Wet Coast Wools Podcast Episode 47: 100% Non-Feral Sheep

March 27, 2018

Wet Coast Wools Podcast Episode 47: 100% Non-Feral Sheep

Episode 47: 100% Non-Feral Sheep 
Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Welcome to Old and New Viewers 
Coming to you from Vancouver, BC Canada

Please leave comments and questions in the Ravelry thread.

Kelsey - fiddlebach and KzipKnits on instagram and Ravelry 
Glenda - Glenda on Ravelry, glendamcdonald on Instagram 
Wet Coast Wools - WetCoastWools on all the things

FOs (Finished Objects)

Kelsey: Wearing - A wool cardigan from Italy that we want to reverse engineer so we can knit a version.

  • “Medium” Jelly Fish from the Jellyfish Trio by Sachiyo Ishii - Free pattern on Raverly. It’s cool to find an easy toy pattern for these that isn’t knit! I’m using some random old acrylic and polyester yarn that has been in my stash, probably since I was a teenager.

Glenda: Wearing - Autumn Leaves Stole by Jared Flood and Il Grande Favorito by Isabell Kraemer

  • Anders by Sorren Kerr - Ella Rae DK Superwash Merino. 6-12 month size. I ran out of dark green so I had to alter the pattern on the sleeve. I think I was short by about 10 meters or so. I wanted to test this superwash wool before bringing it into the store - I am very selective about superwash wools.

Know Your Wool - Superwash Wool

  • Superwash wool is wool that has been treated in a way that removes the scales of the fibre, or coats them with a polymer or resin so that they can’t stick to each other. Superwash yarns can be treated by either or both of these processes. This latter treatment uses a form of chemical polymer treatment - kind of like what conditioner does to your hair but more permanent. ‘Superwash’ seems to be a trademark of some kind, as there is a difference between ‘superwash’ wool, and ‘washable’ wool.

  • Typically, superwash treatments have not been great for the environment - the chemicals used in the process are very harmful, and they can contaminate the wastewater. A lot depends on which chemicals are used, and how that waste water is treated.

  • There are several newer treatments in the US and Europe which make use of more environmentally friendly chemicals. For example, O-Wool in Philadelphia and Scholler in Germany. Shoeller’s EXP (ex-pollution) method uses a natural salt treatment to remove the scales, and then coats the fibres with a globally-certified organic substance to stop the scales from felting together. This process does not contaminate the wastewater. Swans Island wool has an Ecowash® treatment that uses a natural enzyme to prevent felting - this one is a Washable wool, not a superwash wool.

  • Regardless of the process, once you remove the scales, you alter the characteristics of the wool. Some of these are positive: superwashed wool will feel softer - especially when coated with a resin of some kind - and it tends to accept dye more readily. On the downside, it can also make the wool very stretchy. When the scales which give wool its stability are removed, you lose some of that bounce and structure. It is not uncommon for a superwash garment to stretch out of shape when it is washed, or with continued wear. Some superwash wools say the way to ‘fix’ this is to put it in the dryer to shrink it back, kind of like you do with cotton. I personally don’t like the idea of putting wool in the dryer - but that’s just me.

  • Some superwash wools are better than others, of course. I’ve used some which pill like mad before it even comes off the needles, or that look like an old rag after only one wash. I have also used some beautiful hand-dyed superwash yarns, which last really well.

  • Note that it is also possible to ‘wash off’ the superwash treatments - they are not 100% felt-proof.

  • Superwash wools are sometimes blended with nylon - as in sock yarn. This can reduce the stretch factor a bit, but it depends on what you make with it. If you use a superwash wool yarn at a loose gauge, for example, it will probably stretch out of shape more than an untreated wool yarn. To combat this, knit the garment at a tight gauge. I don’t love superwash wools for my own garments, but I appreciate that sometimes you need easy care wool. This is why I like to sample the yarn before I bring it in for the shop.

Links for further reading:

WIPS (Works in Progress) 

  • Waiting for Rain by Sylvia McFadden/Softsweater. Made with Briggs & Little Sport in the oddly named Grey Heather.
  • Atlin Sweater by Pip & Pin, made with Dakota yarn from the Fidalgo Artisan Yarn store in Anacortes, WA. I picked one of the few undyed colourways from a shop that is entirely hand-dyed yarns. This is a sheepy, smooshy yarn made from 100% Domestic Wool. I have a few skeins of a darker brown, and may make a contrast bottom & sleeves. I will see how far I get with the main colour. This is all I want to work on these days, but I am forcing myself to knit on other things as well.


Store News

  • FixFrogFinish2018 KAL and Spring Sock Stashdown KAL with Bernadette are still going on. Check out our Ravelry group for all the information
  • We have a new sock mini vending machine!!

Podcasts Mentioned 
Coffee and Craft Podcast with Bernadette 
The Make Things Club

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