Tag Archives: alpaca

Why Merino Wool, Alpaca, and Cashmere Keep You Warm and Dry

wool_fibersIn reference to Joey’s post about wool socks, I thought GMG readers would like to see this cool fiber comparison chart, which shows a range of fibers under a microscope.

Notice how the wool, cashmere, and alpaca individual fibers are composed of many overlapping shafts, which trap air and moisture. Fine wool such as merino absorbs as much as 36 percent of its weight in moisture and then gradually releases it through evaporation, while simultaneously keeping the moisture away from the skin. Wool is also naturally antibacterial, typically for the life of the garment.

Another great property of wool, alpaca, and cashmere is that unlike synthetics, they are renewable resources. Merino sheep and alpacas are shorn once a year, and cashmere is collected from Cashmere goats during the spring molting season. These fibers readily absorb natural dyes and can be processed with the use of minimal or no dyes.

You can read more about the moisture transporting properties of wool here: Backpacking Light

The Scarf, With Pockets!

Scarf with Pockets ©Kim Smith 2014. JPG -3 copy The ideal scarf for photographers ~ a scarf-with-pockets!

If you are anything like me, when out photographing or filming, your coat pockets are so over-stuffed that there is no room for frozen fingers. Typically, my pockets contain second and third alternate lenses, car keys, lens cap, lens wiping cloth, and gloves. The gloves are off so that I can work the cameras, which invariably leads to numb hands and fingers. Meet the scarf-with-pockets. In between shots, you can tuck your hands into the convenient scarf pockets. For added warmth, I worked this in the brioche stitch, which creates a luxuriously textured and lofty pattern.

My favorite yarn currently is Frog Trees’s gorgeous Chunky Alpaca. Alpaca is warm and cozy, with a similarly soft feel to that of cashmere, and is NOT ITCHY!

You can purchase Frog Tree’s Chunky Alpaca from Robert at Coveted Yarn. Frog Tree yarns are fair trade; profits from the sale of yarns goes to the artisan.

Frog Tree chunky Alpaca ©Kim Smith 2014 copyChunky Alpaca comes in a beautiful array of colors. If Robert doesn’t have the color you are looking for in stock, ask, and he will custom order it for you.

4 Skeins Frog Tree Chunky Alpaca

#6 needles (or size to suit your knitting style; I knit very loosely)

Cast on, very loosely 24 sitiches. Work basic brioche stitch for approximately 52 inches. Bind off loosely. Scarf measurement before pockets: 52″ in length, 6″ wide.

For each pocket ( work both simultaneously on the same needles so they come out the same length), loosely cast on 48 stitches. Work knit one pearl one ribbing for one inch. Switch to brioche stitch and work until total length of pockets equals the same width of scarf (in this case, 6 inches). Bind off very loosely. Slightly stretch and block ribbing to equal width of the pocket. Stitch pockets to scarf.

Scarf with Pockets ©Kim Smith 2014. JPGPocket Detail

End Notes ~ The brioche stitch is a little tricky. Heidi, who works at Coveted Yarn, recommended online youtube tutorials, which I did, and found it was a terrific way to learn a new pattern. This is the perfect winter for an extra thick and lofty scarf and I’ll be busy on a second scarf-with-pockets because daughter Liv has claimed the red one in the photo.

I have recently noticed scarves with pockets in shops and the pocket openings were acclimated horizontally rather than vertically, as are the pockets in this pattern. That’s a great idea, because the pockets can then be used to also hold items however, the openings would be less conveniently placed for warming hands.

Frog Tree chunky Alpaca Coveted yarn ©Kim Smith 2014