I took my first trip to Bendigo for the Australian Sheep and Wool show this year and I just had a blast. I caught up with some friends and hit the wool craft stalls and found some beautiful yarns that I will enjoy knitting with.
I went into the show with the intention of exploring new yarns from Australian indie dyers and hoped to also find some small flock yarns being sold by the farmers themselves. I also had an interest to take a look at yarn from sheep breeds other than merino. I just feel like the market these days is flooded with merino and mostly superwash merino too, but this year I have had a growing interest in learning about different breeds and I am curious to experience how their fibre will knit up.
I am extremely happy with the haul that I came home with. I found exactly what I was looking for and came home some Polwarth, Shetland, Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) as well as the unavoidable merino and even some superwash too. I'm not totally anti-superwash, I just wish to avoid it if I have other choices, but yesterday some absolutely beautiful colours jumped at me and I had to grab them even though they were a superwash.*
So, what did I buy? Well, I can't write about all of the purchases but here are a few of my favourites.
Tarndie Polwarth DK/8ply in natural undyed silver grey.
This is my most exciting purchase because I have been eyeing off this yarn for a while now. I want to knit Joji Locatelli's True cardigan and I wanted to make it with yarn that reflected the name of the pattern. I chose the Tarndie Polwarth because it is wool obtained from the farm that developed the Polwarth breed back in the 1880s. According to their information flyer the sheep that they currently have in the flock are the descendants of the original Polwarth sheep and the yarns that they sell are truly "single origin" yarns. The other thing that appeals to me is the undyed nature of the yarn. They have 3 undyed colours - silver grey, brown and black - I think the silver grey will be perfect for the garment I have in mind. I also love how they sell nice big 205g skeins so I estimate that my 5 will be enough to make the True cardigan.
Little Plum Yarns Lush Sock in Sari.
This was actually my first purchase because Little Plum Yarns is a dyer that I have been hearing a lot about from my friend Jenny. I picked up one mini skein (among other things) of Sari coloured Lush Sock which is one of the few superwash merino yarns that I picked up. I bought it because I am hoping to match this yarn with a skein of green Miss Click Clack sock yarn that is short a bit of yardage for Kelly Brooker's My Aunt Doris cardigan for Miss L. I plan to alternate the two skeins and hope that the colours can blend well and just give the cardigan a nice subtle variegated look.
Oyster Yarns Duchess in Secrets at Midnight.
This DK weight beauty is a blend of extra fine merino, silk and silver stellina sparkle (75/20/5). It is so soft and squishy and the sparkle is a nice touch that gives the yarn a bit of extra prettiness. I think the dark blue will be easy to match with other items of clothing and I plan to knit something to gift to our dear friend who put us up for the night in Bendigo.
Dyed by Hand Yarns, Big Blue Stocking Fingering weight Superwash BFL in Purple Sea Urchin.
This colour just jumped at me and I couldn't resist. I bought 2 skeins and also added a skein of Fog Bound (grey) so that I can make a cardigan or sweater with the two colours because another one of my knitting goals is to knit more colourwork patterns. This is the first lot of BFL I've bought and I really notice how the yarn takes on the dye differently to merino. It has a beautiful sheen that is similar to the way silk blends reflect colours but this is a 100% wool yarn.
Jamieson & Smith 100% Shetland Wool from the Shetland Islands.
I bought this from the Purl Box stand where I also picked up the Oyster Yarn and I got it because I am just curious about Shetland wool. The touch of this wool is not soft or squishy, so I like to think of it as a workhorse wool. I can imagine the fisherman wives in the Shetland Islands knitting with Shetland wool hundreds of years ago because their men needed warm, sturdy, water and wind repellent jumpers for daily wear. I love the tradition and history that is embedded in this breed of sheep and their wool. I think a pair of cabled mitts will be best suited to this yarn rather than any accessory that would be sitting against more sensitive skin.
Along with the yarn I did also find the time to pop into the sheep sheds and wander among the animals that grow this most special fibre. I find the sheep a soothing and peaceful creature. How fabulous is it to be a walking squishy ball of wool? I love being clothed in sheep's clothing and I love these creatures that God created to provide us with that precious fibre.
Now I've got some serious knitting time ahead of me, so it's time to pick up the needles.
* I'll explain my thoughts on superwash yarns another day, today I want to just enjoy my Bendi purchases.