british wool

A new thing

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The Blanket of Exacting Requirements, as I have named it is done, off the needles and blocking as I type. I’m really pleased with it and my son (who has aforementioned requirements) is mightily pleased too. This is my first time using West Yorkshire Spinners Colourlab DK for a blanket - having taken the decision earlier in the year to refrain from using acrylic yarns from now on - and I have to say that I love everything about it.

The colour range is good, it’s an impressively all-British produced yarn and it retails for under £7 per 100g. I know this reads a bit like an advert and I apologise but really, I promise I haven’t been paid to promote this yarn. I just really like it.

Whenever you mention knitting with pure wool though the issue of price always rears it’s head, with the assumptions that pure wool is expensive and impractical for blankets. So I thought I would do a little road-test and report back on this blanket at intervals so you can see how it is holding up. I have two boys and an equal number of cats and so knits in our household are very much used and abused.

As for price. I used approx 7 balls of this yarn in various colours which equates to less than £50 for the whole project (7 x £6.95). It’s absolutely not the cheapest yarn available but for something that will be used and loved for years that’s a price point that I’m very comfortable with. Price isn’t something we often speak about in relation to our finished objects. We talk about yardage and colours used but actual hard cash is frequently overlooked in our discussions.

So from now on I’ll be adding the estimated cost of a project to my Ravelry page. Sometimes with deep stash a price will probably be a best guess but it’s better than nothing. And hopefully it might go a tiny way towards dispelling the myth that all wool is expensive and that acrylic is the only affordable option.

On Wool - and other thoughts

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Last week I announced that I was going to run a small knit-along - the #winterwoolkal - aimed at carrying on, in some small way, the fabulous Wovember love from previous years. You can read the original blog post here.

I had planned to do a slightly bigger event but my enforced wi-fi break the week before during our family holiday meant that it was all a bit rushed. Still, I was very pleased with the enthusiastic response. Lots of knitters gleefully rootled through their stash or took the opportunity to buy a skein from a new-to-them producer or dyer.

So far so good. It was a bit of a surprise then to be greeted with, what a friend laughingly termed a ‘wool backlash’. I received a steady stream of emails, PMs and messages suggesting that my focus on 100% wool (the original Wovember principles) was somehow elitist and risked alienating a large number of knitters.

Quite apart from the hysterical thought of a bunch of grown adults being scared off by 50g of Blue Faced Leicester DK, my grandma (who always knit with with wool) would have been tickled pink to be called elitist.

Seriously! How can the choice of wool over other fibres be controversial. It has been such a staple of textile production for 100s of years. I think many of the comments stem from the misconception that wool is somehow expensive and that certainly seemed to be a recurring theme in my emails. This is an excellent article by Louise of KnitBritish which most excellently debunks that myth.

I have always maintained that there is a valid place for acrylic yarn. But that place is not in a KAL aimed at promoting wool and the British wool industry. Including acrylic and other fibres in the KAL would detract from the whole message in the same way that calling a £1 ball of acrylic yarn from Aldi “wool”, detracts from the value of wool as a living, breathing, essential resource for knitters.

In addition, just because a group of people have chosen to apply the term “wool” to anything you can knit with (as opposed to calling it yarn) it doesn’t mean you can use it in a wool KAL. If it didn’t come from a sheep then it isn’t wool.

Wool has so many wondrous qualities, which others have expressed far more eloquently than I can - just browse the Wovember back catalogue of articles for inspiration. Acrylic yarn and other fibres obviously have their place but can never replace wool in my opinion

Nothing beats the the feel, the squish and the smell of real wool. No one - to my knowledge - has ever ripped open a bag of petroleum based yarn product and gleefully inhaled the aroma within. And for that reason, I am and will remain a wool enthusiast to my very core.

Winter Wool KAL

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As we all know, sadly Wovember isn't happening in its original form this year but I'd love to keep the Woolly Love going and do something to celebrate 100% wool this November.

So I thought I'd host a #winterwoolkal running for the month of November.

Just pick something 100% wool from your stash and grab your needles. I'm honouring the original intention of #wovember with this one and being strict on the 100% sheep's wool. As beautiful as alpaca, mohair etc is - this is all about the Wool.

You can either join in over on the Everyday Knitter Facebook group, or jump in on Instagram with your woolly project. Look for the #winterwoolkal #wovember and #britishwool hashtags. That will help you to find other folks are who participating.

We cast on, on 1 Nov and will cast off on 30 Nov.

I'm offering a 25% discount off all of my self published patterns and I know that some other indie designers are doing the same. So grab a yarn - 100% wool - pick a pattern and let’s share the woolly love this November.