Ryeland Wool: A ball of surprises #KnitBritish

When I performed the first Knit British swatch along test – a  Hand/Squish/Grab – on my ball of  Ryeland wool,  it took me back to a childhood memory. A memory of sitting on my father’s knee being read too, my cheek brushing against his Aran jumper. It was a nice surprise, but not the only one of my Ryeland swatch along experience.

Ryeland Yarn  - Blacker

My second surprise came as I knitted. At first the yarn felt overly firm, as if the fibres were slightly stiff. However, having knitted a few rows I found the yarn inside the ball much softer, the fibres more relaxed.

The final knitted piece was a wee bit crisp, but on washing it lost this quality and a day’s wear and a second wash yielded a very much softer, delightful, bouncy fabric. Another surprise, as I had thought the biggest change would occur with the first wash.

Ryeland yarn swatch
Ryeland Swatch

Although it didn’t feel at all prickly to touch, my swatch did irritate more sensitive areas – namely my chest, neck and the inside of my thigh – not such a disappointment as I’m not planning on knitting trousers. The irritation, however, did reduce after the second wash.

20151127_080315 (1)

Overall there were definitely more plusses than minuses. The ryeland was very easy to knit, didn’t shed or split and gave great stitch definition. It also didn’t show any inclination to pill or felt with wear and washing. A beautiful creamy colour, I think it’s just perfect for warm Aran jumpers, cardigans and accessories.

Ryeland wool - great stitch definition

Well that’s my summary, but if you want to read the geeky bit, full details of ryeland road test are below.

Now all I have to decide is what yarn I want to road test next. Is anyone else joining in with the swatch along? Still not to late to join in if you want too.

Time to put the Christmas lights up in our house this weekend. What are you planning on doing?

Bekki Hill

Ryeland Road Test

Breed Ryeland

Wool Category Fine

Form 50g ball

Weight Aran

Preparation Woollen Spun

Brand Blacker Yarns

On first grab what does the wool feel like? Soft, firm, but bouncy

Cast on: 46 stitches on 4mm needles (5mm recommended but I wanted to try a denser fabric).Knitted a mixture of cables and twists and a dash of stocking stitch.

What does this yarn feel like to knit with? Soft, but also overly firm – as if the fibres were standing to attention. – almost as if it was slightly synthetic. However after a few  rows the wool inside the ball felt softer, less firm and more wool-like. It was very easy to knit. Zero splitting. Zero shedding.

Unwashed swatch: Stocking stitch, 28 rows x 21sts to 10 x 10 cm Pattern: 32 rows x 26 stitches to 10 x 10 cm Feels soft and bouncy, but a little too crisp.

Wash, Block and Wear – Test 1
Soaked for an hour hand wash detergent. Blocked to 8.5cm long 9.5cm wide for 24 hours. Unpinned after two days. Although there had been no visible grease in the washing water, the crispness had gone. The swtch was softer and still bouncy.

I put this swatch under my bra strap. It didn’t feel prickly, but after 10 minutes my upper chest was being irritated. My arm was fine, so I moved it into my sleeve.  I was aware of the different, but not prickly, texture for about ten minutes then forgot it was there until it fell out at bedtime.

Observances after test 1:
No pilling whatsoever over the face of the fabric.

Wash, Block and Wear – Test 2
Left soaking two hours this time – forgot it was there. Blocked again to 8.5cm long 9.5cm wide for 24 hours.

Much, much softer when I unpinned it – delightfully and surprisingly a lot bigger change than after first wash. Still irritated my upper chest and neck when left it against them for 5 – 10 minutes.

Day one: Wore for a few hours in various places to see if anywhere else irritated. All fine and almost instantly unaware of it’s presence – apart from inside my thigh.

Day two: Wore inside my shoe – with foot bare for several hours to give a good battering. Very soft and pleasant against my foot. Pattern flattened somewhat in areas of greatest pressure, but springiness returned after a few hours rest. No signs of pilling or felting still. Blocked measurements maintained apart from across pattern – which has reduced to 9inches width.

Final Assessment
Feel: Swatch is soft, thick, stretchy, bouncy. Softer when washed.

Life, longevity and uses of this wool:
I think this wool will continue to soften ever-so-slightly with each wash and block. No signs of pilling, but woollen spun, so may pill over longer use?

Suited to outerwear rather than next to the skin -although I think soft enough for gloves and socks. Cables and twists will hold their pattern and it was certainly a lovely warm fabric to wear.


Having also a beautiful creamy colour, Ryeland is ideal for lovely warm Aran jumpers and cardigans. Great, I think for gloves and hats too. I’m also thinking it might be perfect to knit a throw for  our bed – good looking and will be a great extra layer to keep the chills out on a cold winter’s night.

32 thoughts on “Ryeland Wool: A ball of surprises #KnitBritish

    1. I confess I’ve never put quite so much into swatching before. I usually stop after a first wash. But certainly will be exploring unfamiliar breeds with more than one wash, since my second wash on the ryeland made so much difference.


  1. I think I like this yarn. Its available here, but I like the stitch definition you got from it. Very lovely.
    Not putting up any Christmas decorations just yet, but planning on a weekend out and about, enjoying the summer sun and weather here.
    I need to think about my Christmas tree. My home is a bit on the full side and I am trying to think of an alternative, or do I use the tree again this year. I think I need something new. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hmm, I wonder about the difference as well. It may be pretty much the same I would think. Just used less since we don’t need such warm yarns that often.
        lol. I am looking at trees, I do think I need a tree, even if much smaller than the old one. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Your swatch looks great – love the stitch definition you got. I’m slightly mystified about the thigh test but I won’t question you any further on that 😉
    Christmas tree lights? That is early – won’t you be fed up with them by actual Christmas? Mind you, I forget how early it all starts in the U.K. – I know the shops have been ‘Christmassified’ for ages now whereas here we only now have the boxes of chocolates and festively packaged toiletries edging their way into the supermarkets. They will switch the lights on that they put up in every village in a week or so’s time and then most houses will sprout a Santa Claus figure on a rope supposedly shinning up the wall but, sometimes, people position them carelessly and it looks like he’s hung himself. Then, unlike the U.K., the shops and private houses seem to forget to take the lights and decorations down until the end of February when it just starts to look sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha Ha! Santa hanging himself. Blame the National Trust, the trees are for sale this weekend only, if we want to buy them there. I usually go for first weekend in December – but hey ho, fewer places to dust once they’re hidden behind the decorations 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. p.s. We usually buy our tree a couple of weeks early – in order not to have to choose from the dregs – and stand it in a bucket of water out on the terrace and it lasts through until well after the new year.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It would only wilt in the heat from the log burner, have cats shinning up it and dogs trying to play with the baubles. All these things will come to fruition but later rather than sooner. Personally, I just find it more ‘special’ if I wait until nearer to Christmas although we might put it up a week sooner this year as our eldest and my Mum are coming over on the 19th December and so the festivities can start a bit earlier. Bring on the tins of Roses and Quality Street – I hope they’ll remember to leave room in their luggage for at least two 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It sounds as though you are having so much fun and learning loads along the way Bekki! Hopefully a nice quiet family Saturday at home for us, or at least when Abi gets back from work at 2, Sundays are always quiet days here in between church. Our decs usually go up about two weeks before Christmas and Christmas music officially doesn’t come out until 1st Dec but Abz and I have been sneaking it on, getting ourselves in the mood to make gifts etc 🙂 Have a great weekend. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. Its incredible what you can learn from proper swatching – I sometimes hang weights on mine too. But I confess there was a time when I used to just knit a bit of the pattern then measure. Must be getting conscientious in my old age.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I enjoyed reading the post – How lovely that the wool brought back memories from your childhood. The swatch looks beautiful – certainly a promising yarn to use for a bigger project. (Haha, but no trousers, for sure! Haha) I love Christmas lights on our short winter days here in Winnipeg… I don’t seem to tire of them. Enjoy the weekend. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello! Glad you enjoyed the post. I think you may have hit the nail on the head. The days seem to close in very early this year and I’m really looking forward to the Christmas lights. We have no streetlamps here, so once darkness arrives, unless we’re around the full moon and have clear skies, once it’s dark, it really is dark. You have a great weekend too xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Back in elementary school I remember “all” the girls had mohair sweaters in pretty pastels, so I had to have one, too. When I did receive my beautiful mohair sweater for Christmas, oh my, was it scratchy! I learned to deal with it. But nothing compares to a beautiful hand worked sweater (jumper) like you are doing. The Aran patterns are beautiful, and your wool is lovely! So much research, you will surely end up with a beautiful jumper that is also soft and comfortable. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How disappointing, when you’d wanted it so long 😦 Mind, it’s incredible once you start looking how different all the breeds are. Wool so easily gets labelled as scratchy all round, when some is and some isn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I list love that you can knit away and make it up as you go along! When I do cables I have to concentrate on every stitch! As ever I’m in awe of your knitting skills and may be picking your brain after Christmas…. I have some pink fluffy mohair that I inherited. It’s like candy floss, and I need some guidance as to how to find a pattern to go with it. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. But no need to be in awe, it’s just I’ve had more practice. Pink fluffy mohair – there’s a challenge. Not sure what I’d knit with that. Guess my first instinct is to say, nothing to complicated or the pattern will get lost in the fluff. Guess it also depends on how much you’ve got?


  9. These tests sound a really good way of determining what you’d like to use a particular wool for. I’ve never noticed that washing woollen garments can lessen their ‘tchiness’, so I’ll take more notice in future. Wearing a swatch next to the skin is a great idea, It’s around my neck that I really can’t take itchy wools. I love Arran jumpers, but they never look as good kniitted with synthetic yarns. Very interesting, Bekki.

    Liked by 1 person

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