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Best British yarn producers: where to buy local yarns

Shop smart and shop local with our guide to British yarn producers! We've rounded up 28 of our favourite wool companies for you to try.

British yarn Blacker Yarns

We’ve all heard of the big-name British yarn producers, but what about the smaller names? There are some amazing companies out there spinning gorgeous yarns from carefully sourced local and international flocks, and we’re here to introduce them to you! In this list we’ll round up 28 of our favourite British wool companies for you to try.

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By shopping from these British yarn makers you’re not only supporting established and up-and-coming local businesses, but also everyone involved in the production process, from farmers to spinners, dyers and more. Many of the companies we mention below sell wool from rare and native breed sheep, so you may be contributing to valuable conservation work too. Plus it’s an opportunity to discover new fibres and fibre blends that you might never have tried before, and be inspired by British knitting traditions and heritage techniques.

Supporting British wool producers is also a great choice if you’re interested in reducing the environmental impact of your hobby. Buying yarns that are made locally in small batches rather than imported can help make a difference to your carbon footprint. You might also want to consider yarns that are either sold undyed or dyed using natural pigments – and if animal fibres aren’t your thing, check out our guide to the best vegan yarns too.

As well as ordering online, don’t forget to look out for these yarns in your local yarn shop (find your nearest in our guide to 30 best yarn shops you need to visit). Want to discover your new favourite British yarn? Read on!

Best of British yarn and wool makers

1

Baa Ram Ewe

British yarn Baa Ram Ewe

“Our masterplan is to make Yorkshire famous for wool production across the world once more,” say Baa Ram Ewe, “reconnecting it to its woolly heritage.” With their three signature yarns, Pip, Titus and Winterburn, they’re well on the way to reaching this goal! 4ply Pip celebrates the tradition of Yorkshire colourwork with its broad colour palette; Titus is a snuggly blend of local Wensleydale, Bluefaced Leicester and British alpaca; while Winterburn puts the Yorkshire Masham sheep in the spotlight.

Buy Baa Ram Ewe yarn at Deramores’ UK store or US store.

2

Doulton Border Leicester

British yarn Doulton Border Leicester

As the name suggests, Doulton Border Leicester’s yarn comes from the Border Leicester sheep. Starting with just two lambs in the 1990s, the Doulton Flock is now the largest pedigree Border Leicester flock in the UK, comprising 300 of these special, rare-breed sheep. The fleeces from this slaughter-free flock are used to make gorgeous worsted-spun yarns in three weights (4ply, DK and aran), all with lots of bounce and excellent stitch definition. They also sell undyed wool top for spinning or felting.

Buy Doulton Border Leicester yarn on Etsy.

3

Caithness Yarns

British yarn Caithness Yarns

Caithness Yarns’ belief that you get the best yarns from happy, healthy sheep informs everything that they do. Their yarns are made from animals raised on high welfare small and medium farms in North Scotland, with the North Country Cheviot sheep being the star of their yarn range. Look out for their Dyed Cheviot DK, which comes in beautiful bright colours.

Buy Caithness Yarns on Etsy.

4

West Yorkshire Spinners

British yarn West Yorkshire Spinners

No list of best British wool would be complete without West Yorkshire Spinners. One of the few worsted spinning companies remaining in the UK, WYS combines modern technology with traditional expertise to produce gorgeous, high-quality yarns. Our favourites include luxury baby yarn Bo Peep (as featured in our guide on how to choose the best yarn for baby blankets and clothes), and Signature 4ply – a must-have for sock knitters that comes in a wide range of variegated colours. Don’t miss the annual Christmas collection!

Buy West Yorkshire Spinners yarn at Deramores’ UK store or US store.

5

Home Farm Wensleydales

British yarn Home Farm Wensleydales

Home Farm, on the border between Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, is home to the world’s largest flock of Wensleydale sheep. The farm is more than 900 years old (it was even mentioned in the Domesday Book!) and has been brought back to life by its current owners to become a thriving rare-breed wool farm. They sell a stunning range of natural and hand-dyed wool, but the star of the Home Farm shop is undoubtedly their unique collection of traditional handspun British yarn.

Buy Home Farm Wensleydales yarn on Etsy.

6

Armscote Manor

British yarn Armscote Manor

Armscote Manor in Warwickshire has for 20 years been home to a flock of Portland sheep. The Portland is one of the oldest known sheep breeds in England, and its fleece forms the basis of Armscote Manor Portland Wool. This undyed, woollen spun yarn comes in DK and 4ply weights, and is also available as a blend with Black Welsh Mountain, another breed reared at the Manor.

Buy Armscote Manor yarn.

7

Cambrian Mountains Wool

British yarn Cambrian Mountains Wool

Cambrian Mountains Wool’s gorgeous yarns are produced on farms in the Cambrian Mountains region in Mid Wales, and the company hopes to raise awareness not only of local wool production, but also of the designers, makers and manufacturers who use it. In their shop you’ll find DK and 4ply yarn made from finest Welsh Mule (that’s local breeds crossed with Bluefaced Leicester), perfect for knitted clothing and accessories, and a good choice for felting too.

Buy Cambrian Mountains Wool.

8

BareFaced Yarn

British yarn BareFaced Yarn

Created by knitwear designer Jo Storie, BareFaced Yarn is a blend of Bluefaced Leicester and luxury baby alpaca available exclusively via her website. This British born, British raised and British spun yarn comes in chunky and DK weights and a variety of colours, including three hand-dyed shades.

Buy BareFaced Yarn.

9

Cartref Yarn

British yarn Cartref Yarn

Two best friends with a passion for wool went on a mission to create a 100% Welsh wool yarn – and so Cartref Yarn was born! Made entirely in Wales, from sheep to skein, their 4ply and DK yarns feature Welsh Mule and Welsh Bluefaced Leicester wool, and are hand dyed using acid dyes. The accompanying patterns show off just how good their yarns are for colourwork and cables.

Buy Cartref Yarn.

10

Blacker Yarns

British yarn Blacker Yarns

The Natural Fibre Company in Launceston, Cornwall, have been spinning since 1991, and as well as processing and dyeing fleeces for a wide variety of customers they also make their own range, Blacker Yarns. There’s something for everyone in this collection, from everyday classics to luxury blends. Look out for the sheep symbols, which indicate the softness of the yarn, and make sure you keep an eye on their Limited Edition & Rare section for yarns from special and unusual breeds.

Buy Blacker Yarns.

11

Iona Wool

British yarn Iona Wool

If you’re looking for limited edition, single origin British yarn, Iona Wool is the place to go. Their yarn is spun exclusively from breeds of sheep that live on the Scottish island. “With all the different breeds mixed together, our yarn emerges as a warm, rich, natural grey – the collective colour of the island flock,” they explain. Complementing this natural shade is a small dyed range, which includes eye-catching jewel tones inspired by the local area. Go for 100g hanks or choose their 500g cones for bigger projects.

Buy Iona Wool.

Look after your new British yarns

If you’re buying yarns in hanks or skeins they’ll need winding into a ball before you start knitting or you’ll get in a terrible tangle! Treat yourself to a yarn swift and a ball winder to make the process easier. And don’t forget to buy some wool wash such as Soak or Eucalan to help keep your gorgeous yarn in tip-top condition.

Yarn_Swift

12

By Laxtons

British yarn By Laxtons

With over 100 years of yarn-making experience, Laxtons are a British brand with a long, proud heritage. Today they produce hand knitting yarn, woven apparel, upholstery and more for a variety of household-name brands from their state-of-the-art factory in Yorkshire. Most importantly for us, though, they also have their own beautiful yarn range. A 100% British wool yarn with a low carbon footprint, Sheepsoft has gone “from fleece to finished yarn in less than 50 miles”. Choose from three weights and a range of muted colours.

Buy By Laxtons yarns.

13

Daughter of a Shepherd

British yarn Daughter of a Shepherd

“With a firm commitment to using only 100% British wool from shepherds and producers within the United Kingdom, we aim to support all aspects of British manufacturing in our processing and production,” say Daughter of a Shepherd. Try Heritage, their flagship blend of Hebridean and Zwartbles, or Brume, which adds Exmoor Blueface to the mix for a beautiful silvery look. Or go for Ram Jam, the yarn that perhaps best captures their ethos – this 100% Yorkshire yarn is made from a blend of different fleeces that would otherwise have gone to waste.

Buy Daughter of a Shepherd yarn.

14

UK Alpaca

British yarn UK Alpaca

A family-run business based in Devon, UK Alpaca have 100 of their own alpacas and also source fleeces from other alpaca farms in Britain and Ireland. Their yarns are worsted spun for smoothness and strength, and come with full provenance. Treat yourself to luxurious Baby Alpaca & Silk in 4ply and DK weight, or try their range of Superfine Alpaca Hand Dyed, which showcases local dyers.

Buy UK Alpaca yarn.

15

Garthenor

British yarn Garthenor

In 2003 Garthenor became the first company in the world to produce fully certified organic wool yarns, and sustainability remains at the heart of what they do. They’ve recently committed to planting one tree for every skein of yarn sold on their website, plus they currently use packaging made from 95% recycled content. Their core organic yarn collections include dyed and undyed yarns in a huge range of shades, all bespoke spun in the UK.

Buy Garthenor yarn.

16

Jamieson & Smith

British yarn Jamieson & Smith

Jamieson & Smith buy their wool from more than 700 crofters and farmers on the islands of Shetland, turning it into products including blankets, rugs, and – of course – yarn. Look out for their 3 Sheep logo, which shows that the yarn you’re using is 100% Real Shetland Wool from sheep born and bred on the islands. The company are probably best known for their 2ply Jumper Weight yarn, which is the perfect choice for Fair Isle colourwork (why not try it for our Fair Isle vest knitting patterns?).

Buy Jamieson & Smith yarn.

17

Uradale Yarns

British yarn Uradale

Uradale Farm covers 1,200 acres of rolling Shetland hills and specialises in native sheep breeds and organic production. Their signature organic range is made up of natural undyed and unbleached yarn reflecting the colours of their flock – moorit (brown), grey, black and white. Alongside this they also offer a selection of organically dyed yarns, with colours inspired by local flowers and mosses. Don’t forget to check out their knit kits too, which include all the yarn you need plus a pattern.

Buy Uradale Yarns.

18

The Border Mill

British yarn The Border Mill

Nestled in the Scottish borders, The Border Mill is a small fibre processing mill that specialises in alpaca fleece and rare-breed wools. Their own small-batch British yarns have lots of character and come in an astonishing array of colours – you’ll have trouble deciding which to buy first! Why not start with Alpaca Rose, a silky alpaca and rose fibre blend in sumptuous metallic and gemstone shades?

Buy The Border Mill yarn.

19

John Arbon Textiles

British yarn John Arbon Textiles

There aren’t many small-scale worsted spinning mills still working in Britain, but John Arbon Textiles are the proud owners of one of them. Their North Devon Mill is made up of vintage machines, many recovered from old closed-down mills and all lovingly restored by John himself – and it’s well worth a visit. While their tours aren’t running at the moment, you can still take a virtual look around the Mill on their website. The shop is packed with exquisite yarns and tops, spun from local and organically farmed fibre where possible.

Buy John Arbon Textiles yarn.

What to knit with British yarns

Show off the beautiful colours and fibres of your favourite British yarns with our knitting patterns. Snuggle up with our free cable socks knitting pattern, knit an heirloom with a matinee jacket knitting pattern, try out new colourways with our Fair Isle knitting pattern: hat and gloves, or put your yarn on display with this knitted wall hanging pattern.

Fair Isle knitting pattern gloves

20

Kate Davies Designs

British yarn Kate Davies Designs

You’ve probably seen Kate Davies’ scrumptious sweater and accessory patterns, but did you know she has her own yarn too? The Schiehallion, Milarrochy Tweed and Buachaille ranges were created to celebrate local Scottish wool and traditional processing techniques, and showcase sheep breeds including the Corriedale, Cheviot and Shetland. We particularly love Milarrochy Tweed, with its neps and mohair halo – an irresistible choice for colourwork.

Buy Katie Davies Designs yarn.

21

Sheepfold

British yarn Sheepfold

Sheepfold is a great place to go if you’re looking for natural wool from a particular breed. North Ronaldsay, Hebridean, Black Welsh Mountain? They’re all here! Most of the wools this Cumbrian company sell are British grown and spun, and they also have fleeces and locks for spinning and felt making – including some from their own pedigree Manx Loaghtan sheep. Look out for owner Alice Underwood’s books, too, which provide knitting charts and more information about the different breeds.

Buy Sheepfold yarn.

22

New Lanark Spinning Co

British yarn New Lanark Spinning Co

Based in Scotland, New Lanark Spinning Co make traditionally spun yarn on historic machinery. To reduce their environmental impact, their machines are powered by renewable energy created by a water-powered turbine. They produce DK, aran and chunky-weight yarn in ranges including Natural Undyed and luxurious Donegal Silk Tweed, and also have Soil Association approval for their British Organic yarn.

Buy New Lanark Spinning Co yarn.

23

Whistlebare

British yarn Whistlebare

Whistlebare is a small North Northumberland family farm home to pedigree Angora goats and Wensleydale sheep. Their fleeces are scoured, blended and spun in Yorkshire before being hand-dyed back on the farm. Choose from three yarn ranges in beautiful solid shades: mohair-rich Yeavering Bell, nylon-free sock yarn Cuthbert’s Sock, and 100% lambswool Cheviot Marsh.

Buy Whistlebare yarn.

24

Northern Yarn

British yarn Northern Yarn

This Lancaster shop is all about “good honest wool”: locally sourced, indepedently produced and air-mile free. And as well as selling products from other British yarn brands, they also produce their own! Owner Kate is proud to be “introducing customers to wool from sheep they have probably driven past” with her Northern Yarn range, which includes small-batch single-farm yarn Kerry Hill, made from the soft, bouncy fleece of the eponymous Welsh hill sheep.

Buy Northern Yarn.

25

Town End Yarns

British yarn Town End Yarns

Town End Yarns are best known for their alpaca and alpaca/wool blends. Having now retired from alpaca breeding, they use their wealth of expertise to select the finest fleeces for their yarns. Look out for the gorgeous Pure Natural Alpaca, which is made from 100% pure baby alpaca from British farms and comes in 4ply, DK or aran weight. Or why not try Alpaca with Nylon for the cosiest socks around? Squish the yarns in person at their shop Woollen in Frome, Somerset, or order online.

Buy Town End Yarns.

26

Jamieson’s of Shetland

British yarn Jamieson's of Shetland

Jamieson’s was founded in Shetland in the 1890s and has been owned by the same family for five generations. Today the company not only produces hand knitting yarns but also an exclusive range of Shetland knitwear, so anyone who doesn’t fancy making their own Fair Isle jumper can buy one ready-made. If you’re into colourwork knitting Jamieson’s is the place to go – and if not we reckon their yarns might change your mind! Try their flagship 4ply-weight Spindrift, which comes in a bewildering range of colours.

Buy Jamieson’s of Shetland yarn.

27

Di Gilpin

British yarn Di Gilpin

Designer Di Gilpin is famous for her stunning couture knitwear pieces, but she has also been busy creating her own collection of special Scottish yarns. There’s Saorse, a luxurious blend of Scottish wool and finest Mongolian cashmere, and 100% lambswool Lalland, which is spun in Scotland and comes in DK and aran weights. It’s perfect for vintage-look patterns such as traditional ganseys.

Buy Di Gilpin yarn.

28

Uist Wool

British yarn Uist Wool

The mill at Uist Wool on the island of North Uist in the Outer Hebrides is more than just a place that produces yarn: it also supports the local community, sustains cultural traditions and educates the wider public. The mill spins fleece purchased directly from crofters, celebrating the natural colours produced by sheep breeds including the Cheviot, Texel, Hebridean and more. All the yarns are made in small batches, so if you see one you like snap it up before it sells out!

Buy Uist Wool.

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Want more? Knit up your yarn in style with our guide to the best knitting needles. We can also help you pick the best knitting bags and organisers for carrying around all that lovely new yarn, or choose special gifts for knitters – though we won’t tell anyone if you buy them for yourself instead!