FOR YOU.
Roan is a special yarn - and it comes in limited quantities
Roan is sourced from small batch, locally sourced wool from small family farms in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Because of limited availability of these fibers and the mills that spin the yarn, you can’t get it just anywhere. In fact, Lavender Lune only sells it directly to knitters on their website.
Now, I know some of you have big festival plans this year, and might like to squeeze in one last, super-special knit to wear. To give you a headstart on casting on, Lavender Lune has agreed to open up a handful of exclusive kits now. She has enough for 8 sweaters in stock - one in each colorway below. You buy the yarn directly from her, and upon release, I'll send over your digital copy of the pattern.
Olive You This is the color I used, and it’s true olive green. Warm and inviting, like the floor of an old-growth pine forest soaked in sunlight. Norway Lake It’s hard to look at this color and not think FROST. To me, this color is like someone draped cornflower blue onto humpback whale gray. It has a crystalline color to it, sharp and fresh. Natural This undyed variety really shows off the crisp, special texture of this yarn. It’s a soft light gray, with warm lowlights. It reminds me of the downy feathers on an owl's chest. If you're curious to see how all the things I talked about above play out in yarn, go ahead and check it out - it's obvious in the skein! Bellatrix This is a Victorian pink - a little dusty, undershot with the warm grays from the colored Corriedale. It’s a delicate color, more neutral than statement. Flannel This is a cozy barn red, subdued just a tad with the gray undertones. It’s a rich, complex color with lots of dimension. Alice This is a dusty, dark wisteria color. We all know that there are good purples and bad purples, and this is one of the good ones - sophisticated and delicate. Spice This warm color evades easy description - it’s in the magenta family, but is more nuanced and complex. Think light ruby, wine stained lips, and cone flower petals. Fernwood This is a vibrant teal, with the gray lowlights translating as gently tonal spruce. If you’re someone who looks good in gem tones, this is a do-not-miss. If I were going to knit myself a second sample, this color would be my siren.