Testing, testing.

I’m in the middle of what is one of my favourite bits of my job – testing out potential new yarns for the shop.


As our yarns are all spun in the UK it’s always a treat when our yarn suppliers come up with something different.


First up are two bouclé yarns – both feel amazing so the next step is to see how they knit (and crochet) up.


Then something we’ve been looking out for – a British wool with a bit of Sparkle


Finally a new laceweight.

When I’m testing new yarns the first thing I look for is how they behave in the dye pot. In the past I’ve seen yarns where joins haven’t held together, or where the yarn isn’t properly balanced so it emerges as a twisty mess.

Once I know something behaves then I get to torture it. From a dyeing point of view that means more heat than I’d expect to use – so I’m checking how easy the yarn is to felt. As we’re offering less superwash yarn this is important to us. I’m happy to sell yarn that can’t be flung in a 40 degree wash, but I need to know that it will take some abuse. It also means that I know I can use enough heat to set dyes properly without worrying that the yarn will suffer.

Then it’s time to get the knitting pins out and see how the yarn handles. I’m always looking for yarns which will take some degree of unpicking, and that’s going to be interesting with the two boucle yarns. I’m also assessing how likely I am to want to knit with the yarns – if I don’t love it then I don’t want to sell it to everyone else.

Once that’s all done I get to place an order, wait for a big box of yarn to arrive and play with the dye pots.

What new yarns would you most like to see in the shop?

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17 Responses to Testing, testing.

  1. Anne aGrieve says:

    Yummy yummy…if you,ever need another bod to test knit…count me in! Love those shades!

  2. Oooh that second boucle would be perfect for a summer shawl pattern in my queue!

  3. Those have been my favorite shades of color this year! (I might have already said it here…sorry…but I am very passionate on the issue). First time in my life that I have been a “blue” person.

  4. Scully says:

    Errmmm m I think it’s obvious which one I’d like! The lace single looks nice too…it looks a bit like Malabrigo lace 💗

    I’m a bit dubious about boucle yarns, maybe you could turn me around! Maybe some minis in all these lovely new yarns would be good- a sparkly boucle new base laceweight polwarth zwartables mini pack 😀

  6. Jan Devenport says:

    Being a fan of your Sparklynne yarn, I’m so pleased to see that you have managed to stock British yarn with sparkle. It is so subtle but the sparkle gives a bit of Wow factored without being scratchy. I’m not sure what I’d do with boulle yarn but I think the first example looks as though it would be easier to knit and less likely to ” catch” and pull when wearing. I’d love to see some more yarn in these lovely turquoise shades, and the idea of mini skeins sounds good to me too.

    • Thanks Jan – I’m excited about having a sparky yarn again, and the base yarn is really gorgeous.

      I think bouclé yarn will either be one of the things that people love or just don’t think they’d use, so it’s a bit more niche. The first bouclé is interesting in that it has quite a bit of stretch because of the way that it’s been spun, and I’m not quite sure yet how I feel about that for a knitting yarn. I can see that it would be lovely to knit with.

      What would you do with a pack of varied mini skeins? I’m not ruling them out as something we might offer but I’d want to be convinced they would sell before I started chopping up big skeins. Are you thinking of them as a way of testing out new yarn bases or would you make something with them? If it’s the former we’ll probably offer tasters of the new bouclé base because it’s so unusual – and as always you can return any yarn which isn’t what you expected.

  7. Emily says:

    Oooh sparkles! I hope it passes your rigorous testing because I’d like a bit of that!

    I have to admit, I’m not sure I’d use the boucle. I am fascinated by it, but as a newer knitter I have no experience of it and I’d want to see what patterns it could be used for. Generally it makes me think of the 1980s but I’m willing to be proven wrong!

    The lace yarn looks lovely and plump, if you get my meaning. I would definitely use that and the sparkles.

  8. Anne aGrieve says:

    Re the mini skein idea….this seems to be a thing that lots of people are into at the moment……doing scrap blankets all using mini skeins, some 5g, others 10g. There is a new Fb group, which is growing daily, whereby people are swapping mini skeins etc. Most of the people in the group though are in the US, so it might not be such a big thing here.

  9. We sell masses and masses of mini skeins in 4ply – I’m less convinced that there’s a market for DK versions, but I could well be wrong about this.

    • Anne aGrieve says:

      I think you are right…..4ply minis is the way to go….both for socks and for scrap blankets

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