All About Shetland Hap Shawls

You might have seen that we have a workshop on Knitting the Shetland Hap Shawl coming up and wondered to yourself…‘What’s a Hap Shawl anyway?’

Well, we thought we would do a little post all about this wonderful slice of Scottish knitting heritage.

Firstly, what exactly does ‘hap’ mean? Well, according to blogger KnitBritish in her extremely informative post, hap means “to cover, wrap or keep warm” and was “a traditional shawl of everyday wear for Shetland women”.

You can see a variety of charming vintage photographs of these warm, practical shawls in everyday use at the above blog post, but here are a few from there and from other archives:


These shawls originated as a practical garment for keeping the Shetland weather out while working and out and about on the islands – usually constructed as a garter stitch square with a old-shale lace border around the outside. As you can see from the first photo, they were equally as useful as baby blankets as wrapped around the wearer’s body against the elements.

Recently, knitting designers such as Kate Davies and Gudrun Johnston have revived this traditional shawl style and taken it into the 21st century, playing with different shapes, yarns and styles. A quick search on Ravelry turns up many lovely designs – here is just a small selection:

 

As you can see, once the basic techniques are mastered this is a style which you can adapt to your own preferences – working with rustic tweedy yarns and natural shades, or more bright and contemporary yarns.

Anniken Allis will be teaching a workshop on how to knit her own version of a Shetland Hap Shawl (pictured below) on Wednesday 13th March. The workshop costs £59 for the day and materials will be supplied (plus we have plenty of gorgeous suitable yarns to choose from when you decide to make your own afterwards).

To book either visit the listing on Eventbrite or call 01626 836203.

 

With thanks to the beautiful and informative information found at these blogs, click through to read more if you’ve really got the ‘hap bug’ and to view even more fascinating historical photos: KnitBritish, Jamieson & Smith and Kate Davies.

 

Come and stock up in our amazing new sale

The business handover is finally complete and Trish is celebrating by throwing an unprecedented sale! This will also help make way for some lovely new Autumn yarns.

We will have up to 50% off many of your favorite lines, including: Debbie Bliss, Louisa Harding, Rare Yarns, Discontinued Rowan, Manos Del Urugauy, Lorna’s Laces, Lotus Yarns and Navia.

 

The sale runs from Thursday 23rd – Saturday 25th August and includes many patterns, buttons and haberdashery items too. We even have some patterns and magazines going free!

The discounts are only available in the shop on in-stock yarn…we’re anticipating that with such exciting discounts these yarns will not hang around for long so if you want to get the best bargains do come in sooner rather than later. We should add that due to the amazing discounts there won’t be any further discount on sale items for Loyalty Card Holders.

Breezy Summer Lace Knitting

Well, after all that snow this Spring the sunshine has finally arrived here in Bovey Tracey!

But does that mean we stop knitting? Of course not! It just means that we get to enjoy working on airy, openwork lace projects and using the lovely cool cotton and linen yarns which are available to use this year.

To help inspire you we have rounded up a selection of our favourite patterns and yarns to keep you going through what we hope will be a delightfully warm and sunny spring and summer!

Don’t forget, if these patterns catch your eye but you don’t know how to do this style of knitting, we have Anniken’s Easy Lace Knitting workshop on Wednesday 9th May – it still has spaces on so just call 01626 836203 to book.

Anniken Allis has a new pattern available in The Knitter Magazine, Tor Grass, which uses Rowan’s new Fine Denim Lace yarn – a recycled denim yarn which gives a delicate stitch definition, perfect for showing off the intricate shapes of Anniken’s pattern.


Not only is Denim Lace a great choice for summer knits due to the high cotton content and fine, lightweight spin, Rowan also have a booklet of 4 designs available which is FREE when you buy the yarn!

Anniken was sporting the perfect summer garment when she came in to teach a workshop the other day – her lace poncho, Mist on the Moor.

Knitted in Schoppel Zauberball with added beading, this would be an ideal accessory to throw on when the sun goes down and you need a little warmth on your shoulders.

And of course, we are still enjoying the new WYS Florist Collection – these British-spin sock yarns are available in a delicate palette inspired by flowers – perfect if you’ve been spending time in your garden and are loving the colours.

If fine yarns aren’t your thing, we have a silky new linen-blend yarn in a DK weight from Sirdar.

Made with 10% linen and 90% lycocell, a natural, man made fibre made with wood pulp from sustainable tree farms, this yarn is incredibly soft, drapey and breathable, with a gorgeous sheen.

So, don’t put those needles away just yet – pop in and have a play with our summer yarns, a browse through our patterns, and find a project to see you through the heatwave!

 

 

 

 

Spring/Summer 2018 Rowan Yarns have Arrived!

The new Rowan yarns have now been delivered…who wants to find out a little more about them?

First up we have Rowan Denim Lace. This is an exquisitely fine laceweight/2ply yarn made from recycled denim, in a range of 6 versatile shades – from faded denim to jewel-like teal.

The exciting news is that Rowan have made 4 patterns designed for Denim Lace available for download on their website. We particularly love this airy lace shawl and classic cabled raglan jumper. 

 

Next we have Rowan Cotton Cashmere. This new DK yarn offers the best of both words – the softness of cashmere with the crisp stitch definition and breathability of cotton.

It is available in a range of soft shades which will be perfect for summer throwovers and accessories.

If you need pattern inspiration there is a new collection from Sarah Hatton, filled with delicate and elegant summer knits.

 

We have all these plus the new Rowan Magazine in the shop currently, so do pop in to have a play. The Denim Lace is a limited edition yarn, so don’t delay a visit if you particularly fancy that!

 

 

New super-squishy alpaca chunky in for Winter

We have a gorgeous new arrival here at Spin A Yarn…King Cole Superfine Alpaca Chunky.

This sumptuous natural Alpaca yarn comes in 5 soft neutral shades, Fawn, Koala, Camel, Charcoal and Grey. We know our customers love natural shades, and we find undyed yarn has a special softness all of it’s own. If you’re planning a trip to the shop, make sure you pick it up and give it a squeeze!

The yarn is supported by a beautiful book full patterns – from Socks, Hats & Scarves to Vest tops and shawls. With most projects only requiring 1 to 2 balls, this book is a fantastic cost-effective way of adding some luxurious natural fibre to your wardrobe. Click here to view the yarn on our site – as usual to order, pop in, email an enquiry through or just give us a call!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

King Cole Alpaca Chunky basket

Introducing…Sirdar Colourwheel

Sirdar Colourwheel

If you pass our shop window your eye might well be caught by our new yarn, Sirdar Colourwheel. This yarn is fantastic value at £11.00 for approx 520m per ball, which includes this free lacy scarf pattern printed on the ball band!

We can also provide the free pattern which is photographed on the ball band, for a pretty lacy shawlette – just ask when buying:

Sirdar have published a lovely collection of one-ball patterns for this yarn, including many in crochet – a real treat for our crochet fans who don’t usually have such a big choice! The yarn is a very practical 80% acrylic/20% wool blend and thanks to the gorgeous colourways will be absolutely perfect for kids knits and blankets as it is machine washable.

How pretty do the different shades look knitted up?

Sirdar COLOURWHEEL Shades

To buy this yarn just pop into the shop, give us a call on 01626 836203 or to read more online go here: Sirdar Colourwheel.

Bigbury Bay Cardigan Pattern – Exclusive to Spin A Yarn!

Bigbury Bay Cardi Pattern

We have a lovely new pattern to share with you today. After designing the Trendlebere Jumper for us, we asked Heather to come up with a cardi design that was classic and versatile. She came up with Bigbury Bay – a cardigan with a timeless look which can be knitted in bold contrasting colours for a contemporary look, or all in one colour for a more subtle effect. You can use any DK yarn to knit it – although it works beautifully in Adriafil Sierra Andina alpaca – you can feel how soft the sample garment is when you next pop into the shop! The pattern also features two different lengths as we know some of our customers prefer slightly shorter or longer cardis.

You can buy a copy of Bigbury Bay in the shop for £3.00, enquire to order it though our website here or it’s available to buy on Ravelry.com here. If you knit it we’d love to see your photos – either share them on Facebook or Instagram (@spinayarnshop).

You can also follow Heather’s exciting design work at her Facebook page: Woolly Minded Knitwear.

Tunisian Crochet – the best of both worlds!

We’re often asked…what exactly is Tunisian crochet?

Well, the short answer is that it is a craft that combines the best of knitting and crochet – you use a hook like crochet, but it’s as long as a knitting needle, and you keep a whole row of stitches on the hook, like knitting. You can achieve many different stitches and effects, and even combine it with regular crochet. It produces quite a dense and textured fabric, which is great for making warm and cozy cowls and mitts, or even fabric for bags, purses and cushions.

tunisian-hook

Why “Tunisian”? Well, the name is a bit misleading! It’s also been called over the years: Afghan Crochet, Shepherd’s Knitting, German Work, Railway Knitting (named after the girls on the trains going to work in English factories in the 1800s), Russian Work, Tricot Work, and many more. Some believe that the technique evolved from the ‘hook knitting’ of Egypt, Afghanistan, and Tunisia, which uses two long needles with hooked ends. We might guess from the terms ‘Afghan’ and ‘Tunisian’ that it originated in the Near East or northern Africa, but there’s not a lot of evidence to substantiate that. In fact, most believe that the term ‘Tunisian crochet’ was coined by the French. By the early 1800s directions for Tunisian stitches began appearing in publications for crocheters. It was used at the time primarily for blankets, as the dense stitches Tunisian lends itself so well to are ideal for creating warm layers. By the mid-19th century it was practiced in Western Europe and the British Isles (where, some claim, it was known as “Royal Princess Knitting” in honor of Victoria’s use of it). (Thanks to Crochetvolution blog for this fascinating info!).

If you fancy learning being part of the great resurgence of interest in this wonderful craft, our lovely crochet teacher Di Stewart is running a workshop on Tuesday 13th March. There are still some place available so get in touch to book! 01626 836203.

The workshop will teach you the basic stitches and techniques, working towards making a pair of unique Tunisian handwarmers (see below)

p18-tunisian-gloves

Once you’ve mastered the skills, the world is your oyster – here is just a small selection of the type of things you can make using Tunisian Crochet (images from Ravelry.com)

learntunisiancrochet

 

Learn a New Skill this Autumn

The leaves are turning colour, the days are getting shorter…what better way to prepare for winter than learning a few new skills with renowned designer and teacher Anniken Allis at one of our workshops?

anniken-workshop

Firstly on Tuesday 11th October we have Easy Lace Knitting.

A quick glance at the latest designs in the knitting magazines and online shows that Lace Knitting is more than just a skill – it’s an art form! Whilst it may look complicated, most lace patterns are made up of a handful of stitches which you probably already know. It’s not just for fancy shawls either – you can use lace to add a pretty border on some mitts, as a panel on a summery top, or even on socks and hats!

The workshop will teach you how to read the charts (which provide a visual aid to the written instructions), how to work the stitches and decreases required for lace knitting, how to add beads with a crochet hook, and how to shape within a lace pattern. It’s suitable for adventurous novice and intermediate knitters.

lace-knitting

Next up we have an exciting workshop teaching you how to knit Two Socks at a Time, on Tuesday 15th November.

Why would I want to do that, you might ask? Well, did you know that Second Sock Syndrome is rife among sock knitters? The joy of finishing the first sock is replaced by the weary feeling of having to repeat the whole process again. As a result, single socks linger sadly in the knitting bags of many a sock knitter! Beat it by learning how to knit two socks at a time, top-down, using circular needles. You can either use magic loop method or the two circulars method, whichever you are most comfortable with. We stock a dazzling array of sock yarns in the shop – from self striping, colour-shifting, to self-patterning!

Learn how to cast on and arrange your stitches onto the needles, how to work the heel flap, heel turn, and gusset, and all the other skills needed to knit a pair of socks in one go. (Please note, this workshop is suitable for adventurous and intermediate knitters who have knitted at least one pair of basic socks from the top down.)

socks

Both workshops cost £49 for the day, which includes Joyce’s delicious home-cooked lunch and teatime treats. For more information and to book please call 01626 836203, or email us at customerservices@spinayarndevon.co.uk

A little information about Anniken Allis…one of our most long standing teachers at Spin A Yarn, top knitwear designer Anniken specialises in lace knitting, which she loves to add beads to. Growing up in Norway, she learned to knit before she left primary school, knitting continental style. When she moved back to the UK, she resumed knitting, found a love for blogging (follow her adventures at Annis Knitting Blog), and started writing up her own patterns (we still have some of her earliest patterns here in the shop!).

Anniken taught herself lace knitting (and cables) by using online videos, books and magazines, and quickly realised that it was much easier to knit from charts. Her patterns are regularly published in national magazines such as Debbie Bliss, Knitscene, Interweave Knits, and she even achieved her goal of having a pattern published in Vogue Knitting!

vogue-knitting-anniken-cover

Teacher Focus – Alison Crowther Smith

Alison is well known and loved by many of our customers, but for those new to her designs and workshops, we thought we’d share some information about her inspirations, design process and some of her latest workshops.

Alison Crowther Smith

Having previously worked for Rowan Yarns as a Design Consultant, Joyce met Alison through the Rowan Rep at the time back in 2008. A passionate and committed knitting teacher, she has taught regular workshops at Spin A Yarn, with her wonderful moebius cowl workshops often selling out within days!

(What’s a moebius cowl you ask? It uses a specially adapted cast-on to knit a continuous loop cowl with one half twist – which sits beautifully and shows off both sides of the knitting.)

moebius-cowl

Her knitting focuses on detailed, often delicate designs with the emphasis on accessories and the occasional foray into home-ware knitting such as cushion covers and wonderfully snuggly throws.

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She is perhaps best known for a career-long love affair with one of our favourite yarns, Rowan’s best selling Kidsilk Haze, along with beads – exploring texture, subtle colour-ways and elegant knits.

When asked about her design process she said

“I am a very literal designer. When I see pleasing images, especially shapes, my mind instantly begins to try and recreate something of that imagery, in a knitted design. Once I know what I want to knit, I work backwards and layer the design elements into it. My focus tends to be on detailed features, such as a tailored cuff or a decorative texture, which I hope add elegance and a sense of the ‘whole’, as well as being really pleasing to knit.

Because I break my design process down into these layers, often the overall impression may be of an intricate, even difficult knit; but in fact, if I have a trade-mark I think it would be that each element of my designs is not very difficult to knit, but added together, they look as if they were. One of my aims is to make you, the knitter, feel amazing. 

I also like fairly small or medium-sized projects, because I am a big fan of completing my knitting within a reasonable timescale, or at least within my tolerance for boredom, which is fairly generous – but not boundless.”

Alison lives and works in Somerset where she draws inspiration from the local landscapes, saying “this large and beautiful county is full of vivid contrasts and atmospheric landscapes”.

We are featuring several new workshops from Alison in our Autumn Programme this year. More Moebius Designs is already fully booked, but here are two which you still have time to secure a place on!

Rise Scarf – Thursday 3rd November 2016 – £49 including home-cooked lunch and teatime treats.

Rise Scarf

Rise is a mirror image scarf – almost. On one side, the silver thread dominates, whilst on the other side, soft green woolen yarn eclipses the frost. Each year I am amazed by the sturdiness of snow-drops as they push through the crusted snow or frosted earth, granular from the repeated freeze and thaw. That is what I saw when I designed this scarf.

spring-1166564_640

This slender tubular scarf is knitted in the round – on DPNs, by magic loop method, or on two short circulars – whichever method you are more comfortable with! You will need 2-3 balls of DK yarn, plus 1-2 balls of Kidsilk Haze, and 3.75mm plus 4mm needles suitable for knitting in the round – and one stitch marker. Don’t forget you get a 10% discount voucher (15% off for Loyalty Card holders) on the day if you prefer to choose when you get here.

Owl Mitts – Friday 11th November 2016 – £49 including home-cooked lunch and teatime treats.

Owl Mitts

Who can resist these sweet tiny owls adorning the wrist of these cute mitts? They are quick, economical, and a great Christmas gift too, particularly for any bird-lovers or teens (owls are still very trendy!). The owls are formed using cable techniques – you’ll be amazed to see them forming up before your eyes. The course is suitable for knitters who are reasonably experienced but if you cannot already knit in the round, Alison will teach you to do this on DPNs so please bring some.

You will need 2 balls of DK yarn with a high wool content, plus 3mm needles to knit in the round. Also 3 stitch markers, a cable needle, 20 beads (size 5 or 6), or 20 tiny buttons (we stock some!). If you are a very tight knitter please also consider bringing 3.25mm needles. Don’t forget you get a 10% discount voucher (15% off for Loyalty Card holders) on the day if you prefer to choose when you get here.

To book just call 01626 836203 or email us with your contact details and which workshop you’re interested in on customerservices@spinayarndevon.co.uk and we’ll call you back. You can view all our workshops at http://www.spinayarndevon.co.uk/workshops/

We also sell Alison’s latest and VERY gorgeous pattern book, Elements, in the shop. You can read more about it here.

Smith and Jones Elements Cover