Our Mill

The best of times and the worst of times?

Sue Blacker's picture
25 March, 2020 - 17:01 | Sue Blacker

I have not written a blog recently - mainly because I have been very busy handing over to the the new owners of the business. 

The photo above is of the sample carder which I renovated in my garage in the year before The Natural Fibre Company took me over.

I have a series of planned blog items in the pipeline though:

  • what makes a yarn "good" or workable?
  • how are yarns designed - this starts from the opposite end to the Wool Journey
  • our decision to cease worsted spinning alpaca and other options
  • knitting for health and welfare
  • the eco/organic/green debate from our viewpoint
  • starting a flock with wool in mind

There may be others you would like?  If so, please email me with suggestions!

The Wool Journey Part 10: preparing to spin, part 2

Sue Blacker's picture
19 June, 2018 - 15:52 | Sue Blacker

Now we have a pile of evenly organised fluff: clean, blended and oiled so that it will go through the next machines.

At a small scale, the clean fibre can be processed by hand using hand carders or a drum carder, with or without a small electric motor and also combed by hand using heavy worsted combs or the type of combs used to groom dogs and cats.  There are even nice electrically driven spinning wheels!  However, at The Natural Fibre Company we start with traditional large carding machines, which have not changed much in structure since they were invented in the second half of the eighteenth century by Lewis Paul and later also patented in various forms by Richard Arkwright and Samuel Crompton.

Timely tutorial: skirting a fleece ready for spinning or felt-making

Sue Blacker's picture
17 May, 2018 - 15:46 | Sue Blacker

Here is an unskirted white Ryeland fleece on my kitchen floor.  The grouting of the tiles will give some idea of the dimensions.  It weighed around 2.5kg before I started skirting it.

Firstly, we take a look at both sides: the outside is normally dirtier as it has been nearer to the world, and the inside is cleaner and shows the difference as the ends are all shorn rather than pointy.

Meet our lovely stockists!

Sonja Bargielowska's picture
20 January, 2018 - 12:10 | Sonja Bargielowska


Here at Blacker we thought it was about time to give our lovely stockists some love, find out more about them below!


Name: Isla Davison - now retired but a lovely person and we have retained this item for her views

Company name: BritYarn – United Kingdom - now closed

Why did you open a yarn shop?  Sometimes life takes an unexpected change of direction. I was made redundant and quite a few people, knowing my love of knitting and yarn, suggested I should open a yarn shop.  Initially I thought it was a crazy notion as I never imagined running my own business. However, it set an idea growing, and that, combined with my passion for British yarn, became BritYarn!

Intern Profile: Alice

Sonja Bargielowska's picture
13 November, 2017 - 14:43 | Sonja Bargielowska


Here at The Natural Fibre Company and Blacker Yarns, we regularly have interns who come for work experience with us for periods varying between 2 and 4 months.  We generally like no less than 8 weeks as it's hard to get a good training and to feel able to do a bit of work in less time.  We do not pay interns, just a small amount for their expenses and we therefore often have people who have Erasmus funding.  Over the years we have had people from Germany, France, Spain, Finland and of course the UK and we have enjoyed their contribution, ideas and help.  Where possible we take them with us to shows and Alice, who was with us for 4 months in 2017, is one person who has not only attended shows while an intern but has also done "holiday work" shows since then with us.

What is your job role?

The Wool Journey Part 4: Wool Attributes Amongst Breeds, Natural Colour and Health

Sonja Bargielowska's picture
23 August, 2017 - 14:00 | Sonja Bargielowska

Here we look at three important aspects of fleece and fibre: consistency/style, colour and animal health.

Consistency varies considerably between different breeds, within the breed and across the animal. We can have Gotland sheep, all of which have lustre longwool, with wide variations of thickness and crimp between different animals and a range of these across the body of an individual.


Images courtesy of The Fibre of my Being and Wovember

Blacker Brushwork - Our 12th Birthday Yarn

Sonja Bargielowska's picture
18 August, 2017 - 12:10 | Sonja Bargielowska


One of the joys of having our own mill, is that it gives us the freedom to experiment and try new things.  For the last two years we've celebrated our birthday in September by creating a limited edition - one of a kind - yarn, and this year is no exception.  Like all our yarns the development of Brushwork was an organic process, which began with the fibre. 

Creating a new yarn range: Samite

Sue Blacker's picture
4 March, 2017 - 10:55 | Sue Blacker


As many of our avid readers will know, we have been working on a new Blacker yarn range, being launched this month!   This is a permanent addition to our ranges, designed to complement the others, providing a further range of textures and fabrics, a luxurious feel and adding to our colour palettes.   The colour cards are available right away and the full launch is on 23rd March, 2017.


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Blacker Yarns

enquiries@blackeryarns.co.uk | +44 (0) 1566 777 635


The Natural Fibre Company

enquiries@thenaturalfibre.co.uk | +44 (0) 1566 777 635