Tag Archives: wool

A little bit of yarn shopping

I went to the London Knitting and Stitching show on October 13th, which I was going to write about earlier, but you know, life. This is a massive show held at the Alexandra Palace. All sorts of fibre and textile based exhibitions and stalls were present. Me and my fellow knitting ladies made a whole day out of it! I didn’t take any photos whilst I was there but bless her, Faye did so I didn’t have to.

This is my spectacular yarn haul: One skein of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace, and some intriguing little balls of Habu Textiles yarns.

Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace

Not terribly impressive is it? Especially when you compare it to what I bought at Knit Nation last year…

…which I’m still only about halfway through. So I figured this year would be a little bit more of a reconaissance mission instead of an extravagant  blowout.

When you get to a certain point in any creative hobby, you’re going to start caring about your tools and materials. There will be a mental database of stuff you have tried and the particular properties of that stuff. You become discerning! Which is a fancy way of saying yarn snob.

So I wandered about and took notes, mainly of British wool brands, because I am still all about that stuff. Wovember is almost here you guys!

Brands I noted down!

Wednesleydale Longwool Sheepshop: I picked up a shadecard from the Wendesleydale Sheepshop stall for £2 and I’m glad I did. It’s shiny, smooth, strong wool. Nice natural colours too.

Brigantia: A brand of luxury pure British wools, made in Yorkshire. Lovely and squishy!

The Little Knitting Company:  A fine source for fancy knitting accessories, but they also have their own yarn brands too. They have a very wide range of fibres on offer.

Woolyknit Crafts: These guys have just gone from selling wool products to selling wool products and lots of proper certified British yarn. Nice!

Did anyone else make it to the show? What did you get up to?

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Yarn Review: Jamieson & Smith Shetland Heritage

Here is a particularly timely yarn review. Did you know Shetland Wool Week is currently in progress? If ever Jamieson & Smith’s latest range deserved a closer look, it’s now!

Shetland Heritage is a true historical reproduction yarn, created after studying pieces of traditional 19th century fair isle knitting preserved in the Shetland Museum and Archives. How neat is that? I love my fair isle and I like a good lightweight yarn and I like nerding out about history a little so this yarn already sounded great to me as a concept. Then they had to go and make it available in this blue:

You can see the colour range here, and it is a well-chosen selection of 6 traditional colours, but oh my god that blue would not quit. If I review it then it doesn’t count as an impulse buy right?

So here are the facts. Shetland Heritage is a light fingering weight, or 3-ply equivalent ‘wursit’ spun wool, made from 100% Shetland sheep fleece (of course!). This hard to find weight of yarn is particularly important to vintage knitting fans, as every other jumper pattern up until the 1950s used it.You get 110m/120yds per 25g ball.  And the colours are brilliant. Particularly the blue.

This test swatch below uses ‘Indigo’ (the blue!), ‘Flugga White’ (natural cream) and ‘Auld Gold’ (yellow). I had some fun playing around with different needle sizes and patterns, but at some point I had to make myself stop. The gauge for the 3mm stockinette is 7 sts and 9 rws per sq inch, for the fair isle it is 8 sts and 9 rws and for the 2.75mm stockinette it is 8 sts and 10 rws per sq inch.

Shetland Heritage is smooth and very soft on the ball, but feels a little bit crisp running through your fingers. There is a distinct ‘bite’, although it’s so fine and light it’s not uncomfortable. Actually it’s almost necessary to remind yourself you have wool in your hands! I found it a bit hard to keep the stitches even on the plain 3mm section, but then I moved on to the colourwork. Close up time!

Stranded knitting is very enjoyable in this yarn! The smoothness gives it great stitch definition, and makes forming those stitches an absolute breeze. I thought 3mm might be too large, but the yarn sits neatly next to itself. It behaves so well, and it’s easy to unravel as a bonus. Moving on, I was determined to find a good needle size for stockinette stitch. 2.75mm was perfect.

It is a strange fact of wool that it softens considerably with repeated washing and this seems particularly true of Shetland wool. The completed swatch had a stiffness that disappeared after washing. I could happily wear this next to my skin without it itching, especially at the tighter gauges. (I should point out that I don’t have particularly sensitive skin. T does, and he concluded he would not) The drape on the fabric is fantastic at all points, even the tighter end of the square. This is really is the main physical property to keep in mind when considering what to knit with it. Drape, drape and more oh-so-soft drape! It’s not a particularly springy fabric although it resists distortion very well. There is less of that tendency to ‘bloom’ that other woollen yarns have. It very much feels like a piece of knitting, rather than a piece of fabric.

As for wear, it pills a little easier than I would’ve expected, but the stitch definition is extremely hard to muss up. Believe me, I tried!

May I take a little liberty with the descriptions? I would compare this yarn to very good dark chocolate – it’s intense and fine, soft and sharp at the same time. It’s a perfect yarn for vintage lovers. No more do you have to faff around trying to recalculate the gauge of that 1940s cardigan pattern! I’m genuinely looking forward to see what colourwork other knitters use it for. But I’d be just as happy with a fine expanse of that spectacular blue yarn! A vintage blouse on 2.75mm needles maybe?

You can buy Shetland Heritage directly from Jamieson & Smith here.

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More of my yarn reviews can be found here.

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Yarn Review: Cornish Organic DK

I’m still checking up on my British Yarn Guide from time to time, adding new companies as I find them, but it’s a rather dangerous list to maintain. It causes me to buy more yarn.

Here is a lovely acquisition from Cornish Organic Wool I will be testing out for you today. This particular company does exactly what it says on the label. The wool is certified organic, and from Cornish farmers. I bought some because a) the colourways are right up my alley and b) I like the idea of knitwear that’s never been out of Southwest England at any point in it’s life.

The sheep breeds used are mostly Lleyn crosses and the exact origin of your wool is printed on each label. This particular skein comes from the Home Farm in Tetbury. That’s right – this is Duchy Original wool! I hope that makes a difference. Happy sheep certainly taste better but that’s neither here nor there is it?

Here it is knitted up on 3.75mm needles before blocking. I found it a perfectly pleasant knit. It’s not too ‘sticky’ as pure wool goes but I would recommend well-polished needles all the same.

Relaxes nicely after washing doesn’t it? I found my gauge of 22sts/ 4in made the fabric a bit too stiff for clothing, but I am hoping to make gloves with this yarn, and it feels pretty much ideal.

It also doesn’t distort significantly after stretching, nor pill easily. As I review more and more yarns I’m finding this to be a characteristic of a good pure wool. I’m sure more experienced knitters could have told me that but it’s nice to see it for yourself.

It’s softly textured and slightly uneven, which gives it this mushy, semi-felted appearance you can see in the pictures. It’s not felted at all though, I can assure you!
If I was to sum up this yarn I would describe it as ‘charmingly rustic’. Nice stuff!

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