Tuesday 12 September 2017

What Louisa Harding Did Next

The Louisa Harding pattern and yarn brand has long been known for its whimsical, romantic flirtatiousness, femininity and fun. What you may not be aware of is that although the brand still bears her name, Louisa Harding no longer has any involvement with the company.

Harding grew up in London and learned to knit from her grandmother. At fashion college she fell in love with a knitting course and got a student opportunity at Rowan, which is where cut her teeth in the knitwear design industry. After starting a family she went freelance, then in 2005 launched the Louisa Harding brand.

Now she has her own venture, Yarntelier, which launched to the public at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in October 2016.

Image courtesy of Yarntelier
Yarntelier is a labour of love for Harding, who says:
"British yarn is important to me as I first explored the Yorkshire spinning mills during a placement with Rowan when I was studying textiles for fashion at Brighton Art College in the late 1980s. At that time there was a big boom in hand knitting and during my placement I visited many woollen and worsted spinning mills and learned how yarn was made. There used to be so many mills local to where I live in Yorkshire. Over the years all but a few disappeared. The idea of the new brand Yarntelier was to look at what was still available within Britain, specifically in Yorkshire, and to champion what is still available."
Yarntelier launched with two yarns: Cashmere Lace and Cashmere Gilli. Although the cashmere comes from Mongolia and China the yarns are spun in a mill less than five miles from Harding's home in the Holme Valley. Both ranges have 12 shades and each 50g ball costs £25.

Whilst certainly not cheap, the yarn is top quality, super soft and a delight to knit with and wear. Most of the patterns in the supporting pattern book Yarntelier Volume One only require one or two balls, making them within the reach of most customers for a special treat.

Image courtesy of Yarntelier
For Harding, her favourite design "is the one that I am still working on ...  I love the complexities of working out stitch patterns ... but I love to wear the Zephine shawl from Yarntelier Volume One as it is so versatile. I have worn it is a scarf, as a shawl, and the cashmere just gets softer and softer with each wear."

Zephine image courtesy of Practical Publishing.


Harding gave this blog a copy of Yarntelier Volume One and two balls of yarn for review. All views are A Woolly Yarn's own.

Yarntelier Volume One contains 15 garment and accessory patterns beautifully photographed in Yorkshire scenery. There's a good mix of patterns suitable for newish and intermediate knitters, including a stocking stitch beanie hat and more challenging lace knits. It's a luscious book to look through and, importantly for many knitters, the lace sections are in both chart and written form.

Using Cashmere Gilli I test knitted the Blythe scarf, making a few slight changes to the pattern in order to turn it into a cowl and alternate the garter stitch and lace sections. Here's Blythe in the pattern book: 

Image courtesy of Yarntelier

And here's my version on the needles:

Take a closer look at the lovely stitch pattern: 

The yarn is a delight to knit with and will, no doubt, be a delight to wear.

Yarntelier's Cashmere Lace yarn is a more delicate colour but with the same softness:

I intend to knit the Luella hat pattern with it:

Image courtesy of Yarntelier.
The other designs are equally covetable, with my favourite garment pattern being the Zelene sweater, which I imagine would feel like being cocooned in silk:

Image courtesy of Yarntelier
It does, however, require between five and seven balls depending on size, so therefore is rather a lottery winner's purchase! The one ball patterns are much more accessible for a luxurious treat that you'll wear for a long time to come.

Yarntelier Volume One costs £15 plus P&P from Yarntelier. Alternatively individual patterns can be downloaded for £4 each.

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