The Return of Knitting and My Search for Wool Tights

Paige Green Photography
Paige Green Photography 

Wool has really never left me. It’s been over a year since I’ve knit something with wool yarn, but I have wool with me every day: my dresses, skirt, socks, hats, sweaters (all secondhand from Etsy/Ebay), and even my underwear are wool!*

Of all the types of garments that I own, the most difficult to find is wool tights or leggings. I want wool tights or leggings that are durable, worthwhile to repair, and  from organically-raised, happy sheep. There’s nothing out there that fulfills my criteria, and if it did, it might be prohibitively expensive. I need to own a few pairs, and they can’t cost $95 each (SmartWool leggings are about that much last I checked).

Besides, I don’t want to own SmartWool leggings because they’re machine washable, which means all the fibers are actually coated in plastic! Fellow knitters may be familiar with this because yarn that’s undergone this treatment is called superwash. Can you say super gross? No thanks, I’ll take my yarn without synthetic treatments, please.***

My thoughts about yarn have changed since I last picked up a pair of knitting needles. I’m no longer interested in the softest, plushiest fiber. Right now, I want the yarn that feels, smells, and looks earthy. I want yarn that is alive!

Enter Full Belly Farm. In addition to growing amazing produce, they raise sheep for their wool and meat. They have a flock mixture of Ramboiillet, Lincoln, Suffolk, and Merino – the resulting fiber is soft, yet tough and hard-wearing. Their 3-ply worsted weight yarn is absolutely wonderful to work with. Can you see where this is going? 

Elizabeth Zimmerman has a pattern called “Nether Garments”** and with a few skeins of Full Belly’s beautiful brown yarn, I’ve been knitting up a storm. I’m about done with one leg (took a few days), and will begin on the other leg soon. My knitting muscles are reawakening, and are sore as a result, so I’m doing my best to listen to my body and to take many breaks. I’m on my way to having those wool tights, knit with yarn from happy sheep…at $10 a skein (250 yards)!

*I made myself a pair of undies from felted thrift store SmartWool sweater. It is absolutely divine to wear felted merino against your butt. DIVINE. There are sellers on Etsy who actually make these if you're interested. 

**I initially began to knit the Tights Pattern from Fibershed's Marketplace, designed by Kacy Dapp, but didn't enjoy the gaps in the stockinette (it's knit with size 10 needles). It wasn't keeping me warm enough! :-( 

***EDIT: Oh! I just learned on Ravelry's forums from another user who shared that Superwash wool can be processed in another way that doesn't coat it in plastic/resin. It's rather bathed in an acid bath, and the scales are stripped so that they cannot felt. That also sounds sad to me! :-( Oh well, it's preferably over the coating with plastic. Ick.


  1. I love your blog!!! I Totally agree about super wash, there used to be a great company called o-wool that manufactured organic washable merino fabrics and yarn. They removed the scales using a hydrogen peroxide process. The company went under a few years ago and the yarn side of things was purchased by someone else... sadly nobody picked up their fabric line :(. It needed a bit of work as far as sourcing transparency. Their fabrics were one of the best options on the market; I have yet to see a company be so innovative with wool.

  2. Hannah, thank you!! Your kind words mean a lot. I definitely remember o-wool; I can picture their logo right now!


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