Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Cormo, Romeldale, Qiviut blend

So, on a lark, my daughter and I hopped in the car on a particular Sunday and drove an hour-and-a-half up to Canby, Oregon to attend the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (otherwise known as OFFF). Just like the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, this is a great opportunity to get some neat wool and products from other independent retailers.

As I looked through the Bellwether Wool booth (while simultaneously making a fool of myself for confusing them with Ask the Bellwether.. I'd chalk it up to lack-of-sleep but it was really just plain DUH-ness) I pulled out a small roll of fiber. It was labeled "Cormo, Romeldale, and Qiviut" and was $6 for one ounce.

Now, I can get undyed Merino for $1.50/ounce. But qiviut can be found for anywhere between $45-$75 per ounce. You could SHAKE a batt of qiviut at any other roving, and the price would go up. So I didn't really even turn an eyelash at the price.

Lois Olund (who had apparently forgiven me for my moment of idiocy) came over and explained that they had acquired an entire musk ox pelt from a friend in Alaska. And realizing what they had, they sat down with it on the floor and combed the qiviut out of it. What I had in my hand was a result of this labor.

Now how could I resist a story like that? I took the roll home with me. Just one ounce, I reasoned, would be plenty to play with and enough to get lace-weight out of for a cowl.

I stopped and grabbed up my copy of In Sheep's Clothing to read up on Cormo and Romeldale. Cormo, it turns out, is an Australian cross of Corriedale rams with Merino ewes-- so it's a bit more hardy than a Merino, but with tons of crimp just like its momma's wool. It's not quite Merino soft, but still is very soft. Romeldale is another hardier cross, using Rambouillet (named for the place where King Louis XVI established a flock of Spanish Merinos) ewes and Romney rams. Basically what this means is there is a blend of wool that is very close to Merino, but perhaps just a touch more sturdy... with a nice pinch of ultra-soft-and-fine-qiviut blended in.


I took off spinning this with a careful long-draw, thinking I'd get two-ply lace out of it. It would be PERFECT for the recently released Pretty Thing (thank you Yarn Harlot!! I've been waiting on that since February). My sample was a nice lace-weight, but what I forget is that when I start having fun, my default is closer to two-ply fingering or even sport.

I enjoyed myself immensely, finished off the ounce, and pulled out the trusty niddy-noddy. When wound, I had 114 wraps, to which I must apply some minor math (114 wraps * 58 inches in a wrap / 36 inches in a yard) and got... 180-ish yards. That's only 90 yards of 2-ply and the Yarn Harlot is pretty clear you need about 164 yards. I said some awful things to myself in my head and started debating options.

I could knit with the single. But I had spun this with the intention to ply and therefor it had a pretty reasonable twist in it (I like firmly plied yarns). So that's a bit iffy. I could spin silk and ply with that. But I didn't really want the shiny strand offsetting the deliciously soft and natural color. I could ply with the pygora I purchased, but really I wanted that in its own project.

So the next morning I bit the bullet and e-mailed Lois to see if she didn't (oh, please!) have just one more ounce of this luscious blend that I could somehow purchase and have sent to me?

Well, YES! Lois replied a mere two hours later (and at a much more reasonable hour than the 5 A.M. I was forced to be awake that morning). In fact, she told me, "I have a pound, if you'd like it.".

Well, yes, I would. But I only need one more ounce, and one more ounce is what I asked to be sent. I have pounds of other things that still need to be spun without adding to it!

But boy.. it was tempting.

If you're tempted, you should write her! (Her contact information is on their website at Really. You should. You know you want some, too!

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