I’ve been very remiss in not posting these mittens sooner. My lovely Auntie Lorna knit a beautiful pair of Gingersnap Mittens (a free pattern by Prairiesque) as a sample for me. She’s very kind! Auntie Lorna adapted the pattern significantly, changing it to two 3×3 cables and reducing the size considerably. Much as I’d love to wear them – they’re so cosy and should be very hard-wearing (not to mention pretty in the yarn’s marled Coal Grey colour)- I’m going to keep them aside as samples for taking along to shows etc.
I’ve recently finished this second sample in my Autumn 2016 Zwartbles~Alpaca Blend. I wanted to knit a shawl that showed off the beauty of this yarn – it’s squishiness and texture – and settled on a simple triangular kerchief design (the Romney Kerchief by Jared Flood).
The pattern itself is simple and straight-forward and I enjoyed adapting it slightly. I used a garter tab cast-on rather than the pattern’s provisional cast-on and then played around with the bottom edge using some stunning Shilasdair scraps in vibrant pink and yellow. As ever I do love Shilasdair (the colours achieved by natural dyeing are so stunning) and was very pleased to use almost every last bit of these two small scraps………my stripes weren’t quite to plan as I had so little to work with but I’m happy with the outcome and with having made best use of what I had to hand. The Shilasdair is 4 Ply and was held double. This was my first time using a sewn bind-off – it looks great but I did find it slightly tedious!
Yarn Details: Black Isle Yarns Zwartbles~Alpaca Blend
I chose a favourite hat pattern for this sample using the Autumn 2016 Zwartbles~Alpaca Blend – the pattern is Reminisce by Libby Jonson of Truly Myrtle. I’m not one for anything too fussy and this hats fits that bill perfectly, a little detail to stop it being boring but nothing over-the-top.
The Zwartbles~Alpaca is lovely to knit with and results in a very squishy and cosy hat. I had intended it to be kept purely as a sample for shows and so on however I have been wearing it quite regularly this winter as it is so cosy!
Yarn Details: Black Isle Yarns Zwartbles~Alpaca Blend
Introducing our Autumn 2016 batch of Zwartbles and Zwartbles blend yarns:
Zwartbles sheep originate from the Netherlands where they’re an uncommon breed. They were developed as a multipurpose breed and are valued here in Britain for their calm manner and as lovely mothers with good growing lambs. Their fleece is dense and bouncy and a very deep dark brown colour, although with age and sun it bleaches rusty red at the tips. The 2016 fleeces we sourced from Hedgefield Zwartbles (link) are from shearling fleeces, from lambs in their first winter, and consequently the wool is less rustic than is typical and retains the very dark, almost black, colour – we like to think of it as Bitter Chocolate! As well as pure Zwartbles wool we have developed three blends. The first is a lovely rustic heathery Coal Grey with the addition of 45% Cheviot wool (from Drumsmittal Farm (link)). Secondly we have added 50% mohair (from a farm near our mill, The Border Mill (link), in the Scottish Borders) – this blend is a Steel Grey colour, has a real sheen and a soft yet strong handle. The final blend is with 50% alpaca (again sourced close to The Border Mill (link) in the Scottish Borders) – the alpaca fleece used was fawn coloured and the resulting fibre is a beautiful warm Toffee Fudge colour in a soft, squishy yarn.
Introducing our Autumn 2016 batch of Gotland yarns:
Gotland is an uncommon breed here in Britain with only around 1500 in the country altogether. They are an old breed of sheep having been developed on the Swedish island of Gotland over 1000 years ago. Fearniewell Croft’s Gotlands have a ‘hint of Shetland’ thanks to a determined tup a few generations ago (link). Thanks to this adventurous tup the normal range of Gotland greys is increased to include paler greys and a creamy white. The wool is typically soft and warm with a slight sheen and the addition of the Shetland genes, although perhaps reducing the lustre slightly, can be felt in the lovely soft handle of this beautiful wool. The 2016 clip from this special flock has been split into five colours – Dark Grey, Mid Grey, Light Grey, Silver Grey and White.
Knowing that I would be struggling for time to knit up samples before attending Loch Ness Knit Fest (30 Sept to 2 Oct 2016) I asked mum to knit a Granny’s Favourite Cardigan in my Autumn 2016 batch of Gotland yarn. Grannie (to my children) has knit this lovely pattern several times for my girls and was happy to help by knitting another.
She reported that the Light Grey Gotland was lovely to knit with – it is soft and light, as you’d expect from Gotland, and would be so lovely for a baby……..but I’m keeping this one as a sample (sadly, no babies more planned around here!). If you want to see one of the cutest ever knits come along to my next fair for a wee squish of this lovely little cardigan!
It was a tricky to decide which of the Black Isle Yarns Autumn 2016 yarns to knit with first but in the end the Zwartbles Mohair blend was selected – ‘eeny meeny miny mo’ can always be relied on in the case of indecision! I settled on the Hackberry Hat pattern by Ginny Sheller. I love the simple but elegant design and know I’ll wear the hat a lot (as well as, of course, bringing it along to upcoming yarn festivals as a sample!).
The pattern was beautifully straight forward and a pleasure to knit. The Zwartbles Mohair blend is really lovely to knit with, smooth and soft, but with a definite feeling of strength, and I didn’t have the nose tickling problems which are sometimes associated with mohair. There’s a real character to this yarn and a definite drape which works well with what Ginny describes as the ‘fun pseudo-slouchy style, more of what I call a “poof” hat’ – although it possibly isn’t the best yarn choice to show-off the textured design to full effect (the dark Steel Grey colour is also probably to blame here…….but, even if it does hide texture, it is such a pretty and wearable colour!).
Katie very helpfully modelled the hat for me (only a small amount of bribery involved!) – as her head is smaller than mine, it doesn’t show the yarn over increases after the ribbed brim to their full effect but is infinitely better than me trying to take selfies.
Yarn Details: Black Isle Yarns Zwartbles Mohair blend (50%~50%)