A Revolution in Online Yarn Shopping?

I am delighted to share with you the news that today, a brand new online yarn shop has opened, called BritYarn.

Brit Yarn

It has been set up by Isla Davison, who I have “known” through Twitter for a long time and who shares many of the same passions for British Wool as I do. BritYarn is a company that does exactly what it says on the tin – selling British yarns and pattern support. On the website, Isla explains the ideas and driving force behind the formation of BritYarn:

“Friends and family suggested I open a wool shop knowing my passion for wool and knitting. Having shrugged off their suggestions, I never imagined myself running a business but life changing circumstances presented life changing opportunities and, in late 2014, the idea of BritYarn started to develop.

I have been knitting for several years and have become really interested in where the wool or fibre comes from. However, as a knitter, I was becoming increasing frustrated when it was either not clear where the wool originated from or was simply labelled as manufactured in Britain. This desire to understand the provenance of my wool has developed into BritYarn and our woolly principles.”

I love the idea of BritYarn’s Woolly Principles, and many of them chime with the ideas and vision I had when I set up Yarns From The Plain. I wanted to celebrate and support the British Wool Industry through sourcing the fibre and where possible through all stages of processing (not always easy!)

BritYarn’s Woolly Principles

  • First and foremost, BritYarn must love it if we’re going to stock it. We believe in using materials and patterns we love, to create beautiful, long-lasting items.
  • BritYarn embraces provenance. It’s hugely important to us to know, as far as possible, the origins of our products and to share these details with our customers. BritYarn will clearly outline where the wool was spun and dyed; some wool may be spun or dyed outside of Britain, and if it is, we’ll tell you. It’s all about being able to trace the journey of the product and make informed choices.
  • BritYarn’s definition of “British” includes British Overseas Territories (e.g. The Falkland Islands). 
  • BritYarn celebrates the British Wool industry. Wool content in a yarn must be 100% British grown.  Any natural fibres (where present) in a blend, e.g. linen, will comprise a maximum of 50% of the total content.  Synthetic material (where present) in a blend, e.g. nylon will comprise a maximum of 25% of the total content.
  • BritYarn supports British businesses. Wool, patterns and accessories as well as business support will be sourced exclusively from British suppliers. We believe in shopping local and helping to sustain British businesses.

 

A set of principles to be proud of there I am sure you will agree, and as you will have realised, close to my heart and vision for Yarns From The Plain.

With that in mind, I am delighted to say that I have dyed a set of exclusive colourways on my gorgeous Mobberley 4ply base, just for BritYarn. Isla and I thought it would be fun to link the colours to British landmarks, so we had a fine old time bouncing possible ideas around. I really wanted to capture a combination of both the natural and industrial beauty of Britain (no, really, some of our industrial heritage is just stunning!), plus we thought it would be fun to have a colourway inspired by the BritYarn logo. I took individual photos of the colourways, but this photo is one Isla took, showing all 6 colours together.

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From the top left, going clockwise, we have Blackpool Illuminations, (variegated), Bridge over the Forth (semi-solid russett), Usk Valley (semi-solid green), Heather on The Moors (tonal purples), BritYarn (variegated) and Ironbridge (tonal greys).

Remember, these colourways will only ever be available from BritYarn, so if you want them, you need to nip over there quickly. In fact, several had sold before 7 this morning!

 

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Meet The Bases: Mobberley

So I thought that it was about time I introduced you to my woolly babies! I have a number of different yarn bases, all using British wool, although not all bases are currently available in the shop. The first base I want to introduce you to is Mobberley.

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A range of Mobberley 4 ply

Now, many of my local customers have realised, but my wider customer base may not have done, that my yarn bases are all named after towns and villages in Cheshire (well, all except one but that’s for another post!). Mobberley is a village between Wilmslow and Knutsford, close to Manchester Airport. I love little nuggets of useless information and I was delighted to be reminded that Mobberley was the home of George Mallory, the mountaineer.

The base is custom-spun in Devon, from 70% Exmoor Blueface and 30% British Alpaca. It was originally spun for LaalBear, but I bought her undyed stock and the mill were happy to continue to spin the blend for me. However, this does mean that it isn’t a yarn I can restock from a warehouse, so currently only have an aranweight in stock in the Etsy shop. Don’t worry, I do have some waiting for my new shop launch, which should be very soon!

The Exmoor Blueface is local to the mill in Devon and is a cross between the Exmoor Horn and Blue Faced Leicester. The Exmoor Horn contributes hard wearing attributes, whilst the Blue Faced Leicester gives softness. Blending with the British Alpaca gives the finished a halo typical of alpaca blends and the overall yarn is soft to handle.

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Bridge Over The Forth, an exclusive colourway for BritYarn

It comes in three weights; 4 ply, DK and Aran weight. Each skein weighs 100g , with 4ply being 333m, DK being 250m and Aran being 176m per 100g. In terms of construction, the 4ply weight is (confusingly) made up of 3 plies, as is the Aran weight, which leads to a plump yarn with good squish factor. The DK weight is constructed from 4 plies and is a firmer yarn, but no less soft.

Mobberley Aran in Bewitched
Mobberley Aran in Bewitched

I absolutely love this yarn and think it is great for all sorts of accessories. The fine halo gives a nice finish, and I love using it as weft in weaving. It makes cosy socks, with some stating that the Exmoor Blueface makes it hardwearing enough for boot socks, but I haven’t made a pair yet so cannot vouch for that. A fine lace pattern would be softened by the alpaca halo, which gives the finished piece charm. I find it a very warm yarn, due to the loft, particularly in the 4ply.

Mobberley 4ply for BritYarn
Mobberley 4ply for BritYarn

It takes colour beautifully, but due to the alpaca content, perhaps more softly than other bases. I love dyeing it and wish I had Hermione’s time turner so I could knit all the things I want to in this yarn!

So what would you knit in Mobberley?

 

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Fluph

I am SO cross, it’s untrue! Why? Because in all the fun of yesterday, all I took was one photo, of the yarn set up in the gorgeousness that is fluph. (look at those sheep! Fluph sells those. How gorgeous!)

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The yarn on display at fluph

Before you think it looks a bit skimpy, can I say that this was 4 hours into a 6 hour session, so that’s why the blue looks a bit depleted. Guess what colour I’ll be dyeing next week?

We spread the fibre out on every available surface, but I didn’t take a snap of that. Luckily, one of the lovely customers,  (who would you believe I have met before, nearly five years ago) had her camera. Her instagram feed is here.

My first impressions of fluph were that is was as cosy as it looks on Leona’s instagram feed (What can I say? I’ve been following her for a while. I’m easily hooked by beautiful spaniels). I think it is everything a yarn shop should be. Lots of light. Interesting yarns. Some great workhorses (I LOVE Drops Fabel sockyarn). Sofas. A seemingly endless supply of tea and coffee. A welcoming atmosphere. I have not felt this welcomed and comfortable in a yarn shop since Fibre and Clay closed in Knutsford. If you are ever in Dundee, I heartily recommend this place. I am of course biased, because I have visited none of the other yarn shops in Dundee but to be honest, with the lovely atmosphere, squishy sofas, regular knit night and the lovely Leona, I’m not sure I want to go anywhere else.

Thank you LJ and thank you to all your lovely customers. I would love to come back again!

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Yarns From The Plain Trunk Show

I’ve been taking the yarn part of the shop out and about this year, mainly to knitting groups or knitting retreats, and there’s been a really good response. I also sell at meetings of the Cheshire Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. But there is major excitement here at YFTP HQ because it is a week (eek!) until YFTP goes on the road proper, to the gorgeous looking fluph in Dundee. Look what Leona created from my logo:
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I’m so in awe! And soooooo looking forward to it. If you are in the Dundee area, please drop in!

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Yes, I am contrary!

 

You remember last time, I showed you some possible colour combinations for the Old Shale part of my Hap shawl? I made a decision! I went for this combination:imageYes, I know it wasn’t part of the original choice, but it works better , I think.

 

 

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Decisions, Decisions…

I’m currently working on my Hansel Hap by Gudrun Johnson for the Knit British Hap-along and although I’m still working on the centre square, my thoughts have been turning to the striped Old Shale pattern around the edge. Out of the many colours of the Wildboardclough I dyed, which four should I use to complete this part?

I decided to try some yarn wraps in the correct proportions, to help out.

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I thought it would help. But I don’t think it has! There only thing I can be sure of, is I don’t really like the first one. Ho hum?

What do you think?

 

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A Sneak Peek!

I’m planning on casting on a Hansel Hap by Shetland Trader to join in the Knit British Hap-a-long that starts tomorrow. I was originally going to use some Rowan Scottish Tweed that has been in my stash for a v.e.r.y. long time, but it is only in 3 colours and there is only enough for a Half Hansel.

What to do?

Well, doh! I could dye some yarn…

I have a new base, a toothsome North Ronaldsay 2ply, 550m for 100g, so I decided to have a play yesterday. Seems I went a little mad…

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Oops! This yarn will be ideal for colourwork where you need grippy yarn. It is rustic and ideal for out wear like the Hansel Hap. I am so looking forward to winding up a cornucopia of mini skeins and launching them in a few weeks. Keep a look out!

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Just a little something…

Ok, so I know it’s a bit quiet over here as we build everything (who am I trying to kid? As my web designer friend builds everything!) but I thought I would show you some yarn…

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Mobberley Aran in Bewitched

Last year I dyed a colourway, Bewitched, on my Mobberley 4ply base. Mobberley is a custom spun yarn, 70% Exmoor Blueface, 30% British Alpaca. It proved popular, but someone messaged me on Etsy to ask if I had it on any heavier bases. Not one to refuse a challenge, I picked up the gauntlet ad set to to dye it on both the DK and the Aran weight bases. I’ve had to change the technique slightly, as I heat set the original 4 ply in the microwave, and that has now bitten the dust, but I still love it! Both can be found in the shop.

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Inspiration

I’m often asked what inspires me, but I never have a simple answer. Sometimes I’m influenced by the seasons and the colours I see in the garden. Often in the autumn I find myself dyeing with rich oranges, russets and browns, as if I am trying to capture the very leaves in my dye pots.
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In the Spring I often end up dyeing lots of fresh greens and purples. It must be the crocuses!
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Sometimes I’m just in a particular mood and want to explore the limits of one particular colour or combination of colours. Lately, it’s been greens and blues:
Cheviot Blue and Green Music

Cheviot Freshwater 2

Wherever my mood takes me, though, it’s great fun exploring!

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