Two nights ago I finished the first project in the great wool experiment. I love this hat. It's squishy, very pretty, and super quick to knit. It also fits my big head pretty well (I added one extra repeat of the hills and valley pattern). I'm hoping it fits Ernie's. If not, I have myself a super-warm new hat!
About the yarn (since this is the wool experiment). Upon first grabbing the ball of Rowan's Pure Life British Breeds Suffolk yarn, I thought, "hmmm...itchy, definitely crunchy--I can see why Clara Parkes uses that description--and rather hairy." There are bits of different hairs--white and black--that stick out here and there throughout the yarn.
I did notice that the yarn was very round. It's three ply, and upon untwisting it to look at the plies, I noticed that the individual plies are all smooth and very lofty. The plies almost look like wool "cotton candy." When plied together, the resulting yarn is round and very smooshy--despite the initial impression of "itch." When knitted, the resulting fabric is so cushy, yet strong, that I wanted to sit and squeeze it.
I was worried that wearing the yarn might itch my forehead or ears. After putting it on, though, all I felt was warmth. I also worried that knitting with it might irritate my hands. I found that after starting to work with the yarn, it didn't feel itchy. I did notice a sheepy smell, which was more enhanced upon opening the zip-loc bag I keep my projects in to protect them from curious kitties. The smell definitely added to the charm of the yarn and I found myself smelling it from time to time as I progressed in my knitting.
Because of the climate where we live, I can't imagine knitting a sweater or jacket out of this yarn, though I believe that it would be like a great big hug on a cold day if I lived somewhere cold. Realistically, I can see knitting a blanket. I saw one on Ravelry that used different breeds (thus different colors) in a log-cabin blanket. It was very pretty and something I might want to try eventually. I can also see some cabled throw pillows or a bag--slightly felted.
I'm really glad I started this journey into wool discovery. I can't wait to see what the next projects bring. I've already casted on project #2, the Flicka Hat, in Fresco yarn by Classic Elite. I'll talk more about that tomorrow.