At last! Beautiful, contemporary crochet patterns.

One of the comments we often hear is that our crochet-loving customers wish there were more contemporary crochet patterns on the market. As Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project put it, “often crochet has been viewed as “best for homewares and novelties” and has struggled to lose the reputation created in the 1970s of ill-fitting granny square jackets.”

The Crochet Project have been working hard to completely transform the market and we are really pleased to be stocking two of their recently published books here at Spin A Yarn.

Everyday Wearables harnesses Joanne’s in-depth understanding of how crochet fabric is created, the need for drape and takes fit and construction lessons from both knitwear and dressmaking. A world away from the lumpy garments so many people associate with crochet, she has created pieces that fit well and look great.

Everyday Wearables collage

The book is filled with extremely detailed and helpful photo tutorials, so it’s far more than the 8 patterns it contains – it would be a perfect gift for a novice to crochet who wants to start branching out into making garments.

The Crochet Project are also known for their beautiful shawl collections. We have the fourth Shawl Project book in stock – this time they have focused on designs which make colour-shifting gradient yarns really sing.

We have a huge selection of these yarns in stock – Schoppel Zauberball would be a perfect choice with their long gradients of colour throughout each ball.

 

Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball

Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball

Or what about playing with one of our new Devon Indie-dyed Lilypond Yarns?

 

Mulberry Pie

Mulberry Pie

 

You can find both these book in our shop or read more about them on our website here:

Everyday Wearables by Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project

The Shawl Project Book 4 by The Crochet Project

“Islands of Gossamer Thread” – the Wonders of Shetland Lace

As we have a Shetland Lace Shawl workshop coming up soon (with a few spaces left!) on the 24th January, we thought it was high time we put together a blog post all about this very special tradition.

The official Shetland website shetland.org is an excellent source of information and describes the Shetland Isles up in the North Atlantic Ocean as ‘Islands of Gossamer Thread’, which is a wonderful way to describe them. Here’s a little bit of history:

By the time lace garments saw a resurgence of popularity in the early 19th century, Shetlanders had been knitting for several hundred years. We know knitting probably came to these shores around the year 1500, as knitting is documented in Faroe and Norway at that time. Knitting quickly caught on in Shetland: it was portable, required few tools, and garments could be readily sold to fishermen and merchants on passing ships. The craft was lucrative, helping to supplement the fragile local economy and the incomes of ordinary working people.

With the reign of Queen Victoria in 1837, it became fashionable for women to wear more dress accessories, especially lace mantles, stoles and shawls. Shetland knitters may have been introduced to the idea of knitting openwork patterns by prominent travellers to Shetland, who brought with them similar garments as gifts. Eliza Edmondston, wife of an Unst laird, is thought to have encouraged knitters on Shetland’s most northerly island to take up lace knitting following a slump in the trade for knitted stockings. Within a few months of Victoria’s coronation, Arthur Anderson, founder of P&O shipping and a native of Shetland, presented the Queen with examples of Shetland lace knitting. She immediately ordered 12 pairs of lace stockings, and within the decade, Shetland lace knitting could be bought in many London shops.

Recent years have seen a huge resurgence of interest in Shetland knitting. Bloggers and designers such as Kate Davies, Gudrun Johnston, and our friend and teacher Anniken Allis have been inspired by the tradition to create their own beautiful shawls.

Hansel by Gudrun Johnston

 

Somerled by Kate Davies

Jade by Anniken Allis

Whilst traditionally knitted in yarns so fine that the large finished shawl could be pulled through a wedding ring, recent designers have been able to take advantage of all the beautiful new fibre blends and dye effects available to today’s knitters to really take their shawls to the next level.

If you’d like to learn more about Shetland Lace knitting, and start your own lace shawl project, there’s still time to book onto Anniken’s Shetland Shawl workshop on Weds 24th January. Just call 01626 836203 to get your place.

Soft new shades and elegant patterns in Rowan Cocoon

We were delighted to see some new shades in one of Rowan’s most classic yarns Cocoon, and with them a book full of elegant, feminine patterns.

Rowan Timeless Cocoon pattern book

Our favourite of the new shades is this dusty pink. It’s flattering on so many different people, and yet soft enough to almost act as a neutral with stronger colours.

Rowan Cocoon Misty Rose

Cocoon is a chunky weight roving yarn – meaning it’s a single ply, loosely spun yarn – with a blend of 80% merino wool and 20% kid mohair. The mohair gives it body and warmth, and enough stitch definition to still let cables and other details pop, and the kid mohair lends a gentle halo to the finished knitting.

Rowan Timeless Cocoon Scarf

We particularly love this jumper pattern with delicate slipped stitch cabling – and anticipate it’s going to be very popular in the shop!

Rowan Timeless Cocoon Jumper

The Timeless Cocoon pattern collection has been put together by Rowan favourites such as Lisa Richardson, Brandon Mably and Sarah Hatton.

Rowan Timeless Cocoon Patterns

What do you think of the new collection?

Rowan Cocoon Shades

 

New Rowan Yarns coming this Autumn

Blackberries are already ripening, and whilst we are still having some sunny days, there’s already a slight hint of Autumn in the air…which means that we’re getting very excited about the launch of some lovely new Rowan yarns and pattern books!

Rowan Design Collections 2017-18

First up we will be getting Valley Tweed in. Rowan are returning to their roots with this traditional 100% wool 4ply tweed, made in Yorkshire.

You really get a feel from it from this footage of the Valley Tweed photoshoot:

It will be accompanied by a book of 7 designs by Lisa Richardson, and we think this pretty moss-stitch jacket will be particularly popular.

Valley Tweed - Braden

Braden Jacket by Lisa Richardson

Next up is Cashmere Tweed, made with extrafine merino and a luxurious 20% cashmere. Very exciting – there’ll be a collection of 7 Scandinavian and Icelandic inspired knits by Martin Storey to accompany it. Isn’t this hat and scarf combo perfect!

Rowan Cashmere Tweed Wilkie Hat

Wilkie Hat and Scarf by Martin Storey

We think these yarns and their pattern collections are going to usher in a return to what we know and love Rowan best for – wonderful quality yarns, soft and flattering colours, and superb patterns.

Lastly, Rowan have released a new pattern book for Brushed Fleece and Joyce is ordering in lots of the new colours in this versatile yarn. Brushed Fleece Knits features 8 designs from Quail Studio – classics with a contemporary twist. Brushed Fleece is a yarn which looks heavy but is actually incredibly light and warm!

Rowan Brushed Fleece Knits

Rowan Brushed Fleece Knits

The new Rowan Magazine 62 has already arrived at the shop. There are too many lovely patterns to choose from but we love this eye-catching Alpaca Merino Jacket by Lisa Richardson.

Rowan Magazine 62 - Marr

Rowan Magazine 62 – Marr

And as usual there are cables and fair-isle galore!

Rowan Magazine 62 - Fumbar, Farnley and Sykes

Rowan Magazine 62 – Fumbar, Farnley and Sykes

To order Mag 62 or to put your name down for a copy of the others, just give us a call on 01626 836203 or email customerservices@spinayarndevon.co.uk.

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