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British Wool: does it matter?

Fiona Brennan craft business knitting slow craft yarn

We talk a lot about the fact we sell British wool but does it really matter where your wool comes from? British wool and hand-dyed wool is what we do, we love it and it is part of our brand and USP. You can get yarn clubs, you can get crochet clubs with lots of amazing things but to the best of our knowledge, right now we are the only subscription service out there that's giving you a good look at the wonderful British yarn out there.

But why should this matter?

Firstly, Britain has a rich history with the textile industry and with wool. Revolutions were built upon it. Entire cities created infrastructures around it, including Bradford, my birth place. The British Wool Board is based there, as is a lot of the commercial wool trade including cleaning, spinning and wholesalers.

As such there's not really a need to look too far to find wool that's been hand-dyed by small kitchen businesses or commercially dyed yarn by independent shops and suppliers. Even the larger commercial brands are very much British-based. While there are many amazing yarns available from the rest of the world, it would probably take years of monthly subscription boxes to make our way through just the yarn available here.

That doesn't even account for people who we've worked with before that have brought out new lines or products that need exploring too. Why look elsewhere when they are so many wonderful home-grown yarns here in the UK? Maybe 10 years from now when we've made our way through everything available here we'll make a start on European yarns.

British yarn also has a quality about it. You have an expectation when buying British wool that you know what you are going to get. That is important to us. We want to explore the very best of what is available out there. Introduce you to something you might not have considered before and maybe give you a pleasant surprise or two with a yarn you've been wanting to try for some time and just not got around to buying.

Provenance and quality are only two parts to why British yarn is important. There is also the economic side: when we buy yarn for our boxes from an indie-dyer, a one woman show, we know that the profit from our purchase goes direct to the maker. This dyer will usually be buying their wool and dyes from British suppliers, again sending money down the chain within the British economy. This is supporting small businesses that is most likely supporting a small family or giving a person a chance to do something that excites them for a living.

When we buy local and buy indie, we are supporting other businesses while also thinking about what our customer would want to knit and crochet with. This is important to us, it's sharing the love a little.

Then if that's not enough reason to buy British, then how about how we treat our sheep in this country? Lots of shepherds who farm rare breed sheep for wool treat their flock with a love and care that they would their own family. They are part of their family. They spend money researching disease-prevention, they hire shearers who do the job carefully rather than quickly, they put time and effort into nutrition and animal husbandry to ensure the welfare of the sheep is top notch and that the fleece is five star. A stress sheep will not produce as good a fleece.

This to me is one of the most important reasons to by British. We have farmers here who truly care for their sheep and we can mostly trace the wool back to the welfare of the animal.

We even have websites and podcasts about why British yarn is so wonderful. See Knit British as a starting point. 

Enjoyed this? Why not check out why is yarn so expensive?

Or our interview with Wool Kitchen



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