Thursday, 13 April 2017

Interpretations Volume 4 Review

Cover image courtesy of Pom Pom Press
Pom Pom Quarterly's ad hoc range of pattern book publications is back - this time with Volume 4 in the Interpretations series.

A print and digital copy costs £15.50 + £2.70 P&P directly from Pom Pom.

The 12 patterns, created by friends Jojo Locateli and Veera Valimaki, were inspired by six words: gather, chromatic, magic, fragile, direction and hidden. Amongst the jumpers, cardigans, shawls and cowls there are designs both to keep you warm in chilly Spring or lighter weights for warmer nights.

With me not being a shawl or hap kind of person it was inevitable that my eye would be drawn first to the jumpers and cardigans, including the covetable cover design 'double trouble' (see right). Part of the 'magic' theme it's stylish, warm and woolly plus the pattern looks relatively easy to knit.

Another pattern that looks perfect for Spring through to Summer is 'Radiate', part of the 'chromatic' theme.
It's fun, pink and puts a smile on my face straight away!
'Radiate' image courtesy of Pom Pom Press

For warmer nights the lace weight yarn used for 'The 'Little Bird Pullover', part of the 'fragile' theme,  is soft and delicate. The pattern itself is suitably challenging for intermediate knitters.

'Little Bird Pullover' image courtesy of Pom Pom Press
After a huge project? The 'Winterfolk Coat' from the 'gather' theme looks like a garment that will be worn again and again for years to come. I love its hood and cabling down the front and back.

'Winterfolk Coat' image courtesy of Pom Pom Press
Although, as I've mentioned, shawls and haps aren't my thing, the 'Color Spell Shawl', also part of the magic theme, looks both heavenly and a knitting challenge.

'Color Spell Shawl' image courtesy of Pom Pom Press

The book itself is a a handy A5 size and lives up to the high art and editorial standards of Pom Pom Quarterly. It's a great addition to my collection and to the Pom Pom range.

* Although I received a review copy of this book all views are my own.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Daughter Of A Shepherd & Samite Yarn Launches

This week lovers of British wool have two more yarns to choose from. 

Image courtesy of Daughter of a Shepherd

Rachel Atkinson's Daughter of  A Shepherd 2016 batch launches today at 8pm BST exclusively on her website. The Hebridean blend yarn is undyed and available both in DK and 4ply/fingering weights. Last year's batch sold old quickly. The wool clip comes from sheep on the Escrick Park Estate where her father shepherds.

The price will be announced when the yarn goes on sale.

Want something more colourful?

Samite image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Blacker Yarns' new Samite range went on sale last week offering 15 shades inspired by the pre-Raphaelite and Arts and Crafts Movements. The skeins are are 3ply silk blend containing a mixture of 30% Blue Faced Leicester, 40% Shetland, 20% Ahimsa silk and 10% Gotland. Each 100g skein costs £24.60.

Two free patterns on the Blacker Yarns' website support the yarn: a hap and a scarf.

I haven't had chance yet to sample either yarn but hope to do so and review so in the future.

Coming Soon

Look out for my review of Pom Pom Press' Interpretations: Volume 4!

Saturday, 11 March 2017

This Year's Shetland Wool Week Patron & Free Hat Pattern Announced

Who will be this year's Shetland Wool Week patron? That was the question on the lips of many an Edinburgh Yarn Fest visitor. Yesterday (Friday 10th March) their patience was rewarded with Shetland Wool Week's stand revealing that Gudrun Johnston is taking the coveted patron role in 2017, and she has designed the Bousta Beanie hat (see the image below) so that knitters all over the world can join in the fun.

Image courtesy of Shetland Wool Week
The pattern is free to download from the Shetland Wool Week website. Johnston has used an autumnal palette of greys and mustard for her version, but knitters have the challenge to come up with their own colour scheme.

Gudrun Johnston was born in Shetland in the 1970s and is now based in America. Her love for her homeland, however, runs deep and inspires her designs that she publishes under The Shetland Trader name. 

This year is the eight Shetland Wool Week. Details of events and classes will be released soon. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

International Women's Day

Image courtesy of International Women's Day
March 8th is International Women's Day, a chance to celebrate the social, economic, political and cultural achievement of women. Whilst there are some great men in the knitting industry (Jared Flood and Kaffe Fassett to name just two) it's predominately one where creative females are at the forefront of development whether it be running businesses, organising charity knits or celebrating traditional skills in their local community.

To mark the day here's my round-up of British women currently leading the way. Apologies if you think I've left out someone you think is important. Please let me know in the comments box below who you would add to the list.

Here are the women in surname order:

Countess Ablaze: expert ultra-colourful yarn dyer Countess Ablaze is about to open new premises in Manchester. Her latest subscription club is The Classics Society.

Rachel Atkinson: the real life daughter of a shepherd used clip from the sheep on the estate her father shepherds to produce her undyed, limited-edition, sustainable yarn skeins. She also regularly contributes patterns to many UK knitting magazines.

Jen Arnall-Culliford: she is a knitting technical expert and editor who writes regular columns for The Knitter magazine demystifying techniques such as steeking and short-row shaping. With her equally talented husband Jim she's due to publish the book A Year of Techniques.

Debbie Bliss: now an MBE, Bliss is an internationally-known name in British knitting. She has published over 35 books, her own knitting magazine and her some of her yarn ranges are British Knitting Award winners.

Verity Britton: she founded Leeds-based yarn shop baaramewe in 2009. Since then the business has launched its own-brand British wool ranges and has championed Yorkshire wool.

Susan Crawford: vintage designer and knitting historian whose Vintage Shetland Project book is eagerly awaited this year. Crawford's honest blog posts detailing her cancer diagnosis and treatment in the past year have inspired and informed many readers.

Kate Davies: with her own yarn Buachaille yarn range, numerous pattern books and an award for UK microbusiness of the year under her belt, Scottish-based Davies is going from strength to strength.

Isla Davison: back in 2015 Davison launched Brityarn, a website with the ethos to only sell British patterns, wool and knitting accessories. It's the first port of call for knitters who want to be sure the yarn they pick is British.

Di Gilpin: her knitwear design business employs 90 home-based knitters across Scotland. She also sells her own range of 100% Scottish lambswool.

Kate Heppell: she has edited Knit Now magazine since it launched in October 2011. The magazine is an entry and intermediate-level publication, which encourages both new and established designers to submit their patterns.

Ann Kingstone: based in Yorkshire, designer Kingstone has written many a pattern book inspired by her surroundings and is an expert on stranded knits.

Kerry Lord: Lord founded and runs Toft Alpaca in Warwickshire, which produces its own sumptuous yarns, knitting and crochet patterns, and quarterly magazine. She is probably best-known for her Edward's Menagerie book range.

Louise Scollay: she is the brainchild and editor of the blog and podcast website KnitBritish. Scollay has done much to raise the profile and benefits of British wool in an entertaining fashion. Catch her at Edinburgh Yarn Festival this weekend on 10th and 11th March where she will be running the podcast lounge.

Marie Wallin: formerly Head Designer at Rowan, Wallin now runs workshops, has her own Fairisle Club Knitalong and publishes beautiful hand-knit colourwork designs.


If you enjoy reading this blog I'd be grateful if you would follow it and forward the web address to your friends. Are you a British pattern designer and/or yarn producer who would like to let me know about your products? If so please leave your email and/or web address in the comments box below. I'm working on setting up a contact email address for this blog.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Free Wavy Cable Cowl Pattern Using Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran

Image courtesy of Debbie Bliss
I much prefer wearing cowls rather than scarves to keep snug in winter - no loose ends flapping around! Last month I decided I wanted a cozy cowl to co-ordinate with a knitted hat I'd been given.

Debbie Bliss's Falkland Aran in the shade Claret (see left) was a pretty good match for the hat in terms of colour, weight and texture. Each skein is 100g - just right for a cowl.

Next came the process of coming up with an interesting cable pattern, which involved lots of experimentation, pulling out and starting again!

Finally I hit on a relatively simple cable pattern I liked and then decided on what I wanted the vertical length of the cowl to be.  I'd keep knitting until I'd got the width right for me - not too tight round my neck making it difficult to put on, but so baggy that it would lose its warm and cosy properties.

Here's the cowl on the blocking mat:

And here's my finished pattern. The cowl has become a staple for braving the cold and the rain outdoors! Feel free to use this pattern for personal use only. If you do reproduce it then be sure to credit me and add a link to please.

Wavy Cable Cowl

Requires one 100g skein of Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran yarn, two cable needles and a pair of 5mm knitting needles.

Cast on 47 stitches loosely.

Row 1 (right side): P5, K9, p5, K9, p5, K9, P5.

Rows 2 - 8: Knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

Row 9: P5, 9st cable pattern (see below), p5, 9st cable pattern, P5, 9st cable pattern, p5.

9st cable pattern: Slip 3 to cable needle at the back, slip 3 to cable needles at the from, k3, k3 from front cable needle, k3 from back cable needle.

Rows 10 - 16: Knit the knit stitches and purl the purl stitches.

Repeat Rows 1-16 until you have your desired width. Cast off k-wise on a RS row. Block, then sew the cast on and cast off rows together to form a tube.

Keeping warm feels better when you've knitted the cowl yourself!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Join The Fight To Eradicate Malaria With Tin Can Knits' Heart On My Sleeve

In January I took some time off blogging and was off the grid for a while escaping the UK cold for some Dominican Republic sunshine. The resort my husband and I stayed at sprayed mosquito-killing chemicals twice a day and, because of that, I stupidly was rather lax in applying repellant myself. I came home with lots of itchy bites as a souvenir of my stay that have now scabbed over, resembling chicken pox.

Itchy bites may be rather annoying but thankfully the mosquitos that bit my husband and I do not carry malaria. The World Health Organisation reported that in 2015 an estimated 429,000 died from the disease, which disproportionally affects the the population of Sub-Saharan Africa.

It was with great interest then that, a day after I arrived back in the UK, I received an email from Tin Can Knits (the Canadian/Scottish company) about Heart On My Sleeve, a collaborative knitting book with all the proceeds going to the Against Malaria Foundation.

Tin Can Knits gave me a peek preview of the proofs. There are eight delectable sweaters, suitable for beginner and intermediate knitters, all of which have a heart theme. Like Tin Can Knits' other designs the patterns have sizes ranging from baby to the larger adult.

To whet your appetite, here are the designs:

Wholehearted by Bristol Ivy

This features a large-scale yoke motif the authors describe as 'architectural, yet at the same time subtle and organic'.

Crazyheart by Tanis Lavallee

You choose the colours for the bold and bright geometric yoke!

Hearthstone by Ysolha Teague

A simpler sweater with shoulder cables.

Lionheart by Shannon Cook and Jane Richmond

A fun hoodie with stripes on the hood and wrists.

Brightheart by Romi Hill

A lace yoke combined with split garter cuffs and hem give this sweater a soft and feminine feel.

Heartstring by Jojo Locatelli

I adore the delicate stitching that adorns this jumper - just look at that cute heart on the sleeve!

Tenderheart by Alexa Ludeman

To me this sweater's yoke has a very Scandinavian and Christmassy feel.

Ironheart by Emily Wessell

This final design has 'a boldly textured lace motif, organic and botanical on a garter stitch ground'.

Heart On My Sleeve launched on 14th February. It's available to download at Ravelry for $21.60 and remember that all the profits will be go towards saving lives.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Baa Ram Ewe Goes Vintage With Its Latest Pattern Collection and Yarn Colours

Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe
Yorkshire wool and vintage patterns are a winning combination for me, therefore I cast aside my current knitting project (a cowl pattern I designed using Debbie Bliss' Falkland Aran - more details soon) as soon as I got my hands on Baa Ram Ewe's newly-launched pattern book and three new shades of Titus DK. Throw in the fact that one of the new shades, a dusky pink, is called 'Heathcliff' and I danced around my bedroom in Kate Bush delight.

Titus is Baa Ram Ewe's own brand 4 ply wool, a 'delicious blend of Wensleydale and Bluefaced Leicester wool, combined with a touch of magical UK Alpaca in homage to philanthropist and Yorkshire mill owner Sir Titus Salt'.  The range has been out for a few years now and in the past I've used it to knit two jumpers, two hats and a cowl. Titus feels soft and squishy, knitting up with good stitch definition and a slight sheen. My skin can feel a little itchy and I wear a long-sleeved t-shirt under my jumpers knitted in the yarn.

Baa Ram Ewe kindly sent me sample balls of the three new Titus shades, each packaged in a tantalising 'pick n mix' stripy pink and white sweet bag. The colours are:


Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe

Reminiscent of heather on the West Yorkshire moors, Heathcliff is a merger of dusky pink and lilac: pretty but not girly.

Brass Band

Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe

Mustard-colour is probably the best way to describe this shade. I'm not sure I'd want to knit a full garment or accessory with 'Brass Band' but it would look stunning combined with other colours as part of a Fair Isle design. 

Rose Window

Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe
This colour is right up my street: bold and summery, inspired by a stained glass window.

The Titus Vintage Collection

Author Alison Moreton has written seven patterns inspired by designs in Yorkshire knitting company Sirdar's archives. There are four sweaters, a hat, mitts and a cowl that looks similar to my own design I've been working on - great minds obviously think alike!

For me the standout pattern in The Titus Vintage Collection is the 50's style 'Stormy Sunset' jumper.

'Stormy Sunset' image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe

I love its fun colourways and bright yoke. The jumper is knitted in the Titus colours 'Yorkstone', 'Brass Band', 'Rose Window' and 'Viking'. I thought about swapping the ecru Yorkstone for another colour but on second thoughts the shades works well together as they are. 

'Stormy Sunset' is knitted top down. Not being blessed with a big bust and slim waist I'll forego the  shaping for a more sloppy Joe feel.

My next choice is the offset rib sweater 'Contemplation'. It's knitted in the round from the bottom up.

'Contemplation' image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe

The only changes I'd make to fit my shape are to shorten the body and start the neckline higher up for modesty purposes!

Here are the rest of the patterns in the book (all images courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe):

Scarborough Spa


Stormy Sunset Hat

Contemplation Mitts

And Scarborough Spa Cowl

The Titus Vintage Collection is a printed pattern book and costs £12.95 from Baa Ram Ewe. Each 100g skein of Titus retails for £16.

'Rose Window', 'Heathcliff' and 'Brass Band' are also available in the Dovestone DK range at £15 per skein.
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