About a month ago now I began reading on various Ravelry boards that Blacker Yarns were releasing a rather special and limited edition yarn….Cornish Tin II, and knitters who love British Wool were getting all rather excited…. I wasn’t knitting when the first Cornish Tin was released last year so I began to eagerly look forward to this new release (reading about last year’s Tin had really whetted my yarny appetite)…..then I got an email from lovely Sonja at Blacker Yarns, she’d seen my shawls knitted with the lustrous Tamar and asked if I’d like a little sample of Cornish Tin II to have a bit of a play with and perhaps write a review….I was more than a bit flabbergasted and was in fact quite over the moon and proper thoroughly thrilled…..
Anyway, at the start of last week a wee package arrived from Blacker Yarns with shade cards and 2 small balls of yarn……the colours are lovely and gentle. Soft, rich hues that if you’ve used their woolly yarn before you’ll be vaguely familiar with (it’s a bit like seeing old friends you’ve not seen for ages, they look the same but there are new qualities, slight and subtle changes)…..I’m not sure if they are plant dyed but there is definitely a quietness about them that I tend to associate more with plant dyes than acid ones. Beautiful and saturated, strong, deep hues that seem very landscape and nature based. Three in particular remind me of the state of my fingers when I’ve come back from blackberry picking, foxglove pinks and berry purples.
I was rather surpised at how plump the yarn was and thought at first I had a dk, but checking against the weights on the shade card it was definitely the 4 ply….. this is a very Rubenesque yarn, soft, sensual and certainly a yarn that likes second helpings, or like a yarn that’s rather over indulged at Christmas….in fact it’s more than a bit like a Christmas pudding, being a blend of 11 carefully chosen British fibres.*
I decided to use a 3.45 needle as the yarn felt so podgy and I was quite happy with the gauge that gave me which was 19 stitches across over 4 inches, and 23 rows over 3 inches.
The yarn itself is so bouncy, somehow Blacker seems to have captured all the leaps and bounds that you see in the fields when they are all full of baa-lambs a kicking up their heels (or would that be hooves)…. it’s really springy and it’s quite a lively feeling yarn when it’s in a ball/skein…… however once it’s on the needles and I began knitting it was very well behaved….my stitches all looked nice, neat and even….and while my knititng slowly grew I was aware of little wafts of sheepiness coming up from the yarn……I even unravelled a couple of rows to see what the stitches did, and they all held in place perfectly and catching them back up on my needle was a doddle.
The stitch definition was great, nice and clear…perhaps I should have tried out some cables but to be honest, I’m not very confident yet knitting those, and I’m still a bit worried about “messing up my yarn” (I think this is because I’ve come to knitting from a background where I’ve spent years working with fabric and a wrong cut here can mean a flood of tears and a return trip to the fabric shop there)…anyway, I can imagine cables knitted in Copper Tin II being as soft and squishy as those twisted ropes of marshmallow you can get in sweet shops.
Now I want to be as honest as I possibly can, when I was knitting it I wasn’t quite as straight away taken as I’d been with Tamar, for me that really was love at first sight…… please don’t get me wrong, Tin II felt really nice to knit with but I wasn’t quite as smitten as I felt I should be……
but then…….. a little soak in warm water (the feel of pushing a knitted swatch down in to a sink of warm water is one of life’s small pleasures but it never fails to make a smile appear from ear to ear) and a little squirt of wool wash…..a little blocking in the sunshine and I’m in love. What was already quite a plump 4 ply has bloomed up even more and I’ve got a velvety swatch full of softness and squish……those garter stitches are so full of boing-i-ness that pressing my fingers into them is like bouncing on a mattress or the sofa when your parents aren’t there to tell you off.
There’s a real depth to the springyness of the stitches….a bit like really thick moss, your fingers can lose themselves in the green…..and with Cornish Tin II, you can lose yourself in the wool rich stitches.
Running my fingers along those stocking stitches is like stroking a donkey’s nose (a real compliment in my book as I love donkey’s)…this isn’t cashmere soft yarn but instead it’s a warm softness that possibly will have people hugging you just for another feel of your fabulous velvety jumper or cardigan.
The central stitch is moss stitch and it’s all nubbly, really delightful to run my fingertips over, it’s not coarse or rough, there’s texture there but it’s not of the rustic variety
The yarn isn’t as glossy or lustrous as the Tamar (I think that’s in a class of it’s own where shiny is concerned) but it certainly does glow in the sunlight….taking both the shade card and swatches out into the garden and those colours really do seem to come alive.
Now I don’t have a whole lot of knitting experience but I think this is going to be lovely for cardigans and jumpers, the knitted fabric has such a nice stretch that I think it’s going to look incredible….actually it’s once the yarn is knitted and handled that it becomes something really special….it wants to be draped and stretched. Even pulled tight and stretched out over curvy bits the stitches remain pretty plumped up, they don’t just disappear all into a nothing……the more times I keep handling the swatches, rubbing them, tucking them under bra straps the softer they become and so I suspect whatever you knit will become softer and softer over time.
I’ve had this little swatch pinned under my clothes next to my skin for the past few hours….at first there was a bit of a wool tickle, however that faded very quickly and while not quite forgetting it was there, it wasn’t scratchy or irritating… in fact when I removed it I rather missed it’s warmth and wooliness. I’ve also sat rubbing it furiously against itself for about a minute to see what it does, and apart from a couple of very very small bobbles it coped with that disgraceful treatment fine.
I was curious though how the Cornish Tin II compared with a couple of Blacker’s other yarns that I had which were also 4 ply, Cornish II felt so podgy that at first I thought I must have imagined the other ones felt finer …..one is Blacker Classic which is at the lower end of their price range and the other was my beloved Tamar….I’ve used both in projects this Summer, two shawls in Tamar and a pair of socks in the Classic…both are very different feeling yarns, both are all wool and both are lovely to knit with.
So still on the 3.75 needles I cast on again and decided to knit up a striped swatch to compare the yarn in stitch thickness, general feel and stitch definiton. And as the Cornish Tin II is a limited edition yarn, the sort you buy to make something a bit special, I thought to try out a little bit of lace knitting in case anyone is thinking of knititng a shawl……
So this was the unblocked swatch, you can see how glossy and lustrous the pollen hued Tamar is, but look at the deep dark warmth of the Tin II…….(this shade is Polgooth Blue and it’s a really inky Prussian Blue)
Post blocking and the differences in the yarn really do seem to be more apparent…..the Cornish Tin II looks considerably plumper than the Tamar yarn, it’s bloomed even more after it’s little bath. Oddly though, it doesn’t feel as heavy as it looks, it’s not as fly away feeling as Tamar but for such full Rubenesque stitches, it’s remarkably light….I think knitted up on a larger needle it would have a magnificent drape for a large shawl.
It’s very similar in weight feel to the Classic yarn, although when you run your finger along the two yarns you can tell straight away where they change….there’s no soft wispy halo over the Classic yarn and while I love the way it feels, in comparrison to the Cornish Tin II I’m suddenly more aware of Classic’s more rustic qualities.
I’ve really tried to show the difference here between the yarns, I’d say the Cornish Tin II was about 1 1/2 times as thick as the Tamar so I’m not too sure it would look so good knitted side by side on the same project but I can imagine two different pieces, one in Cornish Tin II and one in Tamar or Blacker Classic would look stunning…..the colours of the Blacker Palette really do complement each other and subtle changes in hue across the yarn ranges only add to their beauty.
So, will I be buying any….yes, (heavens, can you imagine how grumpy Bernard would be if I told him otherwise….) and I now totally understand why people loved Cornish Tin so much, but I’m still rather undecided about which colour. If I could change anything about the Copper Tin II it would be that Blacker had made a gorgeous green like the Forest Green in the Blacker Classic range then it would have been a very easy choice as I love that colour, perhaps next year please Blacker Yarns?….
Cornish Tin II goes on sale on September 20th, and will retail for £16.20 per 100g. It’s available in 7 colours along with a surprisinlgy warm silver grey which is undyed, and has been woollen spun in both 4ply and dk weight.
Copper Tin II is truly a very limited and special yarn, I’m so grateful to Sonja at Blacker Yarns for giving me the opportunity to have a little play with some.
*The highest quality British fibres that are blended together to make Cornish Tin II include Alpaca, Portland, Saxon Merino, Gotland, Jacob, Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain, Mohair and English Merino.