Archives For British Wool


Ch 102

Today I’m finally getting a chance to talk to the wonderful Sue Blacker from Blacker Yarns, who also runs The Natural Fibre Company, an artisan wool mill which specialises in spinning beautiful yarn from small batches of fleece. It’s a godsend to the local and rare-breeds wool community here in the British Isles, and to knitters everywhere. Sue knows just about everything there is to know about wool, and she took the time to share some of her knowledge with us on the podcast. She’s also the author of Pure Wool: A Knitter’s Guide to Using Single-breed Yarns which is an indispensable reference with some lovely patterns. I was completely fascinated listening to Sue, and I think you will be too. This episode is one for the true wool nerds (which is possibly all of us, I think.)

Show sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their wonderful Acadia yarn.

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can find Acadia at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Show Links

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to making the Curious Handmade Krimbo Party such a lovely event. Special thanks to the people and companies who contributed lovely door prizes:

Meadow Yarn
Blacker Yarns

Julie from Suffolk Socks

Mina, host of the excellent Knitting Expat Video Podcast (check out her Etsy shop, Mina Makes)

This week’s Knitvent 2015 pattern is the Ice River Hat, a companion to the Ice River Snood that I released a few weeks ago. It’s super cuddly and super-fast: some of my American knitters even managed to knit one up around the Thanksgiving festivities yesterday! Super impressive.

It was knit in The Fibre Company’s Tundra bulky yarn, which is a super-luxurious bulky yarn made from a blend of alpaca, merino, and silk.

During the interview, Sue mentions The Campaign For Wool

She also says that very soon, in partnership with Wovember and WoolSack a directory of small farm wool producers will be released, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

You can read about the rare breeds like the Soay and Boreray Sheep on the Blacker Yarns Meet The Animals page

Take a virtual tour of The Natural Fibre Company Mill

Check out her great articles for Wovember and on Blacker Yarn’s website for more woolly wisdom from Sue.

Single Breed Swatch Along

That’s everything for this episode! I hope you enjoyed hearing about all the thought, effort and skill that goes into producing the beautiful yarns made at The Natural Fibre Company. If you have any questions (or ideas for new colours for the West Country Tweed yarn!) don’t hesitate to contact myself or Sue.

Have a great week, and happy knitting!

Last week’s podcast featured an interview with Vicki Hillman, a fashion stylist friend of mine who gave some great tips into this season’s major knitting trends. The big stories for Autumn/ Winter 2014 knitwear trends were knitted trousers, chunky knits, the sweater dress and blanket scarves. To celebrate Wool Week 2014, I’m sharing my top tips for British sourced yarn that’s perfect to make your own fashion forward knitwear.

The Sweater Dress:

Things can get hot and bulky with that much knit fabric and something breathable and a little airy is key here. The great dilemma then comes if the yarn has too much drape- a sagging, shapeless dress is not a good look! I think John Arbon’s Alpaca Supreme 4ply. This is the perfect mix of British sourced 40% Alpaca, 40% Organically Farmed Falklands Merino and 20% A1 Mulberry Silk. This yarn will give all the breathability from Alpaca with the strength of Silk and Merino. A fabric with great drape without the risk of losing shape in your garment! Go with Grey for the best Normcore colour palette.


(c) JAT


Knit Trousers:

There’s a few basic requirements that would have to be in place for this particular trend- the yarn mustn’t be itchy and needs to keep it’s shape! I’m thinking something like the Corriedale Sportweight, sourced & spun in the UK exclusively for Old Maiden Aunt Yarns. Corriedale combines the best of the wool world: the kind of fine fibre we’d associate with Merino alongside the kind of elasticity we’ve come to associate with Blue Face Leicester. This is a much overlooked fibre but one I think would be perfect here, especially in jewel tones- another trend that featured highly on the catwalks during London Fashion Week.

(c) OMA

(c) OMA

Chunky Knits

I think this trend needs something really soft as most of the knits have simple ribs, oversize cables and so the stitch definition doesn’t have to be as high as you might need for more intricately worked knits. This is where softness, plump twists of yarn and great colour are key. My vote is for Eden Cottage Yarn’s Whitfell Chunky, a Worsted spun 100% Baby Alpaca. Get it in the Echinecea colour if you want to be right on trend- soft pink was everywhere this season!

(c) ECY

(c) ECY

Blanket Scarves:

This trend is about serious layering and cocooning with your winter style and it means you can work up any scarf or stole pattern you like in double the size to get the desired look. I love the look of the ‘Braes’ palette from Shilasdair, natural dyed yarns produced on the Isle of Skye. There’s a wonderful selection of fibres whether its Cashmere/Angora/Lambswool blend or a local Hebridean. Great choices for whatever trend influence you want but those braes look good for the growth of a military palette on the catwalks- a trend that can only grow. Will we see the rise of the combat trousers once more??


(c) Shilasdair

(c) Shilasdair