One of the makes I finished in April was my Aveiro sweater, by Orlane Sucche of Tête Bêche Knitwear. I shared the early stages of this one back in February, and I think it was originally cast on in January, so I didn’t quite bang it out the way I’d originally hoped. But I’ve been planning to write about this one because I wanted to share my thoughts about the yarn in particular.
I knit this up in yarn from Custom Woolen Mills, a mill in Alberta, Canada whose focus is Canadian-grown wool. For full disclosure, this yarn was sent to me free of charge to try out. I have long been interested in locally, or at least domestically-grown and produced wool yarns, so after we moved to Canada in 2017 I expressed an interest in that as well. I knew very little about Canadian wool or available Canadian wool yarns, and so when Custom Woolen Mills offered to let me try their mule-spun yarn I very gratefully accepted. I thought they might send 2-3 skeins; I did not expect them to send a sweater quantity! I received 6 skeins and a bundle of minis of their 2-ply mule-spun yarn (a worsted weight): 4 natural grey skeins, and the others were naturally dyed. The skeins are 4 oz. (112 grams) with 198m / 216 yds, making this a heavy worsted. I’d probably go as far as to call it an aran weight.
“Mule-spun” refers to the fact that the yarn is spun on a spinning mule, so named because it was a cross between the spinning jenny and the water frame. If you’ve read Clara Parkes’ Vanishing Fleece you may remember that one of her Great White Bale yarns was spun on a mule spinner in Maine, and that they’re a rarity these days (you’ll find that info in chapter 6).
I decided to knit Aveiro with this yarn because I liked how it looked both in the pattern photos and people’s project photos, and it was easy to an additional color to the stripes so I’d be able to use both blues for the contrast. I knew the shape might be a little bit of a gamble – the raglan yoke is very deep to begin with, and I knit this at a slightly larger gauge than recommended so mine is even deeper (I went with a larger gauge since my yarn was slightly heavier than the yarn called for in the pattern). I’m still not sure if I’m sold on the shape, but otherwise I’m very fond of the finished sweater.
As for the yarn: this is one of those yarns that really benefits from a good wash. The dyed colors smelled and felt more pleasant from the get-go, but the undyed grey either had some residual lanolin or spinning oil still in the yarn that I didn’t totally enjoy. When I blocked this sweater, I soaked it twice, emptying the water in between – I did the first soak with some of my shampoo in the water, and I used Soak wash (which is my usual wool wash) on the second soak. The finished sweater smells lovely and the residual oily feeling is definitely gone. The fabric blooms up marvelously with washing, as well.
On the downside, every skein had at least one knot. I’m not sure if there’s something about the mule spinning process that makes breakage (and thus knots) more likely, but some skeins even had multiple knots. I dealt with this by wet splicing the yarn wherever I encountered knots, which was mildly annoying, but no more than that. I also wet spliced each time I joined a new skein of the grey. The knots wouldn’t keep me from using this yarn again, given that it was relatively easy to join by splicing.
It feels like it’s going to wear very well, especially at this gauge, but as for that only time will tell!
Thank you so much to Custom Woolen Mills for the yarn, and you can find additional details about my modifications, yarn amounts, etc. over on my Ravelry project page.
4 thoughts on “custom woolen mills”
Many thanks, I see I have this company already bookmarked as my intention is to try to knit with Canadian yarns once my stash is a little more depleted. Please do let us know, sometime, how this yarn holds up.
Hi Dianna, i just happened on your blog today (Proably through Ravelry) and this particular post struck a chord on so many issues that I just had to comment. First of all your yoke sweater with pines trees (sorry, if I leave this page to research the name I may never come back!) has just become one of my all time favorite fair isle patterns, just beautiful. If I had those skills (Never will: vision issues.) I would definitely knit this. Second, love the fit and wooliness of this striped sweater. I think I found you through Ravelry and will favorite it. The vee neck, the Raglan shoulders, just the look of it! I might be able to make this. Third, as a former sewist from decades ago (pre-Internet), I learned a lot just by working through the patterns, Vogue patterns (through-the-roof expensive these days) always had unique designer-ly finishing details. And I learned early on that the one thing that really separates the “homemade” from the “handmade” is a straight grainline. Your coat/cardigan is perfect! Almost makes me want to sew again. But I hated always being tethered to a machine. Much prefer the portability of knitting (although I am probably a better sew-er). The second important thing is good-quality material. I tended to make very basic things to get done fast, but they were always wearable-to-work because of those two “rules.” So thanks for indulging me. Looking forward to reading more of your blog. Chloe
Thanks so much for all of your kind words! The thing about the grainline is something I’m thinking about often these days – so many of my RTW shirts end up twisting since the pieces weren’t cut square. Hoping to do some more sewing before the year is out!
Yeah, once you sew you get very aware of bad workmanship. Grainline shouldn’t be that hard. Oh well at least you get the satisfaction of having done it right.