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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

episode 88 – The one with Shetlands, Romney, Alpaca, BFLs, Merino, Mules and silk!

What a great week it’s been – a woman in the TARDIS and some awesome ladies on the show today!

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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 and the forthcoming BritSilk, you will find screen-printed bags and books, hand-crafted stitch markers and exclusive yarn clubs in her online shop.
Click to visit the shop!

| Show Notes

I’m still utterly delighted with Sunday’s news that Jodie Whittaker is the 13th Doctor – It’s definitely time. It makes me wonder what kind of iconic wool item she should have (tweed coats/suits, scarves, cricket vests, etc) I’m pretty sure she would rock a pussyhat! – get on it BBC Costume dept! In keeping with the awesome women theme, this episode I’ve got news from The Knitting Goddess, a review from Christine Perry and a chat with Jane Green, from New Leaf Yarn .

| Clear Labels – Update from Cambrian Wool Read More

episode 87 – where there were 300 sheep!

Hello and welcome back to the podcast! I’m all refreshed from a lovely holiday and back with another blind yarn review and a chat with our Woolly Mucker, Susan Hobkirk! (Apologies, my chair is a bit squeaky in this episode!)

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| Woolly Mucker

This month’s woolly mucker is Susan Hobkirk, aka macpark, on ravelry. Susan is a long time supporter of all things KnitBritish and I thank her so much for sponsoring the show.

Currently she is knitting the Houlland Hap, in Exquiste from WYS and she is almost finished Marie Wallin’s Fair Isle Blanket KAL. Tune in to hear us chat later in the show!

| Shownotes

| Holiday

I had a great time away – this was my view from my Shepherds Hut! I also managed to do some knitting on Hadrian’s Wall, as you do! Read More

episode 86 at the party yarn shop

I’m back a little earlier this week to chat to The Queen of Purls and also squidge some Northern Yarn with some of my woolly muckers (ooh-er!)

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Today’s episode is sponsored by The Queen of Purls!

The Queen of Purls is an independent yarn shop in Glasgow, run by Zoe Armstrong. Zoe sells natural wool yarns and fibres for felting and spinning. She has an awesome selection of British wool and brands, as well as dyeing her own yarn range.
Listen in to hear Zoe give me a tour of her shop and find out how you can win a very special skein of her hand-dyed.

 | Show Notes

Thanks so much for tuning in again and for all your wonderful feedback since the last episode. It was lovely to hear that so many of you enjoyed the interview with Maylin last time and that you are enjoying the Woolly Muckers series of chats.
Read More

An Open Letter to Shetland Islands Council

Dear Sir

I’m writing to you regarding the council’s recent decision not to award Shetland Amenity Trust the contract to promote the isles via the Promote Shetland organisation.

The work that Promote Shetland has done in terms of honing Shetland’s brand, of creating a multi-faceted unique experience for the nature seekers, the birdwatchers, the archaeology and geology fans; the knitters, art lovers, music fans; the daily webcam viewers (many of whom will only ever visit Shetland in this way) and those who tune in on the last Tuesday of January to watch the galley burn.  Promote Shetland have done such great work to not only tell the stories of Shetland far beyond the shores of the isles, but to connect them to Shetlander’s too; to connect them with their heritage, their past and to make them feel a part of the ongoing culture and traditions in the isles.

Something that is of a particular keen interest to me is Shetland Wool Week.  This is a wonderful example of the overall work Promote Shetland have done to celebrate Shetland’s culture and tradition, and which has become an important annual event to people the world over. I attended this festival whilst living in Shetland and have returned the past two years, now that I live in Edinburgh.

I know that Shetland Amenity Trust have decided to take Shetland Wool Week (SWW) under their auspices. I am so very glad that they took this action, as they realise the enormity of this event for so many people and want to safeguard the plans for at least this year’s events, many of which are fully booked.  While the festival is secured for this year (at least) I want to use SWW as an example of what Promote Shetland has done for tourism and for the isles and how detrimental taking that service away will be.

The work that has been done to take the stories, knowledge, techniques, innovations and skills in Shetland wool and textiles and celebrate the people who have worked in these areas is just incredible. Misa Hay and her the team, as well as all the wool week patrons, Kate Davies, Felix Ford, Hazel Tindall, Donna Smith, Ella Gordon and this year’s patron Gudrun Johnston – as well as all of the Shetland maker’s and teachers involved – should be utterly applauded for finally telling the real story about Shetland knitting – not over-romanticized or shrouded with stereotype and cliche has it has been in the past.

Shetland’s knitting history is very well known and can be seen as valuable and important, even if you don’t have a personal interest in knitting. While wool and knitting is a very niche area, it is by no means narrow. It is an area that is rich and verdant, with millions of knitters all over the world – many of whom look to Shetland’s traditions as a deep rooted connection to their own interests in knitting.

You may not have attended any SWW events or have a personal interest in wool and knitting yourself and so you may not have had opportunity to enjoy it in the same way that hundreds of visitors have, as well as Shetland attendees (or the many more who’ve watched the events online, via Promote Shetland’s website.)

In a nutshell, there are over 100 events organised over 9 days. People come from all over the world for SWW, in addition to people from Shetland attending events. Of the visitors to Shetland some travel alone and everyone I’ve spoken to who travelled alone said there was no worry or anxiety because SWW provides a safe and welcoming space and a community of knitters to be part of. Many of the people I’d spoken to had been watching Shetland via webcams and subscribing to the 60 North Magazine and dreaming of their visit to wool week by researching on the website – this is also down to the brilliant work of Promote Shetland.

Classes on offer have people feeling so satisfied with learning new skills and it means that these skills, many local to Shetland, will keep going and aren’t at risk of disappearing altogether, which was one of the aims of SWW. Wool Week also opens up important discussions between Shetland wool producers and local wool businesses, such as at the Q&As and talks, and it helps keep the important dialogue of Shetland wool, textiles and wool products open, on a public platform, so that a future is secured for Shetland wool.

SWW events are so important ad utterly unlike any other wool festival (and I’ve been to a lot of them!). The entire week of events take us from the animals on the farm, to fleece demonstrations at the Wool Brokers, to the Sandness Mill and through a series of talks, workshops. exhibitions and open studios to show exactly the importance of Shetland wool and crafts and the larger significance of Shetland tradition and design – not only its past, but the significance of what is happening now and for the future. They bring people together from all over the world, who also enjoy Shetland’s hotels, restaurants, pubs and cafes and shops as well as all the other non-wool highlights Shetland can offer – all of this is evident in the £500,000 that SWW brought back to the local economy last year.

SWW is just one example of the quality of the work of Promote Shetland in giving a voice to Shetland, its heritage, culture and landscape. The council’s decision is going to damage the Shetland image and brand they have worked so hard on.  The pure fact of the matter is that Promote Shetland has spent 8 years working hard to take Shetland out of that box on the weather map; to fight off romantic ideas of “remoteness” and make Shetland the centre of the world. With this decision, SIC have put Shetland and all the positive forward movement and work right back into that box.

Please revise this short-sighted decision and let Promote Shetland continue their important work.

Yours faithfully


Louise Scollay


Dear KnitBritish readers, there is a petition on that you can sign if you wish to object about this decision. If this decision by SIC affects you, your future travel plans to Shetland or your enjoyment of all things Shetland, you can also write to Shetland Islands Council at the address below. I will also send a copy of this letter to them.

Convener Malcolm Bell,
Shetland Islands Council
Town Hall

episode 85 – we partook of cake

Welcome back to the podcast – I’ve been “down North” to Leeds and had such a fun time at Leed Wool Festival. We also meet our Woolly Mucker, Maylin Scott and I’ve some lovely yarn to review for you too!

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| Woolly Mucker

This month’s woolly mucker is Maylin Scott, aka blithespirit, on Ravelry. Maylin is a long time listener and supporter of all things KnitBritish. If you follow her there or Instagram you will see she is a prolific knitter and a real lover of colour and texture in her work.

Currently she is knitting the Next Year In Lerwick sweater, for her upcoming trip to Shetland. Hear us talk about this and much more in today’s show.
Thanks to Maylin for supporting the show.

| Leeds Wool Festival and Armley Mills

What a wonderful event Leeds Wool Festival was, last Saturday, and what a wonderful mill and museum. We were really blow away by the visitor experience, the cream teas and all the lovely Read More

episode 84 – clear labelling and bumper festivities

Back again – get your WIP, get your drink – I’m talking crochet cast offs and we’re diving into Pom Pom’s 5th Anniversary issue! Listen in for an awesome Pomfest giveaway too.

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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 don’t forget to wish BritYarn a very Happy 2nd Birthday on June 2nd!  

| Show notes

Thanks so much for your feedback on the British wool love in the last episode. It has totally given me food for thought and it has really made me think about my responsibility to you as a reviewer. I do buy and have, in the past, accepted review yarn that is just labelled “British Wool” without any further information about what that wool is. I feel that in a response to the need for clearer labelling  it is not in my or your interest to review yarns with no traceability or content info. Read More

Giveaway Klaxon

There are a couple of lovely giveaways in the KnitBritish Ravelry group that I don’t want you guys to miss out on!

From Dorset, With Love.

Clare Devine has launched a digital pattern collection, which beautifully illustrates how place can leave a lasting impression on you.

Two years ago I went on a road trip – the best kind of road trip – the ‘change your life’ kind of roadtrip! I didn’t realise back then how much that summer weekend away would shape my life in the years to come. So much has come from those 3 glorious days in Dorset.

Clare Devine

There are 6 patterns in this collections which explore the inspirations from that trip. There is the Lulworth Cove hat, deeply brimmed and richly textured; The Swyres Head Mitts in divine yarn from Phileas Yarns; two awesome sock patterns, in Ripples Crafts Sock – Studland and Tyneham and Corfe Castle – a gorgeous shawl, featuring and effortless garter and eyelet design. Also to come is Clare’s first garment design – Kimmeridge!

You can buy the entire collection right now on Ravelry and the patterns will also be available as single pattern downloads too!

As Clare is so lovely, she has offered a copy of the collection as a giveaway and has added three runner up prizes of single patterns. You can find the entry thread over in our Ravelry group.  I will close this on 2nd of June and draw winners by fairly soon after that. Thank you so much, lovely Clare and congratulations on a stunning collection that is going to have all our knitty hands get grabbing for the yarn!

| POM POM is 5

PomPom Quarterly are celebrating their 5th anniversary this year! There is a BUMPER issue which is hitting door mats all over the world right about now and you can listen to me peek between the pages on tomorrow’s podcast! (spoiler: It is pretty incredible!)

There is also going to be a wonderful birthday bash happening in London in July!

On 14th and 15th of July, Pomfest will be held at Studio Spaces, Shadwell. A renovated factory in this fast-developing part of Tower Hamlets.

The Pomfest marketplace will play host to a selection of the finest indie yarn producers and dyers from all over the world, including Viola Yarns and Julie AsselinLa Bien Aimée and Dandelion YarnsJohn Arbon Textiles, Coop Knits and Kettle Yarn Co. will be there too with more to be confirmed! There will also be panel discussions from international woolly speakers, like Clara Parkes! and talks from Pom Pom designers Julia Farwell-Clay, Thea Colman, Veera Välimäki, Olga Buraya-Kefelian, and Emily Foden.
All of this AND a Friday night party! Tickets cost £15 for each day and also £15 for the evening party (John Arbon WILL be your DJ – worth the ticket price alone!) I hope you can go – I reckon it will be a really special weekend!

Pom Pom, so lovely and generous, have offered a lucky winner a pair of tickets, so that they can take a pal and can go to the marketplace and enjoy the Pom Pom party vibe! I am about to open the giveaway thread in the KnitBritish Ravelry group, so that you can enter for that chance! Please only enter if you can definitely make it to London (travel/accommodation is not included) – you can choose which day you want to attend. I will close the thread on 16th June and draw the winner at random. Pom Pom will email the tickets to the winner.

Pom Pom’s loveliness goes on and on! They have also given us a copy of the newest issue to giveaway and (to save confusion in the rav giveaway threads) you can enter to win that RIGHT HERE!

To win a copy of Pom Pom Quarterly, issue 21 – take a look at the designs in this issue (click here to see them all) and comment below with what you would cast on first – its gonna be a struggle as there are SO many awesome designs.
I’ll close this also on June 16th. A winner will be drawn at random.

Good luck and thank you so much to Clare Devine and Pom Pom Quarterly!

19/6/17 Update

I pasted all the comments in  – Congrats to Heather Jones! Your Pom Pom will be winging its way to you soon!

| Important info – Please read

Please only comment below if you want to enter the giveaway for the issue of Pom Pom – the other giveaways are in the Ravelry group and the links will take you there. Entries on the blog for the other giveaways mentioned will be deleted, so please read carefully!

Images here are copyright to their owners and used with kind permission. Please do not reproduce without seeking permission from the owners. 


episode 83 – What you love about the indiestry

Welcome back to the podcast! This week, as a bit of a addition to an article I wrote recently, I’m talking about what you love about the British wool indiestry!

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This episode is sponsored by our KnitBritish Woolly Mucker, Emma Goodlad
Emma is Hosut on Ravelry and Goodlasshandicrafts on Instagram and etsy.

Emma has a craft business and is enjoying exploring her Shetland roots in her own knitting!

Listen in to hear me talk to Emma later in the show.

| Show notes

Last episode I hinted that I was going to be visiting somewhere special for the podcast and I managed to keep it a secret right up til I got there.

I visited Uist and, more precisely, Uist Wool and spent a whirlwind time there getting a tour of the mill and chatting with staff about the work they do there. I recorded a lot, so there is a lot to edit – as you can imagine – so you will have to be a bit patient for this episode, but I promise you it will be worth the wait! Thank so much to Dana, Hazel and everyone at the mill who made me feel so very welcome! Read More