swatch

Dovestone: a review

Even as the UK is basking in a bit of long-overdue summer, I have been taking a sneaky peek into Autumn and the new shades for Autumn/Winter 2016 available from Baa Ram Ewe.

 

I was lucky enough to be sent a sample or two of their lovely new additions to the Dovestone range and of course I couldn't resist getting it on the needles - heatwave or no heatwave.

The Dovestone DK yarn has been a firm favourite for some time and now there is an aran weight yarn in the range too. Dovestone Natural Aran is the same blend of Bluefaced Leicester with Wensleydale and Masham. Careful blending has been used to create 5 natural shades which work well either together in a gradient palette or singly.

I couldn't resist casting on the No. 2 Shade BREDNA02 and to me, it was begging to be something warm and squishy in my beloved garter stitch.

Dovestone Natural Aran Shade 02

Dovestone Natural Aran Shade 02

On 5mm needles, the yarn produced a very pleasing, soft squishy fabric which would work brilliantly for hats, gloves, cowls or sweaters. Beautifully soft, with no hint of a tickle this is just perfect for all sorts of winter accessories.

If natural shades aren't your 'thing', the colour palette in the DK range has also been expanded, with the addition of 3 new shades. The vibrant orange 'Viking' is my particular favourite but the really rich purple shade 'Bishopthorpe' is also really striking.

Dovestone DK: new shades for A/W 2016

Dovestone DK: new shades for A/W 2016

I can really see me using some of these yarns for some cosy winter accessories - just as soon as the temperatures cool down a little.

A yarn review - Tamar Lustre by Blacker Yarns

The clever folk at Blacker Yarns have released a real beauty of a yarn this week - the Tamar Lustre Blend - and I was thrilled to have the chance to play with a skein or two of this recently.

Blacker Yarns Tamar Lustre 4ply, Colourway Tiddy Brook

Blacker Yarns Tamar Lustre 4ply, Colourway Tiddy Brook

The yarn is a worsted spun blend of Wenslydale, Teeswater, Cotswold and Black Leicester Longwool all which add a fabulous shine and lustre. To add a suitable amount of woolly 'bounce' 30% Cornish Mule has been added and the end result is really rather wonderful.

First onto my needles was the 4ply version (a dk version is also available) and as soon as I got my paws on it Iknew it would work beautfully in garter stitch.

Knitted up at a relaxed gauge on 4mm needles the 4ply yarn had great stitch definition but also good drape and sheen too - properties that you don't often find combined in a yarn.

This yarn would be absolutely perfect for a large 2 or 3 colour shawl and the fabulous range of colours is perfect inspiration. I can see this as a large, wrappable, wearable garter stitch shawl or maybe something with a Hap-style construction.

The slight stickiness of the yarn, thanks to the Cornish Mule,  would also lend itself well to fair isle and other colourwork techniques should the fancy take you. The only difficulty might be in choosing your colours, but the handy shade card can help you with this.

I love a good shade card...

I love a good shade card...

And, the even better news is that, unlike the Cornish Tin which was such a hit last year, Tamar Lustre is going to a permanent stock yarn. So you should have ample opportunity to snag some for yourself.

All in all, a real gem of a yarn and one that I will certainly be seeking out at Edinburgh Yarn festival.


British Breeds Swatchalong



As many of you will no doubt be aware, Wovember is well underway and knitters far and wide are enjoying a range of 100% British wool related activities. If you aren't already following the Wovember blog please do have a quick read through. Some of the articles are truly fascinating and I love the woolly 'word of the day' - a constant source of fascination.

Closer to home I have been participating in the #breedsswatchalong. Speared headed by the wonderfully enthusiastic Louise Scollay (host of the Knit British podcast) the aim is to set aside our 100% merino or merino/cashmere blends in favour of something more locally produced, more locally sourced and let's face...more woolly.

All the rules and instructions for the event can be found here and so with these in mind I went for a Blacker Yarns North Ronaldsay aran weight yarn in a lovely soft mid-brown shade. I found the yarn on my recent 4ply-cooperative yarn crawl at Prick Your Finger in London and knew as soon as I saw it that it would be perfect for my first British wool project.

Louise recommends knitting an 8" gauge swatch which, as a predominantly sock knitter,  I can honestly say I have never done before. Still, with aran weight yarn on 5mm needles it was no great hardship and I was able to knit up the swatch in a little over an evening. Louise encourages you to make notes on the yarn as you go along - the feel of the yarn in the ball and whether you notice any changes as you start to work with it. The first word that spring to mind was rough (see- I am being honest). Closely followed by words such as rustic, crisp and springy. It did start to feel softer as I worked with it and I was intrigued on looking down to see that my lap was covered in tiny particles of sand.

This did cause some bewilderment until I googled the sheep breed and discovered that they are the only breed of sheep known to live on an almost exclusive seaweed diet. 
 
North Ronaldsay sheep


They generally inhabit the shoreline areas of the Orkney Islands and so as well as their fleece acquiring a healthy dose of vegetable matter, it also tends to be a little sandy. This caused much amusement when I explained it to my boys and just goes to show that there is always something new to learn in this wonderul, woolly craft of ours.

So, here we have it - one 8" square swatch done in garter stitch (of course).


I have blocked it without any discernable change in size or handle and now my next challenge is the wash and wear test. Louise encourages the wearing of the swatch inside your normal garments and then washing again to see how the fabric might withstand normal wear.

This has perplexed me slightly I must admit. The thought of wearing something which vaguely reminds me of a carpet tile is a little off putting and I'm certain that 5 minutes of wearing it next to my skin will have me scratching like a mad thing - not a good thing on an already fraught school run morning. After some experimentation I have settled on tucking it into the waistband of my jeans, with a light T shirt underneath and my normal jumper over the top.

I will let you know how I get on. I am just praying that the darned thing doesn't fall out at the school gates. I have a sneaking suspicion that the other mums already think I am a bit weird, without becoming known as the lady who sheds small knitted objects as she walks.