Tangled Yarn: shop profile

It’s been a while since we’ve had a shop profile on the blog and I was missing them. I thought it might be nice to profile an online shop again, especially as THAT time of year is quickly approaching! Tangled Yarn is a fantastically well-rounded online yarn store in the UK – although they ship internationally too – and have a reputation for excellent customer service. Read on for my interview with owner Rachel Owen who tells us more about her shop, her customers, and her yarns!

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Distractions on a Thursday

The weather has been perfectly horrid the last couple of days in London. It’s chucking it down again. I’ve been trying to get work done but the grey skies and rain are so dreary that I confess I’ve been far better employed having a little play on Ravelry.

I'm pleased with the progress on my own Shadowlines. If there's anything this weather is good for, it's staying inside and knitting!

I’m pleased with the progress on my own Shadowlines. If there’s anything this weather is good for, it’s staying inside and knitting!

The Cosy Cables KAL for Umbra and Shadowlines are ticking along nicely. I’m actually rather pleased with the progress on my own Shadlowlines, in spite of the yarn being hard work on my hands. In any case, checking in with the KAL sent me down the rabbit hole of seeing what other projects people have knit from Knit Play Colour – either related to a KAL or not. The projects and photos I’ve found have cheered me up immensely on this grey day and I hope they do the same for you. (Tip: Click the photos to go through to project pages on Ravelry). Continue reading

For the love of wool

On the web this month it’s been a celebration of all this wool thanks to Wovember – the brainchild of Kate Davies, Felicity Ford, Tom of Holland and Louise Scollay. This online, grassroots movement pledges to ” show our collective appreciation of WOOL by wearing as much of this fabulous fibre as possible, and celebrating WOOL and its unique qualities in stories and pictures throughout the month of November. We hope that through our enthusiasm and creativity we can raise awareness of WHAT MAKES WOOL DIFFERENT, and jointly create a force for WOOL APPRECIATION strong enough to effect changes in how garments and textiles are described and marked.”

I’m absolutely in love with the texture on Justyna’s jumper pattern

Naturally, the worthy cause and excuse to knit with wool combined with the time of year and dropping temperatures makes Wovember a big hit amongst the knitting set. It’s also been a great excuse for me to wrap up my Threads sweater by Justyna Lorkowsa that I bought the yarn for from Eden Cottage when I was at Yarndale. I am completely in love with the rich purple of the colour and looking forward to a new woolly jumper now that there’s a nip in the air on the school run most mornings.

Or rather, I would wrap up my Threads jumper if I wasn’t being completely distracted by the yumminess of the aran-weight Shilasdair lambswool that I’ve liberated from deep stash to knit a version of the Shadowlines wrap FOR MYSELF as part of the Cosy Cables KAL that is now in full swing in the Inspiration Knits Ravelry group:

Shilasdair aran naturally dyed on the Isle of Skye from deep stash for a Shadowlines all of my own!

Knitting with the Shilasdair yarn will tick a number of boxes for me as part of the Wovember challenge. It’s wool, for a start. But it’s also naturally dyed and produced right here in the UK on the Isle of Skye. I love the story behind this yarn – the company was started by a woman who was dyeing her own yarns to use in her weaving but so many of her knitting friends saw it and asked her to dye yarns for them and before she knew it she was dyeing full time! I think it’s incredibly important in our yarn-y community to ask questions about where our materials come from so that we can be making informed decisions about the yarns we choose to buy and work with. Just like you might know more about the clothes you’re buying and wearing, or the food you’re eating and how far it’s traveled to your table, more and more knitters are beginning to ask about the provenance of the yarn that they’re buying.

I’m a big fan of buying local, especially when it comes to yarns. Here are a few of my woolly favourites from right here in the UK:

  • Countess Ablaze – In addition to the Countess’ luxury-blend offerings she also has a number of bases that are British wool spun right here in the UK. There’s The Bluefaced Baron – a 100% Bluefaced Leicester yarn – and then the more unusual but also breed-specific The Hebridean Knight and Right Honourable Ronaldsay. Both are made from 100% Scottish wool sourced and spun in the UK from Black Hebridean and North Ronaldsay sheep, respectively. What I really appreciate about the Countess is that she’s anticipated knitters asking questions about the source of her yarns and has captured all of the info on a chart about her yarn bases. She also mentions if something is a regular base that she dyes on, or if it’s less frequent – making it a little more rare and special, perhaps?
  • Triskelion Yarn and Fibre – Indie dyer Triskelion does his dyeing in Wales and like the Countess uses a number of different bases. He doesn’t use the same chart system but does note if a yarn is from British sources and if it’s spun in the UK. This is a good distinction to note as some British yarns (just like any sources) can be spun elsewhere such as Italy and then brought back to the UK. Although I’m not always a fan of single, Triskelion’s rich, jewel tones shine particularly well on his Gwyn fingering weight – a singles yarn that is a mix of superwash BFL and Falklands merino. The yarn is 100% from British sources and spun in Yorkshire.
  • West Yorkshire Spinners  – My favourite from the West Yorkshire spinners was used for one of the “play” swatches for Shadowlines – their Bluefaced Leicester Aran. WYS have a number of British breed yarns including Jacobs and Wensleydale. What’s particularly nice about these yarns are that they are undyed and only come in the natural colours of the sheep. Projects worked up in these natural yarns will a lovely, earthy quality to them.

I confess that my knowledge of yarns local to you on the other side of the pond is extremely limited but here are two that are from the United States that I’d like to try:

  • Brooklyn Tweed – I feel like Jared Flood’s yarn has set the standard for a designer creating their own yarn! The story behind the yarn is truly wonderful and shows the passion that this company has for sourcing and producing their yarn at home in the US. What is fascinating to me about this yarn is the process of how the wool is dyed first, then blended with other shades before it is spun to create unique, heathered shades.
  • Swans Island Company – Originally started as a handmade woven blankets company, Swans Island is one one of four organic mills in the US and keeps strict standards to maintain their organic certification. Their process and values is an inspiring read – I love their ethos and would love to try this yarn.

Whatever is on your needles right now – I hope it’s wool! And if you’re on the other side of the pond I’d love to hear about local-to-you yarns that you enjoy working with. Please let me know in the comments!

PS – Congratulations to Wendiwooknits, the Instagram winner of our Eden Cottage Yarns Whitfell DK and Drift giveaway from last week! 

PPS – with apologies to the wool-allergic. Sorry this isn’t your month.

Yarn review and a giveaway: Eden Cottage Yarns Whitfell DK and Drift collection

I’m cracking on with work and some new design ideas to so have handed the blog reigns over to Alli today to review Eden Cottage Yarns‘ gorgeous Whitfell DK yarn. I’ve always had a special soft spot for alpaca and it was delicious to work with on my Deco Swirl design for Eden Cottage Yarns’ latest collection Drift. Read on for our full review, and a chance to win a digital copy of Drift and three balls of Whitfell DK to knit your own Deco Swirl – or other pattern from the collection!

Deco Swirl - part of the Drift collection curated by Eden Cottage Yarns

Deco Swirl – part of the Drift collection curated by Eden Cottage Yarns. Photo courtesy of Eden Cottage Yarns.

Eden Cottage Yarns – Whitfell DK
100% baby alpaca
109 yds / 100 m per 50 g ball
3.5 mm – 4.5 mm needles
Handwash only, lay flat to dry

I first came across Eden Cottage Yarns’ Whitfell DK as they quietly launched it at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Ally Pally in 2014. I was completely captivated by these tiny treasures of colour and softness and just wanted to bundle them up as sweeties in a jar to gaze at longingly. Sadly, I didn’t have a project in mind for them but added them to my list of yarns to keep in mind for the future.

Seven of the nine colours of Whitfell DK.

Seven of the nine colours of Whitfell DK. Photo courtesy of Eden Cottage Yarns.

Cue almost a year later to Victoria’s launch of the Drift collection on her stand at Yarndale this past September which solved my problem of needing to find the perfect project for this year. I happily jumped off the Cold Sheep wagon I’d been on and bought both the book and the yarn – and I’ve been enjoying them ever since.

Whitfell DK is one of Eden Cottage Yarns’ four commercial lines, making it an affordable alternative to their hand-dyed range. The colours are solid and Whitfell DK has a simple palette of nine colours. The yarn makes up for it’s lack of hand-dyed subtlety with brighter colour options than one tends to see on alpaca fibres. Or at least that I’ve seen! With so many options everywhere now for hand-dyed yarn it was quite a departure for me to be working with a yarn where the colour is consistent throughout.

Deco Swirl - close up

Just look at that stitch definition! Photo courtesy of Eden Cottage Yarns.

The great thing about consistent colour though, is how wonderful it is for stitch definition. Each individual stitch is clearly defined, making even the most ordinary stocking stitch pleasing to the eye. My project would probably be knitting up faster if I didn’t keep stopping to admire it, or petting it with it’s soft halo!

My own WIP from the Drift collection. I am in love with this colour!

My own WIP from the Drift collection. I am in love with this colour!

So let’s chat about the softness, shall we? It’s really, truly glorious. If I thought the baby alpaca fibres were soft in the ball, they’re even softer knit up. While they’re not quite akin to cashmere, I’d venture to say that they’re pretty close! It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve been knitting garter stitch too. The resulting fabric is cuddly and bouncy and just wants to be smooshed. My only tiny quibble is that the yarn is loosely spun and has split a couple of times when I wasn’t paying enough attention. But that’s more my fault for not following my knitting more closely – and for using very sharp needles. Like I said, it’s a tiny quibble!

Another happy thing about Whitfell DK: it comes in the ball so there’s no winding from a skein to hinder you from casting on right away. And the price point of £7 per ball means it won’t break the bank. In fact, if you haven’t knit with baby alpaca before, it’s the perfect way to try it out and give it a taste! The smallest size of the fingerless Hardcastle mittens by Louise Tilbrook in Drift can be knit from a single ball.

A selection of patterns from Drift. Clockwise from top left: Hardcastle by Louise Tilbrook, Pimm's Cup by Thea Colman, Swale by Karie Westermann and Turbine by Justyna Lorkowska.

A selection of patterns from Drift. Clockwise from top left: Hardcastle by Louise Tilbrook, Pimm’s Cup by Thea Colman, Swale by Karie Westermann and Turbine by Justyna Lorkowska. Photos courtesy of Eden Cottage Yarns.

Which takes us nicely into chatting about Drift, a collection curated by Eden Cottage Yarns as pattern support for Whitfell DK. The book contains 12 patterns that run the gamut from accessories to garments and from a wonderful collection of well-known designers including Thea Colman, Justyna Lorkowska, Karie Westermann and Asa Tricosa, among others. Flipping through the pattern photos is like a dreamy walk in the woods and fields of Yorkshire and the location captures the understated beauty of this yarn. Whitfell DK is really best appreciated once you’ve knit and worn it.

Wrapping up – Whitfell DK is a lovely luxury yarn at an affordable price. Projects worked up in this yarn will be loved for their softness and heirloom quality. Use it to work up projects with cables, lace or other specialty stitches where you want them to be the focus and let this yarn work for you to show them off. Whitfell DK would also be lovely for special gifts – as long as the knitworthy recipient is okay with handwashing! I’m sure they’ll find it’s worth it…

How would you like to win a digital copy of Drift and three balls of Whitfell DK? This time we’re running a competition on Instagram. To enter, follow me on Instagram @Inspirationknits regram the competition image that you’ll find in my image feed and tag it with @inspirationknits #IKdecoswirl We’ll choose a regram randomly and announce the winner on Tuesday, 10th November.

And if you’d like to continue Drift-ing along – Eden Cottage Yarns have a Drift KAL happening on their board on Ravelry happening now until 18th January. Plenty of time to work up something snuggly for yourself!