Why British Yarn?

I choose to use British yarn for various reasons.

  1. We have 57 native British sheep breeds, 25 of which are considered rare. Supporting the British yarn industry helps to support the continued survival of these breeds so we don’t lose them forever.
  2. British sheep have a huge range of woolly characteristics, from the soft and squishy Bluefaced Leicester through the lustrous Wensleydale to the more rustic and hard wearing Herdwick. All of these characteristics have their use, and I’d like to provide options for all of them.
  3. Britain has a high standard of animal welfare so by using British fibre I can ensure the animals that grow it are cared for appropriately.

Why Non-Superwash & No Synthetics?

To create superwash wool, extensive chemical treatments are used and often the yarn is coated in a thin layer of plastic. These processes destroy the natural characteristics of the wool. You can read more about the reasons why I choose not to dye superwash treated yarns here. I do believe these yarns have their place and use but so many other fantastic dyers use them I have decided to avoid them completely.

I do not use synthetic yarns or synthetic blends for a few reasons. The main reason is because every time you wash something made of a synthetic fibre, thousands, sometimes even millions, of plastic particles are released into the water. These are not filtered out at waste water treatment plants and go directly into the water courses. Plastic is everywhere now (they recently found it in snow in the Arctic) and I don’t want to contribute to it. Synthetics are also chemically intensive to produce, do not wear as well and don’t let the skin breathe like wool does.

Even sock yarn doesn’t need nylon added to be strong. As long as you pick a robust wool (eg. whitefaced woodland) or add a strong fibre such as mohair, 100% natural fibre socks will hold up to just as much use as ones containing nylon.

British Yarn Bases

I use various sources for my British yarn bases and am always on the lookout for new ones.

I use the bases listed below on a regular basis, but special one-off British yarn bases are available from time to time.

  • BFL Masham – 50% Bluefaced Leicester, 50% Masham – 4ply and DK
  • Falkland Merino – 4ply and Laceweight
  • Corriedale Mohair – 50% Falkland Corriedale, 50% British Mohair – 4ply sock
  • Bluefaced Leicester – 4ply
  • Shetland – Aran
  • Jacob – Aran
  • Dorset Horn – DK
  • Teeswater – DK
  • Whitefaced Woodland – DK
  • Texel – Chunky

The yarn I dye requires gentle handwashing as it has not been superwash treated. You can read more about care of your yarn here.

Dyes

I use various makes of acid dyes to dye my yarn. ‘Acid’ makes the dyes sound dangerous. However, the dyes themselves contain no acid, the name just means they require acid to work. The acids often recommended are vinegar or citric acid. I choose to use the latter to avoid the strong smell of vinegar, and also cut down on packaging as less is required to achieve the same level of acidity.

The acidic water required for acid dyes has the advantage that it can be used many times. This reduces the amount of waste water significantly.

I reduce waste as much as possible by choosing my dyeing methods carefully. This means that I don’t use plastic wrap, single use cable ties, plastic bags or disposable trays.