WOOL…I’M ALL WRAPPED UP IN IT
I have a new obsession. Perhaps this is coming at an unusual time as I’m a Minnesotan and we are finally at a place where we can safely say it will not snow again. (It won’t, right?) It just stormed and hailed and snowed last week. I don’t think our sweet MidCoast hearts can handle much more winter.
So now that we’re all outside and doing yard work and walking the lakes and opening up windows to refresh the closed in darkness of our Hoth-like winters, I want to talk about this apt subject: wool.
Wool in spring? Yes, wool! It is my new obsession. It started a few years ago when I saw an ad for a Pendleton trader blanket. I did that maniacal thing where I constantly watched for sales and agonized over whether or not I should be spending $300+ on a blanket. Then my mother-in-law asked what she could get me for Christmas. Um…let me think: a Pendleton blanket! Obv. But here is the strange part of the story: I left that gift in its original packaging for TWO YEARS (sorry Jan!). We moved, it got stored in the basement, I just wasn’t ready for it.
In 2018 I pulled it out at Christmas and knew I’d been missing out. It was gorgeous and lovely and I was falling in love…with wool. What really sealed the wool obsession for me, though, was one day when I visited my favorite neighborhood thrift store: Arc’s Value Village. Listen, I know a lot of my friends (and definitely my family) are clear about my love for Arc’s. I would say 80% of my clothes come from Arc’s. Perhaps more. My favorite way to discover delicious finds is to shop randomly, mid-week. This is what I was doing when I came across my wool jackpot that spun up my obsession and has been feeding it ever since.
The jackpot secret sneak: there are often bins organized onto moveable shelves at Arc’s that are kind of “on-deck” bins full of merchandise ready to be placed on shelves. Since one of my hunter/gatherer modes is to pay attention to fabric + pattern, my eye caught the edge of a blanket with red stitching. I’m a sucker for red stitches (which is another post all together). I pulled out this incredible blanket from the bin and discovered four amazing things:
- The pattern looks both modern and subdued. (Cool.)
- It was made in Australia in 1944. (1944!?)
- It is 100% pure wool. (Yum.)
- It is $9. (NINE DOLLARS.)
Why does it matter that it’s 100% pure wool? Well, virgin wool is superior than combination fibers. It lasts longer and it is heavier and warmer. It is naturally breathable in cold weather yet also breathable in warm weather. Plus, it’s water-repellent, durable and insulating. I mean. Can you get any better?
Yes. For me it got better because there were TWO other wool blankets under that first one from Australia. One was an army blanket that I passed on (HUGE regret, btw) and the other was a plaid with fringe. I bought my two wool blankets, raced home, told my family about it and ever since so we’ve been going back to Arc’s looking for wool blankets any chance we get. (I’ve since bought four more.)
But then my wool obsession started getting seriously fun. On one of my visits to AVV, new items were set out in the small vintage section of the store. There I found two wool skirts, and they both fit. As you probably know with vintage clothing, sizing is sometimes very different from one country to another and from one era to another. I’m usually a 2…but I bought a vintage size 10 skirt. One is a floor-length plaid, lined Pendleton wool skirt, made in the USA. The other is a pure, new wool skirt made in Scotland with a beautiful kilt pin. It feels good to know I likely will not meet someone on the street wearing these same skirts anytime soon.
My intentions were set on wool for months. I went back to Arc’s on a weekend and found a red plaid wrap skirt of pure virgin wool made in Canada. Wearing wool feels classic and good. I feel I can never go wrong with anything made of wool. I’m looking into how to care for all my wool loves because I want them to last. Wool items are hard to part with which is why discovering them is such a treasure.
My love for wool is being sated by Arc’s Value Village. Go there…you might get lucky in wool. (And if you are, I’m already jealous!)