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British Wool Under a Tenner

| January 2019 Update

There have been a lot of changes and new yarns introduced since this post first went out six years ago and so I have updated it to reflect this.

Previously I highlighted a few UK wool yarns which hopefully wouldn’t dent even the tightest yarn purse strings. If you have a few extra pennies to spend on your stash this month (does anyone else *try* to budget for stash?) then you might be interested in reading on.

I don’t pretend that when the price goes up so does the quality (for example, I would say that the Jamieson & Smith I mentioned last time is worth its weight in gold and it carries a relatively small price tag for 100% Shetland wool) and I do not claim that one wool is better than another, but what I would like to do is show a little example of what is grown/spun/dyed right here in the UK and show that just because it is wool doesn’t mean it has to be extortionately priced.

Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop

DSC_1047_DK__1200px.jpg July 29, 2017 162 KB 1200 × 799 Edit Image Delete Permanently

© Wensledale Longwool sheep shop

I first discovered this lovely yarn at the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I don’t remember the name of the stall, all I could see was the brilliant lustre on the yarn and the gorgeous colours – from natural to earthy tones to pastels and bright jewelled solid tones. I made my lush cardigan in this and I think this is my favourite knitted item. The fabric has never lost it’s lustre and I hardly ever need to de-pill it. Wensleydale is an incredible hardwearing yarn and the wool of the breed is considered the finest lustre fleece. Do not let the surface halo of fibres on the yarn and knitted fabric make you believe this yarn is coarse! I love wearing this next to my skin and the spin of this particular brand is perhaps the best I have seen in terms of producing a great stitch definition and a lovely knitted fabric (some Wensleydale yarns can be spun very loose to create a fuzzier yarn with more of a prickle).

 Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop  has come under new management since I first wrote this post. They have a wonderful online shop and have added more lines, also other products including hand-dyed and socks. Their 4ply starts at £5.50, with DK and aran £8 to £9.

John Arbon

(c) John Arbon

I am a huge fan of John Arbon, a small scale mill based in Devon. I first met with their sock yarn (then it was a blend of British alpaca and Exmoor Blue Face wool ) and quickly I was checking out the rest of their yarn range. The sock yarn (above) has now been updated with the fantastic Exmoor Sock Yarn which costs £7 per 50g skein (Exmoor Blueface, Corriedale, Zwartbles  and 10% Nylon)

I’m also a huge fan of their Zwartbles DK yarn; the darkest is 100% Zwartbles and the lighter shades have been blended with Exmoor Blue Face. This is a beautiful yarn with a lot of great character and texture. The three together would look stunning in a gradient design, don’t you think?

Image: John Arbon

The Zwartbles DK is £9 for 100g/250m and John Arbon have a whole range of other yarns, in the over £10 range if your budget can stretch further.

New Lanark

New Lanark yarns have been moved from the Under a Fiver post, as their prices have doubled in the last year. I am not quite sure why that may be, but perhaps their costs have gone up. 

New Lanark is particularly great if you are looking for a work-horse yarn for sweaters and a great range of colours too. It is worth reminding you that New Lanark yarns are a Scottish-spun yarn, but they cannot guarantee that 100% of the fibre content is British. Please bear that in mind if British wool is what makes your purchase decision.

Their DK now starts at £7.95 and their Aran and Chunky yarns costs from £9.95 .



Image: Kate Davies Designs

Buachaille was the first yarn by designer Kate Davies.  Kate worked very closely with Curtis Wool to source exactly the right kind of Scottish fibres to create a blend, which is not only the perfect bouncy, woolly, most knitable fibre, but it has been spun beautifully and has a colour palette to get really excited about! Buachaille is 100% wool yarn, grown in Scotland and made in Yorkshire and I think it is such an important British wool – it really shows you how unique and full of character British wool can be.

Each sport weight skein comes in 50g/110m and her shop is updated weekly. Buachaille costs £7.49. I reviewed this in the podast in episode 53, if you need further enabling. 

A Yarn from North Ronaldsay

Image: BritYarn

Image: BritYarn

Based on the Orkney island where the sheep are native, A Yarn From North Ronaldsay have a small-scale mill where they process and produce yarn from the rare, seaweed eating breed. Since establishing the mill in 2003 the company has evolved from selling hand knitting wool to selling rovings, batts, felt and knitwear. This is a very strong wool – soft and hairy. Its one of those wools that you might says has an initial coarse handle; I have to admit when I first took mine out of the parcel I thought “this is not soft”! But it is actually an incredible texture of crisp and soft and I think that’s due to the double coat –  a protective outer layer to guard against the elements and a softer, finer layer beneath.The hanks come in the natural colours and range in weights and meterage, so please be aware that some of the hanks may go over our £10 mark,


(c) Gathenor (instagram)

Garthenor have been selling 100% certified organic wool products since the 1990s. They are a great source of single breed and blended wool yarns in a variety of knitting weights from lace to chunky, mostly in natural shades. In recent times they have added the Henorius range, which is breed specific, and also features dyed shades. 

Henorius starts at £10 and their range of undyed, breed specific and blended breed yarns start at £9.00


Again, I am not stating that one wool is better than another (they are all wonderful – I want them ALL!) and I could probably give you a list as long as my arm, but I think this is a great representative sample if you wanted to experiment with local bred fibre and I hope, if you haven’t sampled some of these before, you might feel inspired to give it a go.

You can also tweet about your projects using the #knitbritish hashtag too.

| Information Images are copyright to owners as stated, other images are mine. Information correct at time of posting (Jan 2013, update June 2016, Novembe 2018, January 2019) These views are 100% my own. I have not been paid to feature yarns/companies here.


  1. I bought two skeins of North Ronaldsay when I was in Orkney and knit them up into hats. They were warm and rustic, yet that unique sheen made them soft against the skin. Sadly they were somehow lost in the shuffle from Stirling to Michigan. I’ve wanted to find this wool again for years, but I had no idea where to start, because I hadn’t written down the brand or anything. Thank you for inadvertently enabling this reunion! Haha…

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