A couple of weeks ago, I posted some tips on feeling good in the endless winter dullness. Since this is a knitting blog, I think a more detailed post is in order about the fibers that make me feel good in winter.
If you are a knitter or crocheter, this is probably a bit of a “duh”. Wool is even the common term for yarn in many nations. This is not a coincidence. Wool is very warm, but breathes well enough to reduce sweating. It has memory, so it holds its shape nicely and can be coaxed into doing many interesting things. Because it’s available in so many breeds and levels of quality, it can also be a good cheap “starter” for new knitters (or broke ones!) or in forms like merino it can be a luxurious indulgence.
Some people call alpaca “the poor man’s cashmere”, but it really is a fantastic fiber all on its own. Pure alpaca is deliciously soft, drapey, and pretty much the definition of “smooshy”. It is also significantly warmer and lighter than sheep’s wool. Alpacas are also naturally lanolin-free, making it nearly hypoallergenic. Those with mild wool allergies can often wear alpaca. Blending with wool adds structure and memory to the yarn, and can also tame the “too hot” and “too fuzzy” issues some people have with it. Personally, alpaca is probably my favorite winter fiber because it is so very tactile and cozy.
If we’re going to have “poor man’s cashmere”, we might as well have the real thing too! Cashmere is actually even softer than alpaca and like alpaca is much lighter than sheep’s wool. The most commonly used Cashmere goats also have white undercoats, thus their wool lends itself well to dyeing. Due to the cost of cashmere, I’ve never used it in it’s pure form. Just adding a bit of it to merino or other quality fibers really does make a noticeable difference though. It’s quite a luxury, and a great pick me up this time of year.
This one often surprises people, particularly if you recall that I also recommended silk in my summer fibers post. Silk’s innate absorbency makes it ideal to wear close to the skin in summer, but its low conductivity helps trap warmth next to your body in winter too. Silk is also fantastically strong and holds up to wear very nicely. The sheen and smoothness of silk fiber is a wonderful change from the dull and rough that sort of takes over the region this time of year too. Definitely a nice perk.
What’s your favorite winter fiber?