Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Exclusive Sneak Peak Of The Royal Wedding Couple

As the caterers and florists prepare for Saturday, Windsor Chapel is cleaned within an inch of its life and the guests get ready for the big day, A Woolly Yarn can exclusively reveal sneak peaks of Harry and Meghan on Buckingham Palace's balcony.

The bride wore white and the groom sported his signature beard and moustache.

The crowds gathered at Buckingham Palace cheered when the happy couple shared a quick kiss.

Then it was time for Harry and Meghan to wave goodbye and head off to their evening reception.

With thanks to Fiona Goble's Knit Your Own Royal Wedding, from which I adapted the patterns!

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Have You Knitted A Kate Davies Carbeth Yet?

Every now and again a knitwear design hits the zeitgeist, inspires numerous knit-a-longs and becomes a craze amongst the knitting community, to be spotted in multiple at craft gatherings and festivals. Previous favourites in the last few years have included Tin Can Knits' Lush and Karie Westermann's Scollay cardigans.

Now it's the turn of Kate Davies' Carbeth. What first began on Davies' needles as a Boxing Day jumper has spawned a cross-Atlantic knitting sensation. There are now three Carbeth designs to choose from:

The original roll-neck jumper:

Image courtesy of Kate Davies

A cardigan version:

Image courtesy of Kate Davies

And now Carbeth Swan Dance, a comfy, oversized version with a simple lace pattern:

Image courtesy of Kate Davies
Davies herself has written a blog post celebrating all the different Carbeth versions knitters have produced. Carbeth has inspired other designers and wool spinners too, with Knit Now magazine publishing a photo of the Editor's stripy version (sadly the photo isn't available online), and the American website Mason Dixon Knitting running its own 'Bang Out A Carbeth' knit along.

The Carbeth jumper and cardigan are knitted with two DK strands held together. Davies' patterns are written for her own Bauchaille range costing £7.49 per 50g ball plus P&P.  Northumberlan-based yarn company Whistlebare has posted on Facebook a picture of a Carbeth knitted in their own Cheviot Marsh yarn. Cheviot Marsh retails at £16.50 plus P&P for a 100g skein.

Image courtesy of Whistlebare

Jess James-Thomson, owner of Edinburgh yarn store Ginger Twist Studio, has used her own Ginger's Hand Dyed Sheepish DK for her Carbeth.

Image courtesy of Jess James-Thomson
Lovers of naturally-coloured British yarn could plump to knit a Carbeth in Daughter of a Shepherd's Brume DK, which is a blend of 50% Hebridean, 25% Zwarbles and 25% Exmoor Blueface pure undyed wool. It costs £20 per 100g skein plus P&P.

Brume image courtesy of Daughter of a Shepherd

Or Blacker Yarns offers a range of plain yarns, its Tamar Blend DK Ottery Dark Undyed being a good choice for Carbeth. Direct from Blacker Yarns each 100g hank costs £16.20 plus P&P.

Ottery image courtesy of Blacker Yarns

Davies has a new pattern book out inspired by The Scottish West Highland Way. Who knows if one of these patterns will become a classic? To buy one of the Carbeth patterns head to Ravelry. Each one costs £5.95 to download.

Why not share your Carbeth knits with us on our A Woolly Yarn Facebook page? Which is your favourite of the three Carbeth designs? Share your preferred pattern in the comments section below.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Farewell to Baaramewe's Dovestone DK & Welcome To Their New Brit Yarn

It's out with the old ...

It's sad to see wave goodbye and see an British favourite yarn go but, due to a huge 70% increase in the market cost of the Wensleydale fleece that's a part of its special blend, Yorkshire-based retailer baaramewe has decided to stop producing their own-brand Dovestone DK.

Image courtesy of baaramewe
There are still a few skeins left at £15 plus P&P for a 100g hank of this 50% Bluefaced Leicester, 25% Wensleydale Longwool and 25% Dark Brown Masham brew.

And in with the new!

To fill the Dovestone-sized hole in its local yarn range wish a warm welcome to Winterburn DK. Although it's not yet available directly from baaramewe, Winterburn has made an appearance at Blacksheepwools

Winterburn image courtesy of Freehold Yarn Co.
Available in 13 shades, Winterburn is spun from Masham fleece, which apparently "has smaller ringlets of fleece than the Wensleydale but with added bounce and loft that it gets from its hill-loving male ancestry, the Dalesbred".

Winterburn comes in the some colours as Dovestone and is designed to complement the numerous patterns baaramewe created to support that yarn. It's slightly cheaper at £13.99 per 100g skein.

Chevin image courtesy of baaramewe
I have a number of balls of Dovestone DK in Chevin - a forest green colour (see above) - that I intended to use for a land army jumper pattern but I now think I'll allocate it to something different. Any ideas?

Will you miss Dovestone DK and what have you knitted with it? Let us know in the comments box below. 

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Stitch Markers To Dye For

I can never have enough stitch markers as the free plastic ones from magazines break, some get lost down the side of the sofa and my hoard of markers get used up pretty quickly on the numerous works in progress I have on the go. More than once I've resorted to knotting some spare yarn in a loop to create a temporary marker because I've run out.

Ysolda Teague

Therefore when I received one of Ysolda Teague's regular marketing emails last week for her yarn, pattern and sundries online store, and saw this delightful stitch marker set,  I snapped one up pronto.

Image courtesy of Ysolda Teague
There are six wooden markers that are mini versions of Teague's sweater designs. Not only do they fit size 4mm-8mm needles but they look so cute too and are sturdy - no snapping here. Whilst they're not cheap, at £9 plus P&P, they should last a lifetime.


The Ysolda Teague stitch markers will have pride of place in my knitting bag alongside my two other favourites. These metal knitting-themed markers from Baabaabrighouse cost £5 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of Baabaabrighouse
The dainty pair of scissors, ball of yarn and sellotape caught my eye, along with the fact that they're available in two sizes: up to 3.75mm and up to 7.5mm. Huge stitch markers do tend to make a bit of a gap when I'm knitting on smaller-sized needles.


These adorable sheep-faced stitch markers from Herdy were my first purchase at Yarndale a few years ago.
Image courtesy of Herdy
At £7.50 for a pack of six, plus P&P, they're a mid-range price. They fit needles up to 7mm. Mine have had oodles of use out of them and are currently holding places in garments I'm in the middle of creating. All of these three sets of stitch markers put a smile on my face when I'm knitting!

Do you have a favourite stitch marker set - or perhaps you've inherited some with a special meaning? Do let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Review of Knit Now Magazine's 2018 British Knits Issue

Image courtesy of Knit Now
Every year Knit Now magazine publishes a British special featuring all British yarns and designers. Since we've been up-and-running A Woolly Yarn enjoyed reviewing these - and this year is no exception. Rest assured that being awarded an Online Innovator knitting award from the magazine this year hasn't affected our impartiality.

What proved difficult with this year's review is finding a copy of issue 86, and therefore there are only a few days left before issue 87 comes out on the newsstands. In the small town where I live the supermarkets don't stock Knit Now but a well-known high street newsagents always has done. This month that newsagents didn't stock the magazine and nor did a larger branch a few miles away.

Finally I managed to buy a discounted second-hand copy on eBay. Knit Now's publisher, Practical Publishing, does sell copies online but charges a £2.49 P&P fee on top of the cover price. If you have the same difficultly finding a copy it may be worth your while signing up for the current subscription deal, which offers three issues for £6.

Image courtesy of Knit Now
Back to the review. The issue comes with two free gifts, a plastic row counter and a classic knits supplement with a cute exclusive child's Paddington jumper on the front. The classic knits supplement contains the Pandora jumper pattern from West Yorkshire Spinners, which I already have as it's taken from WYS' Illustrious Pattern Book, but I don't recognise any of the other patterns in the supplement.

For me the standout article in this issue is the feature by Louise Scollay, who runs the KnitBritish website and podcast. She busts myths about British wool, such as that it's scratchy, expensive and always brown. The magazine also challenged real knitters to test British yarn at different price points and score them on areas such as enjoyability to knit with and the colour.

The news pages are good too with a round up of book reviews, expert advice (how do you stop your cat from ruining your work?) and latest releases from British wool brands.

Image courtesy of Dots Dabbles
Apart from the Paddington jumper (if you have a child you could knit for), however, none of the patterns this issue stood out, with the possible exception of a pair of socks called To The Lighthouse made with Kettle Yarn Co. Baskerville (see left).

It goes to say that a knitting magazine's patterns can't please all of the people all of the time and each knitter has their own personal taste and preferred projects. For me April isn't quite the time of year to start knitting heavy duty scarves, hats and cowls and, not being a knitted toy fan, I won't casting on the shepherd or horse and rider. There have, however, been lots of patterns in previous issues I've knitted up and I've certainly enjoyed reading the news and features in issue 86. The row counter will come in very handy too.

All-in-all it's great to see British designers and yarns being championed and not overlooked for cheap acrylic imports.

Previous Knit Now Best of British special editions

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Take Five British Yarns For Summer Knits

Today it's seven degrees celcius where I live in middle England and to keep warm I'm wearing Karie Westermann's Scollay cardigan. Surely soon Spring will finally leap into action? But what should I knit on my needles to wear in the sunnier months when it's time to pack up the aran and DK wool knits until the Autumn?

Here's a round up of five British yarns for lighter knits.

1. Erika Knight Studio Linen

Studio Linen Image Courtesy of Erika Knight
Available in 17 colours this DK weight yarn contains 85 per cent recycled rayon-linen fibre.

Knight describes her yarn as 'durable, soft, lustrous and flexible and will naturally soften with wear and washing'.

The range offers muted shades alongside dark ones and each 50g hank costs around the £5.99 price mark depending on which retailer you buy from.

Laughinghens offers 17 patterns to support the yarn including Porcelain, a classic baggy v-neck sweater to pull on during cool evenings, and Positano, a stocking-stitch vest top. Each pattern costs £2.90 to download.

2. Blacker Yarns' Lyonesse Linen Blend

Lyonesse image courtesy of Blacker Yarns
I used the now discontinued dusky pink shade to knit a free West Yorkshire Spinners' Summer Palace Cropped Sleeve Jumper pattern. Knitted up Lyonesse feels substantial yet cool on the skin and is pleasurable to wear.

It's a 50/50 blend of linen and Falkland Island Corriedale/Merino wool that's available in both 4ply and DK weights. The 50g balls cost £7.20 each directly from Blacker Yarns.

Lyonesse comes in a pastelly/summery shade range. Says Blacker Yarns, 'The wool adds presence and memory to the yarn, while the linen contributes crispness and strength. The combination creates a light yarn with good stitch definition, which will retain its block wonderfully.'

3. Eden Cottage Yarns' Titus Lace
Summer Petals Titus Lace image courtesy of Eden Cottage Yarns

Wanting a shawl for summer nights? Eden Cottage Yarns' Titus Lace is hand-dyed by Victoria in the market town of Wetherby, West Yorkshire and, as she dyes in small batches, shades available may vary. Check the website to see when the next yarn update will be.

Titus Lace is a 2ply blend of 75% superwash merino and 25% silk. Each luxurious 100g skein costs £20.

The Braithwaite shawl pattern on Ravelry supports the yarn and costs £3.

4. Triskelion Yarns' Branwen 4-Ply

Captain Cat Branwen image courtesy of Triskelion
This mix of Falklands Merino and silk would make be ideal to knit a t-shirt or tank top for the warmer months, although at £23 per 100g hank it's certainly a luxury purchase. Branwen is spun in Yorkshire from British sources.

Triskelion says that Branwen knits up quite fine for a 4-ply and 'has a great depth of colour, combined with an extra soft, cosy handle'.

Why not knit the t-shirt Waterlily with it? As a 100g hank of Branwen is approx 500 metres, all six sizes can be knitted with three hanks, with only two required for the smaller sizes.

5. Three Bears Yarn Cotton DK

Lavender Cotton DK image courtesy of Three Bears Yarn
The cotton comes from America but it's spun in England, dyed in Blackburn, Lancashire, then sent to Yorkshire for balling.

Cotton is a great summer yarn due to its breathability. Each 50g ball, available in lots of bright colours, costs £3.50 directly from Three Bears Yarn.  The company says 'English Fine Coons yarns are produced using extra-long staple (ELS) cotton varieties, which make some of the highest quality yarns produced in the world today'.

If you're substituting cotton for wool in a pattern remember that, because cotton is heavier, you're likely to need more of it than the pattern suggests.

Over to you ...

What have we missed? Which Brit summer yarns do you recommend? Let us know in the comments underneath or on our Facebook page.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Review of Susan Crawford's The Vintage Shetland Project

Image courtesy of Susan Crawford
It has been a long wait but it felt like Christmas when my copy of The Vintage Shetland Project by Susan Crawford arrived in the post.

It was back in 2015 when Susan Crawford set up a crowdfunding campaign to publish the book, inspired by her love of knitting history and Shetland traditions. Since then she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which delayed her work on the project. Happily Crawford is now cancer free and her many years of work have come to fruition.

The Vintage Shetland Project is a very weighty hardback book with 27 patterns and essays on Shetland social and fashion history over the decades.  It's Crawford's best work yet, which is saying something considering the high publishing standards and critical acclaim of her previous books A Stitch In Time Volume 1 and A Stitch in Time Volume 2.

At £48 the book not cheap but the quality is that of an heirloom. Feel the glossy paper and waft the bookish smell under your nose. The photography, all shot on the island of Vaila off the coast of Shetland, is stunning. It's obvious the whole project has been a labour of love for Crawford.

The Patterns

Crawford first saw the garments featured in the Shetland Museum Archives, some of which were degraded and missing parts. She, with the help of her husband Gavin, a computer programmer, transcribed the designs into patterns suitable for the modern number in a range of sizes.

Rose image courtesy of Susan Crawford
Each pattern has a handy schematic and the charts are printed in colour with different charts for most sizes. This is incredibly sensible and practical for the knitter: a couple of times I've bought knitting pattern books and been put off knitting a garment due to the charts being in black and white on a small grid, almost impossible to decipher.

Most patterns use Crawford's own vintage-feel yarn Fenella, although some offer an alternative or are solely knitted in Jamieson and Smith yarns.

Here are A Woolly Yarn's top three patterns from the book:

Rose Cardigan

The charming rose motifs in red and white pink on this short-sleeved cardigan make this a standout garment.

Rose is is knitted in the round from the bottom up. There's a necessary steek at the centre front and I think this may well be the pattern that challenges me to face my fear of steaks. To me there feels something dreadfully wrong in cutting knitting, but if that's what it takes to make Rose then it's a mental hurdle I'm determined to leap over.


Jeannie image courtesy of Susan Crawford
An essay in The Vintage Shetland Project explains Crawford's investigative journey from first seeing the child-size top in Shetland Museum to finding more about its designer Jeannie Jarmson.

Jeannie is worked in the round from the bottom up and knitted in silk with tiny, delicate motifs. The tiny delicate motifs are knitted in silk. Having not seen the garment knitted up I can only imagine how soft and luxurious it must feel. Kits to make Jeannie have already sold out on Crawford's website.


When Shetland sweaters are mentioned Ralph is probably the sort of jumper that will pop up in your imagination.

Ralph image courtesy of Susan Crawford
It has standard Fair Isle patterns and is knitted in traditional grey and brown shades. Whilst it will be a labour of love to knit this unisex jumper will become an eternal classic in your wardrobe.

Best of the rest ...

Of course all the patterns in The Vintage Shetland Project are covetable, but three highly recommended by A Woolly Yarn are the lemon lacy short-sleeved sweater Dorothy; Ripple a short-sleeved sweater with a black background and ripples of pastel colours; and Paterson, the bright Fair Isle top with a found neck that's featured on the book's front cover.

Which is your favourite pattern and why? Let us know below or on our Facebook page.

© A Woolly Yarn. Powered by