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Archive for the ‘wool’ Category

I have been having the most fun!

Since throwing myself head first into the idea of knitting British I have had nothing but fun and joy seeking out local grown, spun or dyed wool.

JEWELS

Have a look at just some of the utter jewels in the British Wool crown that I have stashed so far….

 

IMG_1527

“Seeking out” is perhaps a redundant term as there is just so much British fibre out there, just yearning to be used.

And it isn’t just our sheepy friends either, I can’t believe I have been buying alpaca wool imported from South America when there is an absolute wealth of yarn grown from flocks (packs?) all over the UK, even here in Shetland!
My wishlist is continuing to bust! I really hope Santa thinks I have been a good girl this year. Currently I have coveting this sumptuous green UK Alpaca sock from John Arbon! It just yearns to be squeeshed!

 

I will introduce more of the yarns in more detail as time goes on, but needless to say it is all wonderful stuff and I am really looking forward to working with it.

(I have just realised I have included all dyed in that picture. There is lots of natural too!)

HOW MUCH?

I know there will be some people out there who will simply disregard yarn because of the price. We all like a bargain, especially if you are a prolific knitter! But I am quickly beginning to realise that I would rather pay a little more for a quality item produced here in the UK.

Before I really began to knit with hand-dyed wools, I would baulk a bit at the prices, but look at this beautiful British BFL from The Yarn Yarn …no really, have a good look…

The Yarn Yard BBFL

It’s not a very good photo, but I am sure you can appreciate the different nuances and how each colour plays with the light. Can you imagine how lovely this will look knitted?  You will never buy a ball of wool from your LYS that has detail like this unless it is hand-dyed. I feel this is the epitome of an artisan craftsmanship.

The wool is was grown on the back of a happy British bred sheep and the wool was dyed by a wonderfully talented British based dyeing artist. There is no comparison really.

HAPPY COINCIDENCE?

And as luck would have it two wonderful British designers have just brought out beautiful pattern collection books all made in British fibre!

Ann Kingstone had been releasing patterns in what I can only describe as  salivatory manner;  drip feeding beautiful designs in Yorkshire wool on Ravelry, which lead up to the launch of her book Born and Bred in conjunction with BaaRamEwe (my new favourite online store). I certainly cannot wait to knit this!

Hild by Ann Kingstone

 Kate Davies has published her first collection of patterns Colours of Shetland, all Shetland inspired and using Jamieson & Smith wool. I am a sucker for a yoke and just look at this glorious example.

Puffins by Kate Davies

I am just giddily excited to be knitting with all this home-grown loveliness. If you are on Ravelry head on over to the Woolsack forum. JaneKAL has started a new forum where you can discuss your own ideas for projects knit in British wool.

I’d also (eventually) like to host giveaways, perhaps a blog tour or two and have a gallery of your own projects, if you care to share them.

New website going live soon  so all will be revealed in good time and due course, but needless to say, like Christmas, it will be here before we know it!

Ann Kingstone’s book, Born and Bred, is available from Baaramewe & is priced £12.99

The Colours of Shetland, by Kate Davies is available via her website priced £14.99

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Here is Etterscabs. The last item I will make in non-British wool for the next year.

back yoke

The design is Aftur, by Védís Jónsdóttir and I knit it out of two necessities. 1) I wanted a lopapeysa style yoke jumper and 2) I had a lot of Drops Alaska in my stash that, while a wonderful wool, it was taking up too much space in the stash. Stash space that is needed for British wool for 2013!

I am so delighted with this jumper, as you can see! I haven’t done a lot of colour-work, and I did struggle a little bit with working with only 2 colours (ye gods! should I knit a pattern that requires more!) but I am so pleased with how it turned out.

PD4A0579

I altered the yoke pattern from the original and I made the sleeves a little longer and added just a little waist shaping (as I always look boxy in jumpers) my only slight regret is that I didn’t allow for more…ahem…movement…in the bustular area. But one needs to feel snug in this cold weather.

I really don’t think I have been so happy with a creation in a long time. It had been blocking for over a week (I bent every single pin I had! But Dear Mother is going to lend me my Nannie’s jumper board for the future!)

I can’t think of a nicer project to close the chapter on one knitting year and embark on another.

More news of my 2013 adventures in British Wool soon…very soon. Meantime Lovely Fella – not content with dodging showers this morning to take my picture at Scalloway Castle –  is in the process of KnitBritishing up  a new web-space.

So exciting developments aside, I am about to go and marinade the lamb for dinner!

Catch up with you soon, and keep coming with your British wool suggestions. What breed of wool do you prefer to work with?

Ohh! Before I go, the name Etterscabs. Are you wondering? I don’t think it is an actual word. It was a word chosen  by a writing group I attended as a theme for the following meeting. It was chosen from this book. It was during the course of this meeting that I realised I am not someone who can write something on a time limit and procrastinating this was the most creative thing I had achieved in the allotted time. Hence, Etterscabs.

PD4A0591

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It’s been tugging at my knitting belt for some time, ever since I was waxing knitical about a new yarn I was swatching, which came from a flock almost over the back garden from me (as the crow flies)… wouldn’t it be a great idea to knit as local or as British as possible?

This year (belatedly, granted), I set myself the Great Cardi Knit of 2012 challenge and I have loved having a theme to knit to, so it has got me thinking about what I might challenge myself with in 2013…(ocht! I know it’s only September, but it’ll soon be upon us!)

Last Monday I was on a train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh, and while sipping my East Coast Trains, First Class coffee (which was a bit second rate, truth be told) I was looking out the window. We passed a fairly large field of sheep, resplendent in their growing winter fleeces…it got me to wondering what the price of wool was for this year and if farmers were coming off any better this year, than in the past. And it tugged at me again…

…Wouldn’t it be great to try and knit with as much British wool as possible?  I tweeted right away…

A deluge (for someone with 75 followers!) of suggestions came my way and it soon became clear that there are lots of  folk out there who are growing, spinning, dyeing British wool – from big producers to the smaller, indy chaps trying to carve out a career selling and promoting brilliant UK woolly products.

Quickly ideas started forming. If I wanted to try and knit UK, I should really try and do my bit to promote the British yarn growers, sellers and dyers I will be buying from, through blogging, yarn reviewing etc…and maybe it’ll turn more folk on to them too. Not only would it plug great local & independent businesses, it would promote British wool and fibre and our native breeds, as well as supporting and promoting local purchasing.

It’s all ideas yet, but it is something I am considering doing…a regular blog on Knitting British and highlighting really deserving chaps and reviewing their yarn…

…what do you think? Would you read it? Would you share it?  Would you be likely to visit the websites and shops that I blog about?

Would it make you think about buying British; for example, alpaca wool from Shetland Alpaca or Toft rather than imported? Or how about considering hand-dyed yarns from Ripplescrafts or The Yarn Yard?

I am really interested in knitting with and blogging about the smaller, independent chaps… … would you consider an Artisan (if that isn’t too quaint a description) UK Knitalong too in 2013?

…Who would you recommend me to try? Or if you are a British yarn producer or dyer, would you be interested in taking part?

I’d really love to hear from you and hear your suggestions and see what we can do in our own small way to plug our brilliant local products and our great yarnies! Maybe I can even arrange some sort of giveaway or discount to have at the end of the Knit British year!

You can leave a comment here, tweet me or email me at louisescollay (at) hotmail.co.uk And please do share with your knitterly/crocheting/craftsty friends! I am compiling a list and would love to know of other UK independent yarn businesses.

#knitbritish

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