Earlier this month, a sibling asked me what I would like for Christmas. ‘Wool,’ I replied. But I didn’t really mean that. I just meant something with which I could knit, regardless of its fibre content. I meant yarn.
In following the Wovember campaign, I have started to be more mindful of the distinction between wool and yarn, and to challenge my assumptions about the former, particularly concerning price. My yarn-buying tends towards the cheap and cheerful, perhaps because I feel my skill as a knitter does not justify expensive materials. But then I looked at prices of such things as Cascade 220 and the gorgeous Excelana, and was very pleasantly surprised: high-quality materials at a very fair price. Materials that will last.
I have also started to look at the fibre content of my clothes, eyes opened wide by the Wovember Hall of Shame. My ‘good wool skirt’, whatever the moths might think, is not especially woolly. Nor are my hat and gloves. I baulked at the price of a 100% wool coat last year, but it has proved one of my best investments: smoky blue boiled wool, with a snazzy Cadbury’s purple lining, it is well into its second winter of near-constant wear and, bar a couple of coffee splashes, look as good as new.
Above all, though, Wovember has encouraged me to make a linguistic shift, to engage with the semantics of my craft. To draw distinctions between yarns based on their materials, not to lazily and vaguely refer to it all as wool.
So, with new projects in mind, I am going to order some wool. You know: the stuff that comes off sheep.