Sunday, 30 August 2015

Happy 10th Birthday Blacker Yarns

Blacker Yarns is 10 years old on Friday 18th September, so it is only fitting that September's Yarn of the Month should be their new celebratory birthday yarn, Cornish Tin.  Not only that, read on for details of a giveaway!

Cornish Tin, launched on the 18th September will be a limited edition yarn celebrating all things Blacker Yarns and British wool.  It will be available in 100g skeins in both 4 ply and DK weights.  Cornish Tin will only yarn be made once so when it has gone there will (sadly) be no more. 

Cornish Tin
Photo used with kind permission from Blacker Yarns
The yarn is woollen spun and is a blend of ten of the highest quality fibres Blacker Yarns knows and loves.  These are Alpaca, Mohair, Gotland, Jacob, Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain, Texel, English Merino, Falklands Merino and Gotland / Romney Cross.

Cornish Tin comes in one natural shade (a gorgeous silver) and four stunning toning, dyed shades all named after Cornish minerals.  I was very honoured to be one of the first people to see this yarn outside of Blacker Yarns and yes I fell in love with it at first sight.   It was not long before I cast on my first swatch! 
Unblocked stocking stitch swatch
Textured unblocked swatch
The yarn was nice and smooth to knit with and feels nice and springy in the skein.  I particularly liked the darker fibres still being visible.

The two swatches were knit in DK in the Dolcoath Turquoise shade.  They were a pleasure to knit and I was busy planning projects in my head as I was knitting them! The stocking stitch swatch has produced a really even square with great definition and it has some drape.  I really love how the textured swatch has turned out.  Not only does the pattern really stand out it feels really bouncy.

I didn't notice a massive difference after blocking. There is a slight halo on both swatches and both have formed a really nice looking and feeling knitted fabric.  The swatches have a medium softness to them.  I think if you are a sensitive to woolly yarns then this might not be suitable for next to the skin wearing.  However, worn with layers it will make a brilliant winter garment or accessory.

After blocking
Negatives? I wish, as it is coming up to winter, that there was an Aran weight version and that this yarn would be around forever!   

To celebrate Blacker Yarns 10th Birthday, BritYarn will have a little giveaway during September.  From the 1st September to midnight on 30th September (GMT) any order which contains two or more balls of any Blacker Yarns wool (not including Cornish Tin) will be automatically popped into a prize draw. The winner will be selected at random and will receive 1 skein of Cornish Tin 4 ply and a BritYarn canvas shopping bag.  I will announce the winning order number here on the blog and over in our Ravelry Group.

Image used with kind permission from Blacker Yarns
Cornish Tin will be available to buy from Friday 18th September. 

Thursday, 27 August 2015

BritYarn #8 This Could be a Podcast

As many of you will know I have recorded a few Periscopes over the last month or so which I then upload to You Tube.  

While I love the interactive chat with you all on Periscope, it is not the easiest way to show you what I am working on and to share BritYarn news.  So, I have been brave and made a proper recording.  You might call it a podcast!  Below are some notes with links for the things I have mentioned and some photos from the British Wool Show.   

BritYarn #8 This could be a podcast?

  • Me
  • Where you can find me Website , Instagram, Twitter, Ravelry as BritYarn and blog You can subscribe BritYarn's You Tube channel and follow us on Periscope.
  • NEWS
  • New yarns Chillia Valley Alpacas Aran 100% alpaca and 70% alpaca 30% Shetland Lambswool and Chunky 70% alpaca 30% Shetland Lambswool
  • Erika Knight Maxi Wool 
  • Bags  including new canvas ones.  Pop over to our Ravelry group chance to win one.
  • #scollayalong KAL with Louise KnitBritish.  Just over half way.  Virtual party last Friday night.
What's in the Jam Pan aka WIP’s
British Wool Show 
Friday 7th and  8th August York.  
High Farndale Farm Peter Mawson Whitefaced Woodland sheep fleece.
Queen of Purls.  
English Angora Society
Low Lands Legacy
Wheeldale Wool Crafts
Peter from High Farndale Farm
Lots of hand dyed British wool by Zoe from the Queen of Pearls

The Sheep Show

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Great British Pattern Pick Autumn 2015 by Jo Milmine

Welcome to the second 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!

The equinox has been and gone, and although we’re still enjoying the final, fitful bursts of the British summertime, thoughts are already turning to cooler weather. As the nights draw in and the promise of (yet more) knitwear weather, the mind drifts to pumpkins, turning leaves and cosying up in front of a roaring fire. Chunky knitting weather may well not quite have arrived yet, so in this edition, we’re looking at transitional pieces for the changing seasons. 
Scollay by Karie Westermann
Unless you’re been hiding under a rock, you’ll already know about the fabulous Scollay-along that BritYarn is hosting, along with Louise of KnitBritish podcast. I’m sure you’re already taking part, but if you need a little more encouragement, let me tempt you with this combo.

Scollay by Karie Westermann is a perfect cardigan to take you into Autumn. With the pretty lace detailing and straightforward construction, it’ll be an item that is as fun to knit as it is to wear. You can layer up whilst kicking through piles of fallen leaves with your pumpkin spiced latté or ward off a chill whilst on a country walk, before heading to the pub for a hearty meal. Yarn-wise, you could opt for Blacker’s West Country Tweed, to replicate that heathered look in the original sample. I’d recommend to silky lustre of Wensleydale Longwool Sheep Shop in Ruby, a colour recently added to the BritYarn line-up.

Earl Grey by Clare Devine
What’s Autumn about if it isn’t versatile accessories with beautifully cabled details to snuggle into? Step forward Clare Devine with the Earl Grey Duo. Timeless texture is sure to be popular both with the knitwear fanatic and the fashion-forward. The big question is: to pom, or not to pom?

If you want a real treat for this project, why not try the fabulous Chilla Valley Alpacas Alpaca and Lambswool, a single-farm blend of 70% Alpaca and 30% Shetland? This special yarn would have bags of fluffy warmth. For the more budget-conscious, opt for West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley Aran: a great workhorse yarn in a wide range of colours.

Lamitra Copyright Woolly Wormhead
If you have a penchant for lovely, handpainted yarns, you’ll always be on the hunt for patterns that showcase these yarns to their best effect. Luckily for us, the fabulous Woolly Wormhead has created an entire collection of hats that do just that, in Painted Woolly Toppers. A current favourite is Lamitra, a slouchy beret/tam with an eye-catching, rotating eyelet and garter stitch detail. The collection was designed to celebrate handpainted yarns; that being said, this design would work equally well in a solid as it would a variegated yarn. For a lively effect, choose Yarns From The Plain Mobberly 4ply in ‘Blackpool Illuminations’, or opt for the more tonally variegated ‘Ironbridge’ for a more subtle result.

Rainbow Pipes and Linen Stitch Socks Copyright Aurélie Colas
Socks are a great project to have on the needles any time of the year and they are also an ideal way to try out new techniques on a smaller canvas. You’d have to be made of stone to not see yourself in a pair of the gorgeous Rainbow Pipes and Linen Stitch Socks by Aberdeenshire-based Aurélie Colas. Not only do they look great, but you can expand your sock knitting repertoire a little at the same time!

Luckily, there’s a plethora of mini skein sets dyed by Joy at The Knitting Goddess in Harrogate available from BritYarn, along with a good selection of main contrast colours dyed on Britsock. This yarn is 100% British, including the 20% Nylon content, added for strength. What’s not to love?

Colossus Copyright Eden Cottage Yarns
Not quite cold enough for a full DK cardigan? Get your tank on to keep your core warm whilst allowing the arms to stay free, for those days when the weather doesn’t know what it’s doing. Knitted in the lustrous and silky Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply (and part of BritYarn’s featured pattern collection for August) Colossus is an intricately cabled tank. Style it over a shirt for a more formal look, or throw it over a plain, long-sleeved tee for more casual occasions.

Milburn 4ply would be the optimal choice for this pattern, but if you need a more cost effective alternative, consider the West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply.

Fuss Free Baby Cardigan Image Copyright Louise Tilbrook
Whilst we’re keeping warm, it’s also important to keep the smaller folk in our life toasty as well. With its simple, button down detail, the Fuss Free Baby Cardigan by Louise Tilbrook is a great option for this. It’s a free pattern for a cardigan that goes up to size 3-6 months, making it a perfect baby shower or new arrival gift. Coming in at under 100g of DK, it’s fantastic for stash busting and very easy on the pocket if you do need to buy yarn.

Being a huge fan of babies in bright knitwear, the West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley DK range gives a huge range of colour options at a very competitive price point. For a more traditional, muted palette, with a touch of luxury, UK Alpaca Baby Alpaca and Silk DK would fit the bill nicely. Supremely soft, this yarn would also be a superb choice for an heirloom blanket for the precious bundle.

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


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. 

Monday, 24 August 2015

Launching BritYarn's New Autumn and Winter Yarns 2015

As much as I hate to say this but the cooler months of Autumn and Winter are just around the corner.  So that you could start your winter planning nice and early I want to introduce BritYarn's new Aran, Chunky and Super Chunky yarns.

The first three yarns are from Chilla Valley Alpacas.  All of the fleece used in the making of these yarns comes from Alpaca and sheep who live on Chilla Valley Alpacas farm in Devon.  The fleece travels a short distance to Cornwall to be worsted spun into this wonderfully soft yarn.  

The first is made from 100% alpaca and is an Aran weight yarn.  This is available in two natural shades Fawn and Natural. 
100% Alpaca Aran yarn

have two additional natural shades which have been blended with 30% Shetland Lambswool to produce Mist and Storm Cloud.  The storm cloud looks a bit brown here but it is a true grey.

70% Alpaca 30% Shetland Lambswool
Mist and Storm Cloud Aran
The third yarn from Chilla Valley Alpacas is a Chunky weight yarn and like the Aran above is a blend of 70% Alpaca and 30% Shetland Lambswool.  When I saw this yarn I immediately thought of warm winter hats like Lapsang, made using just one 100g skein of Alpaca yarn.  We currently have this in Storm Cloud (grey) but in a few weeks we will be receiving Devon Fudge and Mist.

Swatch in the Chunky Devon Fudge

The last yarn I want to introduce is from a name you will recognise - Erika Knight.   
Erika Knight Maxi Wool

This is Maxi Wool, a 100% British Super Chunky yarn spun in West Yorkshire.  This yarn has been steamed twice while being processed which has created a luxurious and voluminous yarn.  

Erika Knight Maxi Wool Swatch

All these yarns are available in the shop now along with our other Aran and Chunky yarns.  I can't wait to see what you make!

Monday, 17 August 2015

A chat with Victoria from Eden Cottage Yarns

Hello Victoria 

Many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for BritYarn.  

Could you introduce yourself to BritYarn’s readers (Who you are, what you do, little bit about your background). 

Hello! I’m Victoria and I’m the dyer behind Eden Cottage Yarns, which opened in 2011. I studied Architecture at university in Dundee, but always pined to study in the textiles department next door. I left uni and moved to Manchester, where I worked at Purl City Yarns for a short while, before relocating to Cumbria and starting the business.

Image used with kind permission from Eden Cottage Yarns
How and when did Eden Cottage Yarns come about?  What got you started / interested in hand dyeing yarn?

Originally based in the Eden Valley in Cumbria, in a 1700s cottage (which was the inspiration behind the name), we moved to Yeadon in West Yorkshire and I’ve been producing yarns in my kitchen at home ever since.

I started dyeing yarn when I wanted a lovely plain purple hand dyed yarn. At that time, highly variegated yarn was all the rage and it was almost impossible to find a semi solid. I decided to dye my own and the rest is history!

What are your favourite woolly / fibre crafts?

I do a bit of everything, to be honest. I knit, crochet, spin, and love embroidery. 

I love all of the amazing colours that you dye.  Do you have a favourite?

The simple answer is no, I really don't. I was going to say green, but then maybe grey, and... the list goes on. It'd be easier to say the only colours that I dislike are neons, I suppose. 

Everybody works in different ways… are you a traditional pen and paper person or do you prefer making full use of modern technology?

Not your usual washing line.
Image used with kind permission from
Eden Cottage Yarns
I love a good app as much as the next one, but I also really enjoy the tactile aspects of pen and paper. I’ve got a beautiful leather-bound Filofax that I rely on for planning and inspiration. There’s something really nice about natural textures that is a welcome change from the cold and hard surfaces of an iPhone or laptop. That being said I absolutely love Instagram, and am never far from my iPad!

If you were only allowed to knit with one British grown base, a blend or 100% pure what would it be and why? 

Bluefaced Leicester. I love Bluefaced Leicester. It’s lustrous, shiny and really hard wearing. It doesn’t pill and it takes dye beautifully. It works equally well for statement accessories as it does workhorse garments for every day use. What’s not to love?

Milburn 4ply, one of your mill dyed yarns, is made up of 85% British Bluefaced Leicester and 15% silk.  Could you tell BritYarn a little bit about how you selected the seven shades in the range?

It was really hard to pick just seven, but I started with grey, then purple, then picked shades from around the colour wheel, but with the aim that they would mostly work together well for colourwork. There comes a point where you just have to be pragmatic about decisions like that otherwise you either don't get anywhere, or end up with a palette of seven tones of one shade! 
The seven shades of Milburn.

The Bletchley Collection by Joanne Scrace was published last year.  How did the inspiration to use Bletchley come about?

Joanne had visited Bletchley prior to our collaboration, and she said that when she saw the palette of Milburn 4ply it looked very vintage to her (which is true, although unintentional!). When she suggested it to me it just sounded perfect. I can't imagine it having gone any other way now!

Are there any future Eden Cottage Yarns plans / projects you can share with BritYarn?

Kind of - that is to say that we've been working on our next collection since January, and it's due to be released in September, debuting at Yarndale. I've been keeping it quite secret, so I won't say any more as I don't want to spoil the surprise, but we're at the point now where we're doing the photography, and it's all starting to come together - it's really exciting and I can't wait to share it with everyone. 

How can people best keep up to date with the latest Eden Cottage Yarns news?

The best way is to join our mailing list so you’ll get all the latest news on website updates and our exciting new collection, as well as offers and details of where we’ll be exhibiting on the show circuit. The website is and we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry.

BritYarn stocks Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn, BFL Sock and Bowland DK.

Monday, 10 August 2015

The Bletchley Collection

Following on from last weeks Yarn of the Month, featuring Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4 ply here is The Bletchley Collection by Joanne Scrace.  All of the designs are made using Milburn 4 ply and were inspired by Bletchley Park and the code breaking work which was undertaken there.

The collection includes both knitting and crochet garments plus accessories. The book comes with a complimentary pdf download code to use on Ravelry.   

Here are my three favourite designs from the book.
As you will know if you follow BritYarn on Twitter and Instagram I recently finished my Colossus, the front cover design of the book. The design is inspired by the cables and valves in the code breaking computer, Colossus. 
Despite my cable work not being the fastest I decided that this was the design wanted to make first from the collection.  It took me a while to finish it but I love how it has turned out.  It is really straightforward as the majority of the vest is knit in the round and the cable pattern has a nice rhythm to it.
Close up of the cable detail
I have worn this with a vest underneath but the yarn is so soft and smooth that it could easily be worn against the skin.  With the ribbing traveling up the sides there is a bit of stretch allowing for a long sleeved shirt to be worn when it gets cooler.

If I had not cast on Colossus first then it would have been the Hut 8 cardigan.  I really like the simple shaping and design of this cardigan, great for every day wear.  As it is knit in a 4 ply yarn it does not have the bulk of some of the other cardigans I own but would still keep me warm.

I especially love Ellipsissy's (AKA Emily) version made in the rich blue shade of Night Sky and finished with bright orange buttons.  I think I might have to copy this version!  

Ellipsissy's Hut 8.
Image used with kind permission from Ellipsissy.  
My final choice would be Tunny a crochet hat.  Now a slight problem for me with this design, my crochet skills are basic but one day I hope to make it.  
Tunny in Rust, Harvest Gold and Night Sky

I would make mine in either Night Sky Harvest Gold and Steel.

The Bletchley Collection book is available to purchase at BritYarn along with Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply.  

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply Yarn of the Month August 15

Milburn is a 4 ply yarn which is mill dyed especially for Eden Cottage Yarns.  It is available in seven complimentary shades.  Each skein weighs 50g and there are 200 metres / 218 yards to a skein.

Fibre: 85% Bluefaced Leicester 15% Silk
Grown: The Bluefaced Leicester is grown in Great Britain.  
Spun: Italy
Dyed: Italy

As you can imagine, a yarn which contains Bluefaced Leicester and silk has the most amazing lustre. While working with this yarn it glides easily through your fingers.  The silk contents makes Milburn 4 ply a bit slippy on metal needles.  Extra care might be needed to ensure you don't drop any stitches!   

The yarn is spun with a high twist making it suitable for projects which need to withstand  some tougher situations.  There are quite a few sock patters which use Milburn 4 ply including Eden Cottage Yarns very own Daydreamer socks.  The added silk provides additional strength in a similar way to how nylon does.

Close up of the yarn
It is also the perfect yarn for lace and textured projects as the high twist allows the design to really stand out.  If you need any more reason to love this yarn it is also machine washable! 

This swatch was knit on 3.25 mm needles in the Misty Woods colourway. The stitches are really well defined.  

Swatch unblocked in the Misty Woods shade
Blocked Swatch
After blocking the yarn transforms, both the swatch and my Colossus top softened to a silky soft finish. The swatch has a nice drape while retaining some substance and as you can see it holds it shape brilliantly.  

In the cable work of the Colossus the pattern really stands out while being amazingly comfortable to wear against the skin.  

Cable detail of Colossus.
The design in one of six patterns 
in the Bletchley Collection  

We will take a closer look at the designs in the Bletchley Collection next week.