Perhaps the snowy white drifts that dot the landscape in Tuxedo, NY, where I visited recently that have me swooning over deep tones of yarn. Or maybe the gigantic shawl that has been knit up in a demure ivory is instigator to spur me on to dark colors. Then again, holiday knitting might be the culprit due to the kaleidoscope that flew off my needles to make gifts in time for Christmas. Whatever the cause might be is not as important as the rich bounty of deeply speckled, lustrous yarn that is strewn about my worktable at present. The allure of dark fleece spun into radiant hanks of wool is captivating.
There are a many breeds that naturally give a darker fleece including Romney, Border Leicester, Shetland, and Jacob sheep, to name a few. Their wool may be black, brown, moorit or spotted. It is easy to become enchanted with the colors of wool that exist for just one breed through images on the Shetland Sheep Society’s webpage.
One of the darker wools I have been knitting with is “Black Hills Natural Coloured Undyed 100% Pure New Zealand Wool.” The fiber is soft with the faint lanolin aroma and occasional tiny piece of dry grass to be plucked out. This is a sign the yarn is not overly-processed. It feels wonderful on my skin as I knit or crochet and reminds me of how amazing natural products can be.
There is another wool from dark sheep that I have begun to be knit into a delicious sweater. Black Welsh Mountain are a rare sheep breed that only produce dark fleece. The Livestock Conservancy currently lists this breed as threatened. The wool is a rich brown and not quite as dark as the New Zealand wool. There were many traces of vegetation throughout the skein that I ordered from a Rockbridge Farm located in York County, Pennsylvania. This is a farm has been in operation for over 280 years! You can see from the sample that the wool is sturdy and knits up beautifully. (The variegated wool in the photo is from a kettle-dyed Romney). I encourage you to seek out not only the colors or popular fibers that interest you, but to try the yarns produced from eco-friendly methods and / or rare breeds raised on small, local farms.