Saturday, April 20, 2013

Beyond Merino

I should quit my job.  First of all, the hours are terrible.  Works starts at 5am, if I'm lucky.  I don't get done until 7pm, if I'm lucky. And the littlest of my three slave drivers wakes me up once or twice in the middle of the night, if I'm lucky.  ... But he's just so cute, right?  I can't resist him. So, I guess I'll keep working.  And I DO get paid in kisses and snuggles, and the pay is great.  Ok, maybe I'll quit sleeping instead.

The bottom line is that I need more knitting hours in the day, because there is just so much YARN. Today I went to my very first knitting retreat which took place in scenic, rural, central Virginia, nestled in the foothills of the Shenandoah Mountains.  It was the kind of place where you kept expecting to see hobbits. The special guest speakers (and the reason why I went) were the ladies of Solitude Wool.  They raise sheep and spin breed specific yarn.  Breed. Specific. Yarn.  It's taking yarn snobbery to a whole new level.

Is it just me, or is there a lot of merino out there?  It seems like most of the wool I come across is merino.  And I like merino. It's very nice.  But there's also Corriedale.  Romney. Cotswold. Border Leicester.  Targhee. These are AMAZING wools, and many of them are raised right here in Virginia.

Cotswold.  This one is my favorite.  It positively glistens.
Gorgeous Romney photobombed by a glass of chardonnay.
This is a skein of undyed alpaca from Platinum Alpacas, which was a vendor a the retreat.  The lady at the table was just so sweet, and no one was going over there.  I don't know why because her yarn was super soft and very weighty for alpaca.  I see a future Milo Vest for my little boy out of this amazing yarn...
At this knitting retreat they passed around spun yarn and the raw fleece that goes with it for these and other sheep breeds.  (If you want a little taste of what this must have been like, check out The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook.  I am crazy about this book. I have it in hard copy AND on my Kindle.  Yeah...)

What amazed me was the luster and shine of the Cotswold, Targhee and Romney yarn.  Ok, I fell in love with them.  And dropped some money on some gorgeous yarn.  I left it in the bag, because it will still feel new when I have time to actually knit with it.  It may be that now I only knit with yarn from Solitude Wool.  It is amazing.  I'm in love.

Here are a few facts about sheep that I picked up today that I think I can really use:

1.  A sheep costs, like, $200. (Feeding them is kind of expensive though...)
2. You can keep 3-5 sheep on one acre of land.  (I live on 1/3 of an acre!  That's 1-2 sheep.  Now to convince the HOA...)
3. Sheep do not require shelter.  They do require shade.  (I can handle that.)

So, I need a sheep.  Or two. 


  1. Devin, your knitting is amazing. I'm still on scarves. And hats. And also terrified of my local yarn store. So, I'm just a knitting mess. The knitting retreat sounds amazing and since I'm in central Virginia, I must ask where and is there another one?
    Also, we just bought goats for our property and the lady that sold them to us also has sheep on her property. I asked what she did with the sheep's wool (assuming she'd be a knitter and we could stand there and talk for hours. But, no.) She throws the wool away. Let me repeat: THROWS THE WOOL AWAY. Can you believe it? I couldn't. So I offered to take it from her and see if I could wash and prepare the wool for spinning. Her reply, "HaHaHaHaHaHa. It stinks. You don't want to do that." But I do. Seriously, how fun would that be? So much fun. Alas, she didn't call me after she sheared her sheep. So sad. All that wool in the trash. *tear*
    Great blog! I love seeing your projects. You inspire me. :)

    1. Lani! Wow - she throws the wool away?! What a waste. I don't spin either, but I may at some future time. When my children start sleeping at night. I'm glad to hear you're still knitting! Bigger, scarier projects are really not that hard. You could totally do it. Go visit that yarn store and you'll fall in love with all the yarn, and then you'll just HAVE to make a sweater. Let me know if you ever get any of that stinky wool, and I'll let you know if I find any more retreats! :)

  2. Oops! Just saw the link for the retreat. Sounds and looks awesome!