Blacker Swan over-dyed Falklands Merino DK knitting yarn

Blacker Swan over-dyed Falklands Merino DK knitting yarn

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Blacker Swan, launched in 2012, has a supply agreement between Blacker Yarns and Andrez and Ali Short who farm at Swan Inlet Farm on the Falkland Islands. Andrez and Ali shear their specialist merino type dual purpose sheep, sort and grade the fleeces and send them by ship to the UK, where The Natural Fibre Company turns the fine white fleeces into luxurious worsted spun single flock yarns.

Andrez and Ali have one of the smallest farms, close to the main town of Stanley. They herd the sheep on horseback across the tree-less Falkland landscape. The Shorts have bred from imported Dohne Merino genetics in order to improve fleece quality of Falkland Island sheep, which are largely Polwarth and traditional Merino crosses. The Shorts work in partnership with a ram recording group to maintain quality and are generally unhappy if they produce fleeces over 20 microns! So this is lovely wool to work with. The Swan Inlet sheep are high welfare, larger than the average on the Falklands, producing more wool each year and all without foot-rot, fly-strike or mulsing!

We have made a pure white (100% merino), then ivory, fawn and grey yarn by blending the merino with some wool from Sue Blacker's black Blue-faced Leicester sheep and some Shetland moorit from Somerset. We have then created lovely dyed colours, which are named as far as possible after the wild flowers which grow on the Falkland Islands, some of which are very rare. 

The handle is very smooth, soft and luxurious: possibly the best knitting yarn in the world! Being worsted spun Merino, the yarn has a bulky, drapey quality, which will work well for structured and flowing garments and also for textures.

TENSION/GAUGE: to be sure of tension, you should always knit a sample tension swatch. Generally the knitter is one variable but the pattern is another, depending on the intentions of the designer! As a guideline: for this worsted-spun yarn, in 4-ply, on 3mm/US 3, UK 11 needles, you will get 28 sts and 30 rows to a 10cm/4" square, while with DK on 4mm/US 6, UK 8 needles, you will get 20-21 sts and around 25 rows. The WPI is usually 18 in worsted spun yarns.

Fibre fine
Breed Falkland Island Merino
Ball/skein length DK c.50g c.110m (c.119yds)
Specification DK
Finish: woollen or worsted Worsted
Package approx. 50g balls
Handle fine

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Customer Reviews

  1. Yarn review by Sarah Pape

    by Sapape on 17 Nov 2013

    Liked overall
    The yarn is much softer than I expected for a worsted spun yarn: almost an imposter! It would make a lovely cuddly sweater or cardigan.
    Despite this it retains good stitch definition and would also look good in a small repeat textured pattern.
    The heathery shading gives extra interest.
    My only caution was that it was slightly "splitty", which would be more challenging for crochet or working continental style as carrying the yarn in the left hand tends to untwist is slightly, making it more likely to split.
    I would like to see an Aran weight, love the existing colour range - I tried Balsam Bog.
    I think the price is OK but at the top end of what I would pay. However, because of the way I knit I would not buy it.

    OUR COMMENT: if you work from the middle of the ball, the twist of the ply will be in the opposite direction, which may help your problem on splitting. We spin Z and then ply S, so working in the opposite direction should increase twist rather than reducing it - we would be interested in comments on this!
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