Yarn Review: Blacker Yarns, Blacker Breeds Jacob

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.

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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.

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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.

Yarn Review: Blacker Yarns Brushwork – Armpit Test

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.

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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.

Yarn Review: Blacker Yarns Brushwork – Swatching.

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.

IMG_3398The 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.

IMG_3397The 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.

IMG_3393Finally, 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.

Yarn Review: Blacker Yarns Brushwork

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.

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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.

Yarn Review: Blacker Yarns Samite – Armpit Test

In short, the armpit test involves me tucking a swatch into the armpit of my bra for a few days.  This test tells me a lot about next to skin softness, and how the yarn might wear over time.

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Can you tell any difference between this picture, and the one I took the other day?  (Apart from the fact that the sun is out here today.)  I can’t.  I keep checking the swatch for signs of piling or abrasion, and there just aren’t any.  It looks exactly as it did after that first wash, except… it’s softer.  Significantly softer.  Putting Samite next the the sweatiest part of your body for three days makes it soften.  Seriously though, I think Samite is one of those precious yarns that is going to get more beautiful with age.  And I can wear it next to my skin and forget that it’s there.

At £26.50, Samite definitely falls into the luxury category.  Personally I think it’s worth every penny, and will gladly confess that I have fallen head over heels for this yarn.  It makes me want to knit with beads, something I never thought I’d find myself saying.

Wool is a renewable resource, so typically I don’t worry about missing out.  There will always be more beautiful yarn – right?  But I am saving my pennies for a jumpers quantity of this yarn.  If it sells out in the meantime – well, you will find me under by desk quietly weeping.

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Yarn Review: Blacker Yarns Samite – Swatching

One of the reasons I’d held on to my sample of Blacker Yarns Samite for so long, is because I couldn’t decide if I should try a lace or cable pattern.  In the end lace won, probably because I’ve been thinking about lightweight summer garments recently.

Samite might not be what you would imagine when you think of a silk/wool blend for knitting lace.  It’s much more of a woolly yarn, without the silky shine.  You can definitely feel the qualities of the Shetland element of this yarn, in that it is light and has a little halo.  However, when I compared the swatch with my pure shetland shawls, the difference was obvious.  The longer wool fibres and silk give Samite a slightly more dense feel, and much less halo.  I loved the way it showcased the Horseshoe pattern; but if you’re trying to create that etherial tissue paper like shawl, with great stitch definition, this is probably not the yarn to use.

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My swatch was knitted on 3.25 mm needles, and was 14 cm square before washing.  I hand washed the swatch just in water, and stretched out the lace so it was 15 cm square when it dried.  Knitting a lacey swatch, then stretching it is probably not the best test of yarn bloom, but I can tell you that the yarn didn’t change visibly on washing.

I’m really intrigued to find out how this yarn wears, so pop back on Friday for the Armpit Test.

Yarn Review: Blacker Yarns Samite

Back in March, at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, I was given the sweetest little sample skein of Samite, from Blacker Yarns, in the Eternal Day colour-way.  It was wound into a ball almost immediately. I have been wistfully squishing it ever since, and wondering what stitch pattern to try out.

Last week I finally put needles to yarn, and will be telling you about the results over the next few day.  To start off though, all the vital stats are below.

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Yarn weight 4 ply/Fingering; Skein weight 100 g; Fibre content 30% Blue-faced Leicester, 40% Shetland, 20% Ahimsa Silk, 10% Gotland; Length 460 m; Tension 28 stitches over 10 cm; Recommended needle 2.75 mm; No. of plys 2;  Made in Cornwall, UK.