Sunday 18 October 2015

Hats off to Clare Devine's Latest Collection

Scotland-based knitwear designer Clare Devine has brought out her latest pattern collection - this time focussing on hats. It's certainly the right time of the year to start knitting warm accessories, and Devine's patterns, The Tea Collection, look particularly inviting and much nicer than a beanie picked up in a chain store.
Earl Grey photo courtesy of Ravelry

Each of the 11 patterns are named after a particular type of tea. Says Devine on Ravelry:
"Consisting of eleven hats this collection features an interesting range of hats, some are easy and relaxing, others great for learning new skills. None are are overly complex and each one is an utter delight to knit."
Peppermint Leaves image courtesy of Ravelry
What makes the collection extra-special in my eyes is that the suggested yarn is also Scottish, dyed and sold by Jess from the wonderful Edinburgh yarn shop Ginger Twist Studios. She's also the model in the photos. The pair have collaborated together before on the pattern book Head to Toe. Coincidentally I finished a couple of days ago knitting the Elgin socks from this book: after a couple of false starts whilst I got the hang of a new technique they were fun to knit, look great and are snuggly to wear around the house.

It's difficult for me to choose a favourite design from The Tea Collection, being a close call between Peppermint Leaves - I adore the leaf design on the top of the hat - and Earl Grey, mainly because I'm a sucker for a pom pom. For me, whilst I'd love both, I think Peppermint Leaves just wins by an edge.

The collection costs £12 on Ravelry and for buying the lot Devine will throw in two free cowl patterns.

Find information about Clare's work and other patterns on her website Yarn and Pointy Sticks.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Knit Aid for Refugees + Scollayalong Prize

We've all heard the tragic stories of displaced peoples fleeing countries such as Syria with nothing but the few bags they can carry. Now that Autumn is here and the Winter weather is drawing in a new charity, Knit Aid, is asking for knitted accessory donations to give to the refugees.

Image courtesy of Knit Aid
The charity was set up in September by Shahnaz Ahmed, one of Wool and the Gang's gang makers. Says Ahmed:
"We believe that everyone deserves to have access to clothing of the quality we'd make for ourselves, so I only knitted donations with the best yarn I had ... We've just had our first successful donation drop of for refugees in Europe, after we'd received lots of donations from knitters all over the country."
The Knit Aid website has a free pattern to knit a scarf/snood, and it costs £5 to buy a beanie pattern. The charity is running knitting workshops in central London and also accepting donations for its next drop off - the deadline to send knits in by for this is 7th November.

Send your donations to:

Knit Aid
37 Pembury Avenue
KT4 8BU.

Wool and the Gang's crazy sexy wool yarn, used in both the beanie and snood patterns, is high quality but, at £15.50 per 200g ball, it's also expensive. If you'd like to knit for refugees but can't afford Wool and the Gang's prices, you may be able to substitute another super chunky yarn but don't forget to knit a swatch first to see it affects the pattern.

See Knit Aid's Facebook page here for the latest news..

Scollayalong Prize!

I did it! My first knit-a-long effort, making the Scollay cardigan, won me a prize. I have to confess that this wasn't for technical ability - I was a randomly-picked winner - but that certainly hasn't wiped the smile off my face. I won four 100g balls of West Yorkshire Spinners 4ply sock yarn.

Now I'm busy knitting the second sock for Brit Yarn's Great British Socks Away knit-a-long. Read all about it on Ravelry and see pictures of the socks others have finished already. It's not too late to join in, however the final cast of date is 8th November.

Friday 9 October 2015

Last Chance To Buy Blacker Yarns' Cornish Tin

Cornish Tin image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
No-one likes to arrive late at the party and miss out on what everyone else is talking about. Sadly by the time I tried to buy Blacker Yarns' 10th anniversary special edition yarn Cornish Tin, the door had shut, the empties were in the recycling bin and everyone had gone home. Yes, special edition really did mean what it says and, probably due to the buzz surrounding the yarn in the knitting press and a wow appearance at Yarndale last month, Cornish Tin didn't take long to sell out.

There is, however, still hope for us late birds. On 23rd October Blacker Yarns will release the final few skeins left of Cornish Tin on their website. It's the truly final chance for knitters to get their hand on this Cornish-spun yarn. So why is it so special?

Available in both 4ply and DK weights, the yarn is a blend of the following high-quality British fibres: Alpaca, Gotland, Jacob, Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain, Mohair and English Merino. Thankfully Blacker Yarns gave me small sample of the 4ply to knit for myself and judge its merits. I made a headband and found the yarn really easy to knit up, with no splitting or fluff. It's soft to the touch but sturdy enough to be warm, gives great stitch definition and the five shades are stunning, carefully selected to complement each other.

The colours, all named after Cornish tin mines, are:

  1. Levant Grey
  2. Penguin Green
  3. Botaliack Blue
  4. Dolcoath Turquiose
  5. When Rose Red

Here's my very warm if hastily-knitted moss stitch headband:

Blacker Yarns have provided three patterns to support Cornish Tin. I'd love to knit the Azurite Mittens if I can get my hands on a skein of grey and turquoise. Each skein is 100g and costs £12.90.

Please, please, Blacker Yarns, can you do a Kathy Beale in EastEnders and resurrect Cornish Tin from the dead? That would please many a customer, including me.

Monday 5 October 2015

It's UK Wool Week + Waitrose Woolly Bag Update

It's that time of year again - the beginning of October means it's UK Wool Week, just in time for all of us thinking of getting our knitted jumpers out to wear in the colder, seasonal weather.

Image courtesy of The Campaign For Wool
Organised by The Campaign for Wool, UK Wool Week brings together designers, manufacturers and retailers to celebrate all things British wool. Forget nasty polyester and acrylic that masquerade as yarns, nothing can beat the warmth, durability and eco-friendliness of real wool.

The celebrations kicked off today in Savile Row, London, where two sheep breeds are grazing, posing with male models promoting wool for menswear.

Friday 9th October has been designated 'Woolly Hat Day' where supporters will wear their finest woolly hats to support the charity The Mission to Seafarers'. This week will also see a pop up exhibition in central London showcasing the Year of the Sheep; a wool talk at London department store Heals on Thursday 8th October at 6pm; and online talks by the 'Incrediwools' - key designers in the knitwear industry, including Wool and the Gang.

Elsewhere, retailers are getting in the woolly spirit offering special discounts this week. Loveknitting has an 'up to' 30% off wool sale, whilst Deramores is offering 20% off wool and wool-blend yarns. Blacker Yarns this week is offering all its single breed limited edition balls at £4.50 or less.

Want to knit something for charity during UK Wool Week? The UK Hand Knitting Association (click for the full list) has collated a list of charities that would be delighted to receive donations from its 'commit to knit' campaign. It includes knitted knockers, blankets for animals and clothes for premature babies. There's something there to suit all knitters' tastes and causes.

Waitrose Wool Bags Update

Image courtesy of The Campaign For Wool
I previously blogged here about Waitrose's special edition, all wool shopping bag. As today a 5p per plastic bag charge has been introduced in England, reusable bags are even more topical.

My heckles rose when I found out that Waitrose bag was only available in three upmarket central London stores: Belgravia, Gloucester Road and Marylebone.

Finally the supermarket has plans to broaden its horizons and make the woolly bags available in more stores. These will be:

From 5th October: Kings Road, Wimbledon and Oxford Street
From 19th October: Morningside, Bath and Ipswich
From 2nd November: Barnes, Putney and Richmond
From 16th November: Exeter, Harrogate and Witney.

Now I appreciate that Waitrose doesn't exactly open stores in run down areas, but the new locations to buy the bags are all posh and mainly Southern. Come on Waitrose, make them available in ALL your stores. Wool is for everyone, not just those who live in the wealthiest English postcodes.

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