The wonderful world of wool

Pair of socks. Looping technique. Wool. Believed to have been

A note from Kathleen: Wool is the knitter's workhorse (work sheep?), and the new issue of PieceWork celebrates the rich history of wool around the world and in our own back yards.

I've just returned from a trip to Egypt, so the article about recreating ancient Egyptian socks was of particular interest to me. The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in London started a project called "Sock it!," in which the goal was to reproduce the circa A.D. 400 to 500 two-toed Coptic (Egyptian Christians) socks from the Petrie Collection, using ancient techniques and to create a pattern enabling others to reproduce them. It's a fascinating and well-researched article by Charlotte Booth; I think you'll enjoy it, too.

Here's PieceWork editor Jeane Hutchins to tell you more about PieceWork's wool issue.

Wool was in use in Egypt as early as 2000 B.C; by A.D. 400-500, Egyptian artisans were crafting wool socks using a looping technique that is a precursor to knitting. Vikings introduced wool to Iceland when they arrived with their sheep in the ninth and tenth centuries.

Long established as a medium for clothing and household textiles, wool yarn became a favorite with embroiderers in the mid-nineteenth century as the hand-colored patterns on grids produced originally in Berlin and worked with fine Merino Saxon wool reached worldwide circulation. These are only a few examples of wool's long role in textile history that you'll encounter in this issue.

We also explore the survival of four endangered sheep breeds. Two, the Manx Loaghtan and the Leicester Longwool, have British roots; the Navajo-Churro and the American Tunis arose in the New World. In some cases, a single person saved an entire breed from extinction; in others, it took many more. Author Deborah Robson offers tips on how each of us can do our part: three knitting projects and one crochet project serve as an introduction to using each of the four wools.

Wool is my favorite fiber. If it's not yours already, subscribe to PieceWork now and let us bring you into the fold.

P.S. It's back—the PieceWork Pincushion Contest! Read all about it and start planning your entry today!

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