Monday, 29 June 2015

The Great British Pattern Pick Summer 2015 by Jo Milmine

Welcome to the first Great British Pattern Pick at BritYarn. In this series of blog posts, we’re aiming to bring you some of the best British-based design talent out there at the moment. We’ll also give you some suggestions as to which lovely yarns you could use for the project. All of our pattern enabling is fully compliant with BritYarn’s Woolly Principles, so you can be sure you’re shopping local!

Summer’s here, and although the UK is still some way from being a tropical paradise, the good news is that we still have the opportunity to make use of our knits. Whether it’s by introducing different yarns, such as Blacker Lyonesse DK, which has 50% linen for cool comfort, or whether it’s by going super light and airy with the yarn, there’s no reason why we can’t knit and wear our items during the warmer months. Here’s a selection of summer patterns and yarns to give you a little inspiration.

First up, we have a couple of beautiful shawls for you from the talented Glasgow-based designer, Karie Westermann. 


Chinese Kites Image Copyright David Fraser
Chinese Kites is a pretty, airy lace shawl that is the perfect balance between being light enough for summer wear and being warm enough to ward off the evening chill. The lace in the pattern is a straightforward knit, which leads to a striking finished object. This pattern would be complemented perfectly by a crisp yarn with plenty of definition. Eden Cottage Yarns BFL Sock would be the ideal choice, with the BFL providing strength and lustre to what is sure to be a well-worn knit. To add a little glamour, consider Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply. The silk in this yarn will add a seductive sheen to any project.


Byatt 
If you’d rather have a pattern you can trot out on the beach or in the beer garden, Byatt could be an ideal option. Mostly garter stitch in its construction, with only a small amount of lace detail on the edge, this would be a great travel project as well as giving an impressive result for minimal effort. Again, Milburn 4ply would be my yarn of choice for this pattern, as the simple garter stitch pattern will allow the yarn to shine through.

Helen Image Copyright Susan Crawford Vintage
As we all know, the Great British weather can be unpredictable; it pays to be prepared! Take your outfit from day to evening or from sun to clouds with the Helen bolero by Susan Crawford. Queen of vintage 40’s glamour, Susan has a striking design aesthetic, which has an obvious nod to times gone by, yet is still wearable and brought up to date to suit modern times. This lacy bolero pattern would really sing when paired with Blacker Lyonesse DK. The linen would hold its block beautifully, allowing the lace to take centre stage. With the high linen content in this yarn, it will be cool and airy when knitted into garments.


Bonny Image Copyright Tin Can Knits
If light and airy is the way you go in summer, with laceweight being your yarn of choice, as well as the plethora of lace shawls, why not consider a featherweight garment, such as the Bonny vest by Tin Can Knits? Designed by Edinburgh-based Emily Wessel, one half of the design duo, it’s a perfect garment for warmer days and also comes as part of the Handmade in the UK collection. Yarn-wise, it would be glorious knitted up in the super special and rare Blacker St Kilda Lace, made from a blend of Boreray - the rarest of all British sheep breeds - Soay and Shetland fleece. In fact this is so rare and special, we’ve sold out and can’t get any more until later in summer when this year’s clip is collected and spun, so if you’re looking to cast on straight away, Blacker BFL Lace would be a stunning alternative. Lustrous, silky and hardwearing due to the long staple length of the fibres, this yarn will withstand the constant wear you’re going to want to give it.
Laika Image Copyright Ysolda Teague
Looking for something a little more substantial? Laika by Ysolda Teague could fit the bill! A pretty, hooded, all over 4ply lace cardigan in a wide range of sizes, this pattern would pair beautifully with The Knitting Goddess Britsock in a semi solid colourway. Tiffany would be my personal choice, but the other brights would really complement the bold design of this garment. As it’s a bigger knit, if budget is a concern, West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply also offers a range of stunning shades that are more friendly on the pocket, whilst still being excellent quality.

Manu
For something cosier, Manu by Kate Davies would be a versatile, elegant choice. The classic styling has just the right amount of detail to make this garment perfect day to night wear. For this pattern, look for something a little special, such as Wensleydale Longwool Sheepshop DK. This super-lustrous yarn has an enviable softness and sheen, which will only improve with increased wear and washing. If you’ve a little more to spend, Eden Cottage Yarns Bowland DK is blessed with similar yarn properties and minimal pilling.

Brunswick Image Copyright Yarn And Pointy Sticks Designs
Finally, who doesn’t appreciate a little capelet in the summer wedding and function season? The Great British weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always handy to have a cosy little throwover accessory that allows you to remain both warm and effortlessly stylish. Step forward Brunswick by Clare Devine. This pretty design would be easy to slip into a handbag and comes with the added bonus of a button fastening to keep it in place as you dance the evening away. The pattern is versatile enough to cope with any semi solid hand dyed or commercially dyed 4ply. Take your pick from Yarns From The Plain, The Knitting Goddess, Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply or BFL Sock, West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply or Blacker Classic.

That’s the round up of summer patterns for you. I’ll be back in Autumn with some more great British designers and yarns!





Bio

Jo Milmine is a podcaster and blogger based in Scotland. She co-owns The Golden Skein, the company that brings meticulously curated luxury yarn clubs showcasing the finest hand dyed yarn the world has to offer. 

Through her bespoke consultancy business Jo works closely with independent dyers, sharing her business and yarn expertise and supporting them to achieve their goals.

Passionate about crafting (and comedy knitting patterns), you’ll find her podcasting as Shinybees, as well as on Ravelry, Twitter and Instagram as Shinybees. 


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Sock Anatomy by Clare Devine

I was super excited at the start of this week when Clare Devine's new Sock Anatomy landed at BritYarn HQ.  Clare has fully updated this edition which now includes adult as well as children's sizes, meaning you can cast on socks for everyone!  

Brevis - the Books cover model 
Sock Anatomy is different to other sock books.  In each of the nine designs it dissects a different heel and toe technique which is great for both new and experienced sock knitters alike.  In the 'Construction' chapter there are lots of really informative diagrams for the different methods and there is a chapter on techniques including how to handle wrap and turns.  I certainly wish I had this book when I first started knitting socks!  

Like all of Clare's designs, the patterns are clearly laid out with full size photographs for each sock plus close up images.  




All of my socks I have made so far have been using the cuff down method.  Clare's designs gave me the confidence and the encouragement I needed to cast on Planum, which are worked from the toe up.  I was amazed at how simple and easy it was!  No danger of getting your first few rows twisted.  Soon I was knitting away on the foot (to the point I got a bit carried away and had to rip them back a bit - whoops).


The eagle eyed among you may recognised the yarn which Clare has used throughout the book.  All the socks have been designed and knit using West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply, including one in Blue Tit, one of the Birds shades.

Sock Anatomy is available to buy here and is priced at £16 which includes a Ravelry download code.  We also have a selection of Clare's other designs available.


All images are used with the kind permission of Clare Devine. 

  

Monday, 22 June 2015

Scollayalong KAL

Today (Monday 22nd June) sees the sign up thread open on the KnitBritish Ravelry group for the Scollayalong KAL.    

The sign up thread will stay open until cast on day, Friday 17th July.  The chat will then move to the BritYarn group.  After the first week the chat will move, on Friday 26th July, to the KnitBritish group.  We will then alternate the chat each week until the KAL ends on Friday 25th September. 

There will be a virtual cast on cast on party which you are all most warmly invited to.  This will be hosted on Twitter, Instagram and Ravelry.  More details will be announced very soon.

There are a few simple rules for the Scollayalong KAL:
  • You need to be a member of the BritYarn and KnitBritish Ravelry groups.
  • We are all knitting the Scollay cardigan by Karie Westermann.
  • Sign ups take place in the KnitBritish Ravelry group.
  • Cast on Friday 17th July.  Of course you can swatch away before hand but you must not start your cardigan before the 17th.
  • To be eligible for prizes all finished Scollay's must be entered in the Scollay FO Thread in the KnitBritish Ravelry group before the end of the KAL, Friday 25th September.
  • Scollay Cardigan
    Image used with kind permission from
     Karie Westermann
  • You can use any yarn to make your Scollay.  There will be an additional prize for the best Scollay made using wool grown in Britain (Britain includes the Falklands).
The pattern can be purchased digitally from Ravelry or here if you prefer a paper copy. 

Both Louise and I can't wait to hear what you are planning to knit your Scollay's in.  I have decided to knit mine in Blacker Yarns Lyonesse and Louise is going to be knitting hers in Toft DK.  We looking forward to chatting with you all in the sign up thread over the coming weeks and hearing about your Scollay plans.

Friday, 19 June 2015

FO's Rosthwaite Socks and Vanilla Socks

I love knitting socks!  I started by first pair in 2013 and have not looked back.  Here are two of 2015's sock FO's.  


The first to be finished this year was Rosthwaite by Louise Tilbrook.  Back in September 2014 Louise hosted a 'Sock Design Challenge', inviting her blog readers and members of her Ravelry group to vote on a series of sock design questions.  Louise gathered the results and created a pattern to reflect the winning votes.  The result was Rosthwaite! 

In keeping with the colours used in the pattern I decided to use West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in Nutmeg.  I had originally planned to use Butterscotch for the toes and heels but I had a late change of heart and opted for Blueberry Bon Bon instead!

I really enjoyed making these socks.  The pattern is interesting but easy enough to memorise.  They were also my first socks with an afterthought (forethought) heel.  Louise included some helpful links to tutorials in the pattern.  I couldn't believe how straightforward and quick the heel was.

Louise's other patterns can be found on Ravelry.  Many of her sock designs are written for both cuff down and toe up. I think this is brilliant especially if you prefer one way over the other.  













I also finished my first pair of man size socks!  After making several pairs for myself Mr D expressed an interest in having a pair of knitted socks!  He choose Pheasant, one of the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply Birds range for his.  I am overjoyed to report that Mr D is a knitted sock convert and has requested more!  


Don't forget you can share your British yarn projects over on the BritYarn Ravelry Group or on Twitter and Instagram.  I would love to hear all about your sock adventures!


Monday, 15 June 2015

A chat with Louise Scollay from KnitBritish and an exciting KAL announcement

Hi Louise
Many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for BritYarn.  If you are sitting comfortably with a beverage to hand lets begin!

Could you introduce yourself to BritYarn’s readers...... 
Louise of KnitBritish
Hello, BritYarn readers *waves* , it's nice to be introduced to you!
I'm Louise and for the last two years I have been knitting British. That is to say that for every crafting project I undertake I only use wool that has been grown, spun or dyed in the UK. I talk about the journey through connections of Britishness in wool and knitting on my blog and in my podcast.
When not working from home on all those things (sat at a computer or mic in close vicinity to the cat and thelovelyfella) I can be found (for the meantime) in Shetland, working in the local library.   

How and when did the KnitBritish podcast and blog start?
The whole concept of KnitBritish came to me on a train journey from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. I was knitting with a yarn that was very local to me in Shetland and as the train passed through fields of sheep I was really struck by the idea of discovering more of the breed yarns available in the UK.
I worked on the concept for about 4 months and did a lot of research into British sheep breeds, the yarns available and also British based dyers and mills  - it was like someone turned a massive bulb on for me – there was a whole world of wool that I hadn't fully appreciate. I had never bought wool based on these things before and there is a huge treasure trove in the UK.

The blog came first, in December 2012 - it was really just a personal challenge that I thought I would set myself for a year, to only knit and buy British and promote the yarns I was using through the blog. I thought that by blogging about the journey it might inspire more people to also think about things like buying local, wool miles and championing local industry. 

Quite soon I realized that I wouldn't be able to stop at a year, with such a woolly wealth of resource on our doorsteps KnitBritish had truly become a lifestyle for me, rather than a challenge.

The KnitBritish podcast grew out of the blog naturally and I started a year after I started the KB journey. I really enjoy podcasting and enjoy it more with every single episode. The podcast has really helped the KnitBrititish community to grow too and the best thing about podcasting is the peope. I keep saying this, but I have never met such like-minded and interesting people through anything I have done before and I doubt I will through anything else I am likely to do in the future.  

What are your favourite woolly / fibre crafts?
I love knitting and after a lengthy sabbatical after primary school, I re-taught my self to knit in 2007/8  when I gave up smoking (the first time). I am constantly amazed at how knitting is a permanent learning curve – there is always something new to master. 

I also love spinning on a drop spindle (but do not do it enough and have given myself a self-imposed fluff buying ban til I spin what I have). 
I have recently bought a wee sample loom too and really enjoying exploring a new woolly craft.

Everybody works in different ways… are you a traditional pen and paper person or do you prefer making full use of modern technology? 
Both! 
After I publish a podcast episode the pen and pad come out and I jot down the schedule for the next one. There is a podcast every other week, (sometimes they are more frequent). I jot down content ideas, my to-do list and also a note of important links for the show-notes.

Who can really resist a lovely notebook, bright clean pages and a sharp pencil? It's part of the creativity, I think. “Creative” is probably a good word as there isn't a page of my notebooks that doesn't have doodling in and around the notes! I also like to strike things out if they are not right (even in pencil) as its part of the creative process. I love looking back at podcast notes and looking at everything I wrote, stroked out and drew. The podcast is pretty much all pen and paper, apart from the recording, of course, and for my KnitBritish schedule and admin, which I do use a spreadsheet for,  as it is nice to see the whole month set out and all the planned content, reviews and interviews in one place.

As a total opposite, when writing blogs I usually go straight into the post and bypass the pen and paper stage. Any research I do is long hand, but I prefer writing and editing in the blog. 

If you were only allowed to knit / weave with one British grown base what would it be and why? (a blend or 100% pure)  
That's proper minxy question, Isla! *Isla cackles in the background* What if all my other British yarns hear? I get asked this a lot and it is really hard to answer with one as I have a favourite longwool, a favourite down breed, a favourite primitive, etc...then there is, of course, other British bred fibre, such as alpaca and mohair. They all have wonderful qualities in terms of their different textures, structures, ability to wear....
I think I love texture the most and particularly garter stitch and lace – If I were knitting something that required that I would go for a sheepy Shetland, or a Corriedale yarn. If I wanted to knit something soft and drapey I would go for a BFL or alpaca...But I don't think I could be drawn on one favourite.  

What has been your KnitBritish highlight so far?
Wow! I think it's got to be The Podcast Lounge at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. It was a brilliant atmosphere, we had a great weekend of sessions and laid-back chat. The feedback was just wonderful and I got to meet so many listeners, many of whom told me how much the podcast means to them in terms of the wool they buy and over and above a woolly level. It was an incredibly strong community event and one that will stay with me for a long time. It really cemented in me that I love what I do and I am going to keep on doing it.

The Hapalong KAL, which you are currently hosting, has been hugely popular.   People all over the world and across all age ranges have been casting on their haps and sharing their progress on the KnitBritish Ravelry group.   What do you think it is about the hap that has captured peoples interest? 
I have been blown away at how people have embraced the hap. The amount of hap action has really knocked my socks off. 
For those who don't know, a hap is a shawl traditionally worn in Shetland; square or 'half' (triangular) the design usually starts with a central panel, after which a lace section is knitted, followed by edging. It can be knitted in pieces and grafted together, or the stitches can be picked up around the central panel to continue knitting the item in the round. 

My aim in hosting the KAL was to bring a traditional Shetland garment into the limelight a little and also give a little of the history of the hap on my blog. If you look on Ravelry you can find traditional hap patterns, but also find that that hap has inspired designs by Kate Davies, Jared Flood, Gudrun Johnston, Kat Goldin and Ysolda Teague. I think that there is enough inspiration – whether traditional or contemporary – to grab crafter's interests and make it a KAL that people have been excited to get involved with. 

I recently went to the Shetland Museum and took a look at some of the haps in the collection there and wondered what the hap knitters of the 18th century would think of this interest and innovation in hap knitting in the 21st century!

Are there any future KnitBritish plans / projects you can share with BritYarn?
Hmmm, well I am very, very good at keeping secrets and do like to spring surprises on the podcast, but you and I have some plans coming up, don't we?

Shall we spill the beans? Lets do it!!! 

In July we are co-hosting the Scollayalong, knitting the wonderful Scollay cardigan designed by Karie Westermann. I know that lots of people have been eager to cast this on and I am utterly delighted that we are working together on this. We will all be casting on Friday 17th July and there will be a cast on virtual party that evening.  The KAL will end on Friday 25th September so perfect for some summer knitting!   

The KAL will be hosted in the BritYarn and KnitBritish Ravelry groups.  The sign up thread will open on Monday 22nd June in the KnitBritish group.  The chat (and party) will move over to the BritYarn group on Friday 17th July.  The chat thread will then move a week later, on Friday 24th July, to KnitBritish where it will stay for the week before hopping back to BritYarn for a week etc.  The FO thread will be in the KnitBritish group so make sure you post pictures of your finished Scollay's there to be in with a chance of winning a prize.  Prizes will be announced nearer the time but we can say there will be a prize for the Best Scollay made in British grown wool.

The pattern can be purchased digitally from Ravelry or here if you prefer a paper copy. 
There is a special BritYarn Scollay-along discount code for 10% off any DK yarn from today, Monday 15th June until midnight Sunday 28th June -  scollaykaldk15

More big news is that KnitBritish is being sponsored for the first time ever and the sponsor is none other than BritYarn! I am so proud to be associated with BritYarn, a company whose vision and aesthetic is very similar to my own. I look forward to working with you to bring the listeners and readers of KnitBritish and readers and fans of BritYarn a new and exciting podcast/sponsor collaboration.

In addition to all that I shall also be working on other projects, so watch this space!

How can people best keep up to date with the latest KnitBritish news?
You can go to the website www.knitbritish.net and you can subscribe to email updates straight to your inbox when there is a new episode or blog post. 
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, listen on the podcast app, on Stitcher Radio and on PlayerFM.
Anyone interested in KnitBritish can also join the group on Ravelry and that is a really good place to catch up with what's happening with the KB community – KALs, British wool projects, questions, suggestions and general chat.

Images used with kind permission from Louise Scollay and Karie Westermann.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Corriedale sheep

The concluding post for Yarn of the Month is all about the sheep.  As you will already know, Lyonesse is a blend of 50% Corriedale / 50% Linen and the Corriedale wool comes from the Falkland Islands.  
Falkland Corriedale Sheep
Falkland Corriedale sheep

The Corriedale sheep originated in Australia and New Zealand in the 1870s due to a need for a dual purpose sheep, well suited for meat and wool production.  By crossing the Merino with the Lincoln Longwool they were able to achieve this aim.  By the 1890s the Corriedale had become the first native sheep of New Zealand.   

The Corriedale's popularity soon spread around the world.  Now the Corriedale is the second most popular sheep breed in the world and is said to make up 70% of the sheep population in South America.  


They are a large heavy sheep, mature rams can weigh between 79 -125 kg while ewes range from 59 - 81 kg.  The sheep are described as being large framed and both rams and ewes are hornless (polled).  Their fleeces are thick and heavy with an average staple length between 7.5 - 12.5cm.  It is usually white in colour although other colours can be found in smaller flocks.

Technical Information 
Corriedale fleece


Bradford count 50-58  
The Bradford Count is the traditional way of defining the thickness of a fibre. The higher the number, the finer the wool.  As a comparison the Bradford count for Bluefaced Leicester is 56 - 60

Micron measurement 25-31 
The micron measurement (a micron is a thousandth of a millimetre) is the modern day measurement. The lower the value, the finer the fibres are.  The micron count for Bluefaced Leicester sheep is 22 - 25 microns while the human hair is on average 11 microns.

Corriedale wool is soft to handle and can easily be worn against the skin.  If you are spinning with Corriedale it is said to be easier to work with than other wools with a similar fineness. 

Due to the climate on the Falklands, there are no flystrike problems, which means no external pesticides are applied nor does mulseing take place which is all good in my book). 

All images used in the post were taken by Andrez Short of Swan Inlet Farm and used with kind permission.


Grazing



Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Yarn of the Month June Part 2 - A chat with Sonja from Blacker

Following on from our Yarn of the Month, featuring Lyonesse DK, I was super lucky to be able to ask Sonja Bargielowska from Blacker Yarns a few questions about herself, Blacker, the new Lyonesse range.  Sonja also revealed some exciting news from Blacker! 


Hello Sonja 

Many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for BritYarn.  If you are sitting comfortably with a beverage to hand lets begin!
Could you introduce Blacker Yarns to those who may not know the company. 
So Blacker Yarns is quite a special yarn company because it is one of the only British yarn companies to come with its very own mill attached - The Natural Yarn Company. Because of this we are able to experiment with blends and rare breed specific yarns. It also means we have the added bonus of being able to buy fibre from farmers and then see every aspect of yarn production, from washing the fibre to dyeing and finishing, through in one location. 

Describe your typical day at Blacker Yarns?
I’ve been working at Blacker for about a year and have already learned so much. Although my job title is officially centred around brand and marketing, in practice I do a little bit of everything from customer queries to attending shows and stock control. So there is never a dull moment! Every day tends to be completely different from the last, which is ideal as it allows me to be constantly working on something new. This is probably quite similar to a lot of people working in the fibre industry as it tends to be made up of small companies. 

By far my favourite task is planning and launching new products. It is so rewarding being able to follow a yarn range through from the initial inspiration to balls of yarn. By far the best bit is watching people using that yarn to create something special to them. Ravelry is truly amazing! 

Lyonesse is a new addition to Blacker Yarns range.  How did it come about?
I love working with linen yarns. To my mind linen provides a set of characteristics as unique as those of wool but perfectly suited to summer garments. But pure linen is not always the most forgiving yarn to work with, so for a long time I have been curious about how a blend of wool and linen might behave.  

Then Sue and I had a chat about introducing a summer yarn to our selection at Blacker, after all no one wants to spend hours knitting massive woolly jumpers on the beach! I started thinking more practically about what kind of blend might work and which thicknesses would be best. Initially I was imagining a lace and 4-ply, but Sue was so right to also suggest a DK. This weight is ideal for summer garments, plus DK has the advantage of being a speedier knit. 

I think we are at quite an interesting time in the knitting industry. There are so many crafters who have been knitting with superwash Merino yarns for a few years now and I think as a community, we are starting to want something a little different. Not that there is anything wrong with superwash Merino, but a little variety is always great! So to my mind Lyonesse is the ideal stepping stone for someone maybe thinking of trying a linen yarn, but not quite sure how a pure linen fibre might behave. 

If someone has never knitted with a yarn that contains linen before how would you best describe it?
Linen is wonderful - it is durable, softens after every wash and most importantly from a knitter’s perspective retains its block wonderfully, making it ideal for lace projects. Anything knitted using a linen yarn will bounce straight back into shape after being crumpled in your bag or on the back of a seat. This structure is probably the main reason I fell in love with linen. 
It is also wonderfully suited to a warmer climate. The plant fibre has wicking qualities which means it can easily absorb moisture and help keep your body cool on a sunny day. Believe it or not, but these are also two of the properties in wool. So our Lyonesse blend is ideal for a British climate where the summers don’t always turn out to be quite as warm as we’d like. 

Where did the colour inspiration come from?  How did you decide on the six colours?
Our colour choices came about in quite an organic way. After trialing a few shades, I was really drawn to the way the subtle fleck of the linen fibers showed through on each colour. I particularly love the way these fibres work with the darker colours. Then it was about selecting a capsule collection of shades which harmonise well and evoke a light summery feel. 
   
Are there any patterns available to support Lyonesse?
There will be two patterns, a shawl and a cowl, both designed by me. But, hopefully we will have some more yarn support on its way next summer. In the meantime, Lyonesse will work well with most light summer tops, shawls and more. I can’t wait to see what everyone creates!

Image used with permission from Blacker Yarns

What are your favourite woolly / fibre crafts?  
Knitting of course! Followed quite closely by listening to knitting related blogs - ha! In the last year I have started spinning intermittently on a drop spindle, which is great fun but I have yet to make any yarn with which I enjoy knitting. I made my dad a rather ‘eccentric’ hat for Christmas which he wears occasionally, bless him! I have also tried hand dyeing with Lara, one of my lovely co-workers at the mill. Dyeing was tremendously fun (and more successful than the spinning as yet) so I am keen to do more of it. 

If you were only allowed to knit / design with one British grown base what would it be and why? (a blend or 100% pure)  
This question is tremendously difficult. At the moment as seems to be the only thing I’m working with I’d like to say Lyonesse.  I am a huge fan of lustre breeds such as Teeswater, Cotswold and Wensleydale so I would probably choose one of these. They offer the perfect combination of drape and shine, with a wonderful textured halo. 

Are there any future Blacker adventures you can share with BritYarn?
We have a few exciting new ranges planned for next year, but unfortunately those are all still top secret! I can however reveal that we are going to be launching a one off limited edition yarn to celebrate our 10th birthday this September. It will be a gorgeous rustic blend of farm assured British fibre spun as a DK in 9 different colours and one natural. The yarn is just going through the mill now, so I’ll be able to get some on my needles and have a play soon – one of the many perks of the job. ☺ 

Thank you Sonja for taking time out of your busy day.

Monday, 8 June 2015

Lyonesse DK Yarn of the Month June 15

Hello everyone how are you all?  Welcome to BritYarn's first Yarn of the Month.  This will be a regular feature where we will explore a yarn in more detail. 

June's Yarn of the Month is Lyonesse DK, a new yarn from Blacker Yarns.  
Blacker Lyonesse DK British Wool


Fibre: 50% Corriedale / Merino (This first spin contains 100% Corriedale.  Future versions may contain a percentage of Merino from the Falklands depending on the availability of the Corriedale fleece) and 50% Linen. 
Grown:  Corriedale and Merino is collected from farms across the Falkland Islands. The linen is currently from Eastern Europe.
Spun:  Cornwall GB.
Dyed:  Cornwall GB.


The yarn comes in 50g balls and there is 110 metres (119 yards) on a ball.  It is £5.75 a ball. 

The Corriedale / Merino is sourced from different farms on the Falkland Islands and collected by Andrez Short from Swan Inlet Farm.  Andrez then send the fleeces to Blacker Yarns in Cornwall where it is blended with the linen fibres and made into this great new yarn.

The yarn comes in six shades including natural. I think they look great together but they also compliment each other.  I am secretly plotting something for me in the Rose Quartz shade.

I was lucky to receive a ball of Lyonesse DK to try before it launched in the Ruby colourway. Having never used a yarn which contains linen before I was unsure what to expect.  To the touch the yarn in the ball feels soft with an element of crispness.   The dyed yarn has a slight heathery appearance due to how the dye reacts with the wool and linen.  My first impressions were all good!

I decided to knit three different swatches so I could see how the yarn behaved and equally important how it blocked (all were knit on 4mm needles).  The yarn felt smooth passing through my fingers while working with the yarn. 

Here are the swatches unblocked 
Lyonesse DK Plain Swatch Unblocked
Lyonesse DK Stocking Stitch Swatch Unblocked

Lyonesse DK Lace Swatch Unblocked
Lyonesse DK Lace Swatch Unblocked
Lyonesse DK Cable Swatch Unblocked
The stitches are really well defined (the garter stitch ridges really stood up in the cable swatch).  I really love the feel of the stocking stitch swatch - soft but some some presence.  I can imagine a classic cardigan made in this yarn, which you could wear over everything in the summer and it would always look great. After finishing the lace swatch I thought it would look amazing in a crochet shrug or shawl.

These are the photos after blocking.






You can see that they have held their shape brilliantly.  I just used pins and gave the lace and cable one a stretch. The swatches all feel really soft against the skin. 

BritYarn stocks all six shades of Lyonesse DK and don't forget delivery is free for UK orders over £30 (postage rates vary for overseas destinations).  

Look out for our next blogs, the first will feature Sonja Bargielowska from Blacker Yarns.  Sonja kindly answered some questions for the blog about how Lyonesse came about and life at Blacker Yarns.  Our second will be all about the Corriedale sheep.
Until then next time 
Isla














Sunday, 7 June 2015

Leeds Yarn Festival 2015

Mill cottages next to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal
I had an amazing day yesterday at Leeds Wool Festival which was held at Leeds Industrial Museum, Armley Mills.  The mill was once the worlds largest woollen mill eventually closing in 1971.  

I arranged to meet a Ravelry friend at Leeds train station (I love our knitting community) and together we traveled to the mill.  I was really glad I decided to travel by train, not only did it mean I was able to knit during the journey but the car park was full when we arrived! 

A member of The Spinners of Aire
 spinning some Jacob.

You enter the mill near the old cottages.  From there we walked into a room where members of The Spinners of Aire, Bradford Spinners and Weavers Guild were giving demonstrations.   It is no secret that I am fascinated by spinning!  Luckily, my Ravelry friend was equally interested and we spent quite a bit of time chatting to the members about their wheels and the fleeces they were using.  I felt myself move another step forward to learning how to spin! 

We explored the main mill area which still housed the machinery.  We later discovered, from talking to the ladies on the Yorkshire Textiles stall, that the machinery was still in working order.  The Armley Weave was made on the Hattersley loom and was a truly a Yorkshire weave. From sheep to the finished prouduct it has not traveled any further than 40 miles!  


The 1930's Hattersley Loom which the
Armley Weave was produced on.
The Armley Weave
After waking around the machinery we found the stalls!  These were located in several rooms around the museum exhibits.  I made my first purchase!  This was from Louise of The Cryptozoologist.  
The Cryptozoologist
Quite a bit of time was spent talking to Louise and her husband while squishing her hand dyed yarns. I fell in love with Stormborn on her Unicorn base (75% British Bluefaced Leicester and 25% nylon), a bright and cheery mix of blues and yellows, a bit like BritYarn's packaging.  Louise had so many amazing colours that I knew I would not be leaving her stall with only one skein!  I noticed some socks she had knit as a sample and that was me done. Glamour Prism also came home with me.   This colourway was very different but still on the Unicorn base.  I love how the natural colour is mixed with short colour runs of rainbows. These are going to be some cool socks.

We browsed around until we realised it was after 12pm.  Joeli of Joeli's Kitchen had kindly arranged a little meet up with other knitting friends for lunch.  We spent a really fun and enjoyable hour or so knitting and chatting away in the sunshine accompanied by several alpacas.  

Together we then explored the remaining rooms and I made two additional purchases.  The first was from Wakefield Wool Company.  I bought two skeins of their DK 80% Bluefaced Leicester and 20% Hebridean from their own flock.  I also bought some fibre for my mum in law as she wants to try needle felting.  My final purchase (enabled by my knitting friends - you know who you are!) was a 150g skein from Natural Born Dyers on their Lustrous base (55% British Bluefaced Leicester and 45% Silk). It took me a little while to decide what shade to buy but in the end decided on Emerald, which has a really nice variation of green shades.  This will become a large shawl I just need to decide what pattern!

All of us had a great day at Leeds Yarn Festival.  A big thank you if you said hello to me.  To round off a perfect day, with brilliant new found knitting friends, we popped for a celebratory little drink before catching our trains home.  Cheers everyone!

My fab purchases!