Map from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, by Deb Robson and Carol Ekarius.
When I first started knitting, back in 2011-12, my friend Kathleen, my knitting mentor at the time, encouraged me to experiment with different fibres and introduced me to the notion of breed-specific yarn. I had no idea at the time there were so many breeds of sheep and that the fleece from each breed could vary so much. Over the years, I have knit with cotton, linen, silk, yak, alpaca, and yarn from merino, BFL, Wensleydale, Shetland, Icelandic, and a few other breeds. I wanted to learn a lot more so when Louise Scollay from Knit British announced her Wool Exploration project for 2018 I knew I simply had to join. The idea is that each month of 2018 will be dedicated to one sheep breed and participants will source any yarn from that breed and knit or crochet any pattern in a big swatch to explore the properties of that sheep’s wool. The first four months are:
- January – North Ronaldsay
- February – Gotland
- March – Ryeland
- April – Jacob
My plan is to knit at least two swatches for each yarn: one in a tight gauge to see if it would be good for a garment, perhaps with a cable and plain stockinette section, and another at a looser gauge with some lace to see how it behaves for shawls. I’ll create a page for the project to organize a table of contents for all the posts and then write two posts each month: one about the sheep and one with a review of the yarn. I am very excited about it!
Every time I commit to not buying any new yarn and focusing on knitting with all the wonderful yarn I already have, someone comes up with gorgeous new yarn that speaks to my soul. The new one this year is by Kate Davies. Look at these beauties:
©Kate Davies Designs. Image from Kate’s blog post. Click on the image to read her post about this wonderful colour palette.
I haven’t touched this yarn, I have way too many other projects that need to be done, but I can’t get over how much I love this. I think I’ll have to join the Milarrochy Tweed club when it comes out next week.
In her last podcast, Louise from KnitBritish announced her new yarn/pattern club. Appropriately called The Good Intentions Club, she challenged us to look through our yarn stash and choose four yarns for which we already have a pattern in mind, put each in a project bag, and then commit to knit those four projects, one on each quarter beginning on October 1st. Considering that most of the yarn I own was bought with a project or two in mind, I should have no problem finding four projects. I decided to narrow my choices down to the British yarn I have since this is sponsored by Knit British.
The October project is a no-brainer. I had already selected The Uncommon Thread’s BFL Light DK, from Brighton, England, which I bought at Loop of London last Christmas, to knit the Wishmaker Shawl, from Helen Stewart’s The Shawl Society II.
The choices for the remaining three projects are many:
- The Croft by West Yorkshire Spinners – a gorgeous Shetland tween yarn that I am DYING to knit up. Since I only have one skein of this Aran weight yarn, this would be a very quick small project such as a cowl or hat. I have yet to decide on a pattern though.
- Buachaille by Kate Davies Designs – A beautiful Scottish yarn, I bought a sweater quantity to knit Kate’s Braid Hill’s Cardigan. I have yet to knit a cardigan with that many steps and details, so it feels a bit intimidating at the moment.
- Opus by Walcot Yarns – A brand new yarn British yarn, this is also one I have only one skein. I can make a single skein hat or cowl – something with texture or some cables would be nice. I am also considering ordering a second skein of a contrasting colour and make Kate Davies’ Cochal Cowl.
- St Kilda Laceweight by Blacker Yarns – I have two skeins of a main colour and two contrasting colours. It would make a lovely traditional lace hap. Perhaps a good option for the May KAL?
- Cornish Tin II also by Blacker Yarns – I have two skeins of a main colour and one skein of a contrasting colour and started knitting the Bovey Cardigan with it. I have finished the lace section of the cardigan but do not like the difference in tension between the colourwork section and the lace so I am going to frog it and use the yarn for something else. I am considering swatching it in garter stitch with a bigger needle and see if it would be a good option for Joji Locatelli’s Pure Joy shawl.
Who wants to join me in this effort to us stashed yarn??
I was recently at Bristol, UK, attending a conference and of course I had to check out the local yarn scene. After some online searching, it seemed that the place to go was Bath, just a quick train ride away. So before the conference started, I hopped on the train and took off to Bath. Since I was a bit early, I combined my love of yarn with coffee and went to one of the prominent specialty coffee shops in Bath – Colonna & Small. It was definitely worth a visit – the space was beautiful, with lots of natural light streaming in through the skylights. The staff was knowledgeable and willing to talk at length about the properties and flavour profiles of the range of coffees they had available that day. I was very pleased.
After my coffee, I walked up the street to find the shop I was looking for: A Yarn Story. The place was small but cheerful and I could see that knit nights there must be very enjoyable. I chatted with the owner for a while, she had been at the recent Edinburgh Yarn Festival and we talked about that and some of the British yarn dyers and designers that I knew about and the podcasters I followed from Canada.
I was happy that the stock of La Bien Aimee yarn was a bit low.
From left to right: La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in Driftwood Graffiti, Walcot Yarns Opus in natural grey, and The Walk Collection Delicate Merino in Blush colourway
I’m hoping to use some of these for the Shawl Society this year!
I’m on a yard diet this year. I have no issues with having a stash – my main problem is that most of my stash is carefully curated and I do want to knit all the yarn I have. Unfortunately, I knit very slowly, which means the more yarn I buy, the more anxious I get that I’ll never get to what I want to knit. So I decided to de-stash a bit this year. The plan has been going well but I have discovered a new obsession: colour cards. I now own three and there are two more on the way. I have the full colour card for two of the best Shetland yarn companies: Jamieson’s and Jamieson and Smith. I also have the colour card for Blacker Yarns brand new yarn: Samite. I love looking at them and planning what I might do with that yarn when I finally get to order it.