Wednesday 18 April 2018

Review of Knit Now Magazine's 2018 British Knits Issue

Image courtesy of Knit Now
Every year Knit Now magazine publishes a British special featuring all British yarns and designers. Since we've been up-and-running A Woolly Yarn enjoyed reviewing these - and this year is no exception. Rest assured that being awarded an Online Innovator knitting award from the magazine this year hasn't affected our impartiality.

What proved difficult with this year's review is finding a copy of issue 86, and therefore there are only a few days left before issue 87 comes out on the newsstands. In the small town where I live the supermarkets don't stock Knit Now but a well-known high street newsagents always has done. This month that newsagents didn't stock the magazine and nor did a larger branch a few miles away.

Finally I managed to buy a discounted second-hand copy on eBay. Knit Now's publisher, Practical Publishing, does sell copies online but charges a £2.49 P&P fee on top of the cover price. If you have the same difficultly finding a copy it may be worth your while signing up for the current subscription deal, which offers three issues for £6.

Image courtesy of Knit Now
Back to the review. The issue comes with two free gifts, a plastic row counter and a classic knits supplement with a cute exclusive child's Paddington jumper on the front. The classic knits supplement contains the Pandora jumper pattern from West Yorkshire Spinners, which I already have as it's taken from WYS' Illustrious Pattern Book, but I don't recognise any of the other patterns in the supplement.

For me the standout article in this issue is the feature by Louise Scollay, who runs the KnitBritish website and podcast. She busts myths about British wool, such as that it's scratchy, expensive and always brown. The magazine also challenged real knitters to test British yarn at different price points and score them on areas such as enjoyability to knit with and the colour.

The news pages are good too with a round up of book reviews, expert advice (how do you stop your cat from ruining your work?) and latest releases from British wool brands.

Image courtesy of Dots Dabbles
Apart from the Paddington jumper (if you have a child you could knit for), however, none of the patterns this issue stood out, with the possible exception of a pair of socks called To The Lighthouse made with Kettle Yarn Co. Baskerville (see left).

It goes to say that a knitting magazine's patterns can't please all of the people all of the time and each knitter has their own personal taste and preferred projects. For me April isn't quite the time of year to start knitting heavy duty scarves, hats and cowls and, not being a knitted toy fan, I won't casting on the shepherd or horse and rider. There have, however, been lots of patterns in previous issues I've knitted up and I've certainly enjoyed reading the news and features in issue 86. The row counter will come in very handy too.

All-in-all it's great to see British designers and yarns being championed and not overlooked for cheap acrylic imports.

Previous Knit Now Best of British special editions

Wednesday 11 April 2018

Take Five British Yarns For Summer Knits

Today it's seven degrees celcius where I live in middle England and to keep warm I'm wearing Karie Westermann's Scollay cardigan. Surely soon Spring will finally leap into action? But what should I knit on my needles to wear in the sunnier months when it's time to pack up the aran and DK wool knits until the Autumn?

Here's a round up of five British yarns for lighter knits.

1. Erika Knight Studio Linen

Studio Linen Image Courtesy of Erika Knight
Available in 17 colours this DK weight yarn contains 85 per cent recycled rayon-linen fibre.

Knight describes her yarn as 'durable, soft, lustrous and flexible and will naturally soften with wear and washing'.

The range offers muted shades alongside dark ones and each 50g hank costs around the £5.99 price mark depending on which retailer you buy from.

Laughinghens offers 17 patterns to support the yarn including Porcelain, a classic baggy v-neck sweater to pull on during cool evenings, and Positano, a stocking-stitch vest top. Each pattern costs £2.90 to download.

2. Blacker Yarns' Lyonesse Linen Blend

Lyonesse image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
I used the now discontinued dusky pink shade to knit a free West Yorkshire Spinners' Summer Palace Cropped Sleeve Jumper pattern. Knitted up Lyonesse feels substantial yet cool on the skin and is pleasurable to wear.

It's a 50/50 blend of linen and Falkland Island Corriedale/Merino wool that's available in both 4ply and DK weights. The 50g balls cost £7.20 each directly from Blacker Yarns.

Lyonesse comes in a pastelly/summery shade range. Says Blacker Yarns, 'The wool adds presence and memory to the yarn, while the linen contributes crispness and strength. The combination creates a light yarn with good stitch definition, which will retain its block wonderfully.'

3. Eden Cottage Yarns' Titus Lace
Summer Petals Titus Lace image courtesy of Eden Cottage Yarns

Wanting a shawl for summer nights? Eden Cottage Yarns' Titus Lace is hand-dyed by Victoria in the market town of Wetherby, West Yorkshire and, as she dyes in small batches, shades available may vary. Check the website to see when the next yarn update will be.

Titus Lace is a 2ply blend of 75% superwash merino and 25% silk. Each luxurious 100g skein costs £20.

The Braithwaite shawl pattern on Ravelry supports the yarn and costs £3.

4. Triskelion Yarns' Branwen 4-Ply

Captain Cat Branwen image courtesy of Triskelion
This mix of Falklands Merino and silk would make be ideal to knit a t-shirt or tank top for the warmer months, although at £23 per 100g hank it's certainly a luxury purchase. Branwen is spun in Yorkshire from British sources.

Triskelion says that Branwen knits up quite fine for a 4-ply and 'has a great depth of colour, combined with an extra soft, cosy handle'.

Why not knit the t-shirt Waterlily with it? As a 100g hank of Branwen is approx 500 metres, all six sizes can be knitted with three hanks, with only two required for the smaller sizes.

5. Three Bears Yarn Cotton DK

Lavender Cotton DK image courtesy of Three Bears Yarn
The cotton comes from America but it's spun in England, dyed in Blackburn, Lancashire, then sent to Yorkshire for balling.

Cotton is a great summer yarn due to its breathability. Each 50g ball, available in lots of bright colours, costs £3.50 directly from Three Bears Yarn.  The company says 'English Fine Coons yarns are produced using extra-long staple (ELS) cotton varieties, which make some of the highest quality yarns produced in the world today'.

If you're substituting cotton for wool in a pattern remember that, because cotton is heavier, you're likely to need more of it than the pattern suggests.

Over to you ...

What have we missed? Which Brit summer yarns do you recommend? Let us know in the comments underneath or on our Facebook page.
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