New Yarn: John Arbon Textiles – Devonia DK and 4ply

We all know and love what John Arbon produce, so we are really excited to now be stocking Devonia. In DK and in 4ply! If you haven’t seen Devonia before then you are in for a treat and if you are in to your breed specific yarns this one is for you. Plus we have all 14 dreamy shades over both weights.

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John Arbon Textiles are a Devon based traditional woollen mill. Using machinery, some of which, is over 100 years old. They develop and make their yarns and tops at their specialist processing and spinning Mill called Fibre Harvest. For a little look into their mill, here is a short day in the life of John Arbon Textiles:

One of their latest offerings is Devonia. A 3-ply, Worsted Spun yarn in a DK and 4ply Weight, with 100% Devon grown fibre. Rightfully named, Devonia is Devon through and through. A blend of three local breeds – 50% Exmoor Blueface, 30% Devon Bluefaced Leicester and 20% Devon Wensleydale. These three breeds of sheep bring their own characteristics to the yarn.

The Exmoor Blueface is the local sheep to John Arbon, it gives a springing nature to the fibre. Softness and lustre is given by the Bluefaced Leicester and the wonderful fineness of fibre and sheen is provided by the Wensleydale. John Arbon have worked some magic here and brought all these fibres together in such harmony, giving a yarn that is soft, with sheen but also with body and interesting in the hand.

Not only is the yarn itself stunning but so is the colour. Each colour is made up of up to five blended pre-dyed fibre tops, creating a rich and beautifully deep mottled collection. The colour range was inspired by the work of French tapestry artist Jean Lurcat and his trademark use of jewel like tones offers up a sumptuous and decadent palette.

As always there has to be some exciting pattern inspirations, so here are some to get you started:

DevoniaCream003Devonia Cream by Francesca Hughes – With cabled details and a simple slouchy fit, it’s the perfect cosy jumper for autumn. Knit in John Arbon Textiles DK – Devonia Cream.

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Homeward Bound by Alice Sleight – These fingerless gloves show the yarns ability to hold a good cable. This pattern is knit in John Arbon Textiles DK – Dark Skies.

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Devon Mariner by Helena Timms – A perfect hat for walking along the Devonshire coast. Nice and warm knit up in John Arbon Textiles DK – Amber Blaze.

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Doppio Colosseum by Fay Dashper-Hughes. This is one for the crocheters out there. An elegant shawl crocheted in two skeins of John Arbon Devonia 4ply – Pollen Gold.

 

 

New Yarn: Kettle Yarn Co. – Ramble

The beautiful shades and consciously sourced British fibres are what makes Kettle Yarn so wonderful. Linda always amazes, with her interesting blends and eye for colour. Ramble is definitely up there, and typifies these strengths.

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Ramble is a small-batch British yarn. Spun from the finest graded fibres of British Shetland and Romney sheep. 100g of a fingering/4ply weight woolen spun yarn. Woolen spun, giving this yarn a plumpness to the twist, that is light, springy and also lofty. Drawing on a centuries-rich history of sheep rearing and wool production from the Shetland Isles and England’s smugglers paradise, Romney Marshes. The fibre is sourced directly from the farmers, spun and dyed in the UK and with with very little processing. Giving you a stunning heathered yarn, with a rustic feel in the hand, that blooms beautifully.

A perfect toothy yarn that will perform well over colour work projects, but also giving good definition on twisted stitches and cables. With a flexible gauge, that knit densely, will give you a warm and durable fingering/4ply weight. Knit loosely, will give you a more bouncy sport to DK weight, the wooden-spun yarn filling out the looser fabric.

If you are looking for some inspiration for this yarn, then look no further. We have put together a selection of patterns to get you inspired:

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Tender by Melody Hoffmann is a simple shawl that is all about the texture. It shows you Ramble’s strength in holding definition. Simple garter stitch, with some chevron panels, build up to create an eye catching subtle fabric. Knit in three skeins of Ramble, shown here in Hawthorn, the pattern is easily adjustable to go larger.

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Atlantic Avenue by Kirsten Kapur is a three colour triangle shawl, with a body of colour work and ending in a bold, statement colour band. Use the gorgeous shades of Ramble to mix and match your own. The example show is knit in Meadowsweet, Nightshade and Hawthorne.

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If you are thinking of sweaters, then what about East or West by Joji Locatelli, here knit in Ramble by Linda of Kettle Yarn Co. Shown here in colours Nightshade, Meadowsweet and Gorse, Ramble is a versatile yarn for all kinds of sweater projects.

If you are looking for a yarn and are passionate about British, then this is the yarn for you. Small scale, conscious and beautiful, what more do you need for your next project!

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Time for a new Project – Inspiration for Texture Time

The whirlwind of a designer Stephen West (Wesknits) is doing it again. It’s his Mystery Knit Along! We have been obsessing with Colour and Texture here recently. Hand dyed yarn and something fluffy. Is there anything better! Stephen’s new pattern is called ‘Texture Time’. As this is a mystery we have no idea what it will look like, we just have the yarn requirements. Four skeins of a 4ply/Fingerweight yarn and then something Fluffy like a Mohair or Brushed Alpaca. We couldn’t be more excited about this new Mystery KAL! Especially since we have had a big restock of Garnsurr and have plenty of our firm favourites Hedgehog Fibres as well. There is also plenty of fuzzy, fluffy yarns to mix in, the possibilities are endless.

If you are finding it hard to come up with a combination, then below we have put together some fun ideas combining yarns we think will work well. Hopefully these will inspire you to brave the Mystery Knit Along.

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Keep the Summer going with this bright yellow combo. Featuring from left to right: Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Sneivin, Frevil/Shauparak, Gryteflaks #19 and Fonne/Bered. Hedgehog Fibres Kid Silk Lace in UFO.

02-texture-time-knit-with-attitude-INSTA-SQUAREThis cool and sophisticated option combines blues and purples. From left to right: Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Method. Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Heavenly. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Marisup and Ulone. Du Store Alpakka Faerytale in Grey Blue 740.

03-texture-time-knit-with-attitude-INSTA-SQUAREThis hot combination is full of colour pops, one for the wild at heart. From left to right: Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Tesu, Gryteflaks #21 and Ansam. Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Pinky Swear. Hedgehog Fibres Kid Silk Lace in Heyday.

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Dreaming of the deep blue sea, what about these? From left to right: Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Deep End, Beach Bunny and Fly. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Griug/Wakaca. Du Store Alpakka Faerytale in Turquoise 716.

05-texture-time-knit-with-attitude-INSTA-SQUAREMake your friends green with envy! From left to right: Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Sea Green. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Gryteflaks #11. Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply in Sea Glass. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Risgard. Fyberspates Cumulus in Bottle Green.

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This deeply devilish combo is rich and moody. From left to right: Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Plump and Pheasant. Garnsurr Søkke Merino in Hørningen and Jarbær. Fyberspates Cumulus in Magenta.

I hope you have found these ideas inspiring. We always love putting colours together. So grab your needles and yarn and let’s see where Stephen West takes us.

 

Yarn Pairings for Bladet Garn Issue 5

We have some great magazines from all over the world here at knit with attitude. Like Laine from Finland, Making from America and Amirisu from Japan. But now we introduce something new: Bladet Garn from Norway. This is a special one, as it is their first English publication. Founded in 2016 to showcase independent Norwegian designers they set up a crowd funding campaign to release an English version and we are so glad they did! Full of patterns, articles, interviews and hints and tips, it has the perfect combination of learning and interest.

This issue has a ‘Circus Fun’ theme so expect some light hearted patterns.

bladet-garnFirst up is Bubu by Nadia Lavard. A super cosy jumpsuit perfect for those lazy days. Knitted top down in fun stripes you can adjust it easily to fit any shape. It would look great in Coopknits Socks Yeah! this yarn has a great array of colours so you can go wild with your stripes!

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Next up is Colours In The Circus Ring by Hege Russnes. A fun children’s sweater worked with slipped stitched to give you flashes of colour. Finished with colourful Latvian twists. When we think of colour we naturally think of John Arbon’s Knit by Numbers. This yarn, in its great selection of shades, means you can pick the perfect combo.

HegeRussnes_Farger_i_manesjen_DSC_2520Following on is a great go to sweater with a simple stitch pattern on the sleeves and a wide ribbed neck. This would be simple to knit, but also rewarding. For an added twist of fun, is the little crochet bow tie, which is an optional extra but a must for those with a sense of humour. This pattern calls for a for a light and airy yarn. A perfect choice would be Fyberspates Cumulus, it would feel like being hugged by a cloud.

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Next up we have a super fun children’s jumper. Jubilee by Tea Bekkevold. A textured pattern on the sleeves and a zig-zag body. Guaranteed to keep you interested as you knit and will please any young boy or girl. It would look great in Hillesvåg – Tinde a great yarn for colour work and a nice range of fun bright colours.

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Keeping with the circus theme is the Carousel sweater by Nina Figenschau. Worked from the bottom up its fun colour work hem and ring of bobbles makes this a cheery edition to any child’s wardrobe. It would look great in the Fibre co’s Luma, it has a fun range of cheery colours and a great feel in the hand.

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Next up is Pearl sisters by Karen Lauger. This clever pattern is inspired by the twinkling lights under the canvas of a circus tent. Two patterns with the same shape, but have slightly different finishes around the neck. Finished off with your favourite sparkly beads. It would be perfect in the earthy tones of Hillesvåg – Sølje. 

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Another fun jumper for the young cheeky clowns in your life is The Circus Kid’s Everyday Sweater by Wenche Roald. With a charming colourful yoke which gives you the chance to play with colour. It would be fun to knit in a Ninapatrina Lambs Wool Gradient Bundle.

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What does any self respecting clown need, well Circus Socks of course! These Circus Socks by Lill C. Schei and are inspired by the patterns on colourful, old fashioned drums. The pattern recommends a hand dyed sock wool and what better than Hey Mama Wolf’s Sockyarn #04. The natural colouring will give these socks a beautiful rustic carnival feel.

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Keeping with the circus tenet theme is this playful hat. A jolly circus tent complete with little popcorn stitch lights around the rim. A fun hat needs a fun yarn. The jolly colours of Spud & Chloë Sweater is perfect for bringing life to this pattern.

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Next up is this fun textured fitted skirt. The interesting front panel stitch structure will is a design feature that will make the simplest of yarns shine. This would also look great in a simple colour block of Spud & Chloë Sweater.

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These fun little children trousers are circus ready. With their quirky stripes and frills they make a jolly outfit. They would be super cosy in Blue Sky Fibres Baby Alpaca Sport with its lovely range of child friendly colours.

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I hope you enjoy this Norwegian publication as much as we do and are tempted to knit some of its fun patterns.

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.

Interview with Jule from
Hey Mama Wolf

In our effort to create a full range of ethical and environmentally sourced yarns, we have spent a long time searching for a company making yarn dyed with plants, or naturally dyed yarn. This is an inherently niche idea, so while there are people out there naturally dying yarn, it was difficult to find someone dying that could also handle the larger scales required to supply orders from yarn shops. We were so excited to meet Jule who came to visit the shop while she was in London attending Pomfest this summer and discover her yarn company, Hey Mama Wolf. Not only does Jule dye all of her yarns naturally, the yarns themselves are also sourced and processed locally to her in Germany, greatly reducing the carbon footprint of the yarn. We have started off with the Sockyarn #04 and kits to do your own natural dying at home.

With all this to consider, we were excited to ask Jule a few questions about Hey Mama Wolf and learn about what goes on behind the scenes.

jule hmwHow long have you been knitting?
When I was about 10 years old we visited my great aunt Agnes and she told me that I needed to learn how to knit. Without further ado she just taught me. I don’t think I had a choice but I enjoyed it very much. First things I knitted were teeny tiny things for my Barbies – scarfs, hats and even mittens. Aunt Agnes was also the one who taught me mending and gave me my first sewing machine.

kupfer mordantWhat inspired you to get into dying and specifically natural dying?
Again I will start with my aunts and my grandma. Aunt Agnes was a garden architect, my grandma has a huge garden and another aunt is a herbalist. My mother often took me for long walks in the woods and the botanical gardens. They all planted the love for plants in me. I was always especially interested in healing plants. I became a textile and surface designer, and when I graduated from art school, I was a freelance knitwear designer. After having our first daughter I started looking for sustainable local yarns. I love natural wool colours very much but what would knitting be without colourful yarns? Two very good friends of mine asked me why don’t I do plant dyeing. I love to explore and I love plants. So these friends were absolutely right. I find great joy in dyeing with plants.

farbkarte birkeWhere and how do you source the dyes that you work with? Can you tell us more about the plant origins?
I started with using only hand gathered plants from walks in Berlin and Brandenburg, leftovers from friends (flowers, onion skins, avocado pits…) and what I got from the local organic market – turmeric, carrot greens, whatever wasn’t suitable for selling anymore. But I knew that I wouldn’t get far with that if HMW wanted to grow. Right now I’m using plant dye extracts that are made by a company nearby in Magdeburg. I was so thrilled when I found out that there is actually a company in Germany who does that. They come as an easy to use powder. The difference between these and chemical dyes is that they are still a natural product and are much more influenced by other parameters – water, weather, mordants, the yarn itself. Every dyer will get different results.

Some colours I prefer to dye with plant matter itself. I try to buy them organically and preferably local grown. I still get stuff from the local market and of course I’m still exploring the colours that surround me, my local dye plants. We live in an old water mill surrounded by nature, so when a tree falls down in a storm I gather the bark and leaves. When tansy and St. John’s Wort are flowering in abundance I will go and gather. Right now I’m very interested in using mushrooms as a dye material. It is a whole different story to plants though, I’ll have to get acquainted to the fungi world.

johannis etsyDo you have a favourite plant to dye with? 
Oh yes, many. The first that comes to my mind is birch bark. It smells so good when you cook it and most of the time it makes the most beautiful dusty pinks or golden browns. Then fresh St. John’s Wort flowers. You can dye at least four different colours with it, bright green, golden yellow, orange and maroon. I also find many oak galls on my walks and I love the greys that I can achieve with them.

birkenrinde topfThe fibre for your yarns are all sourced locally to you in northern Germany, can you tell us more about where they come from and how they are made?
Yes, the wool comes from small organic farms in northern and eastern Germany. The farms sometimes only have some sheep to mow the lawn, while others have as many as 200- 300 sheep to produce cheese and meat. I don’t know many of the farmers personally. The wool mill gathers the wool. They sort and scour it (just with plant based soap) and it is then spun. The natural brown wool is from the Frisian milk sheep of my neighbour Anna. She has about 150 sheep and makes the best cheese. Anna is a very inspiring person. She makes everything from the wool of her sheep. Carpets, woven fabric, mattresses and pillows, wall hangings and of course she spins and knits. It is lovely to stand next to her watching the sheep. She can tell a story of every single one of them.

faerberknoeterichHow do you develop a new colour way? Do you start with a specific combination in mind, or is it a happy accident? 
In the beginning there was exploring and many happy accidents. Now I can predict the outcome much better. Still natural dyes are always surprising. Some weeks ago I dyed a colour that I often dye, a best seller, a golden yellow with St. John’s Wort. I made two batches at the same time, doing everything absolutely exact according to my recipe. One batch was golden yellow, and one was green. A beautiful green and I would love to dye it again, but I don’t have a clue what went wrong. I can’t even blame the stars, because I made them at the same time. As a textile designer I work pretty much according to the books when developing a shade card. I make a mood board, then think about which plant can give me which colour.

muehle herbst 1What’s currently on your needles?
Too much. I have the Whinfell sweater of Jenn Steingass from Woods on my needles with my own hand dyed and hand spun yarns. There are mittens for our children with my Rauwerk wool. I’m working on a striped pullover with my #02 yarn. A pair of socks with the Mistletoe pattern by Verena Cohrs. A vest from my #03 yarn. But my favourite project these days is not knitting related. We’re currently renovating our old house and I’m trying to make plant pigments to use in my own wall paint.

Interview with Ann Helen from Garnsurr

Here at Knit With Attitude we are always on the look out for new and exciting companies to work with. Maya was so excited when she met Ann Helen of Garnsurr at the Oslo Knitting Festival in October and heard about their project to help refugee women integrate into Norwegian culture through language courses, gainful employment and social outreach. Garnsurr is the newest yarn in the shop and we are loving all the new fun and exciting colourways.

We were able to ask founder Ann Helen a few questions about why she started the business, and the inspiration and women that keeps it going. You can find the Garnsurr yarns in our webshop.

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Where and how do you source the yarns that you work with?
We buy all our yarn from Chester Wool in the UK and the yarns originate from Peru.

06_nyh_Garnsurr4What does social integration mean, and how have you built your business around it?
Social integration means that we try to help refugees in our area to become a real part of the community. That means in every way – both creative, workwise and social. This also means that we always have to work with the social part of our business, not only the business side. I use quite a lot of my time  helping them handle their personal economy, and other problems they encounter in our society. This comes in addition to the dying job and language training.

How has Garnsurr been received by the wider community in Norway?
We’re quite young in our business life, but have been very well recieved both at Bergen and Oslo Knitting Festivals. The local community is also very supportive,  we get a lot of emails and comments on our project from all over the country. We’re quite overwhelmed by this support.

IMG_20170613_212159_766Can you tell us a about the women that are currently dying with Garnsurr?
We have three women at Garnsurr at the moment working full time. The first one is Akberet, 50 years old from Eritrea. She became a widow earlier this year, and she has five almost grown up children. Three are living in Norway, a daughter in Sweden and a son in Germany. She is the most experienced dyer at Garnsurr at the moment. Second is the single mother Leila, 35 years from Afghanistan. She has four children from 9 to 14 years old. She has a wonderufl devotion for Garnsurr, and her tremendous spirit inspires us all every day. The third lady is called Hawa, 45 years old  from Somalia. She has a real big family, she has given birth to thirteen children, but only eight are alive. She has a special eye for colour, and gives a lot of our colourways a real “african” touch.

Recently we also got another women from Eritrea, who will have language practice with us one or two days a week.

IMG_20170929_105521How do you develop a new colourway with your dyers? Do you start with a specific combination in mind, or is it a happy accident?
The Garn Surr ladies decide most of the colours nowadays. Some days I wish for colours, and they try to make what I dream about. Sometimes we also make “happy accidents” on purpose – just to try out new techniques and ideas that appear in the team. Most of our time goes to turn on the “sold out” signs in our webshop, and make deliveries for our stockists.

2-7What’s currently on your needles?
At the moment, I’m about to finish Cobaltoan hat by Lesley Ann Robinson from Pom Pom magazine 23. The brioche pattern is my first, and I really enjoy it. I’ve sadly made a mistake on one side of the hat, but I close my eyes and forgive myself! I’ve also just finished another hat by Stephen West – Syncopation Adoration which is just waiting for the ends to be woven in. A jacket by Pickles (a very fashionable yarnstore in Oslo which we are collaborating with), “Big Nore” is just waiting for buttons. The very next project on my needles is Comfort fade cardi by Andrea Mowry – I will attend her KAL in December, and all of my earlier projects in November are also parts of our #garnsurrKAL which started the 1st of November and ends on Christmas Eve. As you see – I knit as much as I can!

What George Knits – Knitting with Nature

We have a lovely selection of natural dye products, books and yarn in store at Knit with Attitude and this has inspired some natural dying of my own.

I can’t recommend highly enough the two books we stock on natural dying. These make great go to resources on the magic of nature and the variety of colours at your fingertips. The two books we have are ‘The Modern Natural Dyer’ by Kristine Vejar and ‘Botanical Colour at your Fingertips’ by Rebecca Desnos. Not only are these books so stunningly beautiful, but they present themselves in a easy to follow way. Everyone should have a go!

My first attempt at dying was to dye yarn. I chose an un-dyed merino as my base, but any un-dyed yarn we have in store will work for you. Like the white Knit by Numbers KBN55 or the undyed Purl Alpaca Fine and Medium yarns. It does however help if the yarn is in a skein, as this allows the dye to move around the fibre more easily, resulting in a more even colour. Though turning a ball of yarn into a skein can be done by winding it around the back of a dining chair for example, then tying it in places so it doesn’t tangle, then sliding it off. Also to note as I found out later, different yarns can effect the colour, so I would try all sorts.

I dipped in and out of both books for my first attempt, choosing the scouring and mordanting techniques of Kristine Vejar, I prepared my yarn. With that done I flicked through the Rebecca Desnos book for plant inspiration. Botanical Colour at your Finger tips is more of a guide book, where as with the Modern Natural Dyer you learn through fun little projects. So
depending on the way you learn either could work for you.

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For my first dye I decided on using stinging nettles, hoping for a wonderful grassy green. So off I went, armed with some thick gardening gloves and a large plastic bag. I popped to my local woods, where they grow plentifully along the sides of the pathways. I will say as Rebecca Desnos points out, be mindful when foraging, collect weeds and invasive species
first and not in the same area, to not destroy the habitats of the wildlife that live there. Walking around the woods like a madman I collected my nettles and with my bag full and only being stung once, I headed home. With an old pan bought from a charity shop specially for the job, I boiled up my leaves. One thing I will say, boiling nettles does smell very appetising. The whole flat smelt very strongly of nettle tea.

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When strained of the plant matter, I was left with a pot of what looked like a pan of overly stewed brown watery tea. Not disheartened I carried on and in went my prepared yarn. The whole process is like alchemy or witchcraft and I left my yarn bubbling away in its nettle broth. When the allotted time was up I pulled it out and guess what it was green! All be it a very pale shade of green. But it was my green, my first naturally dyed yarn. Its a great feeling having created something that is unique to you and unique to your surroundings. Its from the earth, its nature.

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As you could well imagine I was excited to knit it up straight away. I chose the Arvia Shawl from Amirisu 13 which champions natural colour and has some interesting articles worth a read.

Intrigued by the dying process and how it might react to different fibres I tried another dye. This time oak galls, which I read historically were used to create inks. So the potential for a dark moody colour really got me excited.

0706Back to the woods I head and like a pig rooting around for truffles, I scour the forest floor for the deformed acorns that are caused by the gall wasp. These boiled up with an intriguing woody smell and the dye pot looked as dark as can be. All good so far. I sieved out the galls and popped in un-dyed merino, a new wool and some mohair and waited for the
results. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting a dark brown but got an olive green with subtlety different shades over the different fibres. The Modern Natural Dyer has a project where you make a shawl out of dyed different fibres and you learn through the process. A pattern for me to try in the future I think.

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My latest dying attempt and actually what hooked me into The Modern Natural Dyer book, wasn’t a project to dye yarn but to dye fabric. Kristine Vejar takes you through all the steps you need. I chose a natural piece of fabric and prepared it to her instructions. Then went rummaging around my garden for any brightly coloured flowers I could find, luckily I went a
bit overboard with the flower beds this year so there were plenty to choose from. If you don’t have a garden, try a brightly coloured bunch of flowers from the shop. Certain flowers work better than others but its worth a try. I may plant more dye heavy flowers next year as a result of this, like cosmos and marigolds.

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Boiling up my flowery bundle and then unravelling my finished fabric was pure joy. Some flowers took and some didn’t but the result was beautiful. Like a watercolour painting or an ink blot test. Definitely one to try again.

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If you fancy having a go at dying yourself we also have natural dying kits by Hey Mama Wolf. These have the materials you need to dye fabric or yarn with dried flowers and plants at home. If natural dying doesn’t appeal to you and you love the natural look of plant dyed fibres then try the Hey Mama Wolf sock yarn we stock. They are hand dyed with a dreamy
selection of natural materials. As a result they have a range of colours that are gentle and pleasing to the eye as the natural environment they came from.

Yarn Pairings for Rib Issue 3 – Alchemy

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We are getting all the autumn issues into the shop, and we couldn’t be more excited. It’s sweater weather! One of the issues that has just arrived is Rib Issue 3 – Alchemy. This all menswear magazine is going from strength to strength, and we love being able to represent knitting patterns for more people. As always we have done our pairing for this issue to help inspire your needles for new projects with yarn for the shop.

The first pattern is also the cover model, Alchemy Pullover by Lars Rains. This colour work pullover comes with options to knit it with either 5 or 10 colours in the yoke. The colourwork moves effortlessly through shades, and can be a great way to work and ombre effect, or move between colours depending on the shades chosen. There’s only one yarn we would choose for this pattern, it’s got to be Knit By Numbers from John Arbon! This yarn comes with 6 shades for each colour that move from light to dark, and we’ve just added 2 more shades to bring our total colour options up to nearly 50!

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Next up is the Háls Cowl, by Ella Gordon. This colourwork cowl or snood features a small and simple all over geometric pattern that looks best with two contrasting colours. We would love to see it knit up in The Fibre Co. Cumbria, a great yarn for colourwork.

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The Isometric Scarf is the second accessory in the issue, designed by Alice Caetano. The texture of the pattern is achieved with modular sections of horizontal and vertical rib, with i-cord details. For a cozy version that will keep it’s owner warm all winter, we recommend the Almerino Aran, a wool and alpaca blend.

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The second sweater of the issue is the Protean Pullover by Fiona Ellis, featuring her signature cabled look,  This v-neck sweater has a cabled panel down the front and the back. We think that a yarn like Spud & Chloë Sweater work show off the cables beautifully.

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The Revolution Watch Cap by Cecelia Campochiaro has a stitch pattern that echoes the one used in the Isometric Scarf. The zig zag pattern is made entirely with knit and purl stitches. For a rustic look we would love to see this knit up in Stolen Stitches Nua.

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Last but not least is the Tetrahedron Socks, designed by Amy Meeks. The absolutely perfect yarn for these socks would be Socks Yeah! of course! These use a contrast colour on the heels and toes which works perfectly with the 50g skeins of Socks Yeah! and lots of colours to choose from.

Interview with Layla from Qing Fibre

We have been so enjoying having Qing Fibre in the shop this summer, the bright colours are so much fun! It’s been flying off the shelves and onto everyone’s needles, but we recently got a restock and some new colourways in. We asked Layla, the brains and head dyer at Qing Fibre to answer a few questions that we have about her inspiration and of course, all about her beautiful yarn!

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How long have you been knitting?

My grandma was very good at knitting/crocheting and sewing, so I guess I was inspired by her since I was a little girl. I started crocheting and knitting in 2012 and I found peace by doing these crafts. It helped me to get through many difficulties.

What inspired you to get into dying?
I studied art design at university and so I can do some painting. I taught myself how to dye yarn in 2016 and started Qing Fibre. It’s my happy place to try different methods to paint colours on yarn. And I feel so much joy watching people knit with them.

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 You are originally from China, do you find that there is a different colour aesthetic in Asia than in Europe? Does this influence your dying? 
In China people love red, yellow and some vintage colours. But I myself am a little bit different, I’m a neon lover. I also love all the happy colourful colours and antique colours. I sometimes translate some classic old Chinese colours into my kind of colours.
 Qing-Fibre-4Are there any knitters in the community that inspire you?
There are so many great designers that have inspired me, I love Joji Knits, Junko Okamoto, Hansigurumi, and Stephen West is the King of knitters! I love all the fun and colourful designs from him. Sometimes I dye a new colourway just for a West Knits project. So he is truly my inspiration.

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 How do you develop a new colour way? Do you start with a specific combination in mind, or is it a happy accident? 

I’ll start with a combination in mind and also just dye it sometimes. I find interesting colour combos in everything and I’m eager to try them in the future.

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 What’s currently on your needles?
Currently I’m knitting the Marled Magic Shawl, a So Faded Sweater and am trying to knit something without a pattern. I’m also going to knit one of the sweater designs from Junko.

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Thanks so much Layla! You can see the Qing Fibre yarns we currently have in stock on the website or in the shop. For more yarn inspiration you can follow Layla on Instagram, which is where all these photos are from.