I have to start my round up of my Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Hebridean Aran yarn review by confessing to two epic fails. The first one wasn’t really my failure, but my computers. It decided to pop its clogs in quite a dramatic fashion just as I was preparing to write this post. I have a replacement now, however it seems like it’s taken an absolute age to access all my data, and install specialist bits of software.
Then … I lost the swatch. (Leigh looks utter shame-faced and scurries away to hide in a corner.) It was tucked into my bra – and then it wasn’t. So I’m including a photo of my slippers, which have now been worn significantly more than last you saw them.
Can you tell the difference between this and my previous photo? I can’t. I’ve worn these on my feet for several days and can’t see any signs of wear at all. If you’re after a yarn to make a hardworking pair of mittens or slippers, then this is it.
If you’re looking for a yarn to make a warm cowl or hat… lets just say that this wouldn’t be my first choice. It had a prickle factor that I couldn’t ignore. I definitely wouldn’t want this next to my neck or forehead.
I’d hoped to take my swatch and felt it, just to see what sort of fabric it made. Felted mittens are fabulous for making snowballs, and I thought this yarn might work really well for this purpose. Perhaps the swatch was just so petrified by the prospect of this treatment that it decided to go AWOL. I hope this final round up has been useful to you even in its absence.
I purchased Yorkshire Wildlife Trust’s Hebridean Aran yarn a while ago, having seen it on a episode of Fruity Knitting; however it’s taken me a little while to decide what to make with the two balls I had. In the ball the yarn feels quite rustic, and I was loath to put in near my forehead or neck. In the end I really fancied a pair of travel slippers, and this seemed like the best option from the yarns in my stash.
The pattern is Simple House Slippers, which has been really popular on Ravelry recently. I knitted them on 4 mm needles hoping to make a dense, hardwearing fabric. The gauge came out at 18 stitches over 10cm, pretty much perfect for an Aran yarn, and feels really nice. They have a crisp feel, and the fabric has a nice structure. The stitches disappear completely, and there isn’t a lot of stitch definition even in the garter stitch section.
I used the leftovers to make a swatch on 4.5 mm needles, and turned up a gauge of 16 stitches over 10 cm. While the fabric in the swatch has more drape, I prefer the density of the slippers. The tighter gauge would make a lovely warm outer wear garment. The stitch definition was still entirely lost. Can you even see the rows of eyelets? I’m kicking myself for not trying a cable. Although, I suspect the dimensional detail of a twisted stitch pattern would still get lost with this yarn.
The armpit test is in progress, and I’ll be back on Monday to share the results.
This week I have a yarn in my hands that I’m so excited to talk to you about. Firstly, it’s local to me. Secondly, funds from the sale of this yarn support a local charity. And finally, this yarn is a by product of local efforts to manage the environment to support wildlife. I LOVE that the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust have turned a by product of their conservation efforts in to a commodity that supports their flock. There is a lovely section on Ravelry explaining how the Trust use their flock to support conservation, and you can buy the yarn from their online shop. For today, all that’s left is to leave you with the yarn stats.
Yarn weight Aran; Skein weight 50 g; Fibre content 80% Pure Hebridean; Length unspecified; Tension unspecified; Recommended needle unspecified; No. of plys 2; Made in Yorkshire, UK.
I thought I would start the last leg of my Blacker Breeds Jacob yarn review by including a link to The Jacob Sheep Society website. The section on breed information is really interesting; and I love that the shop includes a calendar, so you can have a Jacob sheep for every month of the year.
The armpit test swatch has been travelling about with me for four days now. It does have a slight prickle factor, however it’s not so prickly that I notice it all them time. I probably wouldn’t enjoy this next to my neck, but might put up with it as a hat.
In terms of wear and abrasion – I can’t tell the difference at all. It looks like the same swatch I showed you a few days ago – not so much as a whisker out of place.
All in all, I’m very impressed. The yarn has awesome stitch definition, and I think it would show off cables or lace equally as well. Blacker have it for sale for £7.20 for a 50g ball. A garment for me would be around £80, which is near the top of my normal price range. However, I think this would be well worth the investment. I suspect this yarn will wear like iron, and continue to look smart for many years to come. If you are thinking about knitting a pair of hard wearing mittens, or a wardrobe staple cardigan, it would be a wonderful choice. I really hope that Blacker include it in their standard range.
I’ve been having really good fun swatching with the Blacker Breeds Jacob yarn, that I started chatting about yesterday. They sent me the DK to try out in Purple Clay and Purple Granite.
My first inclination was to use both colours, and cast on for a bit of brioche. This stitch seems to have been absorbed into the realm of hand-dyed merino, so I wanted to give it a whirl with a more robust, woolly yarn. I’m completely smitten with the fabric, and want to resort to descriptors like ‘smooshy’. Blacker Breeds Jacob has a crispness to it, so the yarn will really hold a shape. In brioche the columns of stitches stand up to create that wonderfully insulative double layered fabric that we all love. The fabric feels cosy, and I suspect it would hold its shape and wear well. I knitted my swatch on 3.75 mm needles at a gauge of 17 stitches over 10 cm.
I made two swatches in stocking stitch. The first one (above in Purple Clay) was knitted on 3.25 mm needles, at a gauge of 23 stitches over 10 cm. Weirdly, I knitted the second one (below in Purple Granite) on 3.75 mm needles and arrived at exactly the same gauge. This astounded me because the fabric of each feels quite different. The Purple Granite feels a little softer, and has more drape. How earth I’ve arrived at exactly the same gauge on two different needle sizes is utterly beyond me. (I swear I’ve double checked this about six times now.) I can only put it down to the texture of the fleece in it’s different natural shades. The different coloured fibres, from the same fleece, can vary significantly in fineness and texture.
In the interests of wear and tear testing, I’ve popped one of the swatches into my bra strap for the armpit test. Pop back on Friday to see how it got on.
I’m so excited to talk to you about the new samples that Blacker Yarns sent me before the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. They released their new Blacker Breeds Jacob yarn at the festival, and sent me some to play with.
My first every encounter with Blacker, way back in 2011 at Wonderwool, involved a sweaters quantity of Jacob yarn. It was a woollen spun DK weight yarn, and I used it to make my first CustomFit cardigan. The cardigan is lightweight, has held its shape well, and has never had to be de-pilled. It’s a garment that non-knitters comment on a lot. The fit and the fabric always look smart. The fabric is quite prickly, so it works well for an outer layer.
This new take on a Jacob yarn is quite different. For a start, Blacker have worsted spun the new version. The resulting yarn is much smoother and more dense. It comes in DK and 4 ply (fingering), and the colours are really interesting. Jacobs are a spotty sheep. The folk at Blacker have sorted these multi coloured fleeces to make four natural colours. Then they’ve dyed each of the natural shades in purple, blue, and green. So you end up with sixteen shades that all work really nicely together.
As usual, I’ll start with the yarn specs today, and carry on with my impressions of the yarn in swatching latter this week.
Yarn weight DK; Skein weight 50 g; Fibre content 80% Pure New Wool (consisting entirely of Jacob); Length 110 m; Tension 20 stitches over 10 cm; Recommended needle 4 mm; No. of plys 3; Made in Cornwall, UK.
Yarn weight 4 ply; Skein weight 50 g; Fibre content 80% Pure New Wool (consisting entirely of Jacob); Length 175 m; Tension 28 stitches over 10 cm; Recommended needle 3 mm; No. of plys 2; Made in Cornwall, UK.
Well, that little swatch of Blacker Yarns Brushwork has been riding round in my armpit for three days, and there is absolutely no change. Take a close look. Can you see a difference? It doesn’t even look like the yarn is even thinking about piling.
So basically the armpit test consists of tucking the swatch into the armpit of my bra for three days running. This gives an indication of how the yarn might wear over time, and how soft the fabric is against the skin.
The other day I mentioned that, in the hand, Brushwork is softer than the shawl I have made of pure Shetland yarn. It does have a very slight prickle factor, but nothing that would stop me wearing against my neck. The Scottish Bowmont breed is a cross between the Saxon Merino and Shetland breeds, and you truly get the best of both worlds with this yarn. Almost Merino soft, but with the lightness of Shetland.
If I were planning a sport weight garment (and didn’t already have two jersey quantities of Blacker yarn in my stash), this yarn would be in my cart now. It comes out on the 28th of September, and will be retailing for £8.40 for a 50 gram ball. The price tag makes it a yarn I’d have to save up for. And, I know I’ve said this before of Blacker’s yarns, I think it’s totally worth it.
Last year I was a little underwhelmed with Cornish Tin II, but this year the folk at Blacker have really cracked it. This is a special yarn, for a special favourite garment, that will be warn for years and years.
Here in the louleigh factory, Christmas starts early. I have a stack of fun fabric all cut out ready to sew, and these beautiful Brushwork swatches have been swept onto a pile of things to do. However, it’s Yarndale this weekend, and I’m hoping to see all the colours in the ball at the Blacker Yarns stand. Yes, I’m planning a little purchase. So let me tell you about my swatching adventures.
The first ‘swatch’ is the Autumnal Mitts by Jo Bangle. I wanted to see how the yarn would look with some open work, and stitches moving about. This pattern was SO fun to knit. The first mitt weighed 16 grams, and it broke my heart to find I was 5 grams short of a second mitt. I got 21 stitches over 10cm using 3.5 mm needles. I love the stitch definition in the patterned section.
The yarn does bloom when knitted at a looser gauge, however I wanted to try it on a slightly smaller needle. I thought this would also show off a cable pattern a bit more clearly. This swatch was knitted on 3.25 mm, with a stitch gauge of 22 stitches over 10cm. I prefer this slightly tighter gauge. The fabric on the mitt is a little bit loose for my taste, and I think the tighter gauge gives a three dimensional stitch pattern more definition.
Finally, I wanted to see how the yarn would look in a fabric that wasn’t knitted. The pin looms came out, and I used every last yard making a couple of wee swatches. The small swatch has just been woven and washed. The weave is a little loose, and it feels like a fine Welsh rug. The large swatch has been for a spin the the cake mixer. I popped it in with some detergent and boiling water, then let the mixer run for about 20 minutes. The resulting fabric is lush! The weaving tightened a little, and the fabric is soft and drapey with a stunning halo. A garment in this fabric would be snuggly and luxurious.
Overall the swatches have a rustic woolly appearance, but they are super soft. I’m wearing my shawl made from Jamieson and Smith 2 ply lace weight, and the Brushwork yarn is discernibly softer.
The second swatch is in situ for wear testing, and I’ll be back on Friday to tell you how it went.
I am SO excited to be showing you this yarn. The folk at Blacker Yarns have been back in touch. (No, they don’t sponsor me!) They sent a sample of Brushwork, this years limited edition birthday yarn. The breeds they’ve included are so intriguing. Scottish Bowmont is a cross between Saxon Merino and Shetland; with a touch of Castlemilk Moorit, which gives this years shade card a warm undertone – probably why I love the colours more than their previous birthday yarns.
More on Brushwork as the week progresses. But don’t get too excited just yet. The yarn wont go on sale till 28 September.
Yarn weight Sport; Skein weight 50 g; Fibre content 80% Pure New Wool (consisting of Scottish Bowmont and Castlemilk Moorit, 20% Alpaca; Length 152 m; Tension 23 stitches over 10 cm; Recommended needle 3.5 mm; No. of plys 2; Made in Cornwall, UK.