Saturday, January 7, 2012

If it's good enough for sheep...

Wool. If it's good enough to keep sheep warm in the fells, then it should be good enough to keep me and mine warm up there too, right? On a recent quest to find enough daylight to take reasonable photographs of projects and blow the holiday cobwebs away, we found ourselves in a favourite spot- Blea Tarn, on the Wrynose Pass near the Langdales. The wind was blowing a hoolie, as it has been on and off for what seems like weeks now, and up there it was strong enough to knock a certain small boy off his feet- luckily he found it hilarious.
We had a blustery, slightly shortened walk and managed to get a few nice shots and I also took the opportunity to test out Kate Davies' exhortations to wear wool as an alternative to the usual synthetic fleeces to keep the chill out here. Her daily walks take place in Scotland, for goodness sake, so if she maintains that woollen layers are an effective way to keep warm then I believe her.
You don't just have to listen to one of my admittedly favourite designers though. A project a few years ago proved that the clothing worn by early Everest explorers, which had a strong wool element, was in many ways as effective as the 'smart' fabrics of today. You can read more here. The rising popularity among outdoor clothing companies of merino for base layers also demonstrates the recognition that nature is pretty good at creating her own 'smart' materials.
So, on a normal walking day you might have found me wearing a handknit hat, scarf and gloves at most. This time I added a pair handknit wool socks over my normal socks, a merino base layer with a cotton long sleeve t-shirt and a handknit sleeveless vest over that (my 1st-prize-at-Great-Eccleston-Show-winning Fyne Vest to be precise!), knitted wool mittens and a wool beret. Everything else was synthetic fabrics, which probably put me at about 50/50 wool to synthetics.
Without any fleece involved, it felt a lot less bulky than normal. As I didn't exert myself very much I can't comment on the breathability, but I didn't feel the need to strip off so many layers when we retired to a cafe in Ambleside for cake afterwards. As for being warm, well, the wind blew fierce and the wind blew wild, but I was just fine, and I'm a cold bones sort.
It's made me realise that despite all the knitting I do, I don't actually have that many woolly things I can wear for this sort of thing. Whether through knitting or shopping, it's something I intend to rectify this year.


  1. I being a wearer of icebreakers - merino wool tops everyday of the year (since I discovered them 10 years(!) ago in NZ), agree that sheep know best! Unfortunately our clothes moths also are quite partial to them so I have more lace tops than solid wool garments!

  2. Eeek! Do you still have your moths? I am terrified of getting them here, but I think our chilly northern location has some advantages...

  3. No, they have all gone now, but left there mark! some strange micro climate in Bath I am told!