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Number 1

Colour
Chalk - Shetland
Shale - Shetland
Pebble - Shetland
Fawn - Shetland
Boulder - Shetland
Ammonite - Dorset Horn
Cove - Dorset Horn
Croft - North Ronaldsay
Fossil - Jacob
Peat - Jacob
Rye - Romney
Galway Bay - Galway
Smoke - Shetland
Bakewell - Leicester Longwool
Chalkboard - Shetland

Delicately twisted, Number 1 is a woollen spun, single ply lace. Produced entirely to Global Organic Textile Standards and totally undyed, this yarn is perfect for shawls, light sweaters and accessories.

350m • 50g


The Highlights

The delicate twist of a single ply of naturally coloured organic wool has made Number 1 staggeringly popular over the years.

Totally breed specific, we can trace each skein of yarn back to the flock that produced the wool.

We think this lace yarn is perfect for shawls, light sweaters and accessories - or hold it double to use alongside Number 2.

The specs

Lace

350 metres / 383 yards

50 grams / 1.76 ounces

100% Organic Wool

The Highlights

The delicate twist of a single ply of naturally coloured organic wool has made Number 1 staggeringly popular over the years.

Totally breed specific, we can trace each skein of yarn back to the flock that produced the wool

We think this lace yarn is perfect for shawls, light sweaters and accessories - or hold it double to use alongside Number 2.

The specs

Lace

350 metres / 383 yards

50 grams / 1.76 ounces

100% Organic Wool


10 Steps

Number 1, like all our yarns, is a labour of love. We think the journey a yarn takes is fascinating - find out more below.

Growing

Great yarn starts with great wool, which has to come from healthy, happy sheep. By working directly with farmers across the UK, we can be assured of the origin and quality of every fleece that passes through our hands.

A tender, or weak fleece is the sign of an unhealthy animal, so by ensuring the welfare of the sheep that grow our wool, we're guaranteed only the best fibre.

Shearing

Shearing is essential for ensuring the welfare of sheep - it removes the heavy, sweaty coat before the hot summer months.

For sheep, it's just like getting a haircut. It causes almost no stress or worry, and the highly skilled shearers work swiftly but carefully.

Grading

After shearing, the wool arrives at Garthenor Farm as tightly rolled fleeces. At grading, we assess four separate characteristics - Breed, Colour, Age and Openness (if a fleece is felted, or cotted).

This initial sorting gives us the basis to pay the farmer and group together similar wool types for storage.

Sorting

The vast majority of British wool will go straight into production after grading. However, given the spectacular variety of wools within a single fleece, there is no substitute for sorting each individual fleece before scouring.

At this stage, we are assessing: Fibre Strength (known as soundness), Fineness (the diameter of the fibres), Staple Length, Crimp, Vegetable Matter, Lustre, Yield, and Shade.

Scouring

Hot, steamy, pungent air hits you in the face with the smell of wool as you reach the scourers. Here, lanolin, sweat (known as suint), muck and most of the vegetable matter (hay and straw from the fleece) are washed from the fleece in a series of warm water baths.

After washing and drying, the wool is tightly packed in bales, weighing up to 350kg (770lbs)!

Blending & Carding

The tangled mass of clean fibres following scouring start to get sorted, initially during blending, and then during carding.

Huge drums coated (or clothed) with metal wire teeth tease and open the wool, passing through the carder until dozens of slivers of wool are taken off the other end. This is the first time our wool looks a bit like a yarn, but there's no strength at all - twist needs to be added.

Spinning

We're finally making a yarn! Most of our woollen spun yarns are spun on an industrial revolution era spinning mule. These are famed for their exceptionally even, consistent spinning. Most have long since been replaced with faster spinning frames, but up in New Lanark, Scotland, the unmistakable clatter and whirr of the mule lives on.

After this step, we have a single ply - for Number 1 & Cairngorm, they're ready for their final steps, but for our plied yarns, they need to be twisted.

Skeining

Now back at Garthenor Farm on great big cones, our yarn is ready to be skeined, or reeled. We use a modern, digital machine that can wind 24 skeins at a time - a bit quicker than the single-skein winder we started with!

This mesmerising machine crosses the yarn back and forth to keep an even tension and consistent length for each skein.

2nd Scour

During blending, a gentle vegetable oil was added to the wool to help it glide through the spinning process and protect the delicate fibres.

Once we've skeined the yarn, it's in for its second wash. Our soft, Welsh spring water bubbles up at the top of the farm, and is the secret to bulking and relaxing our yarns, allowing them to breathe. The transformation at this step is stunning - from an oily, firm yarn into the gorgeous skeins we sell.

Noddle & Label

At the end of this drawn out process, the final steps are to twist the skeins ready for sale - known as noddling, and slip on our label.

The yarn loop on the label of each skein is so that once you're knitting, you can tie a little end of yarn through the loop to keep in your knitting book.

Reflecting our landscape

From sheep to skein, Number 1 only has two things added - a gentle detergent, and a light spinning oil.

Both of these are washed out in the final rinse, so these yarns are about as pure as they come.

For us, there's simply no better reflection of the landscape that surrounds us than pure organic wool.

Sheep to Skein: A Fibre Journey

Each shade within Number 1 is spun individually, so has its own story.

Discover the origins and journey of each below.

Chalk

100% Organic Shetland Wool

All our shetland fleece is sourced from 3 farms - one of which being our own small flock here in Mid Wales. The other two are based in Wiltshire and Somerset in England.

We normally collect a couple of years worth of the snowiest white fleece from each of the flocks. That means we can select only the finest shearling wool at sorting, ensuring the very highest quality finished yarn.

As with most natural whites, Chalk has a whisper of warmth to it - a trait not bleached out using harsh chemicals. Its warmth doesn't exclude it from fitting fantastically in a cool gradient with Shale and Boulder though.

Mule spun in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Shale

100% Organic Shetland Wool

All our shetland fleece is sourced from 3 farms - one of which being our own small flock here in Mid Wales. The other two are based in Wiltshire and Somerset in England.

Shale is comprised only of pure white and deep black fleece. By blending these together during carding, we're able to get astonishing depth in a neutral, heathery grey. Shale is almost totally cool in its tone, with the smallest suggestion of warmth hiding between the fibres. If you're after a true cool grey, we'd suggest Boulder.

Mule Spun in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Pebble

100% Organic Shetland Wool

All our shetland fleece is sourced from 3 farms - one of which being our own small flock here in Mid Wales. The other two are based in Wiltshire and Somerset in England.

Pebble is a personal favourite here at Garthenor HQ. It's warmer tones whilst remaining a dependable neutral. There are about 8 distinct shades of fleece that go in to Pebble, giving it beautiful, subtle depth. The hue is reminiscent of a pebbled beach - at first a solid shade, then as you peer closer, subtle flecks of complimentary shades.

Mule Spun in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Fawn

100% Organic Shetland Wool

All our shetland fleece is sourced from 3 farms - one of which being our own small flock here in Mid Wales. The other two are based in Wiltshire and Somerset in England.

This beautiful, honey-toned pale sandy shade has more warmth than Pebble. Fawn is ideal for softening bright warm tones, centering around its earthy depth. Fawn provides a perfect backdrop to warmer colourwork patterns.

Mule Spun in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Boulder

100% Organic Shetland Wool

All our shetland fleece is sourced from 3 farms - one of which being our own small flock here in Mid Wales. The other two are based in Wiltshire and Somerset in England.

Boulder is the coolest of our Shetland grey tones - an ashy, heathered shade with flecks of white throughout. Like Shale, Boulder is comprised only of Black and white fleece, so has an inherent depth that can't be replicated using dyes. Timelessly elegant and practical.

Mule Spun in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Ammonite

100% Organic Dorset Horn Wool, Single FLock

Dorset Horn is a rare breed in the UK, with fewer than 3000 breeding ewes remaining. Within these, only a tiny percentage are coloured, so to produce Ammonite really is unique in the yarn world. We're only able to spin about 40kg of this precious shade every year, so be sure to get it while you can.

Sourced from a single flock in beautiful Herefordshire, England, we were thrilled to find some coloured sheep in the flock. The sunbleached tips of the fleece are blended throughout to create a wonderful heathered tone in an almost totally cool grey. The short, crimpy fibres of the Dorset Horn fleece produce a sensationally lofty and airy yarn - nice and warm!

Ring Spun in Cornwall, England

Cove

100% Organic Dorset Horn Wool, Single FLock

We source the fibre for Cove from a flock of Dorset Horn sheep nestled in the hills of Herefordshire, England. A rare breed with fewer than 3000 breeding ewes remaining, we were thrilled to be able to find an organic flock, and what a flock! The creamy white yarn is wonderfully fine with plenty of loft and airiness - exactly what we'd look for in a typical downland breed.

The slightly warm white will add a fresh brightness to any garment, and pairs well with any of our lace shades, either in Number 1 or its dyed sister, Cairngorm.

Ring Spun in Cornwall, England.

Croft

100% Organic North Ronaldsay Wool, Single Flock

These famously hardy sheep produce a wonderful double-coated fleece. Unlike most North Ronaldsay yarns, we decided against de-hairing to remove the longer guard hairs - after all, they tell the story of the breed's heritage. These coarser hair will gradually work their way out as you use, wash and wear the yarn, leaving behind a surprisingly soft and airy fabric.

We sourced the fleece for Croft from a small farm in Wiltshire, now no longer operating. As a result, we don't know if this is one we can spin again - so grab it while you can.

The stunning depth within the shade is achieved by blending together the fleeces from across the flock. From pale, pebble grey to almost black, the wonderful heathering brightens any garment.

Ring Spun in Cornwall, England.

Fossil

100% Organic Jacob Wool, Single Flock

Sourcing fleece can take us to some pretty unusual locations, not least the Scottish estate in Dumfries and Galloway that supplies our Jacob wool. In the shadows of an old castle, this flock live a very happy life. To get enough of each shade to spin seperately, we'll bundle up 2-3 years of colour sorted fleece together, allowing us to select the finest fibres from the breed.

Fossil combines the black and white fibres from the distinctive sheep together to provide a warmth and richness that's simply unbeatable. The slightly longer staple of Jacob wool has a nice halo to it. This will add a nice contrast when compared to its darker counterpart, Peat.

Mule Spun in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Peat

100% Organic Jacob Wool, Single Flock

Sourcing fleece can take us to some pretty unusual locations, not least the Scottish estate in Dumfries and Galloway that supplies our Jacob wool. In the shadows of an old castle, this flock live a very happy life. To get enough of each shade to spin seperately, we'll bundle up 2-3 years of colour sorted fleece together, allowing us to select the finest fibres from the breed.

The dark, rich brown-black fibres of the fleece are selected for Peat. The wonderfully even tone will add a robust, moody base for any garment, but elevated by the occasional silver fibre showing through - a beautiful characeristic of this historic breed.

Mule Spun in Lanarkshire, Scotland.

Rye

100% Organic Romney Wool, Single Flock

We stumbled across this rare beauty quite by chance, as so often happens with sourcing fibre. When grading the Romney wool for our worsted spun blends, we managed to pluck out a handful of naturally coloured, silvery fleeces. Very rarely found in commercial English Romney flocks, this was quite a delight. We managed to pluck out just enough for a small spinning run - out of around 2,000 sheep on the farm, only around 12 were coloured.

This tiny batch is a reflection of how unsual the fibre is, the streaks of several shades of grey in this silver base add interest and character. The longer fibres - about as long as we can spin using the woollen system - add more weight and drape than some of the other Number 1 yarns.

Ring Spun in Cornwall, England.

Galway Bay

100% Organic Galway Wool, Single Flock

Sourced from the same farm as our North Ronaldsay, Galway wool has a totally unique handle. When grading the fleeces, we expected it to be similar to other longwools like Romney and the Leicesters - we were wrong! A taut, crisp tension within the fibre is evident, giving a wonderful texture to garments. When blocked, a suprising lustre comes to the fore, which is even more evident once twisted into a 4ply.

Ring Spun in Cornwall, England.


Worldwide Shipping

If the order gets to us before midday, we dispatch the very same day

Quick delivery, and free over £99 worldwide, or just £49 in the UK

Gentle Care

To keep your knits in top condition, we recommend a warm hand wash (about 30°C / 85°F)

Use a small amount of your favourite gentle wool wash

Lay flat to dry on a clean towel


Climate Positive

For every skein of yarn we produce, we offset about twice the carbon footprint through sustainable, ethical initiatives, as well as responsible farming practices here at Garthenor.

We also offset our own footprint - things like travelling to shows, electricity usage and heating.

When paired with uncompromising animal welfare, traceability and organic certification throughout, we're confident of doing our bit to help the planet.

A Match spun in heaven

To match Number 1, we developed Cairngorm, a woollen spun, single ply lace, spun to the same 350m/50g skeins.

Organically hank dyed to a range of 15 shades, these are perfect to add a pop of colour to your project.

Organic, Honest & Fair

  • Certified organic to GOTS
  • Unmatched environmental benchmarks
  • Industry leading animal welfare standards
  • No harsh chemicals at any point of production
  • Fair working conditions

Organic, Honest & Fair

  • Certified organic to GOTS
  • Unmatched environmental benchmarks
  • Industry leading animal welfare standards
  • No harsh chemicals at any point of production
  • Fair working conditions

A Match spun in heaven

To match Number 1, we developed Cairngorm, a woollen spun, single ply lace, spun to the same 350m/50g skeins.

Organically hank dyed to a range of 15 shades, these are perfect to add a pop of colour to your project.