Now that I’m weaving baby wraps for a living much of my time is spent with fibres such as cotton and linen. Lovely as they are they’re just not wool. I was just finishing a custom wrap and found myself wondering how the rest of the warp would work with a wool weft. Now this is something I’ve been pondering for a while, wool wraps are out there and I attempted one a few weeks back with not unsuccessful results, just not the ones I’d planned on. I used some Jaggerspun Zephyr, a blend of silk and merino that, in my book anyway, isn’t what I’d call wool. Well, technically it involves sheep in some of the process somewhere along the line, but not proper sheep. Not the kind that you’d find dotted about the Scottish Highlands anyhow. Now a Cheviot or Blue Face Leicester definitely fall into the sheep category, mention a Jacob and we’re really talking sheep.
(photo courtesy The Jacob Sheep Society).
However, I didn’t have any suitable Jacob wool lying around, lots of fleece but no yarn. I did happen to have a large cone of undyed Shetland; what could be more perfect? The custom part of the warp is going to a Shetlander so especially perfect.
Oh my, I’d forgotten the wonder of wool. The smell and feel of it, the promise of cosiness and the feeling that all is right in the world.
Now Shetland weaving yarn comes ‘greasy’, I know there’s a very important reason for this and I can’t for the life of me remember why but it makes it feel even more sheepy.
Weaving with it was wonderful, it made me feel like I was home again.
The best bit though is the wet finishing; obviously you can’t just throw wool (not normal wool that hasn’t been treated with nasty chemicals to make it ‘superwash’) into the washing machine. So into the bath it went with several kettles of boiling water on top (our boiler doesn’t really get the water quite hot enough) for a good soak. Then the ‘bloom’ appears, that lovely kind of fuzziness that begs you to stroke it…oh I LOVE wool. Proper wooly wool. If I were a baby this is what I would want to be wrapped in, never mind your namby pamby merino, no proper WOOL. I subscribe to the Elizabeth Zimmermann philosophy on babies and wool; she insisted on dressing even babies with wool allergies in wool. Not because she had a slightly sadistic streak but because wool is one of nature’s best materials – warm when it’s cold yet breathable and cool when it’s warm.
She suggested that if you wanted a wool that was machine washable and dry-able, maybe you should wonder why babies can’t be similarly treated?
So I love the wrap. It hasn’t sold yet; I’ve made it clear in the listing that it could be perceived as itchy (not to me but I once had a ball of hand dyed rare breed wool return by someone who was unhappy it wasn’t soft enough) and I kind of hope it doesn’t sell so I can turn it into the most beautiful blanket and snuggle down into a lovely sheepy wooly hug.