| Update June 16
Since I first wrote this post in 2014 there have been some changes and lots of new yarns! I have updated this post to reflect those.
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In the last few years I’ve blogged (and regularly updated) about UK yarns for Under £5, Under £10 and for a few pennies more. You’d think after all that time I would stop being surprised when people tell me that British wool is too expensive for them. I have written and spoken about the misconceptions of this before and also written a post begging the question what is the true cost of your making and how much are you willing to spend on your materials for quality, hand-knitted items. (I know that there will be more misconceptions and more posts to follow!)
We all have a budget for yarn buying; sometimes we need reining in and other times we impose yarn diets on ourselves. I am quite sure that since I started KnitBritish the more I’ve learned about my wool, what goes into it, where it comes from and how it is created that my own yarn purse strings have lengthened a little. We all like good value, but there is no doubting that we like a little streak of luxury too. With that in mind, I have (in no particular order) a range of yarns from around £3.50 to £24 – beautiful, British (grown, dyed or spun – if not all three) and will suit a wide variety of budgets.
Kettle Yarn Company was perhaps the first yarn review I did for the KnitBritish podcast. I just fell in love with Linda’s Twist range (£18.00) – a beautiful high twist BFL with gorgeous mercurial, metallic hues on the charcoals and greys that I bought back then – I just could not resist! This year Linda launched Baskerville – a worsted spun, 2ply fingering weight that is a dreamy blend of silvery Gotland, woolly Exmoor and lustrous silk. Linda has used indigo dyes to create the gradient grey to blues and I can testify to the sheer luminescence of these yarns. Soft, yet a slight rustic character. This would be a special addition to your stash. As Baskerville is spun in small batches you may need to pre-prder, but it it is definitely worth the wait!
Baskerville 100g/400m £24.00
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Brigantia Luxury Yarn comes in DK and Aran weights and is 100% pure wool, spun in Yorkshire. I am not sure what the luxurious bit is (I sort of think silk, or similarly wonderful fibre when I see ‘luxury) but this is a FANTASTIC work horse yarn. It is a great sweater yarn, but is warm, cosy and reliable in accessories too; soft and beautifully bouncy My only gripe is that Briganita do not seem to give any focus to their amazing yarn on their website, which sells their needlework lines. Thankfully we have the wonderful Jess at Ginger Twist Studio – herself a dyer and purveyor of awesome UK wools – who has the good sense to stock this awesome yarn in both DK and Aran in a range of great colours.
Brigantia Aran 100g/160m – DK 100g/240m £7.75
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West Yorkshire Spinners are going from strength to strength and it feels like in the last year they have exploded with ranges and colours. From 4ply to aran and roving yarn, from pure wool to wool blends, WYS have a yarn for every project and every knitter and all yarns contain wool reared, sheared and spun in Britain. I know I mentioned some of their brands already, but I do want to draw your attention to the Signature Sock range and their newer Illustrious blend. The former contains enough yarn for a pair of socks and – truly – such a lot of colour inspiration for sweet, jewel shades, earthy spicy tones, cocktail inspired self striping and a hugely popular self patterning yarn. Illustrious combines Falkland Merino and UK alpaca to create a very luxurious yarn, perfect for next to skin softness. Prices start at £7.20 and go up to £10.95 for the illustrious.
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Eden Cottage Yarn released a new British mill-dyed wool a couple of years ago and this lovely yarn has really had knitting fingers go wild for the soft BFL and silk, with an incredible high twist . Victoria dyes so many beautiful colours and bases, but Milburn is really special and luxuriously soft! Look at those deep, sexy colours…you might think I over-egg, but just look at that those colours and that incredible shine. I also heard tell over at the Eden Cottage Yarns blog that Victoria is working on 17 (yes, Seventeen) new shades for this range!
If you need further enabling I reviewed this yarn over on episode 26.
Eden Cottage Yarn Milburn 4ply 50g/200m £6.99
One yarn that has been recommended to me quite a lot over the years is from Woolyknit – a family run business, based in Saddleworth, Yorkshire. Woolyknit sell patterns, knitwear, yarn and fibre, and (according to their website) are producing some of their yarns to the same style that has been spun in Yorkshire for over 250 years. They create a lot of yarns and many of them contain British wool – Blue Faced Leicester (£4.68); brightly coloured and neppy Diggle DK (£3.60); British Naturals (£3.48); Countryside Tweed DK (£6.84) and packing a woolly punch Big Brit Super Chunky (£5.95). Woolyknit seem to have – in a one stop shop – a yarn for the low to mid range budgets.
I know that *you* guys know this already, but for those who haven’t knit with British wool (for whatever reason) you have plenty to choose from. I’ve brought you featured posts showing a representative sample of yarns from dyers, commercial yarn companies and small British milIs, all with a wide variety of price tags. I’m also going to bring you a post on small producer yarns too. British wool can tick all the boxes for feel, stitch definition, drape, warmth, comfort – budget too – and I will not stop working to show you what’s out there and who’s out there growing it, spinning it, dyeing with it, selling it, and creating with it.
If you have a suggestion feel free to mention it in the comments. If you are looking for more suggestions you could look over in the KnitBritish Ravelry group in the wool questions and suggestions thread and feel free to post about your great wool finds there too.
Images belong to and are copyright to (in order) Kettle Yarn Company, Ginger Twist Studio, WYS, Eden Cottage Yarns and WoolyKnit. Click on the images to visit te websites. These views are 100% my own. I have not been paid to feature yarns/companies here.
All hail British yarn!
I’ve just found Rooster yarn. Their ‘Delightful Lace’ is more than delightful. It’s divine! Can’t wait for Woolfest so I can get my paws on more of their yarns as there’s no one local to me who sells it.
I always use UK indie dyers, I’m not about to spend my hard earned on customs and shipping if I can help it!
Off to my LYS today. I’m making little yellow ducks. Does anyone else fancy spreading the word?
Ah! Do Rooster do British yarn as well? Fab! The little yellow duck project is a great idea – I mentioned it on the podcast and have to go stash diving for more yellow yarn! 🙂
Such a great article with some yarns I know already and some new exciting ones to try out. Thank you for such a great round up.
You are right that “Knitting British is expensive” is a lie. There are yarns for every budget in an ever widening variety of fibre and colour.
Thank you for this wonderful celebration of UK yarns.
[…] and it doesn’t cost much but I do want to start supporting British yarn producers more (it’s not all expensive!). I started knitting the jumper when we went to my mum’s at the beginning of July, and it […]
Just found your blog!
I love good yarns, stitch definition (I love aran cables), hand dyed colours etc and would love to support British wool industries, but I am afraid I don’t appear to have the same ‘budget’ as you.
I could not consider paying £70-100 for yarn for just one garment! It might be gorgeous and last a long time, but I want to make more than one.
Looks like I need a different job, as my current day job does not finance such luxuries. What should I be doing?
What I’ve tried to do since starting KnitBritish is to demonstrate that there is yarn for every budget. This is quite evident from this post – £3 per ball of DK for British yarn is exceptionally good value. I have another post which I note in the post where you can find yarns for under £5. (Starting at £2.75)
While I have never personally spent £70-80 on wool for a sweater – many do – I usually spend about £30-40. You will never buy a quality knit item in a store for much less than that price (or have the satisfaction of knitting it yourself 😉 )
As for the prices of hand-dyed yarn – I only wish hand-dyers could charge more to enable them to make a living wage, alas they will always have critics for the prices they charge for what is, essentially, a work of art for you to knit with.
As you have just discovered the blog you will perhaps need to read more to discover that what I write here isn’t all personal preference – I am aiming to show reader’s what is out there and available to try….budgets allowing.
Many thanks for your comment.
Another great round up for British yarn, apart from a shawl using alpaca and silk all my knits this year have been made using Britsh yarn and I’ve been so happy with the results, my knitting budget is pretty tight but all the yarn I’ve bought this year (from Shetland Aran, various British breeds for swatching on the KnitBritsh swatch kal, to yarn for socks including some WYS and some Blacker Classic 4ply) has knitted up a treat and I know that any extra pennies spent were well worth it……I don’t see the point in skimping when I spend ages knitting with it, and I also want my finished item to wear well.
Thank you for introducing me to so many fantastic yarns, I’m now about to use some lustrous Tamar for a birthday shawl for my boyfriend’s mum, the yarn is beautiful and I know she’ll be really pleased that the yarn is Britsh rather than coming from goodness knows where.
Very interesting post. And I do agree with you about the price range of yarn. The best value you can afford is something that goes with life. And then you have to be creative. A good, budget wool, and a mini skein of silk or cashmere and your garment will be a piecework. Then again, the discussion about prices reminds me of an article about the high price of free range, organic grown poultry in the uk. Is 12£ per kg too much to pay for quality meat? And the writer just put it this way, if you complain on the chicken – that you will cook and eat in various way, up to three meals – but then you pay what you pay for home delivered pizza, please, learn to prepare a good pizza at home and with the money you save buy something that it’s worth your money. I am Italian, I bake pizza at home, it’s easy peasy and costs nothing…. All this digression to say that yes, look for quality and beauty, the pricy yarn brends are not always so high in quality (colour running, knots, ever happened to you?, I was furious), and support small enterprises. It is like investing in young artists. Good for you and good for the community. That’s why I also like so much the effort you put in promoting brit yarn. I wish we had something like your project in Italy. At least, I have not spotted it yet.
The problem is that knitting and crochet used to be a money saving activity. Grannies used to sit endlessly knitting children’s school sweaters because clothes were so expensive. Nowadays school sweaters can be bought for a couple of pounds (shamefully produced in sweatshops abroad), so we are left with knitting and crochet as crafts to enjoy.
I have so often in the past bought cheap acrylic yarn, which looked lovely in the ball, spent weeks (and sometimes months!) knitting something, washed it once and never wore it again because it looked so lifeless. I also don’t enjoy knitting with poor, cheap yarn. I love the experience of knitting and the feel and the glide of the yarn is so important and knowing that it was once keeping a sheep warm somewhere near me makes it even more enjoyable.
The most important thing when knitting is that you chose the right yarn for the right application, that you enjoy the yarns springiness, smoothness or softness through your fingers and that you enjoy the challenge of making something new.
It is important, when you have put so much creative energy and effort into making something, that you (or someone else) can enjoy wearing it for years to come and that after washing the item it doesn’t look like a dishcloth (unless it is a dishcloth you have made, and I knit those too!))
People spend huge amounts on other crafts, purely because they enjoy the craft. We have to stop comparing our craft to the price of shop bought garments. It’s like saying “I won’t paint a picture because it’s cheaper to buy one”. It’s completely accepted that people paint for their own enjoyment, that it is the act of painting that matters, not that it’s economically viable, but somehow knitting is thought of differently.
I probably knit, on average, about 100 grams of (British) yarn a week, which gives me a lot of pleasure and costs me about £8 – £10, and I also get an item I can use, wear or give as a present when I have finished it. I am (normally) proud of the finished result, have generally learned something new and have the satisfaction of wearing something entirely made in Britain, instead of something made in a sweatshop in India.
Think how much it costs to go out for the evening, take part in a yoga class, go to the cinema, buy tubes of paint, play tennis, go to a football match… It’s time we thought of knitting and crochet as a pastime in the same way as any other pastime and not as a cheap alternative to buying clothes, those days have long gone.