Sunday, December 31, 2017

Shepherd's Lamb Rambouillet

When we lived in California, I worked in a genetics lab. One of the PhD students was doing his research on cochineal insects, which live on cacti and are used as a natural red dye. That's the thing about PhD projects- they are so oddly specific, and I personally can't imagine devoting 6+ years of my life to something like that, but hey, I don't have a PhD. Anyway. I recently got the opportunity to review some yarn dyed with cochineal insects and I got excited because I saw many, many lab group presentations on these little things. It's always fun when my science background and my yarny worlds collide.

This is Shepherd's Lamb Rambouillet yarn, a DK weight 100% American Rambouillet wool yarn. It's dyed with indigo and cochineal, both of which are totally natural- a bonus if you aren't into chemicals. It's 180 yards/2 ounces and the suggested gauge is 6 sts/inch. This is my swatch (unblocked- see how it's not really rolling? Good firm stuff, that), which is 6 sts/inch (I used size 6/4mm needles), and I honestly think it's a little dense. Although, this is possibly the wooliest wool yarn I've ever knitted with, and wooly wools are good for firm, dense, hard-wearing things, so maybe knitting it at 6 sts/inch would be ideal for this yarn, depending on your plans for it. Anything at that gauge would be basically bulletproof, not to mention wind-, rain-, and weather-proof. I feel comfortable saying you could likely treat this yarn as a worsted and knit it at 5 sts/inch for a less firm fabric. That being said, I might knit a pair of simple mittens at 6 sts/inch and give them to my mom in South Dakota. We were just there over Christmas, and the high temperature a couple days was below zero, and with wind the "feel like" temps were in the negative teens. Um what.

The pooling makes me think you'd want to do a simpler pattern with this yarn- not too many cables, and probably not anything with openwork. Based on the wooliness I'd say just simple, basic, wear-all-the-time patterns like warm hats and mittens, maybe a solid sweater. I also bet it's excellent for felting, if you're into that!

Thanks to Shepherd's Lamb for the yarn. All opinions and rambling are my own.

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