If Peru is the place for alpaca yarn lovers, then Chile is the place for wool yarn lovers. Much of the land in Patagonia, Chiloé, and Los Lagos districts of Chile is pasture for grazing animals. There are cows and alpacas, but most importantly, there are lots and lots of SHEEP! We saw sheep grazing in the shadow of a volcano, on the coast near a penguin reserve…they are everywhere. The sheep are predominantly Merinos, but there are also Corriedales, as well as mixes that have been interbred to produce softer fleeces.
We had the opportunity to visit a ranch in Patagonia called Estancia del Zorro, where they raise Corriedales over acres and acres of beautiful land. It was late December when we visited, and they were just getting ready to shear the sheep for the summer. We went on a quick tour of the wooden barn to see where the sheep would be sheared. The building itself was worn and could use with a little bit of a spruce, but it was set up just how they needed it to get the job done. The inside was filled with both antique and new tools, including incredible old shearing machinery. I wish we had been there for the actual shearing, though it was neat to see all of the sheep running around in their thick, wooly coats with their newborn lambs trailing close by.
I was lucky enough to pick up some yarn in nearly every place we stopped during our time in Chile. In Valparaíso, an eclectic town on the Chilean coast a couple hours from the capital city of Santiago, I purchased some lovely deep purple wool yarn in a worsted weight (that brightly variegated yarn shown next to it in the photo is an alpaca/cotton mix) from the cutest little artisan shop that we just happened upon while wandering around one afternoon. In Chiloé, one of the larger islands that makes up the archipelago off the southern Chilean mainland, I purchased some lovely brown and cream colored wool yarn in a worsted weight. It was so unique with a contrasting lace weight yarn wrapped around the yarn; I had never seen any other yarn like it before. Finally, in Los Lagos region, I purchased some of the ubiquitous variegated wool yarn that they sell in all sorts of crazy colors.
While I gave most of the yarn away as gifts, I kept the Chiloé yarn and made myself a cozy shawl using the Romney Kerchief by Jared Flood at Brooklyn Tweed. I already shared some of my finished object photos and details about the pattern here, but let me tell you again how happy I am with how it turned out. The fiber is slightly itchy, but it’s so wonderfully natural and warm that I’m willing to put up with it not being the softest hand knit accessory in my closet. Though I didn’t get many chances to wear it this year before the weather warmed up, I envision it will get lots of use in cold winters to come!
I will always fondly remember our time in Chile. The landscape is just so stunning at every turn, and with the abundance of amazing wool yarns, I couldn’t have asked for more! If you ever have a chance, go visit Chile. You will not regret it. Have you traveled somewhere that stole you heart? Better yet, have you ever traveled somewhere that stole your heart with its yarn?
*This is an edited version of a post originally posted on my other blog, Vida Huancaína.