Wednesday 26 September 2018

Launches To Look Out For At Yarndale

This weekend is Yarndale, an annual extravaganza of wool in the market town of Skipton, North Yorkshire, which coincides well with the onset of Autumn when knitter's thoughts turn to warm woollies.

Yarndale runs on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th September from 10am to 4.30pm. Show-goers can pre-book tickets online or pay on the door at extra cost.
Image courtesy of Yarndale
If you're lucky enough to be going, look out for the following launches and grab your chance to be one of the first to get your hands on new products.

Marie Wallin's British Breeds

Debuting at Yarndale is Marie Wallin's own wool range with 12 shades, designed to support her gorgeous colour work designs. An online gift box pre-order containing all 12 shades sold out quickly on Wallin's website.

British Breeds image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Wallin will also be launching her latest pattern book Wildwood at Yarndale. If you can't make it to the show Wildwood, like British Breeds and the gift box, will be available on Marie Wallin's website on 1st October.

Daughter of a Shepherd's Castlemilk Moorit

This new yarn comes from 100% Castlemilk Moorit, an 'at risk' sheep breed.

Image courtesy of Daughter of a Shepherd
It's a DK yarn in its natural shade that the Daughter describes evocatively as "earthy tones of burnt caramel and dark spices with flashes of silver that give the yarn a natural melange". The price is £18 per 100g skein and, if you can't make it to Yarndale, it will go on sale on Daughter of a Shepherd's website from Wednesday, 3rd October.

Ann Kingstone's Needle Sizer

On her Facebook page Yorkshire designer Ann Kingstone let slip that her new accessory product will make its debut at Yarndale.

Image courtesy of Ann Kingstone.
No word yet as to cost, but take a look at Kingstone's website after the festival to see if it has gone on sale.

Baa Baa Brighouse Cowl or Scarf Pattern

Fiona Wardingley's Cowl or Scarf pattern, where you can choose which to knit, is going on sale for the first time at Baa Baa Brighouse's Yarndale stall.

Image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse
The design uses Baa Baa Brew Marble 4ply. The yarn is currently for sale on Baa Baa Brighouse's website and the pattern will follow soon.

An Caitin Beag's Sinister Pattern

Baa Ram Ewe, the Leeds-based Yarn producer and shop, blogger about An Caitin Beag's stunning new cat cardigan pattern, Sinister, knitted in Baa Ram Ewe's Pip yarn range.

Image courtesy of Baa Ram Ewe/An Caitin Beag
Head to An Caitin Beag's L204, buy the pattern and you'll receive a 10% off discount code to buy the Pip yarn at Baa Ram Ewe's stand H122.

John Arbon Textiles' Harvest Hues

Another Yarndale launch gleaned from Facebook is an expanded Harvest Hues 4ply colour palette from John Arbon Textiles.

Image courtesy of John Arbon Textiles
Five patterns have already available to support the Harvest Hues 4ply yarn at prices ranging from £4 to £5.50.

Purl & Jane's Latest Pattern

As yet it's hush hush but Skipton based knitting shop Purl & Jane is going to debut a new pattern at Yarndale.

Image courtesy of Purl & Jane
The only detail we have so far is this tantalising photo of Jane's dog asleep on her lap while she sews her design up!

The Knitting Goddess' Pattern Book

The Knitting Goddess is launching Beyond the Rainbow, a pattern book featuring eight shawl designs, at Yarndale.

Image courtesy of The Knitting Goddess
Her stand is G96 and the book costs £10. If you're not going to Yarndale you can buy it from The Knitting Goddess' online shop.

There are probably lots more new yarns and patterns to look out for that have slipped under my radar. Are you going to Yarndale? Which stalls are you excited about visiting? Let us know in the comments box below or on our Facebook page.

Friday 21 September 2018

The Downside To Pattern Downloads

There's no doubt that Ravelry, the online community for knitters, has revolutionised the distribution of patterns. In the olden days if you wanted a new pattern you would buy a magazine or mosey on down to your local wool shop where there would be racks of them to browse through, published by the major knitwear companies to support their yarns.

Image courtesy of Ravelry

Now, thanks to the internet and Ravelry, designers all over the world can find an audience to showcase and sell their designs to. These sole-trader designers aren't tied to a particular company or brand and are free use whichever yarn they choose - for some talented spinners this even includes their own! It's a fabulous and gloriously democratic step forward.

To buy a pattern online all you have to do is fill in your payment details and then - voila! - the pattern of your choice is available to download. No P&P charges or waiting for the postie to arrive.

For me, however, the novelty of patterns on demand has worn off and it's because of having to print them out myself. I wish there were an option on Ravelry to pay postage and have a ready-printed version sent out to me. Here's why. Do you agree?

1. My printer is a bog-standard one and colour is notoriously hard to print out, resulting in patches and streaks. Even black and white printouts (and yes, I've cleaned the head and done every other maintenance job) usually contain some white streaks. That's if it prints out at all, as every now and then the printer has a strop and declares it can't connect to the wi-fi.

2. Designers spend a lot of time lovingly creating their patterns, which often run to multiple pages with lots of photos and sometimes even essays explaining their inspiration. Great to look at in a book but not practical when printing all the pages out - all that's necessary is the pattern.

3. Printing out multiple page downloads with lots of colour uses up a lot of ink, which is rather annoying when you run out halfway through. Plus ink cartridges are very expensive. This article says that per ounce, printer ink costs more than twice that of the same amount of Dom Perignon champagne. I know which I'd rather buy!

4. Where physical patterns are available to buy online or in yarn shops they're printed on thick paper or card. This makes them far more robust than your average printer paper and they'll withstand a lot of use plus the scribbling I like to do on them to circle the size I'm knitting and so on.

Raven image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Last week I went to Marie Wallin's website to catch up on what she's doing. I cheered inwardly when I saw she has a printed pattern section. I bought the jumper pattern Raven (see above). For £5 plus £1.80 postage I received a few days later in the post a beautifully designed cardboard pattern leaflet.

So here's my plea to indie designers who sell on their own websites and on Ravelry. Please include an option to have a printed copy posted to the purchaser when he or she buys a pattern. Many people love downloads as they're quick and easy (especially if they have a super-duper work printer they can sneakily print them out on!) but some of us don't and prefer a digital copy as a back up and to read whilst we're waiting for the physical copy to arrive in the post.

What do you think? Are you a download or a printed pattern person? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Friday 14 September 2018

Review Of Lore & The Borrowdale Collection From The Fibre Co

Just look at this picture, taken in the Lake District, to showcase The Fibre Co's new DK yarn Lore and the supporting patterns The Borrowdale Collection. Isn't it stunning?

Borrowdale image courtesy of The Fibre Co.

Lore is spun from 100% lambswool from the English Romney sheep breed and comes in 16 colours. A Woolly Yarn received a small sample of the dark grey shade 'Comfort'. I'd describe it as a solid, workhorse yarn, being soft enough for garments worn next to the skin yet solid enough to create long-lasting, warm items. Lore is a 2ply twist, has a slight fuzz, is very strong and takes dye well.

Lore's creator, Daphne Marinpoulos, says about the yarn, "lore will make a softy fabric that provides warmth without weight. It is one of the most forgiving yarns that I've used in that a slightly uneven stitch gauge is not readily seen. This attribute makes it great for beginners who are still learning to create an even tension across their stitches."

The Fibre Co. doesn't sell directly to the public. Its website has a stockists page so you can find out where to buy its yarns from. Tangled Yarn sells Lore online for £15.60 per 100g hank plus P&P. My favourite shade, Truth, a purple/green tweed, will be available from 15th October.

Truth image courtesy of The Fibre Co.

The Borrowdale Collection

There are 21 pieces in The Borrowdale Collection and each pattern is available to buy individually on Ravelry, (there is currently an offer running to receive a fourth pattern free when you buy three patterns from the collection) although sadly there isn't a print copy of the whole collection available.

We asked The Fibre Co.'s founder, Daphne Marinopoulos, about the ethos behind the patterns. "The comping up with the concept for the Borrowdale collection" she replied, "I drew inspiration from the quote 'Adventure is worthwhile'. Adventure might mean travel to far off places, but it can equally be about everyday experiences. I wanted to express this idea of making every day an adventure because all adventures are worthwhile. The design brief was for patterns that one could make, wear and style for life's everyday adventures. This meant practical, wearable and long-lasting hand knits."

My top favourite pattern is Langstrath by Amanda Jones.
Langstrath image courtesy of The Fibre Co.

With Autumn rolling in I'm currently into warm knits with an interesting yoke. I really like the colour combination - the blue accent colour really pops out next to the grey background.

In second place comes Deep Moss Pot.

Deep Moss Pot image courtesy of The Fibre Co.
Knitted in the shade 'Heaven' it has a mock cable design on the yoke.

In third place comes the beanie Chapelfield.

Chapelfield image courtesy of The Fibre Co.
This one ball knit is perfect for a knitter who wants to try out Lore before committing to a jumper's worth of yarn. Its mock cable and twisted rib pattern is knitted in the round.

There are lots of other patterns to choose from, including more sweaters, cardigans, a shawl, mitts and a cowl. Which is your favourite? Do you agree with my top three? Let us know in the comments box below or on our Facebook page

Something to Knit With Aran
Image courtesy of AC Knitwear

Arnall-Culliford Knitwear has joined the throng of Brit knitwear companies releasing new yarns for Autumn/Winter 2018. The latest in their 'Something to Knit With ...' range is an aran weight yarn. Something to Knit With Aran comes in ten bold shades and costs £8 per 50g skein plus P&P.

We haven't seen a sample yet but AC Knitwear's website says the yarn is a blend of 70% highland wool and 30% superfine alpaca and "is brilliant for textural knits and bold colour work".

At the moment there isn't a pattern book to support the aran yarn. Pop over to Ravelry, however, and there's a group of recommended aran patterns there collated by AC Knitwear. 

Monday 10 September 2018

Discover The Perfect Re:Treat With West Yorkshire Spinners

We've all heard in the news that knitting has mental health benefits and that some GPs even recommend the hobby to people who are anxious and depressed; plus you'd have had to have had your head buried in the sand to miss the mindfulness and wellbeing trend. West Yorkshire Spinners has blended knitting and the self care trend to produce their chunky wool range Re:treat and support the mental health charity Mind in the process.
Re:treat image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
For each kilo of Re:treat wool sold WYS will donate 50p to the charity. WYS says "Mind's tips for maintaining a positive wellbeing include taking time for yourself, doing something you enjoy and find relaxing... Re:treat was developed with well-being in mind. The yarn has a silky smooth finish that slides easily off the needle for a relaxing experience that helps knitters unwind. In 11 calming and uplifting tones and two marled colour ways, Re:treat helps crafters create a little stress-free oasis where they can enjoy making something beautiful."

It may sound a little like a marketing ploy to target stressed out millennials, but the more people who discover knitting's health benefits the better and the tie up with Mind shows that WYS is putting its money where its mouth is.

The Wool

Re:treat is described as 'chunky roving' and is a 100% wool blend of a cross breed of Bluefaced Leicester and Kerry Hill. WYS sent A Woolly Yarn a sample in the green shade Serene (each colour has a calming-sounding name) and pattern book for review. Each 100g ball costs £6.50 plus P&P - not bad value considering that works out as £3.25 for 50g.

Serene image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
The ball is adorably squishy and has a reassuring faint aroma of sheep. It's not tightly spun and has a very slight halo.

The question is, what to knit with it? This is where the accompanying pattern book The Perfect Re:treat, containing 12 designs by Georgia Farrell, comes in.

The Pattern Book

The Perfect Re:treat contains women's garments and home accessories. There's a mixture of skill levels, the easiest at one out of five being the Metanoia snood pictured below.

Metanoia snood image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
The Metanoia hat, also pictured above, comes out at skill level four. There is no level five pattern!

In my opinion most of the women's jumpers and cardigans don't stand out apart from the level four Meraki jumper with its chevron colours on the front and accompanying pattern stitch pattern on the arms.

Meraki image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
Beginner knitters will enjoy knitting the Hygge cushion, at skill level two. One version is solely knitted in garter stitch.

Hygge image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners

The Trouvaille blanket, which is skill level four, looks great for snuggling under on the sofa and watching TV.  It requires 13 balls to knit. There's also a matching cushion pattern.

Trouvaille image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
The Verdict

Re:treat is a good value pure wool yarn that'll suit both beginner knitters and people wishing to knit speedy projects - it goes without saying that chunky yarn knits up faster than its 2ply or lace weight cousins.

The book is strong on homewares and the hat and snood patterns but more advanced knitters may be less interested in the women's jumper and cardigan designs. To me they're aimed at younger people new to knitting, rivalling international brands such as Wool & The Gang and We Are Knitters.

If, however, Re:treat introduces new customers to British wool and West Yorkshire Spinners, and Mind benefits from donations, then all the better!

Thursday 6 September 2018

Blacker Yarns' Launches Tor Collection

For the past few years Blacker Yarns has launched a special edition yarn to mark its birthday and this year's is Tor - a 2ply aran-weight yarn that comes in six heathery colours. Price TBC.

Image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Tor is a blend of 55% Romney cross, 28% Merino cross, 5% North Ronaldsay, 4% Shetland and 8% British alpaca - a veritable woolly delight. I haven't seen a sample yet but Tor goes on sale on Sunday 9th September, the day after its pattern support, The Tor Collection, launches on Ravelry.

The Tor Collection

There are five patterns in the ebook with a mixture of knitting and crochet.  Here's a sneak peak:

Hexworthy Jumper: At the moment I'm particularly fond of warm winter sweaters with a yoke pattern, therefore it goes without saying that this is my favourite in the collection. As it is knitted in aran weight Hexworthy shouldn't take too long to complete (compared to the 2ply yoke jumper that's currently on my needles anyway!)

Hexworthy jumper image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Hexworthy Socks: These are a smaller colour work project than their jumper namesake. The pattern contains two sizes - standard sock length or a knee length to wear with wellies.

Hexworthy socks image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Wistman Hat: Choose whether to go with or without the pom pom on top of this moss stitch-cabled hat. If you forget the pom pom you only need one skein of Tor.

Wistman Hat image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Rundlestone Shawl: Now we come to the crochet patterns. Rundlestone is described as a simple crochet project. Regular A Woolly Yarn readers will know that personally I'm not keen on shawls and haps, but if you are then this may be a project for you.

Rundlestone Shawl image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Belstone Cushion:

The final pattern in The Tor Collection is a crochet project for beginners. The cushion itself uses three skeins with a few scraps for the embroidery decoration.

Belstone Cushion image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
Have you tried Tor? What would you like to knit with the wool? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Monday 3 September 2018

Say Hello to Northiam and Re:Treat

As Autumn looms nearer British yarn companies continue to release their latest blends to tempt us to spend the darker evenings knitting with their wool. Two new Brit yarns have gone on sale that slipped under the radar and we didn't include in our New Season: New Yarns blog post last month. We haven't yet seen the wool in person yet to test them out, but here's what we know so far.


This week West Yorkshire Spinners released Re:Treat, a chunky yarn designed for quick knits and accessories.
Re:Treat image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners.
Described as having "a roving quality and a soft twist that glides off the needles" Re:Treat is 100% British wool - from a cross breed of Bluefaced Leicester and Kerry Hill - and bears the British Wool logo.

Re:Treat costs £6.50 per 100g ball plus P&P directly from West Yorkshire Spinners. The accompanying pattern book The Perfect Re:Treat contains 12 designs for homewares, accessories and jumpers by Georgia Farrell.

The Perfect Re:Treat image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners.
View images of all the patterns here. The pattern book, again directly from West Yorkshire Spinners, costs £9.95 plus P&P.


Northiam image courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.
Kettle Yarn Co. produces lovingly-blended and dyed yarns and I'm looking forward to discovering whether its latest launch, Northiam, lives up to the company's reputation.

Northiam, pictured right in the shade Thistle, is a fingering weight yarn that costs £18 per 100g skein plus P&P. A skein contains approximately 400 metres of yarn. Kettle Yarn Co. describes Northiam as: "a smooth, worsted-spun yarn from the finest Bluefaced Leicester sourced, courted, spun and dyed a a British mill.

It has excellent stitch definition for cables, lace and other textures while creating beautifully balanced stockinette."

So far there are 11 shades to choose from, ranging from traditional greys and cream to a bright green and mustard yellow.

Kettle Yarn Co. is going to release a hat pattern called Roseby to support the yarn.

Have you had a squish or Re:Treat or Northiam? What do you think of them? Please let us know in the comments box below or on our Facebook page.

Rowan: 40 Years Competition

Don't forget that you have until 11.59pm on Wednesday September 5th to enter our competition to win a copy of the Rowan: 40 Years pattern book. For details of how to enter see the Review of Rowan: 40 Years + Win A Copy! post.

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