Wednesday 10 August 2016

What's Happening At Rowan?

It has been a tumultuous year at Yorkshire yarn house Rowan. What we do know is that the company was taken over, although details about what has gone on are hard to find.

Rowan's website Knitrowan still lists Coats Crafts as the owner. Follow the trail to the Coats Crafts website and their 'about us' page says that Rowan is one of their brands. On the Rowan Facebook page 'about' tab there's no mention of Coats Crafts but no mention of any other owner either, just that the business was established in 1978 by two Yorkshire men.

So who owns Rowan now? Well on the 'contact us' page of the Rowan website there's information on how to contact MEZ Crafts UK (not the best company name I've ever come across). Google MEZ Crafts and you'll find a basic PR website for a multi-national company. Gone is the old Rowan base at Holmfirth, where the business started out, and in comes a new base at a mill near Halifax.

MEZ Crafts also owns the yarn company Patons and the embroidery brand Anchor. I tried seeing what results would bring and it led to a holding page for websites in Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK. So I went back to the English website only to find no details about the company, its history, ethos or game plan.

When I contacted Rowan for clarification a spokesperson said: "MEZ actually bought the Rowan brand last year and is running as it normally did to keep the quality of the brand name that it has always been in the past."

There is one big difference, however, that the consumer will notice following Rowan's takeover. If you have seen a plethora of discounted Rowan lines in shops and online yarn stores over the summer it's because the company decided to slash their range to concentrate on a much smaller range of products.

Going out:

So it's bye bye to:
  • Big Wool Silk
  • Superfine Merino DK & Aran
  • Pure Wool 4-ply
  • Kidsilk Haze Stripe
  • Mohair Haze
  • Wool Cotton
  • Rowan Finest
  • Rowan Tweed
  • Fine Art & Fine Art Aran
  • Alpaca Colour
  • Tetra Cotton
  • Cotton Lustre
  • Panama
  • Revive
  • Pure Linen
  • All Seasons Cotton
  • Soft Knit Cotton
  • Truesilk
  • Lima & Lima Colour
  • Fazed Tweed
  • Colourspun
  • Thick n Thin
  • Alpaca Chunky
  • British Sheep Breeds
  • Creative Focus Worsted
  • Chenille
  • Big Wool Colour

Image courtesy of Rowan
Phew! That's a lot of balls of yarn. Of these I will mourn British Sheep Breeds as this yarn was British produced and spun and, for me, encapsulated Rowan's Yorkshire heritage. I loved it's real sheepy smell and, after buying it to knit some accessories, it introduced me to the whole idea that wool doesn't have to be shipped in from China when we have loads of it in our fields and centuries of experience of the wool industry in this country. In my opinion the axing of this is a real loss, but I presume it has got the chop because it wasn't bringing in enough profit. Could this be to the lack of updated yarn support though?

I still have a few balls left in my stash and will enjoy knitting them up. Look back at my earlier post to see the moss stitch cowl I knitted in British Sheep Breeds Boucle.

Coming in:

Rowan's July 2016 e-newsletter reports that the company is launching two pop up yarns for Autumn/Winter 2016. Called Selects, these are limited edition yarns that will only be available for a short period.

Fine Silk is a lace-weight yarn made from silk, wool and viscose. It's available in seven jewel-like shades.

Rowan Fine Silk image courtesy of Laughing Hens

Cashmere is a blend of 95% cashmere and 5% wool. Available in six shades there's also free yarn support containing five patterns from Martin Storey.

Rowan Cashmere image courtesy of Laughing Hens

At the time of writing this post the two yarns aren't on the Rowan website; however the 2ply fine silk is available from Laughing Hens - the cashmere is listed as coming soon. To the best of my knowledge both yarns are not British-made.

It's business as usual when it comes to Rowan's biannual magazines. Rowan Magazine 60 is out now priced £12.50 with 37 patterns for the Autumn/Winter 2016 season. I have yet to see a copy and therefore can't review the designs.

Image courtesy of Rowan


  1. I've noticed that Rowan yarns are now made in places like Romania and Italy. That is all well and good, but that is not what I look for in Rowan. I first fell in love with Rowan with book #4, and have made quite a number of things out of it, and all those earlier magazines. I followed Annabel Fox as she spun off her own yarn company (my husband still wears A Jacket Called Horse daily, and it still looks stunning). They started losing me around issue 30, although I still pop in from time to time. But... to lose the Yorkshire roots, to lose all those wonderful yarns (I so love the tweeds, and as you say, the rare breeds, and scour the internet for them -- got some shipped from Latvia!)... well, I am in mourning.

  2. Are they dropping designers? I see some Debbie Bliss on sale everywhere. I’ve always thought that someone ought to do something about calling something CASHMERino that is really very little cashmere, but that’s another topic. Merinocash anyone?

  3. Thank you that was very informative, but unfortunately not helpful to me as I have had the run around with a complaint of yarn dye . Black dye coming off and not a god look knitted with white as stripes per their pattern? No-one at Rowan seems to know and or willing to direct me who I can contact. Seems a messy business and not good PR. Pity as I have been a loyal consumer.

  4. Hi

    Thank you for this information. I am keen to buy yarns from companies and individuals who produce their own product rather than buy in yarn from elsewhere. Rowan is used in many patterns and I was keen to find out if they make their own yarn - now I know and will look elsewhere.

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