Extreme Knitting & Crocheting Haul

I love how more and more people are discovering the beautiful arts of knitting and crocheting!  There is such a wide range of projects and materials available to experiment with, from tiny hooks and thin yarn for amigurumi, to big and chunky yarns for cowls and beanies.  You may have seen some stunning images of extreme knitting floating around online!  Extreme knitting requires extremely bulky yarn (we’re talking level 7 yarn and higher) and very large needles (e.g. size 25 mm and higher).  Arm knitting is also very popular since your arms themselves serve as the knitting needles, allowing you to get giant, gorgeous stitches.  You can read this article HERE about extreme knitting and to see some examples!

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A couple of months ago, my friend shared an image of her stunning knitted merino wool blanket on Facebook that she had purchased online.  I then began researching merino wool and what other supplies would be needed if I were to try and create a large blanket on my own.  I discovered that most of the merino wool suppliers were overseas in Europe and that shipping was very pricey.  I put this idea on the backburner but was still very intrigued by this idea of extreme knitting.

Much to my delight and surprise, a few weeks ago I discovered that Sarah of Mama Knows Luxury sells the supplies for extreme knitting and crocheting in her Etsy shop…and she is local to me in Edmonton!  Sarah sells top quality ultra thick merino roving yarn that is sourced from Ashland Bay.  This ethically sourced merino wool is gathered from countries like Peru, Australia, and New Zealand and is very luxurious and soft.  It’s amazing that we now have a Canadian supplier as fellow Canadians do not have to worry about high shipping costs and a fluctuating dollar.  Americans can also take advantage of the low Canadian dollar as well!  {Pictured below in two of the photos is Sarah– photo credits to Kelly of Knitbrooks!}

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I met up with Sarah in person recently, and it was lovely being able to chat about her store, her yarn, and her family!  She is a fellow mama to three children, and she adores crocheting!  When you purchase from Sarah, you will get wonderful customer service and plenty of guidance as she is so open to answering questions and helping you along the way!

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Now without further ado, I want to share my extreme knitting and crocheting haul with you all!  I wish you could feel and see everything in person, but these photos will have to suffice for now!  When I was researching merino wool online, it was hard to know how much 1 lb of merino wool looked like.  Pictured here is 1 pound of merino wool in the beautiful colour “Mint”!   Doesn’t it look so incredibly soft and fluffy?  A micron is the measurement used to express the diameter of wool fiber, and one micron is equal to one millionth of a meter.  This unspun 100% merino wool roving is 21 micron and available in over 50 colours!  The little bow shows where the beginning of the yarn ball is!

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This is how much 1 kg of merino wool looks like in the colour “Salmon”!  This is in “ball” form (just like the mint above) and Sarah recommends dropping it in a small bowl and unraveling as needed.  Sarah writes that 1 kg is enough to make 2-3 cowls, several headbands, or a shawl.  Another option is for you to “split” the yarn (see Sarah’s video on how to split this thick yarn HERE) so that you get double the yardage!  When split, you can use a 25 mm tool and possibly make a pouf or a hat!

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Here is a comparison showing the 1 lb of mint versus the 1 kg of salmon! I can’t get over how vibrant and fluffy this wool is- don’t they look like giant clouds of cotton candy?

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Next up is 2 lbs of this gorgeous Cafe Au Lait colour!  This skein is “hank” style, in which you untwist, untie the ends, lay it flat and work off the hank.  Sarah writes that 2 lbs is perfect for splitting the yarn to make a smaller throw, a pillow cover, or a couple of cowls at half or full thickness…the possibilities are endless!

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This is what 3 kg of beautiful undyed cream 100% merino wool looks like!  I am extremely excited to play with this wool as I know I can make a gorgeous blanket with this amount! ***[Update July 2016: I have completed my gorgeous Extreme Knitted Blanket– read the full post and see extreme knitting in action HERE!]

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When working with such gigantic wool, extremely large tools are needed!  I have never in my life seen such a huge crochet hook before: this, my friends, is what a 40 mm crochet hook looks like!  These beauties are handmade in Beaumont, Alberta by MD Handfield Designs Inc, exclusively for Sarah’s shop Mama Knows Luxury.  They are made from poplar and are lightweight and perfectly balanced.  The deep hook is just right for huge yarn, and Sarah recommends oiling it every 6 months with beeswax, coconut oil, furniture oil, or any other oil you prefer.  It is very rare to find crochet hooks of this size, and I’m delighted that she offers them so we can dabble in extreme crocheting!

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My other tool options are these huge 50 mm birch circular needles!  They were handmade in Quebec, and Sarah is currently lending them to me.  If there is enough interest, she might carry them in her shop in the future!

[Update: Sarah now sells “Premium Extreme Circular Knitting Needles” in her shop HERE!  She designed them herself and had them locally exclusively for her shop!]

If you want to knit your own blanket using this merino wool, you could also use the technique of arm knitting since you won’t need any other tools besides your arms!  I am sooo curious how these knitting needles will feel when I work with them!

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Lastly, if you want to try some merino wool that is not so extreme, Sarah also carries this bulky (level 6) merino wool in cream.  Merino is hyperallergenic and has amazing wicking properties!  I am excited to work up a project with this yarn as well!

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I am in brainstorming mode right now as I am figuring out how I am going to use all these materials.  I’d love for you to give suggestions on what types of patterns and projects you would like to see (crochet vs knit too) and any tips you might have if you’ve worked with unspun merino wool in the past.  From what I’ve researched and from talking to Sarah, be forewarned that this wool does shed a lot in the beginning since it is unspun.  It should stop shedding after a certain period of time or after it has been washed.  The care instructions are to hand wash with a mild detergent and lay flat to dry.  Furthermore, unspun wool breaks easily so great care needs to be taken so that not too much pressure is put on the strand, particularly since we are mostly used to working with spun yarn!  Its natural and delicate state gives this merino wool such a luxurious look!

If you have any questions at all, feel free to ask Sarah directly or leave a comment below as Sarah can help answer them!  Do check out Sarah’s Etsy store HERE and follow her on Facebook and Instagram as well to get her updates and see more of her gorgeous wool!  These are definitely luxury items, so you can save them on your wish lists for the future or order some if you’ve been wanting to crochet or knit a luxury item for a loved one or for a special occasion!  Sarah has graciously given me a coupon code to share with my readers: use “Allaboutami05″ to get 5% off everything in her Etsy shop until July 15th!  I am excited to delve into these extreme knitting and crocheting adventures, and I am delighted that you can join me!

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Note: I was provided with all the materials in this blog post by Sarah of Mama Knows Luxury.  All opinions and views expressed are my own!