Sustainability seems to be the word on every tongue and it's a notion that begins to seep into many aspects of our lives. The yarn industry has seen a surge of people asking, "Where did my yarn come from?" Mountain Meadow Wool was a company I was previously unfamiliar with, but there were a few key elements to this unique company that made me want to take a closer look. First, it's a woman-owned company. The two ladies behind Mountain Meadow are Karen and Valerie, and their website describes them as a split between smart and funny, but wholly beautiful (and the feminist in me dies from heart throbs). Second, the core of their company is creating an environmentally friendly, sustainable product that is completely natural. You can read the full story on their website (HERE). And, lastly, these ladies aren't just in it for the knitters. They have yarn, of course, but also quilt batts, roving, clothing, blankets, cleaning pads, dryer balls... all made from their wool. I was given the opportunity to take a look at their Powell yarn; a rustic worsted weight yarn containing Mountain Merino and Alpaca.
Powell is a brand new yarn, just released at TNNA last weekend (at the end of May 2015). The label is my first stop on any new yarn journey and if you are one of the many asking where your yarn comes from, the answers are right here. The specs are as follows: 4-Ply Worsted weight; 196 yds/3.5 oz; Grown Camino's KID Ranch in Johnson County, Wyoming; 85% Mountain Merino, 15% Alpaca; Color Natural. Not only will you find the usual information you expect, the ranch your wool is sourced from is also listed. There is more information about the ranches they work with on their website, also.
When the yarn is skeined it's hard to differentiate it from any other worsted wool yarn, really. It looks round and plied and natural as one would expect, but when I removed the label and unwound the hank, magic happened. The yarn seemed to exhale. The wiry alpaca strands unfurled, small wool nupps appeared, and the depth of texture was revealed. I'm a huge fan of finding traces of veg matter in my yarn because it's such a direct connection to where this wool was - on an animal's back (and in this case, on a ranch in Johnson County to be exact!). The strands are not tightly plied and so the yarn doesn't have a lot of spring, but it is sturdy even with the added alpaca fiber and does not break easily.
For those who are dependent on those labels to determine what needles you should use, it should be noted that there is no needle or gauge information on the label itself or on the website. There are also no care instructions listed. Common sense should prevail here, but I thought I would go ahead and say handwashing is the way to go unless you're felting. Yes? As for the needle/gauge issue, worsted weight is commonly going to be knit over size US7 (4.5mm) to US9 (5.5 mm) needles at 16-20 sts/4" in Stockinette st. My sweet spot for worsted yarns is usually about 18 sts/4", and this yarn is a nice middle worsted. It doesn't lean to the light or aran side and so I'll swatch with a size US8 (5mm) needle.
Once I began swatching, it was clear how I wanted to proceed with this yarn. The swatch measured out to precisely 18 sts/4" on the US 8 (5mm) needles as I expected and I was pleased to see subtle variation in the stitches in stockinette. As I said previously, my first impression of the yarn was that it was airing on the side of rustic and that is a quality many large-scale yarn manufacturers attempt to recreate - and they fail. There is something to be said about a plain, undyed, worsted yarn that keeps your interest as you find slight variations, fuzzy little nupps, and tiny bits of veg while they yarn maintains softness to the touch. The Mountain Merino and Alpaca seem to be a winning blend for softness and sturdiness as I had expected from my first impressions of the yarn.
A swatch can only tell you part of the story though. I said before that I knew how I wanted to proceed with this yarn soon after I began swatching - this yarn begs to become a part of something textural, cabled, cozy. Since I had a single hank to work with, I selected the Skiff beanie by Jared Flood.
The beanie knit up quickly and I had plenty of yarn left over had I wanted to add a nice, dense pom pom. If I wasn't in the midst of moving, my scale wouldn't be packed, and I would be able to give the precise quantity left over! This pattern asks that you cinch in about 50+ stitches to close the crown which I normally avoid doing - especially if I'm concerned that my yarn will break from all that added pressure, but the Powell handled the task easily. After blocking, the hat remained very wooly in that the alpaca didn't cause it to become floppy. It retained its shape and the stitches evened out neatly. This would be the ultimate yarn for a full aran sweater. After knitting and blocking, I think the wool is strong enough to hold a large, heavy piece and in this case, the alpaca seems to add only softness, warmth, and a wiry halo that adds character and charm.
It's safe to say I fell in love with this yarn and I think you will fall in love with it, too and SO I'm giving away this hat to one lucky reader for you to inspect, squish, sniff, wear, love, gift...
Giveaway entries will be accepted between 6.7.15 (12 am EST) and 6.14.15 (12 am EST) only and deadline will not be extended..
There are two options for entries - head to the blog post that links to this page (Didn't follow a link here? No problem! click HERE) or head to Instagram and re-post my giveaway entry (instagram account PinkBrutusKnits, Skiff Giveaway) and use hashtag #mmwPowell.
Disclaimer: I received no monetary compensation for this review; I did however receive the product in exchange for posting my honest opinion and review. I am in no way affiliated with the company mentioned in this post. Your experience with the reviewed products may differ from my own.