Friday, November 17, 2017

FO Friday: Shepherd's Lamb Hat

As a handspinner, I really love trying new-to-me breeds of sheep (not to mention other interesting or exotic fibers), but non-spinners don't have nearly the range of options available to them in ready-to-use yarn form. While this has improved over the years since I started knitting, yarns spun from breed-specific wools are still not the norm, especially at your LYS; they're more easily found at fiber festivals or through creative Googling.

I was excited when I heard about Shepherd's Lamb, a family owned ranch in New Mexico. Over the years, they have grown their flock to 1000 ewes whose fleeces are used to make beautiful wool blankets, pelts and knitworthy yarns (you can read more about their story here - it's worth checking out!).

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In particular, their Rambouillet yarn caught my attention. I've worked with this breed of wool before and have enjoyed it, but I don't think I've ever used a Rambouillet yarn or fiber that I knew exactly where it had been sourced. Besides the sheep being organically raised, the yarn is milled in the US and it's dyed locally using natural dye methods which minimize the amount of yarn used in the process. Very cool! I chose the Indigo/Cochineal colorway just to break out of my usual blue/green/grey color rut, and after much debate I finally decided to knit a hat pattern from the Knitted Cable Sourcebook.

I absolutely loved how the yarn knit up in these stitch patterns, but I do wish I had listened to the little voice in my head when I was casting on and thinking "gosh, this is a lot of stitches for a hat worked on US 4 needles!" What do you know, it WAS a lot of stitches for a hat worked on US 4 needles, and I probably could have eliminated one of the panel repeats (which was 51 stitches wide, incidentally), or at least found a way to shorten it up. Also, US 4 needles felt a little too small for a DK yarn, and if I could do it over again, I would have chosen a project worked on a slightly larger needle (although I suppose a tight-knit gauge is extra warm!). Just look at those lovely textured stitches:

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The finished hat ended up being larger than I was expecting (about 24" circumference, though I probably shouldn't have been surprised as previously noted) that is a bit bucket-shaped. This project quickly escalated into a game of yarn chicken as I knit: after doing some emergency decreases, I only had a yard or two left of yarn! If it hadn't been such a labor of love to work three different charted patterns, I probably would have just frogged it all back to reknit from scratch, but I just couldn't bear the thought of undoing all of that hard work, especially since I was intending to give the hat away in the end. It's only a little big on me, and I have a fairly small head for an adult human - so I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to find a knitworthy head to wear this hat proudly.

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If you love wool yarns and are curious to explore the wonderful world of sheep breeds, I heartily recommend checking out the Rambouillet yarn from Shepherd's Lamb! They offer free shipping to US addresses, and quite honestly, I think their prices are a steal, especially when you consider that they're organic, naturally-dyed yarns that are 100% made in the USA. I also noticed over on Instagram that they're including free mini skeins with all orders over $50 placed this month, so that's another reason to give them a try!

You may like to know: I purchased this yarn and was not asked to write a review on my blog. I do have a working relationship with this company via my day job, but all opinions shared here are my own.

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