Late to the party…

I’ve spent the last week or so finally catching up on some of the posts I missed while we were away. Although, I’m sure heaps more amazing posts have vanished from my radar without trace. Since Lovely Husband can only take holiday at the most inconvenient times, I missed several interesting Wool Week posts. When I caught up, there was one I just couldn’t let go past.


KnitBritish cast on a swatch along on 5th October. Fortunately it’s not to late for me to join in. Yes, you read that right, I’m voluntarily going to knit a swatch.

‘Heavens to Betsy!’ I hear you gasp, ‘What could possibly incite you to do that?’

The clue, of course, is in the name. KnitBritish has had the genius idea of creating a ‘directory’ of British breed swatches that informs how single breed wools knit, wear and the best uses for them. (If you visit the KnitBritish blog you’ll find there’s also a Knit Local SAL happening, so although I’m going to rattle on about British wool for the next part of this post, this SAL is inclusive of all.)

Ryeland Yarn - Blacker

Although the cast on date was 5th October, there is, as yet, no finish date – in order to allow the SAL to build a decent amount of information about different breeds. Since I’ve plans for a big project with Ryeland wool, this seamed the obvious choice for my swatch. Okay, I know a bit about it already, but the Knit British ‘test drive’ will really help me focus and explore in a way I might not have done before. And, oh boy, does the geek scientist in me just love to analyse from every angle possible.

Knit British Swatch Along

One of the myths the ‘directory’ will hopefully help dismiss, is that British wool is only good for carpets. (I wash my mouth out as I type that phrase.) British wool should be spun into yarn and celebrated, because many British breeds have a lot to offer us as knitters, crochets and crafters. However, so little is being spun into yarn, many of our farmers are being expected to spend more on producing a fleece than they are paid for it.  Which brings me on to another important Wool Week post that I urge you to read, if haven’t already…

Rachel at My Life in Knitwear wrote about the current realities of wool farming in Britain and where the wool we knit comes from. It’s not just a heart breaking story, but a warning that we have much to loose if British wool continues to be side-lined.


Another note that struck me when I read Rachel’s piece was how wasteful and environmentally detrimental the situation is; both in the destruction of fleeces and the environmental costs of using manmade fibres and British yarn companies using imported wool. This leads me on to the final blogger who really drew my attention while I was catching up…

Before I even went away, I realised I wasn’t going to be able to keep up with The Fringe Association’s Slow Fashion October. But I’ve had a rummage and I’d highly recommend checking out some of the links in this post.

Hope you find some of the above useful and interesting. And don’t forget it’s not too late to join in the Knit British/ Knit Local SAL.

Until next time,

Bekki Hill

30 thoughts on “Late to the party…

  1. Thank you! Your post was indeed very interesting, and helpful. We dont get British yarns here much, but I do love the look of the yarn in your photos. Looking forward to follow the “Knit British” and see how it unfold. I am sure we are going to learn quite a bit. 🙂 Great stuff coming!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We do have a pretty good supply of sheep in SA. Both for yarn production, and food supply. Different breeds of sheep of course. 🙂
        We have some very very nice local yarns, and indie suppliers. I have two favourite indie suppliers, and they come up with the most stunning yarns.
        The first one is Hartlam (a term of endearment, meaning sweetheart, but also referring to a lamb)
        The other is Nurturing Fibres
        These ladies are superb at dyes and colours.
        Another that I am very fond of is African Expressions.
        Their range is expanding all the time and I am loving them more each day.
        Looking at the African Expressions yarns and their latest additions (Express yourself), and then at your yarns, I think I can see why I adore your yarn. The colours seem to be trending all round. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow – just read Rachel’s article. What an eye-opener, I had no idea the raw fleeces sold at such a loss to the farmers. This has made me rethink the way I buy wool in the future so huge thanks for raising the awareness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hideous, isn’t it? I knew it wasn’t great, but didn’t realise it was this bad. It’s the same as all the farmers with there milk, but they supply the supermarkets directly, so have more power to bring it to attention.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So where does your readily available yarn come from then? Are you, like us being inundated with cheap Chinese stuff and acrylics that make it even more expensive to sell the real wool and blends? Even here, our own wool is less seen these days and we were supposed to be the great wool producer!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely right, Chinese imports – like many of Britain’s industries – and cheap acrylic stuff. Of course they’re thought to be or said to be ‘Made in Britain’ when they’re put together in Britain rather than the raw materials coming from Britain. Yes, I’ve heard others say Australian sheep farmers are struggling, especially those who don’t produce Merino 😦

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What an interesting and informative post. The state of the British sheep farmers / wool producers is very sad. How awful that fleeces are actually being destroyed. I hope this campaign helps to bring awareness of the fine qualities of British wool, at least. We have a tendency in Britain to go go imported products of all sorts and ignore our own. Lower prices are often the cause. Hope these swatches make a difference.
    Oops , my finger just hit the follow button as I scrolled up the page. I momentarily unfollowed, but t I switched straight back on. Sorry! That button’s in the wrong place when I’m on my Kindle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Phew! Glad you didn’t leave me for long 🙂 Yep, very sad state of affairs. It’s okay saying ‘we’ have a tendency, but a lot of this is down to retailers. People just don’t know what they’re buying when the raw materials can all be sourced elsewhere but the final product can labelled British because they were put together here. Of course we all want a bargain and that certainly doesn’t help eiether. But look at farmers with the milk, the government really should step in when farmers are expected to accept less than it costs to produce a pint of milk.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re right on all counts, Bekki. It’s particularly worrying about the misleading ‘British’ labels. That certainly needs looking into. And I know too well about people wanting bargains. My eldest son’s a butcher and we did worry when he first opened his shop about competition from supermarkets in Newark, as well as several other butchers. But he’s done brilliantly because his meat is such good quality – and most of it is British.The scare in Europe over dodgy beefgurgers etc. a couple of years ago sent more people flocking to his shop, too. Imported, supermarket stuff was viewed with suspicion. But the plight of all British farmers is sad – and desperate – all round. The milk situation is scandalous.
        I’m on my laptop now. I really can’t type on my tablet or Kindle! The new positioning of the follow ‘button’ is just where my right hand moves the page up and down on my Kindle. I’ll have to watch that in future.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good to hear your son is doing well – sounds like circumstances have helped, but a lot of people will buy quality if they can afford it, just so often we don’t actually have the choice, because of all the imports 😦

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think there was some EU regs that wanted to make it clearer, but didn’t get through. But on the subject of wool, that’s another ridiculous situation. Products can be called wool and woolly when they have almost no wool in them. In fact I think some get away with having no wool in them!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Oh yes, there’s quite a few people jumping up and down about that one. I’m sure trading standards must know, so there must be some sort of by that wool/woolly is descriptive of a fabric or something.


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