The Beauty of Blacker

Hello!

One of the best bits about designing a collection was deciding which yarns to use. I was incredibly privileged to have been able to use beautiful yarns from The Uncommon Thread and WalkCollection, two indie dyers who create amazing subtle colors and rightly have an almost cult-like following. The third yarn I used also has a devoted following, and in the course of working with the yarn for the Angelus Novus cardigan and shawl designs, it has become a fast favorite of mine. Blacker Swan is a gorgeous DK yarn from Blacker Yarns, and I was so enamored with the yarn that I asked the lovely Sonja from Blacker Yarns if she would share a little about the yarns and her work at Blacker with us.

Angelus Novus uses Blacker Swan DK. Please tell us a little about the origin story of Blacker Swan yarn?

Of course! Blacker Swan is a joint venture between Sue and Andrez and Ali Short who farm at Swan Inlet Farm on the Falkland Islands. Andrez and Ali shear their specialist Merino sheep, sort and grade the fleeces and then send them by ship to the UK, where we transform the fine white fleeces into luxurious yarn. As far as we know, this makes Swan the only 100% British farm assured Merino yarn in the world.

Andrez's Swan Inlet Flock_Copyright Blacker Yarns

Andrez’s Swan Inlet Flock. Copyright Blacker Yarns.

Blacker Swan is one of our most luxurious yarns. Swan is worsted spun, which enhances the natural drape and lustre of the Merino wool. This yarn is soft and sleek with beautiful stitch definition.

Cone Winder at NFC_Copyright Blacker Yarns

Cone Winder at NFC. Copyright Blacker Yarns.

Amusingly, despite their established partnership, Sue and Andrez have never met face to face. Swan was conceived (and continues) thanks to the miracle of Skype.

When designing, I chose the Stone colourway. Please tell us a little about this colourway:

The ‘Stone’ colourway is one of our natural shades. Merino is a matt white fibre, so we blend Andrez’s fibre with a small percentage of Black Blue-Face Leicester and Brown (Moorit) Shetland. This adds a richness and subtlety to the colours, which I find particularly exciting. ‘Stone’ is our darkest natural blend, the current batch uses Black BFL from Sue’s very own Cornish flock.

Carding at The Natural Fibre Company Mill_Copyright Blacker Yarns (2)

Carding at The Natural Fibre Company Mill. Copyright Blacker Yarns.

All the colours in our Swan range are named after the rich wildlife of the Falkland Islands and most are dyed over these heathered natural shades. Dyeing the pinks, golds and purples over a fawn helps to bring out the warmth whereas dyeing the blues and greens over a grey helps to increase their depth of tone.

What inspires the Blacker colourways?

We try to find a different inspiration for each yarn range whilst ensuring we select shades which work well with the specific fibres. The Blacker Swan shades are all very bright and playful. Merino yarn has very little lustre, so we thought it would be great to play with some brighter shades over this calmer base. The 50% linen content in our Lyonesse range creates very subtle, soft shades. So we decided to opt for a range of airy spring pastels. We are just about to re-design the colour pallet of our Classic range, to be a little more traditional with some lovely muted, more gender neutral tones.

I love creating palates, so we’re always tinkering around with new ideas to keep things fresh. The limitless possibilities when playing with colour is probably what first attracted me to knitting, so it is incredible having the opportunity to experiment working for Blacker.

Blacker Swan_copyright Blacker Yarns

Blacker Swan Yarns. Copyright Blacker Yarns.

What is your favourite hand knit?

I don’t think I could ever choose! I’ve been making a lot of sweaters recently, but my selection of thick woolly slipper socks are invaluable during the winter months. I love (almost) all the things I make, but generally I prefer the process over the finished objects. I’m knitting the Chainlink Tunic by Norah Gaughan at the moment and it is so exciting watching the unusual construction take shape, I don’t seem to be able to put it down! I’m knitting using our Cornish Tin 10th anniversary yarn and this may be part of the reason. The yarn is almost velvety – it has a wonderful soft halo but also a really rigidity and body at the same time. Swan has a similar quality, I think it is something which can only be achieved with non superwashed yarn.

Future plans for Blacker Yarns, any upcoming events/excitement?

Well we’ve got a new on the way! Tamar, will be a permanent addition to the collection and available in both a DK and a 4-ply. It will be a lustre blend yarn made using Wensleydale, Teeswater, Black Leicester Longwool and local Cornish Mule fibre – a gorgeously drapey and lustrous blend. The yarn will launch in January, so keep an eye on our social media for more information. It is being spun at the moment and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!

Thanks so much Sonja! I am really pleased that Blacker is a sponsor of the Klee KAL beginning 1 December and going through until 1 February 2016, and will be providing a few balls of Swan DK as a prize! Please join us on the EastLondonKnit Ravelry group to join in the fun.

Happy knitting,

R.

Angeli Novi

Hello!

Winter has made an appearance and it is finally a multi-knitwearing temperatures, appropriate to the season. I am excited to be going along on the Yarn in the City Bath Christmas Craft Crawl to get into the spirit! Bath is a beautiful city with a great Christmas Market–if you haven’t been it is definitely worth the trip. My first port of call upon arrival to the UK was Bath, where I spent a blissful year as an exchange student many years ago. It will be great to see it again, this time with added yarn gorgeousness courtesy of A Yarn Story!

I would like to thank all my amazing test knitters for the Angelus Novus cardigan. They provided great feedback and I am really pleased to share with you some of their beautiful finished objects:

Test knit Angelus Amsa2000 Angelus knit cardigan mskgb ros61knit angelus cardigan Adiantum test knit cardigan angelus novus wool4willow test knit cardigan angelus knit cardigan test thewoolkitchen's angelus

In order of appearance: amsa2000mskgbros61Adiantumwool4willow, and Thewoolkitchen

Finally, I choose the winner of my final Instagram give away in just a couple of hours. Thanks so much to everyone who played along!

Happy knitting,

R.

Angelus Novus Shawl

Hello!

Decision making is really not my super skill. And with knitwear design, there are a lot of decisions to make. Stitch patterns, numbers of repeats, yarn choices; it can all get a bit overwhelming. One of the choices to make is about the type of accessories or garment that will be the finished object, and for the Klee Collection, I decided to cheat this decision and do both.

Angelus Novus Shawl by Renée Callahan-2

Angelus Novus Cardi back by Renée Callahan

This was a particularly easy decision with the Angelus Novus design, as the cardigan begins life as a shawl and then continues on. The Blacker Swan used in the design is such a lovely soft and warm yarn that once I started knitting with it, I just carried on until I had half a small blanket. It is a simple but still quite luxurious. The shawl can be worked to any number of repeats and so made as large or as small as preferred.

I am pleased to announce that Blacker Yarn are one of the generous sponsors of the Klee Collection knit along, which begins on 1 December and will finish on 1 February 2016. You can join in the pre-KAL chat here and declare your intentions if you would like:)

And don’t forget to enter in the Instagram giveaway before Monday at 12 noon GMT to win a copy of the shawl and cardigan pattern!

Happy knitting,

R.

Angelus Novus

Hello!

Inspiration is a nebulous thing; sometime it is a single colour, as the shocking red of Angel in the Making, sometimes it is a more subtle thing, as the title of the painting which led to the idea of a lace in the making: a shape which begins as a small, simple motif and evolves with the knitting, growing into a complex lace pattern. Sometimes a metaphor morphs into another shape in the mind, as did the idea of graphic arm/wings in Angelus Novus.

Angelus Novus by Paul Klee

Angelus Novus 1920
Oil-transfer drawing and watercolour on paper on cardboard
by Paul Klee

Isn’t she a beauty? What gorgeous the curling scrolls of hair and geometric patterns in the body! I imagined the arms wrapping around the body and turned into a wing-like pattern that envelops the body. There is joy in the simplicity of the shapes, something both childlike and elegant.

Angelus-Novus-by-Renée-Callahan-1

The Angelus Novus cardigan knit itself in my mind long before I picked up the needles. It has turned out to be an easy-to-wear cardigan with an innovative construction begining with a garter-tab cast on at the lower back and growing up and around the body. It flatters many body types and can be worn with a casual comfort or as an elegant layer. Worn open, it has the effect of a waterfall front, or it can be secured with a beautiful shawl pin or single snap closure. The sample is worked in beautiful Blacker Swan Falkland Islands Wool, which is a thick DK weight, but a worsted- or even aran-weight yarn would also be great.

Angelus Novus Cardi 1 by Renée Callahan-2

The technical details:

Sized: S, M, L, XL
Bust: 33.5 (39.25, 45.25, 51.25) inches/ 85 (100, 115, 130) cm
Note: The sweater has considerable ease built in. For example, the medium can accommodate bust sizes from 34 inches-40 inches comfortably. The sample sweater is size Medium. I have a 36” bust and the sweater has a lot of room. People with much larger busts have also been happy with the fit of the medium size.

YARN
Blacker Swan DK (100% Superwash Falkland Islands Wool; 119 yd/110 m per 50 g ball) in colorway Stone;
9 (11, 12, 14) balls.

Note: The Blacker Swan DK is a very thick DK. If substituting yarns, consider a heavy worsted or even aran-weight yarn for a similar density of fabric, or a DK for a looser fabric with more drape.
1015 (1195, 1375, 1550) yards/940 (1105, 1270, 1435) metres

NEEDLES
US #9/5.5 mm or size needed to obtain gauge long circular and double-pointed needles or your choice of needle for sleeve knitting.

Angelus Novus is available as part of the Klee Collection and also as in individual download.

The final Klee Collection Instagram give away is now going on! To win a copy of both the cardigan and shawl patterns, please have a look >here<.

Happy knitting,

R.

Angels in the Making

Hello!

The nights are creeping in now! Although I have to resist the urge to hibernate, the Autumn colour and temperatures just right for knitting are always a joy.

Just to remind you: there is still time to win a copy of the Angel in the Making shawl and pullover by joining the Instagram give away >here<.

Angel in the Making instagram post

I also wanted to take a moment to thank the Angel in the Making test knitters! They did a great job and really helped to improve the patterns!

Angel in the Making Sweater by Ando

Angel in the Making shawl Angel in the Making shawl Angel in the Making shawl 2

Thank you in particular to cmoris, archey, naphro, and -ando-, whose cheeky over the shoulder smile is especially appreciated!

The Klee Collection knit along will begin 1 December on the Ravelry thread. Please do join us for camaraderie and great prizes!

Happy knitting,

R.

Angel in the Making Sweater

Hello!

You may have noticed that the Klee Collection has a lot of Angels. Earlier this week I wrote about the Angel in the Making Shawl, which was the first of the two Angel in the Making designs I worked on. The sweater came second, and not without some birthing pains. I really wanted the ‘evolving’ (i.e. ‘in the making’) lace to be the main feature, and while the border of the shawl presented itself as the obvious place for a long and changing lace motif, the sweater didn’t make it so easy.

The design went through several variations, including an idea revolving around intarsia lace panels (vetoed because I really do want people to knit my designs) and a couple of raglan variations before I decided that a round yoked sweater was the way forward.

I began by extracting sections from the shawl border to make the lace pattern in the yoke. As it is a fingering/4 ply weight yarn, I thought there would be many more stitches to work over all and so I wanted something to break up the mass of stockinette stitch in the body. Garter stitch columns recalling the central spine of the shawl along the sides of the body created both flattering lines and another connection between the accessory and garment. The result was not the what I thought it would be in the beginning, but I think it has turned out really well!

Angel in the Making sweater

Angel in the Making is a seamless, round- yoked, light-weight sweater worked from the bottom up in a fingering/4-ply yarn. The sample is knit in the Walk Collection’s Cozy Merino, a gorgeous single which holds the lace perfectly. A contrast-coloured band highlights the delicate lace in the yoke and the body features flattering garter stitch details along the sides.

Angel in the Making Sweater pattern

The technical details:

Walk Collection Cozy Merino Fingering (100% Superwash Merino Wool; 400 yd/366 m per 100 g skein) in main colour: Nightshade; 3 (4, 4, 4, 5)(5, 6, 6, 6) skeins, contrast colour; Lipstick 1 skein.

Total grams: 280 (315, 350, 385, 420)(455, 490, 525, 560) g
Total yards: 1121 (1261, 1401, 1541, 1681)(1821, 1961, 2102, 2242) yds
Total meters: 1025 (1153, 1281, 1409, 1537)(1665, 1793, 1922, 2050) m

Main colour grams: 244 (274, 305, 335, 365)(396, 426, 457, 487)
Contrast colour grams: 36 (41, 46, 50, 55)(59, 64, 68, 73)

The Angel in the Making sweater is available as part of the Klee Collection and as an individual download.

Please join us for the Klee Collection knit-along on the EastLondonKnit Ravelry Group. The knit-along is open to anyone and you can knit any of the Klee Collection patterns in whatever yarn you would like for a chance to win some beautiful yarny prizes!

Angel in the making Shawl and sweater

Finally, I just want to mention the Angel in the Making Instagram give away is going on until Monday! If you would like to win both the shawl and sweater pattern, please have a look here.

Happy knitting,

R.

Angel in the Making Shawl

Hello!

How ya doin’? I am feeling the beginnings of the Christmas spirit after a trip to Fortnum & Mason (you didn’t know I was so posh, did you?) at the weekend. The decorations were up and the music was playing and I won’t lie to you; I liked it! 6 weeks is a long time to maintain enthusiasm, but I will enjoy it while it lasts…

Anyways, last week I wrote about the inspiration for the Twilight Flowers designs in the Klee Collection. This week I’d like to share the inspiration for the Angel in the Making designs.

Angel in the Making by Paul Klee

Engel im Werden (Angel in the Making) 1934.

To me, Klee’s painting was quite abstract until I considered the title, which seems to resolve the shapes into a body with round head, diagonally arranged wings, and a triangle base (feet? tail feathers?) with a cross in the dark sky next to the angel, anchoring its meaning with the weight of traditional religious symbolism. I like the idea of abstract shapes resolving into recognizable figures, with the suggestion of movement in time and form as the shapes come together to form something new.

I took this concept into knit with the idea of an evolving lace stitch; one that starts as only an eyelet, and then grows and develops, becoming a more complicated with the eyelets multiplying and resolving themselves into pretty lace patterns.

The Angel in the Making shawl was the result.

Angel_in_the_making_shawl_flat

Using 2 skeins of beautiful Walk Collection Cosy Merino, in colours choosen from the painting, the shawl begins with a garter tab cast on and is worked as a standard triangular shawl until most of the first skein is used up. Then the contrast colour–for this sample a beautiful red in the colourway Lipstick–is joined to the corner and knit together with the body of the shawl as it progresses. This allowed both the width of the border and the lace pattern within it to grow and change. The other side is worked in the mirror image and finally the mitred square of the end is knit.

I found that the short lace rows were more-ish, and, although not really conducive to television knitting, the changing stitch pattern lead to a just-one-more kind of feeling, and I loved knitting it.

Angel in the Making Shawl 2  by Renée Callahan

In a few hours I will pick the winner for the #twilightflowersknit giveaway, and begin the #angelinthemakingknit give away. To win a copy of the Angel in the Making Shawl and Angel in the Making pullover (about which more later….), please follow elkrenee on instagram, repost this post and tag 2 friends in the repost. Please be sure to use #angelinthemakingknit or I won’t be able to find you!

Happy knitting,

R.