On Friday there will be two new custom spun yarns in the shop, both featuring British wools.

It seemed like the perfect chance to look at the sheep breeds which feature in these yarns and to talk about why we’ve used these particular yarns.

Yarn one is a blend of 50% Polwarth, 40% Alpaca and 10% Zwartables.

Polwarth sheep were developed in Australia in the 1880s. They’re a mix of two breeds – the well known merino and the less well known Lincoln. Polwarths are roughly 3/4 merino – so there’s all the softness that you’d expect from merino fleece. Adding some Lincoln into the blend make the sheep hardier and better suited to harsh conditions. The Polwarth in our yarn is British. It’s there for it’s softness and bounce.

The other wool in this blend is Zwartables. I was very sceptical about this fleece having been the unlucky recipient of some at a spinner guild meeting. Let’s just say it could have been used for Brillo pads. However I knew that anything that John and Juliet were prepared to put into a blend would be goo, and having squished some samples at Yarndale I was convinced.

Here’s what John has to say about Zwartbales

“Our Zwartbles yarn uses local Devon farmed wool. The Zwartbles sheep originates from Holland but is now widely farmed across Exmoor and the fibre, once shorn, is graded at our local South Molton Devon & Cornwall wool board.Once spun the Zwartbles produces a beautiful, voluminous, bouncy yarn that is hard to resist.”

Combining these two wools with alpaca gives a softly heathered grey yarn.

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Our second new yarn is a blend of 50% Polwarth and 50% Wensleydale. Wensleydale fleece is amazing stuff – it’s like shiny, silky ringlets. Combined with the Polwarth it gives a yarn which has bounce, shine and softness. Sheepy bliss.

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Visit the blog tomorrow to see the two new yarns in all of their multicoloured glory.

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