A little while ago I was contacted by the lovely Sonja from Blacker Yarns asking me if I’d be at all interested with having a bit of a play with some of their new, birthday celebration yarn….now I know that the past couple of years I’ve written much more about knitting than I have about patchwork or jam making or my slow afternoon strolls out over the marshes and all I can say is you can totally, hands down blame it on people like the good folks at Blacker Yarns….time and time again they’ve created gorgeous yarns that have just made me want to lose myself in the comforting sense of feeling rich, woolsome yarns run between my fingers…. good quality yarns that celebrate the wonderfulness and diversity of British breed sheep have made me want to persevere with my knitting more than anything else..and so, yes, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with knitting….
This year’s birthday blend from Blacker Yarns is called Brushwork and it feels wonderful….firstly when you give the yarn ball a good old hand squidge ( even though I know this is no way to get a true idea of what the yarn will do, it’s very hard not to give it playful squeeze)…. it also feels soft and velvety when it’s running free through your fingers and over your needles….and finally as a piece of fabric where it’s warm comfort and snuggles….
(unblocked on 4.5 mm needles)
As with all the special blends by Blacker there’s a lot of hard work and care and thoughtfulness gone into creating not just the yarn base but also in choosing how it was to be dyed (in the wool before it was spun into yarn) and then developing the colours.
(blocked and washed the first time…look at those plump cables)
The yarn is a ‘sport weight’ blend of Scottish Bowmont, Castlemilk Moorit and Aplaca…if you’re aware of your rare breeds than you’ll be familiar with Castlemilk Moorit…I knitted a swatch in this the other year so recognized that delicious fudginess quality straight away….but the yarn is more than just tooth sweet and fudgy…it’s soft and plump, and when knitted there’s a nice robustness to the stitches even when I’d gone up a couple of needle sizes to a 4 and 4.5 mm….mostly I’m used to knitting with what is commonly called a 4ply, I love knitting shawls and a 4ply is an excellent weight for that, but I’ve also knit a couple of shawls in dk and aran … Sportweight sits somewhere in between the 4ply and dk although personally I find yarn from Blacker Yarns tends to be on the plumper side anyway so it feels more like a podgy dk to me….
(blocked… after a third wash)
Blacker Yarns sent me a very generous sized sample so I was able to knit up 3 different swatches…the needle size suggested on the ball band is 3.5 mm (that’s to give 23 stitches over 4 inches ) so I knit one with those, but also knit swatches with 4 and 4.5mm needles (I suppose for a more accurate test I should have knitted all the swatches with the same pattern, but I didn’t as I wanted to see how different textures and stitches would look)….all three swatches look lovely, even after a fortnight of being pinned both to and under my clothes… the swatches have been washed twice and I wasn’t aware of any shrinking…to be honest I can’t even really see any signs of wear and tear…the stitches themselves have perhaps softened off a little, but after that first blocking they stood out and were very well defined…this might be because the colour of the yarn is very matt, there isn’t a lot of lustre but I think that this compliments the overall softness of the palette….
(knitted on 3.5 mm…blocked and washed a second time)
I really enjoy making up little swatches, it’s a nice way to understand the yarn, getting to know it, say “how do?” and see what stitches it likes, what range of needles can be used for the fabric to still look good…and most importantly, how does it wear when it ‘s handled and worn, rubbed for lengthy periods of time…..how does it look after being washed a few times….
While I was knitting the swatches I started to think about how I would use this yarn if I was to buy some….it’s not crazy million pounds a skein price but at £8.40 for a 50g I know I wouldn’t be able to afford enough to knit a garment…I don’t think this yarn is over priced, and am really happy that it’s available in smaller skeins, but I know what my budget is….so I was more drawn to experimenting with a larger needle to create that extra drape that you want in a shawl…..there’s certainly enough of what I call “Flops a doodle” in the fabric on a 4 or 4.5mm needle, that and I know a dk shawl is ideal on mornings when there’s been a real cold snap….testing out the washed swatches with them pinned under my clothes also proved to me that this is perfect for a fat, stitch bouncy shawl or heavily textured cowl….
(blocked and washed a third time)
If you wanted to knit a shawl in Brushwork then I think you are going to feel truly wrapped in velvet squish…..you know, I’m sitting here with the swatches (rubbing them on my face while I write, and the texture of the fabric also reminds me of beautiful old chenille…years ago I inherited a gorgeous chenille tablecloth that had been Nanny’s and it was so soft and velvetty….
(knitted on 4 mm needles…washed and blocked first time)
Some of the swatches grew larger, although one grew width ways, while the other length ways though I guess this also was in part due to different stitches being used……
While I’ve now seen some lovely examples of how brushwork blends together when worked in various types of colourwork, I really like how it looks used as a single flat colour in lacework or in patterns that create lots of texture…there’s a nice definition created by knitting stitches together or passing them over each other, even after a few washes have softened edges, the subtley of the stitch structure is wonderful and they hold up a surprising amount of touchy feel interest…
(blocked and washed a third time)
Like previous birthday yarns, Brushwork will only be available for a limited period of time, it goes on sale at 8am on the 28th September from Blacker Yarns.
Once again, hugest of thank yous Sonja for letting me play with this gorgeous new velvety softness…and happy happy birthday Blacker Yarns…..
Apologies for the shifting colours, it just happened we’ve had a lot of weather changes so the light has been a bit temperamental…as far as I could tell there was no bleeding out of dye colour or fading….