Lavenham Blue and its bases
Type 1 base*: The Lavenham Blue Collection
A Non Commercial Yarn. A local fleece which is fully traceable: One Collection a year
This is know as the Lavenham Blue Collection and comes with a date and fully traceable yarn. I will have sourced the fleece myself from a local shepherd and sent it for manufacturing at a Mill in Yorkshire where it's turned into hanks. But before you get to knit with it, I dye each hank myself using woad to get those lovely blue colours!
My first collection was the 2020 Collection. The fleece for the 2020 Collection came from a small, mixed flock of Bluefaced Leicester and Romney sheep. The flock were from a farm in Newton, Suffolk, 10 minutes from my shop in Long Melford, Suffolk. After Covid, our second collection was in 2022, a mix of Ryelands and Cheviot from a farm 5 minutes from my house which I discovered during my lockdown exercise runs. The 2023 Collection is from a flock of Wensleydale. This type of yarn is only available once a year from August.
Type 2 base*: Commercial un-dyed Yarn - This can be any type of yarn such as Merino, Bluefaced Leicester etc and can come in different sizes such as 4ply, DK, Aran etc. This is sourced from the main big yarn undyed yarn companies in the UK such as Chester Wools, Rooster Yarns, Laxtons and World of Wool. They supply yarn to Independent dyers across the world. This type of Lavenham Blue is available most of the year.
In the 16th Century Lavenham, Suffolk became known for its blue broadcloth. This woven cloth was exported as far as Russia. The wool came from Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Cambridgeshire and sometimes the Cotswolds. The broadcloth was 28 yards 28 inches long and 5 foot 3 inches broad. It was dyed first (hence the expression dyed in the wool), spun, woven, fulled and finished in Lavenham. In Water Street, where the river runs through underground culverts, the cloth was washed to remove any surplus pigment. The water then flowed down the street to join the River Brett at the bottom. Lavenham was said to be the fourteenth wealthiest town in England, despite its small size. Its timber-framed buildings and church were built on the success of the wool trade, just like Long Melford and other Suffolk wool towns.
The Colour Blue: The wool was dyed using the plant woad (Isatis tinctoria). Woad is a pigment, not a dye so it makes a 'physical reaction' rather than a chemical one. It clings to the fibre. Over time, with wear it will fade, just like your jeans, and this is the charm of dyeing with Woad.
Dyeing the yarn: A fermentation vat is needed to dye with woad. Urine would have been used in the 16th Century to achieve this. The Wool is dipped into the vat, left for a few minutes, and then removed. At first the wool is pale yellow, but with exposure to air, the colour gradually turns to green and then to blue.
I will use Royal Mail to send out all orders. They will all be sent out as a 'Small Parcel' due to the size. You will have two choices of delivery and a flat rate, regardless of weight to try and make it as easy as possible and not so expensive for you.
You will have a choice of postal options when you get to the checkout page. Your order will be sent out using new paper packaging rather than plastic parcel bags.