sulky greys and thunderclouds, dusty cobwebs and chocolatey browns…..

beautiful and natural coloured wool from Brit Yarn

Back in November I started knitting some single breed wool swatches for the British Breed Swatch-a-long over in the Knit British group on Ravelry, at the time I hadn’t really had a lot of experience with using real wool, which I’ve found to be full of sheepy scents with a real spring when you squish it…and I know it will be no surprise to read I’ve well and truly lost my heart to British wool….

At the start of the year I ordered some more Britsh breed wool, this time from Isla at Brit Yarn (I’ve now ordered a couple of times from her and the service has been excellent, nice and fast delivery but also when I had some enquiries about sock yarn recently she answered all my questions and then went on to answer questions I hadn’t even asked but which explained the wool better.  Like Meadowyarn in Bramfield, Brit Yarn is an online shop so no bricks and mortar visits to sniff their stock sadly but both are really excellent)…anyway the wool I ordered was all dk weight as I figured I’d be able to compare the swatches a bit better that way, and any wool left would be able to be used together.

The first wool I choose was the Castlemilk Moorit, this is a really velvety wool and very chocolatey in colour…it reminds me of rich puddings or mousses, chocolate tortes of which one little slice is never enough (and nor is one skein/ball…my ambition for this year is to knit myself a cardigan using this wool)….. I also chose a Llanwenog (which is quite similar to the Norfolk Horn wool) and some Lincoln Longwool….this is a bit of a skinny dk whch I haven’t tried knitting with yet but it feels very silky and is very floppy.

Something I’ve noticed I’m doing is cuddling these skeins and balls, stroking and coasing them like they are little animals and there’s definitely very much of the “this has come from an animal” that I’m noticing even more with these un-dyed wool(s), particularly so with the brown and grey wool….

single breed Jacob wool

I really wanted to have a try knitting with some Jacob wool and luckily for me Isla stocks this in four natural un-dyed shades, I couldn’t decide which of the darker natural shades to choose  so ended up buying one of each, the wool is very nice to knit with…the fat skeins were so bouncy and smelt so good.  I’ve mentioned my love of colour so many times on here, often my wardrobe choices influence colours I use in my embroidery or crochet and vice versa…..I’m not now suddenly dressing all in grey or brown but I keep doodling little jumpers and cardigans with fat curved yokes and coloured using browns and soft greys…..totally beyond my knitting abilities at the moment but if you don’t dream (or doodle) there is nothing to inspire you to learn new things, improve your skills…make those dreams a reality.

There’s something about these soft greys, all dusty cobwebs and rabbity, chocolately browns, mushrooms and woodsy that I like very much indeed, and these lovely wool(s) are certainly helping to fuel my woolly fantasies of a wardrobe full of natural shaded cardigans and jumpers (and I’m not even a jumper lover).

nature shades second tester

I’m not sure if it’s a carry over from the swatch-a-long (it makes sense if it is after people have explored a few different breeds they’d not used before) but at the start of the year Louise from Knit British and Isla from Brit Yarn started up a knit-a-long called Nature’s Shades…..no dyed fibres, just colour as nature intended.  Mostly I’ve just been watching what other people are posting, and there are some truly gorgoeus pieces appearing on there, when the kal started I’d just started knittng socks with Anne and wanted to give that my attention but I’m feeling a bit more comfortable now knitting them, it feels a lot less like trying to keep hold of a very tickly hedgehog that won’t stop wriggling about in my hands….

So I thought about what I could make and emptied out the un-dyed Britsh wool and just played, seeing which colours looked best together.  Before I began knitting I had a flick though the big Harmony guide I’ve got and looked at stitches that worked well for colour or texture but which weren’t stranded or Fairisle (I’m not able to do those yet) and found a pattern where you change colour every couple of rows but you slip stitches along and then pull them up on the following row (it’s a bit like hoofin’ up saggy tights when they get all baggy)

nature shades tester

I’m not so sure about the combination here of grey and brown together, it’s reminding me somewhat of the hand knit jumpers I remember two little boys wearing when I was at Primary schoolin the seventies, I think they were cousins so perhaps it was a shared Grandma who was knitting them. (This is a mix of the Jacob, Norfolk Horn and the Castlemilk Moorit)

nature shades

I’m not a huge fan of strongly defined stripes (whenever I wear them myself I feel rather like a seaside deckchair) and much prefer the subtleties of the grey swatch…I’ve used the same pattern (it’s a slipped stitch herringbone) but I like how the little patches of ombre shading blend together more slower rather than the combination of dark and light together with no in-between.

The grey swatch uses the Jacob but the mid grey, some Blue Faced Leicester and the Llanwenog …I’ve also used some Suffolk wool in there too but that looks a bit lumpy as it’s aran weight rather than dk….the grey swatch is my favourite and reminds me very much of the shades in Bernard’s fur when he’s all stretched out and reveals his white tummy, all sulky greys and thunderclouds.

I’m still a bit undecided what I’m actually going to knit, I can’t decide between socks and a hat….it’s not often cold enough here for hats but when it is… I’ve just looked out the window and we’ve had a good frost last night, which explains why I woke up to find Bernard half buried under the covers wedged up right under my chin….anyway a walk out in the frost and fog is planned in the next wee while ….when I’m gone Bernard can keep  guard of the house (he’s now all sprawled out along a windowsill near a radiator….there’s snoring so he probably won’t even know I’ve been out)….anyway it’s definitely hat weather today so perhaps something in the style of a tam or beret.

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8 thoughts on “sulky greys and thunderclouds, dusty cobwebs and chocolatey browns…..

    1. I’ve also bought some locally spun Castlemilk moorit and some brown Shetland wool, beautiful and so bouncy….the housework is getting rather neglected though while I learn to knit x

  1. Even though I love colour, I can see the appeal of the natural wools. I bought a hank of undyed WYS fleece 100% Bluefaced Leicester last week to dye at home but I keep stroking it instead! It seems too nice to dye but I can’t think what to make with it either. Maybe something with cables as they look good with the plain colours. I’ll have to learn how to do them first! I am chuffed I have just learned how to do stranded colourwork. It was a bit fiddly to start, holding a colour in each hand and knitting continental style but I got the hang of it eventually 🙂

    1. Stoking wool is nice and calming isn’t it. Cables sound lovely, I find them easier to do when it’s nice and quiet…..I had a bit of a practise last week with the stranded knitting, it felt like rubbing my tummy while patting my head. I’m really leaning now towards the undyed colours especially the browns.

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