Monday 24 December 2018

Win West Yorkshire Spinners & Ann Kingstone Pattern Books In Our Christmas Competition!

It's the same every year - Christmas is over, the tree and decorations have come down and all you have to show for it is a massive credit card statement and a pile of needles to hoover up.

This year it could be different with our Christmas competition, which runs all the way from Christmas Eve to December 31st. If you're a winner you'll have a popular pattern book winging its way to you in the post in January to add a sparkle to your New Year.

Here's what you could win!

First prize

West Yorkshire Spinners' The Perfect Re:treat pattern book, which we reviewed earlier in the year, plus a ball of Re:treat in the green shade 'Serene'

Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners

West Yorkshire Spinners' The Croft Shetland Colours pattern book, reviewed back in October.

Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners

Second prize

A copy of Ann Kingstone's Cabled Knits, previously reviewed on A Woolly Yarn here.

Image courtesy of Ann Kingstone

Please note that this competition is independent of West Yorkshire Spinners and Ann Kingstone.

But first, it's your last chance to vote for A Woolly Yarn ...

It's not a condition to enter the competition but it would put much appreciated if you voted for A Woolly Yarn in Knit Now magazine's Knitter of the Year Awards 2018 Online Innovator category. Votes close on 31st  December 2018.

To vote go here:

So without further ado, here's how to enter to win one of the great prizes!

1. Go to and click on the 'follow' button if you haven't done so already. This will deliver new A Woolly Yarn Facebook posts to your news feed. If you change your mind in the future (but we hope you won't!) you can unfollow us.

2. 'Like' the post with the competition details.

3. In the comments box under the competition post tell us which is your favourite A Woolly Yarn post  of 2018 and why (you might want to refresh your memory by having a browse at our previous posts).

The competition opens at midday on Monday 24th December and closes at 11.59pm on Monday 31st December. We'll announce the winners soon after and ask him/her to send a private message on Facebook to A Woolly Yarn with their postal details so they can receive their fabulous prize.

Please note that due to competition law and postage costs the competition is open to UK residents only, although we would of course love to hear the opinions of our overseas readers about their their favourite A Woolly Yarn blog post of 2018.
Terms & Conditions

1. The promoter is the A Woolly Yarn blog, which has no affiliation with West Yorkshire Spinners, Ann Kingstone or Facebook.

2. The competition is open to residents of the UK aged 18 years or over.

3. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition.

4. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.

5. This competition is running on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page at

6. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified.

7. Closing date for the entry will be 11.59pm on Monday 31st December. After this date no further entries to the competition will be counted.

8. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason.

9. The promoter reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter's control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.

10. The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connect with this competition.

11. The prize is as follows: First prize is two pattern books from West Yorkshire Spinners plus a ball of yarn and second prize is Cabled Knits by Ann Kingstone. The prizes are as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable, is subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute the prizes with another of equivalent value without giving notice.

12. The winner will be chosen within seven days of 1st January 2019.

13. The winner will be announced within seven days of the closing date on the A Woolly Yarn Facebook page and will be asked to send a private Facebook message with their address details to A Woolly Yarn. These details will only be used for the purpose of posting the prize. If the winner does not claim the prize within 14 days of notification we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.

14. The promoter will notify the winner when the prize is posted. The promoter will obtain proof of postage and is not responsible for any failure of the Royal Mail to deliver the prize.

15. The promoter's decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence entered into.

16. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by English law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England.

17. The winner agrees to their name being published on the A Woolly Yarn Facebook page and blog. Any personal details relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current UK data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant's prior consent.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

Two New Pattern Books From Ann Kingstone & Kate Davies

Looking for your next knit? Popular designers Ann Kingstone and Kate Davies both have a new book out containing patterns suitable for the wintry weather.  A Woolly Yarn found out more.

Cabled Knits

Image courtesy of Ann Kingstone.
Yorkshire designer Ann Kingstone, whose designs are often inspired by the landscape surrounding her, has brought together a plethora of cable designs, aiming, she says, to provide "an in-depth examination of the history, types and techniques of knitted cables, aka 'travelling stitches'".

Ann Kingstone sent A Woolly Yarn a copy of Cabled Knits in exchange for an unbiased review.

It's quite a hefty, softback book with excellent project photography and large print, which is particularly useful when it comes to the cable pattern charts.

At the beginning of the book Kingstone has written an essay about cabling history and also includes a illustrated techniques section showing how to do the different stitches mentioned in the book.

Then it's on to the 16 patterns. They're a pretty mixture of cardigans, sweaters and wraps, with whimsical designs for a pair of socks, a headband, phone case and a mug cosy thrown in.

The most stand out pattern is one we featured on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page earlier in the year: Woodkirk.

Woodkirk image courtesy of Amelia Sobanksi/Ann Kingstone
The tree on the back of the cardigan is stunning and the pattern has a chart and spaces for you to write in the number of stitches required at various points in the process for your size.

Less complicated but also striking is Arthington, with its cabled yoke knitted in heavy DK weight.

Arthington image courtesy of Amelia Sobanksi/Ann Kingstone
Wanting a quicker knit to try out your cabling skills? Wath is a phone case that only requires approximately 15g of DK yarn and is a good practice project.

Wath image courtesy of Amelia Sobanksi/Ann Kingstone

All in all Cabled Knits is a great book with projects suitable for both beginners who want to learn cabling and more advanced knitters who are looking to build on their skills. Thanks to Ann Kingstone  for the review copy and find out very soon how you can win it in our Christmas competition!

Cabled Knits costs £17 for a Ravelry download, £25 for the book plus P&P when ordered direct from Ann Kingstone's website, or £33.50 plus P&P if you choose both the print and e-book together.

Milarrochy Heids

Image courtesy of Kate Davies
Meanwhile Kate Davies' latest pattern book is a collection of hats from her and other designers. All
use her recently launched Scottish yarn Milarrochy Tweed, which is a blend of 70% wool and 30% mohair. 'Heid' is a Scottish word for hat, although considering all the patterns are of hats you have probably guessed that already!

I haven't seen a copy yet of the book but Davies has written about each pattern on her blog and all of them are viewable on Ravelry.

So what's inside?

Milarrochy Heids contains 15 hat patterns in various shapes whether you prefer, slouchy, bobble hat, beanie or something different.

The cover pattern Breiwick by Ella Gordon sets the high standard for the designs within.

What that cover photograph doesn't show, however, is the amazing flower design on the crown:

Breiwick image courtesy of Kate Davies Designs

Looking at all the patterns on Ravelry, Sarah Mackay's Every Flavour bobble hat stands out. Mackay has incorporated all 12 shades of Davies' Milarrochy Tweed range in the design.

Every Flavour image courtesy of Kate Davies Designs
Emily K William's Tarradale slouchy hat is suitable for colourwork beginners, using just two shades.

Tarradale image courtesy of Kate Davies Designs
The print version of Milarrochy Heids has already sold out on Davies' website at the time of writing where the price is £18 plus P&P. Davies fans will be pleased to know, however, that I found, again correct at the time of writing, print copies for sale at Wild and WoollyWool WarehouseTangled Yarn, and Ewe & Ply. The ebook is downloadable for the same price of £18 from Ravelry.

Vote for A Woolly Yarn

If you enjoy reading this blog please vote for A Woolly Yarn in Knit Now magazine's Knitter of the Year Awards 2018 Online Innovator category. Votes close on 31st  December 2018. This blog is a a non-profit-making labour of love and your vote will be much appreciated. Vote here:

Thursday 13 December 2018

Review of The Loveliest Yarn Company's Sockmas Pattern Book

There's still time to knock out a few small, festive knits and if you're looking for some last-minute decorations then The Loveliest Yarn Company's Sockmas pattern book is a handy place to start.

Image courtesy of The Loveliest Yarn Company
Written by Michelle Gregory, TLYC's founder and Chief Knitter (what a fabulous job title!) the book lists a basic mini-sock pattern and gives lots of Christmassy variations on the cuff, foot and toes, as well as stranded colourwork patterns on the leg. Think Father Christmas, Rudolph, a Christmas tree and lovely lacework.

The idea is that with the help of the book a knitter can produce 24 seasonal sock decorations using just three 4ply yarn colours: red, white and green. When all are complete they can be hung up as a gorgeous festive garland.

Image courtesy of The Loveliest Yarn Company
Time to try it out. The socks in the book are knitted with West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply but I raided my stash and found the some left-over Baa Ram Ewe Titus yarn in the right colours to use up. 

The red was left over from knitting Susan Crawford's Perfect Christmas Jumper back in 2015. I bought the green and white to make a blanket with but after knitting up a couple of lace squares on DPNs I realised I didn't have the enthusiasm to carry on to the bitter end. 

The mini socks can be knitted on 2.25mm DPNs or on a circular needle and I chose the latter. I've knitted socks before but found it harder than I expected knitting something so small and intricate, despite the photography and colour stitch chart being clear and helpful. I got a bit stuck when I got to the gusset and tried to envisage how the DPN instructions transposed to a circular needle, but once Michelle advised me I picked it up straight away. Knitting another sock I think will be much easier now I've got the hang of it.

For my first sock I decided to knit a green sock with a red contrast tow, heel and cuff. It took longer to knit than I'd blithely imagined - this is certainly not a one evening project - but I was very pleased with the finished result (apologies that I haven't blocked it yet!) 

I bought some fun numbered clips in a local branch of Tiger and plan to knit 23 more to hang on a Christmas tree on the run up to the 25th of December. I've now switched to knitting a garter stitch advent blanket with the wool from my Baa Baa Brighouse Advent Yarn Box but plan to then return to Sockmas sock number two - a white and green sock with a Christmas tree pattern - and complete the whole set of 24 in time for Christmas 2019. Watch this space this time next year to see if I've finished the job!

Thank you to Michelle for the review copy. All opinions are my own. Sockmas costs £12 plus P&P directly from The Loveliest Yarn Company.

Stop press: Michelle's and her Christmas jumper design will appear on Kirsty's Handmade Christmas TV programme on Channel 4, Monday 17th December at 5pm.

Festive Mini Jumpers

If socks aren't your thing then how about mini jumpers? Wild and Woolly is selling a Matchbox Sweater Kit for £30 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Wild and Woolly
The kit includes a patterns for mini sweaters and enough yarn to knit to knit up 12 - decorations for the 12 days of Christmas perhaps? There are four Christmas-themed colour ways to choose from.

Have you knitted any Christmas decorations this year? Do share a photo of them on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page.

Christmas Competition 

Not long to go now until A Woolly Yarn announces its Christmas competition. Hint - the prizes will be some of the items the blog has reviewed this year!

Monday 10 December 2018

Ten Fun Gifts To Slip In A Knitter's Christmas Stocking

This post is different from our usual ones because it doesn't feature any wool! If you're looking for a gift for an avid knitter chances are they've already got yarn in their stash to knit with and unless you know what colour/weight/brand they prefer a woolly present might not be to their taste.

So instead here's a round-up of alternative gifts Santa could secretly pop into their stocking ...

1. Farmers' Hand Cream

Image courtesy of Daughter of a Shepherd
Made using lavender grown on a Welsh farm, this 100ml tin of cream will pamper hands dry from knitting. It's not tested on animals, contains no artificial colours or perfumes and the packaging is manufactured in the UK. A tin costs £14 plus P&P from Daughter of a Shepherd and, if you're feeling flush, there's a foot cream and face cream in the range too.

2. Project Bag

Image courtesy of The Loveliest Yarn Company

If you're looking for a gift for a knitter with a filthy sense of humour, this literally is your bag. At £15 plus P&P from The Knitting Goddess, it will hold two 100g skeins - or could alternatively double up as a make up bag. It's probably best though not to buy it for your Granny.

3. Sheep Earrings

Image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse
Exclusive to Baa Baa Brighouse, this pair of sterling silver sheep earrings costs a reasonable £6 plus P&P. Small but fun.

4. Femiknits Pin Badge

Image courtesy of Not On The High Street
Give this badge to someone who is a loud and proud feminist and knitter. From Kelly Connor Designs on Not On The High Street it costs £8.95 plus P&P.

5. Christmas Yarn Cosy

Image courtesy of Precious Knits

Head to Etsy for this kitsch yarn cosy/ball holder from seller Precious Knits. It's virtually guaranteed to make a Christmas fan smile. The yarn cosy will keep your ball together whilst you're storing it or carrying it in a bag. Costs £6.45 plus P&P.

6. Yarn Bobbins

Image courtesy of The Knitting Gift Shop
The Knitting Gift Shop sells these wooden yarn bobbins which are just the thing for fair isle and intarsia colour work. Wrap the yarn in use around the bobbin and they will (hopefully) keep your knitting untangled. A stylish set of three costs £7.50 plus P&P.

7. Christmas Stitch Markers
image courtesy of Charmed Knitting

A knitter can never have enough enough stitch markers because they have a canny knack of being left in WIPs or disappearing down the back of the sofa. Charmed Knitting sells a great range of Christmas stitch markers. Our favourite is the set of four silver Christmas trees surrounding a snow-tipped green one. This is perfect for a quick stocking filler as it costs only £3.99 plus P&P.

8. Crazy Yarn Lady Framed Print

Image courtesy of Dear Ewe
Make a friend smile with this stylish monochrome framed print that would go well hung up in a craft corner. From Dear Ewe it costs £26.50 plus P&P for the framed version.

9. Herdy Christmas Melamine Coasters
Image courtesy of Herdy
Herdy is selling these cute coasters that are perfect for decorating your Christmas Day table. Each costs £3.95 plus P&P.

10. Yarnivore T-shirt

Image courtesy of Etsy
Head to Stitchers Tees on Etsy to buy this Yarnivore t-shirt available in white, black or an enticing-sounding grey with gold print for a bit of Christmas sparkle. Available in adult sizes XS to 3XL the t-shirt costs £20 plus P&P.

All prices were correct on the day I published this blog post and are subject to change by the vendors.

Have you seen a fun non-yarn gift for knitters? Spread the word in the comments box below on our our Facebook page.

Vote for A Woolly Yarn

If you enjoy reading this blog please vote for A Woolly Yarn in Knit Now magazine's Knitter of the Year Awards 2018 Online Innovator category. This blog is a a non-profit-making labour of love and your vote will be much appreciated. Go here to vote:

Tuesday 4 December 2018

How To Design A Christmas Jumper

What does designing a Christmas jumper involve? How do you decide whether to go Scandi stylish or full-on festive fun? Today we talk to published designer Torya Winters to get behind-the-scenes information on what it takes to turn your sparkly sweater idea from imagination into reality.

Torya Winters
Photo courtesy of Torya Hughes
She looks fabulously festive in her photo (above) and Christmas is a happy time for Winters, whose ideal December 25th would involve wearing a festive jumper, knitting in a big armchair near a warm fire and having a chocolate orange within reach (preferably not melted!)

Winters started knitting at the age of four and "really got into it in a big way as a teenager. I knitted lots of clothes for my children when they were small and then started designing when I was on maternity leave with my second child. I'm entirely self-taught, and I find the maths part the hardest! My first designs were self-published on Ravelry, and then I started submitting to magazine calls."

As well as Ravelry she sells her designs on Love Knitting and has been published in Knit Now, Crochet Now, Your Crochet and Knitting, Knotions and Knit Picks IDP.

When it comes to Christmas jumpers Winters thinks that "loud and blingy Christmas jumpers are still on-trend. I do like subtle sweaters which hint at the festive season, but you can't beat a really sparkly colourful jumper at Christmas time."

For her Christmas jumper design Winters explains that she "wanted to create something which screamed Christmas, so I was influenced by colours and elements from the traditional festive season. I found this amazing Tinsel yarn from King Cole which was perfect to create a tree, and added candy cane cables and ribbing."

The first stage was to sketch out her design:
Image courtesy of Torya Hughes
Says Winters, "do lots of sketching to get all your ideas down on paper, and never underestimate the importance of swatching. I'd recommend Design Your Own Knits in 5 Easy Steps by Debbie Abrahams - it's a great book which goes through all the stages of designing and offers tips on working out the Mathis for things like sleeve caps and shaping ... it's also a good idea to look at the CYC sizing guidelines, as many publishers want you to fit in with those sizes."

The next stage was to knit up the pattern so see if it looks as good in yarn as it does on paper:
Image courtesy of Torya Hughes
Then it was time to see if Winters could sell her pattern. After submitting her design to Knit Now, following their call-out to designers, the magazine picked her Christmas jumper design for the cover of issue 95. It went on sale earlier this year. Here is the finished product!

Image courtesy of Knit Now magazine
If you missed the magazine in the shops then you can a back issue from More Mags. Huge thanks to Torya Winters for answering our nosey questions!

Saturday 1 December 2018

Review of Baa Baa Brighouse's Advent Yarn Box

It's December 1st, which means I've given myself permission to wear a festive jumper and start bingeing on Christmas tunes.

Today is also the first window opening of an advent calendar. This year I am lucky enough to have two: a Maltesers cardboard one and an advent yarn box I bought from West Yorkshire small yarny business Baa Baa Brighouse.

Sadly the Maltesers calendar was a huge disappointment because I was daft enough to not read the small print! It's a Maltesers calendar without any Maltesers - instead there are small chocolate shapes that I don't particularly like the taste of. My loss will be Mr A Woolly Yarn's gain instead.

Therefore the pressure was on the Baa Baa Brighouse Advent Yarn Box when I came to opening it. Would it be worth its £75 price tag?

I opened the ribbon to see what's inside.

There are 24 small parcels containing mystery shades of 10g of Baa Baa Brew Bluefaced Leicester DK. It's a hand-dyed Yorkshire yarn that ticks the provenance box. There are also a long piece of red ribbon and mini clips to attach the advent parcels to it. Baa Baa Brighouse suggests you hang the parcels up as a decoration by your tree but as I've not got round to putting up any festive ornaments yet I cut straight the chase - parcel number 1.

Like a child on Christmas Day I ripped open the packaging with gusto. And here's what was inside:

It's a really lovely pinky/red skein with an extremely cute sheep charm attached. If that's anything to go by then I'll be waking up early on the next 24 days just to open the next parcel! I haven't yet decided what I'll make with the skeins but they will come in very handy for colourwork.

The box was a limited edition and is no longer available but if you're quick there's still time to order Baa Baa Brighouse's 12 Days of Christmas Yarn Box for £60 plus P&P, designed to keep you amused between December 25th and January 5th. The theme is, as you would imagine, the festive song 'The Twelve Day of Christmas'. Not sure how the partridge in a pear tree will be interpreted in yarn ...

Vote for A Woolly Yarn

 If you enjoy reading this blog please vote for A Woolly Yarn in Knit Now magazine's Knitter of the Year 2018 awards in the Online Innovator category. Go here to vote:

Coming Soon

Watch out for a very special Christmas competition that will be announced on the blog and on our Facebook page. Like the Facebook page to be one of the first to find out. Until then, mum's the word!

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