Category Archives: Ravellings


I decided a while ago to let my longstanding subscriptions to Designer Knitting (as Vogue is now known in the UK) and Interweave Knits lapse. Not without pangs; Vogue in particular is very close to my heart, having been my connection to the world of Real Knitters since waaaay back in the day when I was in South Africa without access to any decent yarn shops,* knew no one outside my family who knit, and of course Ravelry and blogs just didn’t exist.

My Vogue collection goes back unbroken to 1999, plus occasional earlier issues from 1993 on. I only found Interweave later, in the UK, so that shelf starts in 2003.  I purged all my other magazines when we moved, but those two titles are untouchable. It’s not that I’ve actually knit much of anything from them, nor do I plan to. But they are inspiration made concrete – not to mention advice, education, contemplation, temptation, pleasure.

All of which – plus the vital sense of connection that drove my subscriptions for years – are now available online. In vast quantity and constantly updated; no endless waiting for the next issue to drop through my door. Oh sure, the thrill when it does drop through my door is unabated. But paying for that thrill, when inspiration and connection flow freely past my eyes every time I fire up the internet, was starting to seem a little self-indulgent. Especially with my post-move, SAHM budget being pretty darn tight. So I ignored the renewal notices; I let procrastination turn gradually into firmer purpose: I won’t renew. I don’t really need them any more. Do I?

And then today, picking up my last issue – and presumably last renewal notice –  from the postbox, the thought suddenly struck me: what if everyone allows Ravelry to replace their subscriptions? What if the magazines finally stop publishing? I’m shocked that it took me so long to think of that, especially since I actually work in publishing and have very recent, painful experience of this trend. But it genuinely only now occurred to me: that’s where we’re going. And I can’t bear to think of a knitting world without Vogue and Interweave.

Editorial standards count for something. Curated expertise counts for something. And I have no doubt there are readers who rely absolutely on the magazines… but maybe not enough of those readers to keep the mags alive. I love Ravelry so much, and the quality of many self-publishing designers is sublime. But I don’t want the whole market to go that way.

So I’m putting my money where my mouth is – and after all, it’s really not much money. Money is energy. It takes me time and energy to earn it; I want to direct that energy toward things I believe in. Just as I think one should never leave a yarn shop or a bookshop emptyhanded (even if habitual online shopping has one’s credit card number imprinted on one’s brain), I’ve decided, I need to keep supporting these magazines.

That’s my excuse, and I’m sticking to it.

  • That’s changed, of course! But at the time…

Small victories

I’m feeling pretty good this week. There’s no big excitement or achievement or anything, I just feel a little bit pleased with myself, like I’m getting a bit more on track with doing the things I want to do.

I’ve started exercising regularly again. Last year I was doing really well, but a long holiday followed by extended family flu sessions and Christmas and… stuff… threw me totally off. Now I’m back in the groove, or getting there. So yay for getting moving.

And I made a playdate with a neighbour. This is such a small thing, really, and yet a big thing. See, hardly any of my London friends have kids – certainly not around Claudia’s age. And of course she doesn’t have siblings. So if I want her to socialise with other toddlers – which I do – I really have to make an effort to network. And I’m crap at that. Despite the fact that our street is positively hopping with babies and toddlers. (Seriously. They’re everywhere.) I think part of the problem is that other mums tend to have their networks already set up: their own friends, relatives etc, if not in the actual neighbourhood then not too far away (and they have cars, which we don’t). So although they’re perfectly friendly, they don’t have much incentive to make an effort themselves; and my few previous overtures have been well received, but not reciprocated. But honestly, it’s my problem, not theirs: I just have to learn to be much more proactive than I have been so far.

A couple of weeks I was thinking this very thing, and as luck would have it, I ran into two of these neighbours that very morning, and Made a Move. The first failed – because she’s moving to Russia! Oh well. But the second one took, and she came round on Tuesday. Fun was had, and she left with a follow-up date for next week. Level up in the Mom game?

And last: I finally – FINALLY – published a pattern on Ravelry.

Cinders is something I made absolutely ages ago – finished in May 2010, in fact! I designed it to show off two beautiful, but underperforming, Purlescence yarns (Jenspun mohair and Serina bamboo). And then, deeply mired in babywrangling and such, I completely failed to finish editing the actual pattern. I’ve finally done that (though to my shame, somewhere in the past 20 months I lost the original measurements, so the schematic isn’t complete). It involved learning to use Inkscape to create a schematic diagram, and Intwined to create a chart: yay new skills! So here it is… and now, on to the next thing on my half-finished design list. Hm. I wonder how long it will be before you hear any more about that?!

Send me a signal, a beacon to bring me home

I remember at this time last year, seeing a whole lot of “goodbye 2010, don’t let the door hit you on the way out” around the blogs, twitter etc. Apparently last year sucked for a lot of people. This year must have been better, since I haven’t seen any of that. Rah!

For me, 2010 was fine, but 2011 was better. Odd, though. I closed one chapter, but haven’t really started the next. Hm.

Selling Purlescence was A Thing. I’d been contemplating or planning it for a good long time, so although it was bittersweet, the grieving process was pretty much over by the time I actually announced it was for sale – then came the nailbiting anxiety and stress! Was I going to find a buyer? Were negotiations going to be horrendously difficult?* Was handover going to be traumatic and messy? As it turned out, of course, it all went fine – better than fine. I was lucky enough to be in the position of choosing the right people to take over, and Sarah was incredibly great to work with. Even better, since then, I’ve watched her and Jonathan steadily implement pretty much all the improvements I hoped for – there was this wishlist in my mind, things I wanted to do but hadn’t time/energy/resources for, and the idea that someone else could take Purlescence further down that road went a long way toward soothing the sting of selling up. To see it all coming to fruition is fantastic. And, okay, bittersweet. But mostly fantastic.

But then it was over, and I became officially a hausfrau. Or “stay at home mum”, as you prefer. It’s odd. It’s very much not something I ever pictured for myself. And yet, I don’t want anything else, right now. That would be the laziness speaking. Being temporarily without the responsibility of earning a living is… refreshing. Comfortable. Maybe a bit too comfortable. Going back to working life, whenever that happens, will be a bit of a shock to the system.

Not that I’ve done nothing. I have taken a little editing work over the year, erratically, as it comes up. Great to be able to work from home – and great that Elfling is finally settling into the preschool groove, which should make work easier next year. I do have more work lined up (huzzah!), so it’s possible I’ll be slightly busier in the coming months. We’ll see. I’m not under any pressure to earn right now (and yes, I am very, very well aware of how privileged I am). And while I am always delighted to have a bit of independent income, editing – at least for the clients I have – is not enormously exciting.

When selling Purlescence, I kept hearing the question: “So when are you starting your next business?” There’s an assumption that having done it once, I am clearly an Entrepreneur and will inevitably do it again. Hm. The thing is, while I am frankly dead chuffed to have made a success of my first go, I still don’t feel like I actually know how to Do Business. I did learn a lot, and I have pretty clear ideas about how I should go about any future venture, but it still scares me. I have a few ideas, of course, but they’re pie in the sky more than solid business opportunities… so, maybe one day. Not something I’m working towards, though.

I’m also regularly asked if I’m planning to design. Hm, again. As career goals go, it’s a great one (despite less than glittering financial prospects for designers). I have of course dreamed of “being a designer” for a very long time. Long enough that I have had ample opportunity to confront my weaknesses in that regard. (All these years knitting, making my own designs, and only two published patterns? There’s a reason for that, or maybe reasons. Lack of ideas isn’t one of them.) I do believe that I can pull my perfectly fitted socks up and give it a good, solid bash – at some point. Not sure if right now is that point, though.

The point of all this rambling is that there’s a bit of a vacuum. Back in May, I expected that I’d spend the rest of the year catching my breath, literally and metaphorically cleaning house,** and gearing up for the next thing, whatever that might be. But I guess I got lazy. There’s a fair bit of housecleaning still to be done.*** And I still don’t really know what the next thing is.

Some years ago – right before I moved to London – I had a conversation with a friend who had just taken a crewing course. She was telling me about learning ships’ signals. Apparently there is one that means: “This ship is clean and ready to leave the harbour.” This caught my imagination powerfully; which makes sense. I was itching to leave the harbour of my Joburg life and start something new (and indeed, very soon I did). The other day, I saw a fortune (as in cookie) that snagged my attention in a similar way: “A ship in harbour is safe. But that’s not why ships are built.”

I don’t know, yet, where my ship will be sailing next. I guess I’ll figure it out. For now, I’ll just carry on with getting it clean, and trust that when it’s ready to leave harbour… I’ll know the destination.


* Sarah, it’s probably safe to say this now: I was terrified of you. Terrified. You just seemed so professional and well seasoned, and I suffered from acute imposter syndrome the whole time I was running the shop.
** Okay… mostly metaphorically.
*** Not as much metaphorically as I’d like.

Rules and obligations

I am on a roll. I am suffused with smugness and delight. I am embracing the Joy of Finishing – not just finishing any old thing, but finishing a veritable slew of Other People’s Knitting. Well, my knitting, but knitting for other people. You know? The unselfish kind, or the obligation kind, depending on perspective and/or level of impatience and frustration.

I’m basically a selfish knitter. I like knitting for myself. I’m not that fast, and I don’t have that much time to knit, and I have a whole HUGE mental list of things I want to wear and must therefore first knit. I have a huge stash full of yarn that is almost entirely chosen to suit my own complexion, taste, and wardrobe needs. I have plans for this yarn. I am selfish.

But I also have friends, and family, and enough awareness of their good points to know that they might also be deserving of the fruits of my needles. It helps that they are actually appreciative of these fruits. So, between rashly made offers and flat out begging, I tend to accumulate a second list: a list of Knitting Owed. And then follows the tricksome task of trying to juggle those lists, set priorities and make things happen. It doesn’t always go well. I never actually forget the promises I’ve made… but those projects tend to get postponed for reasons ranging from the reasonable (“I have a brandnew, sleepless baby and am so not ready to design and knit an XL men’s jumper, ok?”) to the perhaps slightly less well-justified (“I have totally cast on for that lace shawl but it’s my bedside project and now Armin doesn’t like me knitting in bed!”).

I am pleased and proud to report that I’ve been on something of a roll this year. As I surfaced from the baby/early toddler fog of knit deprivation, I did in fact make a point of prioritising those outstanding obligations, and have slowly cleared the decks. It feels great.

All in all, this year I have delivered a “colourful jumper” to my dad (requested maybe five or six years ago), a crochet shawl to my mother-in-law (requested I think two years ago), and a cabled jumper to an old friend (requested also easily six years ago… I even bought the yarn about four years ago). I also made Claudia one cardigan and one tank top, and completed a tunic; made four washcloths for the family; and three baby gifts (one still in progress, actually). For myself, just one Calorimetry and two pairs of socks.

It has, in other words, been all about what needed to be made – mostly for others, sometimes for myself. And honestly, it hasn’t been the most exciting or satisfying knitting. Every project involved a lot of stop-starting, as I slowly figured out the best way to fulfil the brief (colour! cables!) while also accommodating my own time constraints and the wearer’s fashion needs (not that much colour! not that many cables!). In almost every case, I started out with an original design in mind, but ended up following a pattern (and/or simplifying the concept considerably), in the interests of Getting the Damn Thing Done. Which was pretty unsatisfying. But getting the damn things done, well, that was satisfying indeed. So it all works out.

Here’s the interesting thing:* it was only while writing this blog post that I suddenly realised why it had taken me so long (two to six years apiece? seriously??) to get to those promised knitty gifts. Obviously, it wasn’t just Claudia. No… the real inhibiting factor was Purlescence. And it wasn’t just about time. The bigger problem, I think, was that while running the shop, I had all these Rules about what I should be knitting – using shop yarn, and such, and preferably designing, too. I had to be knitting as a Professional, rather than as a hobbyist. But the thing is, that didn’t go so well. Much as I tend to freeze up when designing for others, I froze up under my self-imposed constraints. Maybe that’s because I have a Problem With Authority (TM) – even my own! Maybe it’s fear of failure. I don’t know. It’s a bunch of crap, is what it is, and it makes me want to kick myself in the pants, but there it is. With all the ideas I had about knitting to show off shop yarn, designing to promote shop yarn, and so on… I actually achieved very little. I wasn’t getting things done. I wasn’t delivering on my promises. And I certainly wasn’t having any fun.**

So here I am, with an increasingly independent toddler, and no business to run, and suddenly I’m Getting Things Done! It’s immensely exciting. Even if, as mentioned, the actual FOs aren’t. I still have quite a queue of things that need to be made (hat, handwarmers, chunky cowl, jacket), rather than things I desperately want to make (shawl! lacy cowl! self-designed jacket!), which is a pity… but at least they are now, mostly, things for me. And I can see, just on the horizon, a future in which I finally get to knit the things that have been making my fingers itch while I was otherwise occupied.

The big question, perhaps, being: is this when I get to design the things making my fingers itch? It’s what people keep asking. After Purlescence, what next? Are you going to Design?

Perhaps. Perhaps not quite yet. I want to; I really do. The next big deck-clearing effort will involve all those half-finished patterns I have lying around – so, paperwork, more than actual knitting. Which I hope will feel as liberating, as lightening, as fulfilling my unselfish obligations has been. Maybe it’ll also help to get me into the pattern writing groove (at present I find it enormously daunting; I’m not great with the notes, and the grading, and the schematics, and oy with the numbers already). But you know… maybe I’m not ready yet. Or maybe I’m not really designer material. I don’t know. I do know that pushing myself to Produce like that is likely to backfire as completely as it did on the knitting-for-Purlescence front. So, the new rule? No rules, no pressure. I get to knit just for fun again.


* Note to self: Consider getting to “the interesting thing” before writing half a dozen boring paragraphs, mmkay? Just a thought.
** Well. I was having a huge amount of fun running the shop and all. I just wasn’t enjoying what I was achieving with the actual knitting so much – which is a serious bummer.

“Hell of handicrafts”? Really? I mean… really?

Oh, Alex. You’ve gone and gotten the knitters’ backs up now. Again. So here we are, looking like a bunch of humourless harridans for taking offence at such a lighthearted piece; and fair enough, joke’s a joke. It’s a funny article. Really it is. I laughed, especially at your 10 rules. But it also made me cross, in ways that were just so completely unnecessary.

Not liking crafts is fine. Frankly I’m not a big fan of Crafts myself. (What? I’m not! I love knitting. Crochet is great. I have nothing but admiration for lacemakers, embroiders, and dressmakers of all kinds. All crafts, obviously. And anybody who enjoys doing pottery, bookbinding, beading, mosaic or any kind of craft at all, well, more power to ’em, and I will happily browse Etsy for your fine products. But the idea of Doing Crafts – rather than pursuing any specific interest – still sets my teeth on edge.) But why on earth did you have to be so insulting toward those of us who like to make things? It’s not just lack of clue. It’s breathtaking lack of logic and consistency.

I used to work with you. So my first reaction on reading this was: “Damn, I wish I’d had a chance to convince you that knitting doesn’t mean living a Fifties housewife existence.” But, hang on, you already have crafters in your close circle, whose crafts you admire. So it’s not that you haven’t had a chance to see that a person can whip up a beautiful lace scarf and still, say, hold down a job. Given that, how to explain statements like this:

“Luckily, I already have a scarf. I bought it with money I had earned by going to work instead of staying at home and making things.”

What on earth makes you imagine that crafting and careers are mutually exclusive? You do understand the concept of hobbies, as something that happens in one’s spare time, right?

Right! Because, Alex, you say your hobbies involve TV, and the pub, and football. Fine. Nothing against the couch potato bit, I love some telly myself, though I’d hesitate to glorify such a passive endeavour with the name of “hobby”, but whatever. You know knitting* has been known to happen in combination with all those things? True! Well, maybe not the football part… though in the US, baseball fans certainly get their Stitch ‘n Pitch on, and what a fine idea that is. Presumably you also enjoy more intellectual pursuits; you are after all the books editor, and suggest reading Hegel as a more worthy alternative to embroidery. Again, and as commenters have pointed out, it is quite possible to do both; and again, that should be obvious, unless you’ve found it impossible to read a book since buying a telly.

As it happens, knitting can also sometimes be combined with work. Ask Rachael Herron of Yarnagogo, who works as a 911 dispatcher;** she and many of her colleagues knit on shift. I’ve been known to knit at work myself. Not to mention knitting on the train or bus to work. So, knitters can and do do all the things you do – for money, for fun – but in addition and maybe even at the same time we create beautiful things. Things you admire. Things you can’t make for yourself. I don’t mean to make you feel inadequate, you poor hamfisted thing, but maybe lose that condescending tone? Hm?

And speaking of condescending tones.

…there are my ideological objections: not to genuine crafters such as Maggie, or another friend who has always made and decorated cakes and is irked beyond endurance by the current fad for home baking…

What the friendly fuck, Alex? What the fuck? What on earth is a “genuine crafter”? And what on earth is there to object to in seeing other people take up one’s own hobby? I gotta tell you, I’ve been knitting and crocheting for twentymumble years, and I’m nothing but delighted by the “fad” for knitting. More crafters = bigger market = more resources = more crafters = more friends who share my interests. It’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. Sure, some of these new knitters may develop a lifelong passion while others just footle around for a while and then move on to something else. So what? How does this threaten me? Does your baking friend perhaps need some quality time with her therapist, or would a heart to heart with her evidently neglectful or unreasonably demanding mother do the trick? I’m baffled. Baffled.

I know that this suspicion of the “fad” for what might be seen as domestic arts is perhaps not entirely unfounded; or at least, it’s an interesting and complex subject, encompassing a whole slew of questions revolving around feminism, class and socio-economic pressures. As it happens, the subject was discussed extensively and insightfully in the notorious “pinny porn” thread on Ravelry, some years back. Do you know about Ravelry? It’s a social network (and much more than that) for knitters and crocheters. Actually, I’d say it’s the best social network on the web, partly because the standard of discourse is so high. With subgroups on anything you can think of, plus plenty of general interest conversations, it’s my first port of call whether I’m looking for help with computing or parenting – knowing my questions will be met with more comprehensive, intelligent and courteous replies than I could expect anywhere else. Incidentally, it also has an excellent feminist group.

What I’m saying, Alex, is that – in my fairly extensive experience, as a lifetime knitter and one who has spent five years running a shop for knitters – crafters don’t really fit the picture you seem to have of them. We’re not obsessed with reliving the austerity years. (Seriously. Especially those of us who’ve been known to pay £40 for a skein of handpainted, beaded cashmere. Cashmere we bought with money we earned by going to work instead of staying home and making stew… not to belabour a point.) We’re not desperately seeking out obscure and random items of home decor to embellish. We’re certainly not tucked on the sofa all day and all night, with needles in hand but without benefit of books, TV or friends. Not to put too fine a point on it, we have lives. And – honestly – we do also have a sense of humour. It’s just that there have been a few too many jokes at our expense. So next time, maybe you could try a little harder to be funny without being a total idiot? Please?

‘Preciate it.


* For simplicity’s sake, and because I know the knitting world better than that of any other craft, I’m using this word. It should be taken as read that I am including other crafts.

** And writes books, by the way. Two novels and one memoir published so far. So, one gruelling day (and night) job, one famously difficult sideline, and knitting isn’t even her only hobby – she plays the ukulele, too. Yeah, you’re right. Crafters really are a bunch of saddos with too much time on their hands.

I went, I saw, I stashed

So. Knit Nation, eh?

(Yes, basically another photo dump, but this one gets its own whole post because… well. Knit Nation!)

I didn’t take any classes. I really, really wanted to take Franklin’s photography class, but I was busy babywrangling when registration opened, and, well… I hear it sold out in about 4 minutes flat. Oh well. I’ve been doing my very best to learn how to use my camera, and am actually improving a tiny bit, and have also figured out that the auto settings really work very well indeed at least some of the time, and… look, I’m never going to be a yrn pr0nographer, but I am going to at least stop whining about it. And that’s a promise. (Yeah, right.) ANYway. So, I pootled along just for the Marketplace and general conviviality. I didn’t set myself a shopping list or budget, on grounds of I seriously have a huge and beautiful stash, consisting almost entirely of the kind of beautiful hand-dyed yarn so prevalent at shows, so I probably wouldn’t feel the need to buy anything much, right?

You can see how well that worked out.

In my defence, though, most of it really isn’t readily available outside of shows. And I don’t go to many shows. (Just this one and Fibre Flurry, really.) I bought three beautiful skeins of laceweight from Gabrielle‘s talented mother. And another lace skein from Well Manor Farm (the stall Clara Parkes got so excited about; it is wonderfully sheepy). And three skeins of Socktopus Sokkusu (talk about sproingy!). And one of Wollmeise. (I’m not even a huge Wollmeise fan. The colours are amazing, but I am not sure about the texture… no sproing! None! Still, yardage, and stitch definition, and durability… and, of course, the colours.) And, um, a Zauberboll and some Scrumptious… yeah, not so hard to get hold of, those, but they were right there. So, stash happened.

Hey, it’s not my fault, though! It was the shawls. Every other person seemed to be sporting an incredible shawl over their shoulders. (Doubly impressive, really, since it’s pretty damn hot in there. I had hoped C would be showing off on my behalf, but as much as she loves her rabbit jacket – seriously, she’s been wearing it even on really hot days – it was just too much for her.) Anyway, so yes: too much pretty knitting on show. Powerless to resist. Had to line up the wherewithal for future shawlage. Just had to.

Funny thing: I seem to be quite remarkably prone to colour ruts. Practically all of my laceweight stash is in subtle, heathery shades of purple and bronze. With fatter yarns I’m a bit more versatile, but chances are I’ll fall for turquoise before anything else. And this time? Twice, I had to buy two skeins of something because the two colours together looked exponentially more delicious than either did apart… and in both cases, the combination was teal and lime. Hm.

I might need to form some rules ahead of Fibre Flurry.

PS. This post is a bit weird and malformed. It’s all about stuff, and even if I spent almost all my time in the marketplace, my KN experience wasn’t really about stuff. It’s much more about the delight of being among My People; and also, this time, a bit about being there without a stand to run. Since I find exhibiting hugely, unreasonably stressful, scary and frankly distressing, that’s a good thing. But also sort of a weird thing. And while I sort of want to talk about that, because weird is interesting… well. It’s midnight. And I’m honestly not sure what I have to say. I guess it might come out later.

In search of sproing

I recently received a lovely compliment on Ravelry from someone who admired my design Twist & Shout, but said she hadn’t made it because she couldn’t find a suitable, animal-fibre-free yarn. Well, that sounded like a challenge. (Not that I expect her, or anyone who happens to like the pattern, necessarily to make it; I certainly don’t think I stand any chance of making a tenth of the patterns I like. But yarn substitution is a growing fascination with me, especially since I worked on a few issues of Yarn Forward and Inside Crochet, when I got to suggest alternative choices for the published patterns.)

Any yarn chosen for this jacket needs to be fairly bouncy, and lightweight.* Both are important because there’s just so much knitted fabric involved, and all that ribbing is in danger of stretching out and losing its shape. Sproingy yarn also makes for good cables. Sproing is not easy to come by in plant fibres, though, so you’ll probably need to look for some acrylic or microfibre content, which as a bonus will make it a bit warmer. What immediately sprang to mind was Rowan Calmer – a soft cotton blend that doesn’t behave at all like (heavy, inelastic) cotton – but that’s a DK, and T&S calls for aran. So, to Ravelry yarn search. I was looking for cotton plus acrylic or microfibre, with a specific eye to the yarn construction. Calmer is that rare beast, a true cabled yarn (Z ply on S ply), which is seriously effective at creating bounce, plus loft (lightness!), plus pill-resistance.** As my original messager pointed out, you don’t want to invest that much time and money in a jacket that then pills all over the show…

Turns out there are many, many possibilities. The following are, I think, the most promising; although I haven’t actually used any of them personally. Most of them I’ve never even seen; I am basing my choices on construction and user comments. So, use your own judgment.

Rowan All Seasons Cotton: Reportedly stretchy and light, with good stitch definition. Ticks the boxes. Must admit I haven’t loved it when I’ve looked at balls on the shelf, though; it has a tiny bit of that acrylic feel.
Filtes King Kim: I’ve never even heard of this brand, but the chainette construction and fibre blend look promising.
Plymouth Jeannee Worsted: A good-value yarn, but according to reviews, it still performs.

There, for what it’s worth, you have it. I’d love to hear more ideas, especially if anyone has actually made it with a non-animal yarn and can report back on performance.


* Starmadeshadow, I should admit at this point to being just a leetle worried about the Sublime I recommended for your version. As you know it’s turned out surprisingly weighty. I think it’ll work out, because it is elastic (and so pretty!), but you need to be sure it’s a good fit across the shoulders, and definitely bind off the top of the back and pick stitches up again for the collar – don’t try the crochet cheat I suggest in the pattern.

** Which is why I like Rowan’s pure cashmere yarn – also cabled, making it significantly more durable than most cashmeres.