In March I escaped to Scotland for a holiday and spent time at Edinburgh Wool Fest. Busman’s holiday so speak. I don’t often get away but last weekend I have been off exploring again. Visiting very old friends (from University days many moons ago). They have a farm on the north end of the Isle of Man. I don’t go to easy to get to places. Before we set off they had told us they were thinking of taking on milking sheep!!
Well that surprised you didn’t it!? Surprised me too largely ’cause, well we don’t do we? Even if you come from a farming background, milk comes from cows doesn’t it? When I thought about it I do know sheep can be milked. Feta comes from ewes milk and even good old Wensleydale Cheese was originally a ewes milk cheese ( I don’t know if the breed is a milking sheep). Deep in our history eating sheep’s milk was normal. Many of our tall UK sheep breeds were dual purpose milk and wool. Why eat your assets!!
The breed they are looking at is Zwartbles originally from The Netherlands where they are milked. We have had a little of the wool from a local herd but there is none in the shop at the moment. I was sure I’d seen some somewhere……..thats when I realised that the just cast on cardigan I was planning to take as the travel project was….. John Arbon Harvest Hues which is a Merino Zwartbles blend.
It is a 4ply so I’m working on a 3.25mm ( with my sloppy knitting I needed to go down a size to work on stocking stitch). The pattern is a top down cardigan in garter stitch. I like the top down technique because: one it lets me fit the neck first (the tricky bit if you are a big girl) and two if I have a fixed amount of stash yarn that bit get done first and the length isn’t such a panic. The sleeves get finished last so they can be shorter if I’m running short too. I like how you can cast of for a neck edge and provided you get the proportions of stitches right for the front, sleeves and back you just increase regularly for and get a Raglan sleeve top and the stripes match!!!
I’m working on circulars they are easy to travel with as you can scoop it all up with the needle points out and the cable holds all the stitches together. However I do get people trying to work out what on earth I’m making as the unconventional piece of knitting grows!! The wool is a little fluffy at the moment but it is knitting well and in the garter stitch it is making a thick light fabric and so far I have used about a quarter of the gold colour skein (100g) and almost 1 skein of the sycamore green. Plenty left of that purchase to get to the end …. a test run for some Manx wool maybe.