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Natural Sock Yarn Club 2

Welcome to the 2nd Natural Sock Yarn Club!

3. Blue Faced Leicester Mohair 

Time flies, doesn’t it? All of a sudden it is May already, and therefore time for sock yarn number three. A brand new one this time!

British Blue Faced Leicester with a good amount of South African Kid Mohair makes for an incredible soft and versatile yarn. It would be lovely for shawls and garments, to wear next to skin. But as Mohair is not only soft and fluffy, but also a very strong fiber, this is a gorgeous natural sock yarn. I have just finished a little sock cuff, and am really loving it! As a true rustic yarn lover, I do have to admit I am very much enjoying the fluffy softness of this yarn.


Your Blue Faced Leicester Mohair is spun as a 2ply, which makes it particularly suitable for lace, I ombre dip dyed it in a season appropriate colourway which will form a micro stripe when knit in a sock circumference. Therefore some pattern suggestions that will highlight both the yarn and the colourway.


I hope you will enjoy this new addition, and don’t be shy, send me an email or message to let me know what you think. I would love to know!



Pattern inspiration


 A calm and small lace repeat to match the microstriping of your yarn.


Florence socks by Anja Heumann


The textured stiches will gently 'break' your microstriping. 

Petty Harbour by Rayna Curtis


Who doesn't know this sock design? But it is so perfect to use with a strong variegated yarn to break up the pooling/microstriping as you can see in the picture as well. I therefore just had to include it. 

Hermione's everyday socks by Erica Lueder



2. Igneae

For your March yarn I am first going to take you along my thought process for a little bit about this sock club, and the Ovis et cetera yarns in general. Because honestly, I wasn't quite sure if I was going to include Igneae in this second sock club again. I am very much in the process of deciding which yarns to keep in the collection and what kind of new yarns to bring in.


Ideally, I would like all my yarns to be sourced relatively locally to me. Which I consider to be Europe and its close surroundings. Igneae does not meet this criterion as it is sourced and spun in South America. So I started thinking about finding a good replacement, which so far hasn't been succesful. At the same time is Igneae my most popular yarn. It truly is a lovely yarn as you probably can tell now you have unwrapped it. It is shiny and buttery, just an overall extremely nice yarn. And so very versatile.


This is a sock club, and you have received a sock set. But Igneae is so much more than just sock yarn! Both the ramie and the silk give Igneae its drape and shine, which makes it perfect for shawls or flowy garments. Because of its relatively low wool content, and the ramie & silk, Igneae is very suitable for summer garments and accessories. Cinthia Vallet loves using Igneae and created both Bunny Odile and Nanna the lady duck (Ravelry links) out of Igneae. 


The ramie and silk also make this an extra durable yarn, as they are both very strong fibers which is exactly why I chose this base back when I started Ovis et cetera, looking for no nylon sock yarn alternatives. 


Ramie is a plant fiber that comes from the stem bark of the Boehmeria nivea, a perennial shrub of the nettle family. It is also known as China grass or grass linen. The use of ramie dates back to ancient China, where it was first cultivated for its fiber around 4000 BC. Ramie is a strong, durable, and lustrous fiber that is known for its smooth texture. Its natural colour is creamy white. Ramie is often compared to linen, because of its breathability and strength. However, unlike linen, ramie is soft and shiny, almost silk-like. Besides adding durability, ramie has non-allergenic and antimicrobial properties, which makes it a perfect addition to a sock yarn. 


Yes, so here we are. A beautiful natural yarn, perfect for socks and just about anything else. I always receive it from the wholesale company packaged completely plastic free. And they are a nice and pleasant company to work with, so I therefore would like to keep supporting them. There is so much more to consider. Also, am I knitting a pair of Pixel Rise socks at the moment out of an Et cetera set which is made up of different types of Ovis et cetera sock yarns. Every time I get to knit a colourwork stripe with Igneae I truly love it. Although I consider myself a true fan of rustic yarns I have to say I so very much enjoy the buttery luxurious feeling of Igneae.


I am too much in love with Igneae, and I don't seem to be alone in this. So for now Igneae is here to stay. This doesn't mean I stopped looking for alternatives, but right now I think Igneae fits perfectly in the Ovis et cetera collection. I hope you think so too, and will enjoy your sock set.


Pattern inspiration


Igneae has great stitch definition, it is spun as a true 4 ply yarn which you can see if you untwist a part of your yarn. The more plies, the more durable a yarn is. Another plus point for Igneae! It looks great in cables and other textured stitches & lace, as well does it make a very neat and smooth stockinette fabric.


First up is a pattern which was designed in Igneae, Origin by Jessica Gore (Ravelry link) for a sock publication by Making Stories, which is now available as a single pattern. You can see how lovely the stitch definition is in Igneae.


Ruisseau Socks by Sol Le Roux, with its lace and a little bit of cable the perfect pattern to make Igneae shine!


Stillwater socks (Ravelry link) by Summer Lee. Texture, cables and contrasting cuffs & toes make this pattern a great match for your sock set.


Luftikus Shorties (Ravelry link) by DUCATHI As Igneae is also a very suitable summer yarn I had to include a lovely pair of textured shorty socks.


1. Close

Last year we kicked off the first Natural Sock Yarn Club with Close, when it just came freshly from the mill as the first Ovis et cetera exclusive, custom spun yarn. A couple of weeks ago I received a new batch of Close from John Arbon Textiles where it gets spun, so I thought it was only fitting to also start this second club year with Close.

This year is going to be a search for new sock yarns as well am I going to decide which yarns are staying in the Ovis et cetera sock yarn collection? There is no doubt that Close is here to stay for the foreseeable future. It is a great addition to the natural yarn family and is so very versatile. As this is a sock club, I assume you are going to use your yarn to make socks, but it is also perfectly suitable for mittens, a hat, the yoke of a sweater, and anything else.

Close is a blend of 40% Devon Closewool 40% Exmoor Blueface and 20% Zwartbles. It is a lovely blend of 3 different sheep breeds that all live close to the mill in Devon, making it a minimally travelled yarn. I chose to add a dash of Zwartbles both to give the yarn its lovely heathered colour, and to add a bit of my Dutch heritage. Close is spun with a little bit of extra twist for extra durability, making it perfect for socks but also suitable for many other purposes, it has great stitch definition which makes cables and stitch patterns pop, and it is ideal for colourwork.

Let me introduce you to the different breeds that make Close:

Both Devon Closewool and Exmoor Blueface are crossbred from the Exmoor Horn. Devon Closewool is Exmoor Horn x Devon Longwool, and Exmoor Blueface as the name suggests, is a crossbreed between the Exmoor Horn and Bluefaced Leicester.
So technically there is quite a bit of Exmoor Horn in this yarn, also as it is such a cool sheep it needs a little introduction:


Exmoor Horn

Exmoor Horn sheep are an ancient breed indigenous to Exmoor. The remains of similar sheep have been found amongst the detritus of Roman encampments on the North Devon coast. Although farmed commercially, they are a minority breed and are classed as “at risk” since 95% of the breeding stock is within the moorland areas of Devon and West Somerset. They are one of the few hill breeds with a relatively fine fleece, and with a good staple length. Unusually, both males and females are horned.
Scientific studies have shown that Exmoor Horns are genetically adapted to their environment. They are tough, hardy sheep, able to withstand high rainfall with minimal foot trouble. They are very protective mothers, good milkers, and able to thrive on what would otherwise be considered poor herbage. An Exmoor Horn ewe, though docile and easy to contain, will look you straight in the eye. It is this irascible, defiant grumpiness that ensures their survival under adverse conditions, wool with attitude you might say.


Devon Closewool


Devon Closewool

The Devon Closewool is a very hardy sheep with a docile temperament. It is distributed almost exclusively on Exmoor in North Devon, in southwest England. Thrives on a purely grass-based diet. A medium-sized white-faced sheep without horns. Its significant feature is its exceptional fleece of wool. 

The breed arose around the mid-1800s when Exmoor Horn sheep were crossed with the Devon Longwools. The resultant intermediate-sized sheep proved very popular and expanded rapidly in numbers. By 1950 there were around 229,000 Closewools, almost all of them located in Devon making them the most numerous breed in the county at that time. The Devon Closewool Sheep Breeders Society was formed in 1923.

Devon Closewools are a true triple-purpose breed, meat, dense strong wool, and an ideal sheep for crossbreeding. The wool is dense, medium length with a strong staple that does not part easily so the skin stays dry. This enables the sheep to thrive in wet, cold conditions.



Exmoor Blueface


Exmoor Blueface

About the Exmoor Blueface from the John Arbon website:

The Exmoor Blueface is a crossbreed of the Exmoor Horn (our local hill sheep) and the distinguished Bluefaced Leicester (the softest British sheep breed). Its fibre has a wonderful springy nature and adds plenty of bounce to a blend. As the name implies, our Exmoor Blueface is bred and farmed in Devon where we live – and can often be seen roaming happily on the Exmoor hills.






The history of the Zwartbles as a sheep breed starts in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. It is thought that the Zwartbles breed is descended from a relatively large breed of sheep called the Schoonebeker which grazed the heathlands of North East Holland. It gets its name from a place called Schoonebeek in the province of Drenthe.
The Schoonebeker lambs were at the time walked to the livestock market in Norg where they were sold as store lambs to farmers from Northern Friesland who used them to fertilise their pastures while fattening. This practice declined when commercial fertilisers became available and the Schoonebeker lamb trade crashed resulting in the Schoonebeker becoming an extremely rare breed. Some of the store lambs sold had badger face markings that resemble the modern day Zwartbles sheep, and if you look at the pictures of the Schoonebeker you can see the resemblance including the slight roman noses, long neck and erect posture. A number of Friesian farmers decided to line breed these “Zwartbles “ Schoonebeker sheep and with some influence from Friesian Milk sheep and Texel’s the modern day Zwartbles was developed.




You received 4 x 25 gram skeins, one of them being undyed. You will notice the undyed skein looks slightly different from the dyed ones. Once the yarn has been dyed it poofs up and becomes more springy as well. Pull the skeins to feel the difference in spring and memory. The undyed skein doesn't have a lot of stretch compared to the dyed skeins, it feels more drapey.

You could compare it with curly hair that gets straightened, but then when it gets wet the curls come back. When the yarn gets spun it gets combed thoroughly, which straightens the curls. Dyeing it in hot water gives the fiber its original curl and with that its spring and bounce back.

Normally I would soak the undyed skeins as well if I would use them in a set like this, to make the set look uniform. But then I thought it might be interesting if you could see the transformation. So for this club set I left the yarn the way it came from the mill. If you want you can soak your undyed skein in hot water before knitting, but you can also use it as is, once blocked it will look the same as the dyed yarn. And then this also gave me the idea to include a little sample of the unspun top, which I also ordered this time. I couldn't fit the sheep in the envelope, but this way you do get to experience a bit of the process of yarn making. And if you are a spinner you can have a little taste at spinning some Close yourself. Expect some dyed Close tops coming to the shop later this year!


Pattern inspiration


You received a mini skein set as Close is so very suitable to use for colourwork. And I would like you to be able to try this out if you want to. But you could just as well use your set for a pair of stripey vanilla socks of course. I have selected some patterns that would work particularly well with your set that are not all colourwork but do make use of multiple colours in different ways. Enjoy!

Heart shaped socks set by Stone knits (Ravelry)


Sprocket socks by Megan Nodecker (Ravelry)


Citrus sunrise socks by Renee Strouts (Ravelry)


Rain or shine socks by Stephen West