Archives For Blacker Yarns

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Today I’m taking a glimpse back at the wonderful Curious Handmade Country House Retreat, and already getting excited about the Edinburgh Yarn festival. Thanks to the magic of technology (time travel?) as this episode is released I may be on a train between the two events! I chat about my shopping strategy for EYF and think about how I might prevent myself from buying all the yarn.

Show Sponsors:

Meadow Yarn

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include Northbound Knitting, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Show Links:

So Just Shop

Luma yarn from The Fibre Company

Laveer Kerchief

Yarn in The City Podcast

Pink Hazel Project Bags

A Yarn Story

Great British Yarns

La Bien Aimée

Eden Cottage Yarns

Blacker Yarns

Road to China Light from The Fibre Company

Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Just a quick episode today, as I’m on the road. If you’re going to EYF, remember to drop by the Blacker Podcast lounge to say hi between 1 and 2 pm on Saturday and Sunday. If you’re not, I’m hoping to bring back lots of stories from EYF to share with you soon. Happy knitting!

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Ch 162

March is shaping up to be a very exciting month, with many fun new things coming up. Today I’m taking a break from preparing for the Curious Handmade Country House Retreat and the Edinburgh yarn festival to chat about my works in progress and everything we have to look forward to in the next few weeks.

Show Sponsors:

Meadow Yarn

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include Northbound Knitting, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

KAL News:

Sight is Life MKAL

Hale-bopp MKAL

Snowmelt MKAL

BlackerPOD KAL

Giveaways:

Mina Philip New York Collection Sock Club

There were more than 200 entries in Ravelry Group Giveaway Thread and they make for some great reading, so thank you all for your contributions!

The winner was post 121 by Ravelry user fyjjkj

Congratulations, I know you’ll love your prize!

Show Links:

The Wool Kitchen yarn

The Wool Kitchen Instagram

Blue Pop colourway photo on instagram

Niji colourway photo on Instagram

The Talisman Shawl

Yarngasm Podcast

Voolenvine Yarn

Blacker Yarns

Blacker Yarns Samite Blend

Ahimisa (Peace) Silk

Road to China Light

What’s in the WIP:

A new sock design! The Apple Blossom socks will make their debut at the Curious Handmade Retreat next week, and then the pattern will be launched on the 17th of March

My rainbow Pebble Beach Shawl in the Blacker Yarn St. Kilda Mini Skein Set

Events:

Edinburgh Yarn Festival is happening on the 12th and 11th, where I’ll be in the Podcaster’s Lounge sponsored by Blacker Yarns. We’ll be having a Podcaster meetup at 1pm both Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday we’re also hosting a little panel on audio podcasting! You can find out the whole Podcaster Lounge Schedule here!

Ch 103: The 5th Week of Knitvent!

Helen —  December 4, 2015 — 38 Comments
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Ch 103

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their very special Acadia yarn.

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can find Acadia at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Show Links

Knitvent Update:

Window #5 opened this week, and behind it was the Kindling Hat! This is a unisex design that’s really quick to knit and looks fabulous in rugged yarns for the chaps and luxurious yarn for the ladies.

kindlingCollage

Sample 1: Westcountry Tweed in Natural

Sample 2: Bluefaced Leicester DK in Natural  with an Alpaca Fur Pom Pom

I’m adding a finished object thread to the Ravelry board, and I have some great prizes to announce for the Knitvent 2015 KAL, so don’t forget to share your FOs!

What’s in the WIP:

Times Square by Norah Gaughan I really really want to finish this one, because I’m in love with the yarn (Fibre company’s Knightsbridge) and really want to wear it.

Reyka Pullover by Cirila Rose I’m up to the colourwork and I’d also love to wear it this winter.

Cave Point Shawl by Paula from the Knitting Pipeline. So nearly done on this one and it will go with everything, so it’s another one I’m desperate to finish.

Collection Review

The Authentic Collection by Joji Locatelli

I interviewed this brilliant Argentine designer a while back, and I’m such a big fan. The patterns are all available individually, but the full collection is amazing value. There’s a lovely preview video on her website. It’s great to see the patterns being worn and moving! This is a huge collection, and would love to knit just about any of these designs.

puntilla

Puntilla is probably first on my list

She’s given us a copy of the ebook to give away this week, so if you’d like to be in with a chance to win, just leave a comment telling us which design is your favourite! I’ll draw a winner at random next week.

Other Show Links:

Being Boss Podcast Episode with Jay Prior

Paula’s charming first video podcast

The Pom Pom Quarterly Christmas Party is on Dec 11th. I’ll be attending (for my third year in a row! Time flies!) and I’m really looking forward to it. More holiday catch-ups with friends. I hope to see you there, if you’re local! Advance tickets are sold out but there will be some available on the door.

That’s everything for this week! Happy knitting!

 

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Ch 102

Today I’m finally getting a chance to talk to the wonderful Sue Blacker from Blacker Yarns, who also runs The Natural Fibre Company, an artisan wool mill which specialises in spinning beautiful yarn from small batches of fleece. It’s a godsend to the local and rare-breeds wool community here in the British Isles, and to knitters everywhere. Sue knows just about everything there is to know about wool, and she took the time to share some of her knowledge with us on the podcast. She’s also the author of Pure Wool: A Knitter’s Guide to Using Single-breed Yarns which is an indispensable reference with some lovely patterns. I was completely fascinated listening to Sue, and I think you will be too. This episode is one for the true wool nerds (which is possibly all of us, I think.)

Show sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their wonderful Acadia yarn.

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can find Acadia at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Show Links

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed to making the Curious Handmade Krimbo Party such a lovely event. Special thanks to the people and companies who contributed lovely door prizes:

Meadow Yarn
Blacker Yarns

Julie from Suffolk Socks

Mina, host of the excellent Knitting Expat Video Podcast (check out her Etsy shop, Mina Makes)

This week’s Knitvent 2015 pattern is the Ice River Hat, a companion to the Ice River Snood that I released a few weeks ago. It’s super cuddly and super-fast: some of my American knitters even managed to knit one up around the Thanksgiving festivities yesterday! Super impressive.

It was knit in The Fibre Company’s Tundra bulky yarn, which is a super-luxurious bulky yarn made from a blend of alpaca, merino, and silk.

During the interview, Sue mentions The Campaign For Wool

She also says that very soon, in partnership with Wovember and WoolSack a directory of small farm wool producers will be released, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

You can read about the rare breeds like the Soay and Boreray Sheep on the Blacker Yarns Meet The Animals page

Take a virtual tour of The Natural Fibre Company Mill

Check out her great articles for Wovember and on Blacker Yarn’s website for more woolly wisdom from Sue.

Single Breed Swatch Along

That’s everything for this episode! I hope you enjoyed hearing about all the thought, effort and skill that goes into producing the beautiful yarns made at The Natural Fibre Company. If you have any questions (or ideas for new colours for the West Country Tweed yarn!) don’t hesitate to contact myself or Sue.

Have a great week, and happy knitting!

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On this week’s show I’m introducing a really fascinating swatch along, catching up on the Summertide MKAL and Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge, and continuing to explore what Slow Fashion means for me and for us as a society. It’s a subject that I’m really passionate about (as you’ll hear!) and the deeper I go with it the more meaningful it becomes.

Show Sponsors

Today’s show is sponsored by The Fibre Co, and their beautiful Acadia yarn.

TheFibreCo_Logo CH

Acadia is named after the oldest American national park east of the Mississippi river, a place of natural beauty where the sea and mountains meet, slopes are densely forested and wild blueberries abound. Acadia National Park is in the state of Maine, The Fibre Co.’s birthplace.  The yarn inspired by this beautiful region has a rustic look and a soft hand. A subtle tweed effect is created by the silk noil that is combined with a heathered base made from fine merino wool and brown baby alpaca. The yarn is a classic DK weight and makes a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect for next to the skin accessories as well as garments.

You can snag yourself some Acadia at our other sponsor’s shop, Meadow Yarn:

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, the Fibre Co and many more.

Show Links

I was excited to learn about the Breed Swatch Along that the Knit British Podcast is hosting!

Shiny Bees Podcast where I first heard about the SAL

Knit British Podcast Episode 42 which introduces the SAL

Breed Swatch Along FAQs

I mention several natural yarns I’ve got stashed (and/or have used in the past) which would be great for the Breed Swatch Along:

Black Bat

Blacker Yarns

whisperingislandblacker2

Whispering Island in Blacker Yarns Shetland DK

Hole and Sons Poll Dorset

I’m hoping to participate because the Meet My Yarn KAL I hosted a while back was so fascinating to me, and I didn’t quite feel finished with exploring the subject of fibre-focused swatching when it was over.

The Curious Handmade Meet My Yarn KAL thread…lots of great info there

Fibre Company Cumbria which sponsored the Meet My Yarn KAL

I also have two books that I think would be amazing resources for this SAL:

The Field Guide to Fleece: 100 Sheep Breeds & How to Use Their Fibers

Pure Wool: A Knitter’s Guide to Using Single-breed Yarns

What’s in the WIP

Slow Fashion October 

– Karen Templer from Fringe Association is giving us all great prompts for thinking about how we consume fashion, and I’ve started a blog series in response.

– I mention Fashion Revolution

The Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge

The challenge is still going strong! It ties in beautifully with Slow Fashion October, so it’s been great to see the cross-pollination going on. I’m still working on my Times Square and need to put the sleeves into my Merchant and Mills Dress Shirt. The finishing date is October 31st, so you’ve still got some time!

Summertide MKAL

The last clue has been out for a week, and the FOs are beginning to flow! We’ve got great prizes, so make sure to post a photo of your finished shawl in the Summertide FO thread by Oct 31st to enter!

Knitvent 2015

This project is still top secret, but I’m working hard to get it ready! I’ll be offering an updated version of my popular (and free!) Holiday Gift Knitting Planner very soon, so that you have lots of time to get properly prepared for the season. Keep your eyes out for that, along with hints about the new Knitvent collection!

Upcoming Events

Online Reveal Party for the Curious Handmade Wardrobe Challenge and Summertide MKAL

Save the Date! Tuesday November 3rd

Since we’ve got two big projects finishing at the same time, I thought it would be really fun to get together on Ravelry and Instagram to showcase styled photos of our completed items. I’ll be starting a thread on the Curious Handmade Ravelry Group, and we’ll take the hashtags by storm.

#CHWchallenge

#SummertideMKAL

There might even be a surprise or two!

The Pebble Beach Workshop:

Friday October 23rd

I’m hosting and teaching an in-person lace-knitting workshop based on Pebble Beach at the beautiful Makelight Studios in London. It’s going to be a wonderful day of exploring creativity and skills, and I’d love to see you there if you can make it!

That’s it for the show notes today. Happy knitting!

As we continue to go deeper into the theme of creativity this month, I’ve made a point of celebrating the yarns I’ve been working with on my recent projects. Whether we’re talking about a painter and their paints, a sculptor and their clay, a sewist and their fabric, or a knitter with their wool, the role that materials play in any creative person’s work is hard to overstate. The nature of your material, its qualities, character, and even personality can absolutely transform the way you create. Materials can provide the first seeds of inspiration for your work, and they can surprise you, delight you, and even take you to new heights of craftsmanship and originality. I’ve certainly found this to be the case with the wonderful yarns I used for all of my Whispering Island shawl samples.  Knowing the story behind the yarn has added so much to my creative process. I’m excited to share this post by Sonja from Blacker Yarns on how the wool that goes through their mill is farmed, sourced, and spun into some of the finest yarn available today. Enjoy!

– Helen 

Woven Shetland throws in a wonderful array of natural shades

Blacker Yarns is quite a special yarn company because it is one of the only British yarn companies to come with its very own mill attached – The Natural Fibre Company.  NFC not only process Blacker Yarns, they also work with farmers and small business owners to create unique and special yarn, spinning fibre and woolly delights.  Our mill has a small minimum quantity, which is ideal for farmers like Ben Hole of Hole & Sons who are looking to do something more with their fibre.  I know Ben was keen to emphasise the wonderful story behind his yarn and we were happy to help him.

Shetland Sheep 2

At Blacker Yarns, we have a very strong relationship with our suppliers. We try to find the best quality fibre available.  We support British farming by paying fair prices for the best fleece and building long term relationships with these suppliers.  We care about what we do – by using traditional low impact methods to produce our yarns, we are able to do our bit for the environment, rare breed preservation and sustain our local communities.

I am so thrilled by the growing awareness of buying local. We’re entering such an exciting phase in the fibre industry.  Increasingly knitters are starting to ask questions about the stories behind their yarn. This awareness is perfect for us!  We love inviting people to visit the mill (see the website for this year’s dates) and inviting them to explore our production process.  As a knitter myself, I think that sense of connection with real animals – and the people who raise them – can do so much to enrich one’s crafting experience.

Some of the yarn we produce, like our Blacker Swan Merino, is farm assured which means the fibre comes from one particular farm.  Other yarns, like the Shetland used for Helen’s gorgeous shawl, come from a number of small farms up and down the UK.  We record where the fibre for each individual batch comes from, so we are often able to let people know the source of their fibre if they email us directly.  This is something rather unique and only possible when buying direct from farmers. Currently most of our Shetland yarn comes from farms in Wiltshire and Somerset.Shetland Sheep

Shetland fleece is matt and one of the finest of all British breed wools.  These hardy little sheep date back to the 8th century and the Viking conquest. Their fleeces come in a vast array of natural shades the names of which can be found in Norsk nomenclature.  These magical words like ‘Katmogit’, ‘Moorit’ and ‘Gulmogit’ are all centuries old and filled with a wonderful romance.

Shetland DK shades

The north of Scotland has always had a difficult climate and the people living there would have needed warm garments to protect themselves.  So it is likely that Shetland sheep have always been bred with a mind to the quality of their fibre.  From the 17th century onwards, Shetland islanders’ have created high quality knitted goods for export across Europe and the world. For this reason the breed has a few distinctive qualities. Shetland sheep come in a vast array of natural shades from white, through to fawn, chocolate brown and black.  These shades can be blended or dyed and then used to knit those distinctive Fair-Isle patterns we all know and love. The fibre also works wonderfully for lace work, creating a light and airy fabric which holds its block wonderfully. Shetland yarn will felt well and is highly resistant to the tendency that some softer fibres have to pill.

Our Shetland yarn is available in both 4-ply and DK. We select the finest fleeces we can find, so this breed is a wonderful place to start if you’re thinking of delving into breed specific yarns. We offer a wide variety of natural shades which are complemented by a few dyed shades in the 4-ply only.

Both weights retail at £5.70 a ball, but are currently on sale for £5.20 a ball until 22nd June.

Thank you to Sonja from Blacker Yarns for this guest post.