Wovember Words: An exploration of breeds
Last week we had Aless Parsons share her thoughts about starting a British breed blanket with her #breedswatchalong squares. TEAM WOVEMBER were bowled over when Hilary Forrest, from Oregon, sent us her picture of her amazing breed specific sampler blanket. Each square is knit in the breed yarn and the name of the breed has been added later, using duplicate stitch. Hilary explains here the inspiration behind the blanket.
I first became interested in specific breed yarns when I took a class at a fiber festival several years ago. We tried about 10 yarns in the class and started to learn about the world of breed specific wool. I wanted to try more breeds but didn’t want to just leave the swatches in a bag in the closet so, inspired by some quilts I have seen, I decided to make a blanket from the squares.
When I started to source yarn for this project, I wanted to use commercially processed, high quality yarns. I also didn’t want to pay a lot for shipping, so I decided to get as much as I could from a few suppliers. Blacker Yarns fit that perfectly. When the breed specific yarns went on sale last winter I tried to get as many different breeds as I could in DK or aran weight – I ended up with about 20! Another five came from Solitude Wools in Virginia, when I saw their booth at a show and the last few from different places. The breeds that I ended up with were very random – I pretty much just took what was available at the time.
Some of the yarns were really wonderful to knit with and some were a little more challenging, but all of them were interesting. The differences in lustre, halo, drape, etc. stand out clearly when you see them next to each other. Some of the yarns that have more variations in the color are truly lovely to look at and, of course, the softer yarns like Merino and Polwarth are wonderful to touch, but every one is beautiful in its own way. I also enjoyed looking up a little bit of information about each breed as I went along.
I didn’t have much of a plan when I started this project. Probably ‘vague idea’ is more appropriate here than ‘plan’. I just dove in and started knitting squares and figured things out as I went along. I did a provisional cast on and did not bind off each square so that I could later graft them together into the columns. After the squares were knit I used duplicate stitch to put the names on. Then I picked up stitches along the side of each column, knit the framing part, and then bound off to the next column over. It was a bit tricky to join the squares as almost every one had a different gauge and number of rows than the yarn used for the framing. The final step was picking up over 1000 stitches to do the outer border.
Hilary, what an incredible and lasting memory of your discovery of wool. It is particularly wonderful that you included wool of ALL different textures and characteristics and chose to celebrate such myriad breeds. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.
Tonight SUE BLACKER will be here with LOUISE to talk about the KnitBritish Breed Swatch-along and her favourite yarns, which all offer some thing interesting in terms of characteristics and longevity as knitted fabric. The question of “itchy” wool shall also be broached in that post! Don’t miss it!