Thursday, 20 October 2016

Two Of My Articles in The Knitter Issue 103

Issue 103 image courtesy of The Knitter
The Knitter magazine issue 103, I'm very pleased to say, contains two more of my knitting features. The first covers Knit for Peace's knitting holiday to India and the second looks at the history of knitting in the East Midlands.

Both were a pleasure to write and research. Geraldine Maggio, who attended the Indian knitting holiday at the beginning of this year, was a pleasure to interview. For the history feature, on the other hand, more old fashioned research skills, finding and reading relevant books, came in handy.

I won't spoil the articles for you by revealing any more but needless to say it's an honour again to be published in my favourite knitting magazine.

From the UK to Down Under

The Knitter magazine has a loyal readership in Australia and I"m thrilled to be going there very soon on holiday. My husband and I are visiting Sydney, where my cousin and his family live, and then will fly to the Great Barrier Reef.

In Sydney I'm looking forward to visiting a yarn store and hope to pick up some Australian yarn for a souvenir. The internet tells me that Morris & Sons is the shop to head for. Looking at their website it seems that the British yarns are popular in Australia as well as home-grown yarns. 

What knitting to pack? I'm deliberating whether to take socks I started a while back (small and portable but slightly samey) or my newly acquired turquoise Cornish Tin II yarn and the Hut 8 cardigan pattern. It uses a 3.75mm circular needle and as mine is made of wood it should be allowable on the plane. 

It'll be a few weeks before I write my next post. In the meantime I'll be thinking up ideas for future stories and I wish you very happy knitting time!

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Debbie Bliss Falkland Aran Review

My ears pricked up when I hard about the launch of Debbie Bliss's Falkland Aran yarn as part of her Autumn/Winter 2016 collection.

Made from extra fine Falkland merino wool (being from the Falklands it counts as British) the yarn is organic, eco and animal friendly and, as I discovered when knitting up one 100g skein, it's oh so lovely and soft.

Falkland Aran image courtesy of Debbie Bliss
Debbie Bliss kindly sent me a couple of skeins, one cream and one turquoise, to review along with the accompanying Falkland Aran pattern book.

Image courtesy of Debbie Bliss
She had this to say about Falkland Aran:

"We were launching the pure Bliss Collection of luxury fibres for A/W16 and were presented with this stunning yarn from the Falkland Islands which was being spun by Laxations in Yorkshire. I fell in love with it as soon as I watched it; the fabric is super soft but also has the crisp stitch definition. It is perfect for the textured knits that I love to design so the yarn informed the collection, with cables to the fore in knits for men, women and children."

The book has twelve patterns, including both garments and accessories. I chose the blackberry stitch cowl pattern to knit up. The pattern calls for two 100g skeins but I knitted a shorter version with only one. Aside from spending ages rolling the skein into a ball (!) the yarn was a delight to knit with. It didn't split, it has great stitch definition and being aran weight knits up relatively quickly.

Here's the finished cowl:

Not only does it look great but it's very warm to wear. The two ball version in the pattern book has enough length to loop the cowl round the neck twice.

There are 16 colours to choose from and each 100g skein retails at approximately £12.99.

I liked the yarn so much that I've bought the 'mustard' shade to knit Gudrun Johnston's Snarravoe jumper:

Snarravoe image courtesy of Gudrun Johnston

Certainly for me Falkland Aran's British credentials, it's soft properties and warm feel earn it a big thumbs up.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Wool Week Is Back! 10th - 16th October

Hasn't time flown! It's time again for UK Wool Week and all the woolly fun that it brings. Wool Week 2017, organised by the Campaign for Wool,  runs from 10th - 16th October. Here's a round up of events and shenanigans to join in with.

Wool BnB

Imagine a room where everything is made of wool. That dream will come true when the Campaign for Wool opens its first every Wool BnB in Islington where carpets, cardigans and everything in between will be woolly.

Image courtesy of Campaign for Wool
After Wool Week there'll even be the opportunity to stay at the Wool BnB overnight for a fully-immersed wooly experience!

Woolly Hat Day

Friday 14th October will see the Campaign for Wool teaming up with the charity The Mission to Seafarers for Woolly Hat Day 2016. The charity's mission is to help seafarers across the world experience difficulty and knitters can help by hosting an event, woolly or not, to raise money.

Image courtesy of The Mission to Seafarers

Bicester Village Wool Boutique

Head to the Oxfordshire mall outlet on 13th October to see the pop up wool boutique featuring the upmarket brands Chinti & Parker, Pringle of Scotland, John Smedley, Brora, Markus Lupfer, Crumpet, Jostens of Elgin and Ross Barr.

Knit-along with Baa Baa Brighouse

Join in the Ganny Lock Knit-Along organised by Baa Baa Brighouse. The pattern was designed by the online store's owner Elaine Jinks-Turner.

Image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse
To knit the shawl pattern you'll need two skeins of the company's Baa Baa Brew yarn, which can include their two new shades for autumn Bailiff Bridge and Wellholme:

Sign up here to join the knit-along. It starts on Monday 10th October and knitters who subscribe will receive seven free pattern updates via email from the 10th to the 22nd October.

Monday, 3 October 2016

British Knitting Awards 2016 Winners

Today Let's Knit magazine announced the winners of the 2016 British Knitting Awards. Readers could vote for their favourite designer, yarn, product and more.

Here are the well-deserved winners:

Winner Best Brand for British Yarn; Winner Best Sock Yarn Brand; Runner up Best Independent Yarn Brand

These three awards went to West Yorkshire Spinners, whose country birds sock yarn is a customer favourite.

Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Spinners.

Winner Best Value Yarn Brand; Winner Best Overall Yarn Brand; Winner Best Yarn for Crochet; Third place Favourite Pattern House; Third Place Best Baby Yarn Brand

Any guess who won these awards? The answer is Sirdar, the budget brand. Its chunky, fashion self-patterning yarns are particularly valued by beginners. I haven't covered Sirdar on this blog because although the company is British their yarns are made abroad.

Image courtesy of Sirdar

Winner Bast Baby Yarn Brand; Winner Favourite Knitting Designer; Winner Favourite Book - The Knitters' Knowledge; Runner up Best Luxury Yarn Brand; Third Place - Best Baby Yarn Brand

Debbie Bliss was made an MBE in 2015 and the awards keep coming with her winner three categories, runner up in one and third place in another. I've interviewed her for The Knitter magazine and not only is she an extremely lovely and down to earth woman she is a font of knowledge about knitting and styling. Whilst all her yarns aren't British made her recent launch Falkland Aran is and I'll be reviewing it and its supporting pattern book very soon.

Image courtesy of Debbie Bliss

Winner Best Knitting Needle Range; Winner Best Accessories Range; Runner Up Best Crochet Accessories Range

Knitters are probably no stranger to the Knit Pro needle range. I particularly like their circular needles as they are sturdy and reasonably-priced - I've never had one snap unlike a cheap one I got free with a magazine.

Image courtesy of Knit Pro

Third Place Favourite Book

This result wasn't in Let's Knit email publicising the winners but a quick internet search told me the that blogger Winwick Mum won this award for her book Super Socks. 

Image courtesy of Winwick Mum

A comprehensive list of all the winners will be published in Let's Knit's Christmas edition. I haven't got my hands on a copy yet and am interested to find out the winners in the other categories.  Well done to all the winners.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Baa Baa Brighouse's Yan Tan Tethera Monthly Yarn Club

Receiving a parcel in the post every month with mystery contents is an exciting prospect. I first tried the concept out with beauty boxes a few years back, signing up to receive one a month for three month.s After the novelty wore off I realised that although the contents were worth more than the box price there weren't enough items I'd actually use to justify the subscription cost.

Then I heard about monthly yarn subscriptions. West Yorkshire based website Baa Baa Brighouse runs its own, with the interesting name of Yan Tan Tethera. What intrigued me about this club as opposed to ones from other wool companies is that as well as the yarn subscribers receive a little gift too: past months have included edible treats and pampering products.  Rather than signing up for a set amount of time in advance customers buy each box monthly. The upside of this is that you don't have to pay out in the months you're not feeling flush, but the potential downside is that when you can afford it you might forget to place your order!

Baa Baa Brighouse kindly sent me September's box to review. My review is entirely my own.

I certainly felt like a child at Christmas when the box arrived in the post. Unwrapping it I found lots of goodies, with the skein of the month lovingly wrapped in tissue paper and ribbon. Baa Baa Brighouse explained to me the ethos behind each month's skein:
"Sign up each month and you will receive an exclusive skein of quality Yorkshire yarn that has been sourced, spun and dyed local by hand. Our dyers take their inspiration from photographs of the Yorkshire landscape and nature ... each dyer will use a different photograph guaranteeing that every monthly batch of yarn is beautiful and completely unique from the next."
Here's the photo, taken by Shutterspot Photography at Temple Newsam in Leeds, which inspired September's yarn:
Image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse

And here's the 100g skein itself:

It's a lovely blend of autumnal browns and oranges.

The yarn is 100% merino wool. The yarn fun didn't end there, however. September's special treat in the box was a small skein of hand-dyed Baa Baa Brew DK yarn folded to look like a flower:

I knitted a quick swatch test and thought the peach yarn would look good at the top of a pair of socks. Sadly I haven't had time yet to knit a pair but the swatch gives you the idea of how the colours look together:

I love how the 100g skein self-stripes!

Each monthly subscription costs £21 plus postage. The November box is now available to buy. This is the photo the hand-dyer is working from:

At the moment I have a lot of yarn to use up but I'll certainly think about subscribing to the Yan Tan Tethera Yarn Club in the future. It's particularly suitable to people who like knitting one skein projects such as socks and shawls.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Rowan Selects Cashmere Review

Back in August I wrote about the management changes that have gone on at Rowan and the yarns that the company has discontinued.

Image courtesy of Rowan
Amidst all the changes Rowan decided to launch some one-off speciality yarns under the 'Rowan Selects' brand, one of which is Rowan Cashmere. The company sent me a ball and two pattern books, one for children and one for adults, to review.

The yarn feels simply exquisite: soft, bouncy and very easy to knit with. Anyone who doesn't like wearing wool next to the skin because they find it itchy will love this blend of 95% cashmere and 5% wool - it's perfect even for a baby's sensitive skin. The colour palette is rather limited, having only six shades of grey, black, pale blue and a light pink, but for a one-off release that's understandable.

The two pattern books to support the yarn, both by Martin Storey, each contain five designs. The women's patterns include a cardigan, hat, mittens, beret and scarf; and the children's book offers a pair of bootees, two jumpers, a hat and a cardigan.

I received one ball of the pale pink yarn, which was enough to knit the Snowbaby Hat. This was a quick and satisfying project that took me only one evening to complete. It was a joy to knit with the yarn - it didn't split and it feels wonderful beneath the fingers. The only downside is the RRP, which is £9.95, plus also looking online I've found that only some of the websites that usually sell Rowan products are stocking the cashmere line.

Here's my finished hat! I knitted it on slightly larger needles, because the intended recipient, my cousin's daughter Ivy, is nearly one and I wanted to make sure it was big enough for her to be able to wear it all through the winter. There wasn't enough yarn left over to make the pom pom that's included in the pattern, but I personally think it looks better as a beanie.

The lighting isn't great on this photography unfortunately and it doesn't show the colour at its best.

Rowan Selects Cashmere is made in Italy and doesn't pass the British test on that front, but Rowan is a well-known English business (albeit now owned by a German parent company). One or two balls make for a great treat, but the ten balls needed to knit the smallest size woman's cardigan are too pricey for most knitters' pockets.

Cornish Tin II Update

Thanks to my fab godmother, who picked me up two skeins at Yarndale following them selling out online, I now have the three skeins of Cornish Tin II 4ply yarn in turquoise I need to knit the Hut 8 cardigan with. I originally started knitting it in a silky, raspberry 4ply yarn from Eden Cottage Yarns but found this wasn't robust enough for the pattern. Instead I'll use it for a summer t-shirt, perhaps Amelie. Another project to add to my ever-growing list!

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Cornish Tin II A Near Sellout

Yesterday (Tuesday 20th September 2016) Blacker Yarn's much trumpeted limited edition 11th birthday yarn Cornish Tin II, which I blogged about at the end of August, went on sale and it flew off the online shelves so quickly that some of the shades are already out of stock.

Cornish Tin II image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
I was a day late to the party having been busy running errands and visiting my friend and her baby son yesterday, (she loved the baby blanket in butterfly stitch I knitted for baby Ben), and it was only today when I found some time to buy some Cornish Tin II for myself.

My favourite colour, the Dolcoath Turquoise, had already sold out in DK and I only managed to buy one out of the three 4ply skeins I wanted, having found the last one at Tangled Yarn. Seeing as I knew if I didn't buy any more today then my chance would probably be gone I also bit the bullet and bought three skeins of Poldice Pink in DK from Brityarn (see the image below and the bottom left skein -  I keep calling it Poldark pink after the beautiful pink dress the character Elizabeth wore in last Sunday's Poldark BBC TV episode). Both the 100g DK and 4ply skeins cost £16.20.

Cornish Tin II image courtesy of Blacker Yarns and Brityarn

It's a great marketing ploy from Blacker Yarns to launch a limited edition yarn because it does encourage impulse buying - however if you think you'll be disappointed if you'll miss out then I urge you to buy now.

Buy whatever's left online from:

If there's no Cornish Tin II appearing on the website then it has sadly probably sold out in between me publishing this post and you looking. 

Help - I missed out! What can I do?

Are you going to Yarndale in Skipton this coming weekend the 24th and 25th September? If so then get there early to trawl Blacker Yarns' stand as they will be selling some skeins there. Again my advice is to not dither as if you go for a walk to think about it the skeins may well be sold by the time you return.

Sonja from Blacker Yarns has written in the Cornish Tin II's Ravelry group that any leftover skeins will go on sale on the Blacker Yarns website on 29th September at 10am. Set an alarm on your mobile phone now.

What if i still can't buy any?

Can't make it to Yarndale and the Cornish Tin II colours you wanted have all gone? You could always buy from Blacker Yarns Tamar range instead, which also offers 4ply and DK weights. It's a high-quality yarn with drape and shine.

Tamar image courtesy of Blacker Yarns

Did you manage to get your hands on any skeins of Cornish Tin II? Which colours did you buy and which patterns are you going to knit? Do let me know in the comments box below.

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