Last week, we talked about the Targhee sheep—how the breed was developed, the characteristics of this wool and some of the projects it’s ideal for. This week, we’ve been discussing one of the branches of the Targhee family: the Targhee-Columbia cross.
A crossbreed is exactly what it sounds like! Two lines of pure sheep breeding match up and pair together to compliment each other. With Targhee-Columbia, the goal was to take all of the great qualities of spongy, dense, soft Targhee wool, and combine it with Columbia, a wool known for having a great sheen, but not so much for being next-to-skin soft. Perhaps the most well-known occurrence of this wool in popular yarns is it’s use for the Brooklyn Tweed brand. Here’s some info from their website about where they source the wool, and why they love this breed:
“Brooklyn Tweed yarns are born in the shadow of the Bighorn Mountains of north central Wyoming, where ranchers have raised sheep for 150 years. Our wool comes from three Johnson County ranches that husband Targhee-Columbia sheep, a distinctly American cross of two breeds with their origins in the wide-open spaces of the West. Both are large, sturdy animals able to withstand the harsh winters and terrain of their rangeland homes. The Targhee produces a fine wool with Merino-like softness; Columbia wool is stouter and lends durability and character. The combination is ideal for the lofty, warm, woolen-spun yarns Brooklyn Tweed set out to create, yarns that are soft enough to wear against the skin but also long wearing an imbued with distinctive personality on the needles.”
www.brooklyntweed.com, Our Story
Having knit with Shelter fairly recently while making a sweater for my father for Christmas, I can personally attest to the yarn being a perfect blend of both sheep. While Targhee in my experience is lofty and soft, the Columbia adds a grist to the yarn that keeps it weighty and allows finished projects to have more drape.
During the knitting process, this blend is the quintessentially woolly yarn. Being woolen-spun, it’s lightweight, while the Targhee adds some density to each stitch. The real magic happens when this blend is blocked, though, and the Columbia’s beauty comes to the forefront, adding a slight sheen and the visual warmth that only the best wools have.