Saturday, 20 January 2018

A Woolly Yarn Wins Knitter Of The Year 2018: Online Innovator Award

Image courtesy of Knit Now
Today I can announce the fabulous news that A Woolly Yarn has won Knit Now magazine's Knitter of the Year 2018 award in the Online Innovator category.

It's the fourth year that Knit Now has run the awards, crowning winners in five categories: Charity Hero, Designer of the Year, New Designer of the Year, Local Superstar and Online Innovator. The lucky winners' prize, as well as mention in the magazine, is a day out at knitting company Sirdar's in Yorkshire to find out what happens behind the scenes, meet the designers and receive a sneak preview of their new season yarns and patterns.

I set up A Woolly Yarn three years ago to champion British yarns and designers whilst also delivering knitting news and reviews. I'm excited, honoured and thrilled that the blog has won this award and am grateful to everyone who reads it, follows us on Facebook and to all the companies and designers who have agreed to reviews and answering my nosey questions. A big thanks too to Kate Heppell, Knit Now's Editor, for choosing A Woolly Yarn as a winner; and not forgetting Denise Burrows who designed our new logo that launched last year.

I'll be reporting back from the Sirdar day on the blog later in the year. Is there a question you'd like me ask or something you've always wanted to know about yarn production or the design process? Please let me know via the form below or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page.

The list of all the winners is in Knit Now's issue 84, which hits subscribers' doorsteps today and goes on general sale in the Uk next week.

Right, time now to have a break from knitting and crack open the champagne. Bottoms up!

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Fears For The Debbie Bliss Brand As Designer Yarns Goes Bust

Logo courtesy of Designer Yarns
Yarn shops have expressed their fears about restocking British wool brand Debbie Bliss as Designer Yarns, a Yorkshire-based company that distributed yarn and accessory brands, closed on 18th December 2017.

Elaine Jinks-Turner, owner of online yarn shop Baa Baa Brighouse, said she had "attempted to place an order and discovered that since January 3rd the company's affairs were being managed by Rushton Insolvency. I'm afraid this will most likely affect our future supply of Louisa Harding and Debbie Bliss yarns."

Designer Yarns' Facebook page gives no mention of the insolvency and its website homepage has changed to give an email address for queries. Insider Media reported that the company went into administration on 14 December, that 12 people lost their jobs and although a buyer is being sought for Designer Yarns' stock the business itself is not being marketed.

Logo courtesy of Debbie Bliss
Currently Debbie Bliss doesn't sell yarn on her website Debbie Bliss Home. Responding to knitters and shops' concerns about getting hold of her yarns, Debbie Bliss, who herself is an unsecured creditor, said:

"I was sad to hear that Designer Yarns had ceased trading, having enjoyed working with the team there for many years. It was very difficult news for everyone: customers, suppliers, employees and myself. I am doing all I can to ensure that the Debbie Bliss brand will continue and will update all my knitting friends when I have more news."
Until wool shops can restock customers may find it difficult to get hold of their favourite Debbie Bliss yarns. If you know you need more of a certain colour or yarn the advice is to buy now whilst stocks last.

The full list of brands affected by Designer Yarns' closure is:

  1. Debbie Bliss Yarns and sister brand C&B
  2. Louisa Harding (the company that bears her name, not Harding's most recent venture Yarntelier)
  3. Noro
  4. Mirasol
  5. DY Choice
  6. Amano
  7. Brittany Needles.

* Blog post edited 12th January.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Kate Davies' Carbeth Sweater + Sock It To You Swap Challenge Recommended Patterns

Scotland-based designer Kate Davies was quick off the mark this year with her latest pattern release. Carbeth is a cropped, boxy sweater she describes as perfect for beginner jumper knitters. It's knitted bottom up in the round and uses her own-brand Buachaille yarn. 

Image courtesy of Kate Davies
Davies calls this her Boxing Day jumper. Knitting kits containing yarn, pattern download and tote are available in her online shop from £68 plus P&P. A Woolly Yarn is a fan of the warm and hard-wearing Buachaille. Whilst the roll neck and short body of Carbeth might not suit everyone, the pattern can be easily modified to make it longer in the body and have a shorter neck if required. 

Socks Swap Challenge

Louise Scollay, Editor of the KnitBritish blog and podcast, has launched a Sock It To You Swap with her pal Louise Hunt from Catithness Crafts.  The idea is this: sign up in the Caithness Craft Ravelry Group by Friday 12th January and you'll be paired up with another sock knitter. Cast on date is 22nd January and the deadline for casting-off is March 11th. You'll then post your pair of socks to your partner and vice versa - or, if you're both going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival between 15th and 17th March, the two Louises recommend you meeting up and swapping socks there. 

Looking for a sock pattern? Here are four of our favourites:

Image courtesy of Rachel Coopey
Basic sock tutorial for beginners from the Queen of Socks. Costs £17 from Ravelry for the full Socks Yeah! Volume 1 download containing 12 patterns.

Image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse

Learn how to knit rib socks with this pattern created by the prolific blogger. Currently in the sale, a printed pattern costs £1.68 plus P&P.

Image courtesy of The Knitter magazine

This pattern originally appeared in The Knitter magazine and is now available as a £3 download from Ravelry. It requires DK weight yarn and has a knit and purl diamond pattern at the cuff to challenge basic sock knitters. 

Image courtesy of Blacker Yarns

This download is free. The socks have a cable pattern running up the side and use two colours of 4ply yarn. Great for intermediate knitters. 

Which are your favourite sock patterns? Let us know below or on our Facebook page. 

Monday, 1 January 2018

Wool Shows To Look Forward To In 2018

The excitement surrounding the burgeoning number of wool fairs and shows in the UK looks set to continue into 2018. With old favourites such as The Knitting & Stitching Show joined by newcomers   including Wool Is The Festival, there are a lot of venues to choose from right around the country.

Wool shows offer the perfect opportunity to meet small, independent wool companies and traders, squish their yarn first hand and stock up on British brands you may not be able to buy at your local yarn store. On top of that they're a great day out and very economically important to small producers so you can shop in the knowledge that you're contributing to keeping your favourite British designers and yarn makers in business.

Memories of Yarndale in Skipton

This list includes all wool shows that have definite dates announced for 2018. 

January 2018

21st January - Waltham Abbey Wool Show
Essex-based show with bookable workshops.


16-18 February - Unravel
Go to Farnham in Surrey for this three-day stall and workshop extravaganza.


Olympia in London is the venue for this popular favourite. 

15-17 March - Edinburgh Yarn Festival
This styles itself as 'the UK's premier urban hand-knitting show'. Classes have already sold out.


7-8 April Spring Into Wool
Head to The Grammar School in Leeds for this show that as well as knitting embraces crochet, weaving, feltmaking, spinning and dyeing. 

28-29 April Wonderwool Wales.
Wales' leading yarn show is based at the Royal Welsh Showground in Builth Wells, Powys.


11-13 May The Handmade Fair.
Ragley Hall in Warwickshire is the venue for this Kirstie Allsopp-fronted craft event.

12-13 May Wool@Junction13
Head to Staffordshire for this celebration of all things woolly.


Armley Mills Industrial Museum hosts this woolly day, which also gives an insight into the history of textile production in the area.

22-23 June Woolfest.
Cockermouth in Cumbria is home to this perennial favourite that calls itself the original British wool festival. 

22-24 June The Handmade Fair.
Bowood House in Wiltshire is the venue for this Kirstie Allsopp-fronted craft event.


14-15 July Yarningham.
Birmingham's own yarn festival.

28-29 July Fibre East
Bedford's annual event focussing on the finest-quality British wool.


This show in York supports The Campaign For Wool in raising the profile of British wool.  


1st September Southern Wool Show.
New for 2018 is this crafty show based at Newbury Racecourse.

1st September Wool Is The Festival.
Another new for 2018 show, this one's venue is Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln. Expect stalls, sculptures and yarn bombing.

8-9 September Perth Festival Of Yarn.
Perth in Scotland will bring together independent dyers, knitters, spinners, felters and weavers.

14-16 September The Handmade Fair.
The Green at Hampton Court Palace is the venue for this Kirstie Allsopp-fronted craft event.

22-30 September Shetland Wool Week.
This Scottish island show is the holy grail for many knitters who want to visit the home of some of the finest Fair Isle knitwear.

29-30 September Yarndale
It's the sixth year of this popular wool show in Skipton, Yorkshire.


Another chance to visit Alexandra Palace in London for this long-lasting show.

13-14 October Bakewell Wool Gathering.
This Derbyshire event is dedicated to the best of yarn, knitting and crochet.

19-21 October Loch Ness Wool Fest.
One of the newest wool shows on the block, this one in Inverness gives you the chance to search for the Loch Ness monster as well as snap up yarn bargains.


2-3 November Yarnporium
A London festival of sweater weather, yarn, friends and fibre.

It's Harrogate in North Yorkshire's turn to play host to this famous yarn show.

Do you know of any UK yarn shows that aren't included here? Please let us know either in the comments below or on A Woolly Yarn's Facebook page
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