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A skein of Beaverslide Worsted
Beaverslide Worsted once knitted up
click each image to enlarge

Yarn Profile: Beaverslide Dry Goods Worsted-Weight Mohair/Wool Yarn

First Impressions
Occupying 3,000 acres along Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, Beaverslide Dry Goods is a family ranch whose Rambouillet/merino sheep produce the yarns you see here.

When the sheep are shorn, their fibers are sent to a small woolen mill in Alberta, Canada, for processing. The mill practices environmentally responsible techniques, avoiding the use of harsh chemicals or stringent processing methods.

Prepared fibers are dyed "in the wool" before being spun, which allows for a more uniform color distribution as well as the addition of delicate heathered flecks of contrasting colors.

The fibers are then spun on an antique spinning mule. While commercial frame-spun yarns are drawn and spun continuously under a steady tension, mule-spun yarns are drawn, spun, relaxed, and wound in six-feet increments.

This process gives the fibers a chance to relax and blossom, producing a fluffy if not slightly jumbled look. Mule-spun yarns tend to undergo a marvelous transformation in the wash, turning into exceptionally soft, blurred, almost felted pieces of fabric.

This yarn is available in 39 colors, most of which are muted heathers and earthy solids as well as six all-natural undyed colors. Beaverslide Dry Goods also offers a pure wool, two-ply fisherman's weight yarn in 22 colors.

For this review, I used Mountain Twilight.

Knitting Up
This yarn felt smoother and more relaxed than other mule-spun yarns I've tried, possibly because of the presence of mohair fibers.

The yarn's two strands are loosely plied together, occasionally coming un-plied while I was working with them. When this happened, I simply let go of the yarn and the spin returned.

The loose ply phenomenon didn't result in any snags. The yarn itself had a somewhat uneven consistency, amplified by the jumbled fibers and flecks of different colors. But when knit up, it produced a beautifully steady and smooth piece of fabric. Knitting was fast and easy.

Blocking / Washing
This yarn was another example of why we can't always judge a book by its cover, especially where seemingly raw farm yarns are concerned. They may look plain enough on the skein, but don't be deceived.

As I washed them, my swatches transformed from basic knitted squares into beautifully soft, smooth, cohesive, felt-like pieces of fabric. My colors didn't bleed a bit, and they required only minimal blocking. Once dry, I measured my swatches -- there was no change in gauge whatsoever.

Wearing
The merino/Rambouillet fibers used in this yarn are among the softest you can find, making this yarn ideal for next-to-the-skin wear.

Although mohair tends to be a tad rougher, the 10% mohair here didn't cause any problems. Its main benefit is in providing a reflective quality to the yarn when held in sunlight.

Because the fibers had time to bloom during the spinning process, the yarn is springy, elastic, and lightweight. But it also is more prone to shifting and pilling over time.

After a moderate amount of wear and tear, the knitted surface of my swatches began to blur and hint at pilling. Medium-sized pills appeared after more thrashing, but they were well masked by the yarn's fuzzy surface.

Conclusion
I stumbled upon Beaverslide Dry Goods during an afternoon of Web wanderings. Based only on their story and the lovely pictures on their Web site, I ordered a batch of yarns to try.

Within just a few days my order arrived, beautifully wrapped and smelling vaguely of sweet flowers. The hanks of yarn seemed plain enough, but the fibers were unusually soft and plush, and the colors particularly subtle. I love discovering new sources of yarn, and Beaverslide Dry Goods exceeded my expectations.

The quality, consistency, and professionalism are matched by an exceptional price. A medium-sized women's sweater averages $37.50, which is almost embarrassingly low considering the obvious work and attention that go into the product.

 
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