Introducing our Autumn 2016 batch of Zwartbles and Zwartbles blend yarns:
Zwartbles sheep originate from the Netherlands where they’re an uncommon breed. They were developed as a multipurpose breed and are valued here in Britain for their calm manner and as lovely mothers with good growing lambs. Their fleece is dense and bouncy and a very deep dark brown colour, although with age and sun it bleaches rusty red at the tips. The 2016 fleeces we sourced from Hedgefield Zwartbles (link) are from shearling fleeces, from lambs in their first winter, and consequently the wool is less rustic than is typical and retains the very dark, almost black, colour – we like to think of it as Bitter Chocolate! As well as pure Zwartbles wool we have developed three blends. The first is a lovely rustic heathery Coal Grey with the addition of 45% Cheviot wool (from Drumsmittal Farm (link)). Secondly we have added 50% mohair (from a farm near our mill, The Border Mill (link), in the Scottish Borders) – this blend is a Steel Grey colour, has a real sheen and a soft yet strong handle. The final blend is with 50% alpaca (again sourced close to The Border Mill (link) in the Scottish Borders) – the alpaca fleece used was fawn coloured and the resulting fibre is a beautiful warm Toffee Fudge colour in a soft, squishy yarn.
It was a tricky to decide which of the Black Isle Yarns Autumn 2016 yarns to knit with first but in the end the Zwartbles Mohair blend was selected – ‘eeny meeny miny mo’ can always be relied on in the case of indecision! I settled on the Hackberry Hat pattern by Ginny Sheller. I love the simple but elegant design and know I’ll wear the hat a lot (as well as, of course, bringing it along to upcoming yarn festivals as a sample!).
The pattern was beautifully straight forward and a pleasure to knit. The Zwartbles Mohair blend is really lovely to knit with, smooth and soft, but with a definite feeling of strength, and I didn’t have the nose tickling problems which are sometimes associated with mohair. There’s a real character to this yarn and a definite drape which works well with what Ginny describes as the ‘fun pseudo-slouchy style, more of what I call a “poof” hat’ – although it possibly isn’t the best yarn choice to show-off the textured design to full effect (the dark Steel Grey colour is also probably to blame here…….but, even if it does hide texture, it is such a pretty and wearable colour!).
Katie very helpfully modelled the hat for me (only a small amount of bribery involved!) – as her head is smaller than mine, it doesn’t show the yarn over increases after the ribbed brim to their full effect but is infinitely better than me trying to take selfies.
Yarn Details: Black Isle Yarns Zwartbles Mohair blend (50%~50%)