Our 2020 Birthday yarn: Cove

Sue Blacker's picture
10 October, 2020 - 16:44 | Sue Blacker

As we have done since we were 10, we have made a special one-off limited edition yarn again this autumn. 

We have a few things which characterise this yarn in every edition: it’s woollen spun and uses a mix of several British breeds wools, with some natural colour.  It comes in 100g twisted skeins and is usually in two yarn specifications, with a carefully selected range of dyed shades as well as the natural base.

The yarn specifications vary, partly to give people who have a particular like or dislike of some specifications a chance at least once every few years, and partly to make the most appropriate yarn for the wool types used.  And of course we like change and difference at Blacker Yarns!

So this year we have a Chunky for the first time as people have been asking for this, and also a 4-ply, which is the most popular yarn specification for Blacker Yarns at present.  The fibre composition makes this yarn quite bulky so it will be forgiving for an extra 0.5 mm of needle or hook to make a looser, softer fabric.

Last year’s Garden range is still available and is in 3-ply and Sport, and brighter colours.  I personally plan to make a project using both yarns together as the colours are quite complementary and the yarn specifications in woollen spun are sufficiently compatible.  Given the normal 3 mm needle for 4-ply Cove and 2.25 mm for 3-ply Garden, I will probably use 2.75 mm needles, though it would also be possible to combine the 4-ply Cove and Sport Garden weights on 3.25 mm needles.  Changing the yarn and needles just a bit also helps with slight size alterations – and saves a great deal of time and effort on calculations.  I will report on the results!

Choosing the wools to make the yarn is something of a magic process, neither entirely art nor science.  We usually select a blend to include both leaner and bulkier fibre and also some which is from rare and unusual breeds.  So this year our rare breed focus is on 36% Norfolk Horn, which is a slightly coloured wool with dark hairs in in, though these are not coarse or kempy, but just naturally dark.

There is a small amount (7%), the last, of the rare English Merino which we also used last year, together with 36% Shetland and the balance is Blue-faced Leicester.  The blend is roughly a third of each of the main breeds, with BFL slightly less and the Shetland and Norfolk Horn slightly more.  When using effectively 40%+ Shetland and Merino, both of which are fine, there is less need for the smooth fine handle of BFL.  The result is deliberately a bit paler than some of our previous birthday yarns, partly to reflect the them of the Cornish coast and partly to provide some variety in the palette compared to quite bright or dark ranges in the last few years, like Garden, Tor, Tin and Tin II, and more like Brushwork.

Cornwall is our home and base and so having looked at the mining heritage, the artistic history and the moorland and gardens, we have turned to the sea, which is perhaps what most people come to enjoy for holidays, whether building sand castles, scavenging for shells, exploring rock pools, swimming and surfing, or walking the beaches and cliffs … or just looking. 

The clear light and reflected water make it possible just to spend hours watching the subtle changes of beach, shoreline and water as the tides ebb and flow under the sky.  So we chose Cove as the range name, and sea, sand, beach and pebble colours for the palette.  Of course these had to be in Cornish, but also selected to be reasonably able to be pronounced by those who do not speak the Cornish language, and to be attractive words typographically as well.  Hence our natural is Treth, our sand is Towan, our pebbles are Kelester and the other 4 shades are sea blues ranging from deep Dulas Mor, though Mordon and Steren, to pale Ebron.  We do always know that blues and naturals are amongst the most popular shades for all our customers, along with the occasional brighter tint, so we are pleased to see that the sales have reflected this!

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