Different Colours

One of the delights of a yarn show is watching people’s eyes light up when they spot the perfect colour combination.

When we set up our display for shows we’re not overly concerned about what colours sit together. We’ll make sure that all everything is grouped by yarn type – so you’ll find Britsock with Britsock, BFL Masham with BFL Masham and so on. What we don’t so is spend a lot of time organising the display into a succession of rainbows. It’s very tempting, at least in theory. However a random mix of beautiful colours makes it easier to spot new and interesting colour combinations.

I thought it would be interesting to showcase some alternative colour combinations for the Otley shawl.

The Otley shawl is one of the designs from our newest book Wist Tha Bahn? The original shawl uses a skein of DK BFL Masham in silver and a set of Teal Collection mini skeins.

We had another sample at the show knitted in a skein of silver and a set of Grey Collection mini skeins.

One popular combination at the show was the Green mini skein set combined with a large skein of Grellow. It was so popular that we didn’t bring any of the Grellow home. The Green mini skeins also work well with the Walnut colourway, and there’s something about this combination which suggests it would be perfect for a nature lover.

If you’re a fan of more colour have a look at the Circus Collection mini skein set. They work well with coal, silver or navy. I might be biased, but I think navy works with everything.

The Teal Collection mini skeins used in the original shawl look good with teal or navy. The teal would give you a beautifully subtle shawl.

I’m eyeing up a set of the Pink to Turquoise mini skeins for a future project and I’d consider teal or berry as brilliant contrast colours.

Lots of options. What’s you favourite?

Take me to the pattern book

Take me to the yarn

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One of my jobs for today was to take photos of the new tote and project bags.

However when I unpacked the stock we brought back from Edinburgh Yarn Festival I found we’d sold out of two project bag designs, and there’s very littlr stock of the tote bags.


So yesterday was spent screen printing, and I’ll be sewing the ready for the update a week tomorrow.

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Cotton v Linen

Let’s talk about cotton.

I’d be surprised if there isn’t cotton in the wardrobe of everyone reading this. I’d be even more surprised if there aren’t several cotton tote bags (and it’s quite possible I might even have screen printed some of them.

So why are we moving away from cotton?

In theory cotton is a brilliant fabric, but in reality producing it uses a lot of water and pesticides. I vaguely knew that cotton used what I thought of as quite a lot of water, but doing some research showed me I was underestimating this very badly.

How much water? That varies depending on how the cotton is grown and how much effort is made to reduce water use. A kilo of cotton uses between 7000 and 30,000 liters of water.

If cotton was being produced somewhere where it rained all the time and water needed to be used up that might be workable. However cotton thrives in warm countries and is often grown in dryer areas.

So the amount of water used by cotton makes it unsustainable, and that’s part of the reason we’re going to be using a lot less of it.

Another reason I’m keen to stop using cotton is the amount of pesticides used in its production. Unless it’s organic cotton uses huge amounts of pesticides. Many of these are toxic and can contaminate surrounding areas and water.

Another reason for stepping away from cotton is that it’s become something that we happily accept without thinking about what it costs. Cotton tote bags are the norm these days at yarn festivals (and all sorts of other places too). They’re given away for free or sold as souvenirs. Unless you reuse your bag often, it’s done a lot of environmental damage for very little gain. What’s even worse is when bags are decorated with vinyl – so plastic is heat pressed onto a cotton bag that may have been produced in less than ideal conditions to create an ethical and ecological nightmare.

Why linen?

I love linen fabric. I love how it behaves, how it creases and how it ages. Linen is a brilliant fabric for bags because it’s strong.

We’ve been able to source linen which is grown in Belgium and dyed in the UK. That means that the use of pesticides and other chemicals are tightly regulated.
Flax production (that’s how linen starts its life) uses very little water in comparison to cotton. It’s not a crop that relies heavily on pesticides.

We haven’t found anyone making linen bags that we can print, so we’re making the bags ourselves from scratch. That gives us the ability to make exactly what we want. We can put pockets in everything, including the tote bags. We can work out sizes so that we don’t waste any fabric. We worked through a 20 meter roll of fabric making bags for Edinburgh yarn festival and the only waste was a couple of inches at one end where I squared the fabric up, and another couple of inches at the other end where we couldn’t fit anything else in.

Making the bags ourselves means we know exactly how the people making your bags are treated – because they’re us. So I can guarantee no sweat shop conditions (although if you’d asked me that when I was ironing twenty linen tote bags I might have rolled my eyes at you)

Our new project bags have cotton ribbon and thread. Linen ribbon seems to tend towards the open and delicate rather than sturdy so for now cotton ribbon is the best option. If anyone knows of sturdy linen ribbon for either drawstrings or handles please get in touch. We’re using cotton thread rather than polyester. There was a moment of great excitement when I found linen thread, followed by the disappointed realisation that it was meant for book binding.

Our new tote bags have cotton handles for now while we continue looking for linen webbing. It’s not perfect but it is better.

One of my jobs for later today is to take photos of the new tote bags and project bags for the website, and I’ll share those on Thursday.

Thanks for reading – and if you have any comments or queries please let me know.

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Shop Update 29.03.19

It’s our first update after Edinburgh Yarn Festival. That means we have lots of colours to add, but sometimes there isn’t very much of them.

All of the yarns shown in this update will be in the shop at 1900 on Friday 29th March, so if you are browsing before then you won’t find them.

First up is our gorgeous mini skein collaboration with Rusty Ferret Yarn. We released part of this batch earlier in the year and it sold out fast, so I’m delighted that there’s another chance for people who missed out to get this collaboration.

Then we have DK sock yarn. This is a 100% wool from Whitefaced Woodland sheep. They’re a mountain breed and their fleece is robust enough to provide a brilliant sock yarn.

We have lots of new colours of Britsock. It was great fun watching customers combine these colours at the show.

We also have some multi coloured Britsock.

If you prefer your sock yarn to be superwash we have some skeins of the superwash BFL and nylon base.

Finally we have some new DK mini skeins sets. Dyed on our gorgeous DK BFL Masham base there’s plenty in each set for a hat or mitts, and the colours are also used in our Otley Shawl.

The yarns shown above will be available at 1900 on Friday 29th March.

Happy planning.


Take me to the shop

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May Yarn Clubs – Last Call

Sign ups for the May yarn clubs will be closing at the end of March. That gives us time to get everything dyed, re-skeined and packed so it’s ready to post at the end of April.

We have three club options.

Sock club gives you yarn (BFL nylon or Britsock) and the option of a sock pattern by Clare Devine.

Take me to the sock club

Shawl club gives you 120 grams of our gorgeous BFL Masham base and the option of a shawl pattern by Clare Devine.

Take me to the shawl club

Finally the mini skein club gives you 5 x 20g skeins in Britsock or BFL Masham. There’s even a DK option.

Take me to the mini skein club.

As always there’s the option to see the club colours. Just click on the link for the club you’re interested in and you’ll find a link in the description to a hidden page. We know that not everyone likes surprises and we want you to love your club parcels.

Take me to the shop

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Thank You

Huge thanks to everyone who came to say hello to us at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. It’s always lovely to see what people have made from our yarn and to hear what else is being planned.

Now that we’re home there’s some sorting and restocking to do, and we’re planning an update for Friday evening at 1900. As always you can make sure you never miss an update and take advantage of some special offers by signing up for our newsletter.

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We’ll have more of the DK sock yarn that’s been so popular, plus some new colours of sock yarn and Britsock. We’ll also have mini skeins sets in the DK BFL Masham base that make up the Otley shawl from Wist Tha Bahn?

The last thing we’ll be adding this week are the new linen tote bags. I’ll be blogging more about those in the next few days, and talking about why we’re moving away from cotton.

My next job (well after I’ve had another mug of tea) is to start clearing emails, so if you’ve been in touch over the last few days then a reply will be heading your way soon.

Thanks again

Joy & Bobbie

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New Sock Yarn

We’ve been on the hunt for the perfect DK sock yarn for a while. Traditionally sock yarns contain nylon for strength, and we wanted to look at other possibilities. 

So we looked for sheep whose fleeces are known for their strength, and that suggested a mountain breed. 

We’ve found a DK yarn which is 100% Whitefaced Woodland. The fleece comes from UK flocks and is processed and spun in Yorkshire.

We haven’t just dyed this yarn up and added it to the shop, as we wanted to be sure that the yarn would work for socks. So sample socks have been knitted and worn (and worn and worn). After three weeks of constant wear in the workshop the socks look like new. That’s socks worn inside boots for at least eight hours a day of being constantly on your feet and taking at lot of steps between dye pots and reskeining yarn. So that works.

The yarn isn’t superwash treated, and so over time we’d expect the soles of your socks to felt slightly (although there’s no evidence of this after three weeks).

So how does this yarn feel? It’s certainly not as soft as the finest merino, and thats necessary for this to work as a sock yarn. The best description we can come up with is firm and crisp. It wouldn’t be a yarn we’d recommend for something that’s going to be draped round your neck, but it makes wonderfully comfortable socks. The long suffering yarn guinea pig known as Bobbie doesn’t do well with a lot of wool and she’s been wearing socks knitted in this yarn for well over a month. So it’s a yarn with purpose that highlights the values of a particular breed. 

To make sure this yarn wears well we recommend using a 2.75mm or 3mm needle.

There’s one other brilliant thing about this yarn – each 100 gram skein has 300 meters of yarn. So that menas that socks can be longer (or for bigger feet) and still only need one skein of yarn. The socks below fit sizeUK7(40) and there was almost 30grams of yarn left.

The pictures below show Joy’s workshop socks after 3 weeks of wear. To test the yarn further the socks were knitted with a short row heel that hasn’t been reinforced, and that’s showing no wear. The second picture lets you see how the colours behave on a 48 stitch sock knitted on 3mm needles.


We’re starting the range off with twelve colours.

Take me to the new yarn

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