Best of British Yarns

Thanks so much for all feedback on yesterday’s post about the WI collaboration with Hobbycraft. I’m ploughing through the emails, and will respond to everyone. You can read some of the responses on my twitter feed and in the comments on yesterday’s post.

In the interests of fairness, tomorrow I’ll be sharing some of my favourite designs made using man made fibres, but today I’m sharing a few of my  makes which show off some fabulous British wool and wool blends.

Just for the record, my interpretation of “British” wool means that the fleece grew on the back of a British sheep and that will always be my first choice for personal projects. However, there are some fabulous independent spinners and dyers doing amazing stuff with natural fibres and I shall definitely write about those in the future.

west yoks spinners 4 plyFirst up is this “work in progress”, a plain sock which is on the needles at the moment. I like my socks plain, simple and  a perfect fit in a good quality yarn. This Signature 4 ply from West Yorkshire Spinners definitely fits the bill and priced at £7.20 for 400m (a 100g ball) it compare favourably with other commercial sock yarns. I’ve got a bit of a WYS “thing” going at the moment, you may recall the beautiful mohair wrap I made at Easter. They do a great range of DK and Aran weights and are reasonably priced. The Aire Valley DK washes particularly well and is great for kids wear.

Willow Shawl, pattern and photo Credit Vicki Magnus, full details on Ravelry (click on the photo to be redirected to Ravelry))

A long time favourite dyer of mine is Vicki Magnus of Eden Cottage Yarns,lots of my personal projects are made in her gorgeous yarns. Among her British yarns is the new MIlburn 4 ply. ( a blend of Blue Faced Leicester and silk),  I can’t wait to treat myself to a skein. Vicki kindly gave permission to use the photo above. You can find the pattern details and download  on her Ravelry page.

wrist warmers

It’s always a bonus when an editor supports my choice for British yarn and these gorgeous wrist warmers in two beautiful shades of New Lanark DK first appeared in Love Crochet last year. This yarn definitely falls into the “super value” category and comes in a great range of colours. If you’re not familiar with New Lanark, do visit the website and drool over the amazing shades. A visit is highly recommended too!

Of course, I’m lucky to have such great editors, Knit Now for example have done great stuff in supporting and promoting British yarns  (if you’re looking for more British yarn suppliers, take a look at the current issue which has plenty of adverts for British yarn suppliers).

knit now

One of my all time favourite shoots has to be this simple ear warmer from Inside Crochet. Made using two balls of Erika Knight’s British Blue yarn it is just adorable and really shows off the subtle shades and soft yarn Erika Knight  has become known  for. Ideal for baby knits and for colour work, the 25g balls are the perfect size for little treats and fair isle projects.

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Photo Credit: Britt Spring for Inside Crochet (c) Tailormade Publishing

I’m often drawn to the colour and texture of a yarn and that often influences a design. The two shades of British Blue I used here are “Milk Chocolate” and “Steve”, other yarns in the range include “Mouse” and “Iced Gem” and are equally beautiful.

LilyWarneWool

Another great value and beautiful yarn which I recently discovered comes from Devon. Lily Warne wools  (cheaper, by the way,  than the Hobbycraft Heritage yarn I talked about yesterday). Sold   in DK and Aran weights the colour range can best be described as “scrumptious”. I’ve had great fun playing with different colour ways and I’ll have a project and pattern to share soon. Do take a look at Paula’s website, you can buy yarn and patterns direct or check out the list of stockists.

Photo Credit Lily Warne Wools. (Click on the photo to visit the website)

I just adore this photo and the super cute lambs steal the show!

Finally, I can’t write a post on British wool with a word for the producers. The farmers, shepherds, shearers and companies that provide us with one of the most beautiful, versatile and durable of fibres. Without healthy, happy sheep we wouldn’t have such beautiful yarns. So, thank you to everyone out on the fells at this time of year. If you’re interested to know more about the life of a shepherdess, I can throughly recommend you take a look at Alison O’Neill’s website. The neighbour of a friend of mine, she writes and records her life in the Howgills with humour and honesty.

Alison fleeces

Photo Kindly provided by Mike Glover to promote Kendal Wool Gathering. Click on the photo to visit the website.

I could write all morning about the gorgeous yarns, friendly suppliers and producers, but there’s really no substitute for going out and discovering British yarns for yourself. Do feel free to leave a link to your own favourites (or your own shop) in the comments and don’t fret, I know there hasn’t been a single mention for alpaca, cashmere or one of the many other beautiful fibres available. That’s a post for another day!

 

Off the Hook: Mohair Wrap

british mohair wrapRemember that gorgeous hank of Mohair I showed you from West Yorkshire Spinners? Well, here it is after 4 hours of relaxing crochet. This beautiful wrap, pictured here drying in the sunshine after a quick soak in Eucalan* is so fine and yet so sturdy I’m sure you’ll see me wearing it a lot this summer. More photos will follow, but I wanted to show it off. The pattern is very simple and that too will be shared soon. Using a beautiful yarn, combined with a simple stitch makes this an ideal beginner project. Like many mohair yarns, this one is almost impossible to “rip back”, so stick to a simple stitch or concentrate hard to avoid frustration!

You can find the full range of colours available on the West Yorkshire Spinners website (where you’ll also find their British 4 ply and DK yarns, I’m a big fan and hope to have a pair of socks knitted up in their Signature 4 ply to show you soon.)

We usually think of scarves and wraps as winter projects, but this simple wrap would be ideal for holidays, summer weddings or even for those cooler evenings when we shall all be sitting outside enjoying the  British summer …

*Eucalan is a rinse free formula soak, ideal for blocking and washing your handknits. I don’t use anything else!

Pattern: Jemima Ear Muffs

Crochet_6Jan14-121I am just in love with these photos the Inside Crochet team have supplied of my latest design. These cute little ear muffs look adorable don’t they? You can find the pattern in issue 50, which is on sale now (I believe issue 51 has just gone to press, so you should still be able to find it in the shops). This design was definitely influenced by the yarn. Erika Knight British Blue wool is so soft and the colours so beautiful it really lends itslef to children’s projects. Also, becuase it comes in 25g balls, you can afford to splash out on a luxury yarn for your precious little ones!

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These ear muffs take 2 balls (I used Milk Chocolate and Steve), you can really play around with the colour combinations in the Erika Knight range and have some fun. The pattern is designed for beginners and only requires a knowledge of double crochet, increasing and decreasing. You could use any doublke knitting yarn for this project, but it really does need to be soft and not scratchy. I use this yarn a lot for baby gifts and the quality and the colours are hard to match (I’m particularly fond of “Mouse” and “Iced Gem”).

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I used a shop bought pair of ear muffs for my base, but the pattern also has instructions for making your own with a hair band and foam.

I’ll be back later this week to show you a more “grown up” version I made, which I really think you’ll like!

Happy making x

Photo credit: All images supplied by Inside Crochet

Free Pattern: The Variable Cowl

variable cowl 2

Sorry, this pattern has been moved (and updated), you can find it here. Also don’t forget to follow my Free Crochet Patterns board on Pinterest to keep up to date with all my latest free paterns.

Published Patterns: A Wool Week Special

The autumn edition of Love Crochet went on sale recently and included these rather lovely handwarmers. The magazine version has lots of ideas for customising with ribbons and buttons, but these are my favourites. The yarn used here is New Lanark, an often overlooked, but very beautiful yarn from Scotland.

The pattern is very simple, ideal for a beginner looking to move beyond basic half trebles and double crochet. Feel free to customise any way you like – and if you do – I’d love to see a picture. It was a real thrill to spot them on the cover, next to Ros badger’s cute beanie hat, and over on the far left you’ll spot my nesting bowls, imagine them in festive colours and they would be great for Christmas, fill them with sweets or make a set as a gift.

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The Handcrafted Home

september 20th 2013This week I’ve been able to indulge in all my favourite activities. First, I managed to finish “The Teen’s” Owls jumper. No buttons on this one either, but she has worn it almost every day so I judge it’s a success. The yarn is gorgeous Artesano British Wool, not only is this lovely to knit with, but washed successfully at 30 degrees on a wool wash! Practical and stylish, just what every student needs in their wardrobe. The Artesano yarn comes in some gorgeous colours, I’m tempted to make another (yes, another) for myself. This is such a great pattern, ideal for tv knitting on cold winter evenings. If you’re not familiar with the “Owls” jumper, click through to Kate Davies page on Ravelry and see for yourself how fabulous it is.

Next on the agenda was baking, a delicious trifle cake. I have promised the recipe to so many people, next week I will post it here for you all to enjoy. It really is a very simple pudding, but it is a bit of a “show stopper”. I made one last week for a barbecue and it was demolished within minutes. It’s also gluten free, which is a bonus if you need to please a crowd.

The highlight of the week was an early birthday present, a willow weaving course at Nettle, a gorgeous little shop near Tattenhall in Cheshire. Our tutor, Juliette was both inspiring and encouraging and much to my delight I brought home a rather wonky obelisk to grow my sweet peas up next summer. Juliette runs courses and sells at venues across Cheshire, check out her website for details.

With all this activity, you might think I’ve had an easy week – far from it – four samples posted off, a pile of paperwork and a gorgeous delivery of new books to review. Top of the pile of books on my bedside table right now is the newly published Mollie Makes Crochet. I’ll tell you more about it next week, but if you have friends who love Mollie Makes Magazine, this should definitely be on their Christmas list. So far I’m loving the clear instructions and pretty projects.

Lurking in my local news agents today I noticed I have some patterns out in: Love Crochet (handwarmers), Handmade (Christmas Stockings), Homemade with Love (a rather gorgeous headband), Inside Crochet (stool cover)) and the very new and very fab Crochet Gifts for Christmas, a special edition from Practical Publishing which has some rather stylish ways to decorate your christmas presents this year! It was also quite a thrill to spot one of the ladies at knit group today knitting my tea cosy pattern from Let’s Get Crafting, I hope she brings it back when its finished for us all to admire.

We’re off to Cumbria this weekend, I’ll be taking a basket full of knitting with me and hoping for some autumn sunshine as we’ve planned a couple of walks. Whatever you’re up to, have fun and be happy.

T x