Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Movember, Wovember and other seasonal delights


November has become the month for campaigns and curious activities. It all started with Movember, the campaign to raise awareness of men's health issues through the activity of growing mustaches.

Movember always makes me think of my cousin, who is partial to facial hair. I'm not sure if he grew this particular mustache for Movember, but even if he didn't the timing was serendipidous for Christmas.

Steampunk Santa

My husband doesn't do mustaches, so he had to get creative with a dried bean pod.


Wovember is a campaign celebrating wool, with the aim of raising the profile of this excellent fibre and getting companies to stop mislabeling things that are clearly not wool. The idea is that if people understood and valued real wool they would buy more of it, thus supporting the industry.

As a knitter I need no convincing of the superiority of wool, and any excuse to pile it on, especially at this time of year, is a good idea in my book.

I've been mostly knitting Christmas mitts lately, so have not made a lot of progress with knitted garments, but I did finish one wool pullover. I also bought a wool skirt and a wool dress, so I am doing my bit.

Wool pullover with new wool skirt.
The hat is New Zealand possum.

My steadily growing collection of Christmas mitts is a good way to illustrate the point Wovember is trying to make. Wool is not just a word for any yarn or fibre. It is a particular fibre with particular properties, which affects the wearability, washability and durability of the garment that contains it. My mitt collection is knit from a range of different types of yarn - can you guess the fibre content?

Camp Out Fingerless Mitts pattern

The colourful ones on the left are knit in Noro Kureyon, a pleasingly dense, brightly striped wool yarn (and Noro's most popular yarn, based on the number of projects on Ravelry). This yarn is springy and hard wearing. It is a great choice for mitts because it won't lose its shape or pill much.

The grey mitts are knit in Adriafil cashmere. The yarn was crazy expensive and probably will not wear well - but it is heavenly soft and warm. Just about affordable luxury.

The brown subtly striped ones are from Cascade Yarns Eco Duo - undyded 70% baby alpaca, 30% merino. Also decadently soft, but less expensive than cashmere. Regular alpaca tends to mat, or felt, over time, but I haven't noticed this effect with baby alpaca.

The final pair on the right are from Noro Silk Garden - 45% mohair, 45% silk, 10% wool (and Noro's second most popular yarn). Noro does some crazy yarn combinations, but this is a particularly successful one. Mohair is a very fuzzy fibre, but it has great sheen, body and durability. Silk also has great sheen, but is not so good on body and durability. In combination the silk dampens the fuzz, the mohair and wool strengthens the silk, and you end with an all round great yarn. It is a little scratchy though, so for sensitive skin you might prefer cashmere or baby alpaca.


I'll leave you with a final November activity - Dinovember - which doesn't seem to have any purpose other than to entertain (and also ostensibly to "help kids disconnect from their tech toys and engage in physical, imaginative play." Though it looks like the parents are having most of the fun). I don't have any dinosaurs (one of the hazards of not having children) so I can't join in, but I've borrowed a friend's contribution.

Rescue mission ©Angharad Jefferson

Not everyone is a fan, but this activity seems relatively harmless. At any rate, be sure to check out the Norwegian knitting dinosaurs.