Local yarn for local knitters

Swatches in Ryeland yarn from  Turnacre yarn

Swatches in Ryeland yarn from Turnacre yarn

Knitting with yarn from the Calder Valley

Now that Christmas is fading away and 2019 is in full swing, I have been able to get back into the creative design process a bit more. And I’m really excited about the first two projects I have lined up and wanted to share a little background and work in progress.

Back in late 2017 I started working with two farmers who had their own Ryeland sheep. One of the ladies was a partner in a commercial farm and already used their fleeces to spin and sell natural Ryeland yarn through her own website. The other lady had a smaller flock that she cared for personally and was looking at sustainable ways to use the fleeces rather than binning them. The thing that really grabbed my interest with both of these was the fact that the sheep were reared less than 10 miles from my studio.

Sustainability within the fashion industry has been more and more in the spotlight and it is an area that is fundamental to my work at Whitehall Studio. I try to consider it in every decision that I make; I am currently trying to remove single use plastic from the business. I choose UK based suppliers that are ethical with traceable products and I do my best to re-use packaging and spare yarn and compost rather than bin. So when I discovered that there was yarn waiting to be knitted, literally on my doorstep I wanted to be involved.

In 2018 I began to knit swatches and samples in the yarns and was really pleased with how it knitted and handled. It is softer and springier than I was expecting and has a lovely warmth to it that is perfect for knitwear worn in this country. (Apparently this is because the individual fibres have much crimp which, once spun and set into yarn, creates many little pockets of air which in turn makes the yarn warm and cosy to wear). I’m not an expert on different yarn breeds and up until now I had been using Scottish-spun lambswool and cashmere for my main range. With this I use a lot of brightly coloured yarns as fairisle patterning is a big feature of my work. This Ryeland yarn is thicker than the cashmere/lambswool and undyed. It’s available in 4 natural shades so it gives me something different to work with creatively and I am liking the new challenge. So far I have created samples of wrist warmers, cowls, blankets and jumpers in the 4 ply weight and I’m now looking at producing a jumper sample in the Aran weight - all knitted on my new chunky Knitmaster knitting machine.

I am hoping to be able to launch a jumper and a blanket in this yarn next year and I am currently working up designs for each of these. As soon as I have finished products ready to share, I will let you know. If you’d like to be alerted as soon as they are ready, please sign up to my newsletter here.

In the meantime, here’s some work in progress.