Saturday 30 December 2017

Purl & Jane's Pattern Each Week Challenge To Continue Into 2018

For most of us a New Year's resolution is to give up alcohol for a month, join a gym or cut down on the chocolate. On 1st January 2017 Jane Ellison, designer and owner of the Purl & Jane yarn store in Skipton, Yorkshire, decided to publish a knitting pattern a week. She aimed to bring simple designs to her customers, perfect for those who are learning to knit or want to graduate from accessories to garments.

On 22nd December 2017, however, she announced that the patterns had had to take a rain check for a few weeks due to training up a new member of the Purl & Jane team. Despite this, the good news is that the new designs won't stop at the end of 2017 ...
"While I am still knitting a row or two a day, I am working on our new routine for me to write and layout the new patterns. I have the designs so 2018 will continue with a new pattern every week!"
Purl and Jane specialises in only stocking yarns from natural fibres. Its limed-edition own-brand yarns,  Skipton Swaledale Aran, and Malham Mule Superchunky, from Yorkshire sheep and spun in the county, sold out quickly. Knitters will be looking out in 2018 for the launch of the next clip to knit the latest designs with.

Ellison's patterns for 2017 are listed here.  Most are £4 whilst a few are free to download. Here's a round-up of our favourites:

Tory The Cowl

A free download that teaches blackberry stitch. The pattern uses three 50g balls of Knoll Soft Donegal.

Dorothy Jumper

This stylish yet simple-to-knit jumper requires four to six 100g DK hanks of wool depending on the size needed. To download the pattern costs £4.

I Heart Baby Jumper

New mums will love this gorgeous baby jumper. It's £4 to download and uses two to four 50g DK balls of yarn depending on size.

Gael Socks

This is a design for the more experienced knitter and has the option of choosing a short or long version of the sock. The pattern uses two or three 50g balls of Knoll Mohair Tweed.

Like Purl & Jane's patterns? Read our review from 2015 of Jane Ellison's Simple Knits.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Devonia Review + FREE Simple Rib Cowl or Scarf Pattern

Devonia is a blend of three local Devon breeds of sheep - 50% Exmoor Blueface, 30% Devon Bluefaced Leicester and 20% Devon Wensleydale. John Arbon Textiles, its creator, sent A Woolly Yarn two DK skeins to review - all views are our own.

Firstly, Devonia gets a big tick for being 100% British wool and using local sheep breeds. The skein feels soft to the touch and yet has enough springy toughness in it to be a workhorse yarn, lasting a long time and keeping the wearer warm. The wool has a slight halo and an attractive slight variation in colour as you knit it up.

I created a simple pattern (see below) to test Devonia out. It knits up easily with no splitting and there was no colour transfer. People with sensitive skin may not want to wear it directly next to their skin but it's certainly soft enough for me to wear as a cowl against the neck - perfect for this cold winter weather!

Juliet Arbon explained that the colour inspiration came about after a visit to an exhibition in France of the renowned tapestry artist Jean Lurcat. Apart from the cream and grey shades the colours are all warm and bright - nothing muted here.

All in all Devonia is a pleasure to knit with and I love the retro design of the skein band.

Devonia DK costs £15 per 100g skein plus P&P when ordered directly from John Arbon textiles. There are 14 shades in both DK and 4ply to choose from.

Simple Rib Cowl or Scarf Pattern

As you can see from the photo the rib in this pattern works well with the stitch definition and slight haze of Devonia. One 100g ball creates a snug cowl when wrapped around the neck twice. For a scarf or a looser cowl you will need two balls.

With 5mm needles cast on 50 stitches.

Row 1:*  K2, P2 - repeat * until the end of the row.
Row 2: * P2, K2 - repeat * until the end of the row.

Carry on until you have your desired length. Leave enough yarn to cast off.

For the cowl neatly sew the short ends together to create a tube.

For the scarf sew in the cast on and cast off ends neatly.

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Christmas Gifts For Knitters 2017

If, like us, you've not finished your Christmas shopping yet, here's our pick of gifts for the knitter in your life. You can buy them all on the internet with a glass of mulled wine in your hand, saving lots of shopping time that can be used to eat mince pies with your feet up instead. Result!

Brit Aran by Rainbow Heirloom

A skein of this 100% British Bluefaced Leicester wool, dyed in one of Rainbow Heirloom's signature shades, would make a great gift. A 100g skein costs £16 plus P&P and is quite enough to knit a cosy cowl. Our favourite hue is Princess Rockstar - a purple that will blast the Winter blues away!

Princess Rockstar image courtesy of Rainbow Heirloom

Magazine Subscription from Toft

The Warwickshire based yarn business's magazine, launched in 2016, is going strong. Toft Quarterly, as its name suggests, is published four times a year and contains five crochet and five knitting patterns, news from the business and other relevant articles. It's short and sweet with sumptuous photography. A year's subscription costs £32 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Toft

'No Such Thing As Too Much Yarn' print by Tilly Flop

Wool lovers will be delighted by this fun green print to hang on the wall. Tilly Flop sells her designs on Not On The High Street - take a look at her cards as well. The print costs £17.50 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Tilly Flop

Daala Mist skein from Langsoond Yarn

This DK yarn skein was produced from a 2016 of 100% Shetland wool. It's a beautiful mixture of coloured fleeces blended with natural white. Direct from Donna Smith's online shop the 220m skein costs £18 plus P&P. Perfect for lovers of British wool.

Image courtesy of Donna Smith

Ethel Canvas Shopping Bag from BritYarn

Ethel is the logo for BritYarn's website. Not only does this bag have a cute print but it can double up to be used for shopping or storing yarn. Made from unbleached and undyed canvas. The bag costs £7 plus P&P from BritYarn.

Image courtesy of BritYarn

Stitchmas Hat Decoration from PomPom

We love this wooden decoration for the Christmas tree. Leave it as it is or embroider through the holes to add a spot of colour. Measures 70mm by 63mm and costs £8 plus P&P from PomPom.

Image courtesy of PomPom

British Wool Socks from Baa Ram Ewe

Didn't quite have time to knit socks for presents? Thanks to Baa Ram Ewe you can buy them ready-made with wool spun in Yorkshire. Available in adult sizes medium in large in shades from Baa Ram Ewe's own British yarn ranges. Each pair costs £12 plus P&P directly from Baa Ram Ewe.

Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe

Stoneware Pottery Yarn Bowl from Little Wren Pottery

Follow the Christmas star with this decorated yarn bowl in forest green. It's handmade and has a curving shape to hook your yarn through, which leads down to a circle surrounded by a star. Made in Yorkshire. Buy from Little Wren's Potter shop on Etsy for £13 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Little Wren Pottery

Yellow Mobile Phone Case from Debbie Bliss

Debbie Bliss isn't just a fabulous knitwear designer, she also runs a quirky online shop selling homewares and gifts. This mobile phone case with its distinctive double rib knitted design comes in a variety of sizes to suit Samsung Galaxy and iPhones. Also available in grey and pink, the case costs £19.95 plus P&P from Debbie Bliss Home.
Image courtesy of Debbie Bliss

Candy Cane Yarn Signature 4 Ply from West Yorkshire Spinners

Sock knitters will smile at this year's West Yorkshire Spinners limited edition Christmas yarn. This 75% wool and 25% nylon blend comes with a free sock pattern designed by Winwick Mum. The 100g ball costs £7.20 plus P&P directly from WYS.

Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners

The Classics Society Subscription Yarn Box by Countess Ablaze

Are you looking for a gift for a really, really special knitter? A 12-month one-skein subscription including UK postage costs £372 from Manchester-based yarn dying supremo Countess Ablaze. For that the lucky recipient will get through the post one 100g fingering weight skein per month, a booklet, plus a small, hand-designed gift. The 2018 theme is architecture in the ancient world. The montage photo below is of previous boxes.

Image courtesy of Countess Ablaze

Knitting Books

Finally, we have reviewed a number of books on A Woolly Yarn this year. Here are our favourites to gift under the tree:

  1. This Thing Of Paper by Karie Westermann
  2. Shetland by Marie Wallin
  3. The Titus Vintage Collection by Alison Moreton

Tuesday 5 December 2017

Seven Christmas Jumper Patterns For 2017

Sleek or silly? Understated or pom poms and tinsel? Whatever your style there are patterns here for all the family to make a Christmas knit you'll never forget!
1. Looking for a super-Christmassy his and hers knit to throw on every year? This Sirdar pattern of a reindeer cocooned in a stripy scarf fits the bill. Available to download from Black Sheep Wools, it requires 3.25mm and knitting needles and costs £2.75.

Image courtesy of Sirdar

2. For a more subtle look, Baa Ram Ewe is selling a pattern and yarn bundle to knit the Skรณgafjall Sweater. Its wintery, Scandinavian-feel design is knitted in the company's Dovestone Aran wool, including a green shade that's only available in this bundle.  The kit costs £120 direct from the Baa Ram Ewe website.

Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe

3. Little girls in your life will love this Dasher cardigan designed by Yorkshire-based knitter Ann Kingstone. Whilst it is bright and fun the reindeer add a touch of old-fashioned festivity to this cardigan that's destined to become a classic. The pattern is graded for ages one to nine and costs £5.25 from Ravelry.

Image courtesy of Susan Campbell
4. Head to John Lewis to buy this King Cole adult Christmas jumper pattern. The man's design has candy canes around the yoke whereas the women's has mistletoe. Change the body colour to something more vibrant if you want a more festive hue than black! The pattern costs £3.
Image courtesy of King Cole

5. Practice your intarsia skills with this snowflake jumper pattern from Wendy in white and turquoise. A red background with a white snowflake would also look great. Little Lamb Wool sells the pattern for £2.75.

Image courtesy of Wendy
6. Download this cute child's Christmas jumper pattern for free from Let's Knit magazine. The snowman, along with the smaller version to fit a teddy bear, are sure to delight little ones age two to seven. 

Image courtesy of Let's Knit

7. After a Fair Isle Scandinavian style sweater that's unique to you? Tin Can Knits' Strange Brew pattern shows you how to create your own design - knit it using prodigious amounts of red, green and white and you'll end up with a festive delight! The pattern costs $7 and lists 25 sizes from baby to extra large adult. 

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits

Want more?

See these Christmas jumper posts from our archive:
What's your favourite Christmas jumper knit? Do post your pics on our Facebook page

Friday 1 December 2017

This Thing Of Paper By Karie Westermann Review + Our Prize Winner!

Image courtesy of Karie Westermann
My copy of Karie Westermann's pattern book This Thing Of Paper, inspired by the designer's lifelong love of books and manuscripts, arrived hot off the press the day after its publication day, which was November 30th 2017. Westermann took to crowdfunding to fund her first book: a whopping 725 people (including me!) prepaid for their copy in anticipation.

It's a beautifully-produced paperback book - the first to be included in the Gutenberg Museum's archive of book history -  and has a Ravelry code for pattern downloads. This Thing Of Paper is a mixture of 11 patterns, grouped by the themes manuscript, invention and printed, and essays that mull over the themes and knitting. As such this is a book to read rather than just flicking through the lushly-photographed photos and patterns.

One thing that's desirable about Westermann's previous work is that it's covetable but also accessible - advanced beginners and intermediate knitters can get stuck in to her patterns with gusto without coming unstuck. Stitches are in the patterns because they produce a striking, simple effect and not because they show off the designer's technical skills. Another plus point is that Westermann makes extensive use of British yarns from the Blacker Yarns brand.

This is not a vanity project, but rather a homage to Johannes Gutenberg and his invention of the printing press circa 1450. As Westermann says in her introduction, she worked directly with primary sources ranging from fourteenth-century illuminated manuscripts to sixteenth-century embroidery manuals: "I have not attempted to reconstruct any fourteenth-, fifteenth- or sixteenth-century garments ... but rather that I have let my research guide my design instincts."

And so to the patterns!

The first to go on my knitting needles will be Letterpress, as it is a stash buster that won't take too long to knit. The cowl is worked in the round and has a cable pattern worked without a cable needle. It uses Blacker Yarns British Classic Aran.
Letterpress image courtesy of Karie Westermann

The Vellum cardigan is inspired by the laborious processes involved in producing medieval manuscripts and is knitted in Blacker Yarns Tamar DK. Its yoke pattern is a delight.

Vellum image courtesy of Karie Westermann

The Scriptorium Mittens use Blacker Yarns Swan 4 ply and have a charted pattern.

Scriptorium image courtesy of Karie Westermann

The Psalter shawl has a slip-stitch section with a deep applied edge and is made with DyeNinja Camel Silk Fingering 4 ply.

Psalter image courtesy of Karie Westermann

Incanabula is another covetable cardigan pattern that will add a touch of style to your wardrobe. Knitted in Blacker Yarns British Classic DK it is worked bottom-up.

Incanabula image courtesy of Karie Westermann
The Majuscule and Minuscule hat and mittens set play with colour and are suitable for intermediate knitters. The patterns use Blacker Yarns Swan 4 ply.

Majuscule and Minuscule image courtesy of Karie Westermann
Second on my 'to knit' list from this book is the Marginalia jumper, inspired by footnotes in a book. The jumper is knitted in knitted with the wool and linen blend Blacker Yarns Lyonesse DK.

Marginalia image courtesy of Karie Westemann
The Biblioteca shawl uses Ripples Crafts Hand Dyed Yarns Quinag Bluefaced Leicester and  is worked top-down to its full wingspan.

Biblioteca image courtesy of Karie Westermann
Finally Woodcut is a traditional garter stitch hap shawl.  It's knitted using Blacker Yarns St Kilda Laceweight.

Woodcut image courtesy of Karie Westermann
The book is a delight, well worth the wait for its crowdfunding backers, and would make a gratefully-received  gift for both knitters and book scholars alike. The inclusion of both accessories and garments in various weights means This Thing Of Paper covers all bases and knitterly desires.

The book costs £18.99 plus P&P directly from Karie Westermann (although due to high demand it won't reach you in time for Christmas). BritYarn has copies in stock at the time of writing for £18.95 plus P&P. Alternatively, if you only want the download, buy it for £19.20 at Ravelry.

Prize Winner

A big woolly thanks to everyone who entered our competition to win three 100g DK skeins of Baa Baa Brighouse yarn.

The winner, picked at random, is Lindsay Loughtman and A Woolly Yarn has contacted her to ask for her address.

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