There are some beautiful yarns at Knit With Attitude from all around the world but with this post my aim is to look at those yarns that are a bit closer to home. Focusing on the yarns that are made up of British grown fibres and having a closer look at the sheep behind those yarns.

Blue Faced Leicester

Blue Faced Leicester often abbreviated to BFL is a breed of long wool sheep originating in Leicestershire in the Eighteenth Century by cross breeding Teeswater and Leicester Longwool. Combining the fine fleece of the Teeswater and the size of the Leicester Longwool the Blue Faced Leicester became a popular breed for wool production which is one of the softest of the British breeds. They get their name from the blueish grey skin that can be seen through the hair on their faces.

Their fleece is long and curly which is soft with a high lustre and a staple length of four to six inches. It is a natural creamy white colour making it a great yarn for dyers giving bright and clear colours. Yarns made from Blue Faced Leicester fibre are strong and hardwearing but also soft against the skin.

Yarns containing Blue Faced Leicester are Riverknits Chimera, John Arbon Devonia DK and John Arbon Devonia.

Riverknits Chimera - 4ply 50g - 100% Bluefaced Leichester wool. Chimera is a magical hand-dyed marl entirely unique to RiverKnits! It is a smooth, 4Ply, worsted-spun 2-fold yarn with a lot of lustre and amazing softness.

John Arbon Devonia - 4ply or DK 100g - 50% Exmoor Blueface / 30% Devon Bluefaced Leicester / 20% Devon Wensleydale/ A gorgeous blend of 3 UK breeds, creating a soft to the hand and shiny yarn in 4Ply and DK

Wensleydale

Wensleydale is a breed named after the area of North Yorkshire where it was bred. The breed originates from crossing Dishley Leicester with an extinct longwool Yorkshire breed. One of these was a characterful ram called Blue Cap who possessed the finest of Wensleydale characteristics and used by farmers as the foundation of the breed. They are very recognisable for their long curly lustrous fleece which hangs in long ringlets and a high staple length of seven to twelve inches. This creates a strong hardwearing fibre with a sheen to it.

The resulting yarn is hardwearing but also has a beautiful gloss to it. It creates lovely drapey fabric that hangs and flows as well as blooming with an attractive halo. It is still soft but with a slight hint of a crisp woolly character.

Yarns containing Wensleydale are Black Elephant Wensleydale, John Arbon Devonia DK and John Arbon Devonia.

Black Elephant Wensleydale - 4ply 100g - 100% Wensleydale Wool. Wensleydale is a new addition to Black Elephant's yarns, this is a sock / 4ply weight 100% British pure wool, strong and hardwearing with a high twist.

John Arbon Devonia - 4ply or DK 100g - 50% Exmoor Blueface / 30% Devon Bluefaced Leicester / 20% Devon Wensleydale/ A gorgeous blend of 3 UK breeds, creating a soft to the hand and shiny yarn in 4Ply and DK

Romney

Romney's evolved from medieval longwool breeds and can often been referred to as Romney Marsh or Kent and originate from the Romney Marshes in Kent and East Sussex. This fine fleece was much desired in Europe leading to smuggling of the fleece in the 18th and 19th century after a ban on its export.

They produce a heavy fleece but unlike Merino have less hair follicles. Instead being a longwool breed produce longer quicker growing hairs instead of shorter denser ones. They range in colour from white, brown and dark grey and consist of a course and fine fleece. Much of the courser fibres are used in the carpet industry but the finer fibres are spun into yarn. The resulting yarn has a a sturdy woolly feel and will produce garments that will last and wear well.

Yarns containing Romney are Garthenor Preseli, Garthenor Beacons and The Fibre Co. Lore.

Garthenor Preseli - 4ply 50g - Made from 100% Organic Wool sourced from British breeds.

The Fibre Co. Lore - DK 100g - 100% lambswool from the Romney sheep breed also referred to locally as Kent lamb.

Corriedale

The Corriedale sheep breed originated in New Zealand where it was created by cross breeding Merino with Lincoln Longwool. The Merino known for its softness and the Lincoln Longwool know for its strength and lustre, both imparting qualities to the Corriedale's fleece. The resulting yarn is soft, plump and still has a woolly character to it. The high crimp of the fibre contributing to the bouncy quality often means you find Corriedale fibre used in heavier weight yarns like DK, Worsted or Aran.

Though not technically a British originating breed the Corriedale we stock is is all grown from British flocks. It creates a wonderfully dense fabric that has great grip for colourwork. This grip means it also holds its shape well and is good for felting.

Yarns containing Corriedale are Black Elephant Corriedale Aran, John Arbon Yarnadelic Worsted and John Arbon Yarnadelic.

Black Elephant Corriedale Aran - Aran 100g - Corriedale Aran is a new addition to Black Elephant's yarns, this is a non-superwash, hand dyed, aran weight 100% British pure wool.

John Arbon Yarnadelic - Sport or Worsted 100g - Developed during a cracking evening when John played the Mill folk a few of his favourites and, whilst sipping a few glasses of chilled wine, they all wrote down the colour each song evoked.

  1. Ewes and Lambs in the Garden - Magic Foundry, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. (cropped from the original).
  2. Suffolk Show - Amanda Slater from Coventry, England, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons. (cropped from the original).
  3. A white Romney at the Clark County fair in Washington. Steven Walling, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. (cropped from the original).
  4. A Corriedale Ram, Canterbury Agricultural College stud J50/46. 1st, Christchurch Show, Coarse Hog in Wool, 1947. Special prize for Best Corriedale Ram Hogget at Show. Ronald Charles Blackmore, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. (cropped from the original).