Swatching the Norfolk Horn yarn

img_20180713_181706012Its been a frantically busy time since I last wrote introducing this lovely Norfolk Horn yarn.  June is always horrendously busy.  This year more so than normal.

In between getting out out and about giving a hand with shearing and sorting fleeces for this years clip I’ve also been carrying out more research into the Norfolks history  – more on this exciting project as the next few months go by.  All this squeezed in between the usual events, craft fairs and festivals that seem to run back to back from May till now.  Introducing my lovely yarn to its public in addition to my usual hand dyed fibres and hand spun yarns has been great.  I’ve met so many interesting people and gained new contacts.  The network grows. Its been overwhelming at times.

Family life has also taken a busy turn  in the past month or so.  With children returning home as adults (a memorable day trip to Lockerbie for lunch and bringing home a kayak).  At the same time Sean’s mum is transitioning to live with her children. A busy time indeed.

But now things have slacked off and I have had time to play in the workshop with this lovely Norfolk Horn yarn. Putting it through its paces and seeing what it can do well.  I hope these swatches will give you an idea of the sorts of textures and patterns that it will work well with.

I’ve tried it out in plain, eyelet and cables.  Its giving really good stitch definition and a nice handle.  Its the best of sheepy yarn: bouncy, soft and not too tickly.   The following swatches were all knitted on 3.5mm needles.

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Plain stocking stitch: 3.5mm needles gauge 25 stitches 40 rows to 10cm

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Eyelet lace: 3.5mm needles gauge 27 stitches 39 rows to 10cm

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Cables. 3.5mm needles gauge 29 stitches 42 rows to 10cm

Its has a  delicate pearly shimmer to it. And I’m really liking the oatmeally and the peppering of dark dusty flecks  of colour in it.

I am experimenting with dyeing it.  Its going to take some time as I really don’t want to loose that special shimmering colouration that is so Norfolkish.

I’ve also been working on some one skein wonder patterns, these I will publish on Ravelry as I finish them to the point where I am happy with them.  I am learning to accept that these things can not be rushed.

If you wish to get you hands on some don’t wait too long, its going fast.  Full details on the yarn and how to buy it can be found here.

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Whats in a label

I’ve been preoccupied with the labelling for this delicious Norfolk Horn yarn. Honestly, I am so excited by this project its ridiculous.  My preoccupation with tiny details is knowing no limits.  I really am sweating over the small stuff.

My current preoccupation is labelling.  What do I want you to think and know when you see, squish, sniff and work with this precious yarn?

This has meant getting to grips with new software.  Once upon a time it felt like the computer ruled my every waking moment.  Its overwhelming hunger for the production of data to be analysed in spreadsheets, databases, powerpoints and the words.  The words.  The terrifying  enormous volume of words. So much guff!

It took a while before I could spend any length of time with a computer or device of any kind.  I did anything to avoid it. The thought of it gave me the heeby geebies.  I would get this clenching in the gut just thinking about it.  As time has gone by I have been able, bit by bit to rationalise those away. And, for the first time in a long while, I lost some hours working on a borrowed computer teaching myself to use graphics software so I could produce a logo and the labelling for this limited edition Norfolk Horn yarn.  I had forgotten how much fun it was loosing yourself in the creative process of representing ideas and concepts visually.  Not just the creativity of it but also the challenges of learning the skills to make them.

This is one of Olivers lovely ladies from down the road.  She contributed her fleece to the 2017 clip.  She was my starting point.

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I think she is a perfect example of her breed. I love her blackface, those slim long black silk stockinged legs, the swept back open horns and that slightly wild-eyed look.  I knew that the logo had to be a representation of the physical characteristics of the Norfolk.  But I also wanted it to convey their character. A little bit wild, a wry intelligence and quirky in a sort of just off left of centre way.

It is to be simple, direct, and unfussy.  A bit like the Norfolk Horn. In other words, I see more than just a rare breed of sheep.  The Norfolk represents so much more to me.  The Norfolk horn personifies its place and its people.  In other words, everything that I wanted the yarn to encapsulate and express.

This is she:

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Sean thinks she’s a wee bit devilish, but I like her. What do you think?

And the other side:

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Just in case you are interested its printed on 100% recycled, unbleached, unlaminated white card printed with environmentally friendly inks at a printers that actually has an environmental policy.  I like companies that sweat over the small stuff .  It means that you and I don’t have to…

 

Three bags full

IMG_20180425_104604108.jpgThe yarn has arrived safe and sound.  It was a surprisingly emotional moment. I confess I did well up a bit.  Silly, but it was a bit of a moment for me.

No you can’t see it yet.  I’m being quite possessive.  Its not ready for its debut yet.  I want everything to be perfect.  It deserves it.

It is exactly what I had hoped for.  The care and effort taken at each step of the way was well worth it.  In the husbandry of the shepherds,  the shearing by the shearers, my fussiness in sorting only the best of the fleece before taking it to the mill, and the exceptional milling by The Natural Fibre Co.

Its perfect.

Just to tease you: It is so soft, bouncy and fluffy as tufts of clouds and just a bit tickly.  A proper sheepy yarn.

But I am only half way there.  There is an extraordinary amount of stuff that needs to be done to get a yarn to market. I think I may have just done the easy bit. I have a budget so low it’s almost non-existent so buying in expertise is not an option.  This is going to be a one woman operation.  Production – me. Marketing – me. Admin – me.  Sales – me.  Do I have any experience of these things?  No.  This is going to be interesting.

For example, labelling.  How will it be labelled. Tags or bands? What information needs to go on it.   Whos going to print it?  On what paperstock? What size?  So many questions that need answers.  My head might just explode.

But what has been exercising me most is how to minimise the environmental impacts of what I am doing.  If you know me or have read my blog, you will probably have noted that these things are important to me.  I try to do less evil wherever I am able to.  So for me all the packaging for this project has to be as low impact as possible.

Paper? Have you ever thought about swing tags, you know  those attractive tags that you will pull of your yarn and then chuck in the recycling/bin/compost.  These are the choices that need to be made in producing it:  Paper stock: 100% virgin woodpulp from sustainably managed forests or 100% recycled paper? Either kraft (unbleached brown) or if white then chlorine bleached or can I get unbleached? Laminated with plastic for that shiny smooth professional look or unlaminated? That’s an easy one. And then there’s the inks and how it’s printed.  And the list goes on. And then there’s finding a printer that not only offers these choices but also has the environment embedded in their own practise and thinks the same as me.

Packaging?  This is another huge (and very topical) issue. FFS we’ve been recycling since the late 1980’s so you would think we would have this thing sorted by now.  I hate those plastic postal bags.  I’ve taken the decision to be as plastic free as possible with packaging. My customers should be able to throw their packaging straight on the compost heap where it will biodegrade. Luckily there are now a huge choice of recycled card options.  I’ve even sourced a 100% recycled paper parcel tape that is completely biodegradable as it uses latex based adhesive to seal my parcels with. How good is that.

In the meantime.  Me and the Norfolk Yarn are having a cosy time of ‘getting to know you’.  As you can imagine, lots of squishing and sniffing and lots of swatching.  I’ve been testing out different needle sizes, different stitches, lace, cables, textures.

More on this soon.  I’m not ready to share yet. When she is ready for the big reveal you will be the first to know…