I've been knitting a sweater out of HD (Harrisville Designs) Shetland yarn for the past week or so and it's been great, but there's not a lot to look at because it's just a plain sweater in black yarn, but I thought I'd write a bit about the experience.

I've knit a lot out of this yarn, mostly in stranded color work, and it's probably the yarn that I have the most of in my possesion, but I've never really used it alone until recently, and hadn't really knit anything with it in years. I'm a bit more than half way through a plain sweater in this yarn, and I find myself entranced.

It's a simple 2-ply yarn, woolen spun, dyed before spinning, and it comes in hanks (which I've never used,) and on half pound cones. In color work, I tend to get 8 or 8.5 stitches to the inch (US 2.5/3mm), against a plain 7 stitches to the inch (US 0/2mm), and the fabric is light but solid. There are a bunch of colors, which is why I started using it for color work, including a number of heathers as well as natural colors. I would by a pound (2 cones) of each color to make a stranded sweater, but I always ended up with a lot of left overs. A plain sweater (for me) is under a pound, though I expect fewer left overs.

The name "Shetland" describes the weight, not the fiber contribution: the wool is a blend of unspecified breeds (probably some collection of Corriedale, another Merino cross, and/or Merino), but the effect is quite similar to actual Shetland Wool. While the wool is imported, the Mill is in New England, and the yarn is stocked by many yarn stores that supply weavers (though you can buy directly from the mill as well.) There's something classic about the yarn: it smells like wool (probably the spinning oil, but still,) and the way that the fibers cling to each other makes it a jot to knit with.

HD Shetland isn't exactly soft, but it isn't rough either. I think part of this is about expectation management: because we know that this isn't going to be yarn to wear against more sensitive skin (wrists, etc.), the fact that it's actually pretty soft is a pleasant surprise. I also think that because the yarn is lofty and woolen spun the ends of the individual fibers end up less likely to be irritating or trigger reactions in the same way that smoother yarns can.

Conclusion: heartily recommend!