Blacker Swan is a joint venture 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 yarns.
Andrez and Ali have one of the smallest farms, close to the main town of Stanley and, apart from their sheep also breed pigs and grow vegetables. 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 crosses. They are generally unhappy if they produce fleeces over 20 microns! So this is lovely wool to work with.
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 13 lovely dyed colours, which are mainly based on the ivory blend and are named as far as possible after the wild flowers which grow on the Falkland Islands, some of which are very rare.
To add a little extra, we have also created a range of knitting patterns inspired by the sample yarns we created earlier and sent to British designers. We were so thrilled by their ideas and swatches that we have probably overspent, but this is only the beginning!
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 our DK, on 4mm/US 6, UK 8 needles, you will get around 20 sts and 28 rows to a 10cm/4" square. The WPI is usually 15 in worsted spun yarns.