A new summer yarn from Laine des Îles

A new summer yarn from Laine des Îles

Although it may not always seem like it (especially after a very wet winter and a cooler than usual Spring), the climate is changing and year on year temperatures are rising.  Higher temperatures are not necessarily conducive to knitting, and when looking at my range, I realised that there was a lack of yarns that are suitable for summer knitting. I decided that I needed to do something about this, however, the island theme of my shop and my own environmental and ethical standards limit me to certain kinds of fibre, and after looking very hard for yarns that would meet my criteria, I found that there just wasn't anything I was happy to buy.  The only solution was to develop something new myself, and the result is Laine des Îles' newest yarn, Lumen.

Lumen is a blend of 50% Polwarth wool from the Falkland Islands, 25% Belgian linen and 25% Tencel.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Polwarth sheep, this is a breed that was originally established in the 19th century in the state of Victoria in Australia.  An English immigrant farming family by the name of Dennis had initially bred what is known as a comeback.  Comeback sheep are bred by crossing a purebred merino with a sheep that is 50% merino and 50% of an English longwool breed.  The resulting offspring is thus 75% merino and 25% of another breed.  In this case, the Dennis brothers used a Lincoln Longwool ram as the sire for the crossbred sheep, resulting in a sheep that was 75% merino and 25% Lincoln Longwool.  They found this sheep to be much hardier than the pure merino sheep, and their first fleeces were much admired by local wool traders for their length and quality.  They knew that they had found something special, and so the Polwarth breed was born. In the early 20th Century, the breed was marketed to South America and in recent years has gained in popularity in the Falkland Islands, where its hardiness makes it ideal for the cooler conditions.

The Lincoln Longwool is one of Britain's most important heritage breeds, and produces an exceptionally long, strong and lustrous fleece.  By mixing these characteristics with those of the merino sheep, the Polwarth produces a fleece with a gentle sheen which is as soft as a merino but which is more durable and less prone to pilling.  We have combined this beautiful wool with linen for crispness and Tencel for extra drape and sheen.  The result is a yarn which is perfect for all your summer projects - it knits up into an an extra-soft, breathable fabric with good drape and a gentle sheen, making it an excellent choice for summer tops, lightweight sweaters and shawls.  It is suitable for lace and textured motifs, and soft enough to wear against the skin and for babies and small children. 

I have now found a spinning mill in Yorkshire in the UK with which I hope to work more in the future in developing other new and interesting yarns.  Lumen is our first project together and as such I have produced only a small run in order to test the yarn.  If sales are encouraging and the customer reaction is good, then the quantities and number of colours will be increased for our next production run.  However, for this batch we are offering just 4 soft, summery colours: 

Ecru - undyed Polwarth wool blended with bleached linen and Tencel
Sel de Mer (Sea Salt) - a light blue which some of you may remember as one of the shades used in our previous yarn, Pennine
Fenouil (Fennel) - a light green
Champignon Rose (literally "mushroom pink", but this is name given in French to chestnut mushrooms) - a slightly pinkish beige

My first tests have been promising.  The yarn knits nicely on 3, 3.25 and 3.5mm needles, and swatches in both stocking stitch and a lace stitch turned out well.  I have knitted a first quick project - a Rosa Tee by Along Avec Anna as a present for my 3-year-old niece, and I'm very happy with it:

For other pattern suggestions, Isabell Kraemer has several summer tops in this weight of yarn which would work,  but she has just published 2 new t-shirt patterns, both of which I think would be perfect.  Firstly the Mia Cara t-shirt:

And secondly Lillesol, which can be knitting in both short- and long-sleeved versions:


PetiteKnit has a good selection of basic tees and sweaters, and her v-neck Cumulus tee is one of the most-knitted projects on Ravelry.  However I particularly like her round-neck version which she has just published this month:

There are any number of lacy shawl patterns that would be suitable for this yarn, but why not try Orlane Sucche's Luzi shawl:


All patterns available on Ravelry (links from pictures) in both English and French.

I am interested to hear your feedback on this yarn.  As for me, I am going to cast on one of Isabell Kraemer's new designs, I just have to decide which....




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