Sunday, 3 September 2017

Review of Let's Knit's British Yarn Collection Issue

Image courtesy of Let's Knit magazine
Issue 123 of Let's Knit magazine, published on 30th August, is a British yarn collection special. It features 18 makes in pure British yarns along with wool reviews and interviews with British designers.

At A Woolly Yarn we're always thrilled to see British yarns gain centre stage in the media and we went straight out to buy a copy. Here's our unbiased review - is the issue worth £5.99 of your cash or is it a dud?

Firstly, don't be put off by the free gift. The issue comes, like many knitting magazines these days, wrapped in a cellophane packet with the free gift obscuring the front cover: not very helpful if you want to know what's in the issue before you buy. Potential readers who can't flick through the pages have to either take a chance that it includes patterns they will want, or embarrass themselves in the newsagents by opening the cellophane and taking a look (preferably not near any CCTV cameras).

This issue's free gift is a 'Tom the cat' knitting kit with both normal and eyelash yarn. No country of origin or information about what the yarn is made from is given; therefore it's pretty safe to say it's not British and probably is man-made. It's rather a strange gift to give away with a British yarn special edition. The magazine contains lots of toy knitting patterns - great if you like knitting them but not if garments and accessories are more your thing.

Without the free gift obscuring the cover the reader can see one of the great gems of the issue, which is also the main design featured on the front cover. The Fair Isle Yoke sweater has an interesting mix of Fair Isle and lace patterning. We can also imagine knitting this for winter without the lace parts and replacing the cuffs and jumper bottom with garter stitch rib in the contrasting colour. With only two colours used this pattern is a simple introduction to Fair Isle for those new to the skill. Baa Ram Ewe's Dovestone DK is the given yarn for the pattern. There are lots of other shades to choose from if  Brass Band and Coal are not to your taste.

Dovestone DK image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe

Other British Yarn Collection patterns include a textured cardigan knitted in Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran (see here for A Woolly Yarn's review from 2016); a waistcoat using Wendy Ramsdale; a sweater designed by Pat Menchini with West Yorkshire Spinners 100% Wensleydale Gems; and a beginner friendly cowl knitted with Baa Baa Brew Marble 4ply

Baa Baa Brew Marble image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse

With a mixture of garment and accessory patterns there's certainly enough patterns to suit most readers' tastes. Unfortunately as yet there aren't any images of these designs available on the internet to show you here.

The news pages highlight some British brands you may not have heard of, such as Herdy and Shropshire Ply Double Knitting. Over on the yarn review pages are the magazine's top eight picks of yarns produced and spun in the UK. Plus there's an informative feature to read about four women who are passionate about British wool.

The verdict

All in all this issue gets the thumbs up for highlighting and celebrating British yarn. It's a shame that every pattern in the magazine isn't knitted with a British yarn, but it's certainly a good start. Get past the toy patterns and this issue is a good buy for British-wool-loving beginners and intermediate-level knitters.

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