What Maya Knits – Selja

So, prior to writing this blog post I checked and it turns out that last time I wrote a ‘What Maya Knits’ post was nearly a year ago – and that gives you an indication of how much knitting time there is in my life – not much! But sometimes you just notice the one, the one project you just have to abandon all other projects to make, the easy fix, instant gratification, exciting fibre, fun yarn, the key wardrobe jumper, the one you been looking for and never found … I can go on and on … and this last spring I found one of those. selja-maya-insta-3-kwa

Selja is a basic top down raglan jumper designed by Jonna Hietala, one of the master minds behind Laine Magazine, but published independently from the magazine on Ravelry. You can find the pattern right here! I just immediately fell in love with the simplicity of this design – it is exactly what was missing from my wardrobe – super simple but stylish enough to be thrown on top of everything and you will look good no matter what.

But what really tickled my fancy was that Selja is knit up using linen. Linen has been on my to-do list of fibres I’ve wanted to have a proper go at. Sure I’ve used linen blends or linen in combination with other yarn types before, but I really wanted to do something in pure linen. Given that we have the gorgeous Växbo Lingarn in such a mouthwatering wide colour range here at the shop, and that I’ve been lusting after this yarn for a long time, it seemed like this project’s yarn and design was just a match made in heaven!

A few years ago we did a series on different fibres here on the blog, so if you want to learn more about linen, it’s production and qualities have a read here. But for now, let me mention that Linen is a plant fibre which can be quite tough to work with but that softens as you knit with it and with use, which results in a lightweight, smooth fabric with a gorgeous drape, that only will look better and better with time. Dealing with quite a lot of ‘delicate’ fibres in the shop we often joke about the linen, and how it is one of those fibres that will look better the worse you treat it – so no need to be gentle … Also, as this was my summer project and we were ‘blessed’ with the heat wave above all heat waves this year, linen turned out to be a very comfortable knit for sweaty hands.
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When working with linen we do recommend to wind your hank into a ball by hand in stead of using a winder, the reason for this is that it will immediately help in breaking down the fibres and soften the yarn before knitting. Selja is a brilliant first time project if you haven’t worked with linen before. It is worked holding two strands together on a thick needle, 5.5mm, which gives a loose knit which is quite gentle on the hands. You will need three hanks of Växbo Lingarn to complete even the larger sizes, linen is such a lightweight fibre that you get a generous meterage per 100g which helps keeping the project within a lower budget.

Now if you start knitting, and the result does not resemble that of the picture – do not worry! Linen in a loose knit is very flexible and in the end it will stretch and form exactly the you way tell it to! Blocking is essential to achieve the final look, soak your linen jumper for longer than what you would normally do – I had mine in the bowl over night – and don’t be scared of using a bit of force when pinning it down to measurements. And there you have it – easy peasy linen knitting – and a new favourite jumper!selja-maya-insta-kwa

Yarn Pairings for Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 25 – Summer 2018

New magazine days are always fun here at the shop, and we are absolutely in love with the latest issue from Pom Pom Quarterly. Summer 2018 is Issue 25 for them and it does not disappoint. Spring can be a bit of a tricky season for knitwear but here there is loads of inspiration. One reason this issue is so good is that they have picked one of the best hot weather themes, it’s all about stripes! There are 11 patterns, ranging from sweaters, t-shirts, wraps and even a practical bag. We have matched each pattern with a yarn available here in the shop to help inspire your knitting and summer projects. The yarns featured are all fantastic for summer projects, and highlights some of the non-wool and vegan yarns that we carry. 

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First up is Anni, by Gina Röckenwagner, a t-shirt that is simple in shape but not in style! It features both horizontal and vertical stripes using three colours, with one of the colours used for solid cuffs, hem and neckline. There is so much fun to be had with this pattern in terms of choosing colours, from bold contrasts to more subtle shades. With this in mind we would recommend the Nurturing Fibres Eco-Cotton, which we carry in 18 different colours.

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Next up is Bayadere, by Lori Versaci. This boxy, oversized sweater is a cozy best friend to reach for all year round! Knit up in a cotton/wool blend like Spud & Chloë Sweater it works brilliantly as a transitional garment between the seasons, as well as those unseasonably cold evenings that are inevitable in a British summer! It uses three colours in a mix of textural stripes.

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Deauville by Tina Tse is versatile boxy tank top. Worked in stripes that seem simple from afar, they also feature a subtle texture up close that stops it from being too stark. The recommended yarn is one we carry, Wool and the Gang’s Shiny Happy Cotton, its wide colour palette again means that there are loads of options for colour combinations.

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Herrera by Paula Pereira would make a fantastic beach cover up with it’s boxy super oversized casual look. Knit in a linen it is also easy care and will only get better with age and wear. We recommend the Växbo Lin Lingarn 12/2 which comes in a wide range of bright summery colours.

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Next up is Lia Moya’s Judoka, a striped bag with a fun construction. Knit in one long piece it is then seamed to create the over all shape, and two corners are knotted to create the handle. Using a few colours of stripes this would be a good stash buster to use up leftover bits and bobs, but we would also love to see it in the Nurturing Fibres Eco-Fusion, a blend of bamboo and cotton.

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Leiden one of our favourite patterns out of this issue, but we might be biased as it was designed by Natalie Selles, our resident knitting teacher here at the shop! It turns usual striped tops on its head by including chevron stripes that run both vertically and horizontally in a panel that is knit first. Stitches are then picked up and knit outwards from there, joining up with the back to knit the sides and sleeves. There are attached i-cord edgings for a polished finish on all the hems and cuffs. Because of the modular construction there is absolutely no seaming in this top! Overall this top works as a both formal and casual wardrobe addition that is sure to get plenty of use in any wardrobe. To add to the comfortable feel of the shirt, we would love to see it knit up in The Fibre Co.’s Luma, a summery lush blend of wool, cotton, linen and silk.

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Macklin by Susanne Sommer is a beautiful oversized wrap knit using short rows to create a bias for maximum drape. The brioche is two colour with hardly and contrast, and then 2 contrasting stripe colours for a total of four colours used all together. We think that Hedgehog Skinny Singles would work brilliantly for this project, with loads of colour options to choose from. The contrasting stripe colours use only a very small amount of yarn, so perfect for using up any leftovers you may have from other projects.

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Nasreen by Lana Jois is another pattern taking traditional garter stitch stripes and turning them slightly on their head for a biased effect. The tunic shape is easy to wear, featuring a rib at the top and bottom and a finished edge on the armhole worked in a single colour. A yarn such as Stollen Stitches Nua, a mix of merino, yak and linen, continues the drapey feel of the design.

Nasreen_by_Lana_Jois_Pom_Pom_Quarterly_Issue_25_Summer_2018_07_medium2Another top using the garter ridge stripes is Riley, by Amy Christoffers. It features a bottom panel knit side to side, from which the centre panel is knit vertically on both the front and the back, last of all the side panels are picked up and knit outwards towards the sleeves. This is another perfect occasion to use the Nurturing Fibres Eco-Cotton, with it’s range of colours and soft fabric.

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The last garment from this issue is Tarmac, by resident Pom Pom writer Anna Maltz. This swingy tank top is worked from top-down using a provisional cast on to work the front and back separately, before joining again at the underarms to work the rest of the body. The shape is created from yarn over increases in the body, and all the edges are finished with a striped applied i-cord edging. For something this lightweight we love the idea of knitting it up in The Fibre Co. Meadow, a luxurious blend of merino, llama, silk and linen.

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Last but not least is Vasarley, an oversized wrap from Julie Dubreux of Julie Knits in Paris. The rectangular wrap is worked from the centre of one of the short sides for a chevron/bias effect. It is worked in two colours using slipped stitches to create the overall striped look. For an extra drapey look Manos del Uruguay’s Serena would be perfect.

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This issue is proof that knitting doesn’t have to be confined to the winter months, there are so many options and ideas for summery, hot weather garments and accessories out there! Any pieces catching your eye? The issue is currently up for pre-order on the website and will be shipped out by May 25, 2018.

Yarn Pairings for Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 22 – Autumn 2017

August is one of those in between months. There’s still some hot days, and the kids are still on holiday, but the nights can be cool, and there are adverts on the telly for back to school supplies. Rainy days mean cozying up and thinking about the season to come, one of the most exciting seasons for any knitter. It’s sweater season of course! What better to inspire your sweater knitting, than the autumn issue of Pom Pom Quarterly?

Autumn issues are always particularly good ones, and this Issue 22 is no exception. For the first time ever Pom Pom collaborated with an outside editor, Juju Vail, to curate the patterns in the issue. You would recognize Juju’s work as she has more often than not been the photographer for the magazine and their various other projects. In this case Juju not only curated and photographed the magazine, she also sewed many of the other garments that the models wear, for a fully handmade issue! Each piece is given the full credit of pattern and fabric source to help you re-create the whole look if you so choose.

PomPom22-coverAs a knitting shop we are here for the knitting, so we’ll take a look at each pattern and match it up with some yarn to give you ideas on what you can use.

First up we have Aubusson, a brioche scarf by none other than the Queen of Brioche herself, Nancy Marchant. The pattern calls for two yarns held together, one a luxurious 4ply yarn, and the other a fuzzy laceweight, in two sets of contrasting colours. The combination creates a unique textured fabric that compliments the brioche stitch. We love the colour choices that could be found using Sulka Legato for the 4ply and Cumulus for the fuzzy laceweight.PomPom22-01

Barbicel is one of 2 cardigans in this issue. Designed by Fiona Alice, it makes wonderful use of a sheepy yarn that will bloom a lot after blocking. For a similar yarn we would recommend Tamar from Blacker with it’s all British wool blend and rustic texture. PomPom22-02

Next up is Calamus, designed by Maddie Harvey. This colourwork snood is big enough to wrap around twice for a super snuggly fit, knit in 3 colours. One of our favourite yarns for colourwork has to be Cumbria from The Fibre Co. It’s got just the right amount of tooth and texture to really pull the technique together, and of course it also has a wonderful range of colours.PomPom22-03

Diesis is a textured pullover designed by Alice Caetano using an amazing sweater yarn, Knit By Numbers DK. This yarn is a super smooshy merino that is dyed and spun in Devon by John Arbon. The sweater uses four colours, making the colour combinations endless. We currently have 6 sets of colours in the Knit By Numbers range, each with a range of 6 shades going from dark to light.PomPom22-04

The second pullover is Elibelinde by Ellinor Siljeström. The design is the epitome of a classic shape with an interesting stitch pattern. It has a relaxed shape with a textured stitch on the body and the cuffs which contrast the stocking stitch upper body and sleeves. For a really divine sweater we would love to knit it up in Kettle Yarn Co. Beyul, a blend of merino, yak and silk.PomPom22-05

Nothing says autumn like a cozy pair of mittens, and add in colourwork and you’ve got a winning combination. Herati is a beautiful pair of colourwork mittens with an allover geometric pattern designed by Sari Nordlund. The colours of Socks Yeah! 4ply would create a beautiful pair, and the nylon content would add extra durability.PomPom22-06

Overcheck is another double wrap infinity snood, with a gorgeous allover geometric double knitting pattern. Designed by Ann McDonald Kelly, it uses 2 colours of a DK weight yarn. We think it would be absolutely lush in 2 colours of Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DKPomPom22-07

Palmetto is the last of the garments, a cardigan in 3 colours designed by Emilia Jensen. The main portion of the sweater is knit in one colour, with contrast epaulets and corrugated ribbing at the cuffs, hems, button bands and collar. It uses a sport weight yarn which makes for a light sweater that isn’t going to take ages to knit. Our choice is Stolen Stitches Nua, an unusual blend of merino, yak and linen. PomPom22-08

The last pattern of the issue is Soumak, by Olga Buraya-Kefelian. This pair of fingerless mitts use traditional fair isle technique with a much more modern and graphic motif on it. The sample pair shown are knit in a high contrast black and red, but knit in a yarn like Cumbria there are endless colour combinations for any palette. PomPom22-09

Which pattern is your favourite? We have the issue available in store and online if you want to pick up your own copy.

Yarn of the Week: Lyonesse 4ply

This week’s yarn is Lyonesse 4ply from Blacker Yarns. Perfect for transitional seasons, it is a blend of Linen and Corriedale/Merino wool. This combination creates a subtle flecked fabric where the two fibres blend together. The yarn can have a very rustic appearance in the ball, but linen softens dramatically with knitting and washing, so don’t let that dissuade you from how fantastic this can feel worn right next to the skin. The linen also helps keep the finished garments from being too warm, making them perfect for the in-between months or cooler summer evenings.

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The Drift Raglan Increase Shawl is a free pattern from Blacker, designed by Sonja Bargielowska to use Lyonesse. The simple lace panels with stocking stitch look meditative to knit, and so cozy to wear! You can get the pattern on Ravelry.

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Blacker Yarns is the yarn business of The Natural Fibre Company, a mill based in Cornwall. As a mill they process yarns for small farms and other yarn businesses, while producing their own yarn as Blacker. Their mill is committed to using 100% British yarns and working with local farms to promote industry and growth, which has also meant championing rare sheep breeds and ethical farming practices. This translates into care for their production methods and reducing waste as much as possible in a responsible way.

Use the code LYON15 online to get 15% off Lyonesse 4ply until Sunday August 28th, while supplies last. Mention the sale in-store to receive the same offer.

Diana Sweater and Fairy Mist Snood

We have been working on boosting up our samples here in the shop. These projects are a great opportunity to show off our favourite yarns and some of our favourite designers. All of the patterns we have used are available in the shop, either as a hard copy or through the Ravelry In-store program. This is a fantastic program that allows designers to sell through local yarn stores. When they are designated for the program and a pattern is sold in a shop, a portion of the sale goes to the designer, just like with any wholesale scheme, except that the customer still gets the pattern added to their Ravelry library, and we can print it out for you!  This is an amazing service for everyone involved, shop, designer and customer. We are really embracing this program as it allows us to ‘carry’ thousands more patterns in the shop without taking up valuable shelf space or funds. Instead we only pay for a pattern when it is sold. This means we can really help you find the perfect pattern, instead of making do with one that isn’t quite right from a more limited selection!

Our mannequin is currently in summer mode, wearing a Wool and the Gang Supremes Sweater, knit in the Ivory White Shiny Happy Cotton. We love this yarn, and this pattern has been a hit in the shop since we got it! It’s got a boxy shape that is breezy for the summer, and comes in three different stitch pattern options for fun customization.

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Since this summer in London has been chilly so far, we have also added a lightweight cowl to keep the edge off! We used one skein of The Fibre Co.’s Meadow in Prairie to knit the Fairy Mist snood by Julie Crawford. This snood is a great pattern as it includes instructions to knit it in multiple weights of yarn, so you can really use any yarn you like. The only change we made was to make it a bit shorter to only use one skein.

We are happy to have this snood in the shop to show off this unusual yarn, and help everyone imagine it knit up. Meadow is a blend of Merino Wool, Baby Llama, Silk and Linen. It has a subtle drape with a slightly slubby texture from the silk and linen. The colours are slightly heathered as the different fibres take the dye in different ways, creating a final yarn with amazing depth that works well for both the lace and stocking stitch sections in the pattern.

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Lastly we topped the snood off with a sheep head shawl pin from Jul Designs. These white brass beauties are available as ewes or rams. They are a perfect intersection of beautiful and functional pieces. They are great worn as a brooch, shawl pin, or even a hair stick!

Take a peek at the samples in the shop the next time you are in to see these yarns and patterns in action!

Yarn Pairings for Making No.1 Flora

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How beautiful is our latest arrival? It’s of Making No.1 Flora, the first issue of a brand new magazine from Carrie Bostick Hoge of Madder Made. We could not be more excited here at the shop, and have been cooing and exclaiming over it all morning! This inaugural issue includes contributions from 21 different designers and makers across multiple craft disciplines, including knitting, crochet, sewing, cooking and embroidery.

As always we love to see the knitting patterns, and to pair them up with yarns we have in the shop.

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The first pattern is Branches and Buds, by the editor herself, Carrie Bostick Hoge. The pattern features a modern take on a classic colourwork yoked sweater in two high contrast colours. The little buds are added afterwards, the perfect use of leftover bits of yarn we all have. We would knit the main sweater up in Susan Crawford’s Excelana DK.

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Next up is the Flora Cardi and Cowl, also by Carrie Bostick Hoge. These two patterns use the same lace stitch, along the collar and fronts of the cardigan, and as an allover design for the cowl (or snood as we would say in the UK!). Worked up in different yarn weights it is an interesting way to see the same stitch pattern in different settings. The cardigan would have wonderful drape and be light as a feather in Fyberspates Scruptious Lace, while the snood would have more body with a heavier yarn such as Du Store Alpakka Fin.

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Susan B. Anderson has created a sweet pair of fairy dolls that tuck into little flower beds. A Flower Fairy would be a lovely toy for a wide range of ages. Blacker Swan comes in many colours to knit the flowers and leaves of your choice.

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Marigold is a seamless bottom up cardigan by Cecily Gowick MacDonald. With its shawl collar, 3/4 length sleeves and a lace panel up the back, it is an effortless addition to any summer wardrobe. We have 8 shades of the called for The Fibre Co. Meadow in stock to knit it in.

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Another cardigan is Silver Leaf, by Hannah Fettig. This sweater has full length sleeves, and a deep lace motif on the fronts and collar. This design is a good transitional garment from warm days to chilly evenings, and would fit perfectly in England’s potentially dreary days. Noro’s Tokonatsu is a cotton/silk/viscose blend that would create a perfect summer cardigan to cozy up in without overheating!

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Tulip Fields, by Dawn Catanzaro is a shawlette knit in garter stitch. With laceweight yarn and a deep diamond and zigzag border, an otherwise winter stitch becomes light and airy for summer evenings. We are dreaming of it knit up in Kettle Yarn Co. Beyul.

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The Violet Cap and Bonnet, by Melissa LaBarre is another example of a stitch pattern being used for slightly different pieces. The bonnet is sized for babies and children with a practical tie under the chin to stay on, while the cap is sized for adults. They would both be beautiful in Fyberspates Scruptious 4ply.

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Last but not least is the Wildflowers Cap by Mary Jane Mucklestone. If you have to wear a wooly cap in the summer, it might as well have flowers on it! We would choose two shades of Mondial Bio Lana for ours. And we might need it with the week that London is having at the moment!

There are many more craft projects in this issue to enjoy, we have just highlighted the knitting ones first. How to choose the next project!

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Yarn Pairings for Pom Pom Issue 17 Summer 2016

Issue-17-Cover-ImageThere has been so much anticipation for this latest issue of Pom Pom here at Knit with attitude, especially after hosting the samples for Yarn Shop Day at the end of April. It’s finally here! The garments fit perfectly with our Summer Top KAL, and even better, we’ve just received loads of new summer yarns here in the shop that are just right for summer knitting. We have brand new linen and cotton/linen blends, as well as top ups and new colours in lots of other summery fibres.

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First up we have Altair by Joanne Scrace. This triangle shawl is a take on the granny square classic, but with a more modern twist. Worked from one corner to the next, it is easily adaptable for yardage depending on what you plan to use. We think the bright colours of Botany Lace would be a fun summer piece to pull on over summer dresses.

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Catchyfly, by Wencke Lucas is a great example of how to take a tweed yarn, something usually associated with winter, and bring it into the summer months. We think that Terra, which is wool and silk would add to that lux feel while having drape as well.

hollis

Lynn Brennan’s Hollis is an unusual piece in that it is knitted with clothesline cord! We don’t have any cotton that thick to recommend, but we have some beautiful leather and metal handles by Jul Design that would be the perfect finishing touch. Check them out the next time you are in our neighbourhood.

nouri

Nouri is Maya’s favourite! Carol Feller designed this oversized pullover sweater with a lace detail over one hip. The sleeves are done in one piece with the body for maximum drape and ease of construction. We just received 6 shades of Zooey from Juniper Moon Farm. Held double this would be a wonderful summer sweater.

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Knitted dresses get a bad reputation, but Thea Colman dispels all of these worries with Olivette! It comes with instructions for both a dress/tunic and t-shirt lengths for everyone’s tastes. The front lace is placed asymmetrically and the longer length includes a surprisingly sturdy pocket. Vivacious DK has just the right amount of semi-solid colour to work well for this.

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The Red Bud Isle tank by Courtney Cedarholm would be a fantastic quick summer knit. It has contrast stripes and an overlapping split back that would be comfortable to wear while still being modest. How to choose which shades of Shiny Happy Cotton to use!

tanneryfalls

Tannery Falls is the second crochet piece from the issue. Sara Delaney has designed wearable top with a loose gauge for maximum cool weather wear. Two colours of Meadow with it’s linen content would show off the yarn and pattern beautifully.

thornett

Thornett is an all around favourite here at the shop! Sara Thornett’s top is everything you want from a summer top, easy to knit and wear with some lace for visual interest and loads of opportunity to use a fun colour. Luckily Eco-baby has lots of those to choose from!

trailbreeze

Trailbreeze is one of the more unusual garments in the issue, with it’s generous handkerchief hem over each hip. Courtney Cedarholm has done a brilliant job at keeping the lines otherwise clean to keep it looking modern. We have a brand new Swedish linen in 12 colours, from subtle neutrals to modern brights, you are sure to find a Växbo Lin Lingarn for this top.

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Sachiko Burgin has designed the last tee, Vaara. This simple top has a deep raglan yoke and a textured ribbed hem. We think this is another great use for the cotton/linen drape of Zooey, held singly this time.

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Last but not least is Windlass, by Kiyomi Burgin has draws inspiration from traditional aran sweaters with it’s cables and neckline, but brought forward a few seasons with split hems and no sleeves. The textures here would work well with Noro Tokonatsu.

Don’t forget to enter in our Summer Top KAL on Ravelry! We have a few people started already, we would love to see what you are working on. We will draw from eligible winners for prizes on July 31st.

Yarn Pairings for PomPom Quarterly Issue 16

spring16-coverIt’s that time again! We have the latest issue of Pom Pom Quarterly in the shop and online. It’s a gorgeous issue, with a focus on stitch patterns and texture. In order to show these off all of the pieces have been knit in light neutrals from light grey through cream to white. 

spring16-3The first up is Delineate. Designed by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, this tank top has a classic and modest front, with an open work stitch pattern in the back that is somewhere between a mesh and lace. This is a great wardrobe basic that can be worn with trousers, skirts and shorts in any range of situations, from weekend trips to the market or holidays in the sun. We would knit it in one of our many shades of Debbie Bliss Eco-baby  , an organic cotton that is perfect worn next to the skin. Even better, we have it in a number of brand new shades, from neutral to bright! 

spring16-11Equilibrium is the lone cardigan of the collection, by Gina Röckenwagner. It features an unusual construction with increases and decreases, and hangs open at the front. The original is knit in the fantastic Manos del Uruguay Silk Blend DK, which we have in variegated shades in the shop. If you are looking for a colour that is closer to the original we would suggest Fyberspates Scrumptious DK

spring16-8Imitation is one of two crochet patterns in this issue, here designed by Judith Brand. These little mitts are perfect to keep in your purse for those surprise chilly mornings and hardly take up any wool or time to make! We would recommend Excelana 4ply for these beauties. 

spring16-5Perpendicular by Sarah Brunenberg is a generously sized triangle shawl. This shawl is perfect for someone who doesn’t like a lot of fussy lace, as it features a single panel of chevron stitches with garter stitch wings. Sulka Legato is one of our favourite yarns for a project like this one. The silk/alpaca combo has drape for wrapping around but enough stitch definition to make the lace and garter stitch sing. 

spring16-9A second pattern from Gina Röckenwagner, Rhombille is a perfect pullover sweater. Like many of the other patterns in this issue, it combines simple garter stitch with a bold stitch pattern. We recommend Erika Knight Vintage Wool for a classic, heart sweater that will hold its shape and show off the main pattern well. 

spring16-7Right Angle is another pullover, this time from Georgia Farrell. This simple t-shirt has an allover triangle stitch pattern, a boat neck and ribbed edging details. We would knit it up in Blacker Swan DK for crisp stitch definition and lots of colours to choose from. 

spring16-6Riveret is the second crochet pattern, designed by Merrian Holland. It has a great modern take on classic granny square techniques and a breezy summer feel. Blacker Yarn’s Lyonesse DK is a fantastic summer yarn, with a 50% wool, 50% linen blend that will keep you covered but not overheated. 

spring16-4Next up we have Striated, a double length infinity snood by Nicki Merrall. This snood has a provisional cast on, is knit as a scarf and then the two ends are grafted together. This otherwise simple accessory is a great place to use a truly special yarn, like Kettle Yarn Co’s Baskerville. This special UK wool/silk blend is carefully indigo dyed in Hastings. 

spring16-2Last but not least we have Unfold, by Yuliya Tkacheva, which is the third crochet project in this issue. It features a unique chevron pattern and would make a perfect wardrobe basic for all seasons. We would love to see it in one of the natural shades of Purl Alpaca Fine

What’s your favourite pattern from this issue? Anything ready to jump onto your needles?

Welcome to the world of Blacker Yarns

We are so excited to introduce a brand new yarn company in the shop. You all got a preview of Blacker Yarns with the limited edition Cornish Tin that flew out the door. Now we have three of their lines in stock more permanently. We have Lyonesse (a linen/Falkland wool blend), Blacker Swan (Falkland/Shetland Wool), and Westcountry Tweed (British wool). The mill is based in Cornwall, and deals exclusively with British wool companies. This fits in perfectly with our mandate for ethically and environmentally friendly yarns, and local as well!

Sue Blacker, owner of Blacker Yarns and their parent mill The Natural Fibre Company was gracious to answer a few questions to help us all get to know their yarns better.

lyonesse_instaHow do you think that Blacker Yarns fits in with the KWA ethos (environmentally and ethically friendly)?

I think we fit very well!  Our whole approach is based on our values, which we apply to all our work spinning for others as The Natural Fibre Company and also in making Blacker Yarns.  So we try to give value for money, develop long-term trusting partnerships with customers and suppliers and limit our impact on the environment.  We lay out ouf values on our website, at http://www.blackeryarns.co.uk/about/our-values

What is the most important thing to you when you are choosing a new yarn/fibre to introduce into your company? What sort of process do you go through?

We start from two ends and hope to meet in the middle and the yarn has to be lovely!  We will be looking for the very best quality fibre we can find, and known provenance with continuity of supply, while at the same time seeking a single breed or a blend for which we think there will be some demand, which does not conflict with any of our values, which fits with and complements our existing ranges and which is a bit different from what everyone else is offering!  Simple, really!!

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The Natural Fibre Company is your mill, and Blacker Yarns is the yarn company. Can you tell us a bit more about the relationship between these two companies?

The Natural Fibre Company was there first, and has a wide range of customers across the UK and Europe, working from as little as 10kg up to around a tonne per batch.  Blacker Yarns, in some senses, is just another customer!  Blacker Yarns has the opportunity to promote British wool, made in Britain, to a wider public than can be reached by the smaller and specialised local breeders who are the main customer base of The Natural Fibre Company.  The experience of each side of the business does help the other: so Blacker Yarns’ knowledge of the yarn, knitting and crochet markets can help The Natural Fibre Company advise its customers on marketing their yarns while The Natural Fibre Company has experience and expertise in spinning an enormously varied range of fibre types.

You work a lot with smaller sheep farmers and heritage breeds. Do you have your own sheep? What does it mean to your business to work with wool on a breed to breed basis?

I do have my own sheep and they came before the mill!  I started with sheep in the 1990’s and was originally a customer of The Natural Fibre Company, taking it over when the previous owners retired.  It is incredibly important to us as a business to know and understand sheep, and to know people with goats and alpacas as well … we know if there has been disease or bad weather, or a really good season for lambs, or if the price of meat or feed is rising or falling.  This helps us understand what it is to grow good quality fibre and to know the differences between the fibre produced by different animals – each has its most appropriate end use so we can help ensure none is wasted and the best value is added to each type.

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The 10th anniversary yarn Cornish Tin went down a storm and sold out UK wide in a week! Do you have plans for more limited edition yarns in the future?

Aha!  That would be telling, though I think you can probably assume we felt it was a very worthwhile adventure!  So we may well think about something for our eleventh birthday.  Meanwhile, all of our British Breeds yarns are limited editions and we will in future be able to give the provenance and dates, just like fine wines!

Are you a process or a product knitter?

A bit of both really … I feel that the design is integral to the item being made – so the way in which it is worked, how it looks and feels, will also determine what the item is – I would work differently on a hat than a jacket, than a shawl, in terms of texture, colours, style, etc.

westcountry_instaWhat’s your current knitting project?

Well, I’m sort of between things right now and doing some swatching – I have two different jacket/cardigans in mind, which have been taking imaginary shape for a while, so will soon be ready to begin to materialise.  Like many people, having just completed a design which is about to be published, I’m still trudging through the tech editing as well!