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Wonderfully warm wool

I’ve always lived in places with chilly winters. Not as cold as Canada and northern Europe, but chilly enough – frosts and below-freezing temperatures most mornings and occasional snow falls. We’re lucky where I live, that most of our winter days are dry and sunny, but that’s not been the case for the past week or so.

After growing up in Canberra, and moving to the Armidale district 22 years ago, I’m very good at dressing for the cold! I’m definitely not one of those people who wanders around in a thin long-sleeved t-shirt, shivering and looking miserable. Nope, my winter wardrobe has a lot of wool in it; not just hand-knits, but bought jumpers etc. Wool, especially mixed with other fibres such as cashmere and angora, are so, so much warmer than acrylics, polyesters, rayons and other man-made yarns.

But have you noticed how hard it is to find pure wool, or wool-blend things now? I went hunting for simple wool-blend black socks… other than Explorer-style socks, there was nothing in womens’, mens’ or boys’ departments with wool in it, and the Explorers are too thick for what I want (and nylon on the outside). Yes, I know I’m more than capable of knitting socks, and I do, but black is a hard colour for me to knit, erectile dysfunction hence wanting to buy some.

I also went looking for woollen blankets… okay, so I haven’t looked in the expensive places yet, but Target, KMart, Big W used to have them as a regular stock item… and now there’s not a one in sight in our local stores – despite the fact that we’re in one of the coldest towns in the country! There’s plenty of ‘fleece’ blankets, and cotton ones, but no wool.

Wool jumpers and cardigans have disappeared from the cheaper stores, too – fortunately I can still get them in a couple of local up-market clothing stores, and they’re better quality than the cheapies, but naturally they cost more… and aren’t as good as a handknit!

So, to make sure I don’t sound like a grumpy old woman complaining how much better things were in the old days, I’ll cut my little rant short there and mention instead that when I took the dogs out for a walk this afternoon, in the cold, windy, overcast weather, I was snug and warm in my handknit wool/cashmere socks and fingerless mitts, and the handknit pure wool big jumper and matching beanie that I’ve been wearing around the house and for outside work for years.

I love being a knitter 🙂

4 Responses to Wonderfully warm wool

  • bells says:

    i’ve seen wool garments around and they’re REALLY expensive. It’s quite prohibitive and I can’t knit fast enough to deck myself out entirely in wool or wool blends – who amongst us can???

    But I’m with you – dress to suit the weather!

  • Bronwyn says:

    One of the old country ‘department’ stores here always has a small range of basic, classic styles of cardigans and jumpers, but I usually wait until their end-of-season half-price sales – and then hope there’s something left in the colour I want, in the size I need!

    One of the great advantages of working from home, though, is that I don’t need to dress respectably every day for work. I’ve got three big wool jumpers I knitted years ago, so I pull on jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt, and a big jumper, and I’m dressed! Of course, I do like to wear hand-knit socks that compliment the jumper colours… not that the dogs ever notice! (But I know…)

  • M-H says:

    I agree. After living in Sydney for 12 years now I feel that I have the right number of the right weight of knitted things for winter. The things I brought from NZ were too heavy, and I’ve slowly been working on replacing them with lighter-weight hand-knitted cardigans and vests. It is very hard to buy garments with wool in them for a reasonable price, even in Sydney, but I go to ezibuy , which is where I get all my plain jumpers to wear under cardigans. It’s an NZ company that now trades in Aus, and they have a good range of merino blend plain garments. They don’t last for ever, but they’re not hideously expensive either.

    The other thing that people don’t seem to think to do here in winter is to put a light-weight wool-mix undergarment on. That really help on the chillier days – not that it get s very cold in most places in Sydney.

  • Bronwyn says:

    Thanks for the ezibuy link, M-H! I’ll have a good look at the site.

    Re the undergarments – yes, I agree! I’m very sad that the wool/silk long-sleeve spencers I bought years ago on a trip to the UK are wearing out; they were a very warm, light-weight layer for bitterly cold winter days. Maybe I’ll just have to plan another visit to the UK to see if I can find more…. but it won’t be this year, unfortunately!