Monday 26 November 2018

Knits About Winter Pattern Book Review + Vote For Us!

Image courtesy of Pom Pom Press
Baby it's cold outside, so thank heavens for the Winter warmer patterns in UK publisher Pom Press' latest publication - Knits About Winter.

Just looking at the snowfall on the cover photograph (see right) triggers yearnings for woolies to wrap up warm with.

Pom Pom Press sent A Woolly Yarn a digital copy and here's our unbiased review.

What's it all about?
Knits About Winter contains 12 woolly patterns designed by Emily Foden. She moved to a small hamlet in Canada and there set up her own dye studio.

Canadian winters require you wearing a lot of cozy layers when venturing outdoors. Foden drew on her surrounding snowy landscape when designing patterns for garments and accessories that she says are functional on even the coldest of days.

What are the patterns?

All images are courtesy of Pom Pom Press.


This jacket with pockets has a detail of tiny crossed stitches moving diagonally across the four body pieces as if, says Foden, 'blown by the wind'. It's knitted with DK and lace weight held together.


Foden states she was inspired by colours she's seen in snow when designing this shawl. It's described as an 'almost triangular' shawl that's cast on at the lower tip.


I imagine these thick socks would keep your feet warm worn under hiking boots or a pair of wellingtons. They're knitted from the cuff down with two 4-ply yarns held together.

Skyhill hat and mittens

With their simple but extremely cosy-looking design, the Skyhill hat and middens are knitted in DK wool. According to Foden they knit up extremely quickly.


This loose-fitting jumper leaves room for lots of layers underneath. Foden has designed deep armholes that won't pull or bind.

Full Moon

This rectangular wrap features Brioche 'moons' evenly spaced throughout a background of garter stitch.  There are detailed pattern charts to follow.


Foden named these mittens after the Persephone Market Garden farm where the Romney Merino sheep flock live that produced the wool for yarn they are knit in. The mittens are designed to be worn, if desired, with her interchangeable mitten liners.

Interchangeable Mitten Liners

If it's really freezing outside these liners, worn with the Persephone mittens, will keep your digits extra toasty. They're knitted in fingering-weight yarn.


This shorter jumper pattern was originally published in Pom Pom Magazine in May 2017. It's knitted in the round from the bottom cast-on edge. There are two versions to choose from.


A tank top with a lovely bobble design on the back and front. It's knitted in DK wool.


Frost is a long, lightweight jumper with a side split and a cosy polo neck. It's knitted in mohair lace yarn.

Favourite Socks

Lighter than the Snowshoe socks, Foden says these truly are her favourite! She published the original pattern for them three years ago and this version is an experimentation with colour placement, style and texture.

All 12 pattern images are browsable on Ravelry here.

What else is in the book?
As well as excellent accompanying photographs that set the scene, Foden writes eloquently about how she looks for colour inspiration, the landscape where she lives in Mooresburg, Canada, and behind the scenes at her yarn studio.

There's also a section explaining the abbreviations used in the patterns.

How much does it cost?
On Ravelry downloading the full book will set you back £18.50. Patterns can't be bought individually.

The print version of Knits About Winter, which comes with a Ravelry download code, costs £21.50 plus P&P  bought directly from Pom Pom Press.

What's the A Woolly Yarn verdict?
Knits In Winter is a beautiful book full of oversized, warm, snuggly comfort garments that's probably better browsed as a print version to get the full benefit of the photography. Just looking at the snow-strewn photos positively makes you feel cold!

I'm not a particular fan of shawls and wraps, although that's a personal choice and I know many knitters are. For me the desirable jumpers Soiree and Barn are the stand-out patterns that elevate Knits In Winter from becoming just another socks, mittens and hats pattern book.

On the practical side each design has the image and pattern together rather than having separate sections, making it much easier to find what you want to knit.

The jacket/jumper/tank top sizes are listed as 1 to 6, which may be slightly confusing for people used to choosing their size by bust inch measurements.

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Tuesday 20 November 2018

Big Is Better With Wool Couture + Free Scarf Pattern

Epic Extreme image courtesy of Wool Couture
Chunky yarns are very on-trend this winter as they're quick to knit up, perfect for beginners and extra warm and cosy.

Wool Couture, a company based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, is on course to turn over a million pounds from its specialisation in yarns larger than the average aran. Its largest product, Epic Extreme, is designed for whopping great 30, 40 or even 50mm needles - or you could always ditch the sticks and take a YouTube tutorial on arm knitting.

For newbies to giant knitting it's safer to start off a little smaller than the extreme. I was keen to see if big can really be better and Wool Couture sent me two balls of their Fatt Yarn to review - one in indigo denim and the other in stone wash denim (see photo below).

Fatt Yarn 
Whist Wool Couture's wool comes from South Africa or South America it's good to hear that it's dyed and spun in Yorkshire. Amy Law from the company says "Fatt Yarn was developed as out customers wanted a chunkier version of our best seller Cheeky Chunky. So we make it twice the size of our Cheeky Chunky!"

As yet the company is lacking in patterns although Law says their designers are working on whipping some up. To test Fatt Yarn I decided to wind back the years and pretend I was a beginner, knitting a simple striped scarf in garter stitch for a Christmas present. Here's the pattern:

Fatt Yarn Christmas Scarf

Requires 10mm needles - circular or straight.

With the indigo yarn cast on 18 stitches.

Knit two rows.

Change to stonewashed yarn (don't cut the the indigo yarn) and knit another two rows.

Continue in this pattern of changing colour after every two rows, ensuring you twist the two yarns when you begin a new colour to maintain a neat edge.

When you're near the end of balls finish with two rows of the indigo yarn and then cast off loosely.

Sew in the two ends.

And here's the finished creation!

The scarf is going to my friend's husband. It looks great, is superbly warm and soft and only took a few hours to knit in front of the TV.  I did find that Fatt Yarn split a little but that's something to watch out for when making stitches with your size 10mms.

Fatt Yarn is 100% merino and costs £14.99 per ball plus P&P. In my opinion it's great for quick, fun projects - whether you are a knitting newbie or an experienced knitter.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Feel The Fear & Knit It Anyway

Is there anything knitting-wise that scares you? Proper, huge spider in the bathroom-like tribulation? Knitting is a craft that even if you spend your whole life perfecting it there will always be something new to learn. Whether it's a different type of cast-on, stitches or cable and lace, new pattern introduces different challenges.

Usually, with the help of the pattern's written instructions and video tutorials on the internet, techniques that are new to you are relatively easy to pick up, even if it does involve pulling your knitting out and having another go a few times before you get the knack. But is there something you put off because you find it really, really hard and it's much simpler to knit yet another stocking stitch jumper?

Bressay image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Sound familiar? I'll share my fear with you. It's Fair Isle/intarsia colour work. I've had a go a few times with not great results. With intarsia I never seem to twist the different coloured yarns properly to avoid a hole, plus I get the various bobbins all mixed up. With Fair Isle I find it difficult following the charts - particularly if they're not in colour, and end up pulling the yarns too tight or not tight enough.

Still I pore longingly at jumper patterns with Fair Isle yokes. They look stunning and the sort of knitwear that I'd treasure for life and would never go out of style. So it's time to put aside the easy stuff that passes the EastEnders test (can I knit it easily in front of the TV without losing the drama plot or my place in the pattern?) and bite the bullet.

My chosen design is Marie Wallin's Bressay jumper from her Shetland collection that I blogged about last year. It's gorgeous and the yarn from Jamieson's of Shetland cost me just under £60. I wouldn't be able to buy a proper wool jumper made in the UK on the high street for that.

On the right you'll see what it's supposed to look like. The jumper is knitted from the bottom up and, with 2ply wool on a 3.25mm circular needle, is time-consuming. Soon however I'll be up to the colour work part and that's when the fun will begin!

Fellow knitters on Marie Wallin's Ravelry forum have been very encouraging with advice and support. I'm determined that I'll finish Bressay in time for Christmas and not let it languish on my needles because it's too much like hard work.

Mind you, when it's finished I've no excuse to face my next fear, which is steeking. Cutting my knitting? Nooo!!

Do you have a knitting fear? What are you most proud of knitting? Let us know in the comments below or share a picture on our Facebook page.

Friday 2 November 2018

Is Making Things A Rival To Ravelry?

Making Things, billed as a new contender to Ravelry, launched on October 30th promising a 'clunk-free' alternative to pattern downloads. For a monthly fee, currently $11.99 (approximately £9.25), subscribers have unlimited access to a pattern library from independent designers and digital tools such as row highlighters to help the knitting process.

Vatsland jumper image courtesy
of Ella Gordon Designs
To gain full access to the website you need to subscribe, making it difficult to decide whether it's worth it or not. Unlike Netflix, which the site compares its subscription service to, there is no free trial on offer.

Scrolling down Making Things' patterns library I found some Ella Gordon sweaters I'd certainly be interested in knitting. The photographs of all the patterns are certainly high quality.

Users can search for a pattern if they already know what it's called, or alternatively can type in a designer's name. I tried a few well-known names such as Marie Wallin, Kate Davies and Karie Westermann, but it seems they aren't currently taking part. The search term 'fair isle' only produced one result, a hat from Vogue Knitting.

It's clearly early days for Making Things who are hoping to attract many more designers to their business.

So if the hook is unlimited pattern access, video tutorials (at the moment covering basic stitches such as knit two together and yarn over purlwise) and pattern support for subscribers, what's in it for the designers? Making Things says that their service has been developed with the input of over 500 knitters, crotcheters and designers. receive. Half the subscription fee goes to the website with the other half to designers, but it's not clear how Making Things will differentiate between a pattern users have browsed and ones they've knitted up.

Is it worth subscribing?

In my opinion, if you enjoy browsing designs, are looking for new patterns to knit and are happy reading patterns on a screen (patterns aren't downloadable) then it's worth a go for a month.

At the moment. however, I've decided I won't subscribe. This is for three reasons:

  1. I have lots of patterns I've already paid for that I want to knit.
  2. Making Things is new and as yet can't compare with the choice on Ravelry.
  3. I prefer printed patterns I can scribble on rather than reading a pattern on a screen.

It's certainly worth keeping an eye on Making Things though to see how it develops.

What's your opinion on Making Things? Have your say in the comments box below or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page.

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