I have, perhaps, been an unconscionable time knitting The Garment. Designing and creating something to fit someone I have never met has been one reason. The other one is, however, a purely selfish one. I love, love, love, love, love this wool and I do not want to ever stop knitting with it. Sure, it is the Wool of the World! Three ply, a gorgeous shade of brown (which refuses to come across in the photograph at left), strong and smooth while still holding surprise bits of straw, etc., it proudly sits on my needles and wraps around and glides through my fingers, creating a fabric that is both sturdy and elegant. It smells like wool should and it almost looks good enough to eat!
I have knit with all kinds of materials from sewing thread to shredded strips of fabric and plastic bags. We live in a great age of knitting; the choice of yarns, strings, wire, etc., is limitless. No matter – I always yearn to return to pure wool. It is what I learned to knit with and grew up with, not making the acquaintance of acrylic, let alone cashmere, angora, etc., as knitting yarns until I was in my twenties. I miss wool if I spend too much time away from it, working on socks with a nylon blend, soft cotton for baby clothing or stained glass ladder scarves. Perhaps that is another reason I am attracted to historical knitting, most of which I do in wool.
I recently reviewed my stash of twenty- two oversize plastic bins which contain wool, cotton and synthetic yarns, some dating back to the 1950’s. Most of it I adore, some of it I cannot recall purchasing or receiving, some of it I wonder at, confused as to why I ever bought it or so much of it! There are, however, many old friends in those bins, including a skein or small ball left over from something my mother knit for me as a child or my early attempts at clothing my toys. Some of it was given to me (that fabulous mid-20th century sock yarn that works so well for mid and late 19th century knitting), some of it is rough, dull-coloured 1960’s Aran wool which is just as treasured as the undyed handspun laceweight wool or gloriously hand dyed sock yarn from last year. Looking at it all at once, bins opened, lids scattered, I felt as though I had a museum of yarn, spanning almost 60 years and the products of many countries. Each skein or scrap has a history, and, very soon, what little will be left over from The Garment, will join them – with its own special story within a story