Tantallon Hat

August 19, 2014

The end of summer is drawing nearer and nearer. The first signs of autumn have arrived. The sunny weather has made place for overcast, windy weather. We've had quite a few rain showers, followed by deceptively bleak sunny weather over the past week as well. This kind of weather is typical for the transitional period from summer to autumn where I live, though usually it doesn't set in until the end of September. The past few days I've spoken to lots of people who hate this period in the year, but personally I love it. Autumn is my favourite time of the year. Really, it's the perfect time to show my latest make, which is particular suited to this time of the year.
Pattern: Tantallon
Designer: Kate Davies
Yarn: Hebridean 2ply by Alice Starmore
Soundtrack: Privateering - Mark Knopfler
Raveled here 

It's Tantallon by Kate Davies! This is the first design by Kate that I can remember wanting to knit. It took me a while, as you can see, and I've knitted other designs by her first, but I couldn't be more pleased with the result. I wrote my opinion about the yarn in my previous blog post. I like the colour combination, it's very suited to autumn. I read on Ravelry that some people had problems with the sizing of the hat, resulting in the finished project turning out to big. This made me a bit weary about the project, however since my gauge was spot on I decided to go on with it. I don't regret it a bit, as the hat fits perfectly! Thought because of the sizing issues I was a bit more careful with blocking as I usually am, because I wanted to help the stitches set without making the hat bigger.  

The hat is part of the Hats of Midlothian collection, and the pattern itself is named after a beautiful castle ruin near North-Berwick in the Midlothian area. The castle is from the fourteenth century, and it makes Kate's own project photo's a delightful sight. When I was in Scotland I was very close to the castle, though ultimately me and my boyfriend wandered of, taking a walk along the cliffs instead. It did spark a slight debate between me and the boyfriend on the topic of pronunciation: which of the syllables of this castle's name is stressed? If you know do tell!

All in all I'm really pleased with this project. I look forward to wear this when proper cold weather arrives here! How are things in your part of the globe? Enjoying the last days of summer, or like here dipping your toes in Autumn already?


Starmore Yarns

August 08, 2014

I recently completed my first project knit with Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply, Alice Starmore's yarn brand. I'm a big fan of Starmore's books. I was not around when she first published her work, so got converted when she republished some of her work a few years ago. Someone of a local knitting group I used to go to brought along Starmore's Fishermen's Sweaters the moment it was republished. It was one of those mind boggling moments when I first browsed through the pages. My mind was blown by her colourwork designs, and her cable designs. The wealth of information she provided on aran, fair isle and fishermen sweaters fed my initial interest in these traditional crafts.

The recent project was my first time knitting with Starmore's yarn, as I only recently found out that she had her own brand. I had read about it in her books and vaguely remember registering it when I read it, but somehow it didn't really hit home, or somehow I convinced myself that it probably wouldn't be available to people outside the UK. Ha...what a mistake on my part!

It's a wonderfully bouncy yarn. It's one of the stickiest yarns I've knitted with, which makes is perfect for stranded knitting. It is slightly thicker and stickier than Jamieson and Smith 2ply jumperweight but not as sticky as Lopi (the stickiest yarn I've ever knitted with). The yarn is a tad bit softer then both of these yarn brands as well. If you're looking for a yarn that's suitable for colourwork, but find J&S or Lopi too scratchy, you might find this a good option. I find that weaving in the ends with sticky yarn is less tedious and more enjoyable as well. I had to weave in a lot of ends for my project and didn't find it as tedious as I normally do.

Each of the yarns and each of the different colourways has a unique story about the inspiration for the colour. Usually, this is story inspired by Alice's Hebridean background. The Gaelic fishermen community Starmore grew up greatly inspired her work. For example, if you buy a skein of the yarn, you get a small card explaining Selkies, or describing a certain type of moss.   Personally, I'm a sucker for yarns with a story and I love those details.

 Lastly, the colours are magnificent. Starmore is, in my humble opinion, a colour magician. She somehow managed to capture the landscape of the Hebrides in her yarns. I couldn't stop marvelling at the rich colours when I first saw the yarn in person. Alice Starmore made an appearance on BBC's Coast in one of the previous seasons, in which she talked about and demonstrated dyeing with natural dye materials. Again she made evident how concerned with the landscape and the history of the Hebrides she is and this passion is reflected in both her designs and her yarn.

Aside form the Hebridean 2ply yarn I used, she sells Hebridean 3 ply, the same yarn but in a worsted weight and yarn called Scottish fleet, a 5 ply fingering yarn, specifically made for fishermen sweaters. So lots of options left if I feel like trying different yarns!

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