Tuesday, October 18, 2016


Recently a gifted knitter described the raw material being offered by one shop as "not being from any sheep you'd ever want to meet". That is the essence of lesson number one for home production: use good materials.

In the Sixties, Paula Simmons of Suquamish, Washington, revolutionized wool production by searching for black lambs, that had become rare. She said the mass wool industry wanted only white fleece, because it is easier to dye. Simmons wanted wool that had its own color. She fed her sheep with the greatest care, even using vitamin supplements, an unusual practice for the time. 

Simmons named her yarn after the sheep of origin. I mentioned this to someone who had owned a sweater knit from Simmons' yarn, and he began to reminisce about Moonbeam, the sweater in question. Moonbeam was silky and warm beyond even cashmere, like the softest, finest hair.

My mother knit a sweater from Simmons yarn to give to a young woman working for a major design firm in New York. Danielle said the staff in her office went nuts about her cabled cardigan. In 1970 Tacoma, this was a very big deal.

As we go into the soggy days of a Northwest winter, I am grateful to Sara for reminding me of the essence of local housekeeping-wool, and only wool. Blankets, socks, clothing, if you can wear wool, wear it. It's the best value out there -30-

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