Yarn Reviews

Yarn Review

We take a look at what some of the new-to-us indie dyers have been up to

As this is our colour issue it seemed obvious to us that we should focus on the great yarns available from some of the indie dyers both here and abroad.  The big mills are very often tied into working with the colours they know sell for them season after season and it can take a good while before a new colourway makes it into production. Working with smaller quantities, indie dyers are able to stay ahead of what’s on trend and keep up to date with what market wants.

As champions of the smaller, independent makers, we’ve focused on some of the indie dyers we know previously, but felt we needed to let you know about some more of the ones we’ve heard about.

bear in sheep's clothing yarn

Secret Stash

Samauri Sock

Shade Pictured Big Fish

Fibre Content85% merino, 15% nylon

Ball Weight/Length 100g = 400m/437yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None specified

SecretStash

Nikki and Jaele are the women behind the brand Secret Stash. Both are founding members of the Belfast Stitch n Bitch group and have been knitterly friends for some years now.

A knitter for over 10 years, Nikki, like many of us, was originally taught the craft by her mum. When we asked her about her early knitting memories, Nikki told us “Although I didn’t give up knitting, I didn’t broadcast that I did it and was still doing it in secret. I could only manage garter stitch and casting off was a mystery to me so I ended up with the world’s longest scarf”.

Fast forward to August 2016, when Nikki was amongst the group of people that attended a yarn dyeing workshop hosted by Terri Carroll of Fine Fish Yarns.  Having been well and truly bitten by the dyeing bug, Nikki went home and ordered some dyes and yarn that day.

After showing the results to the SnB ladies, Nikki was encouraged to dye more and having convinced friend, Jaele to join her, Secret Stash was born.  Jaele sews beautiful project bags, while Nikki dyes the yarn.

The colourway Nikki sent us down is called Big Fish and it’s on their Samauri Sock yarn base and retails for £15 per skein.  No surprises for guessing that the colourway was a big hit with us when it arrived.  Semi-solids are incredibly versatile, and in our swatch you can fully appreciate the overall colour effect.  The yarn has knitted up perfectly and while perfect for socks, it would be great for garments and accessories too.

The ladies hope to have a website up and running in the not to distant future, for you to purchase from, but in the meantime you can keep up with everything Secret Stash on Instagram and Facebook.  If you’re heading over to the Loch Ness Knitting Festival in October you should see them there.

The Moon and Sixpence

MMN

Shade Pictured Strawberries & Cream

Fibre Content 55% Merino, 20% Kid Mohair, 25% Nylon

Ball Weight/Length 100g = 425 m/465 yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None Specified

The Moon and Sixpence

Some of you might already be familiar with Annie, as we attended a rug making workshop, which we wrote about in Issue 5.  We were thrilled when we learnt that Annie was venturing into the indie dyeing scene and have been incredibly impressed by her colourways.

Annie told us that The Moon and Sixpence started with her love of knitting, colour and yarn, and the need for a particular colourway that she couldn’t source.  On dyeing her own, the magic happened and she was hooked.

Living on the very edge of the stunning Mizen Peninsula in West Cork, next to the peaceful Dunmanus Castle and bay, Annie finds her inspiration all around her, from the sea and mountains visible from her windows, to the beautiful wild flowers in the hedgerows.

It is incredible how soft a little mohair can make a yarn, which with the soft halo, creates a luxurious handle.  The yarn was a pleasure to knit with and in our opinion, would make a beautiful shawl.  Annie’s eye for colour shines through and her interpretation of Strawberries and Cream in yarn form, is soft and delicate – think Wimbeldon in the sun.  All of The Moon and Sixpence yarns are ethically sourced and the merino, kid mohair, nylon costs €22 per hank plus shipping.

Annie’s yarns are available via her Etsy Shop and you can stay in touch with her via Instagram.

Woolly Adventures

Super Sock

Shade Pictured Gunmetal Flash

Fibre Content 75% Superwash Merino 25% Nylon

Ball Weight/Length 100g 425m/465 yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None Specified

Woolly Adventures

Based in Cullbackey, Northern Ireland, Dani & Sam are the yarn dyeing duo behind Woolly Adventures.  Dani is a local, born and bred in Cullbackey, while Sam is originally from Portumna, Co. Galway.  Sam was taught to knit by her grandmother when she was young and has always had a great enthusiasm for the craft.  Sam passed on her knowledge and taught Dani to knit in 2016 and led Dani firmly down the rabbit hole.  Woolly Adventures was born out of a photo diary of the duo’s projects.

Dani is a lover of all things colour and having been completely bitten by the bug, would always be on the lookout for brightly coloured yarn to make her next hat or scarf.  This transitioned seamlessly into her trying a spot of hand dyeing this year which soon became an addictive hobby.  Producing more yarn than they could realistically knit led them to set up their Etsy shop in May

Gunmetal Flash is in fact, one of the first colourways Dani ever dyed up and it’s incredible. OK, so it’s blue, but looking past that, there are so many little pops of colour mixed in amongst the blue, the more you look, the more you find.  Our swatch is 38 stitches, so if you knitted a basic 60/64 stitch sock your colour spread would be more random.

It’s a yarn very much fit for purpose; the nylon content will make good, well-wearing socks, but the resulting fabric would also be great for other knitted or crocheted projects too.  Personally speaking, I would be more than happy to have a whole cardigan in Gunmetal Flash, but I’m guessing you knew that already?

You can find the Woolly Adventures Etsy Shop here where their Super Sock Yarn sells for £15 plus shipping per 100g and you can keep up with all the duo’s news over on Instagram here.

Unbelieva-Wool

DK

Shade Pictured Stormy Rainbow

Fibre Content 75% merino, 25% Nylon

Ball Weight/Length 100g = 212 m/232 yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None Specified

Unbelieva-wool

Based in Dorset with her three daughters, husband, two black Labradors and four cats, Samantha from Unbelieva-wool describes her life as ‘a bit chaotic, but fun’.  The company was born out of a love for colour and has now progressed from a few skeins to a full-time job that allows Samantha to work around her family life.

As well as vending at yarn festivals there are also several Unbelieva-wool yarn clubs, a crochet shawl club, a mini skein club, a generic yarn club and a sock club will be launching soon.

Samantha’s love of colour is very evident in the skein of yarn she sent us.  The combination of Airforce bluey/grey and rainbow pop really complement each other.  Our swatch knitted up beautifully and being a double-knit yarn, it took absolutely no time.  The colour distribution isn’t as random in our 4 inch/10 cm square as it would be in a larger project, even so, none of the colours jar with each other.

The merino/nylon base creates a smooth, cosy yarn that would be ideal for all projects including socks if you like yours that little bit thicker.  The cost per skein is currently £14 plus shipping and you can find the Unbelieva-wool Etsy Shop here.  If you’d like to stay up-to-date with Unbelieva-wool, you can find them on Instagram and Facebook.

Olann

Sock Sport

Shade Pictured Granny Smith

Fibre Content 80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon

Ball Weight/Length 100g = 365m/399yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None Specified

Olann

Jess is the woman in charge behind Olann, which has been in business for four months and has under its belt many collaborations with designers such as Caitlin Hunter and Cassondra Rizzardi. With a background in fashion and textile design, Jess has always been interested in hand made, meticulously crafted and well-made products. A mother, a dyer and by her own admission, a very slow knitter, her love of colour has always been the driving force behind her works.

In her small workshop in County Cavan, Jess takes inspiration from her surroundings in rural Ireland, art, nature, cityscapes, and her imagination. She uses this to create gorgeous colours for fellow knitters and all round crafters to knit and play with.

Recently Jess has been working with fellow makers and in the coming months the Olann online shop, will include gorgeous smelling wool soap and custom project bags.

The colour of the yarn Jess sent us just screams Granny Smith doesn’t it?  There are so many different hues in the one skein that it’s almost impossible to describe them. From the palest ivory to a deep dark forest green, with little pops of red here and there, it is saturated with colour.

A sport weight Superwash Merino/Nylon blend the yarn is perfect for all applications including socks of course and retails for €21, plus shipping from the Olann web shop.  Keep in touch with Olann via Instagram, Facebook and Ravelry.

Dye Candy

4Ply MSC

Shade Pictured Trip

Fibre Content 70% Superwash Merino, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere

Ball Weight/Length 100g = 400m/437yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None Specified

Dye Candy

Having been an artist all her life, Hutch had originally planned to move to Canada, but two weeks before she was due to leave, she met her partner. A fan of baby wraps, rather than prams, Hutch originally began using different dyeing techniques on them for friends and was asked if she’d try dyeing up some yarn.  At that time Hutch had never considered it, and couldn’t knit or crochet.  Everything has changed now and Hutch describes Dye Candy as her dream job, one she never knew existed.

Hutch, now knits, crochets, felts, and can weave and spin. Her colourways are bright and bold and reflective of how much contrast she tries to achieve in her personal projects.  Having sort of fallen in to yarn dyeing, Hutch is thrilled to have been nominated in the British Crochet and Knitting Awards 2017 for Best Independent Yarn Brand.

Confession time, I hadn’t really paid attention to the fibre content of the Dye Candy yarn we’d been sent before knitting the swatch, which would explain why I kept thinking it contained silk (honestly). The merino, silk, cashmere blend has created the softest of knitted fabrics – complete luxury and just perfect for wearing next to your skin. Flash the beautiful random speckles of the colourway Trip in a shawl or sweater.  The silk gives a lovely delicate sheen to the yarn, which intensifies the colours, making them really pop. As Hutch is based in Northern Ireland, a 100g skein of this delicious yarn will cost you £18.

There is a Dye Candy Facebook page and linked group, Instagram and website with shop, so you’ve plenty of ways to stay in touch.

Truly Hooked

Standard Sock

Shade Pictured The Experimenter

Fibre Content 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon

Ball Weight/Length 50g = 425m/467yds

Needle Size 2-3mm

Tension None Specified

Truly Hooked

Being a busy mum to three young children, one of whom is only a few months old, doesn’t seem to have slowed Nottingham based indie dyer Verity Castledine down.  The lady behind the dye pots at Truly Hooked, Verity is also an accomplished designer and has already published a book of 10 designs called The Sock Drawer. The book has been shortlisted in the British Knitting and Crochet Awards, one of three categories, for which Verity has been nominated in.

A keen crocheter and knitter, Verity told us that she dyes yarn because she loves colour and also the creative outlet it gives her.  There are several yarn clubs offered by Truly Hooked, of which the Monthly Themed Box is the most popular.  Prices start at £22.50 for 100g of yarn plus gifts to match the theme. This can be upgraded to 200g, and a semi-solid skein to match the surprise colour way can be added also.

Verity sent us a hank of her popular colourway The Experimenter, which retails at £15 per 100g skein.  It’s on the Truly Hooked Standard Sock base and would make a gorgeous pair of socks.  When you look at the colours in more detail, The Experimenter contains just about every conceivable shade you can think of.  There are blues, purples, greens, fluorescent yellow and pinks, which on paper, sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the speckles are quite light and they leave enough of the pale ivory base yarn shine through.  Creating a much softer speckled yarn than lots on the market and it would sit fantastically well in a So Faded jumper.

At the moment, you can purchase Truly Hooked yarns from the Etsy Shop, but in the very near future, the new webshop will be opening.  If you want to stay in touch and follow all the Truly Hooked news, you’ll find them on Facebook and Instagram and you’ll be able to purchase in person if you’re attending Yarndale.

Strand Designs

Sock Ply

Shade Pictured Cherry Blossom

Fibre Content75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon

Ball Weight/Length 100g = 425m/467yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None Specified

Strand Yarns

Dyeing on a small scale from her home in County Laois, Karena the lady behind the skein, takes her inspiration from the beautiful countryside around her. She looks at the natural hedgerows for inspiration as the seasons change, from the simple thistle blossom to the russet leaves.

Strand Designs began approximately three years ago and Karena told us that while not every dyeing session goes to plan, she loved learning her new craft and is always curious to try new techniques.  Some of her most popular colourways have been ‘happy accidents’.

The delicious hank of Sock Ply that Karena sent us is in her popular Cherry Blossom colourway.  The pops of lime green and chartreuse, really highlight the different pinks, while in the places that the two shades have merged, they have formed lovely little rust splashes, reminiscent of the tree bark.

A standard 75/25 merino/nylon sock base, Strand Designs Sock Ply yarn would make the most gorgeous pair of socks, that should stand up to the general wear and tear we put them through.  A light-weight 4ply/fingering yarn, with 425 metres per skein, the yarn is also soft enough to wear next to skin and would make the prettiest shawl or garment.

Karena’s yarns are available to purchase from the Strand Designs Etsy Shop and currently the Sock Ply costs €20 per skein.  You’ll also find Strand Designs on Facebook and Instagram, where Karena posts all her up-to-date news.

Wool is the Answer

4ply/Fingering

Shade Pictured Summer Iced Gems

Fibre Content 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon

Ball Weight/Length 100g = 420m/459yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None Specified

Wool is the Answer

No lies here, the little package of yarn we received from Marie and Dominique aka Wool is the Answer, must be one of the most adorable packages we’ve ever seen.  Tucked into a plastic postal envelope, we discovered a brown paper package tied up with string, complete with a hand-stamped label, with the rest of the chorus from The Sound of Music – perfect!

Pretty new to the indie yarn dye scene, the ladies describe themselves as keen crafters who love to knit and crochet.  For them, the progression to yarn dyeing was natural.  Based in Lincolnshire, Marie and Dominique run a local Knit and Natter group in the area, where they share their love of knitting and cake.

Selling their yarn already caked up allows the maker to get to it straight away, without the need for winding. Hence the Wool is the Answer tagline “we bake, we cake, you make”.

Our little swatch has been knitted in the Summer Iced Gems colourway, which is totally evocative of ice lollies and ice cream on a summer’s day.  A light 4ply/Fingering yarn with approximately 420 metres per hank, the yarn would make the most delightful pair of socks.  Even better if you combined it with one of the complementary solid colourways the ladies sell too.

You can purchase Wool is the Answer yarns from their website, where you will also find details of the Twelve Days of Christmas Shawl Box.  A skein of the 4ply Summer Iced Gems will currently set you back £14.50 plus shipping.  To stay in touch you’ve a choice of several places to choose from including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Ravelry.

Wool Finch Studio

Plant Dyed Yarn

Shade Pictured Rustic

Fibre Content 70% Wool, 30 % Ramie

Ball Weight/Length 100g = 300m/328yds

Needle Size None Specified

Tension None Specified

Wool Finch Studio

As most of you will no doubt be aware, Jennifer, our regular columnist is also the lady behind the wonderful world that is Wool Finch Studio.

Originally from Germany, Jennifer lives in County Clare with her husband and three children.  Having taught arts and crafts at the Steiner School her children attend, Jennifer soon became frustrated with trying to source materials and decided to do something about it.  The result is Wool Finch Studio, a haven for crafters and makers everywhere that specialises in natural fibre arts and crafts materials and plant dyes.  More recently Jennifer has also begun to stock high quality woollen and plant based fabrics to complement the ever-growing range of products they sell.

The colours Jennifer achieves in her naturally dyed yarns are truly beautiful and it’s easy to see why her ranges are gaining so much publicity.  Recent collaborations with Albina from LB Handknits to produce sock and garment knitting kits have been a natural progression and it’s Jennifer’s plan to open a bricks and mortar shop in the not too distant future.

This is our first time knitting with a Ramie/Wool blend yarn, so we weren’t too sure what to expect.  Ramie is a flowering plant in the nettle family and is one of the oldest fibre crops, having been used for at least six thousand years (source Wikipedia).

The Ramie fibre and provides a gentle lustre to the yarn, while providing extra strength and stability that you would normally get in a traditional wool/nylon blend sock yarn. The yarn itself has a certain ‘crispness’ to it, similar to the feel of a linen blend yarn, but it’s easier on the hands to knit with. Our swatch has lovely little stitches, with a good all over tension and smooth texture. Intrigued by the fabric, I stretched the sample very thoroughly and it surprised me when it sprang back into shape,  exactly what you require from a sock yarn. I hope to find the time to knit a pair, so I can give you a more in-depth review of the yarn’s sockiness.

In the meantime, we couldn’t finish this review without mentioning the beautiful rusty red colour of the yarn, which has been achieved by dyeing with madder.  The combination of fibres has created a beautiful semi-solid effect, with each taking up the dye differently.  If you want to give a skein of the sport weight wool and Ramie blend a go yourself, it costs €19.95 plus shipping and is available from the Wool Finch Studio Etsy Shop here.  You can stay up to date with all the news via Instagram, and Twitter, as well as in Jennifer’s regular column here of course.

2017-09-11T22:23:55+00:00