If the beanie fits

Here we all were, ready to wave goodbye to winter and throw the windows open for a good dose of early spring hayfever. But late August and early September had other ideas, coldly shirt-fronting our naïve expectations and dropping snow in Canberra, and swathes of the higher altitudes in south-eastern Australia - including the White Gum Wool farm.

We have certainly had a cold winter this year in Tasmania. This June, my Dad announced a planned trip to Pine Valley and the Labyrinth, which prompted slight panic from me. I did what any knitter would do, and offered him a beanie. A Proper Beanie – made from White Gum Wool, thick enough to really be warm, with a long brim that can be folded over for doubly warm ears.

Enter Alison McCarney’s Form beanie pattern (which featured in our Winter Collection). The She-Oak colourway was perfect for Dad, and I posted it express so that he would have it in time (we live at opposite ends of the island).

Reports came back: Dad declared the hat INCREDIBLY warm. And he is not a man to use capital letters lightly! Road-testing elicited more favourable comments. The White Gum Wool was fit for purpose!

My Dad in his White Gum Wool beanie Photo: Mick Adams, used with permission

My Dad in his White Gum Wool beanie
Photo: Mick Adams, used with permission

The warmth of wool - isn’t that its most basic quality? Yes. But not all wools are created equal. I have noticed this with my own knitwear as I transition toward more natural fibres and less intensive processing. A general rule of thumb is: the less processed the wool, the more its natural insulating properties are retained. 

As we now begin - finally - to feel the change of seasons, I'm looking toward the lighter-weight yarns. The silk/merino 5ply is light and warm, but not as hearty as the 8ply merino. While the 4ply creates a truly feathery, breathable fabric that I can wear year-round in Tasmania. 

What about you? Are you as enamoured as I am with woollen fabric's flexibility? Do you change your crafting plans as the seasons transition?