The click of the seasons is something that gives me pleasure beyond words, and Summer to Fall, not surprisingly, has got to be the most special time of year for us knitters. It's usually about the second week of October when my fingers start to twitch even more than usual for soft, wool sweaters on my needles and my eyes desire a bath of materials in rich, autumn heathers.
What else does October mean? It's the one time of year that I knowingly cast my self-control to the wind and embrace even my most irrational wool cravings, which means I generally acquire more during this period than any other. So, in the spirit of full disclosure, I might as well share with you some recent acquisitions from my travels and yarns that are frankly keeping me up at night with giddy anticipation.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Historic Harrisville in New Hampshire -- home of some of my very favorite American-milled yarns and a historic treasure for our national textile tradition. I've been on a major lace knitting stint lately (before the sweater monster came to bite) and these are both slated for woollie shawls.
Harrisville Designs is like a wool-lovers paradise: walls of colorful, sturdy wools housed in a 2-century-old brick building nestled directly over a stream (if you peak through a knot-hole in the floor boards you'll see the flowing waters of the stream below). A destination for any knitter's New England itinerary... and a destination I hope to return to in the future.
Another wool that has recently sent me headlong into infatuation comes from the opposite coast and my home region of the Pacific Northwest. Imperial Stock Ranch makes beautiful, Oregon-grown yarns from their 125+ year old flock of Columbia Sheep (the farm, which is a National Historic District, has been responsible in part for developing this wonderful breed). The yarns are minimally processed using antique spinning techniques (a la many other favorite yarns you've heard me wax poetic about in the past -- Beaverslide Dry Goods in MT and Marr Haven in MI, most notably) and come in both two-ply woolen spun yarns (yum!) and a wonderful unspun bulky "puck", similar to Unspun Icelandic Wool. While the company has been in business for decades, their recent push into the world of hand knitting is one that I think is a very welcome addition to the industry.
And no Fall knitting would be complete without a healthy dose of Shetland Jumper-Weight wools straight from the island. You may be sick of me talking about my wool-standby, but I do start to get nervous if I'm away from this stuff for too long. To me, Shetland yarns are truly fine wines in our world of materials. With these? More lace. Always more lace.
I must sound like a glutton at this point, pulling in all this wool for Fall (there's more too...but we won't go there today) but if you can't be a wool glutton in the Fall, when can you be? And there's no better way to spend the afternoon than quietly working stitches in a good, solid wool as you watch the fading golden light play across the increasingly bare branches.
Despite the natural world telling us that Fall symbolizes the end of something, to me it represents a new beginning and a new inspiration. I hope you are feeling inspired by the wools under your roof and the cooler breezes that are causing us to grab our woolens on the way out the door. Lets enjoy it while it's here!