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Polar Meringue Teddy Bear
Knitted bear and mini-shawl in handspun Teeswater wool yarn
by Jackie E-S
Teeswater is a breed of sheep rendering a wool unique in texture and length, as well as offering challenges to a designer. My results include a mini triangular lace shawl in a fine worsted-spun 2-ply, worn on a teddy bear knitted in soft bouclé core-spun yarn. I named my teddy bear and shawl creation
- "polar" because the fiber preparation, spinning, and knitting techniques used for bear and shawl are at opposite ends of the spectrum of each other; and
- "meringue" because my teddy bear is creamy soft and airy, while the mini-shawl has just a bit of crispness like the baked edges of meringue.
Polar Meringue Teddy Bear is created from Teeswater fleece with emphasis on two very different sets of fiber preparation, spinning, and knitting techniques. The mini- shawl is lace-knitted from combed locks worsted-spun into a very fine 2-ply yarn. The bear is plain-knitted from a lofty carded preparation core-spun into a bulky bouclé plied with silk.
The Teeswater fleece came from A. Fisher in N. York, England, donated by Deb Gourley in Iowa, and distributed by Kim Kaulfield of Far Out Farms in Tennessee. Throughout my experiments with preparing and spinning this wool fiber, I called this the "sheep they forgot to shear". My 16 - 18" locks were so much longer than the typical lengthy 6 - 12".
In the textiles collection of Kathe Kliot, I was most fortunate to see some antique knitted laces. Those in mohair had a fascinating translucent quality compared to the others in fine wools, silks, and cottons. Teeswater is "similar" to mohair, but looks can be misleading.
I combed the Teeswater locks individually with a small flicker-type tool, then spun a very fine worsted-spun singles with enough twist to result in a well-defined 2-ply. The locks were lustrous and became even silkier looking with the fine worsted-style spinning. I was getting a translucent quality similar to mohair, but far less drape than I had anticipated. The Teeswater fiber has a great deal of body, and the hand in this laceweight 2-ply is "crisp" — more like a linen. I knit the mini-shawl in this laceweight yarn on size 3 US needles, using the HeartStrings Elegantly Simple Triangle Shawlthat easily adapts to any yarn and size shawl.
The teddy bear was inspired by the lofty bouclé yarn created from the "left-overs" of the combing process. I thoroughly drum-carded these shorter fibers to a homogenous and lofty batt. Maintaining a very light touch, I core-spun the carded fiber around white sewing thread. I achieve the boucle effect by plying with a commercial silk singles. The bear is plain stockinette stitch on size 8 US needles, knitted mostly circularly. The stuffing is more carded Teeswater. For the features, I used a small amount of Wensleydale lamb locks I had on hand.
So now my teddy is all dressed up, but where shall she go!
Instructions for the teddy bear are included in the online class I teach at Needlecraft Univeristy.