Friday 24 November 2017

The Lure Of Slow Knitting

When our Editor recently had a tidy up, which included listing all the yarns in her stash alongside the patterns she intended to knit with them, the total came to ridiculous and profligate 36.  That's 36 projects, involving jumpers, cardigans, socks, T-shirts and cowls, but not including the three already on her needles or the odds and ends of yarn stored 'just in case'.

Image courtesy of Abrams Craft
It's a situation that lots of people who have been knitting for many years can identify with. There's the special edition yarn you buy because there won't be another chance, the bargain wool that's lurking a the bottom of a cupboard, the sweater kit that you loved at the time but never got around to making ... and many more.

Just when did the excitement of choosing a new design to knit turn into guilt that you own enough already to keep you busy for the next few years? Plus how did deadlines for completing knitted presents and keeping up with your self-appointed knitting schedule eat away at the enjoyment of the craft itself?

In her book published in October 2017, published by Abrams, Hannah Thiessen argues for the concept of slow knitting: that is encouraging knitters to "step back, pare down, and celebrate the craftsmanship of their work". We haven't yet seen a copy of the book, but the concept is one that's very enticing.

Like its counterparts in slow cooking and slow TV, slow knitting's emphasis is on taking time to appreciate each stage and the finished item as a whole.

Want to give it a go? Here are A Woolly Yarn's tips for slow knitting:
  1. Think quality and not quantity. Sell or give to a charity shop any yarns in your stash you don't love. 
  2. Forget about setting yourself deadlines and goals. Knit for the love of it - it's a passion and not another thing to add to your 'to do' list.
  3. Only give a hand-knitted gift to someone you know will appreciate the time and effort that goes into it. 
  4. Don't rush - enjoy the craft of knitting and learning new techniques. It's tempting to always knit with the radio or TV on but for a change switch them off and totally concentrate on what's on your needles. 
  5. Don't buy any more yarns or patterns until you need them: you can always keep a list of your favourites on Ravelry for when that time comes. This way you'll recapture the excitement of choosing a project when there's nothing left in your stash to knit up. 
  6. When you do buy more yarn be selective and learn where it's from and how it is made. Knitting shows are great places to talk to small-scale British yarn makers and dyers and they are usually happy to explain the provenance of their product. Can you trace your hand-knitted jumper back to the herd of sheep the fleece came from?
  7. Protect your knitting time. Switch your phone off and try to ensure there won't be any distractions. Focus on your needles - save mentally planning your supermarket shopping list for another time!
Competition reminder

There's still time to win three 100g DK skeins of Baa Baa Brighouse yarn. You have until midnight on 30th November 2017 to enter! For full details see the competition blog post

Thursday 16 November 2017

Kate Davies Launches West Highland Way Club

A recent retail trend amongst British designers and wool producers is to sell yarn and books as part of a club, where knitters pay up in advance before the individual designs are released. This year, for example, the format proved popular with Jen and Jim Arnall-Culliford's A Year Of Techniques book and optional knitting kit, and the yearly Neighbourhood Sheep Society Best of British Club is returning for 2018, offering as yet unseen yarn and patterns.

Kate Davies, based in Scotland, used the format when she launched her first yarn range Buachaille. Now she's returning to it for her latest yarn, Milarrochy Tweed.

Milarrochy Tweed image courtesy of Kate Davies
The club is called West Highland Way, in homage to her local landscape, and goes on sale worldwide at the Kate Davies Online Shop on Friday 17th November at 10am.

There are two options for the club available and its the first that has limited numbers. For £80 club subscribers will receive twelve 25g balls of Milarrochy Tweed, a canvas club bag, a weekly pattern delivered by email, 10% discount on the yarn from January to March 2018, and finally the 120 page print book.

Subscribers who don't want the yarn can plump for the second option, which costs £30 for the weekly patterns, 10% yarn discount and the print book, which will be posted out at the end of the club's run.

To whet knitters' appetites Davis has released images of the first pattern in the club, the Craigallian hat:
Craigallian hat image courtesy of Kate Davies
It suggests that the patterns in the club, which Davies says include accessories and garments, will contain stranded colour work, for which her 25g Milarrochy Tweed balls are ideally suited. Other yarns used will be her own Buachaille and Fyberspates' Cumulus.

Signing up to a yarn club is always a bit of a gamble because the patterns may not be to your taste or the yarn your preferred colour. Clubs benefit the designer because payment in advance can help with cashflow issues and knowing how many books and yarn balls to produce.

If you are a Kate Davies fan, however, and love her husband Tom's landscape photography, then buying the book and pattern package is a pretty safe bet. There's always a thrill in being one of the first to see a favourite designer's new patterns and not having to wait a few months until the book is published.

As for the more expensive option that includes the Milarrochy Tweed balls, that decision is between you, your stash and your bank balance. Or perhaps there's a friendly Father Christmas you can hint to?

Competition reminder

Our competition to win three 100g DK skeins of Baa Baa Brighouse yarn is now open! UK residents only (with apologies to our overseas readers) have until midnight on 30th November 2017 to enter. For full details see the competition blog post.

Wednesday 15 November 2017

Win Three Skeins Of Baa Baa Brighouse Yarn To Celebrate A Woolly Yarn's New Look!

Earlier in the month we launched our new logo, beautifully designed by Denise Burrows, and introduced the new strapline 'British Knitting News & Reviews' to explain what the blog is all about.

To celebrate and hopefully spread the word to lovers of British yarn who haven't got to know us yet we're offering the wonderful prize of three 100g DK skeins of hand-dyed yarn from Baa Baa Brighouse to one lucky winner! That's enough to knit a small jumper, cushion cover, or lots of accessories.

The competition is running on our Facebook page. Please do not enter via the comments box below because we don't want to fall foul of data protection laws or have you share your personal contact details with other readers.

So, without further ado, follow these instructions to enter:

1. Go to and click on the 'follow' button if you haven't done so already. This will deliver new A Woolly Yarn Facebook posts to your news feed. If you change your mind in the future (but we hope you won't!) you can unfollow us.

2. 'Like' the post with the competition details.

3. In the comments box under the competition details tell us which is your favourite A Woolly Yarn blog post and why.

The competition closes at midnight on 30th November. We'll announce the winner soon after and ask him/er to send a private message on Facebook to A Woolly Yarn with their postal details so they can receive their fabulous prize.

Please note that due to competition law and postage costs the competition is open to UK residents only, although we would of course love to hear the opinions of our overseas readers about their favourite A Woolly Yarn post.
Terms and conditions

1. The promoter is the A Woolly Yarn blog, which has no affiliation with Baa Baa Brighouse or Facebook.

2. The competition is open to residents of the UK aged 18 years or over.

3. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.

4. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

5. This competition is running on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page at

6. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.

7. Closing date for entry will be midnight on 30th November 2017. After this date no further entries to the competition will be counted.

8. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.

9. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter's control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.

10. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.

11. The prize is as follows: three 100g skeins of Baa Baa Brighouse hand-dyed DK wool for one winner. The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prize is not transferable, is subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute the prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.

12. The winner will be chosen at the beginning of December.

13. The winner will be announced within seven days of the closing date on the A Woolly Yarn Facebook page and will be asked to send a private Facebook message with their contact details to A Woolly Yarn. If the winner does not claim the prize within 14 days of notification we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.

14. The promoter will notify the winner when the prize is posted.

15. The promoter's decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence entered into.

16. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.

17. The winner agrees to their name being published on the A Woolly Yarn Facebook page and blog. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant's prior consent.

Thursday 9 November 2017

Dulux Colour Of The Year For 2018

The results are in - paint company Dulux has revealed that their colour for the year for 2018 is ...

wait for it ...

Heart Wood!

What? I hear you cry, heart wood is not a colour! Depending on how the light catches it Heart Wood is a mash up of brown, lilac and mauve that Dulux describes as 'a warm neutral with a hint of heather'.

Heart Wood image courtesy of Dulux
As colour trends tend to filter down to the catwalk we at A Woolly Yarn looked for similar shades in British yarn so knitters can pick up their needles straight away and be en vogue. Here's what we came up with:

1. West Yorkshire Spinners' Signature 4 Ply Spice Rack includes the shade Pennyroyal. It's slightly more lilac than Heart Wood but has the same warm, muted feel. Perfect for sock knitting. Each 100g ball costs £7.20 plus P&P direct from WYS.

Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners

2. This Blacker Yarn fits the bill perfectly but is currently out of stock - here's hoping more will by dyed soon. 'Bursting Figs' is a 3ply yarn from the Samite Silk range and, when available, costs £24.60 - an expensive choice but a good one for luxurious lace colourwork.

Image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
3. If you like to err on the purply side this Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop Aran Wool in shade Wild Thyme, currently reduced to £5.90 a ball at BritYarn, is a great choice for cushion covers, jumpers and accessories.

Image courtesy of BritYarn
4. WoolyKnit's DK Blue Faced Leicester yarn in the shade mauve is slightly brighter than Heart Wood but, at £4.68 per 50g ball, is a bargain choice for jumpers and cardigans. One to keep you warm in Winter.

5. Jamieson's of Shetland sells a multitude of colours. Shade 603 Pot Pourri, from their Spindrift and Double Knitting range, is the closest to Heart Wood. A 25g ball costs £3 plus P&P direct from the company.

Image courtesy of Jamieson's of Shetland

Now all that's left to decide is what to knit with your on-trend colour yarn!

Coming soon

As you read this we're adding the final touches to our competition to celebrate A Woolly Yarn's super new logo. Hint ... three 100g skeins of British yarn will be up for grabs! Keep an eye on this blog and our Facebook page to be first to know when the competition launches.

Monday 6 November 2017

WYS Wensleydale Gems Review

West Yorkshire Spinners has built its reputation on its quality British yarn and the recent addition of the 100% Wensleydale Gems range offers knitters who want to knit with British wool even more choice.

Available in 20 bold, 'gem'-like colours, the 100g DK skeins are spun from Wensleydale Fleece.
Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
The colours (see six above) are certainly eye-catching, but what is the wool like to knit with? West Yorkshire Spinners kindly sent A Woolly Yarn a skein of the 'pink quartz' shade for review and all opinions are our own.

We used a free snood pattern from Rowan to put Wensleydale Gems through its paces. The skein feels soft and slightly fluffy and when knitted up it has a slight halo.

As you can see from the photo above, stitch definition in the wool is slightly fuzzy rather than crisp, which gives a pleasing effect. Its easy to knit with, has no colour transference and there were hardly any problems with yarn splitting when knitting.

Worn against the skin the wool is warm and non-itchy - great for Winter accessories although you'd probably want to put on a T-shirt underneath for an extra layer if wearing a jumper or cardigan knitted in it.

Overall Wensleydale Gems is a great choice for British yarn lovers and the ecru shade is worth taking a look at too if you prefer a more natural hue.
Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
Each 100g skein costs £8.50 plus P&P directly from West Yorkshire Spinners. There are also a number of supporting patterns available to buy for £2.99 each, the Evelyn jumper being our favourite for making the most of the striking, vibrant pink and red shades in the range.

Coming soon

You may have noticed that A Woolly Yarn has a super new logo designed by Denise Burrows. To celebrate there's a special woolly competition for our readers on its way ... keep your eyes peeled!

Wednesday 1 November 2017

Remember Remember The Month Of November

Image courtesy of Wovember
Welcome to the month of Wovember! Back in 2011 Dr Kate Davies and Felicity Ford decided to rename November to turn it into a month of celebration of wool's unique winter garment properties using stories and pictures online. They were fed up of the fashion industry describing cheap knitwear made with man-made materials  as wool. An acrylic jumper produced in a factory couldn't be further removed from a hand-made sweater knitted with actual wool from a sheep.

As the Wovember organisers say: "Wool is grown over time, through the husbandry, patience and wisdom of farmers and shepherds. Land, diet and a knowledge of different breeds play an important role in the quality and texture of real wool... by allowing the word wool to be applied indiscriminately to anything soft, the specific skills, crafts and labour associated with wool and its production become devalued."

Each year the Wovember campaign, along with its ethos to encourage us all to wear real wool garments in this chilly month and remember the animals and people who raise, produce and process wool, grows in strength. This year Louise Scollay has joined Felicity Ford to run 2017's Wovember theme: Where Wool Meets Wellness.

In a blog post Scollay revealed that throughout the month the Wovember website will be posting articles on the wellness theme. Alison and Rachel from Yarn In The City are running an Instagram photo challenge/competition and there'll also be a Wovember wool-along (WAL) on Ravelry and social media where participants show what they are making for the love of wool.

Every day in November the Wovember website will publish a personal story from a reader on what the concept of 'where wellness meets wool' means to them. Plus photographer Jeni Reid, who the organisers say has an eye for woolly detail, will provide a daily wool-inspired photo.

Go to to join in the woolly fun!

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