In March I escaped to Scotland for a holiday and spent time at Edinburgh Wool Fest. Busman’s holiday so speak. I don’t often get away but last weekend I have been off exploring again. Visiting very old friends (from University days many moons ago). They have a farm on the north end of the Isle of Man. I don’t go to easy to get to places. Before we set off they had told us they were thinking of taking on milking sheep!!

Well that surprised you didn’t it!?  Surprised me too largely ’cause, well we don’t do we? Even if you come from a farming background, milk comes from cows doesn’t it? When I thought about it I do know sheep can be milked. Feta comes from ewes milk and even good old Wensleydale Cheese was originally a ewes milk cheese ( I don’t know if the breed is a milking sheep). Deep in our history eating sheep’s milk was normal. Many of our tall UK sheep breeds were dual purpose milk and wool. Why eat your assets!!

The breed they are looking at is Zwartbles originally from The Netherlands where they are milked. We have had a little of the wool from a local herd but there is none in the shop at the moment. I was sure I’d seen some somewhere……..thats when I realised that the just cast on cardigan I was planning to take as the travel project was….. John Arbon Harvest Hues  which is a Merino Zwartbles blend.


It is a 4ply so I’m working on a 3.25mm ( with my sloppy knitting I needed to go down a size to work on stocking stitch). The pattern is a top down cardigan in garter stitch. I like the top down technique because:  one it lets me fit the neck first (the tricky bit if you are a big girl) and two if I have a fixed amount of stash yarn that bit get done first and the length isn’t such a panic. The sleeves get finished last so they can be shorter if I’m running short too. I like how you can cast of for a neck edge and provided you get the proportions of stitches right for the front, sleeves and back you just increase regularly for and get a Raglan sleeve top and the stripes match!!!

I’m working on circulars they are easy to travel with as you can scoop it all up with the needle points out and the cable holds all the stitches together. However I do get people trying to work out what on earth I’m making as the unconventional piece of knitting grows!!  The wool is a little fluffy at the moment but  it is knitting well and in the garter stitch it is making a thick light fabric and so far I have used about a quarter of the gold colour skein (100g) and almost 1 skein of the sycamore green. Plenty left of that purchase to get to the end …. a test run for some Manx wool maybe.

Hat again…..

JpegWell after the last little issue with hats, I had to get back on and have another go with vaasetter beret . This time with less expectation and more testing. The pattern is a very good one for  beginners to fairisle. Worked in the round colour the pattern is always facing you. The floats at the back are short because the pattern is made up of rows of peerie (small) flowers and geometric blocks. The decrease is easy too. Jamieson and Smith’s Heritage range is quite a soft 4 ply nice to work with. Natural fawn (stock due end March), indigo, and moss green.

The hat does come up big as the pattern suggests so for those with big heads or long tresses! For little noggins I suggest casting on 112 work the rib band then increasing in 2 rows (not 1 as pattern) after the band to get to the same number of stitches as the pattern to complete the repeats. Lovely and much admired.

That done …… I wandered off to find another project. I have searched ravelry for a cardigan jacket pattern in colour work and a boxy shape. I am not sure I am up to a 4ply  fairisle yet I came across a Melissa Lipman’s Shenandoah pattern. Worked in mosaic stitches the colour changes are slipped stitches. Oh what fun that is and quick too. Just have to decide which colour combinations I like…….. Oh on slip stitches you might like to check out Feastival (Triskelion Yarn & Fibre)

Now which one first.

mosaic stitch cushion a practice peice

Finally I want to show you this – Woods a crowd funded kntting book featuring breed specific wool from around Europe. One yarn design is done with Blacker Yarns wool incase you are interested.

What’s in a hat?

I am by anyone’s standards a plus size woman. I have been so all my life or at least all the bit I can remember. I was 5′ 6 ” tall when I went to senior school at 11, head and shoulders above my classmates. By the time I was 16, I was well over being a skinny flat chested teenager. Fashion has never suited me as a consequence I made my own and continue to do so.  I struggle with knitting patterns for a few reasons including that and frequently adapt them for my size and shape. I love books that help us adapt commercial patterns to fit people. Amy Herzog and Melissa Leapman who encourage knitters to adapt to fit you are my heroines! The only point where a ‘one size fits all could work for me ‘ is hats and mitts  and I like to knit these from patterns. This week I am a disappointed knitter.

I have for many months wanted to construct Kate Davies Scatness Tam from her book Colours of Shetland. I have also wanted to use Jamieson’s Spindrift  4ply. Because although we have the  Jamieson’s Smith Heritage range in the shop the colours are quite bright and I wanted to try the alternative spun on Shetland for research (also I liked their colour chart!). Over Christmas and for a number of weeks before I poured over that colour chart for the 7 colours for the project. Mid January the button pressed, I waited for my delivery of 9 colours (I couldn’t quite decide if the colour gradient was right) all the way from Shetland far far away! Next day it came! No disappointment there. The bag opened out popped these lovely soft yarns in deep heather colours but 2 of the balls were DK! Oh heck do I send them back ? – I knit a tension square (on straight needles,oh misguided one) I’ll cope. dscf5883-3

So to the pattern (available  from Ravelry via us). I have a head circumference 19″ (so, I have a small head!) the hat is to fit 21-22″ finished brim size 20″. I went for smaller needles (2.75mm) for  corrugated rib on the brim just to be safe. In two days it was finished. It is absolutely lovely in shades of peat, moorland red-brown on a natural grey back ground with just a touch of green. The pattern is easy to follow. The construction of the fold back brim very elegant. it went together easy and the fairisle pattern drew me onward. Two days and it was done and the whole thing sings. I tried it on it fits neatly on the back of my head, it is snug. Ta Dah!!!

And every time I wear it, it falls down over my eyes!!!!! The tam shape above the brim line is simply too deep for my little noggin – devastation. All I can think is that the pattern design is quite tall and when I am knitting in the round (which is all knit) it has effected my tension (maybe those 2 DK balls helped too). Oh dear ……….so off I went to find another pattern  ……. vaasetter beret


Sam Warburton?

It tells you much about my knowledge of Rugby when I heard the newsman talking about Mr Warburton and thought it was about bread. It also says much about the power of adverts that I then thought of frogs. Too much TV watching while ill. Mr Sam Warburton is/was the Captain of the Wales Rugby team I believe.

As you know I have been working on an idea to join in the celebrations of the University regarding the first rugby game in Wales (Side tracked) .

I finished Algy and well he is cute (not something said of modern rugby players often unless to provoke them!!). The feedback was positive – we are to knit a team!!

So Saturdays in February and March  from 1 O’clock come along and make arms, legs, heads or jumpers and longs. Some events will be in the University so watch this space. We’ll see how many team members we have by the grand sew up event on Saturday 1st April. OH yes I know! The University team colours first then if we get enough help a modern-day Welsh team.

I will have to simplify the pattern for mass production and as has been pointed out he needs more shoulder and less hips!!! Its a chance to have a go at toy making and knitting with small needles and real wool. Free admission.  They are made mostly in local wool. I need a source of local black for boots, otherwise we are off.

They go right up to there………

Happy New Year to all and hope you had a good rest. Over the ‘holiday’ we had a bad cold and man flu, probably the same bug as synchronised coughing was the order of the last week and a half, but in this case himself was worse than I so my  conclusion –a gender specific germ.

The other consequence was very little energy to do anything, even eat!! However I was able to read knitting books and knit. Well — finish things, it takes more energy to start projects — well it does.

These are the trail silk and something Mr Wrack left for me to try its a deep rose colour I think he calls Cassiopeia. I made them short wrist length first but to use up the 100g skein I just picked up the cast on and worked back so they now go all the way to my elbow just what you need on a chilly day. It knits up a dream and is shiny and drapey and just what you’d expect from a yarn pimp!!

I like the connection, Cassiopeia is a star constellation, as a child it was one of the few I knew as it makes a big W shape. My family name begins with a W so it was one we looked out for. Did you see the crescent moon, Mars, and Venus display at the beginning of the week? nature is so awe-inspiring.


have yourself a Merry Little……….

Well the shop is open until 12:30 today but  I do hope you all have too much else to do. This week has been my finishing things week and in no order I managed:


Cowls ’cause I found them very quick on circular needles .. its been quite in the shop this week so I managed to finish the distraction; two honeycomb cowls for next year’s kits and a random red ball with an edge!!

We’ve had a big tidy in the stock room and I’m planning one for the shop over the holidays if I can. The New Year should be good with a knit-in at the University to make a rugby team anyone?… and some one day events in the shop…… That might be one-day or just day long I haven’t decided…..

My holiday knitting is packed ready to take home but I doubt I’ll get too it more the time for family and watching cartoons with small people.

Peace and happiness to all. Knitty New Year see you on the 5th of January 2017

Oh yarn sharks!!!

I was on track with my Christmas knitting, my cards almost written and I’d even done some baking. Then we has a visit from a ‘yarn shark’. Oh don’t get me wrong he’s a very nice man…. a very very nice man, but well look what he made me do…….

Bringing lovely new yarn in ‘to try’ the pink sample is a silk and something to die for…….and Pink more pink than you can imagine (not so much pink in the shop strangely… must rectify that).

and all those colours ……dscf5862

As if I don’t have enough wool? Stashes of it and well…..I can’t have enough of that shade of green/yellow/mustard/Chartreuse (oh yes I do have 6 different skeins of that green at home already). Actually I like charteuse.


And that was Thursday. On Friday there was another one here; wafting wool and saying how nice it was with lots of lovely patterns and spun in the UK and before I knew it …………..dscf5861

Must be the season or something, my resistance is low but all the more for you to choose from come into the shop…….

feel the wool………………….

see what it will make …………………


How does that hypnosis work? Do yarn sharks have training courses ? No don’t suppose they do

It probably takes one to know one!!!