From sheep to yarn, my full process

Initially I used pre-dyed wool and silk to spin my cobweb yarn, but in an effort to improve the ethical credentials of AnNead Hand Knitwear, I decided to source the wool direct from a British farm and replace the silk with kid mohair, which would almost replicate the properties of the silk.

On hearing of a new breed of sheep in production with what sounded like a very good fleece for cobweb yarn, I got in touch with the rare breeds farm, South Yeo Farm East where the development of the breed is being carried out.

This is a farm with very high standards of animal husbandry and the fleece proved to be exactly what I was looking for.
Then I needed to find a source for the kid mohair, which ended up being New Forest Mohair, another farm with very good credentials, having the New Forest Marque for high standards in quality and husbandry.

All the steps

When I get the fleece, the first step is to wash the fleece to cleanse it of lanoline so that it will accept dye.

Before dyeing the fleece, I comb and card it. Here is a video of this process, filmed by Picarus Aerial Photography and Filmatography with background music by a local band, Daimh. The fleece I’m combing and carding here is some kid mohair.

Then comes the dyeing process. I use natural dyes, most of which are from local flora. I mainly use alum as a mordant (which makes the dye take) as it has minimum environmental impact.

Then comes the blending of colours and fleece types ready for spinning. Here is a short video showing the process, again filmed by Picarus Aerial Photography and Filmatography with backing music by Daimh.

Then comes the spinning. I have a beautiful spinning wheel, hand crafted by Rod Grant of Innerleithen Spinning Wheels. Besides looking beautiful, this wheel is a dream to spin with. Here is a video of this process, filmed by Picarus Aerial Photography and Filmatography, also with backing music by Daimh.

After that the cobweb yarn is ready for me to knit into a unique piece of cobweb lace which has the potential to become an heirloom and will hopefully give many years of pleasure. Once knitting is complete, I wash the lace and pin it out to ‘dress’ it resulting in the cobwebby effect.

I also create 50g balls of cobweb and lace weight yarn for anyone who wants to make their own lace.


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