Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Jacob Sheep

As November's Yarn of the Month is West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob, I thought it would be really interesting to find out a bit more about the sheep itself.  I am no expert so I have consulted two excellent books that I own, 'The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook' by Deborah Robson and Carol Ekarius and Sue Blacker's 'Pure Wool'.  I have also looked at several websites and I will pop links to these at the bottom of this post.

The Jacob originated in the Middle East and is said to be the oldest breed of sheep in the world.  They were introduced to Great Britain during the 17th Century where they were kept to decorate the parklands of country estates due to their 'decorative' appearance.  

I presume this 'decorative' use was one of the reasons why numbers of Jacob sheep declined, as country houses and land were later sold off.  When the Rare Breed Survival Trust (RBST) was created in 1974 the Jacob was placed on their watch list as a minority breed.  
Image Details: Jacob's Ram by Dave Merrett via Flickr

Thanks to the work of The Jacob Sheep Society and the RBST the Jacob sheep is no longer on the watch list.  There are 8000 breeding sheep registered and around 3000 lambs registered annually.  Jacob can be found living all over Great Britain.  It is worth noting that in the U.S the Jacob is still classed as a rare breed.  It is also worth mentioning that due to different breeding programs in the two countries the British Jacob is much larger than its American relation.

Jacob are one of the most instantly recognisable sheep breeds.  They have a white fleece with, what the breed standard describes as, 'well defined' coloured patches.  For this reason alone the Wool Marketing Board classes them as 'coloured' sheep.  Both male and female sheep have between two and four horns.

So some Jacob fleece facts.......  
Handle: Medium with a good degree of springiness
Staple Length: 7.5cm - 18cm
Micron Count: 25 - 27.5 (Bluefaced Leicester is 26 - 26.5)
The breed standard advises that there should no little or no kemp in the fleece. 
West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob Aran

The different colours on the fleece can vary in texture and staple length and this is worth keeping in mind if you are purchasing fleece or wool from smaller flocks.  

The rise in Jacob sheep has allowed fleeces to be spun on a greater commercial basis such as the West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob that we stock. As a result of the blending larger numbers of fleeces the shades produced have more uniformity to them. 

Your can read more about the yarn in November's Yarn of the Month post. 

Jacob Sheep Society

Rare breeds Survival Trus

I wrote about the Corriedale sheep here several month ago 

Friday, 13 November 2015

BritYarn 12 The Birds Have Landed

You can find BritYarn at www.brityarn.co.uk  We are on Instagram, Twitter, Ravelry as BritYarn and our blog is http://brityarn.blogspot.co.uk, you can subscribe to our You Tube channel and on we are on Periscope.


Nine new shades from West Yorkshire Spinners (3 Birds and 6 solid shades)

100% Lincoln Longwool from the Risby Flock is now on the shelves at BritYarn. 
This is the blog post about the Lincolnshire Show 2015

Talavera by Amanda B Collins using Eden Cottage Yarn BFL sock.

What's in the Jam Pan

Mahy by Karie Westermann Lincoln Longwool Laceweight

Lemon Difficult Shawl by Kate Atherley

Oolong by Clare Devine 

Chatted about York and by birthday bag my mum bought from Shop Louleigh

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob Yarn of the Month November 2015

As November is the month of Wovember, a celebration of all things 100% wool our Yarn of the Month is West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob.

Despite Jacob sheep moving off the Rare Breeds Survival Trust watch list, it is still a yarn that you don't hear many people talking about.  Which is why I am delighted to invite three friends of BritYarn to share their thoughts and experience of knitting with this yarn along with my own.
West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob Aran

West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob is a pure breed yarn.  It is worsted spun and available in DK and Aran weights.   This yarn is quite lofty so looks thicker than other yarns of the same weight.  Both the DK and Aran are available in four undyed shades ranging from Ecru, to a deep rich brown.  
As the natural shades get darker you can see more of a heathered effect.  

In the skein the yarn feels soft to the touch and to knit with it feels really pleasing and substantial.  I could wear it next to my skin but I know some people might need a layer underneath.  It is slightly loosely spun so I did have a few problems with cabling without a cable needle (it was also my first time which perhaps didn't help!) as I could not aways see my loose stitches clearly.  

I recently knitted Woolly Wormed's Lexie hat in Jacob Aran weight. The Lexie hat was the perfect project for seeing how the yarn behaved due to the different sections of the design.  
In the skein you can see some longer fibres which gave my finished Lexie hat a slight halo.  
The textured moss stitch and cable areas have amazing definition and if I turn the hat inside out the stocking stitch has me itching to cast on a winter jumper with this yarn!  It is also a very warm yarn and I know this hat will be used a lot this winter. 

I will now hand you over to three friends of BritYarn who have very kindly shared their thoughts on the West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob DK.  By coincidence they have all made cardigans!  

Neuroticbunnylady on Ravelry was the first person to buy Jacob yarn from BritYarn.  I followed with great excitement the progress of her Owls cardigan.
"I found Jacob DK a real pleasure to knit with, it is a little rustic feeling, but is also fairly soft. I found it knitted up into a lovely fabric, plus was extremely glad that if I dropped a stitch, it was extremely easy to pick that stitch up again, which has made me think I should try colourwork and maybe steeking with this yarn. The Jacob DK has amazing stitch definition, I am amazed at how well the lace pattern on the back of my cardigan shows up. 
As far as the finished cardigan goes, I find this yarn makes a very warm and snuggly garment, it is lovely to wear. I would have to say its become one of my favourite knits, and I would put a lot of that down to how the Jacob DK has knitted up into a really nice looking and feeling fabric."

Doksi used the yarn to knit her Scollay Along KAL cardigan.....

"The West Yorkshire Spinners Jacob DK is not the softest yarn you could image. So if you are very sensitive I wouldn't recommend this yarn.

But if you like a little course and woolly feeling in a yarn this will give you fine texture and durable clothes. I have no problems to wear it next to skin. And after I got my cardigan ready, I have worn it almost every day - no pills at all.
I found it much thicker than what I would call DK".

Last but no means least is MmedeBeavoir, who is on the final stretch of knitting a Portage cardigan.

"The Portage pattern had been calling to me for ages; but, as with all such projects, which yarn to use? I dithered and pondered and swatched with what I had in my (admittedly considerable) stash, but didn’t find the perfect yarn. I wanted something warm and soft and squishy, but I also had it in my head that I wanted to knit a natural, undyed British wool that was traceable and sustainably produced. 
There’s so much to love about Jacobs wool. It’s sturdy without being coarse, soft without being slippery, and it knits up beautifully: the stitch definition is gorgeous and the honeycomb stitch that makes up the back panel of the Portage cardigan is gloriously squishy. The result is both understated and striking. Looking closely at the knit, you notice the natural heathered look to the wool, the beautiful twist in the yarn… Plus it smells slightly sheepy, which is how wool should smell! For sweaters and cardigans, it’s the perfect choice."

I hope you have found this post interesting.  If you fancy learning more about breed specific yarns Louise at KnitBritish is currently holding a Breed Swatch Along in her Ravelry Group.