Sunday 8 December 2019

Win WYSpinners' Christmas Sock Yarn & Pattern

It's December, it's the run-up to Christmas and A Woolly Yarn is revelling in the season of goodwill. To thank all our followers for reading and to remind you that the blog is retiring and we're moving over to Instagram - @awoollyyarn - we've got this great give-away.

You could win a ball of West Yorkshire Spinners' 2019 Robin sock yarn together with a supporting pattern!

Second prize is one copy of Rowan Select's Sultano & Sultano Fine book containing seven hand knit designs.

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. On Instagram follow @awoollyyarn

4. On Facebook in the comments box under the competition post tell us what you're looking forward to knitting in 2020.

The competition opens at midday on Sunday 8th December and closes at 11.59pm on Sunday 22nd 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 have overseas readers follow A Woolly Yarn on Instagram and Facebook and find out what they're planning to knit.
Terms & Conditions

1. The promoter is the A Woolly Yarn blog, which has no affiliation with West Yorkshire Spinners, Rowan 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 Sunday 22 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 23rd December 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 winners when the prizes are posted. The promoter will obtain proof of postage and is not responsible for any failure of the Royal Mail to deliver the prizes.

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. 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.

Saturday 7 December 2019

The Future Of A Woolly Yarn

A Woolly Yarn is moving to Instagram!

I started A Woolly Yarn at the beginning of 2014 and since then the digital world has changed significantly. Podcasts and vlogs have replaced blogs in popularity with people also wanting to access information in short, bitesized chunks on social media.

Whilst I've loved publishing A Woolly Yarn over the last six years it has been a time-consuming labour of love. I now have less spare time to give to the blog thanks to my great news that my debut novel, My Perfect Sister, is going to be published by Red Door Press in May 2020. I'm hard at work on a second novel and am dedicating most of my free hours to that.

Therefore I have decided that from January 2020 the A Woolly Yarn blog will go into retirement. Instead please fellow A Woolly Yarn on Facebook and Instagram.  It'll still be the place for British knitting news and reviews and there will be more frequent but shorter updates.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has followed A Woolly Yarn so far - winning Knit Now magazine's Online Innovator Award in 2017 was a real highlight - and hope that you'll join us on Facebook and Instagram to move the community from strength to strength.

Plus keep your eye out for a special competition to mark the occasion!

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Ten Yarny Christmas Gifts For Father Christmas Inspiration

The festive songs are playing in stores, lights are up in town centres and there's someone you know who has put up their decorated tree in November. Yes, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

Whether you're buying gifts yourself or wanting to leave a massive hint for Father Christmas, here are some ideas for those who love the yarny things in life!

1. Yarn Bowl

This yarn bowl from Ebsworth Pots has very cute sheep on the front and will stop your wool in progress from rolling under the sofa. It is hand thrown and costs £28 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Ebsworth Pots
2. Christmas Dinner Discover Box

Know someone who likes to crochet as well as knit? Toft's Christmas Dinner Discover Box contains the yarn and patterns you need to craft your own Christmas dinner - no defrosting or oven required. It costs £39 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Toft

3. Knitting Pin

This Susan Crawford Vintage knitting lady metal pin is a fun treat and costs £8 plus P&P. It's perfect to embellish a coat or project bag.

Image courtesy of Susan Crawford Vintage

4. Tote Bag

Know someone who loves reading as much as they do knitting? Ysolda's Wool and Books tote, made from sturdy heavy canvas, costs £10 plus P&P and can double up either as a shopping bag or holder for knitting projects.

5. Wool Wash Bar

This year scientists and the media have highlighted the danger that plastics cause to wildlife and the environment. A Northern Yarn Shear Delight Wool Wash Bar is a great gift for a knitter who is trying to ditch plastic bottles and packaging and wants to wash their woolies with care. It costs £6.50 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Northern Yarn

6. Vintage Buttons

It can be a faff to find buttons to sew onto cardigans and other projects. Baa Baa Brighouse sells a  pack of 30 assorted vintage buttons for £2.50 plus P&P that can solve that problem.

Image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse

7. Yarn Addict Sticker

This Yarn Addict Sticker is a perfect stocking £1.50 for a knitter who is loud and proud of their hobby! Sold by Dear Ewe it costs £1.50 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Dear Ewe

8. Personalised Knitting Needles

What to give the knitter who has everything? How about a set of 5mm knitting needles personalised with their name or a meaningful phrase? Oakdene Designs sells them in a handy box for £17 plus P&P on Not On The High Street.

Image courtesy of Not On The High Street
9. Hand Balm

Again this is a great gift for people who want to reduce their plastic use. Moel View Yarns' Crafters Lotion Balm is made with organic butters and oils and comes in four fragrances: Rosemary & Lavender: Sweet Orange & Vanilla Bean; Rose & Rooibos; and Bergamot & Black Pepper. Each handmade balm costs £14 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Moel View Yarns

10. Yarntelier Beaded Lace Cowl and Bettys Gift Set

Last but not least is a big hitter present for someone really special. This gift set from Yarntelier costs £60 plus P&P and includes a ball of cashmere yarn, crochet hook, project bag, beads and pattern to knit the Nikita Beaded Lace Cowl; plus Bettys 100th anniversary Yorkshire tea and shortbread biscuits.

Image courtesy of Yarntelier
These posts from A Woolly Yarn's archive offer more Christmas gift ideas but be aware that prices may have changed and items may be out of stock:

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Yarntelier's Latest Patterns and Yarn Launches

The Yorkshire yarn and pattern business Yarntelier, owned by Louisa Harding, is synonymous with its 100% cashmere yarns made in England.

For the Autumn/Winter season the brand has launched three garment patterns to showcase three new shades of Cashmere Gilli and three accessory patterns knitted in three new shades of Cashmere Lace. Both yarns can be knitted on bigger needles for lace and smaller stocking stitch. As you'd expect the lace yarn is finer than the gilli.

Yarntelier yarns are not cheap but are high quality, perfect for investment knits that you want to wear for decades to come.

Cashmere Gilli

The three new shades are Tartan, Hawthorn and Silverhey.

Both the Gilli and Lace samples A Woolly Yarn received are gorgeously soft with a faint natural scent. All opinions are our own.

The Autumn/Winter pattern releases to support Cashmere Gilli are:

Cybele: a lace-edged sweater photographed in the Hawthorn shade. The pattern costs £5 to download.
Image courtesy of Yarntelier
Lulia - a lace-sleeved cardigan photographed in the Tartan shade. The pattern costs £5 to download.
Image courtesy of Yarntelier
Elya - knitted in the shade Silverheys it also costs £5 to download this asymmetrical cable jumper pattern. Elya is A Woolly Yarn's favourite of the three designs for being functional and luxe at the same time.
Image courtesy of Yarntelier
Cashmere Lace

The three new shades are darker than their Gilli counterparts and are Night, Forest and Rosehip. Together they are deep and jewel-toned.

The Autumn/Winter accessory patterns to support Cashmere Lace are:

Thisbe: this beaded edge shawl pattern costs £5 to download from Yarntelier. The model is wearing it in the shade Forest. 
Image courtesy of Yarntelier
Esota: this diagonal tweed scarf is knitted using the new shade Night and the existing shade Ripple. As with the others the pattern costs £5 to download.
Image courtesy of Yarntelier
Annya: this beaded lace cape is A Woolly Yarn's favourite of the new accessory patterns. It costs £5 to download and the model is wearing it in the new shade Rosehip.
Image courtesy of Yarntelier
Yarntelier fans may also like to know that Louisa Harding will be running a two-day workshop at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire on the weekend of 18th and 19th April 2020. The workshop costs £320 and Harding will demonstrate how to translate your creative ideas into an original design for a hand-knitted lace scarf or shawl. The price includes lunch on both days, yarn samples and a Yarntelier goody bag.

Which is your favourite out of the new shades and patterns? 

Monday 18 November 2019

Five Free Patterns For Christmas Jumper Day 2019

Image courtesy of Save the Children
Save the date people - this year's Christmas Jumper Day to raise money for the charity Save the Children is Friday 13th December.

Schools, workplaces and anyone else who wants to join in are encouraged to wear a seasonal sweater and donate to Save the Children to support its causes around the world.

Cheesy, classic or contemporary - it doesn't matter the type of jumper you wear as long as you take part and spare what cash you can.

Knitters know it's much better to knit your own jumper that will last for years and years rather than buy unsustainable fashion that will fall apart after a few washes.  Here are five free pattern ideas:

1. Hobbycraft has a free download pattern for a woman's Christmas jumper complete with pom pom for Rudolph's nose!

Image courtesy of Hobbycraft
2. Lovecrafts has a free download of a Painbox Yarns pattern for men featuring lots of Christmas trees.

Image courtesy of Paintbox Yarns/Lovecrafts
3. DROPS design's free pattern has a festive silver stag yoke.

Image courtesy of DROPS
4. Let's Knit magazine has a free download pattern for a unisex child's snowman jumper.

Image courtesy of Let's Knit
5. The Yarn Loop has a free snowman pattern by Sue Stratford for adults who don't want to miss out on the fun!

Image courtesy of The Yarn Loop

Now all you have to buy is that yarn, that's if you haven't got any hanging around in your stash that is!

Delve into A Woolly Yarn's archive for more Christmas jumper pattern ideas:

Which is your favourite Christmas jumper pattern?

Friday 15 November 2019

Marie Wallin's Two New Pattern Books For Winter

Meadow image courtesy of Marie Wallin
It's like waiting for a bus and then two come along at once! Fans of knitting designer Marie Wallin - who formerly worked for Rowan and now runs her own business - will be thrilled to know that she's releasing not one but two pattern books this winter.


Meadow is already available and contains seven Fair Isle and textured stitch designs that are Wallin's speciality. The whole collection uses Jamieson's Spindrift 4ply wool. Spindrift is a hardy wool with a sticky texture that makes it suitable for steeking - if you dare!

Says Wallin about the patterns:
"The designs in the Meadow collection are lightly inspired by traditional Fair Isle patterns and ornamental design. Many of the shapes are more contemporary in look and styling with some of them being easy to change to a different colour, if so desired."
Meadow costs £18 plus P&P from Wallin's website and she is donating £1 from each copy sold to the Shetland MRI scanner appeal. The island of Shetland is close to Wallin's heart and currently residents who need an MRI scan have to travel to the mainland.

All seven designs are available to browse on Ravelry, but here are A Woolly Yarn's top three favourites:


This cropped, boxy-shaped jumper is knitted flat in pieces and uses 16 different shades of Spindrift. Great for a challenge!

Cowslip image courtesy of Marie Wallin

Wallin has used the shade 'Blue Lovat' for this jumper with three-quarter-length sleeves. The intricate stitch pattern is very striking.

Mallow image courtesy of Marie Wallin

Want a change from stranded colourwork yokes? This design places the colourwork around the waist instead.

Teasel image courtesy of Marie Wallin


Wallin's second pattern book of the season, Gentle, uses her own British Breeds yarn range, including four new shades that will launch on 1st December to coincide with the publication of the book. Gentle is available to pre-order for £19 plus P&P from Marie Wallin's website.

Gentle image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Gentle contains 12 designs and, after a sneak early peak of them all, here are A Woolly Yarn's top three favourites:

Honeysuckle - a beautifully-shaded Fair Isle cardigan.

Honeysuckle image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Veronica Cowl - a smaller project suitable for stranded colourwork learners.

Veronica image courtesy of Marie Wallin
Mistletoe Tam - a seasonally-named hat that's almost too beautiful to wear!

Which is your favourite? Dare you steek or do you opt for designs you don't have to cut? Let us know in the comment box or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Fashionistas Hail Knitted Power Jumpers

Reading this week's Grazia magazine one very woolly story popped out at me. Apparently knitted power jumpers are set to be all the rage: "No longer assuming a solid supporting role to coats and boots, cardis and sweaters are making a play for the limelight this winter".  The article was accompanied by photos of jumpers with prices reaching up to a whopping £684, much, much more than the hand-knitted Vinterskov jumper by Karie Westermann that I happened to be wearing whilst reading the article.

It got me thinking that fashionistas are rather slow on the knitted jumper uptake. Knitters love a statement jumper that they've made themselves - we've been practicing slow, sustainable, eco-friendly fashion for years.

Vinterskov image courtesy of Karie Westermann
During my childhood I was told to put a jumper on rather than turn the heating up and I love this time of year when the clocks go back, the nights get darker, the days cooler and crisper and it's officially cosy sweater season. I finished my version of Westermann's Vinteskov back in April this year and it's only in the last couple of weeks that it has been cold enough to wear it. My version is mainly knitted in a one-off hand-dyed yarn by Eden Cottage Yarns along with some leftover plum aran for the trees that matched the dark speckles exactly.

My version of Vinterskov 
Knitters have known for centuries that woolly jumpers are can be both practical and fashionable. Grazia says that a power knit "should simply look compellingly cosy and as if it has - and will be - in your wardrobe for years."

One jumper that fits the bill, which I finished a couple of months ago, is the cover pattern from Shetland Wool Week's 2018 Annual: Alyssa Maggie's Tree Yoke.
Image courtesy of Alyssa Maggie
My version is knitted using Susan Crawford's Excelana 4ply, with a darker grey and lighter yellow.

My other 'power jumper' this year is Marna Gilligan's The Simpler Sinister Sweater.  Marna's original is knitted in yellow and grey:

Image courtesy of Marna Gilligan
I opted for yarn from the Kettle Yarn Co. in brighter colours:

Coming soon to my needles is a fabulous new power jumper pattern by Mrs Moon using super chunky wool:
Mossy jumper image courtesy of Mrs Moon
It's going to be a Christmas gift for a relative and I'm hoping that because it's knitted on 10mm needles I'll get it finished way before December 25th!

What's your favourite hand-knitted power jumper? Or which are you planning to knit over the months? Tell all in the comments below or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page.

Monday 28 October 2019

Review Of Shetland Wool Week Annual 2019

Image courtesy of Shetland Wool Week
This year's Shetland Wool Week was another success attracting visitors from all around the world to the small Scottish island renowned for its woolly heritage.

For those of us who didn't get a chance or couldn't afford to go there the Shetland Wool Week Annual 2019,  priced at £24 plus P&P, is a great souvenir and opportunity for a spot of armchair travelling. A Woolly Yarn received a review copy but all opinions are our own.

As well as containing 16 patterns inspired by Shetland (15 are knitting and one, by Marie Wallin, is crochet) the annual celebrates the tenth anniversary of Wool Week. An article looks into the history of official hat pattern releases for the festival - this year's is Oliver Henry's Roadside Beanie -
there's a left of support from HRH Prince Charles, Duke of Rothsay, who initiated the Campaign for Wool.

Image courtesy of Oliver Henry and Sandra Manson
Sumptuous photography, not only of the garments and accessories included in the patterns but also of scenes around Shetland, really give the reader a feel of the islands. There are also four features covering native sheep, Fair Isle knitting, natural dyes and how the landscape inspires craft.

The most familiar pattern in the annual, because it was released back in March to promote this year's Wool Week, is this year's patron Oliver Henry's Roadside Beanie. It's knitted using Jamieson and Smith's 2ply jumper weight wool.

Henry explained the inspiration for the hat: "My roadside beanie features two common roadside sights in Shetland: Shetland sheep and fishing boats. Both of them have loomed large in my life as a Shetlander."

The annual contains two more hat patterns to choose from: Felicity Ford's Shetland Muse

Image courtesy of Felicity Ford
and the Stavaness Toorie by Terri Malcolmson.

Image courtesy of Terri Malcolmson
If you have something to keep your head warm you'll also be wanting to keep your hands warm too. The Annual has three options, my favourite being Donna Smith's Nancy's Gloves.

Image courtesy of Donna Smith

Shawls are intrinsic to Shetland's knitting history and The Annual contains patterns for two plus one for a stole. Of course Fair Isle and stranded colourwork techniques are also synonymous with the islands.

Linda Shearer's Bonhoga Cardigan (meaning place of one's childhood') will test knitters' skills with its modern twist on a vintage 1950s-60s design.

Image courtesy of Linda Shearer
Ella Gordon's Mattie Yoke is a child's jumper with colours and motifs inspired by Taatit rugs - traditional pile bedcovers of Shetland.

Image courtesy of Ella Gordon
All the garments and accessories featured in Shetland Wool Week Annual 2019 are available to see on Ravelry.

The Annual is a great keepsake. Which pattern do you want to knit first? Let us know in the comments below or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page.

Thursday 17 October 2019

Which Colours Are On Trend For 2020?

I know, I know, we haven't even had Bonfire Night yet, never mind Christmas, so it feels way too early to be thinking of the New Year. Yarn companies and other businesses such as paint manufacturers, however, work at least six months in advance and its their job to make a prophecy on the colours that customers will be wanting in the future, based on the zeitgeist, fashion trends and, well, probably clutching at straws in the wind.

The website LoveCrafts and paint company Dulux have both revealed the colours they think will be popular in 2020.


Dulux's pick is Tranquil Dawn, a greeny-grey shade.

Image courtesy of
According to Dulux the neutral shade "reflects a growing desire to understand what it is to be human at a time when advances in technology are making us feel increasingly disconnected from each other."

It's certainly a relaxing colour with echoes of nature. I found it very difficult to find wool resembling this shade, because the ones I came across veered towards being more green or more grey.

Rowan's Pure Wool Worsted in the shade Fern is similar, but watch out because it's superwash. For more details about the damaging environmental process involved in making wool superwash see A Woolly Yarn's previous blog post Should Knitters Avoid Superwash Wool?

Fern image courtesy of Knit Rowan

Rowan's Summerlite 4ply in the shade Green Bay is also similar:

Green Bay image courtesy of Knit Rowan

LoveCrafts suggests that caramel will be a popular colour on knitters' needles in 2020 (as well as 1980s neons but we'll pass that one by - been there, done that, not knitted the colours).

Debbie Bliss' Toast 4ply in the Gold shade is on the vibrant side of caramel:
Image courtesy of LoveCrafts
Whereas Sublime's Extra Fine Merino in the caramel shade is more muted.

Image courtesy of
Or if you're more pumpkin-shade orientated then try West Yorkshire Spinners' Bluefaced Leicester Aran:
Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners
Which trend do you prefer or do you usually reach for the tried and testers colours you like? Let us know in the comments below or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page.
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