BREEDS & COLOURS

We have a range of heritage breeds, each providing wool with particular characteristics.

Our varied flock create an earthy palette of fifteen shades: from a rich chocolate black through browns and greys to a pretty cream and a clean white. They are drawn from our flocks of Dorset Down, Hebridean and Jacob sheep, with greatest variety coming from our Shetlands: a heritage breed with a huge range of natural colours and also our softest and most luxurious wool.

Spun into quality organic yarns in nearby Cornwall by The Natural Fibre Company using their dependable Victorian machinery, our yarns offer a lovely way to relax, to produce cherished garments for family and friends and to exercise your imagination and creativity. We also have gift vouchers for the knitter in your life. All are available from our farm shop or online shop here. Our sheepskins for rugs or throws are available at present only from the farm shop.

Please enjoy browsing the photos of wool and projects on our samplers page. Happy knitting!

DORSET DOWN

Far less common than they used to be, of our flock is made up largely of this dependable local breed which perfectly suits our need for hardy sheep which do well on our windswept coastal pastures.

Their wool is cream coloured, robust, resilient. The thicker yarns (aran and chunky) are very well suited to outdoor clothing. They look great knitted up in simple patterns perhaps with a bit of interesting texture and lend themselves well to patterns involving cables. For the finer yarns (4ply and DK), the fleeces have been carded and combed in a different way so these yarns are described as worsted-spun. The fibres are aligned more completely and this in turn gives a smoother more lustrous yarn, making the yarns lovely for finer work, lacy patterns and items for babies.

HEBRIDEAN

As hardy as their appellation would suggest, they excel at grazing our diverse scrub, where they can be hard to spot under the blackthorn and gorse. Their dark fleeces bleach at the tips over the summer  to average a rich Chocolate Black wool.

Because of its coarser fibres, this may not be your first choice for garments to go next to the skin of people with sensitive skins, but is excellent for harder wearing outer garments, socks and gloves. The staple is long, which allows a more relaxed spinning and contributes to its strength. The combination makes a yarn with a pleasant feel which is soft and springy to knit with. 

SHETLAND

Shetland sheep are lovely to have on the farm because they are pretty, delicate looking sheep with a wide variation in colour. Their luxuriant wool is the finest fibre we have on the farm so it is also more suitable for knitting for babies and people with sensitive skins than our other wools.

We have nine different colours of Shetland wool, all from the natural fleece colours of our Shetlands, sorted, blended and carded to get a good range, from the solid black, and a very dark brown through the rich, bright  brown of the moorit sheep and soft brown, delicate fawn and silver grey to the stone white, which is slightly flecked with grey and a clean white, now an uncommon colour for Shetland sheep.

JACOB

The Jacob sheep give us a pleasant tweedy grey. This is made by carding together the black and the white wool from these smartly spotted and patched sheep. We also have yarn made from fleeces roughly sorted into dark and light wool and spun separately. This gives a very dark grey we have called charcoal and an off-white which we have called rye-meal. These yarns, with their mix of fibres have a great depth of colour and a feel of life.

Jacob sheep have a fairly fine wool with a good staple length. As a result, the wool need not be spun so tightly. This gives it a very comfortable feel when knitting. Though the wool is more relaxed than the Shetland wool, the individual fibres are slightly thicker.  These three yarns are excellent for both plain and textured work.

ORGANIC YARNS

We produce four thicknesses of yarn, each suited to differing function, ease or fineness of the resulting garment.

4-PLY

50g/175m

Our finest wool, 4-ply is perfect for sophisticated knitwear and is good for more detailed colour-patterns or lacy knits. In natural wool, this fine yarn is both warm and light.

We have this thickness of yarn nine different colours of Shetland wool, two of Jacob and both the chocolate black of the Hebridean sheep and the sophisticated worsted cream from the main Dorset Down flock. If you want to use more than one colour in your project, there are many combinations available, from very subtle to quite striking contrasts.  Shetland wool has historically been used in very fine yarns: traditional Shetland lace shawls were made of a single ply called fingering and were so fine that they could be passed through a wedding ring! This 4ply is not quite as thin but it gives some of the same feeling of delicacy in the fabric.

DOUBLE KNITTING

50g/110m

Double Knitting (DK) is the thickness most people choose as it is versatile and suitable for a wide range of projects. It offers plenty of scope for all knitters so makes a good choice as a gift. We have DK spun out of every wool we have - the full range of breeds and the complete range of colours, a total of fifteen shades and textures, including our new Herdwick yarn, a good grey with an idiosyncratic roughness, suitable for serious mountain wear!

With all the range of colours, there is plenty of scope for choosing the particular natural shade you like best or having fun with stripes and fairisle patterns.  This wool is also excellent for complex textures and cables: many of the patterns for Aran-style waistcoats and pullovers actually ask for a DK yarn.

ARAN

50g/70m

The Aran yarn is our second thickest (equivalent to knitting with two strands of the 4-ply), making it quick to knit into warm, thick woollens. Using smaller needles and a tighter tension it will made a dense hardwearing fabric while using larger needles you can make softer fabrics with greater drape.  Aran is excellent for textured knitting with cables, ribs and simple textures such as moss stitch. We have this in  Dorset Down cream, Hebridean Chocolate black, two Shetland colours and three Jacob colours.

Please note that we have only small amounts remaining of the Hebridean and the Dorset Down yarn in this thickness. More being spun now!

CHUNKY

50g/55m

The chunky wool is out thickest and knits up very quickly, making it satisfyingly fast to finish your work. It is excellent for plain bold projects and can also be used for knitting with cables, ribs and simple textures such as moss stitch, which make the finished garment even thicker and warmer. Our chunky is spun in Dorset Down Cream, Hebridean Chocolate Black, Jacob Tweed grey and Shetland Moorit, a rich natural brown. If you want to use other colours to go with them, you can simply use two strands from our large range of DK yarns. As a result of the spinning and plying processes, the thickness of chunky wool varies a little between breed. This means that working a tension square (which all knitting and crochet patterns tell you is essential!) is particularly important.

Please note: we have small quantities of the Dorset Down and Hebridean chunky yarn remaining and are still waiting for the new Jacob chunky.

WHY BUY OUR WOOL?

Who you buy your food and fibre from is one of the strongest voices anyone has for how our natural world is looked after. It's the power to shape landscapes. Here are a few of the reasons you might choose our wool for your next creative project.

Organic

Our wool is certified Organic, so you can be sure that it is free of the chemical residues and pesticides applied to wool in convention farming, and that only environmentally friendly products were used when it was washed and spun into yarns. Safe for you and the environment.

Family Run

Tamarisk is a small family run farm. We’ve been here since 1960 with the third generation just now getting stuck-in. We’re passionate about what we do and if you’re ever visiting for an open day or just to come to the farm shop, we’re more than happy to explain what we’re about.

Pure Wool
Wool is a natural and renewable insulation that requires less energy in its manufacture than man-made fibres, and it has some rather amazing properties: it is UV protective, fire retardant, biodegradable, resilient, breathable, odour resistant and hypoallergenic.
Nurturing Biodiversity

Our sheep are older, hardier breeds that thrive well on coarse grasses, brambles and herbs, thus they can graze permanent (un-ploughed) pastures that gain their fertility from the diversity of plants. Careful grazing helps maintain the varied habitats the pastures and scrub provide for the plethora of butterflies, orchids and birds. This, sadly less common practice, is often called Conservation Grazing.

Sustainable

Our hardy sheep spend almost all their lives outside, grazing natural permanent pastures. This sort of traditional management is far less intensive in resources and carbon than systems feeding grain on fertilised and cultivated pastures that contribute to water pollution. All this amounts to deeper, richer soils that sequesters more carbon dioxide than is emitted in the life of the animals. This makes their wool a carbon neutral, sustainable fibre.

High Animal Welfare

Organic standards require the highest animal welfare under any system in Britain. We take personal pride in the rich, healthy and stress free lives our animals lead, grazing our varied herb rich pasture and scrub. We do not routinely medicate our livestock but if it is necessary, there is no hesitation, even if this means that the wool can no longer be used for Organic yarn.

Quality Assurance

Soil Association Certified, our yarns are spun in nearby Cornwall by The Natural Fibre Company using their dependable Victorian machinery. The provenance of your wool is assured and every hank of yarn can be traced back to its flock.

Ethical

Our wool is certified as ecologically and socially responsible by the Global Organic Textile Standard. As organic wool, farm workers and mill workers do not ever risk illness from synthetic dyes or harsh chemicals when producing our yarns and both we & The Natural Fibre Company pay staff at or above the Living Wage recommended by the Living Wage Foundation

National Trust Tenant

Much of the farm is rented from the National Trust so the rent we pay for the land helps protect our countryside for everyone’s benefit. Because of their help we can share miles of footpaths & public access, so you can come and see our pocket of the Jurassic Coast for yourselves.

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