I am a fan of Kate Davies work I have all her books and have made a couple of her fairisle designs. I liked the way she combines the history of Shetland and knitting with knitting design into the early books. The patterns are beginner friendly and not patronising. She is a knitter, who has taken the craft and developed a modern knitting business. Read some of her blog posts about her journey, inspiring. The owl pattern and owligan were her first designs to be published and are now ten years old. She is currently promoting the pattern again with yarn from our old friend New Lanark Mill.
We have stocked aran weight NLM yarn since opening the shop and is has been very popular – it is a quite old fashioned feeling yarn a little rough at the edges but which knit up well and although it will full into a soft fabric I have never managed to felt or shrink it (even with a lot of trying). There have been some new, more modern colours recently and although the price had gone up distinctly over the years it is still very good value for money, especially for cushions and outer wear.
We currently have some stock of Chunky for the owl and owligan pattern and if you would like to order a pattern and wool from us by the end of November it will be £7/100g (rather than £8.50). Happy Knitting
I have noticed patterns recently where designers — doubling yarn up (Carbeth Kate Davies ) or combining yarns weights (Purl Solo) for projects. It is something I do often but customers seem very put off by the idea. Maybe it’s the chance of the two yarns separating or the whole idea doesn’t seem right — if you are a spinner you will know that most yarn is plyed – that is more that one thread is twisted together or onto itself to make the thicker yarn that we know and work with. The tighter the twist and the more threads in the bundle the better stitch definition you get when working, (this is why merino is popular as it can be made thinner and therefore more strands). There are a number of these types of yarn in the shop ready mixed.
I have a thick wooly cold weather jumper, I knit in 3 or 4 strands of leftovers of 4ply.
cold weather jumper
My current interest in marls began with the visit to John Arbon SunShine, Lollipops and John Arbon in the summer he had spun some fine DK yarns for the open day with colours and yarns from his range mixed together. I liked. The yarns like this are known as marl traditionally with a light and dark colour but these are 2 3 or 4 threads in different colours. I knitted a hat and mitts which are a current fav in one skein (dark purple-red in the picture) which is 3 dark colours together and I remembered messing with Cambrian colours into marls.
When knitting stradns together it works best in slightly grabby (haloed) yarns that stick together and wind them together. You will need to knit a tension square as a guide to how thick your joined up yarn is (2x 4ply together can knit as DK on 4 or 3.75mm, 2xDK will knit for me on 5mm if they are skinny and 6mm if they are plump (depends on the density of the fabric you want). You can also mix the weights eg an aran type with a DK and a 4ply or three of four strands of 4plys. Even 5 or six strands to get chunky. I use a ball winder and check the strands are twisting together. It doesn’t come apart as easily as they wind together so do some playing with small amount first. Once you have a fabric you like then look for patterns with that gauge.
All marls ‘pool’- as the thread twists as you knit and colours in the strand do not come to the front evenly so you get patches of colour, be aware that the colours will pool more if you knit 2 strands together than if they are spun. But I like that random break up of colours and it shouldn’t come into too big blocks.
I have since knit a cardigan (up and over) 5mm needles in DK (Cambrian Wool) gwynnon and shale together and the same pattern in red – WYS Gems in ruby and Woolyknit BFL in garnet. I am hooked I really like the dark shade of one colour and similar colours together. You get semi solid tone across the knitting especially from a distance.
Using 3 finer 4plys I made a vest. It used one strand each pale grey Welsh wool from my stash, 4ply slate from CMWools and a pale natural brown from Jamieson&Smith.
What else??? It’s great for stash busting you just need the yardage in all yarns for the thicker pattern ! And play …….
It has been a while since I wrote, there have been things going on in my life. Including 2 hours of driving most nights, something which with the commentary on Radio 4, at least allows thought. This is a post I have been trying to concoct for a while and then this post (Science Daily ) came in from a women in business support group I have recently joined.
I try not to judge (I even found judging at local craft shows hard). As a knitter (and a shop owner) I want to encourage people to do craft. I believe we can learn from all achievements (even the knitting disasters and wrong size choices). I have learnt much about my knitting and achieving fit from my whooooops moments. The biggest recent one is a 4ply top down creation in Alpaca sock yarn I took back the whole body from under the arms down and re-doing it. Something I’m quite proud of ’cause usually that would have become bin fodder.
As a social species we have hierarchy or dominance behaviour built it to our make up basically to reduce the number of street brawls and risk of harm to others in the group. Dominance Behaviour means people mostly avoid or defer to aggressive people — pick your fight and know when its worth biting back. Living in bigger groups requires cultural and social rules to control aggressive behaviours and misuse of assumed power. Some would say it is a natural part of being human – but avoiding conflict is also part of being human and being civilised means culturally we don’t like any misuse of the power deferment gives others. The misuse of power and bullying is not acceptable.
So the The Knitting Police????? –
Knowledge is power. Knitting alot means I know alot about ‘knittins’. Many people come into the shop and make comments about their knitting/crochet. Usually along the lines of ‘its not perfect’ or ‘I don’t do garments because I can’t get them perfect’ or ‘my gauge is off’ or ‘the last thing I did, didn’t work out well’. Self critical judgement with no analysis of why. It may put them off knitting ever again. Heaven knows how negative their experience of learning was, but here are no knitting police.
Then there are the knitting athletes for whom craft is the olympics – competitors who do the hardest knitting techniques or the most complex stitches, the most knitting, the most completed patterns on Ravelry, all the ‘In’ patterns on Ravelry.
Knitting (for knitting read ‘and/or crochet’) really has something for everybody, but it should not be about intimidation.
Only you know all the slipped stitches and extra rows you added to a pattern ’cause you missed an increase. Unless you are competing for a prize in the local show no-one else will know if there are three more rows in the back or front. And anyway adding or taking out rows for your fit are acceptable deviations from the pattern. The designer isn’t going to come after you and inspect your knitting – I hope they have better things to do.
There are no knitting police, only the few people who use your knitting insecurities to make themselves feel bigger (or better). These people should be avoided – most knitters are encouraging, mutually supportive and just happy to share with other like minded soles the joy of a completed item and a well made stitch or a challenge achieved.
First decide if you enjoyed the process then, pick up the insecurities, learn new techniques, be brave enough to make the odd mistake, frog if necessary, find ways around the issue (knit in the round if you hate sewing up), talk to the real encouraging knitters and just avoid all those power grabbers.
This weekend I had an adventure to Devon…… well the sun was shining; I had booked a visit round the mill weeks ago and there wasn’t much on the telly so …………..
I closed up a bit early on Saturday and off we went.. himself like to drive so I get to admire the scenery. Lots of spring flowers and suddenly lots of flies but the swallows are back!!! (It is really summer when the fly catching birds are back). Off we went to South Molton, one of Britain’s small places you have never heard of until you have… an overnight (or two) in a nice little Georgian B&B. It was a shop visit to see the mill – a small modern shed tucked away at the back of an industrial estate, not a glamorous setting for a wool mill. The point of John Arbon is/was to save unloved wool making ‘mechanicals’ (wonderful Victorian and later, spinning machinery destined for the furnace of reuse). Loud clacking things, which are re loved with names like Kevin and Clint (that reminded me of minions) and given continued purpose — to produce yarn with a bit of character and uniqueness. The once a year Tour de Mill should be seen by everybody. Every machine has a different job in processing the wool from clean fleece to yarn. Everyone who works there, know how it all works, – small team thinking – so people can take holidays and the work keeps going. I learnt that: worsted wool is a process using long staple (fleece depth) and can be spun finer than woollen spun.
The majority of the worsted yarn the mill produces is sold direct from them (see here) or at yarn shows, RedApple has sold their Exmoor sock yarn and I want to buy more. Sadly for me the new range is starting production this week and will be available in September/October!!! Twitch Twitch ……So well I had to buy something to knit didn’t I?? Harvest hues in thistle, some Alpaca for a shawl, a lonely sock skein and some open day special spin. Oh and I got some fabric in Hereford on the way home.
I have finished working on some new cushion covers based on double cloth patterns, after last years Chunky success. The New Lanark Mill yarns are so nice to work with and have a nice tweedy effect. In a hunt for bag handles to go with, I came across Peter and Ali at the Leather Handle Company on etsy. They are based just down the road and offered to bring in a sample for me to try. As we chatted I asked about leather buttons….. Anyway it has led them to producing these and they go great with Aran cushions covers!!!
They sell for £5 as a price for the double button which I think is fair based on the the quality of the product and the range of colours. They make great brooches too.
The latest cover pattern has linen stitch flaps and a simple fairisle pattern body. It worked up quickly in the round.
The last effort this month has been with the linen cotton mix Linen Lux from woolyknit.
It took 100g of the green and 50g each of the 3 other colours. I increased at both end of the row on every row and in the centre on every alternate row. The shawl has long drapey tails which curl up when worn. The yarn feels quite stiff in the hank but softens as you work it and again when washed (in the top larger picture). The shawl did go on a bit and casting off the picot edge took nearly 2 afternoons!!
There is some of the gold colour left I might be tempted to make a T top with it.
Usually I like to sit in the shop during the summer. It is officially spring I got out my sandals (worn with socks probably for this year!!) and the shop needed a clean — housework is not my favorite thing but well I rearranged a few of the displays and I’m quite proud of my chalk pegboard display….to celebrate I ordered some summer weight summer coloured yarns.
Eden Cottage Yarns Milburn 4ply is a Bluefaced Leicester and silk mixed yarn. Well I had to play ……..(that’s a sock by the way) stitch definition is good and quite drapey. The silk in the mix is supposed to be a good alternative to nylon, very luxurious. The book on straight needle sock knitting also has a socks for flip-flops pattern (luxury socks with sandals getting more glam by the minute). As an aside I have been looking for 100% natural sock yarns for a while since our trip to the Isle of Man where I saw Mohair socks. Whistlebare in Northumberland have recently brought out Cuthbert sock yarn Wensleydale (sheep) and Mohair (goat) from their own flock. And Sue Blacker has a new mohair blend 4ply with the same purpose. Oh I do like it when I’m on the case… problem is these small producers make more money selling direct to you than via retail shops. Never mind they are on my wish list!!!
This is Lux Linen from Woolyknit (!) I have to say I wasn’t sure linen can be stiff and hard to work. This knits up to a drapey fabric with 4mm needles ( I’m a sloppy knitter so this might be 4.5mm for others) with a few holes in the fabric to allow it to move. I haven’t washed it yet but all linen softens and improves with age!
There is some Heritage Jamieson and Smith on the way too (it’s a long way from Lerwick) in natural colours and some chunky and super chunky natural wools to fill the gaps!!!! Just need some customers …………………… drop the spade it’s still tooo wet to garden, that sunshine isn’t warm you know!!!!
Well I’m back from my holiday – not long enough, slow enough, or far enough for some of the little party I went with. But I have got some of my knitting done!
We had a lovely cottage in Port William, overlooking the Luce Bay – the panorama from the lounge window, with seagull swooping off the roof was very restful.
looking at my photos the visit seemed to revolve around prehistoric sites – I like the feel of barrow sites and cairns. You can feel why they were important to people, the settings are often so inspiring.
Gardens and photos of lots texture.
And I let Peter loose with the camera again so interesting his perspective on life – Not sure why the shoe obsession but Grandad is quite intimidating from this angle!
We all had a lovely time … even those left in charge at the emporium so I hear
Last week our friend Pauline died. Our thoughts are with her family, who have been through so much during her illness.
She was a warm and generous person with time for people. We shared the enjoyment in making knitting, collecting wool and sharing a hobby with others. While the shop has been open she has been a rock, encouraging me, listening to my struggles with commerce and buoying me up when things went wrong. I enjoyed her company. I wish I could have protected her from the cancer that ended her life too soon. I would have liked to get on and do all the things we had talked about doing – visiting the lavender fields and that infamous trip to Shetland in a minibus with all the other ‘mad knitters of Lampeter’. Every time I pick up needles and start a lace pattern I’ll remember her in my stitches. Life is short and sometimes cruel but the memories you leave with others say most about who you are. Many people will miss you Pauline, you are one of life’s lovely ladies.
I have a cowl which gets comments every time I wear it, in this weather it is really toasty so I wear it a lot. It is made from a pattern Ombre Cowl Purl Solo on Ravelry. My copy was free and involved slip stitch rib and three weights of yarn held together at different points in the knitting. It is made with laceweight little grey sheep Gotland, fine dk BFL and DK UK Alpaca. The laceweight goes through all the knitting and adds the flecks of colour.The pattern involved changing weights of yarn and needles size to get the ombre effect.
Purl Solo sell kits for their patterns and lots of lovely US yarns difficult to source in the UK. I couldn’t find the original so revisited the pattern and discovered they are on to version 3 of the cowl. This time using cashmere dk (50g), merino 4ply (100g) and a kid mohair and silk (25g). Ohhhh yummy.
What have we in the shop to give the same effect???? It’s a good exercise for the shop and we do have a gap or too. Shopping list time. I can’t find small amount of lace yarns other than Air and Kidsilk. Finding cashmere from the UK is tricky Johnsons of Elgin do, do a DK. The merino 4ply ….well all the artisan dyers do one from time to time. In the shop an equivalent DK, 4ply and lace. Would be UK Alpaca, Signature Sock and Wendy Air. The mohair next to your face might be a bit itchy so suggest go with Exquisite merino lace instead. I am waiting for John Arbon the revamp their Alpaca Sock yarn for a better 4ply alternative. Colour combos are also a bit limited so fair but that shopping list is getting longer….
I rummaged through my stash for some purples to make another one for me and came up with some alpaca silk from Border Mill (find them here) . Some left over Gotland lace from Little Grey Sheep (find them here) and a skein of BFL from Triskelion (find them here). So with nothing else to do on a non snow, snow day here goes….
Yesterday I went on a little adventure … all the way to Carmarthen to see the Hugh Jackman musical film about PT Barnum. I learnt several things …. that not everyone knows that PT Barnum owned Jumbo the Elephant (the orignal ‘Jumbo’ – ex London Zoo fame) and the largest known elephant of his day. That my preconceived ideas about Barnum and Bailey Circus treating animals and people, not very well in order to make a fast buck – did not take into account of the safe place the circus family gave to people who were shunned in the outside society of its time. And Hugh Jackman can sing and dance and …..anyway go and see it…… and feel better…. I need to find the words to the songs, apparently there is a sing along showing – you have been warned!!!!!!!
Having felt better (Thank you Pips), and today the sun is shining. I realise it is all too easy to do things (anything) to keep busy and still feel bad – for not doing everything. Then to think the something you did do is not good enough, which in my case make me feel worse. So I decided to check on progress since the New Year.
I have decided to tackle a webshop – just the British brand and wool (natural) and attach it to the website. That this is less difficult than I thought, so watch this space.
I have not bought on sale fabric just because! I have bought linen fabric to make trousers and am still looking for the right pattern and yarn for a swing jumper idea.
I have finished:
the sleeves idea – after several attempts to get the shape and grip they work. The cast off edge at the elbow is the most taxing and won’t work for everyone. I want to use the pattern of the colour work again for a cushion. The pattern itself is very easy and looks contemporary. I don’t think the sleeve idea will catch on, but the colour work does produce sleeves with enough grip to stay up on their own.
the Leftie scarf/shawl for the window and have nearly completed the Welsh blanket bag for the St David’s Day window.
the short cardigan in alpaca sock yarn with lots of buttons down it………. see the top photos. That is quite a lot of knitting contemplation. I should get out more……….