A FULLY traceable hand-knit yarn using fleeces from Dales farms has been launched by Clapham based country wear clothing firm Glencroft - and it is hoped it will reduce the amount of wool being sent to landfill.

The project, thought up by Glencroft owner, Edward Sexton and part-funded by the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s Sustainability Fund, was born out of a desire to support farmers in getting more value for their wool.

Mr Sexton said: “Too often we hear of farmers who have to send the wool sheared from their sheep to landfill because there just isn’t any other economical use for it. As avid supporters and users of British wool, this simply didn’t seem right.

“The £5,000 grant from the Yorkshire Dales National Park helped us to kick-start our ‘farm to yarn’ project, allowing us to take fleeces from farms within a five -mile radius to us and transform them into a truly unique Yorkshire-made hand-knit yarn.”

To ensure they made the best possible yarn, Glencroft brought together a team of British wool and fashion design experts from The Wool Company and KnitLab North to offer advice, making use of local sheep breeds including the traditional Dalesbred, Teeswater, Blue Faced Leicester and the more modern Texel.

Half a ton of fleece was gathered by Mr Sexton from farms including Dawsons of Bleak Bank and Whitakers of Bowsber Farm in Clapham. It was processed in Bradford where it was weighed, washed and scoured, and the wool was then carded in Bingley, before going on to Shipley to be spun.

The scouring process removed 234 kgs of mainly organic matter with a further 50 kgs of wool lost to ‘noil’ during carding.

Noil - fibres that are too short for spinning - has been donated to local crafters as felt and also to a company for use as padding for Viking shields in re-enactments.

Half of the wool was spun into cones for use on knitting machines which KnitLab North is testing on knitwear designs custom-made for Glencroft. The Clapdale Wool Collection is expected to be launched later this year.

The remaining yarn was split into two, with 150 kgs spun into 100g hanks of wool for hand-knitting, which has been tested by retired knitting shop owner Sandra Oakeshott who used to run Beckside Yarns and Needlecrafts in Clapham.

She said: “When I heard that Glencroft was launching a limited-edition Yorkshire hand-knit yarn, it was incredibly exciting and I was delighted to be asked to test it. It knits like any other DK weight yarn and I was pleasantly surprised by its softness and the good level of tension. I’ll definitely be getting my hands on some more."

Sandra, who has designed her own patterns for many years, has donated several knitting patterns which she used to test the Clapdale yarn with to Glencroft, which are now available to download for free online.

Mr Sexton added: “We wanted to show how it is possible to ensure that farmers get a fair price for their fleeces, as well as creating a circular economy by giving 10 per cent of all profits from the finished yarn and products back to them.

"We also wanted to work with and promote the breeds on our doorstep regardless of what they were and explain the processes and costs to consumers so they can buy an authentic, traceable product that will stand the test of time.”

Glencroft hopes to further develop and commercialise its Clapdale Wool over the coming years, working with British Wool.