Tuesday 27 September 2016

Rowan Selects Cashmere Review

Back in August I wrote about the management changes that have gone on at Rowan and the yarns that the company has discontinued.

Image courtesy of Rowan
Amidst all the changes Rowan decided to launch some one-off speciality yarns under the 'Rowan Selects' brand, one of which is Rowan Cashmere. The company sent me a ball and two pattern books, one for children and one for adults, to review.

The yarn feels simply exquisite: soft, bouncy and very easy to knit with. Anyone who doesn't like wearing wool next to the skin because they find it itchy will love this blend of 95% cashmere and 5% wool - it's perfect even for a baby's sensitive skin. The colour palette is rather limited, having only six shades of grey, black, pale blue and a light pink, but for a one-off release that's understandable.

The two pattern books to support the yarn, both by Martin Storey, each contain five designs. The women's patterns include a cardigan, hat, mittens, beret and scarf; and the children's book offers a pair of bootees, two jumpers, a hat and a cardigan.

I received one ball of the pale pink yarn, which was enough to knit the Snowbaby Hat. This was a quick and satisfying project that took me only one evening to complete. It was a joy to knit with the yarn - it didn't split and it feels wonderful beneath the fingers. The only downside is the RRP, which is £9.95, plus also looking online I've found that only some of the websites that usually sell Rowan products are stocking the cashmere line.

Here's my finished hat! I knitted it on slightly larger needles, because the intended recipient, my cousin's daughter Ivy, is nearly one and I wanted to make sure it was big enough for her to be able to wear it all through the winter. There wasn't enough yarn left over to make the pom pom that's included in the pattern, but I personally think it looks better as a beanie.

The lighting isn't great on this photography unfortunately and it doesn't show the colour at its best.

Rowan Selects Cashmere is made in Italy and doesn't pass the British test on that front, but Rowan is a well-known English business (albeit now owned by a German parent company). One or two balls make for a great treat, but the ten balls needed to knit the smallest size woman's cardigan are too pricey for most knitters' pockets.

Cornish Tin II Update

Thanks to my fab godmother, who picked me up two skeins at Yarndale following them selling out online, I now have the three skeins of Cornish Tin II 4ply yarn in turquoise I need to knit the Hut 8 cardigan with. I originally started knitting it in a silky, raspberry 4ply yarn from Eden Cottage Yarns but found this wasn't robust enough for the pattern. Instead I'll use it for a summer t-shirt, perhaps Amelie. Another project to add to my ever-growing list!

Wednesday 21 September 2016

Cornish Tin II A Near Sellout

Yesterday (Tuesday 20th September 2016) Blacker Yarn's much trumpeted limited edition 11th birthday yarn Cornish Tin II, which I blogged about at the end of August, went on sale and it flew off the online shelves so quickly that some of the shades are already out of stock.

Cornish Tin II image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
I was a day late to the party having been busy running errands and visiting my friend and her baby son yesterday, (she loved the baby blanket in butterfly stitch I knitted for baby Ben), and it was only today when I found some time to buy some Cornish Tin II for myself.

My favourite colour, the Dolcoath Turquoise, had already sold out in DK and I only managed to buy one out of the three 4ply skeins I wanted, having found the last one at Tangled Yarn. Seeing as I knew if I didn't buy any more today then my chance would probably be gone I also bit the bullet and bought three skeins of Poldice Pink in DK from Brityarn (see the image below and the bottom left skein -  I keep calling it Poldark pink after the beautiful pink dress the character Elizabeth wore in last Sunday's Poldark BBC TV episode). Both the 100g DK and 4ply skeins cost £16.20.

Cornish Tin II image courtesy of Blacker Yarns and Brityarn

It's a great marketing ploy from Blacker Yarns to launch a limited edition yarn because it does encourage impulse buying - however if you think you'll be disappointed if you'll miss out then I urge you to buy now.

Buy whatever's left online from:

If there's no Cornish Tin II appearing on the website then it has sadly probably sold out in between me publishing this post and you looking. 

Help - I missed out! What can I do?

Are you going to Yarndale in Skipton this coming weekend the 24th and 25th September? If so then get there early to trawl Blacker Yarns' stand as they will be selling some skeins there. Again my advice is to not dither as if you go for a walk to think about it the skeins may well be sold by the time you return.

Sonja from Blacker Yarns has written in the Cornish Tin II's Ravelry group that any leftover skeins will go on sale on the Blacker Yarns website on 29th September at 10am. Set an alarm on your mobile phone now.

What if i still can't buy any?

Can't make it to Yarndale and the Cornish Tin II colours you wanted have all gone? You could always buy from Blacker Yarns Tamar range instead, which also offers 4ply and DK weights. It's a high-quality yarn with drape and shine.

Tamar image courtesy of Blacker Yarns

Did you manage to get your hands on any skeins of Cornish Tin II? Which colours did you buy and which patterns are you going to knit? Do let me know in the comments box below.

Sunday 18 September 2016

Two Pattern Books Released: Tin Can Knit's Mad Colour & Ann Kingstone's Tup Knits

It's a colourful week on the blog. Earlier in the week I reviewed Woolly Wormhead's Painted Woolly Toppers for Kids and on 15th September Canada/Scotland duo Tin Can Knits released their print and ebook Mad Colour.

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits

Ravelry shows all sixteen patterns in the collection. Three look familiar - their popular POP blanket, first released in 2012, makes an appearance; there's the gorgeous Wenlock jumper that the company sell kits for, and was originally published in Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 10; and the Bounce Blanket, which was previously sold as a kit on their sister website Rainbow Heirloom.

The rest are a riot of colour, from the Polygon blanket:

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits
To the spotlight sweater, sized from baby to adult:

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits
The Triptych mitts for the colder weather to come:

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits

And the summery Slice shawl.

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits

Confusingly the book is priced in US dollars: on Ravelry $23 for the print and ebook and $18 for the digital version only. Knitters who have previously bought the patterns for Wenlock, POP and Bounce may feel slightly cheated for paying for them again but Mad Colour is worth it, particularly as Tin Can Knit's USP is to include sizes from baby to adult, making their patterns multi-functional.

Ann Kingstone's Tup Knits

Meanwhile Yorkshire-based designer Ann Kingstone has taken inspiration for her latest collection from all things sheepish.

Image courtesy of Ann Kingstone

I haven't seen a review copy of the ebook and therefore can't comment on the patterns but the photos are tantalising. Tup Knits contains seven patterns: two adult sweaters, a child's cardigan, socks, a hat, cowl and fingerless mittens.

The Drover socks look fabulous:

Image courtesy of Ann Kingstone
And the hat and cowl make a fun pair:

Image courtesy of Ann Kingstone

Ann Kingstone says that also included are "clearly illustrated tutorials for crochet provisional cast-on, lifted increases, two-handed stranded knitting, trapping floats, slip-stitch seek reinforcement, picking up stitches next to a steak, and wrap and turn short rows."

The word 'steek' pierces my heart with fear, but at some point I have to bite the bullet and learn how to cut my knitting effectively!

Image courtesy of Ann Kingstone
I'm liking the sheep motif on the cardigans, which reminds me of the current trend for yokes as seen in Kate Davies' book Yokes. and Ella Gordon's Crofthoose Yoke sweater. If sheep aren't for you then you might want to give this one a miss, but I think Tup Knits is a fun collection from Kingstone, who designs from her home county of Yorkshire.

The ebook costs £12 but until 30th September there's a 20 per cent discount off the ebook using the code OVINE when buying Tup Knits on Ravelry.

Kate Davies future patterns hint

In her latest blog post Kate Davies has dropped a hint about her next collection following The Book of Haps. Davies' patterns, hailing from the Scottish countryside, are perennially popular. I didn't buy her haps book because I don't have an interest in wearing one, but I am looking forward to seeing what her next collection has to offer. She says in her blog post called Collection Photoshoot, accompanied by a photo of her and her husband Tom taken in Islay:
"We've been hard at work all summer preparing my new collection, and we are now off to photograph it in one of our favourite places. The collection is a mix of garments and accessories and (as it seems to be something of a trend at the moment: half are sized and designed for both men and women."
We look forward to seeing the photos Kate!

Thursday 15 September 2016

Knitted Fashion From Textile Designer Jessica Dance & Coming Soon

My jaw dropped when I saw these amazing knitted fashion creations commissioned by Stylist magazine. There's even a competition to win a knitted version of the Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2016 Camera Box Bag but don't enter because I want to win it!

Image courtesy of Sylist and Jessica Dance

For a special 'hot fuzz' fashion issue Stylist magazine charged the textile artist Jessica Dance with knitting eight fashion pieces. The results are highly covetable, not to mention highly skilled. Now these are patterns I'd love to have.

Look at this gorgeous copy of an Isabel Marant flattie:

Image courtesy of Sylist and Jessica Dance
A stylish and sophisticated Fendi handbag:

Image courtesy of Sylist and Jessica Dance
Killer Gucci heel:

Image courtesy of Sylist and Jessica Dance
Dior Diorama Club bag:

Image courtesy of Sylist and Jessica Dance
Celine pump:

Image courtesy of Sylist and Jessica Dance

Delectable Emporio Armani bag:

Image courtesy of Sylist and Jessica Dance

And finally a JW Anderson shoe boot (if my fashion terminology is correct):

Image courtesy of Sylist and Jessica Dance

Jessica Dance has also knitted other non-traditional items such as as food (her slogan being low calorie, high wool) and jewellery. I find her work very inspiring.

Coming soon

It's a busy month on the blog! Coming soon are Tin Can Knits' colourful new pattern book; a review of Rowan's one-off cashmere yarn; Baa Baa Brighouse's monthly Tan Tethera yarn club; and a round up of my latest finished projects including the news I never thought I'd hear - I've finally completed my nemesis, the Kate Davies Catkin jumper, which first mentioned back in February 2014, then in March 2014, May 2015 and June this year.

Also to come is a look at Australian yarn and knitting shops in Sydney. I'm extremely excited to be travelling there at the end of October and want to buy some Australian yarn and a pattern as a souvenir. Do you live in Sydney or have you visited there? Any tips for suitable shops, pattern and yarns will be very thankfully received.

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Celebrating Colour: Woolly Wormhead's Painted Woolly Toppers For Kids

Image courtesy of Woolly Wormhead
Woolly Wormhead can always be relied upon to create amazing hat knitting patterns, and now she has extended her range to children as well. Her sequel to last year's Painted Woolly Toppers is Painted Woolly Toppers For Kids, available now as a PDF download and soon to be a printed book as well.

I was fortunate enough to receive an online sneak peak of the book. From the cheeky cover photo (see right) you can tell that this is no boring tome of classic patterns for children. Wormhead applies her trademark irreverence and quirky style to the hats, creating fashionable toppers that children will want to wear.

It's probably no coincidence that Wormhead, who describes herself as a hat architect, has released the book a few months before Christmas to give readers some valuable knitting time and I can certainly see my goddaughters being happy to open one of her creations under the tree.

Wormhead uses hand-dyed variegated and painted yarns for her ten patterns. It's good to see her supporting British brands such as Countess Ablaze, Skein Queen and Old Maiden Aunt.

There's a comprehensive section on the knitting techniques used in the hats' creation. I myself haven't used German short rows before and it's great to have the instructions in the book and not to have to go off and google what to do. The patterns come in four sizes from a 16 inches to 23 inches. Twenty-two inches, the books says, is the circumference of an adult female's head. Good to see adults can join in the fun too.

My personal favourites are Kilbride:

Image courtesy of Woolly Wormhead

And Modbury:

Image courtesy of Woolly Wormhead
But don't mess with the boy modelling Swinton:

Image courtesy of Woolly Wormhead

All in all it's a great collection - hats off to you Woolly!

Wednesday 7 September 2016

Review of Let's Knit Magazine's Best of British Edition

Image courtesy of Let's Knit magazine
Issue 110 of the popular mainstream knitting magazine Let's Knit, aimed at beginners, contains a Best of British special with what the mag says are 18 cosy makes in homegrown yarns. Sadly the whole of the issue isn't focussed on British yarn and designers but, for those of us who champion locally produced yarn and the British wool industry, it's certainly a start.

It's a common misconception that British wool is artisan and expensive, one that Louise, editor of the KnitBritish website, has disproved over the years.

In it's October 2016 issue Let's Knit features eight British yarns, some well known and others less so. Prices range from £3.20 for a 25g ball (Jamieson & Smith Shetland Heritage) to £9.70 for 100g (West Yorkshire Spinners Bluefaced Leicester DK Prints). There's even a 500g cone of Frangipani 5ply from Guernsey that'll set you back 25.

The yarns listed are:

  1. Jamieson & Smith Shetland Heritage
  2. West Yorkshire Spinners Bluefaced Leicester DK Prints
  3. Erika Knight British Blue
  4. Wendy Ramsdale DK
  5. Coco Alpaca Double Knitting
  6. Lily Arne Wool
  7. Blacker Westcountry Tweed
  8. Frangipani 5ply Guernsey.
Elsewhere in the magazine there's a feature on three of the best hand-dyed British yarns from Watercolours and Lace, Baa Baa Brighouse and Twisted Stitches. Plus there's a great article on why we should be buying British yarn. 

How about the patterns? It's slightly confusing to work out which is which, as non-British patterns are intermingled with British ones. Look out for the union flag to demarcate the British ones. Projects range from a pom pom hat and cowl; short jacket; comfy sweater and faux cable scarf. My favourite is the light and lacy layering sweater knitted in Woolyknit Bluefaced Leicester, and it's one of the more challenging patterns in the issue.

To top off the British theme there's an interview with Kerry Lord from Warwickshire-based yarn company Toft Alpaca and 15% off its yarns, books, patterns and workshops. 

All in all it's a great issue but can the next British special be completely British please? Plus it would be perfect if the cover gift, yarn to knit a princess and a dragon toys, was British too - or even better still if the giveaway was a ball of one of the British yarns featured in the issue.

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