Norah’s Knitting: Wool & Alpaca Sweaters and Other Early Knitting Adventures

My love of natural fibers came early. The first sweater I ever knit was made from wool yarn I bought at the county fair. Creamy white, right off the sheep, and soaked in its own natural lanolin, the yarn had an aroma I love to this day. The pattern I chose to follow was from a Woman’s Day special edition dedicated to knitting.

For my second project, Mom and I shopped in a department store in New York City. It certainly has been a while since Lord and Taylor sold craft supplies. I chose 100% alpaca yarn in an array of natural colors – straight off the camelid’s back. The design was a pullover with a fair isle yoke made from the pithy directions in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s book “Knitting Without Tears.” Mom determined this was a book I desperately needed, and she was right. The book helped make me into the designer I am today.

I wish I had photos of the sweaters I just described, but maybe this photo will make up for it. Some of you may have already seen this image of me in the aran knit vest I designed and knit back in the day. I  was modeling my vest, along with clothing I sewed, at a 4-H event on a boat, in the wind.  Love that Colonel Sanders tie!

modeling for county revue publicity 1979

These days I get my wool and alpaca yarn fix by knitting with Berroco Ultra Alpaca. Yes, yes, I know, I work for the company so I HAVE to love it, but I do, I really do. It has the springiness of wool, the warmth and luxury of alpaca and all those colors….

It’s very handy that, on our new site, you can search for patterns by yarn. It makes it incredibly easy to find all of the Berroco patterns made in Ultra Alpaca. Hmm, should I make Stibnite, which I would live in, or indulge in the baroque patterning in Breena? Decisions, decisions!



  1. Imagine my surprise when I clicked the Woman’s Day special edition like and saw a magazine I have in my library. My mother bought it and had me choose a sweater (Lucky Links, p 12) to knit for me. I don’t remember what yarn she used, but I’d guess it was some non-itchy acrylic or blend. I do remember I wore it for years. I’m not sure why I’ve saved it all these years, especially before I started to knit myself, but now that I’ve found it again, I might just have to make myself something from it. Thanks for the memories.

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