Black Water Abbey began thanks to a serendipitous moment on a trip to Ireland. The owner and her mother visited a small mill in County Kilkenny in 1997 and the rest was history.
The mill now makes a two-ply, worsted-weight yarn in 31 colors and a 2-ply, fingering-weight organic yarn in four colors sold under the name Black Water Abbey Yarns--named for the 14th century church in the Irish village.
For the purposes of this review, we'll look at the worsted weight yarn.
- Content: 100 percent wool
- Yarn Weight: Worsted
- Gauge: 4.5 stitches per inch on size 7 US needles (Black Water Abbey and I agree), also 6 rows per inch
- Yardage: About 220 yards
- Color Availability: Comes in 31 colors, mostly reds, browns, purples, greens and blues
- Color Used in Swatch: Sky
This yarn is very nice and easy to work with. The colors are beautiful and would all work together nicely if you like to knit Fair Isle or other colorwork designs.
The knitting came out very firm, with relatively little curling in stockinette stitch.
The swatch has a nice subtle woolly fuzz and is just a little scratchy. The stitches are quite even and clearly formed.
Uses for Black Water Abbey Worsted:
This yarn is designed to be made into sweaters. Traditional Irish Aran yarn is three-ply, so this lighter two-ply is a little more comfortable for wearing inside buildings.
The hard finish and firm stitching of this yarn makes it especially suited to cables and other detailed work.
Because the yarn is a little scratchy, it might not be well suited to those with sensitive skin. Washing the yarn softens it tremendously, however, so it shouldn't be a big problem for most people.
Other good uses for the yarn might include hats, or anything else you would do with wool.
Caring for Black Water Abbey Yarn:
Like other wool yarns, sweaters and other items knit with Black Water Abbey yarns should be washed by hand in warm water with a soap designed for washing wool. Don't agitate the garment, just let it sit in the water for about 45 minutes.
Black Water Abbey says the sweater can be spun in the washing machine spin cycle, and then repeat the process with clear water. Lay the sweater on a towel to dry, stretching into shape if necessary.
The wool will soften with washing, so if you're at all worried, wash your swatch before knitting a full project and see how it feels to your skin.
Buying the Yarn:
Because Black Water Abbey works with very small mills, the yarn is not available in stores and can only be purchased directly from the company. You can find out more online.
Orders are also accepted by phone and e-mail. The company is at numerous fiber shows and knitting events throughout the country, so if you see them somewhere, check them out.
This is a lovely and versatile yarn that everyone who enjoys cable or Irish knitting should really take for a spin.