Frequently Asked Questions

What can you make out of a single skein of yarn?

From our current 4-ply, you can make a pair of socks for small/medium adult feet, a narrow lace scarf, a small bag, a pair of gloves or mittens, OR a waistcoat for a baby. Contact us if you need any help adapting a pattern.

How many skeins do you need for a jumper?

It depends on what size you are, and what stitch you're intending to use for the jumper. Our 4 ply comes in 100g skeins, and is a bit heavier than commercial 4-ply - that's because of the way it's spun. If you have a commercial pattern you're going to use, check both the weight and the meterage of the yarn it calls for, and buy for whichever is most.

How many skeins for a baby jumper?

Our customers have reported back that you'll need 2-3 skeins of our 4 ply yarn for a baby jacket.

What dyes do you use on your products?

We use acid dyes, which are related to food colouring. The dyes require a weak acid (we use vinegar) to make the dye fast on to the wool. This web page  gives safety and toxicity data about the dyes we use. Acid dyes are easy to use, are accurate and repeatable, and you only need a tiny amount of dye to give good strong colours.

How should I look after my woollen products?

Wash your woollies carefully, using hand hot water and a gentle soap (try soap flakes, wool wash or human hair shampoo). Don't agitate them, or rub them too hard. Dry them flat, away from direct heat, and reshape when damp. (If you want to make felt, though, do the exact opposite of this advice!)

Help! I have shrunk something made out of wool! What can I do?

Oh dear. Wool will felt very easily if you don't wash it correctly. If your item is very shrunk, there may be nothing you can do. If the woollen thing hasn't shrunk a great deal, you may be able to restore it to its original shape by wetting it and massaging a generous slosh of human hair conditioner into it. Stretch and reshape it gently, and you may be lucky enough to salvage your item.

How do you look after your sheep?

Our sheep are our pets and our friends. We only keep them for wool, and we don't eat them. We try to keep them as naturally as we can, with plenty of time outside, lots of grass in the summer and good hay, made on the farm, in the winter. If they need extra nutrition, we give them grain-free feed such as lucerne nuts and sugar beet pellets. We provide them with shelter in the winter, so sheep can choose whether they want to be inside or outside. Of course, we do use modern medicine to ensure our sheep are as healthy as possible. They are sheared once per year, by a friendly team of Australian shearers who they know well and like. They like the occasional treat; carrots are a favourite!

What's mulesing? Do you do this to your sheep?

Mulesing is the controversial practise of removing excess folds of skin around the rear end of a sheep to prevent dung sticking to the wool, and maggots infesting the skin of the sheep (which is called fly strike and can kill the sheep). It is often done without anaesthetic. Mulesing is more or less confined to the Merino breed of sheep, which have deep folds of skin over their bodies, and is only done in Australia. Mulesing is illegal in Britain and Europe, and we don't do it to our sheep. We guard against fly strike in other ways - by keeping their fleece trimmed tidily around their bottoms, by washing their fleece if it gets dirty, and by applying fly repellent sold for horses.

Help! I need advice from somebody wise! What should I do?

If you need knitting advice, please feel free to email us. But if you need other advice, about your life or work, you could Ask The Flock!

Why is your company called Alfie Purl?

It's a long story.

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