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A new yarn is a big deal here at MDK—we don’t carry a ton of yarns, so when we bring in something new, it’s cause for celebration.

We are celebrating!

Please say hello to Winterburn Aran, from the good folks at Baa Ram Ewe, working out of northern England, up there in Yorkshire, where the tradition of sheep and wool is wonderfully long and rich.

What Is Winterburn Aran?

In this golden age of yarn, we’re more curious than ever to explore the breeds of sheep and their distinctive qualities. That’s why we’re so keen on Winterburn Aran: it’s breed specific, and it’s one of a kind.

Winterburn Aran is a blend of 50% Bluefaced Leicester, 25% ecru Masham, and 25% dark brown Masham.

Hello, Bluefaced Leicester friends!

© British Wool Marketing Board

And hello, Mashams!

What’s a Masham? you may be asking.

It’s the sort of question that the founder of Baa Ram Ewe, Verity Britton, loves to answer.

Verity is a woman on a mission to celebrate breed-specific, all-British yarns, and she takes a lot of pride in what she’s doing.

She explains:

“Our Winterburn Aran throws the spotlight on one of our wonderful Yorkshire sheep breeds, the Masham. The Masham has smaller ringlets of fleece than the Wensleydale but with added bounce and loft that it gets from its hill-loving male ancestry, the Dalesbred. In fact, female ‘gimmer’—or lambs—were considered so pretty that farmers would tie ribbons in their fleece before taking them to market and Sheep Fairs which continue to this day in the North Yorkshire town of Masham, from which this sheep breed gets its name.”

What to Make?

This aran-weight yarn means you can knit a sweater fast, on a size 7 or 8 needle.

When we started imagining designs to make using Winterburn Aran, we arrived pretty quickly at one of our all-time favorite designs, the Hadley Pullover by Véronik Avery, featured in MDK Field Guide No. 2: Fair Isle.

It’s a snuggler that hundreds of knitters have made—and it’s a design that makes the most of Winterburn Aran’s woolly, bouncy nature.

The depth of color comes from the fact that the wool has dark brown in the mix. All nine shades we’re carrying have a delicious warmth to them. This is the yarn for beautiful pullovers, in colors that are subtle and easy to wear.

The yoke here is Wesley Bob, and the main color is Yorkstone.
To get started on your own Hadley, here’s how much Winterburn Aran you’ll need:
To fit bust size:
33-35″ (84-89 cm): Main color: 6 skeins. Yoke: 1 skein.
35½-37½″ (90-95.5 cm): Main color: 7 skeins. Yoke: 1 skein.
38-40″ (96.5-101.5 cm): Main color: 7 skeins. Yoke: 1 skein.
40¾-42¾″ (103.5-108.5 cm): Main color: 7 skeins. Yoke: 1 skein.
43¼-45¼″ (110-115 cm): Main color: 8 skeins. Yoke: 1 skein.
45¾-47¾″ (116-121.5 cm): Main color: 9 skeins. Yoke: 1 skein.
48¼-50¼″ (122.5-127.5 cm): Main color: 9 skeins. Yoke: 1 skein.

We’re looking forward to woolly sweaters this fall using Winterburn Aran—we welcome your ideas for patterns to pair with it!

(And now that Verity’s got us thinking about the Masham Sheep Fair, let’s go! This year, it’s October 5 and 6—see the full schedule of events here.)

Leave a Comment


  • FWIW, Baa Ram Ewe makes the most delicious yarns. I got some of their Dovestone DK in London, and it was wonderful. Also has Blueface Leicester in the belnd. They’re no longer making that one, but I think they have a similar substitute in DK.

    • Yes, there’s a Winterburn DK that is gorgeous too. And Dovestone was lovely stuff—I think they had trouble getting enough Wensleydale for that blend, thus Winterburn was developed, using Masham instead.

    • Love the business name! And the pictures are wonderful. Thank you for including those. I might have to undertake my first sweater project now….

  • Love the yarn and the sweaters!

  • Oh my word, you cannot tell us the Masham gimmer are so pretty farmers would put ribbons on them…without a photograph! We all need a little more chances to smile. XOXO to you all at MDK

    • I know, right? Will definitely get on this!

      • Please!

  • Bristol Ivy’s new Wainwright Cardigan looks perfect for Winterburn. A favorite designer’s pattern named after a favorite musician in a new favorite yarn. Gah!

    • There’s a Rufus “Wainwright Cardigan”!?!
      Gotta see this; heading over to Ravelry right now!!! And yay!! A yarn I can knit with, finally

    • That is a gorgeous pattern. I’ve got Winterburn Aran fever at this point—I’m seeing so many good designs out there for it. Will cook up a list.

  • One more question: you list the sizes “to fit bust size” whatever, but how much ease is included in each? (In other words, I’d like to know the actual measurements of each sweater size).

    • Excellent question! The Ravelry pattern page for Hadley shows both the bust measurements and the knitted measurements:

      Ease is 2-4″.

      • Thank you! (I know, I should have thought of checking Rav . . .)

  • Wondering if this yarn would be a good sub in Kate Davies Carbeth Cardigan. I’ve wanted to knit one since I first saw the pattern!

  • For anyone who wants to read more about British sheep farming this book is great James redbanks also has a podcast I think. Lots of talk of local sheep fairs.

  • Would it be equally lovely in the liberty tree pullover? My REVOLUTION field guide arrived ( many thanks) & the yarn looks delicious!

  • The pictures on the Masham Sheep Fair site are just amazing! What a special treat it would be to go there and experience it, especially the wool crafts exhibits! Can’t imagine a lovelier way to spend an October weekend.

  • I love bluefaced leicester yarn, worked with it only once from an indie-spinner, found at a fair event. I’d love to try this but in our climate (PNW) the aran would be too warm. Wish it came in DK or sport weight!

  • The Sheep Fair photos are amazing!!! I never knew there were so many varieties of sheep–including the one with 4 horns that looks like a cross between an antelope and a sheep. Great collection of sheep and human faces. Also love what I assume is a sheep race, where the entrants are being lured down the track by a man running with a feed bucket. That’s all you need to get some animals to follow you.

  • This yarn appears to be lovely. I love wool, and I like a bit of shine to make color work spark it up to artisan level. While I love you all and think you are the greatest I have a favor to ask. Some of us, if not all of us at some point are going to retire. For me as well as those whose income is small could you feature yarns that are not $28 per skein. I am now retired and no money coming in means no money going out. I hit yarn sales, destashing groups, and sometimes do yarn crawls. The women in my knitting group are like me. We watch our pennies. A yarn of such beauty and quality could only be used by me in the yoke of a sweater. The body would have to be something else.

    God knows that I have a lot of stash and I now buy patterns to use up said yarn. I am lucky in that while I worked I could stash away for a future time and now that time is happening. The future is here and I have the yarn and the time to work on my craft. I hope you realize I am not short changing the quality and beauty of the yarn. I am sure the cost is appropriate its just, damn that’s expensive!

  • Just curious: Is the yarn woolen spun or worsted spun. Looks luscious!

  • Oh, my! I love to spin masham and bfl. This is beaaautiful!

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