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episode 62 – The Border Mill

Welcome back to the podcast after a lovely wee break. I am jumping straight back into the action with a really wonderful tour of The Border Mill. 

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John and Juliet Miller decided to make a career change 5 years ago. They already had a 2 acre walled garden where they kept their growing herd of alpaca and, after long waiting times to have the fleece spun (and often large minimum batch size requirements) they decided they would set up their own small scale fibre mill, specialising in alpaca. John and Juliet take minimum fibre batches of 1.5kg and as soon as they opened it was clear that there were a lot of clients who also wanted to spin small batch alpaca fibre, sheep wool and other fibres.

It wasn’t until 2013 that they started to produce their own alpaca yarn, for the first Edinburgh Yarn Festival and their own range has grown exponentially since then. The Border Mill range now includes a lopi-style yarn, blended with Falkland merino, alpaca and mohair, alpaca and BFL, alpaca tweed and the forthcoming alpaca and silk. The Border Mill also works closely with clients to ensure that the fibre they send to the mill becomes the best possible yarn for their needs. Their clients include Sariann Lehrer, who produces the single breed, single flock Chopped Ginger project and Hooligan Yarns, who sell single sheep yarns – if you have worked with, squished or seen these particular yarns you will be well aware of how special these yarns are. 

John gave us a tour of the mill and the entire process. Please listen in to the episode and join is on that tour – grab your WIP and drink! Read More

Wool Exploration: North Ronaldsay

Did you read my last post on our plans for Wool Exploration in 2018?

The first sheep breed wool that I want us to try out is North Ronaldsay! The famed seaweed munching, double coated sheep from the northmost island in Orkney, belongs to the Northern European short-tailed group and as well as being famous for their diet, they have a pretty awesome fleece too.  This is from The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook, by Deb Robson and Carol Ekarius.

North Ronaldsay wool is sometimes called coarse and sometimes fine. Those who call it coarse are evaluating it on the basis of the guard hair; those who call it fine are examining fleeces that consist mostly of wool, rather than hair, or looking at the undercoat portion of a mixed fleece. White and brown fleeces tend to have the least guard hair, and that includes the dark browns that are almost black. The gray or black fleece get their colour, at least in part from the guard hairs, which can be predominant.

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I reckon I’ve picked a real doozie to start with, one that will give us great results. There are going to be so many fantastic variations in colour and in textures throughout the colours.

You can knit or crochet any pattern in a nice big swatch (at least 7 inches) in your North Ronaldsay. You can also use any weight yarn and it can be dyed or natural, but it must be 100% North Ronaldsay.

I’m going to attempt to spin my North Ronaldsay! The postman delivered 100g of dark grey North Ronaldsay tops to me, from A Yarn From North Ronaldsay; they are a small scale mill, on the island. As well as selling roving and batts (and I’ve not found North Ronaldsay fibre in many other places) they sell the yarn in varying weights and skein sizes and in different natural shades.

Where else can I find North Ronaldsay yarn?

Want to join in?

Then get your yarn and get casting on! Make a project page on ravelry for your swatch, tag it ‘wool-exploration’ and share it with the KnitBritish group. Use our swatch road test guidelines and get reviewing. Post your review in your project notes and discuss it in the Wool Exploration KnitBritish ravelry group thread. Use #WoolExploration on social media too.

There is no cast on date (Ready? Get set. GO!) but there is a deadline. As this is going to be part of the 100th episode in January, you need to post your reviews by 28th December. I know that seems tight, but its just due to the festive and the other deadlines will be longer (besides, who can’t knock out a swatch review in almost 5 weeks? They take no time to knit!)

Anyone can take part in the KnitBritish Wool Exploration. You can explore with us all year, or you can jump in and out as you please.  I will collate our findings and report them on the podcast and make a lasting record of our explorations that will be a valuable resource.

Any questions?

Let’s get cracking!

Wool Exploration in 2018

There are certain aspects of KnitBritish that have been a joy to share with you and for us to be involved in together. One of those things was the Breed Swatch-along – an opportunity to share your findings of breed-specific yarns in the KnitBritish ravelry group. Another of these wonderful things has been the Woolly Mucker reviews, where our listener sponsors in 2017 all had chances to review wool for the show (my particular favourites were the ones where the muckers did not know the yarns they were working with!) These great reviews of the same yarn give such depth and dimensions to the wool and they are so valuable to listeners. Read More

episode 96 – The shape of things to come

What with Wovember and other November busy-ness, we have just one episode this month. Grab a WIP and a drink and settle in.

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Visit our Sponsor

You will find the very best of British wool, an incredible range of patterns and awesome notions at BritYarn. Isla works to the Woolly Principles at BritYarn so that you can be confident of buying British wool, with provenance from British suppliers. 

Click on the logo to visit the BritYarn website and find the new shades of Blacker Westcountry Tweed, a whole plethora of awesome knitting and crochet patterns and the festive yarn from WYS!

Show notes

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by the website since last time and told me how much you enjoy the shownotes. That  made me so very happy, particularly those of you who visited them for the first time!

Wool Exploration in 2018

As you may know, we are going to one episode per month in 2018 and today I’ve got news of something new to our regular schedule. The Woolly Mucker reviews this year has brought us different dimensions and opinions on the same yarn. I want to keep that up on 2018, but with a bit of a twist. In 2018 I would love for us to explore breed wool together each month. The breed swatch along saw many of us seeking out local wool and selecting our own choices of breed wool to try, this is an opportunity to explore the same breeds together at the same time. I’ve posted on this separately with all the info, but essentially you can use any weight of yarn, any colour, any brand or hand-spun but it must be 100% of the fibre we are exploring.  We will knit or crochet a swatch in any pattern and use the same pro forma for reviewing the wool. There will be a review chat thread each month in the KB ravelry group and each month I will collate our findings on the show. Read More

Episode 95 – knit-worthiness far exceeds hats for bottles

image: Waiting for Winter by Paul Stevenson


HEAPS to get through today – a not so innocent rant and a reminder of not being devalued and lots of love for The Knitting Goddess’s new One Farm Yarn.

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| Sponsor

This month KnitBritish is sponsored by blog (2)Joy dyes luxury yarn in her studio in Harrogate and is committed to supporting British wool in all her bases.
In addition to incredible yarns, such as Britsock; Wensleydale & Shetland; BFL & Masham Sparkle and BritSilk, you will now find the amazing One Farm Yarn and you’ll hear more about it in today’s show.  
Sign up for Joy’s newsletter to find out when the 2018 Clubs are available and for weekly updates on what’s going in the shop!

Click to visit The Knitting Goddess website

Show notes Read More

Reasons to be cheerful – TEXTURE!

I just blooming love it when the weather turns colder and we need to wear a wee bit more wool. And you know what else I love? Texture! Whether it is a wool with a beautiful character or a design with a beautifully structured, or textured appearance, ooh! they want to jump right on my needles.

Here are a few recent pattern releases that just made me want to reach out and savour their beautiful textures.

Clare Devine collaborated with The Knitting Goddess, for Joy’s popular yarn and pattern club this year. These designs are being released as single patterns and when Polka popped up in my Ravelry pattern recommendations looked a bit like the emoji with the hearts for eyes!

© Clare Devine

I love the combo of stocking stitch and reverse stocking stitch – and with Joy’s beautifully dyed British wool and nylon that beautiful texture is further enhanced. Just lovely. And these socks are great if you have a high instep, so another reason for me to cast on soon! Polka cost £4.75

And speaking of Joy, she has recently released Crochet the Rainbow. I’ve talked before of my love of the texture of crochet (though my skills are still not quite passed granny square) and Joy has 4 neck accessories in this book, which feature glorious texture and colour combinations and all use The Knitting Goddess colour wheel sets. Look at this wonderful crochet linen stitch cowl.

© Joy McMillan


© Maddie Harvey

Maddie Harvey’s recent hat design, a slice of honeyhas a delicious cabled section that looks really squishable and so warm. Maddie’s samples have been knit in three British aran wools from Ginger Twist Studio, Yarns from the Plain and also the new WYS Croft Shetland Yarn. I particularly love how it looks in the Croft; the speckled yarn should kinda detract from the cable detail, but actually it makes it even more textured. The honeycomb cable detail is really pretty and I love the reverse stocking stitch. Slice of Honey costs £4.20.

© Blacker Yarns

© Blacker Yarns

Blacker Yarns have relaunched some of their patterns and launched a whole new series of patterns for their birthday yarn, Brushwork. There is a lot of texture love in these designs but oh my! Sonja Bargielowska’s Op-Art shawl makes my hands ache to knit. Look at all that garter and old shale! A really contemporary turn on the hap, but keeping those traditional stitches. This might be my project to make for EYF! Op-Art is free via Ravelry

© Purl Soho

Purl Soho are always releasing the most cast-onable designs, aren’t they? Thorn Stitch Cowl is no exception. Knit in light worsted yarn, I think this double wrap cowl will be a total winter wardrobe staple, and looks beautiful. The allover pattern is an 8 stitch repeat. which will be really easy to memorise – a great netflix (or similar) knitting project. Thorn Stitch Cowl takes around 320g of light worsted – I think Blacker Lyonesse would be a stunning yarn for this cowl – it may be a summeryier (making up words now!) wool, but I think it would be lustrous and pick out that texture incredibly. This cowl pattern is free from Ravelry/Purl Soho.

What are your favourite textured stitches and designs?

Review: 50 Tips From Shetland Knitters

I was so very chuffed to get through the door a review copy of the latest DVD from Hazel Tindall, this time collaborating with the equally brilliant Elizabeth Johnston.

A few years ago Hazel released a DVD taking us through the tuition of creating a Fair Isle sweater. This was truly like taking a masterclass in your own home and I remember last year at Shetland Wool Week, she told me to watch out for another one coming soon. 50 Tips from Shetland Knitters is that DVD and it really grew from them being asked for tips and advice at classes and workshops. Read More

Episode 94 – Paved with Good Intentions!

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Woolly Mucker

Our Woolly Mucker for October is Carolyn Sue Jenkins, who is CSJ0423 on Ravelry. Sue is an attorney in San Rafael, CA and she answers our woolly mucker questions later in the show.

Currently Sue is making a Wonder Woman wrap for her daughter-in-law and an intarsia stocking for her grand-daughter, who is expected in November. Thanks so much, Sue, for your support!

| Good Intentions Quarter One Read More

Blacker Yarns Brushwork

Today sees the launch of Blacker Yarns 12th birthday yarn – Brushwork!

This is a sport weight yarn, which combines a delicious wool and fibre content with an artistic inspiration. The wool contains Bowmont, Castilemilk moorit and alpaca!

“Scottish Bowmont are very special sheep, their fibre is renowned for its superb fine quality.  They were originally developed by crossing Saxon Merino with Shetland, to make a Merino-style sheep which could live comfortably in the UK’s damp climate.  

We’ve chosen to blend our Bowmont with 10% Castlemilk Moorit, a breed listed as ‘at risk’ on the RBST Watchlist.  Castlemilk sheep produce a wonderfully plump and bouncy fudge brown fleece which adds a depth of colour and a touch of rustic character to this yarn.  To give a little more drape and luxury to this lofty, woollen-spun yarn we added 20% British Alpaca, and we adore the resulting blend!”

The colours of Brushwork compliment that special blend so much, Eight shades – all named after painting techniques and processes – have been created by dyeing the fibre in the wool and the shades have been blended as little as possible to preserve those individual characteristics of little pops and neps.

Blacker gave five of our woolly muckers a chance to try this yarn out. I went through some of their findings on episode 91, but I wanted to publish their reviews in full, here for you. Read More