Monday, 27 July 2015

FO's Baskerville and Paddle

My Baskerville Hat
I know it's summer (apparently) but I wanted to share with you my Baskerville hat and Paddle gloves I recently finished.  Small projects like these are brilliant for trying out new yarns that your not familiar with.  For just over 50g of yarn each I got to knit a brilliant hat and some very cosy gloves.  

I purchased two balls of yarn from Dodgson Wood.  The yarn is a Castlemilk Moorit and Cheviot blend.  I first came across them through the power of Twitter. Dodgson Wood have their own farm in the Lake District where they specialise in rearing rare and native British breeds.  They have recently started to get their fleeces spun into yarn and selling the yarn locally.  I couldn't resist dropping them a line and making a purchase.  I decided to use the yarn to make a Baskerville by Karie Westermann.
Castlemilk and Cheviot yarn


The blend in the yarn was not one I was familiar with so I was really interested to see how it would feel and how it would knit up.  The yarn in the ball has quite a rustic feel to it (which is a positive in my opinion) and once knit up had great definition.  It also withstood lots of tinking (knitting lace on an evening when tired perhaps was not my smartest idea!).  

Despite my mistakes Baskerville was a quick hat to make.  You do need to keep an eye on your stitch count and where your stitch markers are throughout the pattern as the end of the round sometimes changes its place.  I am super happy to have another knitted hat to my collection ready for the winter!  

Paddle Gloves

The second FO was my Paddle gloves by Tin Can Knits.  These were cast on to test some new yarn I was interested in stocking, so each glove is made in a different yarn!  Only one of the yarns made it into the shop - the UK Baby Alpaca.  These were another quick and simple project.  I  used some of my left over Dodgson yarn from my Baskerville for the stripes.  The UK Baby Alpaca is so, so soft, probably the softest yarn I have ever knitted with! 

Over the coming months BritYarn will start to stock a range of yarns from smaller producers.

Have you started or finished any unseasonal projects recently or using any new to you British yarn?   I would love to hear from you on Twitter, Instagram, Ravelry or comment here on the blog.

Monday, 20 July 2015

Summer Holiday Projects

With schools breaking up for summer here in the UK a lot of people's minds are drifting towards holiday knitting or crochet - how many projects is it acceptable to pack, do I take any WIPs or start new things, learn a new skill or something more straightforward.  The decisions are endless!  

My Planum socks
I know many of you are taking your Scollay cardigans on holiday to knit on while sitting on the beach or in car.  Sadly I don't have any summer holidays planned but I have a Christmas holiday to look forward to.  My holiday knitting planning will start around November although I already have one or two ideas!  There will be a lists made, a rummage in the stash and perhaps new yarn purchased.  I will be sure to share my plans with you.  Do you do the same?  

I thought it would be fun to imagine I was heading off on a two week summer holiday and plan what projects I would take with me. 

So picture the scene..... warm long summer days, a stunning coastal view, sitting outside with Fizz the dog and a nice cool drink by my side........  

For travelling I nearly always take socks.  They take up very little space and the rows are nice and short.  I would not want anything too complicated though. I have just cast off Planum which is a design in Sock Anatomy which would be perfect as would the textured design of Tarsi.  Both designs are straightforward with very little counting involved.

For my imaginary summer holiday I would take projects which had been in my queue for a while.  Once such pattern is Tiny Shoots which I bought along with two skeins of Eden Cottage Yarns BFL Sock last year at Woolfest.  It is a really pretty summer top which would make perfect holiday knitting as it starts with lace work around the neck which flows onto a stocking stitch body.  

Tiny Shoots by Kate Heppell
My third and final project would have to be a shawl.  Byatt would be a good pattern to pack alongside Tiny Shoots as it starts with relaxing garter stitch, followed by a slip stitch pattern and finished with a lace edge.  Both projects could be cast on at the same time and I could switch between easy garter stitch knitting or lace work.  There are some stunning  
projects in Ravelry for this design with some great colour combinations.  I think I would be tempted to make mine in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in the Butterscotch and Poppy Seed - A grellow combination!    

I would love to hear what your summer knitting or crochet plans are, real or like mine imaginary.  Have a great summer everyone!

Monday, 13 July 2015

A chat with designer Karie Westermann

Many of you will be familiar with Karie Westermann's designs including Byatt and of course the Scollay cardigan.  Karie very kindly took some time out of her busy schedule to chat with BritYarn about herself, her work and the inspiration behind Scollay.      

Hello Karie
Many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for BritYarn.  If you are sitting comfortably with a beverage to hand lets begin!
Could you tell BritYarn a little bit about yourself? 
I'm Karie Westermann. I work as a freelance knitting designer, tutor and editor. I've worn  a lot of hats in the knitting industry but they all boil down to my love of craft and passion for story-telling. 

I was taught to knit by my great-grandmother when I was five or six years old. I grew up in rural Denmark – mine was the local arty family. Everybody was creative in one way or another. We never had much money, but there was a steady supply of handmade garments, knitted jumpers and interesting paintings. Of course my family still obsessed over football results and pop music, but there was a definite sense of self-expression and creative exploration. I learned to knit, crochet and sew as a very young girl and I have never really stopped wanting to make stuff.

What inspired you to start designing?
I got into designing when I worked for Rowan Yarns and a local store needed a quick project to sell some leftover beads. My pattern did really, really well - which really floored me! Then in 2011 Lilith of Old Maiden Aunt Yarns (who's a good friend of mine) was launching a new yarn line at the KnitNation event in London and she pressured me into doing my first self-published design. And that pattern did really well too. I began thinking that maybe I should look at doing more design work and now I'm a full-time self-employed knitting designer. It's amazing. 

Is there one thing you couldn't live without when designing a pattern and why?
Swatching. I know so many knitters hate swatching but i could not do my job without swatching. A swatch not only tells me how my design idea is going to look in the given yarn (and how the yarn behaves!) but it also gives me all the information I need in terms of numbers etc. 
Apart from knitting do you enjoy any other crafts / hobbies?
I don't think there's a craft I haven't tried - I made most of my own clothes as a teenager (I especially remember the flared trousers I made out of 1950s curtains!) and I've always loved crochet. I am spectacularly awful at free-hand embroidery, but I still enjoy it! I am a huge Eurovision Song Contest geek which always tends to surprise people! I am also a bit of a trivia nerd which makes me fiercely competitive at Trivial Pursuit and pub quizzing. 

If you were only allowed to knit / design with one British grown base what would it be and why? ( e.g. BFL, Jacob, Shetland or a blend)  
I cannot choose just one because every yarn has its right time and place (apart from fun fur!). As long as I'm working with natural fibres, I am happy. I don't have a favourite fibre because it really depends upon the project I'm working on - sometimes Shetland is the perfect base, other times I'd be looking to work with something softer.  I have a soft spot in my heart for yarns that look really non-descript in the ball but which spring to life once I start handling them. There is no substitute for that feeling! I do think people should try to shop more local and try out more local yarns / bases.

The Scollay Cardigan was named after Louise of the Knit British podcast.  How did this come about?
I designed the Scollay cardigan for Knit Now magazine. Louise and I are good friends - we live quite far apart at the moment (Louise lives in Shetland; I live in Glasgow) but we have great Skype/email conversations. She is one of the most inspiring people I know. When I came up with the idea for the cardigan, I knew I wanted to knit it in local yarn and the name was a logical conclusion! Louise loves a good go-to cardigan as much as me - and she's obviously a big fan of Knit Local!

What was your inspiration for the design?   
It is a bottom-up, seamless cardigan with a detailed yoke. I wanted to design a real wardrobe staple – a “go-to” cardigan – because I have a lot of knitted garments in my wardrobe that only work with one or two outfits (which is very frustrating). 
I tend to wear cardigans in my everyday life, but I also gravitate towards the same two cardigans despite having a lot of cardigans on the shelf! So, I sat down and thought about what I love wearing: long sleeves, a cardigan that skims the body, a good yarn that'll age like fine wine, and buttons. And so Scollay was born. 

If you could give one piece of advice to someone who wanted to knit their first garment what would it be?
Don't be scared! When i knitted my first garment I spent so much time researching an easy jumper pattern - while I was knitting complicated lace shawls! I was so surprised when I then knitted my first jumper - it was far less involved than shawl knitting - and I really regret that I believed all the hype about garments being super-complicated. If you can knit socks and hats, you can knit a garment. 
Are there any future exciting plans / projects you can share with BritYarn? 
I'm working on a mini-collection due out later this year. I'm really passionate about the yarns and the designs. I'm also continuing to work on my Authors & Artists series (it's a series of loosely connected patterns where I get to play with various yarns and styles). And, finally, I'm working on the follow-up to the Doggerland collection. I always have my fingers in a lot of pies!  
Byatt as part of the Authors & Artists series
Many thanks Karie for chatting to BritYarn. I know I am not alone when I say I can't wait to cast on my Scollay on Friday 17th July for the Scollayalong KAL.

Karie has a really interesting and informative blog where Karie writes about her designs, future plans and topics which interest her.   

Images used with kind permission from Karie Westermann.

Friday, 10 July 2015

The Scollayalong Virtual Cast On Party

Hello everyone.  With only a week to go until we cast on our Scollay cardigans,
Louise and I would love to invite you to the Scollayalong Virtual Cast On Party.

The party will start at 7.30pm (UK time) on Friday 17th July. It will take place on Twitter, Instagram and in the BritYarn Scollayalong chat thread.  Don't worry if your a bit late to the party, just join in when you are ready.  We will be partying until 8.30pm.  Feel free to keep chatting after 8.30pm if you are getting into the party spirit!

Bring your own drinks and nibbles......   

If you are chatting on Twitter and Instagram we have a special party hashtag #scollayalongparty.  If you can use this to tag your posts we can then find each other.  

The Scollayalong chat thread will open in the BritYarn Ravelry group on Friday 17th July.  We will chat there until Friday 24th July when the KAL will go on tour back to KnitBritish.  It will then return to BritYarn the week after.

So are you all ready? Got your yarn? Found your right sized needles? Swatched?  

Don't forget the Sign Up thread is still open to ask any questions or to have a bit of a natter with fellow scollayalongers!

Monday, 6 July 2015

West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley DK Yarn of the Month July 15

Hello, how are you all?  This month's yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley DK.

Fibre: 75% mixed British wool 25% Nylon
Grown: Great Britain
Spun: Keighley, West Yorkshire GB
Dyed: Keighley, West Yorkshire GB

The yarn comes in 100g balls and there is 230 metres / 252 yards to a ball.  As you can see there is a great selection of colours available.  

Below are two swatches I knit using this yarn, a stocking stitch swatch and a basket weave swatch. If you want a closer look at how the Aire Valley DK looks in a lacy pattern I wrote about my Tin Can Knits Vivid squares here These two swatches were both knit using 4mm needles. 

WYS Aire Valley DK Unblocked

WYS Aire Valley DK Unblocked
The yarn is smooth and easy to work with and the added nylon makes this a hard wearing yarn.  Below are the after blocking photographs (I didn't pin these out to block but I did pin my Vivid Squares).  The stocking stitch swatch has evened out and lays much better and the swatches feel soft enough to wear next to the skin.

WYS Aire Valley DK Blocked

WYS Aire Valley DK Blocked
My blocked Vivid Squares

The WYS Aire Valley range has the added bonus of being machine washable. It is perfect for children's and adult's garments alike (including the Scollay cardigan) and for knitting and crochet projects around the home.  It also works brilliantly for socks!  

Joeli from Joeli's Kitchen recently published a new design Toasty Explorer Socks which are made using a DK yarn.  The pattern comes in five sizes ranging from toddler to large adult.  Joeli is currently knitting herself a pair using West Yorkshire Spinners Aire Valley in the Rainbow shade and using white for the cuff, heel and toe.

Toasty Explorer Socks by Joeli's Kitchen.
Image used with kind permission from Joeli's Kitchen.
West Yorkshire Spinners have a pattern book Quintessential DK to compliment the yarn. The book contains twelve patterns including designs for men, women and children.  Each design has several options included.  I really want to make this jumper from the book.......

Quintessential DK Image courtesy of WYS 

Quintessential DK Image courtesy of WYS
 ..... and I think this is really cute hat and top in the Rainbow shade! 

If you are looking for a multi purpose British yarn which is great value for money (£4.75 a ball for the solid shades and £4.95 for the multi coloured shades) then you can't beat WYS Aire Valley DK. 

Have you made anything with this wool?  I would love to hear from you if you have!  

p.s. we are due to receive more Aire Valley in the next few days so if we are out of stock in a shade you want keep checking back.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Lincolnshire Show 2015

Last week I made my first ever visit to the annual Lincolnshire Show.  I asked my Dad if he wanted to come along with me and so the two of us made our way to the Lincolnshire show ground last Thursday morning.  I gave him advance warning I wanted to check out the sheep and he happy obliged!

Lincoln Longwool
We spent quite a bit of time in the sheep enclosures walking up and down the pens looking at the different breeds of sheep.  This fine sheep to the right was happy to pose for photographs!  There were quite a few different breeds on show including a really large selection of my home county sheep, the Lincoln Longwool.  

This was the first time I had seen a Lincoln Longwool sheep in person and they are quite a sheep!  You may remember from the feature about Corriedale sheep, that Lincoln Longwool were used in the creation of the Corriedale.  You can certainly see why they were used, they are big woolly sheep! 

It was really interesting to see the different sheep breeds close up.  The Rare Breeds Survival Trust also has a stall where they had other breeds on show including Castlemilk and North Ronaldsay.  I loved seeing these in the flesh especially as BritYarn stocks yarn in these breeds (DK in the Castlemilk and Aran in North Ronaldsay).

Castlemilk Sheep

North Ronaldsay
What I didn't expect was purchasing yarn that day!  However, in the sheep area there was a stall promoting Lincoln Longwool sheep.  Members of the Lincolnshire Spinning Guild were spinning with Lincoln Longwool fleeces and available to purchase was some machine spun yarn in lace weight and DK.  Well I couldn't say no could I?  I had in mind Karie Westermann's new design Mahy so I bought six balls to make sure I would have more than enough.
Members of the Lincolnshire Guild of
Spinners and Weavers
There were lots of other things to see and do at the show including old and new farm machinery, various displays and lots of shops.  But for me the highlight was seeing the sheep and purchasing my yarn!