There are always debates about superwash wool–is it good, bad, ugly, lovely, useful? We know it takes dye well and it can be an excellent choice for garments or blankets or socks that need a lot of washing. But, some folks think superwash is just a chemically altered substance without any place.
I’ve been trying just about everything in the past few years: natural wools, superwash, ready-made braids, raw fleece, undyed, indie dyed, etc. And I’m finally reaching the point at which I feel I can have an opinion on these things–at least as far as knowing what I like. Superwash? It has it’s place. Great for socks. Fun for dyeing. Interesting to spin. But, having tried a lot of fiber, I must say, I like the natural fibers the best. I like breed specific wool–even if I can’t always process it from fleece to shawl myself.
And so, as my stash grows, changes, diminishes, is sold off, and comes back around, I find myself going natural. Yep, I have a bin (or two) of superwash braids left over after the most recent purge, but I also have a bin of undyed, natural wool from at least seven different breeds and another bin of natural, dyed top from six or seven more breeds. Here are a few of my favorites (Icelandic, BFL, Shetland):
It was wonderful to experiment and I have nothing against superwash, but there is something special about opening a bin of wool and smelling that little bit of lanolin, feeling the barbs and crimps of the fiber, and knowing that this bit of roving or top came from a specific breed and was (more of less) minimally processed.
Has anyone else revamped their stash lately? What’s the word on superwash vs “natural” fiber? Which do you prefer and what kinds of stash experiments have you tried?