Island Yarns

Today I thought I’d show you some of the yarns I got for my birthday. If you know the Netherlands, you probably know that it’s not a big country. Yet, it’s not so small that everything is around the corner. I was born and raised in the southernmost tip of the country. To get Texel, you have to travel north for miles and miles, taking you almost five hours by train, and taking you to the most northern tip of the province of Holland. Then, take a boat, because Texel is an island community. If there’s anything I’ve learned from Shetland, Fair Isle and Iceland, it’s that the best wool always comes from island communities. In the case of Texel, this means the only wool made from only Dutch sheep: Noordkroon.

So far it’s only available in natural, undyed sheep colours. They’re currently offered in five colours and three different weights. The yarn comes in skeins of 100 grams and have a generous yardage. The wool feels slightly coarse on the skein though not as much as Istex for example. This might change with a good soak. It has more similarities with Icelandic sheep, as the island sheep from this particular yarn also stay outside for most of the year, as far as I’ve gathered, with the fleece protecting the sheep from wind and rain. The weather is of course a lot milder in these parts than in Iceland, so the effect on the wool is similar but less intense. I haven’t completely decided what I’ll make from it, probably something stranded, suggestions are welcome.

The Noordkroon is a farm that works organic. It’s sheep are fed organic food and they live outside. Apart from wool, the Noordkroon tries to harness all products that a sheep provides: they make soaps and skin cream from the oils that they clean of the fleeces. During the summer months the farmer has a weekly theatre show on a nearby camp site, in which she teaches tourists about the virtue of wool and the behaviour of sheep.

Next up is the yarn you already got a peek at in my last post. It’s Sirri wool, which is wool from the Faroe islands. If Texel is rather close to mainland, the Faroe Islands are as isolated as it gets. You might remember that a few posts back I mentioned that I made Faroese Wool my next goal to discover. Though I didn’t speak about the yarn any more, for my birthday I was surprised with a set of it.

 If you’re a fan of Danish detective the Killing (personally I’m  love Scandinavian detectives) you might already be familiar with this wool. The sweaters worn by the series’ protagonist, detective Sarah Lund, have become as much of a hit as the series itself, even spawning it’s own website and several fan-made patterns on Ravelry. Official statements have confirmed that most of the sweaters are made in the Faroese knitting tradition, and made with Faroese Sirri wool. The Sarah Lund sweater is made with 3 ply wool however and my wool is 2 ply, which is a sport weight.

 There’s a wide range of colours, and a very decent range of undyed shades. Simular to Noordkroon, skeins of Sirri wool have a very generous yardage, depending on the weight: with only four skeins, you should have enough yarn to make a decent sweater. There’s one rumour on the internet which I’m am able to confirm: the yarn smells! People have complained about the strong odours coming from the yarn. Although the dyed yarn doesn’t smell at all, I cannot deny that the undyed Sirri is by far the smelliest yarn I’ve handled so far. When I’m handling the yarn it feels like I’m standing in a field of sheep just by holding the yarn to my nose. Though I’m happy to confirm that the smell goes away with washing the yarn!

Did you stumble (it’s always stumbling!) on any nice yarn yourself? Did any of my Dutch followers go to Breidag last week? I’ve really enjoyed seeing everyone’s yarn loot. Do tell!


4 thoughts on “Island Yarns

  1. Yes I was quite surprised when I found out about it as well. I think the ongoing popularity of knitting and crafting of the past few years has made it possible for these small independent companies to embark on endeavours such as these.

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