Here’s a bit about our blends and some general stuff:
Pure Natural Alpaca
As its name suggests, this is 100% pure baby alpaca from British farms. The majority is worsted spun (see bottom of page), although occasionally I also have a batch which is woollen spun for a change. I painstakingly clean the super fine fleeces of hay and seeds. Only the very finest fleeces go into this yarn – the remaining alpaca is combined with other fibres to produce our other ranges. The different coloured fleeces are blended to create the natural shades I’m looking for. As this quality of fleece is hard to obtain, I only have small batches spun at a time in the UK. This yarn is available as 4ply, DK or aran weight. As the fibres are very fine, the yarn will have a tendency to pill, so I use it for small items such as scarves, hats and baby clothes.
Alpaca with Merino and Silk
This yarn is as soft as the Pure Natural Alpaca, but is my blend of baby alpaca with super-soft organic Falklands Merino and Mulberry silk. It’s the only one of our ranges which contains Peruvian alpaca, which I can buy in large quantities and can indulge myself by having it dyed in a multitude of colours. The Merino wool is as fine as the alpaca and gives a soft spongey handle, while the silk imparts a gentle sheen. This yarn is worsted spun in England and then dyed in the Scottish Borders.
This blend is available as a Fingering weight yarn called WHITBARROW which is great for shawls, scarves, lightweight tops and bedsocks. We called it Whitbarrow after the large white, limestome escarpment behind Town End. Many of the colours are also named after the varied wildlife found up on the scar.
We also have a Double Knit version called THAMES (we also lived next to the Thames at Wapping at one point) . The muted shades in this blend are named after some of the many tributaries of the Thames.
Alpaca with Blue Faced Leicester
Farmers in the Lake District and in the Yorkshire Dales often keep a small flock of Blue faced Leicester sheep alongside their Swaledales or other fell sheep. I don’t find them the most handsome sheep (that’s reserved for Herdwicks), but they have wonderful wool which is the perfect accompaniment to worsted spun British alpaca. We buy the fleeces from farmers in Cumbria, The Dales and as far across to County Durham. The fleece is scoured (washed), combed and spun in Yorkshire before being dyed in Scotland. This yarn is available as Double Knit and is called MORECAMBE for Morecambe bay which is close to Town End in the Winster valley.
Alpaca with Shetland
Shetland sheep produce a fine, short, crimpy fleece in lots of different natural colours similar to alpacas. I buy my fleeces locally, blend it with shorter alpaca fibres for woollen spinning at the Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall. Recently, I have been hand-dyeing wool nepps (tiny felted balls of wool) which are carded into the fibre before it is spun. This produces a lovely tweedy effect in the yarn. Alpaca with Shetland is a hard-wearing yarn, suitable for outer garments such as jumpers and cardigans.
As a hand-knitter, I find it really irritating when I find a knot or join in my yarn. When I started balling the yarn, I would discard a ball if it had a knot, but I ended up with lots of small balls for my own knitting. More recently, if I find a knot, I will leave it in but add a few more grams to that ball or skein of yarn to compensate. Unfortunately, this is not possible when the yarn is balled at the mill, but if you have any problems with too many knots, please let me know.
I don’t produce shade cards as the range of colours is always being added to, but If you would like me to send you some small samples of yarn to see the exact colour, please contact us.
Sock or Fingering – This yarn weight is slightly finer than 4ply at around 400m per 100g, You can use many 4ply patterns with this yarn. I originally labelled all yarns at this weight as Sock, even if the blend was not robust enough for socks. So, I have started to label the yarns with the finer fibres and without nylon as Fingering and those with nylon and more robust fibres as Sock. They are the same thickness.
The yarns knit to standard patterns for wool, but as normal, you should knit a tension square first and check the gauge.
For yarns sold in skeins, I’m happy to ball them for you – please make a note of this on your order. It can be difficult to wind a tidy 100g ball of the finer yarns on my winder and so I may end up having to make two balls.
Woollen and Worsted Spinning
There are two main types of spinning. In woollen spinning, the fibres are jumbled up so that the resulting yarn traps air and is light and lofty. In worsted spinning, the fibres are combed so that they lie parallel to each other. The yarn is smoother and flatter and has a silky handle. Knitting wools are often woollen spun and yarn for weaving fabrics is worsted spun, but there are no hard and fast rules. However, some long fibres, such as Bluefaced Leicester, lend themselves to worsted spinning. Shetland with its shorter, fine fibres is better suited to woollen spinning.