the value of washing swatches

Two years ago I met Ralene, the owner of a Jacob Sheep farm in Hanover, PA. My friend, TinkerBell, works with Ralene at a small college nearby, and we (K1Frog2 and I) were invited to see the sheep. Jacobs are a rare breed in that they are the only spotted sheep breed. They are said to get their name from a story in Genesis chapter 30 where Jacob asks Laban, his father-in-law, for all the “spotted calves and spotted sheep”. Regardless of their origen, they are cute little buggers:


We just happened to visit a mere 3 days after Ralene’s last female gave birth to twins – can you imagine? Three-day-old twin sheep? They were absolutely adorable!

And while we where there, Ralene put us to work. We tagged all her yarn that she was taking to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival for her to sell, and for that we were compensated with these:


Two cones of Jacob fingering weight yarn! I’ve held onto these for two years and I think I need to finally knit them up into something…but I was having a terrible time thinking of what I could knit them into. If you felt this yarn, you would probably think “yuck!” – it is a bit stiff and, uh, let’s just say not the most pleasant of all yarns. But, being dutiful, I knit up a little swatch anyway just to see what the fabric would be like.

I knit half with size 5 needles and half with size 4 – doing both a garter stitch and a stockinette stitch. Still not convinced about this yarn, I then washed the swatch.


Night and Day difference! The unwashed swatch is on the left and the washed one is on the right. Can you see that the one on the right is a little fuzzier? It is a little softer in its stitch definition and oh, so MUCH softer! Now *this* is a yarn I could go crazy for!

So…what am I doing to do with it? Well, since I have plenty of yarn (probably around 1500 yards), I’m going to knit a lace shawl. The yarn should give a really nice definition for lace and be soft enough to wear on my arms. And this will be a shawl for moi! 🙂

4 thoughts on “the value of washing swatches

  1. I have one cone of this wool, and I’m not sure what to make with it either. I’m glad yours is turning into a shawl. Mine wants to be socks of some sort.

    1. I think socks would work – I also think they would be really warm – the kind of socks that you would wear to a cold bed in winter!

    1. Mom, roughly the same – it is a little variegated only in that the sheep themselves have variations in quantity of white to black ratio – but yes, they are pretty much the same. And it is a nice shade of grey….

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