A bit of background: the evolution of our Birthday yarn design ideas

Sue Blacker's picture
24 August, 2018 - 13:02 | Sue Blacker

Above is the photo of our 2018 yarn ... once upon a time, many years ago in 2015 we decided we were sufficiently old, at 10, to celebrate birthdays …

So in the high and far off days, when we were very young, our tenth Birthday yarn was called Cornish Tin, also of course a fairly useless pun on Ten.

So this was a limited edition, one-off, and of course it was a mix of ten different fibres, much to the dismay of James, our carding engineer, who also does all the blending!  We had one natural shade and four dyed shades and photographed the yarn at the Royal Cornwall Museum to celebrate their wonderful collection of minerals, with each yarn shade called after a Cornish mine.  In fact while some of the wool came from Cornwall we had to go to England for many of the breeds … 

In 2016, we felt able to celebrate our eleventh birthday and carried on the slightly punny approach with Tin II, which of course also looks like 11 when we use the Roman numerals for the name.  Bearing James in mind, we reduced the number of fibres a bit, and only had nine different breeds, but we challenged our dyeplant a little more by increasing the number of dyed shades to seven, including the welcomed return of some of the 2014 shades, again all named for Cornish mines.  The history of mining in Cornwall is not without tragedy and we did try to avoid the names which evoke mining accidents while also seeking a degree of alliteration or relevant in the mineral to the colours chosen.  We have blogged in the past about the colours and if you search our blog for "Cornish" you will find more information about the minerals as well.

We produced both Tin and Tin II in both Double Knitting and 4-ply specifications.

By 2017, we felt we had exhausted the mining industry, so we moved on.  Last year we created Brushwork, which was a tweeded yarn, in that we dyed ten shades in the wool and then blended them with the natural base to create eight variegated batches before spinning them into the yarn.  Both our dyers and James of course rose to meet this challenge.  The Brushwork palette was named for the painterly shades of the yarn, which was a blend of only four Scottish and English breeds and departed from the greys of the first two birthdays to a fawn base.  We loved the softness of Brushwork and the subtlety of the shades.  So we presented Brushwork as a versatile Sport weight yarn, in 50g balls to enable a wider choice of colours without breaking the bank ...

Having explored complexity in both multiple breeds and multiple colours for the last three years in our Birthday Yarn bases, as well as the many dyed shades, this year we really feel it is time to go back to basics, and especially to move closer to home, because we are very deeply attached to our roots.  Simplicity of yarn specification, blend, palette and provenance are therefore the keys for 2018.

So the challenges for the mill this year were to produce a new specification for an aran yarn and to develop a new set of dyed shades.  We have also gone back to the popular 100g skein presentation, which shows off our new label design.  This simplicity, in four blended fibres, a 2-ply structure and variations on five of our most popular shades, feels nicely classic, elegant and totally suitable for our 2018 Thirteenth birthday – perhaps we shall be more cultured and refined now we are teenagers?

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