Friday, 20 July 2018

Di Gilpin's Saorse & Patterns Ready For Autumn

Yes, in the UK we may still be basking in a July heatwave, but this is the time of year when designers and yarn shops turn their thoughts to the Autumn/Winter season. 

Di Gilpin, whose studio is based in Fife, Scotland, not only has some covetable new designs out ready for the colder, woolly months using her Lalland lambswool yarn, but she also a brand-new Scottish yarn: Saorse. 

First up are the patterns using Lalland. There are 21 shades available. Here's the shade card: 

Haar, a very delicate pale blue shade (see above second left on the top row) is the most recent shade to be released. Now here are the latest patterns:

Image courtesy of Di Gilpin
The Geo Snood pattern costs £5 and is a great smaller project to practice your stranded colour work skills. 

There are four Lalland shades used: Furze, Silver Birch and Broch. The good news is that buying buying those four 50g balls gives you enough yarn to knit two snoods!

Gilpin sells Lalland for £8.75 per 50g ball plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Di Gilpin
This is my personal favourite out of the three patterns, using stranded colour work to showcase five shades from the Lalland range: Driftwood, Crowd, Flame, Hear and Silver Birch. 

The colour detail around the bottom of the sleeves and jumper make the design stand out from other yoke patterns. 

The pattern costs £6. Gilpin says that the jumper "started life as a commission from Shetland Wool Week Fashion Show. The sweater design, inspired by the geology and landscape of the Scottish islands, creates texture and colour in the yoke using a new interpretation of the fabulous Fair Isle OXO patterns."

Image courtesy of Di Gilpin
Coda requires the colours Agate, Haar, Driftwood and Morion from the Lalland range. 

The pattern costs £6. 

Gilpin advises that Coda is aimed at experienced experienced colour work knitters and describes it as "a Fair-Isle inspired vintage jacket with a modern twist".

The cropped body and semi-monochrome colour palette certainly give Coda a 1960s feel.


Saorse is a one-shade-only light aran-weight yarn, a gorgeous natural ecru. The yarn is a blend of 80% Scottish fleece and 20% cashmere, being relatively soft but also a long-lasting workhorse with a slight halo and good stitch definition. It has a very slight sheepy smell, reassuring the buyer of its natural origins.

Image courtesy of Di Gilpin.
On Gilpin's website she explains the thinking behind Saorse, saying that the name is the Gaelic word for freedom. Gilpin has long wanted to make "a truly special yarn using the best fleeces from sheep reared in Scotland and blended with the finest cashmere from Mongolia". Saorse is a collaboration with Uist Wool and organic wool produced entirely on Claddach Farm in Fife. 

Gilpin's love affair with cashmere stems back from when, as a young woman, she spent some time in Ladakh on the Tibetan border teaching knitting.

What can you knit with Saorse?

The Seol Gansey Tunic pattern costs £6 directly from Di Gilpin. It requires eight to ten balls of wool to knit, depending on your chosen size.

Image courtesy of Di Gilpin
One small point about the new yarn's name: the yarn tag calls it Saorsa whereas Gilpin's website calls it Soarse.

Whatever the name, it's a premium product with a price tag to match. A 50g ball costs £22.50 plus P&P and can be bought directly from Gilpin's website. One for British yarn lovers and small, precious projects.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Review Of New Magazine - Your Crochet & Knitting

Image courtesy of Practical Publishing
Practical Publishing, who also produce Knit Now, got in touch to suggest I review the latest addition to their ranks, Your Crochet & Knitting. Whilst the copy of the first issue was a gift my review is impartial.

Go to your local newsagents and the shelf for craft magazines is crowded. My first thought about the publication of another knitting magazine for beginners was do the newsstands really need it?

It's a competitive market with both the Yarn Forward and Knit Today titles folding in the last few years. What could make YC&K stand out amongst the throng?

At a cost of £8.99 it's certainly one of the most expensive craft magazines on the market but that price includes not only the paper copy but a kit containing six balls of acrylic yarn, a pair of wooden knitting needles, a crochet hook, sewing needle and black thread (you have to provide your own toy stuffing).

The magazine is aimed at beginners who want to dabble in both knitting and crocheting. There are quite a few patterns that can be made with the included yarn including a blanket, baby bootees and a woman's hat and mitts, but the star attraction are the Mr. Men and Little Miss official toys.

I'm a beginner crocheter and therefore for essence of speed I decided it would be quicker to test one of the knitting patterns instead. They are described as 'easy, quick and incredibly cute' and hit two out of three of those descriptions.

It took me, a usually speedy knitter, about four hours to knit, embroider and sew up the Little Miss Princess toy. Not the quickest knit it must be said, but the pattern was easy and the end result is certainly cute.

My beady eye recognised the Little Miss Princess and Mr Funny knitting patterns from a supplement that came with Knit Now magazine around Christmastime. I'd kept it to keep for the future and dug it out to double-check. The crochet patterns are new to me though.

At 68 pages the magazine is rather short but it certainly packs a lot of projects in - 39 in total. As well as the patterns, which include a blanket craft-along to be continued in issue 2, there's a round up of craft news, tips from Toft's Kerry Lord on sewing up toys, a review of baby yarns, giveaways and basic knitting and crochet instructions.

So is the magazine worth it? I'm not usually a knitted toy fan but the kit and pattern to make the Mr. Men and Little Miss characters swayed it for me - they will make great gifts for my friends' children and I think are worth the cost of the well-photographed magazine. I'd like to see patterns to knit flowers with the free gift yarn in the future.

It'll be interesting to see what's in issue 2!

Friday, 6 July 2018

Hot New Patterns To Knit

Here in England the temperature continues to sizzle, which gives us Brits lots to talk about on our stereotypical favourite subject - the weather.

Whilst it may be too hot for some to dig out the wool and get ahead on knits for Autumn when we'll be swapping summer shorts and dresses for a cosy jumper, that hasn't stopped some of our favourite designers bringing out covetable patterns.

So find a shady spot, accessorise with an iced glass of lemonade, and decide which pattern is going to grace your needles next.

Tin Can Knits

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits
Boardwalk is Tin Can Knits' latest pattern. As you'll see from the picture it's a back to front cardigan, although you can go rogue and wear it the conventional way round if you wish to!

Alexa Ludeman, one half of Tin Can Knits' design team, describes Boardwalk as 'a simple little cardigan with crisp raglan lines and sweet little split hem, made in DK weight yarn. No matter how you button it, it's the perfect addition to any wardrobe.'

As with all Tin Can Knits patterns the cardigan is available in the full range of sizes from little tots to fully-grown adults.

Download the pattern for £6.56 from Ravelry.

Linda Shearer

Image courtesy of RSPB
OK, so there's no way anyone needs to wear a woolly hat in this sunshine, but the Curlew Hat, using Shetland wool, raises awareness for the RSPB's Curlew Crisis appeal and if you cast on now it will be ready to wear once the nights start to draw in.

The pattern is free to download but Kate from Northern Yarn is offering to donate money to the RSPB for every set of Jamiesons of Shetland Spindrift wool bought from her online shop to knit the hat with. Each ball is £3.50 and you'll need six in various colours to complete the pattern.

Visit Kate's Facebook page to see how she's getting along knitting her own version of Curlew.

Renée Callahan

Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe
Look at the gorgeous intarsia pattern on the back of this Josephine cardigan that costs £6 to download from Ravelry.

Callahan, who lives in East London, says that her design was 'inspired by and named after my grandmother ... Josephine is a timeless style, with an elegant waterfall front, and an ususual construction.'

Yorkshire wool shop Baa Ram Ewe has promoted its own brand Titus 4ply wool, which retails at £17 per 100g hank. The shop says that the pattern is a great way to use up left over Titus from your stash.

Alternatively, for £3.50 each you can pick and mix 12g small balls of Titus - a more cost-effective way of creating the lovely colour pattern rather than buying a full 100g skein.

Marie Wallin

Image courtesy of
Marie Wallin/Baa Ram Ewe
Sticking with the Baa Ram Ewe theme, ex-Rowan designer Marie Wallin has gone from strength to strength in her freelance career and has chosen Baa Ram Ewe's Dovestone Natural Aran DK for her latest pattern launch, Brambling.

Brambling is on sale on Ravelry at a download for £5. Wallin has informed me that the pattern will soon also be available on her own  website.

With its roll-neck and slightly oversized fit Brambling will keep you warm in winter. Wallin recommends the design as a good first Fairisle garment to knit.


Image courtesy of Whistlebare
New from Northumberland family-farm yarn company Whistlebare is this T-shirt-style top to whip up and wear before the balmy weather changes.

Designed by Kirstie White, Mermaids Pool (sic - no apostrophe!) is knitted in the round from the top down in Whistlebare's Cheviot Marsh 4-ply. You'll need two skeins to knit the small and medium sizes or three to knit large or extra large.

Whistlebare says Mermaids Pool is named after a pool near Coldingham Sands in Berwickshire. The pattern and yarn kit costs between £33 and £49.50 plus £4.50 P&P.

Blacker Yarns

Image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Finally here's freebie. Blacker Yarns is offering its latest pattern, Trym Vest, as a free download.

There are three versions, depending on whether you want to knit it in DK, 4-ply or 3-ply. The DK version uses Blacker Yarns' Lyonesse linen blend, the 4-ply version Tamar Lustre Blend, and the 3-ply version in Samite Silk Blend.

The top is designed to be work over a shirt or blouse. Blacker Yarns suggests that if you want to wear Trym on its own then you may want to decrease the depth of the armholes by working fewer rows before beginning the neck shaping.


Which is your favourite pattern? Are you too hot to knit or are you using the summer holidays to catch up on your works in progress?

Let us know on the A Woolly Yarn Facebook page.
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