Monday, January 4, 2010

Romney Mitts

I was at a bookstore in Cambridge the other day, and found a great book In Sheep's Clothing, a Handspinner's Guide to Wool, by Nola and Jane Fournier. I got home and started reading...So many sheep... I thought wouldn't it be fun to spin yarn and knit projects from as many kinds of sheep as possible?

So here we are with candidate number 1: the Romney Sheep.

I wont bore you with a dry technical description, I will just say, that like so many great things, The Romney Sheep came from England, and a British colony, New Zealand improved the breed to produce a lustrous fiber with a tight crimp with a medium staple length of 5 to 7 inches, making it an ideal spinning fiber for the beginner. Best of all, the Romney comes in beautiful natural colors.

I purchased 16 ounces of silver Romney roving.

I hugged and smelled the soft, fuzzy roving. I set out to spin it over the fold using a short forward draw for a semi-worsted. (But between you, and me, the fiber just told me what it wanted me to do!)

I plied 2 singles together to get a light worsted yarn. I love how the lustre of the fiber expresses itself gently in the spun yarn and still has a soft halo.

I never spin with a project in mind. I prefer to let the fiber, and its yarn tell me what they want to be. I had barely spun 4 oz, that I heard the yarn calling for mitts.

But which Romney mitts? When in doubt, I always turn to one of my favorite EZ books, the Knitter's Almanac. In the Mittens for Next Winter chapter, I went right to the mitered mittens. I did a quick gauge, 5 stitches/inch, not a problem. If EZ has taught us one thing it is to work with the yarn. I changed the total number of stithes to fit my plans, grabbed my mini chop stitcks in US 5 and started knitting this delightfully mindless pattern thnumbless, as my plan is to do EZ's thumb trick (snip a stitch, unravel a few stitches, pick up, and knit a thumb.)

Before I knew it, mitten 1 was done.

I can hear the word embroidery, there, can't you?

Here is what is waiting for me tonight, fun with my other mitt!