I just love dyeing. It is so self indulgent to be able to use all those colours. It’s something I never tire of and I like to think of all my lovely hand dyed yarns going to other people’s homes for them to enjoy (although I have to admit I sometimes struggle to put them in the post as they can sometimes be difficult to part with).
Up until now I have stuck to only selling hand dyed merino, alpaca and BFL yarn as they are gorgeous fibres to work with and to wear, and they are the best known. However, the UK has over sixty varieties of sheep all with their own attributes, but you don’t often get the chance to use the fibre from any of them. This has resulted in many of them becoming endangered and being listed as rare breeds. I do believe this is only due to people not knowing about these fibres and not having access to them. The Shetland Sheep were on the list of Rare Breeds but a concerted effort was made in breeding and promoting them. They are no longer considered to be a Rare Breed and a lot of people are benefitting from their high quality, soft wool which comes in a large variety of natural colours and is excellent for making lace shawls, warm jumpers and strong socks.
I have very sensitive skin and I have to be honest and say that if I am knitting or weaving something to wear next to my skin I am likely to still use BFL because it is exceptionally soft, has a fantastic lustre and, as an added bonus, is also British. Other British wools are useful for different things, though, so I thought I would give people a chance to sample some of them by stocking some hand dyed tops from Rare Breeds in the ‘Hand Dyed Combed Top’ and ‘Hand Dyed Locks/ Fleece’ sections of my Etsy shop for spinning or felting. Each listing has information on the Rare Breed the wool came from and gives you some ideas for what that particular fibre is good for.
Most farmers will say there is no market for wool but any knitter knows that is not true. Yarn is very expensive (and imported from the other side of the world) and what is available to buy is limited. That is not to say that wool is only useful to knitters and spinners. It is the best product out there for stuffing pillows, duvets and mattresses. It has been used for centuries for making carpets, coats, rugs and curtains and is a really good form of insulation for the roof, floor and walls of your home. Useful in the garden too in the compost heap and also as a mulch. Wool is fire redardant, anti bacterial, heat regulating, natural and renewable. It has excellent insulating properties and is highly absorbant. It is the perfect fibre. We have an adundant supply here in the UK and we should be using more of it!
Hopefully, in a few years time all our native British breeds of sheep can be removed from the Rare Breeds list and our wool industry will be revived to what it once was.