Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Six Yoke Jumpers Patters To Covet

Wool jumpers with colour work yokes are all the rage at the moment in the shops. Brora has released its own version in conduction with Wool Week 2018, but at £135 it's out of a lot of people's price range!
Brora Campaign for Wool Week jumper image courtesy of Brora
Knitting your own is certainly the way to go. But what design to choose? Here's A Woolly Yarn's top five yoke pattern picks:

Asta Sollilja image courtesy of Kate Davies

Kave Davies loves yokes so much she wrote a book about them. Published in 2014, Yokes contains 11 designs. Our favourite is Asta Sollilja, which features the Icelandic hammer rose motif. We love the coloured hem, neck and cuffs, plus the shade contrast between the grey and blue. Download the Yokes ebook for £19.99 on Ravelry.

Voe image courtesy of Brooklyn Tweed/Jared Flood
The Shetland-born designer has come up with this fun, long-length jumper with a contrast yoke. It uses 4ply yarn. The pattern costs approximately £8.71 on Ravelry.

Threipmuir image courtesy of Ysolda Teague

Another Icelandic-inspired yoked jumper knitted in 4ply wool. The yellow in the design really stands out against the dark colour of the body. It costs £7 to download Threipmuir on Ravelry.

Wren Fair Isle Yoke image courtesy of Marie Wallin

Wallin is the master of Fair Isle and her designs never disappoint. Published in 2016, her Wren Fair Isle Yoke pattern is knitted in baa ram ewe's Titus 4ply. Download the pattern on Ravelry for £5. 

Crofthoose Yoke image courtesy of Ella Gordon
Knitted in Jamieson and Smith 2ply wool this fun jumper was inspired by croft houses on the Shetland Islands. Gordon is a former patron of Shetland Wool Week. The pattern costs £5.04 to download on Ravelry and there's also a matching hat!

6. Tree Yoke Jumper by Alyssa Malcolmson

Tree Yoke jumper image courtesy of Shetland Wool Week
This fabulous jumper with a pop of yellow against light grey is the cover star of 2018's Shetland Wool Week Annual. Tree Yoke jumper is knitting using Jamieson's of Shetland's Spindrift. The annual costs £19 plus P&P and contains 12 patterns in total - look out for a review of it in our next blog post. 

What have we missed? Have you knitted a yoke jumper recently? Share photos of your knits with us on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Blogger Exclusive! West Yorkshire Spinners' Christmas 2018 Sock Yarn Revealed

It has become a tradition that each year West Yorkshire Spinners brings out a special one-off Christmas edition of its Signature 4ply sock yarn.

A Woolly Yarn can exclusively reveal this year's design, Fairy Lights:

WYS says that for this year's Christmas special "we wanted to create a unique print (a speciality of ours) and recreate the twinkle of fairy lights with a bright and cheerful feel".

The self-striping yarn has splashes of white, green, red and blue. Fairy Lights is a blend of 75% wool and 25% nylon. Each 100g ball should be enough to knit one pair of socks - unless you have very large feet! The great news is that when you buy Fairy Lights WYS throws in a free sock pattern.

A ball of Fairy Lights costs £7.20 from independent yarn shops. There's a stockists page on West Yorkshire Spinners' website to help you find one near you.

I'm going on a long-haul flight soon and will be using the time to cast on Fairy Lights. Hopefully I'll have a festive new pair of socks come Christmas Eve!

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Covent Garden Pop Up Set For This Year's Campaign For Wool Week

This year is the ninth The Campaign for Wool UK Wool Week and there are a lot of woolly events planned! The term Wool Week is a bit of a misnomer because celebrations are actually taking place between 8th and 21st October.

The campaign will showcase the excellence of British wool in a variety of products. The main event is a Covent Garden pop-up on Thursday 11 and Friday 12th October to educate consumers about the 'careability' of wool, dispelling myths that clothes made out of wool are hard work to launder and look after.

Pop-up image courtesy of
Two huge containers filled with wool-covered furniture carpets and garments will also have AEG washing machines to demonstrate how easy wool is to care for.

Other Wool Week events include:
  • Northern Yarn hosting talks at Lancaster City Museum with a knitwear design researcher, a shepherdess and a couple who run a farm in Cumbria on Friday 19th October
  • Freestyle weaving workshop at London Loom running from 10th - 13th and 17th - 20th October
  • Wool and the Gang wool care workshop on Thursday 11th Oct from 7-9pm in Covent Garden
  • Arm knit a throw workshop on Friday 12th October at Stitch Up in Leeds
  • The Knit-Tea Retreat on Sunday 21st October in Llandaff.
Scottish fashion brand Brora has designed a limited-edition sweater exclusively for the campaign, priced at £135:
Brora jumper image courtesy of Brora. 
Keep an eye out on A Woolly Yarn for a future post rounding up our favourite yoked sweaters knitting patterns!

To see the full list of Wool Week planned events go to the Campaign For Wool Week's website.

Is your local yarn shop running an event for Wool Week? Let us know in the comments box below or on our Facebook page.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

The Croft Shetland Colours Aran + Pattern Book Review

In 2007 West Yorkshire Spinners launched an aran-weight yarn The Croft Shetland Tweed. This year, for its Autumn/Winter season, the company has built on its popularity by bringing out 12 solid colours in the range, dyed on the same 100% Shetland Island wool base.

The Croft Shetland Colours image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
There's also an accompanying book containing 14 patterns for men, women and children designed by Sarah Hatton.

The Croft Shetland Colours book image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
West Yorkshire Spinners kindly sent A Woolly Yarn a copy of the pattern book and two skeins of Shetland Colours wool for review. The shades are all named after places in Shetland and the review shades were Lerwick (light grey) and Ollaberry (magenta)

Lerwick and Ollaberry
They are certainly eye-catching and softly squishy skeins and the ball band undoubtedly has vintage-style instagram appeal. But what was it like to knit up?

One pattern in the book, the Kingsley children's hat requires just two skeins to knit up (with some wool left over for the smaller sizes). Here's what it looks like expertly photographed in the book:

Kingsley hat image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
To test out the wool I decided that the hat would be a great Christmas present for my friend's young son and cast on Lerwick for the brim in size 3 to 5 years. The Croft Shetland Colours Aran is strong and hardy, yet soft enough to wear next to your skin. It has a slight halo and shows up cables really well. It's good value too at £8.50 per 100g skein.

I didn't have any problem with the wool splitting and it was a lovely little knit that took me a couple of nights to complete in front of the TV. Here's the result!

It feels like the hat will be really warm for the young lad to wear and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. The pattern was easy to follow, the only slight bugbear being that the special abbreviations are on the page before the actual pattern so I had to keep flicking back until the meaning of C4B and C4F became stamped on my brain.

The Patterns

Kingsley is just one of the patterns in the book. West Yorkshire Spinners has a very practical style for its pattern books, ring binding them to make it simple to keep your page open. Having said that, the photo quality standard is as high as a more coffee table style publication.

My favourite pattern in the collection, probably because I've got two WIP yoke jumpers on the go at the moment, is the Paisley cardigan for women. The orange really pops out against the dark grey.

Paisley image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
Men don't have to miss out on the cardie fun either: Rory is a cardigan for men with a handy collar that can be put up to keep his neck warm in the wind.

Rory image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
For children there's Paterson, a warm-looking cabled hooded jacket, that will suit either sex:

Paterson image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
If a quicker but challenging knit is more your style then there's try the unisex Addison hat and scarf pattern.

Addison image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
Plus there are nine more patterns in the collection. See all designs at The Croft Shetland Colours Pattern Book where you can also buy the book directly from West Yorkshire Spinners for £12.95 plus P&P.

A Woolly Yarn's verdict is that The Croft Shetland Colours Aran is a great budget yarn available in shades that will please all the family. The pattern book gets a thumbs up for having a practical design and large colour work charts.

Which is your favourite pattern from the collection? Let us know in the comments box below or on our Facebook page.

Here's a little hint if you'd like to win the pattern book: look out for Father Christmas coming to A Woolly Yarn in December!

Monday, 1 October 2018

Yarn & Pattern Ideas For Socktober + Clare Devine

Munlochy image courtesy of Clare Devine
The Socktober campaign started in the US to donate socks for the homeless. It didn't take long before it was embraced by the knitting community as an opportunity to focus on sock knitting in October. Today, let the sock knitting begin!

The internet is awash with sock knitting tutorials from experts such as Winwick Mum and ACKnitwear, and that all important technique for toe grafting - Kitchener stitch.

To celebrate Socktober sock designer extraordinaire Clare Devine has released her latest pattern on Ravelry, Munlochy, costing approx £4.76.

She's used the nylon-free yarn Killen by Black Isle Yarns, a Scottish blend of Bluefaced Leicester and Mohair.

Wanting to take part in Socktober? Here's our pick of other patterns:

Top 5 Socktober Patterns

Rye from Tin Can Knits is a free pattern aimed at newbie sock knitters. It uses DK yarn and has sizes from baby up to large adult.

Rye image courtesy of Tin Can Knits
Elgin is another Clare Devine pattern and it costs approx £4.76 on Ravelry. These cute bed/slipper socks are knitted in aran weight yarn and they knit up easily - so easily in fact that I've knitted a pair myself!

Elgin image courtesy of Tin Can Knits
Dave is a basic sock pattern from Rachel Coopey, who has written two volumes of sock knitting patterns. Master Dave and you'll be able to move on to her more complicated designs. Download Dave as part of the Socks Yeah! Volume One ebook for £17.

Dave image courtesy of Rachel Cooper
Brixham, by Katya Frankel, costing £3, is a pair of socks for intermediate level sock knitters. The pattern is gainsay-inspired and uses DK yarn.

Brixham image courtesy of The Knitter

Cascading Vine by West Yorkshire Spinners costs £2.40 and is great for sock knitters who want an extra challenge. The design features an intertwining effect inspired by the vines and leaves of a Willow tree.

Cascading Vine image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners

Top 5 Socktober Yarns

Socks Yeah! is Rachel Coopey's own brand sock yarn, which comes in traditional colours and bright neon shades. Each 4ply or DK 50g ball costs £6 plus P&P.

Socks Yeah! image courtesy of Rachel Coopey
West Yorkshire Spinners' Signature 4ply range, especially for socks, comes in different ranges and colours. For one of my first sock projects I used their Country Birds range, a self-patterning yarn that produces an effect that looks much more complicated than it actually is to knit. A 100g ball costs £7.20 plus P&P.

Country Birds image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners

Ginger's Hand Dyed Sheepish Sock is a luxury, fingering weight blend of 80% Superwash British Bluefaced Leicester and 20% nylon. One 100g ball costs £18.50 plus P&P.

Sheepish Sock image courtesy of Ginger Twist Studio

Sock Yarn (With Nylon) from Countess Ablaze comes in a cornucopia of hand-dyed solid or variegated colours. Some are one-off dye batches never to be repeated. A 100g ball skein sells for £20 plus P&P.

Sock yarn image courtesy of Countess Ablaze
Aqua Waves from Cuddlebums is hand dyed on merino singles sock yarn. £15.50 plus P&P will buy one 100g skein.

Aqua Waves image courtesy of Cuddlebums

Now all that's left to do is dig out your DPNs and get started. Toe up or top down? The choice is yours!

What are you knitting for Socktober? Let us know either in the comments box below or on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Launches To Look Out For At Yarndale

This weekend is Yarndale, an annual extravaganza of wool in the market town of Skipton, North Yorkshire, which coincides well with the onset of Autumn when knitter's thoughts turn to warm woollies.

Yarndale runs on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September from 10am to 4.30pm. Show-goers can pre-book tickets online or pay on the door at extra cost.
Image courtesy of Yarndale
If you're lucky enough to be going, look out for the following launches and grab your chance to be one of the first to get your hands on new products.

Marie Wallin's British Breeds

Debuting at Yarndale is Marie Wallin's own wool range with 12 shades, designed to support her gorgeous colour work designs. An online gift box pre-order containing all 12 shades sold out quickly on Wallin's website.

British Breeds image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Wallin will also be launching her latest pattern book Wildwood at Yarndale. If you can't make it to the show Wildwood, like British Breeds and the gift box, will be available on Marie Wallin's website on 1st October.

Daughter of a Shepherd's Castlemilk Moorit

This new yarn comes from 100% Castlemilk Moorit, an 'at risk' sheep breed.

Image courtesy of Daughter of a Shepherd
It's a DK yarn in its natural shade that the Daughter describes evocatively as "earthy tones of burnt caramel and dark spices with flashes of silver that give the yarn a natural melange". The price is £18 per 100g skein and, if you can't make it to Yarndale, it will go on sale on Daughter of a Shepherd's website from Wednesday, 3rd October.

Ann Kingstone's Needle Sizer

On her Facebook page Yorkshire designer Ann Kingstone let slip that her new accessory product will make its debut at Yarndale.

Image courtesy of Ann Kingstone.
No word yet as to cost, but take a look at Kingstone's website after the festival to see if it has gone on sale.

Baa Baa Brighouse Cowl or Scarf Pattern

Fiona Wardingley's Cowl or Scarf pattern, where you can choose which to knit, is going on sale for the first time at Baa Baa Brighouse's Yarndale stall.

Image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse
The design uses Baa Baa Brew Marble 4ply. The yarn is currently for sale on Baa Baa Brighouse's website and the pattern will follow soon.

An Caitin Beag's Sinister Pattern

Baa Ram Ewe, the Leeds-based Yarn producer and shop, blogger about An Caitin Beag's stunning new cat cardigan pattern, Sinister, knitted in Baa Ram Ewe's Pip yarn range.

Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe/An Caitin Beag
Head to An Caitin Beag's L204, buy the pattern and you'll receive a 10% off discount code to buy the Pip yarn at Baa Ram Ewe's stand H122.

John Arbon Textiles' Harvest Hues

Another Yarndale launch gleaned from Facebook is an expanded Harvest Hues 4ply colour palette from John Arbon Textiles.

Image courtesy of John Arbon Textiles
Five patterns have already available to support the Harvest Hues 4ply yarn at prices ranging from £4 to £5.50.

Purl & Jane's Latest Pattern

As yet it's hush hush but Skipton based knitting shop Purl & Jane is going to debut a new pattern at Yarndale.

Image courtesy of Purl & Jane
The only detail we have so far is this tantalising photo of Jane's dog asleep on her lap while she sews her design up!

The Knitting Goddess' Pattern Book

The Knitting Goddess is launching Beyond the Rainbow, a pattern book featuring eight shawl designs, at Yarndale.

Image courtesy of The Knitting Goddess
Her stand is G96 and the book costs £10. If you're not going to Yarndale you can buy it from The Knitting Goddess' online shop.

There are probably lots more new yarns and patterns to look out for that have slipped under my radar. Are you going to Yarndale? Which stalls are you excited about visiting? Let us know in the comments box below or on our Facebook page.

Friday, 21 September 2018

The Downside To Pattern Downloads

There's no doubt that Ravelry, the online community for knitters, has revolutionised the distribution of patterns. In the olden days if you wanted a new pattern you would buy a magazine or mosey on down to your local wool shop where there would be racks of them to browse through, published by the major knitwear companies to support their yarns.

Image courtesy of Ravelry

Now, thanks to the internet and Ravelry, designers all over the world can find an audience to showcase and sell their designs to. These sole-trader designers aren't tied to a particular company or brand and are free use whichever yarn they choose - for some talented spinners this even includes their own! It's a fabulous and gloriously democratic step forward.

To buy a pattern online all you have to do is fill in your payment details and then - voila! - the pattern of your choice is available to download. No P&P charges or waiting for the postie to arrive.

For me, however, the novelty of patterns on demand has worn off and it's because of having to print them out myself. I wish there were an option on Ravelry to pay postage and have a ready-printed version sent out to me. Here's why. Do you agree?

1. My printer is a bog-standard one and colour is notoriously hard to print out, resulting in patches and streaks. Even black and white printouts (and yes, I've cleaned the head and done every other maintenance job) usually contain some white streaks. That's if it prints out at all, as every now and then the printer has a strop and declares it can't connect to the wi-fi.

2. Designers spend a lot of time lovingly creating their patterns, which often run to multiple pages with lots of photos and sometimes even essays explaining their inspiration. Great to look at in a book but not practical when printing all the pages out - all that's necessary is the pattern.

3. Printing out multiple page downloads with lots of colour uses up a lot of ink, which is rather annoying when you run out halfway through. Plus ink cartridges are very expensive. This article says that per ounce, printer ink costs more than twice that of the same amount of Dom Perignon champagne. I know which I'd rather buy!

4. Where physical patterns are available to buy online or in yarn shops they're printed on thick paper or card. This makes them far more robust than your average printer paper and they'll withstand a lot of use plus the scribbling I like to do on them to circle the size I'm knitting and so on.

Raven image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Last week I went to Marie Wallin's website to catch up on what she's doing. I cheered inwardly when I saw she has a printed pattern section. I bought the jumper pattern Raven (see above). For £5 plus £1.80 postage I received a few days later in the post a beautifully designed cardboard pattern leaflet.

So here's my plea to indie designers who sell on their own websites and on Ravelry. Please include an option to have a printed copy posted to the purchaser when he or she buys a pattern. Many people love downloads as they're quick and easy (especially if they have a super-duper work printer they can sneakily print them out on!) but some of us don't and prefer a digital copy as a back up and to read whilst we're waiting for the physical copy to arrive in the post.

What do you think? Are you a download or a printed pattern person? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

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