Monday 6 August 2018

Review of Marie Wallin's Bloomsbury Collection

Image courtesy of Marie Wallin
New jumper and cardigan patterns from Marie Wallin make me long for colder weather, not only to knit them up (it's a bit too hot in the current English scorching weather to knit with wool) but also wear these gorgeous creations.

The photography in Wallin's pattern books always gives me serious lifestyle envy and Bloomsbury, shot at Stoneywell Arts and Crafts Cottage in Leicestershire, is no different. The vintage setting is an ideal backdrop to the garments whose designs were inspired by the Bloomsbury group of artists and writers who defined a new era in art and literature at the turn of the twentieth century.

The jumper on the front cover, Dora, really drew me into the collection. I cheered to see that this pattern, classed by Wallin as of intermediate difficulty, looks 'doable' for knitters like me with only a small amount of stranded colour work experience. I've admired many of Wallin's patterns in the past, and the high quality production values of the printed versions have made them great coffee table books for browsing, but the complicated
Vanessa image courtesy of Marie Wallin
colour work patterns rather daunting to knit for those with only a little practice with the skill.

In fact Bloomsbury, Wallin's ninth collection as an independent designer since she left Rowan, has a good balance of classic designs both for Fair Isle novices and aficionados. When my colour work skills are up to standard I'd love to knit Vanessa, an intricately and delicately patterned cardigan with on-trend bracelet sleeves that is both classic but on-trend for Autumn 2018. (As an aside I recently received an email from fashion brand Toast informing me that Fair Isle jumpers are key pieces for the forthcoming season. No disrespect to Toast but Wallin's Fair Isle designs from Bloomsbury and her Shetland collection are far more attractive than their jumpers and the cost of the wool to knit them is cheaper than Toast's ready-to-wear price).

One drawback I've noticed before with Wallin's books, tiny black and white cable and Fair Isle charts, looks to have been rectified. In Bloomsbury she writes that the small, quite difficult to read charts are due to printing restrictions. If you've bought a paper copy only you can email Wallin to request a PDF version too and then print out the charts at your desired magnitude.

Here are the other six patterns in Bloomsbury:

Angelica: a stranded colourwork sweater in two colours with a relatively cropped body and no waist shaping.
Image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Frances: a pretty one-colour cardigan knitted in the shade Duck Egg. Involves steeking.

Image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Virginia: a traditional long-length cardigan shape in autumnal hues.

Image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Lydia: a short sleeve pullover with intricate patterns.

Image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Vita: one-shade loose-fitted jumper with detailed cabling. The yarn used is the shade Clay.

Rosamund: unfitted jumper knitted in the shade Avacado and using cabling patterns.

Image courtesy of Marie Wallin

Yarn: All the patterns use Rowan's Felted Tweed. This blend of 50% merino wool, 25% alpaca and 25% viscose comes in a whopping 39 shades - note though that the yarn does not say it's made from British wool. A quick search of online knitting stores showed that each 50g ball costs between £6.90 and £7.60 plus P&P depending on the stockist and whether they have any discounts running when you buy.

Unfortunately sometimes a few errors slip through the proofreading process. Wallin has an errata page on her website listing those that have been discovered in Bloomsbury - currently in Frances, Vita, Vanessa and Anglica (scroll down to the bottom of the page). The corrected charts can be printed off.

Buy Bloomsbury directly from Marie Wallin's website for £14.99 plus P&P. Do let me know in the comments below or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page which of the pattern's you'd like to cast on first.

For a trip down memory lane back to Marie Wallin's older pattern collections see:

Stop Press!

I'm gathering information about some very exciting new British yarn launches for the Autumn/Winter 2018/19 season. Watch this space and follow A Woolly Yarn on Facebook in readiness for the big reveal!

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