Woollen or Worsted?

Woollen or worsted? You may or may not have come across these terms before, they sound like so many others in the knitting world. Woollen does not necessarily mean something that is wooly and worsted is not just a yarn weight found commonly in America. What I’m talking about here is the way the yarn is spun. Woollen and worsted spun yarns have very different properties and are great for different projects. But how do you identify them and what are they good for. It’s taken me a while to puzzle that out but I will share with you what I have learnt.

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There are two distinct ways in which fibre is spun into yarn and this twist gives different qualities, from plumpy and fibrous to strong and smooth. The shelves of Knit With Attitude contain a selection of all these types and hopefully after reading this post you will be able to identify them.

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Woolen examples above are Kettle Yarn Ramble and The Fibre Co. Lore.

Woollen

Woollen spun yarns are lighter and airier, are a lot more squishy and often fuzzier or more fibrous. The twist is often quite loose and the yarn has less strength. Woolen spun yarns are carded and the fibres spread out evenly but they are not combed and don’t all lie in one direction. They face all directions creating the bouncy airy quality. This process also does not remove fibres of different lengths, which gives you a yarn with more of a halo and more likely to bloom after washing. As they are not combed to remove the shorter fibres you often find bits of hay and vegetation within the yarn.

Woollen spun yarns have these qualities:

  • It is warmer due to more air trapped in the fibre.
  • This airy trapping along with the irregular direction of the fibres creates a plump squishy yarn.
  • It’s more likely to bloom and have a halo due to the various fibre lengths, this may give slightly less definition to textural stitches.
  • It is much lighter but weaker than worsted spun yarns

How do you identify a woolen yarn? Characteristics to look for are: Light bouncy twist, irregular ply, more fibrous with a halo or fuzzy, squishy. It’s a great yarn if you are looking for something warm and cosy with a softer definition and less drape.

worsted-web Worsted examples above are John Arbon Knit by Numbers and Hey Mama Wolf Schaffewolle #03.

Worsted

Worsted spun yarns are denser and strong, they are often smoother, closely plied and lustrous. Worsted spun yarns have an extra process which involves aligning the fibres and combing out shorter hairs. This leaves you with an even fibre with a tight twist, where air is squeezed out. This results in a yarn that is much stronger and denser, owing to the alignment and evening out of the fibres and less likely to bloom or be fuzzy because of this. All this gives you great definition and drape.

Worsted spun yarns have these qualities:

  • Great stitch definition due to tight twist and even fibres.
  • A smooth even yarn with less halo.
  • Strong due to the longer fibres and less air between them.
  • Often softer due to smaller fibres being removed.
  • Not as warm as woollen due to being denser.

How do you identify a worsted yarn? Characteristics to look for are: A tight even twist, very little halo or fuzz, more lustrous, denser. It’s a great yarn if you are looking for superb definition and durability and more drape.

Needle in a Yarn Shop – Knitting needles and their materials

Wood, bamboo, metal, carbon fibre! At Knit With Attitude we stock a variety needle types made from all sorts of different materials, but what to choose? In this post I will talk a little bit about the different materials and what qualities they have.

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We do four different types of needles in Wood, Bamboo, Metal and Carbon. In these we have circulars, double points and straights. Let’s take a closer look at each type.

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Metal

Metal needles are probably quite familiar to most of us. They are strong, durable and super smooth. This smoothness makes them a good go to when tackling most yarns, from the fibrous to the smooth, as stitches glide with ease. This makes for speedier knitting.

Metal are one of the pointiest, making them great for projects that involve a lot of decreases or picking up, as the point is perfect for slipping between stitches. That being said yarns that tend to split like ones that are loosely plied can be easily split by the pointedness of the metal needles.

Metal is one of the heaviest and hardest, this makes them more durable but can also cause hand fatigue with some people over long periods of time.

In the range of metal needles we stock are the Knit Pro Zings. These strong and smooth needles are colour coded to easily identify between sizes. They all have bright silver tips which stand out against your projects. We sell the 35cm Straights, the 20cm DPN’s and fixed Circulars in 40 or 80cm’s. Along with the Knit Pro, Soft Grip Metal Crochet Hooks.

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Bamboo

Next we have bamboo, bamboo is softer and more yielding in the hands than metal. Not to say bendy, but with a little bit more bounce which can make them more comfortable in the hands. Also much lighter than metal so when working on heavier projects you are less likely to feel weighed down.

One quality of bamboo that really sets it apart from metal is their grippyness. By that I mean the slight textural nature of Bamboo holds the yarn but doesn’t snag. This makes them the perfect needles for slippery yarns like silks and bamboo fibre.  Their grippyness gives you more control so stitches are less likely to slip off, or the needle sliding off and flying across the room. This is definitely a bonus if you are knitting with DPN’s. In this regard they are perfect for beginners who are just getting to grips with the basics. Slightly less pointed than Metal, so less likely to split looser yarns.

In Bamboo needles we Stock Clover 33cm Straights, 20cm DPN’s and Fixed Circulars in 60 and 80cms. As well as Bamboo Crochet Hooks.

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Wood

Wood sits between bamboo and metal when it comes to hardness, weight and grip on the yarn. Wood are warmer in the hands with a little bit more weight than Bamboo. Great for those who are looking for a more comfortable alternative to metal with slightly less grip than Bamboo. Wood are great all round needle and work well with most yarns. Similarly not as pointy to avoid splitting, but pointy enough to cope with complicated knitting projects.

Wood like bamboo are not as strong as metal so smaller sizes are more likely to snap from careless use. But well looked after will reward you with hours of comfortable knitting.

In wood we stock Knit Pro Symfonie range, a strong and durable needle made from laminated birch in attractive multicolours. We have 30cm Straights, 20/15cm DPN’s and Interchangeable Tips in short and standard sizes, which work with the Knit Pro Cables.

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Carbon

Lastly we come to the carbon knitting needles. These are made from carbon fibre. Carbon fibre gives you one of the strongest needles you will find, its also used in aircraft making and spaceships. Strength is not the only quality carbon fibre has, it is also supple, with a slight give making them more comfortable to hold. They are also warmer to touch and lighter in the hand, also contributing to a comfortable knit. They work really well when it comes to using smaller sizes because of this. Carbon fibre is smooth but with a very slight grip on the yarn, allowing stitches to glide with ease but also giving you control. Perfect for working on smaller projects or DPN’s. The carbon fibre needles we stock have brass metal tips giving them a flawlessly point which is helpful when doing more complicated work.

In carbon we stock Knit Pro Karbonz a strong durable carbon fibre needle with pointy brass tips. We have 30cm Straights,15cm DPN’s and Interchangeable Tips in short and standard sizes, which work with the Knit Pro Cables.

Knit a Rainbow – Yellow

Here at Knit with attitude colour is one of the most debated topics. So instead of doing a fibre or brand feature, I thought I would do little colour ones instead. So this post bypasses projects and specific yarn weights and lets us just love colour. Hopefully if you have a favourite colour in mind, or just looking for that right shade, this will give you some inspiration. Did you know you can search our website by colour as well?

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Continuing with the classic rainbow order, we move from orange on to yellow! Yellow sits between orange and green in the visible spectrum. Sometimes seeming more green -certainly in the case of the overdyed grey base of the Tinde or in the neon tones of the Hedgehog Fibres. At its darker, warmer end, it touches on orange and browns and at its lightest, fades into a buttery creaminess. It’s a warm colour, a colour of optimism. A colour of summer, the colour of sunflowers!

So here we have them, my pick of the yellows. For more details of each brand look below. Or if you would like to search out your own yellow, follow this link to the orange section of our website: YELLOW.

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Fyberspates – Scrumptious 4ply in 325 Daffodil – 4ply/Sport 100g – 55% Superwash Merino, 45% Silk. This 4-ply merino and silk blend yarn is a must for your favourite projects, and with its tight twist and superb stitch definition it will show off techniques like cables and lace spectacularly.

Garnsurr – Søkke Merino in Sneivin – 4ply 100g – 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon. Garnsurr is a social integration project for refugee women. Enabling women through learning the language and the wonderful creative art of hand dyeing.

Garnsurr – Pan in Sneivin – DK 100g – 70% Buck Moahir, 30% Dallasheep. Garnsurr is a social integration project for refugee women. Enabling women through learning the language and the wonderful creative art of hand dyeing.

Nuturing Fibres – Eco-Lush in Sunglow – 4ply 50g – 40% Bamboo, 60% Cotton. Eco-Lush is a 40/60 blend of bamboo and cotton yarn that can be used for everything from cardigans to blankets. The cotton and bamboo are locally grown and while not certified organic, they have been farmed within these principles.

Nuturing Fibres – Eco-Cotton in Sunglow – DK 50g – 100% Cotton. Nurturing Fibres Eco-Cotton is a soft cotton with a lovely stitch definition suitable to properly show off your favourite crochet and knitting projects.

The Fibre Co. – Luma in Goldenmosa – DK 50g – 50% Merino, 25% Cotton, 15% Linen and 10% Silk. A classic DK weight yarn. Plant-based fibres mixed with silk and wool provide a built-in layer of warmth in winter yet lightness when required in warmer temperatures.

Coopknits – Socks Yeah DK in 215 Sphene – DK 50g – 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon. Socks Yeah! DK is a fabulous, hardwearing yarn with a high twist and a brilliant stitch definition in a gorgeous palette of 10 colours.

Växbo Lin – Lingarn in Yellow– 4ply 100g – 100% Linen. This 100% natural pure linen yarn, traditionally grown and spun in Sweden, is certified with the Swedish Good Environmental Choice label (Bra Miljöval) because of its durability and environmentally friendly processing.

Hedgehog Fibres – Skinny Singles in Highlighter – 4ply 100g – 100% Merino. Squishy and soft, with the right amount of twist! This yarn will work for any lace pattern, especially Stephen West designs for fingering/4Ply weight yarns.

G-uld – alpaca in KWA17 – 4ply 50g – 100% Alpaca. Naturally dyed and oh so soft alpaca yarn from G-uld.

John Arbon – Knit by Numbers in KBN54 – DK 100g – 100% Merino. An exciting range of double knit organically farmed Merino, spun in a colour palette that aims to provide knitters with the precise shade they require.

Fyberspates – Vivacious DK in 804 Sunshine – DK 100g – 100% Superwash Merino. A high twist superwash Merino, hand dyed in Peru and spun to perfection as a light weight multipurpose yarn perfect for kids wear.

The Fibre Co. – Lore in Happiness – DK 100g – 100% Kent Lambswool. Lore is a 100% Lambswool, an honest woollen spun DK weight yarn that blooms into a beautiful knitted fabric after washing.

Hillesvåg – Tinde in 2119 Gul – DK 100g – 100% Norwegian Pelsullgarn. Traditionally spun by the family owned mill Hillesvåg, in lustrous Norwegian Pelt wool, Tinde is an DK weight yarn in a colour palette which richness is unlike anything else.

Blue Sky Fibres – Alpaca Sport in Buttercup – Sport 50g – 100% Baby Alpaca. A 100% baby alpaca yarn with a high sheen and springy softness with an excellent stitch definition that creates an amazing drape.

Du Store Alpaca – Hexa in 932 – Aran 50g – 100% Alpaca. This alpaca yarn is made from a single strand of twisted fibres knit into an I-cord. Hexa is super-soft and thick, still as lightweight as feathers.

 

Yarn Pairings for Laine Magazine Issue 7

One of our favourites here at Knit With Attitude is Laine. With its sumptuous photography and simply gorgeous designs, it’s not only a book of patterns, but something you can pick up for inspiration again and again. With a host of great designers work between its covers, it will have you itching to start that new project. So what’s a new project without the yarn! In this yarn pairings post I have but together some yarn suggestions from the shelves here at Knit With Attitude. So read on and admire the patterns and start dreaming!

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Also for all of you placing your pre-orders before Laine 7‘s release on the 15th February you will get it for the old price of £20 on the 15th it will go up to £22.

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First up we have Apricite by Kiyomi Burgin. A gorgeously warm looking jumper, which is taking on the massive trend of holding a single strand of mohair lace with another yarn. Giving you the tender halo of a mohair with the strength and body of a base yarn. This jumper is worked flat in pieces from the bottom up. A relaxed drop shoulder shape, with a simple lace detail that runs along the front and back and is carried along the sleeves. Understated, but with a few details to keep the knitter interested. A fairly simple knitting project that would please anyone who is daunted by seamless construction. This pattern would look great in a combination of the heathered tones of the Fibre Co. Lore and the lovely floaty Hedgehog Fibres Kid Silk Lace. Plus you get the fun of combining two interesting fibres.

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Next up is Bohus by Carol Feller. This jumper is inspired by Bohus Knitting, a Swedish knitting cooperative active between 1939 and 1969. Designed to be one of those comfy slouchy jumpers you have to be forced out of on cold days. The coloured yoke features an interesting purl detail between colour transitions to create a mirage effect. This pattern calls for John Arbon’s Devonia DK, a rich Devon breed blend, which we have in every colour.

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When you think brioche there are two names that spring to mind, thats why Brioche Buddies by Nancy Marchant and Stephen West is so special. A collaboration by brioche royalty, this pattern features an entertaining mix of zig zagging brioche and garter stitch panels. With two size options, it will make the perfect wintery or spring layer. I would choose two contrasting tones of Vivacious 4ply and Hedgehog Fibre Twist Sock, the slight variegation in this yarn mixed with a contrast speckle would make this pattern come alive.

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Calla by Natasja Hornby is a stunning large triangle shawl. Sequences of broken rib alternate with charted lace and cable sections, this is a project for those who like to get their teeth sunk into heavily structured stitches. For a softness you’re neck deserves choose John Arbon’s Knit by Numbers. One of the softest merinos I have felt, although you may take you some time in choosing from all those colours!

laine05Davvi by Aleks Byrd takes its name from Northern Sámi language and means ‘north’. Inspired by the shapes seen in traditional Sámi clothing and woven belts. The chevron shapes echoing the shapes of trees in the forest and the peaks of mountains. Knit in three contrasting colours and featuring an intriguing combination of twisted stitches and colourwork to create a quilted effect. A perfect go to colour work yarn with great grip and definition is Hillesvåg Sølje with a great selection of colours to choose the right combo.

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I can see Eryza by Meiju K-P becoming that go to cardigan you can throw over anything. A warm hug perfect for layering up in a chilly office, or for going on a frosty country walk. This one also takes on the great joys of double stranding, to create a soft fuzzy cloud like texture. Try a solid Socks Yeah DK paired with the fluffy Fyberspates Cumulus in a complimentary or even contrasting colour.

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Kouhei by Whitney Hayward is a wide embracing cardigan. Simple but classic. An easy shape to knit and wear. Its worked from the bottom up, flat, until the underarm, where the fronts and back are separated and worked flat until the shoulder. Knit this one in a warm Hillesvåg Blåne.

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Laemmin by Renate Kamm, a simple waistcoat/vest that has an overall pleasing checkerboard texture and nice small cable details on the back. A generous neckline and clean shape, go together to make for understated elegance. Worked flat and trimmed with a neat i-cord edge, it would make a great layer under a jacket or over a shirt. Knit this one in the new Kate Davies Àrd-Thìr which would give great stitch definition.

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What a stunning colour work garment this is. Marit by Kristin Drysdale features an all over fair isle pattern in three colours. This cardigan lets you have a go at one of knittings scariest techniques, steeking! The centre opening and armholes all use steeking, which I might add is great fun and less scary than you imagine. I good toothy yarn that grips well is good for this project, get stuck into the wide colour palette of Hillesvåg Sølje.

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I love the simple boxy shape of Nerea by Lærke (Fiber Tales). It also has an interesting construction. Knit sideways, in two halves, beginning from the sleeve cuff moving on to the body and seamed down the front using Russian grafting. A technique that uses a crochet hook, which I think makes for a pleasing detail down the front. Effortlessly minimal and topped off with a feathery calliper cable along the sleeves. I would knit this in John Arbon’s Devonia DK.

laine11Who would say no to a luscious over sized scarf. Especially one so simple but so effective. Rambla by Alejandra Pont, knit in bands of alternating knits and purls makes it reversible and a great beginner project. When I think luscious, I always think of Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply, its silk and merino blend the perfect thing for wearing next to our skin.

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Talla by Dami Hunter is a two colour cowl project, making use of the mosaic technique. A fun way of building up a colour work project while only knitting one colour per row. This way minimising a twisty mess that can sometime result from some two colour projects. Try the soft Vivacious 4ply for its undulating colours and pick two with a nice contrast.

I hope you enjoy this issue and have fun choosing your yarns for this issue. It certainly feels like a wintery instalment, with an overriding colour theme of blues and greys set against the snowy landscape. I think that’s why there seems to be a lot of oversized projects here, one that you want to wrap up in and keep the cold out.

 

New Yarn: Àrd-Thìr by Kate Davies Designs

It’s a pleasure to introduce Àrd-Thìr a new Aran weight yarn by Kate Davies in collaboration with one of our favourite yarn producers Fyberspates. It will not disappoint, such an amazing colour range and feels wonderful.

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Àrd-Thìr means Highlands in Scottish Gaelic and you couldn’t get a better name than that. A combination of 60% Peruvian Highland Wool and 40% Superfine Alpaca, it is produced in the Peruvian Highlands. But it’s colour inspiration comes from the Scottish Highlands. To be more specific the Scottish winter landscape. In 10 shades, Kate Davies says of her colour choice:

‘Our winter landscape is often thought to be drained of colour, but if you look carefully, you’ll discover a mix of many interesting shades: from the deepening russet tones of bracken-covered hillsides to the luminous hues of lichen hanging from bare branches; from the glancing orange glow of sunlight across high rocky peaks to the extraordinarily rich colour of a sealoch under a leaden Februrary sky. Each of the ten shades I’ve designed is a subtle, muted marl; each possesses its own depth and tonal variety; some can be combined into intriguing gradients, and all work together harmoniously as a range.’

This approach to the colours adds a richness and complexity, which would not only be fun to knit, but also produce beautiful knitwear.

Àrd-Thìr is worsted spun aran weight yarn. The combination of fibres make it well rounded, soft and squishy. It feels amazing next to the skin and would be perfect for many garments and accessories. I’m thinking oversized snuggly cabled jumpers or warm textured scarves. It would knit up to make something warm and cosy and would be perfect for textures, cables and colourwork. In 50g (65m/75yd) skeins it is the perfect yarn for when a little bit of a contrast colour or a colour work motif is needed. The possibilities are endless. There is something comforting about having a nice aran weight project on your needles in winter. Quick to knit and satisfying, it makes a change from all those 4ply projects!

Kate Davies has released two patterns for this yarn, so you can drool over them and take some inspiration. One hat and one pullover. This gives you a chance to see how the yarn knits up and maybe start planning that next project.

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The Weel Riggit Pullover is an all over colour work jumper, featuring a simple repeating pattern making the full use of the complimentary tones in Àrd-Thìr. Riggit in Scots and Shetland dialect means “rigged out” or “dressed”. To be “weel riggit” is to be well dressed. What better name can there be for this handsome jumper.

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The Weel Riggit Hat lets you sample the colour combinations of the jumper but in this smaller project. Using 4 skeins in 4 different shades to produce the perfect winter accessory. A fun project for having a play with your favourite colours.

I hope the rich tones in this yarn will help you chase away the winter blues and get knitting something cosy and warm.

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.

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.