Welcome to the world of
Kettle Yarn Co

There is always a lot of excitement in introducing a new brand to Knit with attitude, a lot of effort and care go into choosing what I believe would be the ‘perfect addition’ to our selection. So that I get to see and touch ‘a lot’ of beautiful and lush fibers is really an understatement, I am spoilt in that sense, and maybe, just maybe, it might have made me a little bit hard to impress.

However, I am absolutely stunned by the brilliance, the quality and lush textures of the Kettle Yarn Co. yarns. This is a brand that has been on my ‘wish list’ for a long time, and my amazement with their yarns has not faded at all while waiting for the right moment to introduce the range to the shop. Finally we do have Beyul and Islington DK in stock, with more to come.

What is just as stunning as the yarns themselves is the craftsmanship, skill and mindfulness that goes into the creation of the Kettle Yarn yarns. I sat down with the mastermind behind it all, Linda Lencovic, and asked her to tell us all about it. Please enjoy!

Kettle Yarn Co. Beyul - Baby Yak, Silk and ethically farmed merino wool.

Kettle Yarn Co. Beyul – Baby Yak, Silk and ethically farmed merino wool.

How do you think that Kettle Yarn Co. fits in with the KWA ethos? 
My blends are carefully sourced from ethical mills to ensure animal welfare and only fibres with the lowest carbon footprints are used to reduce negative impacts on the environment.

It is vital to me that Kettle Yarn Co. support animal welfare and the environment through informed choices. For example, in my twenties I had a huge obsession with Cashmere, so when I started dyeing I was naturally drawn to it. However, the more I learned about Cashmere production in Asia, the less I was able to justify its use. After some research I learned that the luxury-driven obsession with the fibre is stripping bare the natural vegetation in the areas where cashmere goats are reared, causing huge sandstorms, the massive effects of which are even felt on the other side of the globe. Horribly, even the animals are suffering from our desire for the fibre – left with nothing to eat, the goats starve for our infatuation with luxury.

This is not something that I can support, so I looked for other scrumptious fibres that would still be amazing against the skin but where the animals were treated with love! Both Camels and Yaks are farmed in much more environmentally conscious ways which do not harm the animals or deplete resources and I’ve chosen to stick to these luxury fibres in my Beyul and Westminster blends instead of using Cashmere.

What is the most important thing to you when you are choosing a new yarn/fibre to dye with? What sort of process do you go through?
As mentioned above I try to make ethical choices in the yarn’s production and all blends are extensively wear tested and I’ve selected only the most scrumptiously soft, but ruggedly tough low-pilling and long-wearing blends – soft enough for the most sensitive skins.
You can see the results of my tests on my Wear Chart to help you plan your projects. Only yarns that pass exacting standards for optimum softness, wear-ability, durability and ethics are chosen to be lovingly hand dyed in small batches, creating exceptional yarns and projects that stand the test of time.
Renée Callahan’s Naloa in BEYUL – colours ‘Turquoise Tarn’ and ‘Yurt’. The Naloa pattern is available on Ravelry and in store.

Renée Callahan’s Naloa in BEYUL – colours ‘Turquoise Tarn’ and ‘Yurt’. The Naloa pattern is available on Ravelry and in store.

On your site you rate each Kettle Yarn Co. base according to its ‘number of shaves’. What does this mean, and what sort of testing do you do on each yarn?
Softness is a highly prized quality in yarn, giving the user a pleasure in working with it and and ease of wear. However, the cost of using a soft yarn is often pilling or damage to fibres as those short, tender fibres that give us gentle garments are also naturally prone to abrasion.

I extensively wear test all my blends before adding them to the shop and look for the most luxurious AND hardwearing blends for Kettle Yarn Co.Though some of my yarns may pill a little bit, they will shave clean with no damage to the fibres – guaranteeing that your garments remain look their best! The wear chart shows the blends I carry and gives an indication of how many shaves it will take before light pilling stops completely. This way you can plan your projects according to how much wear they will be getting.

For example,  socks take quite a lot of wear whereas shawls can be much more delicate and don’t need to be as tough, therefore I’d pick a hearty one-shave yarn for socks and any of the others would work brilliantly for shawls.

I heard that you were a painter before you became a yarn dyer. Can you tell us a little more about how your artistic background influences your business and colour ways?
Yes, I have a Masters in fine art and painted in both acrylic and oils before starting my yarn dyeing journey. I find that my fine art/graphic design background means that colour comes easily to me and I can spend time focussing on subtlety of colour and sophisticated combinations. Oddly enough this is the only career I’ve had that allows me to combine so many of my strengths and experiences at work!

Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay in ISLINGTON DK – British Bluefaced Leicester and Silk – colour ‘Neckinger’. The Tambourine pattern can be found in Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 12.

Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay in ISLINGTON DK – British Bluefaced Leicester and Silk – colour ‘Neckinger’. The Tambourine pattern can be found in Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 12.

Are you a process or a product knitter?
Both. I really enjoy the product but will frog back an entire jumper to fix something that doesn’t feel quite right! It is important to me that I take the time to make things RIGHT and really, really well to truly enjoy the finished product. This is something that has taken me years to learn, but am so glad I have.

What’s your current knitting project?
I am currently working on a nice thick shawl design in my new Islington DK weight, which you are now carrying in shop! I have a stunning collection of patterns planned with some amazing designers in this gorgeous 100% British Bluefaced Leicester/ Silk blend which should come out in July, so keep an eye out for the announcement then.

Manos del Uruguay – The Story

When I was playing with the thought of opening a yarn shop with ethical yarns (years and years ago), I was determined that one of my brands should be Manos del Uruguay! They’ve been with me from the very beginning of this adventure that is Knit with attitude, and this little movie explains why. Enjoy!

Brand New:
Vivacious Kids Collection

Let me tell you, we’ve been all oohs and aahs here at Knit with attitude lately, opening boxes filled with the new shades of Vivacious, and under the bags filled with yarny yumminess, what did we find? The new Vivacious collection! A collection filled with kids’ wear that is brilliantly suitable for the bright colours of the Vivacious DK and 4Ply yarns. This is a pattern collection bound to put a smile on your face, both when flickering through the happy pictures by Jesse Wild deciding what to make, and when knitting the actual garments! And what’s more, I’ve been so lucky to get a few minutes with Jeni Hewlett of Fyberspates to tell us everything about Vivacious Kids!

Fyberspates Vivacious Kids Collection

Vivacious Kids is the second Fyberspates collection featuring the Vivacious yarns. Why a kids collection for Vivacious, and why Vivacious for kids clothing?
Vivacious is a very robust yarn in that its hard wearing and you can chuck it in the washing machine without worrying. In addition the colour palette is quite bright and actually perfect for kids clothes. The combination of these two factors meant it was a no brainer that we should do a children’s collection. Its something I have wanted to do for many years, but needed the right yarn for it, Vivacious is Perfect!

Garments designed for active children.

For this collection you decided to collaborate with the designers Ella Austin and Rachel Coopey, why were these two designers chosen to create the Vivacious Kids?
I wanted designs from people who had children, and therefore knew first hand what children would wear and what would be suitable. Plus they are two of my favourite designers, and they are both great fun to work with.

The collection presents patterns sized 2 - 10 years.

There are no frilly cutsie designs in this collection, I see practical and functional garments. Was it a conscious decision to create a collection like this or did the yarn lend itself to that type of designs?
well…..I am lightly adverse to frilly at the best of times! I am a great advocate of rolling up your sleeves and getting muddy, fighting with sticks, collecting treasures, and having a good old ruff and tumble; thats what my child hood was about and I wanted a collection that I would have loved to have worn, especially with the bright colours that make any child smile. Vivacious just lends itself to energetic garments. Apart from the dress – ‘ring-a-ring’, all the other garments were unisex, and we showed this with all the photos throughout the book, this was very important to me that the garments were suitable for both boys and girls.

Getting muddy in the Ring-a-ring dress

Finally, the garments are practical, but what makes this collection interesting and exciting for the knitter who makes them?
A lot of people start knitting when they have a child or grand child, I wanted to make sure the patterns weren’t too complicated so that anyone can knit them but also adding small details to keep interest; garter stitch, stripes, soothing cables etc, and I think we managed to achieve a nice balance between simplicity and maintaining interest in the knitting. We also made sure that we mixed the garments up and showed them on different sized children, we wanted to encourage people to think about maybe the fact they could knit a few sizes larger, and the garments would grow with the child, after all the effort we put into knitting and that children grow quickly, we wanted to show that the garments can last.

vivacious_kids18

Fibre Fridays: Round Up

As all good things must come to an end, we are rounding up this series of Fibre Fridays posts. We have had a great time talking about our favourite fibres and yarns and all the reasons (good and bad!) that they make good summer tops, why we stock them and how they fit with our ethical and environmentally friendly mandate in the shop. We have really enjoyed hearing from all of you that have appreciated the posts, so don’t worry, we are planning on resuming the posts in the fall. Then we can talk about what makes a good winter sweater yarn!

We wanted to bring together all our posts in one place so that you can easily find them. Here are the links to each of the summer Fibre Fridays posts.

Cotton

Merino

Linen

Silk

Alpaca

Soy and Bamboo

We also wanted to let you know that we have received our copies of the latest Pom Pom magazine. This Summer issue is number 13 for the independent magazine. We love this issue, and it is creating a lot of inspiration for more summer tops, perfect for our KAL!

Michelada - Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Michelada – Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply

Fyberspates Vivacious 4Ply – Spiced Plum

Michelada is knit in a sock yarn for a bouncy texture that has great stitch definition. This little top would look cute as a crop top with jeans or shorts at the beach, or over a summer dress for a bit of shoulder cover on a cool evening. We think that the subtle variation in Fyberspates Vivacious 4-ply would show off the texture very well. Anyway, who wants to keep those gorgeous colours stuck on their feet!

Alcomar - Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Alcomar – Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

 

Designette Hokkaido - Blue Bird

Designette Hokkaido – Blue Bird

Alcomar is a lace-back top, knit in a fingering weight yarn. Wouldn’t it be perfect in Designette’s Hokkaido? This silk yarn would be lightweight and show off the lace very well. There are a variety of bright pop colours and complimentary neutrals.

Greco is a perfect Mediterranean inspired knit. Don’t you just want to wear it to the beach? We are loving the idea of knitting it in Manos del Uruguay’s Serena. This alpaca/cotton yarn has wonderful drape, and comes in a great palette of delicious summery pastels.

Greco - Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Greco – Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

serena_glacier2318

Manos del Uruguay Serena – Glacier

Palila is designed by Natalie Selles, who works behind the scenes here at Knit with attitude. She used Wool and the Gang’s Shiny Happy Cotton for this oversized cardigan. The mock fisherman’s rib creates a fabric that is surprisingly lightweight. There are so many colours of Shiny Happy Cotton we are having a hard time picking which one to use!

Palila - Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Palila – Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

WATG Shiny Happy Cotton - Nude Pink

WATG Shiny Happy Cotton – Nude Pink

Azulejo is a small crocheted bag that fits a phone and cards, ready for a night out dining al fresco. Rowan Pure Linen would give it the structure that it needs to hold its shape. This bag uses a tapestry technique that makes using multiple colours easy and neat.

Azulejo - Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Azulejo – Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Rowan Pure Linen - Gobi

Rowan Pure Linen – Gobi

Manzanilla is just the thing against cool ocean breezes and summer nights. We are dreaming of it knit up in The Fibre Co.’s Meadow. This merino/baby llama/silk/linen blend will drape wonderfully in a lace pattern without getting hot and sticky against your neck. We have a skein of this yarn as a prize to giveaway, along with a copy of this issue, so don’t forget to enter your KAL finished knits to enter for your chance to make Manzanilla for yourself!

Manzanilla - Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Manzanilla – Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

The Fibre Co Meadow - Bergamot

The Fibre Co Meadow – Bergamot

Pomelo is everything a beach bag should be. Bright colours with a comfortable shoulder strap and it is big enough to carry everything you need for the day. We love the idea of using one of our DK cotton yarns, such as the speckled Lousia Harding Azalea or Pima Kuri from Mirasol. Or, since this design uses two colours, why not use one solid from Pima Kuri as contrast against the multi-coloured Azalea?

Pomelo - Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Pomelo – Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Louisa Harding Azalea - Flamenco

Louisa Harding Azalea – Flamenco

Talavera is the last but not least pattern in this issue. We would match it up with Fyberspates Scrumptious 4-ply. The wool/silk blend in this yarn compliments the drapey style and gives it a dressy edge that would even work for a summer formal event.

Talavera - Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Talavera – Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 13

Fyberspates Scrumptious 4Ply - Gold

Fyberspates Scrumptious 4Ply – Gold

Which pattern is your favourite?

Fibre Fridays: Soy and Bamboo

As knitters become more conscious of where their yarns come from, we are getting more interest in what are often categorized as vegan yarns. These are yarns that do not come from an animal. We’ve already talked about the most obvious ones, cotton and linen, but there are a few others that we carry in the shop as well that are less well known. These are soy and bamboo.

Now, the question is, how the heck do you get a yarn out of soy and bamboo?! and what’s it’s impact on the environment?

Soy and bamboo are both synthesized fibres, which means that they start as a natural product, and are chemically altered into fibres in a lab. Bamboo especially has been heralded as the new natural wonder fibre due to it’s renewability as a plant, but it’s journey from farm to knitting needles is not without it’s pitfalls. There is no denying that the process of producing these yarns is a chemical one. The fibres are broken down with sodium hydroxide and carbon disulphide into a viscose cellulose solution, which is then pushed through spinnerets. The fibre then solidifies into the fibre that can then be spun into yarn. Luckily, with newer technology this system is quoted as being a 99% closed loop system, where the chemicals are recycled and re-used for each batch of fibre.

South West Trading Company - Pure Soy

South West Trading Company – Pure Soy

Soy fibre was first developed by Henry Ford (of Ford cars) in the 1930’s as a synthetic alternative to silk, but it only made it to market recently. Unsurprisingly then, soy yarn has a lot of similarities with silk when it comes to how it looks and behaves. It has incredible lustre and shine, with great drape. Soy fibre is made as a byproduct of other soy product industries such as food. After the soy bean is used it is left with high levels of amino acid lysine. These amino acids are broken apart and lined up again to form the threads that form the yarn. This means that soy yarns can actually be classified as protein fibres in the same category chemically as wool and alpaca!

South West Trading Company - Bamboo

South West Trading Company – Bamboo

All of our soy and bamboo yarns come from South West Trading Company. The company is family run and pride themselves on being one of the first companies to develop these fibres for the handknitting market and staying at the forefront of the industry. The yarns come in a range of super bright saturated colours that are just perfect for warm weather knits. Think flowy garments that have a lot of drape and some positive ease. We love the idea of knitting up Emery from Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 9 in either yarn for a luxurious summer shawl. A project perfect for our Summer KAL!

Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 9 - Emery

Pom Pom Quarterly, Issue 9 – Emery

If you want to read more about the chemical structures of these unusual fibres, check out this blog post by Gnome Spun Yarns. The focus there is on how the chemical structures of the yarns affect dying. It is very informative and interesting!

Guest Post – Knit a Tulip for Me

This guest blog post is submitted and written by Judy Wise of The Association of Young People with ME (AYME). Please note that Knit with attitude is not involved in this campaign directly and that all questions you might have need to be addresses with the organisers.

KNITTERS NEEDED!

A group of Mums whose children all suffer from ME have launched a national knitting campaign. With the help of willing volunteers, the Mums hope to knit one tulip for every child in the UK affected by the condition…a total of 25,000. 8,000 tulips have been knitted so far, but the Mums are in need of your help!

tulip1

ME (also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is a fluctuating, debilitating condition which frequently causes crippling exhaustion and searing pain such that leaves sufferers house and even bed bound. Despite being the greatest cause of long-term school absence, ME is largely misunderstood and often unheard of; making the need for campaigns such as this one ever greater. The campaign is being run in support of the Association of Young People with ME (AYME) a national charity which works with young people affected by ME and their families.

If you could give up some of your time to knit even one tulip, you will make a huge difference to this aspirational campaign, and help raise awareness of this isolating condition.

Tulip2

For more information about Knit a Tulip for Me, contact [email protected]

To find out more about AYME, please visit www.ayme.org.uk

PATTERN
Double knitting wool and 4mm knitting needles

Inner petals – make 2
Cast on 2sts
Row 1 – K1f and k1back* on both stitches (4sts)
Row 2 – Purl
Row 3 – K1, k1f and k1back, k1f and k1back, k1 (6sts)
Row 4 – Purl
Row 5 – K2, k1f and k1back, k1f and k1back, k2 (8sts)
Row 6 – Purl
Work 4 rows in stocking stitch
Next row – K2tog over whole row (4sts)
Next row – P2tog over whole row (2sts)
Next row – K2tog, cut yarn, thread and pull to tighten

Outer petals – make 2, leave both on the needle
Cast on 3sts
Next row – Knit
Next row – Purl
Next row – K1f and k1back, k1, k1f and k1b (5sts)
Next row – Purl
Next row – K1, k1f and k1back, k1, k1f and k1back, k1 (7sts)
Next row – Purl
Next row – K1, k1f and k1back, k3, k1f and k1back, k1 (9sts)
Next row – Purl
Work 6 rows in stocking stitch
Next row – K2tog over whole row (5sts)
Next row – P2tog over whole row (3sts remain)

With both petals on the needle and changing to green wool, push together and knit the 6sts as one row, starting with a knit row, work 6 rows in stocking stitch
Cast off

Sew inner petals together at the bottom (the cast on bits) leaving the tops open like petals.
Place inside outer petals with stem.
Stitch in.
Sew up outer petals to half way up the petal, securing the inner petals inside.
Sew up the stem.
*k1f and k1b – knit into the front and back of the same stitch

Fibre Fridays: Alpaca

This week we want to talk about Alpaca! Alpaca is a great fibre originally from South America. The alpaca animal comes from the camelid family. The fibre is long and lustrous, with no lanolin or barbs that wool has. Alpaca is known for having fantastic drape and a bit of shine as well. Alpaca fibre is very warm, but can still be used for summer items such as loose gauge and lacey cardigans that can be worn on cooler nights. English summers are perfect for this as it isn’t necessarily always that warm!

One question we frequently hear is “Is an alpaca the same as a llama?” The answer is that while they look very similar, they are quite different animals! Alpacas are actually a part of the Vicuna family, while llamas belong to the Lama family. The most obvious difference is that alpacas are about half the size as a llama, yet they produce significantly more fibre! Llamas have a double coat, which means that they have a rough outer coat and a soft inner coat. Alpacas have one soft coat. This means that alpaca fibre is easier to to turn into yarn as it doesn’t require separating. Overall this is one of the biggest reasons that alpaca fibre is so much more common than llama fibre. Llamas and alpacas have been selectively bred for hundreds of years, which has resulted in llamas being predominately a pack animal for carrying heavy loads, while alpacas have been bred for their fibre.

Alpacas can come in a variety of natural shades. There are 22 officially identified colours, ranging from creamy white and brown into grey and black, with every shade in between. This is one of the largest ranges of fibre producing animals!

The alpaca yarns at Knit With Attitude can be put into two categories. They are either locally produced in the UK, or ethically produced in South America.

Our locally produced yarn are from Purl Alpaca Designs – Fine, which we have in 6 natural shades. These 50g balls are undyed, showcasing the amazing colour range that is possible. Purl Alpaca have a farm in Oxfordshire where all the alpacas are raised. After sheering, the fleeces are spun into yarn in Banbury, Oxfordshire. Purl Alpaca have a fantastic range of patterns for adults and children to support their yarns as well.

Purl Alpaca Designs - The Maddie Leaf Dress

Purl Alpaca Designs – The Maddie Leaf Dress

Purl Aplaca Designs Fine - Champagne

Purl Aplaca Designs Fine – Champagne

One of the largest ranges of yarns available in the shop is from Du Store Alpakka. We carry 4 different yarns, with up to 20 available colours! This Norwegian company were among the original founders of the Mirasol project, which has two aims. One is working directly with the farmers and producers of the yarn in Peru, and the other is to pledge a certain amount of the profits of the yarn to support a school for the children of those farmers. Du Store Alpakka has pledged 9% of their profits to the rural school, which was opened in 2006 and was able to expand in 2012 to hire more teachers and build more classrooms. This effort helps the local children get an education, but also provides meaningful employment for those who work at the school, therefore supporting the local community and economy. The long term plan for the school is to continue expanding to be able to provide education up to secondary and higher education.

We have two summer favourites from Du Store Alpakka. The first is Mirasol, which we have in 19 bright colours. This yarn has the same gauge as Purl Alpaca Designs Fine, meaning that the yarns can be used interchangeably, or together in colourwork or stripes.

Du Store Alpakka Mirasol - Acid Green

Du Store Alpakka Mirasol – Acid Green

The other yarn is Fin, an alpaca silk blend which we have in 18 colours. Alpaca and silk work together very well as they share many of the same characteristics of being soft, lustrous and drapey. When combined these features are multiplied! This is a perfect yarn for elegant and formal pieces that could be worn on nights out. The colour range means that you are sure to find the right colour to match your outfit!

fin_orangecoral231

Du Store Alpakka Fin – Orange Coral

Another yarn to mention is Du Store Faerytale, a brushed alpaca that has a very fuzzy quality. Because of the fuzzy texture, the yarn can be knit to great effect at a very loose gauge. As with the other yarns, it comes in a fantastic range of 20 colours!

Du Store Alpakka Faerytale - Dark Magenta

Du Store Alpakka Faerytale – Dark Magenta

Last but not least we have Manos Del Uruguay’s Serena. This is a 60% Baby Alpaca/40% Pima Cotton from Uruguay. This yarn is certified Fair Trade and works with women’s collectives in rural areas to help bring economic and social opportunities to remote and isolated regions. We absolutely love the drape and softness of the alpaca/cotton combination. Another bonus of the cotton content is that it lowers the ‘warmth’ factor of the finished garment in comparison to a 100% alpaca yarn, making it even better for summer knits!

Manos del Uruguay Serena - Glacier

Manos del Uruguay Serena – Glacier

Also as a little reminder, we still have the Artesano Alpaca/Silk on sale for £5! The colours are starting to go out of stock, so get them soon!