I’m incredibly pleased to be able to tell you about Killen my brand new all-natural sock yarn. Killen is designed as a strong but soft yarn suitable for knitting socks, with Mohair used alongside Bluefaced Leicester for strength. This yarn is a soft, strong 4 ply (fingering weight) which takes dye beautifully.
I first began thinking of making an all-natural sock yarn around 18 months ago and had a small test batch of Killen spun with summer 2017’s fleeces. The Bluefaced Leicester came from a small show flock called Eilean Dubh (gaelic for Black Isle) owned by a school friend of my eldest. Unfortunately later that summer the Eilean Dubh flock had to be disbanded as the Laughton family were struggling to secure rental grazing. For 2018’s larger batch I worked with two new-to-me local flocks, Wester Raddery and Craigallan – I aim to build a long-term relationship with both farms and to continue selecting and buying high quality fleece from their beautiful flocks. Killen is a small rural hamlet in the centre of the Black Isle and lies more-or-less centrally between these three flocks, hence the name of the yarn.
Sourcing Mohair hasn’t been straightforward. I started, in 2017, with fleece from a flock local to The Border Mill (who spins Killen so skilfully) but unfortunately the fleeces had skin flakes and couldn’t be processed. Luckily TBM had some British Mohair leftover from a previous project and that was used in the test batch. I worked hard to track down traceable Mohair for summer 2018 and was delighted to find a flock in the Lake District from which I bought the fleeces needed for the second batch………..but unfortunately it transpired that these fleeces were contaminated with a resin which couldn’t be washed off! Having searched pretty thoroughly earlier in the year I knew I was very unlikely to find any other British Mohair fleece so I decided to use South African Mohair in order to be sure of the quality of the yarn.
I was absolutely delighted when Clare Devine (Knit Share Love) agreed to design a pair of socks in Killen for me. Clare is a very talented sock designer and is quite a champion of all natural socks. There’s some great information on her website: here and here. Clare’s Munlochy Socks are absolutely stunning – you can read more about them here. Thank you Clare!