I'm so pleased with Big Dotty. She's BIG! and cosy and I just love her.
It took all winter to get our fire installed so I've been a bit chilly and for months I've been hankering after a larger shawl as warm as a sweater. I was dreaming of something to wrap around my shoulders for an extra layer of warmth but stylish enough to wear while I'm out and about too.
Anyhow, somewhere along the line I had a brainwave - I wanted texture and I already had a pattern I loved (Darling Dotty) - how about I knit it up with a heavier yarn for a super wintery wrap?
I sat on the idea for a while, wondering which yarn I'd use. The image in my head was a natural stone colour, a rustic woolly layer. And of course, I wanted something that would work well with the texture. Not too slinky but not too furry either.
Then, during my recent trip to the KAN knitting retreat in Napier, I found the perfect yarn. The mill I visited has a shop at the door and in there was a glorious, stone coloured, unprocessed, merino yarn. It was perfect! and a great price - so, I quickly grabbed eight balls and away I went.
It wasn't until afterwards that I realised how truly perfect my choice was. The yarn is from a range called Silver Lining - it's a beautiful muted range of colours created from the fibre of heritage merino sheep around New Zealand.
Skeinz say it perfectly themselves:
"All around NZ are isolated small flocks of Merino sheep who have been cut off from the larger Merino populations due to geography. These flocks over the last 150 years have started developing their own unique characteristics & have become sub breeds in their own right. Hokonui, Arapawa, Stewart Island & Chatham Island Merino's are some of these Rare Breed Merino's. Here at Skeinz we have been able to secure these very special fleeces from the fate of just vanishing among the greater Merino clip. They are all very fine micron of varying shades. We have lovingly blended these together to produce 4 natural shades & 5 heathered shades. We thought it was time that these Rare Breeds got out from under the general Merino cloud & got a chance to see their own Silver Lining."
The colour chose is called "Clifton Stone" - it's a soft grey/beige from the fibre of Stewart Island Merino. Stewart Island is at the very bottom of New Zealand although the particular sheep for this yarn are a small flock of Stewart Island sheep that are being looked after in the South Island of New Zealand.
Apparently many rare merino breeds around New Zealand have been feral for many decades. These sheep are descendants of merino sheep placed to provide meat for shipwrecked sailors or originally farmed in remote areas. Some sheep were simply left behind when people moved on and others missed being rounded up by the farmers that cared for them.
Sheep farming in Stewart Island was never a hugely successful venture. They were first farmed in a large numbers in 1874 and apparently a number escaped, forming a feral population that developed into the current Stewart Island Merino breed.
Stewart Island sheep are relatively small, mostly black and often have a patch of white on the nose and between the eyes, with a white tip on their tails. The Rams have particularly fine horns. It's said that they're alert and aware of what's going on around them. The ewes are very good mothers, protective of their lambs and often act as a "look out" for strangers. Don't they sound pretty neat? I think so.
So, my yarn is special and I'm really thrilled.
Big Dotty is super warm, deliciously rustic, full of texture and made from the wool of heritage sheep. You'll need about 400g of DK yarn to make one too.