British Wool, casting on, community, crochet, KAL, KnitBritish, KnitBritish Rav group, KnitLocal, knitting, love, sheep, spinning, wool
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Let’s have a breed swatch KAL!

One of the things I hinted at last time I blogged is a project that KnitBritish readers and listeners can get involved with this autumn to REALLY get to grips with British breed wools and to discover the unique characteristics of our native (and long-term lodger) breeds.

Very soon I shall be launching a single breed swatch KAL where we will knit, spin and crochet our way through the British breed wool available to us. We will be going way beyond the skein on a journey of woolly discovery! 

This year at KnitBritish I have tried to put focus on us collectively thinking beyond the ball – beyond the hand-squish-grab – and beyond any initial thoughts that breed wool is itchy or coarse. I did the squishing sessions at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival too and it was fantastic to see knitters look at the ball, feel the knitted swatches and feel how very different the washed and blocked swatch was from the ball. Not only that, but then some wanted to go and seek out breed yarn at the festival, armed with the knowledge of what the yarn actually looked like knitted and what that yarn would be best suited to. You can read a bit more about that event here.

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| What will we be doing?

We are going to test drive the yarns from ball – or from fibre, if you choose – knit or crochet a square (in any weight or stitch design) and we are going to test drive the yarn at each stage. I will reveal more details of this soon, but this will be a journey of discovery as we look at how single breed British wool evolves as we knit it, then *wash it, block it and wear it. Repeating from * also totally changes the wool and the fabric and tells us about the longevity of the fibre too – far more than a squish of a skein in a LYS ever will.

The KnitBritish community is so vibrant, it is full of love for wool and I thought this would be an excellent way to discover more about British wool and support wool grown and spun in this country. Our results from these reviews could well help people in the future when they are trying to select breed yarn…but again, I shall reveal no more at this moment!

More details will be forthcoming, along with how you can sign up and a list of stockists and small producers of British wool and fibre simply brimming for your delectation!

| You can KnitLocal too

I know that there are so many people across the world who have told me they buy in British wool and wish it was more local to them. In addition to using British breed wool you can also take part in knitting along with the fibre and breed that is local to you. This is a wonderful opportunity to truly celebrate local wool industry and our native breeds, wherever they may be. Everyone can take part.

| When does it start? 

Soon, my eager wool lovers, soon!  I will be opening up a thread in the KnitBritish Ravelry group shortly and posting with more details here in the very near future.

This KAL will also complement this year’s wonderful WOVEMBER – what a truly awesome celebration of 100% wool it will be! I can’t wait to tell you more about it. 

| Do you need a breed yarn fix in the meantime? 

Don’t forget you can win a fat, squashy soft hank of BRITISH Merino wool from Romney Marsh wools over on this post, over here



  1. I’m in! I’m already getting ready to embark on a similar project so have an ample stash of fibre! 🙂 Now, if I joined in with the tour of British fleece I could have some of it spun in time too…My end goal is a collection of patterns to showcase the characteristics of different breeds so this will help me well on my way, and in great company too, yippee!

    • louise says

      Ruth, what a spectacular idea. This will really help you and hopefully help others seeking out British and local fibres!

  2. What an awesome idea! Totally going to join in with this celebration of British wool! Can’t wait to find out more.

      • I am learning to crochet doing a sampler blanket in Rowan British breeds chunky. It looks lovely but think of all the amazing colours and textures that could be achieved when we sling the net wider!

  3. I love this idea :). And what a brilliant sequel to the Tour of British Fleece. Now I know what I’ll be doing with my little skeins from the Tour!

  4. I love the swatching idea. I work a bit at my LYS and am always trying to convince the clientele of the value of swatching, not just that four inch square, but the generous swatch that really allows one to get the esoteric understanding of the wool. I’m living in the center of the US and have been collecting some small production single breed skeins that are at least regional, if not from Nebraska. I look forward to hearing more about your plans. Today I am swatching Lincoln 2ply sport produced in Colorado or Wyoming.

    • louise says

      wow Gail, that fibre sounds great. Of course when i say KnitLocal, I know local to knitters like yourself can be rural, state-wide and nationwide. It’s all allowed though – if its local to you in terms of the breeds you have access to then its in!

  5. Bethy40 says

    What an exciting idea! I can’t wait to hear more. I have some Romney in the spinning line-up already and I look forward to hearing especially about where to source interesting things…

  6. Fantastic idea, I can’t wait! I’ve recently bought my first fleece – Blue Faced Leicester – so can join in to turn it into yarn:)

  7. Sarah says

    Sounds wonderful. I’m in a Rare Breeds club, and I’ve been perplexed on what to do with all these single skeins. How will we remember which swatch is which, do you think?

  8. Barbara Sutton says

    Count me in too! I’m going to be spinning some Blue Faced Leicester for the Tour so this will be perfect timing 🙂

  9. LOVE this idea, I never join in KALs with 2 babies my knitting time/ speed is slow to none but a swatch – I can handle that!!
    I have some Hole & Son and some Teeswater from the Knitting Swede, I already have projects in mind they are just waiting to be swatched, perfect timing 🙂

  10. […] By popular demand there will be posts examining how to get the best use of the wealth of material and articles gathered here over the last few years. Louise will also be featuring material from her very exciting Knit British breed-specific swatch-a-long! […]

  11. I am so going to be squishing my single breed roving and my fleeces in November.
    I love playing with breed specific things – Its not just wool it’s Jacob. 🙂
    I have lots of lovely things in my stash to have fun with, if only I can learn to sample and not go down the rabbit hole and do the whole skein.
    I must remember – the sheep are actively making me more lovely stuff so do not treat it like a rare piece of art, though if you use it for tapestry it could become rare art. OK enough waffling – looking forward to the breedy stuff.

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