Ellie of Doulton Border Leicester Yarn very generously sent us some yarn to review on the podcast. You can hear our review in episode 27, but we thought we’d share our thoughts here too.
Thank you to Ellie for allowing us this brilliant opportunity to test and share her yarn!
Neither of us had come across the Border Leicester sheep before, but were totally charmed by Ellie’s descriptions of her flock (the largest in the UK) and how the industry views the sheep as the “great improver” to improve other breeds of sheep. We also appreciated that the flock “live to grow old”, and don’t get sent to slaughter.
As we’re both very different knitters, we produced two very different reviews. Cia’s apathy for swatches led to her simply casting on with wild abandon and some of the DK yarn, whilst Pip- the podcast swatch queen- merrily swatched to her heart’s content and the aran yarn. So…what did we think?
Cia: DK Yarn and the Impatient Knitter’s Review
Cia lacks the patience of Pip, and dove straight into knitting, having assessed the yarn and decided it would produce some delicious cables. She wasn’t wrong. Here are her thoughts…
In the hank, the yarn is plump and bouncy. It’s definitely a ‘woolly’ wool, and whilst it’s not as soft as merino, it has a light halo to it and feels suitable for garments and accessories. It does not itch or cause discomfort when rubbed against skin, however more sensitive knitters may not want this directly against their necks or bare skin. Suspect it will soften with washing and wearing. As an aside, it smells deliciously sheepy.
On the needles, the yarn retains its plump, bouncy qualities, and flows nicely through the fingers and over the needles- it was a comforting yarn to knit with.
It does not split or catch on needles, and is wonderfully “grabby”. Cia opted for a cabled hat, and found that this yarn is a dream for cabling without a needle as the stitches held, and did not unravel.
Before washing and blocking, the knit fabric was soft, and had some give to it. The cable stitches were already particularly well-defined, and did not need to be aggressively blocked. The yarn had been evenly dyed, and though there was a miniscule amount of run-off in the water, the yarn retained its full, bright colour.
After washing and blocking, the cables evened out after a gentle block, and did not relax or lose any definition. Definition of the stitches improved, especially on twists and garter sections. Stockinette sections were a little fluffier, but not so as to lose overall stitch definition.
Fabric overall soft, warm and retained the bounce from the hank.
Definitely recommend this for hats and mittens, and home furnishings such as cushions. The yarn handled cables beautifully, and suspect it would produce some impressive lace- especially in garter stitch.
Pip: Aran yarn and Thorough Swatch Knitting
Pip is a swatcher-extraordinaire, so whilst Cia cabled away, Pip went for the more measured approach.
In the hank, the yarn feels lovely and soft. No ‘tooth’ to it but not without texture. Smells beautifully sheepy. A relatively loose ply. It feels like it would be lovely and warm so it would work well for hats, gloves and also sweaters. Seems like it would be good for anything that would be worn against the skin.
Before first wash and block, there are somewhat uneven stitches in the stockinette but that may be Pip’s tension. The loose ply means the stitches can sometimes seem to blend into one another but it is a pleasing effect. The garter is much more defined than the stockinette. Somewhat bouncy with decent give. Soft but not cloud-like, there is texture in the fabric and yarn. Almost a dry hint of crisp but not crisp if that makes sense? Very pleasing against the skin.
After first wash and block the swatch grew slightly and the stitches evened out quite a bit. It has bloomed slightly and held the shape of the block very well. It is soft and has decent drape for an aran fabric.
Wear test for a day: Worn in Pip’s waistband, and she forgot the swatch was there for most of the day. When she was aware of it, it was a nice pleasant warmth. It felt soft and was not itchy or prickly. When she removed the swatch, it retained heat for a decent length of time therefore showing it is a well insulating fabric.
After a second wash and block, the halo is now more apparent to the touch but not unpleasant. It drapes nicely for an aran weight. The stitches have evened out again so there is still a little bit of uneveness to them but not as much.
Pip would class this as a fairly hardwearing yarn. It may pill eventually but it would take a quite a lot to get any significant piling. She would love to try a 4ply for socks but I’m not sure how well it would last without some nylon content. She also noted that when crumpled, her swatch retained some creases, so this is something to keep in mind for garments.
Overall, we were both extremely impressed with the yarns, and can understand why the Border Leicester is seen as an ‘improver’. We really appreciate having the chance to work with this yarn, and see ourselves adding it to our stashes with more frequency as it’s an extremely versatile and pleasant woolly yarn to work with.
All thoughts expressed are our own, we received no payment for this review. If you would like us to review yarn or design(s) in future episodes, please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you and meet new yarn producers and designers.
All images (c) Cia Jackson & Pip Vennall