A skein of Heaven's Hand Wool Classic
Heaven's Hand Wool Classic swatch
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Yarn Profile: Cornelia Hamilton Heaven's Hand Wool Classic

First Impressions
Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton may be best known for her work with intensely colorful Noro yarns, her Handknitting Collections number 1 and number two being true classics for anyone who loves Noro.

But this Swedish knitwear designer has another side to her aesthetic as well, one that thrives on smoother classic yarns that let the stitch—rather than color—play center stage.

Something else you may not know about Hamilton? She has her own line of yarns that retail widely throughout Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. Finding Hamilton Yarns in the U.S. is a little trickier, but I finally got my hands on some at the most recent Vogue Knitting Live in Los Angeles. She has three yarns in her line, a mulberry silk, a recycled sari silk, and a 100% hand-dyed wool. I naturally chose the wool.

Knitting Up
This is a classic, old-fashioned kind of yarn your grandmother may have used—were she a knitter who liked classic old-fashioned yarns. Its closest cousin, if not twin sister, would be Cascade 220. Both are made in Peru of a medium-grade wool, composed of four plies twisted together at a medium angle, and sold in 200 gram skeins. Their skeins differ in yardage by one yard.

But something about this yarn feels slightly different. The fiber. It may just be my imagination, but this yarn seems to have greater crispness and luster to it. It feels a hint bulkier and airier than the Cascade. On her Web site Hamilton identifies the fibers as Corriedale, which is essentially Peruvian Highland wool.

Whatever the breed of wool, the fibers have splendid loft and character. They aren't scratchy as much as they are lively. The personality of each fiber gives the skein a marvelous squeezability, resisting compression in a way that bodes well for this same yarn knit up into clothing and worn on our bodies.

My skein had no knots or irregularities, and the knitting was easy. The fibers have a good amount of "grab" to them, giving each ply sufficient cohesion to prevent snagging. My stitches looked smooth and even, and I was able to knit and purl by touch alone without any problems.

Blocking / Washing
My knitted swatch had quite a bit of energy in it. By this I mean that it felt somewhat tense, the side edges curling backwards and the upper edges curling inwards.

I dropped it in its warm soapy bath and waited for it to sink beneath the bubbly surface. It sat there for a good minute before finally surrendering. When it did sink, it released a barely visible puff of yellow into the water before rinsing clear and blocking back to a perfect square.

By the time it had dried, the swatch had relaxed and matured into a cohesive piece of fabric. There was no change in stitch or row gauge.

By virtue of containing four well-twisted plies, this kind of yarn would wear reasonably well no matter what its component fibers were. But these fibers are Peruvian Highland wool, with a staple length that frequently exceeds 4 inches and a generous diameter that thwarts most abrasion attempts.

It's a strong yarn that wears well. Just trying to tug this yarn apart was a struggle.

Initial abrasion quickly produced one faint pill, but after that I huffed and I puffed and I could not wear this yarn down. The fabric softened and its surface grew slightly blurrier, but that was all.

This is a great comfort yarn, not too rough, but not too finicky or demanding either. It'll happily do anything you need or crave, whether it's ribbing, cables, colorwork, or just a soothing sea of stockinette. The only thing I wouldn't use it for is lace, partly because the gauge would make your lace pattern huge and partly because the four plies make it too round to show off lace openwork.

Heaven's Hand Wool Classic in cables
The stitch definition on ribbing and cables is phenomenal. (I couldn't resist snapping a picture of the sweater, at left, from the Hamilton Yarns booth at VK Live. I'm afraid I don't know the name of the pattern.)

Meanwhile, the hand-dyed colors have a friendly mottling that keeps them in the same hue while avoiding any stronger variegation that would produce jarring horizontal stripes in your fabric. I should also note that there are several "natural" colors that would be fantastic for anyone seeking an undyed palette.

This is the yarn I want to use for that mythical cardigan I'm always talking about, the one that you put on in the morning before making your first cup of tea. It has enough strength and character to withstand the slings and arrows of whatever the day may throw at you.

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