Wednesday, November 20, 2013


At TNNA last summer, I got to experience the 'other side' -- the angle where instead of being the one bringing things to the show to sell, you're the one buying for an end customer. While I personally found this angle more stressful than working in a booth, it was also a lot of fun to be able to see what everyone was offering and choose what was going to come to our shop.

One of the yarns that really stuck out to us was Titus, which is produced in Leeds by Baa Ram Ewe, and which we currently carry in our yarn store, The Sheep's Stockings. This yarn really spoke to me as a spinner because it was a mixture of some more unusual wools than what we typically see. With a blend of 50% Wensleydale, 30% UK Alpaca and 20% BFL, this yarn has a lot of interesting qualities.

Wensleydale is well known for its sheen and drape. It has mixed love among spinners because the long staple fibers also mean that it can go from being smooth to being coarse very quickly in the wrong hands. It is never really a 'next to skin' soft fiber for me, personally -- I find it a bit itchy. I do love how it takes color, though, and have a little in my personal spinning stash that I someday will make into a pair of lined mittens or a scarf that will go over, not under, garments.

Alpaca is, of course, a fiber that most people have dealt with before. While it isn't specified on the label which type of alpaca (huacaya or suri) was used, I think it's pretty safe to assume that huacaya, being the more common of the two, is likely. This lends the yarn a softness that I normally don't attribute to Wensleydale, along with a slight halo that makes your final garments very light and fluffy. I love how it almost extends the glow of the wool's color.

Blue Faced Leicester, or BFL, is a very common fiber and a favorite among spinners. Soft, fluffy, bouncy and shiny, it takes color well and spins up easily. I am almost sure that this inclusion, combined with the alpaca, is what renders the Titus softness.

Since these three are combined, the final yarn is next-to-skin soft and also has all of the qualities that make people love Wensleydale and Alpaca. Drape, intense color, and sheen create a yarn that could be good for any range of items. I personally made one of the patterns recommended (the Whitlam Cowl), but I could also see this yarn being quite excellent for garments. I for one would love to see an expanded color range next year, perhaps including a lighter gray or mustard yellow. I could very easily imagine this yarn becoming a cozy cardigan that I could reach for most mornings!

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