Waltham in the city

Yesterday I added sweater quantities of both WALTHAM DK and Aran to the shop. I am going to start carrying more of this blend as this 100% British Bluefaced Leicester is gently rustic yarn which is slightly crisp but still soft enough for delicate skins. With no pokey guard hairs it is perfect for those of you who, like me, love the look and handle of honest, untreated wooly yarn but can’t bear the typically associated itch! ;-?

As you’ve all likely noticed, I have been heavily biased towards Bluefaced Leicester wool blends, and the reason is that the wool combines three highly prized qualities:

  1. a softness comparable to Merino that is soft enough for sensitive skin;
  2. a long staple fibre which makes yarn hard wearing and low pilling – VERY important in my books;
  3. a natural lustre which gives the yarn a gentle sheen, reflecting light to enhance stitchwork and colour.

WALTHAM is plied with a three plies, making it perfect for open details like yarnovers and cables, while sculptural stitches are further enhanced by the sheen and ply structure.

WALTHAM Aran  – 100% British BFL in a smokey grey semi-solid ‘Peaky Blinder’

The Aran above would be perfect for something like Jared Flood’s gorgeous Channel Cardigan as you’d get the same wooly texture as BT yarn, but with a softer handle against the skin:


The  WALTHAM DK in sunny mustard ‘Maille’ is perfect for cheering up  dreary, grey days. It would shine in a cabled design like Sophie, below, by Jennifer Wood.

A yellow cardi would be the perfect little transitional item to lift spirits while we all wait impatiently for spring! (Get a move on spring!)

Gentle median

I have been thinking a lot about how to best use the variegated colourways I am adding to the shop and have another pattern suggestion today with Islington – BFL/Silk – in new colourway ‘Light Median‘:


I queued this sweater ages ago and think the graceful simplicity of it would let the gentle variations in the yarn shine:


Think this top would also be particularly stunning in the Westminster – Baby Camel/Silk – variegated hues for an ultra luxurious option. Just imagine it in colourway ‘Jeeves‘! Wouldn’t that be stunning?

Brightening things up!

I updated the shop this weekend and have a couple of fun suggestions for the new wares!

First off a bit more springy green as I saw some premature Lilies of the Valley poking their heads out last week:Kettle_Yarn_Co_Wimbledon_DK
Carpino by Carol Feller with  soft WIMBLEDON DK SW Merino in OOAK (one of a kind ) green

Next some slinky, furry lace richness:
Kettle_Yarn_Co_CAMBRIDGE_ Jezek
CAMBRIDGE Lace – Baby Alpaca/Silk/Cashmere and free pattern Winter thaw by Beata Jezek

Both colours in shop now along with other new hues…

British Minis – perfect for socks!

People have been making some great suggestions for the Twist Mini or  British Minis skein pairs! Here is one I have added to my own, ever-growing to do list – a pom pom garland! Super, quick, easy and fun and you could get the whole family involved in this one. Whether you go with traditional:
image from See Sue Stitch
Or just plain FUN:
image from Student Beans
And sticking to the pom theme, for those of you lucky enough to have a pet how about a simple pom pom scarf to get the pooch/cat into the festive mood?
image from the Examiner
For those sock knitters out there, here are some lovely giftable sock patterns:

British Minis pairs now in the shop.

One sheepish post!

I’ve another guest spot …this time over on Meredith’s lovely blog – one sheepish girl!


She sent a call out for some help blogging as she is writing an amazing craft book, which I am so excited to see!


 Head over to the post to see what I keep in my yarn bag!

Quick holiday knits

It is the time of year when knitting thoughts turn to thick, cosy yarn and quick holiday knitting! I have been trying to get in more thicker weight yarns as a result and am slowly adding them to the shop in the next few weeks.

I have been looking at Tin Can Knits‘ fantastic The Simple Collection over the last while, as I met one of the dynamic duo, Emily, a few weeks back. The free collection has some lovely, simple garter patterns – perfect for quick knitting and getting all those holiday projects off the needles!

Rye socks in DK would make a perfect warming gift for someone on my list…

….maybe in bright mustard Waltham DK in ‘Havant’, which is nearly the same hue as the yellow ones above, or a more subdued neutral like ‘Nutkin’ in SW BFL DK, right, for the more conservative giftee:

In the aran/worsted department there are so many perfect patterns right now that it is hard to choose! I recently got another Tin Can Knits design, Barley, off the needles in the softest, thickest, squishiest BFL/Alpaca for holiday gifting and it is the simplest/quickest pattern – merely a few hours and I polished off a child’s hat! A softly saturated and slightly greyed shade up in the shop this weekend, shown to the left.

I recently swatched brioche stitch in BFL/Alpaca Aran and the combo is a match made in heaven!

Blushy-grey ‘Violaceous’ (below left) BFL/Alpaca would be luxuriously fuzzy and hug-able in the beautiful Brioche Scarf by Purl Soho:


I was quite surprised at how easy the stitch actually is – just YOs and k2togs, which are just made to seem complicated with strange abbreviations. Very easy to get into a rhythm with. I love the feel and look much I now desperately want to find the time to make myself their stunning Brioche Vest!

And if I had another 5 hours to the day, or another set of arms…look at this newly released Aran weight beauty by Amy Christoffers! Wouldn’t it be gorgeous in the BFL/ALpaca, too??

I just can’t figure out what I need to give up to make more time…sleep or even less housework…? ;-P

Fred Perry knitting patterns #fail

There has been a huge buzz this week on the supposedly ‘free’ knitting patterns British retailer Fred Perry released as part of an advertising campaign. Turns out the patterns are so poorly written and edited that they are almost a spoof on knitting patterns. (Not sure if this is intentional and they are supposed to be funny? Let’s just say the knitting community has not been amused and they have gotten some pretty negative press from the manoeuvre!)

My response is this…don’t waste time banging your head against the wall trying to figure out the gauge, yarn weight, sheep breed (sheep breed!!), etc. Just pick another pattern from the hundreds of amazing patterns already out there that are WELL WRITTEN!

For example:

Fred Perry yellow cardi

Fred Perry’s cardi could looks sneakily similar to Sirdar’s V Neck Cardigan, if better styled:

And for their cabled beanie…

Fred Perry cabled beanie

…how about a free pattern from Máire O’SullivanHipster Sister? Just start some of the cables higher up and make it a shorter hat without turned over brim and fab pom?

And I just happen to have some Aran weight in the shop at the moment that would work for both – BFL/Alpaca in a grey/lavender – with more skeins going up in the shop next week which work well together(right):

Just sayin’. 😉

*update Fred Perry have removed the patterns from their website. If you are looking for some entertaining reading check out the comments on Kate Davies’ blog…they are cracking me up!

The endless joys of yarn pairing

I think most of you know how truly and thoroughly a yarn nerd I am already, so the title of the post should come as no surprise? 😉

Last Monday I showed a few examples of possible yarn pairs for blindingly simple but stunning subtle-y striped shawls like Camomille and Merlot. I got a bit carried away with the process and decided at the last minute that I’d better split the post as my yarn-nerd-ness was getting out of hand!

I’d paired up 2 more, classic grey combos to show you – ‘ColebrookeBFL/Alpaca‘ and then ‘Colebrooke/Dusty Miller‘ – and then realised how different these two shawls would be due to the properties of the yarns being paired and got really excited!

While the two above look incredibly similar in the skein, the two pairings would create substantially different moods in a shawl!

The BFL/Alpaca combo is more lofty on the right will knit up significantly warmer and ‘fuller’ than the Bloomsbury BFL/Silk, with a sumptuous Alpaca bloom and sponge. It is so warm – even knit as an open lace – that I often find myself overheated with this blend in the mild autumn chill!

In the pairing with Bloomsbury (right) the 80% BFL makes stitches hold a bit more crisply open and the extra silk adds to Westminter’s already substantial drape giving a slightly more dressy (formal/evening wear) feel to the shawl. Both could be worn to dress up last winter’s coat OR over a party dress for a holiday event, but the subtle difference lets you tailor for personality.

You would never think it just looking at the skeins, which look quite similar at first glance, would you?

I first discovered the joys of yarn pairing when knitting Helga Isager’s Nightingale Vest.

It was amazing how even adding a single thin strand of lace to otherwise rather unpleasant feeling sock yarn transformed the fabric into something much greater than its parts (knitting gestalt)!

Yarn pairing is amazing and opens up a world of possibility in stash busting. Add a strand of another yarn and you can create amazing colour effects like heathering and ombre – like in Antonia Shankland’s Kinetic cowl below which starts with 2 strands of the same colour, moves to two strands of 2 different colours for a gradient, then back to 2 strands of the new colour:

Or even change the drape and handle of a yarn and counteract a less desirable trait by blending to better suit your pattern – create more drape, LESS drape and more structure, or add a fuzzy soft halo for an feminine ‘sweater-girl’ twist.

Fun AND useful!

Summer Garland

Another inspiration post today! For those of you who missed this, a cute new Pickles pattern went up on their site a few weeks ago.

This one is a fairly simple colourwork project and might be a good one for a first large-scale fairisle project as it is in DK…? Not sure if that will make it easier, but it might. The yarn they are using is a 30% merino 70% cotton so would be light enough for summer wear, but this would be super cute as a layering piece for winter as well.

I am very tempted to cast on for this as I think the larger blocks of colour might make for easier tension control and I happen to have just the right amount of a Merino/Bamboo I can dye for it. Can you see it in grey/natural? Or mint/natural…or duck egg/grey???? Yum.

I have set myself the goal of making a few colourwork Christmas balls from Arne & Carlos’ Knitting Christmas Balls book for colourwork practice, and have finally dyed some single ply fingering I had earmarked for it!
Unfortunately reds are proving incredibly difficult to photograph, so you will just have to take it from me- the hue is a vibrant, juicy cherry red!