I want to tell you about a yarn that is pretty special. How do you fancy knitting or crocheting with a wool that comes from a very Northern point in the UK; from sheep so hardcore that they feast on seaweed morning, noon and night?
North Ronaldsay yarn is what you're after. I mean, just look at them! How could you not love the look of these hardened beach darlings? And those fleeces, all those different colours!
Photograph © Copyright Oliver Dixon
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust gives a good overview about these sheep so I won't repeat too much, but these guys munch on seaweed for a good few months each year. They're confined to the beach by a large wall that encloses the island of North Ronaldsay.
They are raised for their fleeces and this yarn just drinks up dye. I'm always amazed at how vibrant I can get the colours to be on this base considering it isn't superwash.
I mean, just look at that! That's Eccentric Geeks and it glows; very little editing was done to that photograph. I can't get results like that on non-superwash merino and believe me, I've tried.
|Country of Origin||Scottish wool spun in the UK
|Fibre Composition||100% North Ronaldsay wool|
|Yarn Weight||Light Fingering / 3 ply weight|
|Skein Weight||100 grams / 3.5 oz|
|Length||500 metres / 545 yards|
|Needle Size||3.25 mm|
But what can you make with North Ronaldsay yarn?
I describe this as being a traditional yarn and by that I mean it is processed in the UK, so this has a very low carbon footprint. It is also non-superwash so it has the ability to felt.
This yarn has a micron count of 30 - 35. The lower the micron count, the softer the wool so to put it into perspective, the merino I sell is generally between 18 - 22 mic. This means the North Ronaldsay yarn is coarser and more rustic.
If you're sensitive around the neck, perhaps a shawl or scarf in this isn't for you but if you're as hardened as I am, then yarn from North Ronaldsay looks exquisite.
Photograph © Copyright AlwaysAutumn
This is Clare's version of Elektra by Rosemary (Romi) Hill in the colourway This is the gift of the earthshaker, a limited edition colourway. Clare says "I loved working with the North Ronaldsay. It’s a fibre with as much character as the crazy sheep it comes from."
Photograph © Copyright annaspackman
This is a close up of Anna's version of Brackhampton by Taiga Hilliard Designs in the colourways Rebelling Against Suburbia (pink) and Canary (yellow). Neons are so in your face with this yarn!
If you think North Ronaldsay wool might be a bit too scratchy, you could try combining with with another yarn of a different and softer fibre. Perhaps holding two yarns together for a marled effect or knitting stripes or colourwork if various fibres would ease some of that scratch factor.
There are currently some hues of this fantabulous yarn in the shop in the Fingering Yarns section and some more colourways will be joining them on Friday 5th February 2016 at 7pm GMT.
~ Countess Ablaze