So why did we do it this way?
We identified a gap in our range, and the market, for a lustre yarn which was not too “shiny” or mohair-like, and which would take dye as stunningly as Gotland and Mohair. We also wanted a slightly leaner yarn with drape, to complement our bulkier and lofty yarns, while of course seeking the softness we know everyone loves.
We also knew that any serious volume of yarn would require plenty of lustre fibre, and generally the lustre long-wool sheep constitute the smallest of British flocks and breed populations, so we needed to create a blend of several lustre breeds, based on what was available at the quality we require.
This would enable us to help promote rare breeds and encourage their survival and possibly even growth in numbers, while not having to rely on a tiny supply from just one breed. Teeswater and Wensleydale in particular are relatively few, while there are more Cotswold, but even they are not numerous. Adding the Leicester Longwool also gave us the opportunity to include naturally coloured fibre, which is one of our key trademarks, giving our yarns a softness and depth of colour whether natural or dyed, which is very attractive and natural in appearance.
We then needed something with a bit of bulk to reduce the slight tendency to hairiness from a pure long-wool yarn and also hold the yarn together better and give it some body, so we added Cornish-sourced Mule wool, which is around half Blue-faced Leicester and half local sheep, blended at the breeding stage, rather than in the wool, and is fine, soft and semi lustrous.
Our nearby Tamar river, which is a lovely word anyway, was obvious as the range name: for a locally inspired flowing, draping yarn. The Tamar is also the largest local river, so when naming the colours, it seemed fairly obvious to go for other local rivers and tributaries of the Tamar! And some of them also have great local names … the picture above is actually of the River Fowey, not yet selected for the honour of a shade or range name, though it helped by providing the location for our photo shoot (along with the sun, rain, hail and wind!) so deserves a special mention.
Plus of course, there is a lovely local legend of the Tamar ... as already told at http://www.thenaturalfibre.co.uk/blog/tamar-river-and-tale-yarn
Why and how did the colour palette emerge?
We have 15 dyed and 2 natural shades as our starting point. These were carefully selected according to those liked by customers in other ranges, current popular colour trends and of course a few local likes and dislikes amongst the Blacker team. We used the technique of dyeing with the exhaust dye-bath on some of the shades to achieve paler versions of the same shade for this palette.
Then it was a question of fitting the names to the colour palette. We wanted to make the shades all able to mix and match either complementing or contrasting with each other, as with our other ranges. Overall there are no seriously dark or seriously pale shades, though these can be found in our rare breed dark Wensleydale or Hebridean/mohair range, which can be used compatibly if required.
We started with the idea of having two bases, one slightly darker and one more silvery, and then aimed for a dip-dye selection of greys, purples, pinks, greens and blues, plus a stand-out gold. This enables us to shade between heathers to mauves to plums, or blues to greens, or between these and the greys or to contrast them for more stand-out colour work. All of it is watery and subtle, and so Tamar is not a lollypop colour range, or even Smarties/M&Ms, so much as a grown-up, elegant and classic palette - and we hope you think so too!