A blanket square with a lace flower motif in the centre surrounded by a garter stitch border. Pattern is knit in grey North Ronaldsay wool and is from the pattern Vivid by Tin Can Knits.

Knitting a British breed blanket

A few years ago I started to take an interest in the different British sheep breeds and the wool that they produced. As a result I thought it would be a good idea to seek out and knit with as many of these breeds as I could, buying a skein of yarn whenever funds would allow. I started with the Hebridean and Zwartbles yarn from Daughter of a Shepherd (now known as Heritage DK) which was the inspiration behind the Close to Home hat, my very first design. I learned a lot from knitting with this yarn. It was so different from anything that I had ever worked with before that it spurred me on in my quest to try other British breed wool.

But having the idea was one thing. What I was going to do with these skeins of yarn was another. I’m not one to buy things without an end game in mind, even if it’s just a loose one, so it was important for me to find a project that would happily combine all of the different skeins. ‘Blanket’ was the first word that popped in to my head, but the idea of sat knitting on a huge blanket didn’t exactly fill me with joy. I have however always liked the look of the ‘Vivid’ blanket by Tin Can Knits, and the idea of knitting something more modular rather than as one big piece certainly had an appeal. I would be able to knit the squares as and when the mood strikes and create a patchwork of the different breeds and colours. The thought of sewing it all together is the only small wrinkle in my plan, but if I do it little and often then it should keep it manageable.

So the yarn has a purpose but what about the finished object? These days I’m becoming more mindful of plastics and microfibres and, with wool being a good medium for combating both these issues, I have decided to replace my acrylic blanket with a wool one that I can snuggle up with on the sofa in the winter, but will also make a good blanket for the bed when the hot summer nights begin to cool.

And so I thought I would share this epic project with you here in the hope that you will discover something new or be inspired to give it a try. I also hope that sharing my progress with you will keep me going when I haven’t kept on top of sewing all the pieces together and I’m lost in a sea of squares. If you too are embarking on a voyage of blanket knitting let me know, then at least we will always know that, at any given moment, there is someone else wondering ‘what was I thinking?’ too!

First up is North Ronaldsay! I’d love to hear your favourite British breed yarns. Share them in the comments below or find me on Instagram @TheConsciousKnitter. I’d love to have as many as I can in my blanket!

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  1. What a wonderful idea! It will not only show the natural colours of the breeds but how they look when knitted. I’d also be really interested to hear how the different yarns feel when you are working with them. It’s the sort of thing that would be a brilliant addition to a museum sheep farming exhibit (but if you are anything like me I don’t think I’d be able to part with it!)

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s going to be a labour of love so I don’t think I will be able to part with it but you’re right, it would make a wonderful exhibit piece.


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