Baskerville – all about the sheep - Kettle Yarn Co.

Baskerville – all about the sheep

February 02, 2016

Following up on the release of my new exclusive Baskerville blend last week, I want to share a bit on the elements that work together to make this yarn super special.

Baskerville - from left Eventide, Umbra and natural Dawn
Baskerville – from left Eventide, Umbra and natural Dawn

Today is all about the bones of the yarn – the fibre. It took me quite some time to choose the right fibre combination for this blend. I knew what I had in mind, but had no way to describe it.

Luckily I had master spin-magician John Arbon and his amazing partner Juliet helping me get my head around the process, and they guided me through the sheep-y labyrinth!

For months, tufts of yarn found their way into my inexperienced hands to be pulled, twisted and pawed. Quite early in the process I decided I wanted to use fluffy Exmoor Blueface top, but couldn’t decide what it would be blended with. Then, one day, velvety British Gotland tumbled out of an envelope and fate was sealed!

brilliant image via Pedwardine Gotlands
image via Pedwardine Gotlands

Here is a little about the sheep breeds themselves, as they are the reason all this is possible!

British Gotland
Originating from Sweden, the Gotland is one of the oldest breeds of sheep. A fine-boned beauty, this sheep was established by the Vikings, who would take them with them on their extensive voyages for meat and skins along the route.

A curious, friendly animal, Gotlands’ hardiness defies their dainty appearance. Their shimmering curly white-through-black coats produce a finewool unlike any other fibre. The fibres’ tight crimp makes it extremely insulating and gives it a velvet loft perfect for colourwork and felting.When worked into fabric Gotland has a tender drape with a gentle halo and packs an incredible amount of insulation within its fibre.

Exmoor Blueface sheep - image from John Arbon website
Exmoor Blueface sheep – image from John Arbon website

Exmoor Blueface
In contrast to Gotland’s long heritage, Exmoor Blueface is a relatively new breed. A large, robust sheep resulting from a cross of the at-risk North Devon Exmoor Horn and much prized British Bluefaced Leicester sheep, this downy fibre combines the best of both breeds. The top is soft, warm and springy with the smallest bit of tooth, while staple length is long, sleek and very hard-wearing.

Mix these two fibres together and then add the tiniest bit of silk to play up the natural lustre of both yarns and you get a yarn like no other… gently heathered, with a lovely tooth and touch of shimmer through a nebulous halo.

Baskerville – Umbra

The deepest blue Dusk is currently sold out at the moment, but I am taking back orders on the shop for the next batch which should arrive any day! The three hues shown above still have a few skeins left in stock.

Stay tuned next week for another little part of the story that makes up Baskerville…

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