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What makes woolen-spun yarn different? Many of the softest wool yarns available today are made on mill equipment that produces a worsted, or semi-worsted yarn. (In this case, the word worsted refers to the way the yarn is spun, not its weight, as in "worsted-weight.") But at Bloom, we use the woolen-spun system, creating a yarn that is squishy, lofty and warm. We love wool that still feels like it came from a sheep.....with softness, bounce, texture and tooth.
Both woolen and worsted spun yarns go through the same initial steps in their journey to become yarn: once the wool is shorn it is then skirted (soiled bits are removed and the fleece is manually cleaned of vegetable matter). Next, it is scoured, or washed....often this is the first stage that takes place at the mill. Next, clumps of wool are separated in the picker before the fleece is moved to the carding machine where the fiber is blended and made into roving ready to be spun. At a woolen mill - or when hand-spinning a woolen-style yarn - carding is the final stage before spinning. But a worsted process, whether at the mill or in hand processing, requires the additional steps of combing and pin drafting which align the fibers very parallel to one another. This squeezes the air out of the yarn which becomes smooth and dense with sheen, strength and significant drape. At Bloom we love all yarns! But we have chosen to specialize in woolen-spun yarns for their loft, lightness and warmth.....and their wonderful capability to "bloom" once blocked or washed.
Woolen spun yarns have been carded in such a way that their fibers are not aligned or parallel but instead are laid out in a wild and haphazard manner causing air to become trapped as the yarn is twisted. This characteristic gives the yarn's fibers room to relax when wetted, resulting in a lovely "bloom" into a fuller and loftier yarn once dry. It also means woolen-spun yarns are warmer than their worsted counterparts as these air pockets help hold body heat. Because our yarns are washed in the hand-dying process some blooming has already occurred. But once knitted and blocked, a further bloom will take place, and the resulting fabric will be light and lush; cozy and insulating. Experienced knitters may have already guessed. . . it is best to block and dry the swatch you make to check gauge before beginning a project. . . .(you always make a swatch, right!?).
To block your finished garment, soak it as suggested below in the general care section, though soap will not be necessary. A good long soak of 30-60 minutes will ensure complete saturation giving every fiber the opportunity to relax. Gently squeeze out excess water and lie item flat on a thick bath towel, rolling it up and pressing firmly so water wicks into the towel. Reposition into original shape as described below.
Wear often! Wool is self-cleansing so won't require frequent washing. When needed, hand wash your Bloom woolens in cool water with a gentle pH-balanced soap such as Eucalan. Many wool washes do not need to be rinsed, or can be rinsed lightly in cool water. Squeeze gently and lay flat to dry according to desired measurements; smooth stitches and align seams properly.
Sadly, we sometimes need to store some woolens for the off-season. Tuck your winter wool safely away only after everything has been washed and thoroughly dried. Keep moths at bay with plastic totes or a well-sealed cedar closet; add a dash of insect repellant essential oils such as lavender or cedar to a cotton ball and store with your goods for added insurance.
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