As a result of participating in #1year1outfit, and also becoming more interested in knitting, I have become fascinated by the wool content and provenance of yarn. If you are interested in unusual and rare breed yarn and local wool, then it doesn’t get much better than Blacker Yarns’ newest yarn Cornish Tin, which is released today. There’s a great interview with Sue Blacker on episode 20 of the Yarn in the City podcast where she talks about the development of the yarn in detail, which I’d highly recommend.
In brief, Blacker Yarns is the wool brand of the Natural Fibre Company, a Cornish mill who are critical to the UK wool industry, processing fleece into yarn for many UK (and wider) yarn companies. Cornish Tin has been created to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the mill, and contains ten types of wool from small producers the mill works with, and which have important connections to the Natural Fibre Company. For example, Jacob and Shetland are included because both breeds represent 15% of the wool that the mill spins for clients, and alpaca is included because 25% of the spinning done in the mill is of alpaca fleece. The full list of the ten types of wool included can be found here.
The yarn is available in four dyed shades and a neutral, and in two weights, DK and 4-ply. The shades are all named after Cornish Tin Mines, and the photography of the yarn on the Blacker Yarns site shows the skeins photographed alongside mineral samples from Cornish mines, from the collection at the Royal Cornwall Museum in Truro.
I responded to an instagram call for reviewers by Blacker Yarns and was sent a skein of the 4-ply yarn in the Botallack Blue shade to try out. I found it fairly soft, but with lots of body, bounce and a crispness which makes it perfect for showing details – it would be fantastic for knitting cables. It has a slight halo, which you can see better once it is knitted up, and is visible in my project photos below. The colour has a lovely depth, which I assume is a result of the combination of wools used taking on the dye slightly differently.
Rather than knitting a swatch (bad knitter I know, but so much more boring than an actual project!) I decided to test the yarn by starting a new project. I chose Gyre, a honeycomb lace stole designed by Bristol Ivy for Brooklyn Tweed. This is a work in progress and still on the needles. I knitted until the end of the sample skein and then lightly blocked for these photos.
Gyre is a lace knitting pattern, knitted entirely from five charts. This is actually my very first attempt at lace knitting and, if I’d read the pattern information better rather than getting carried away by the beautiful photography, and realised before casting that it was rated as 4 out of 5 difficulty level I might have started with something simpler!
On my very first attempt I read the charts wrong (I read both right and wrong sides right to left) and had to unravel and start again. Second attempt went fine, I’ve no doubt there are mistakes in there but they aren’t too noticeable (to me at least). I tend to knit on the train to and from work or in the evening watching TV, without necessarily giving my full attention. For this pattern I had to carefully count my stitches continually and followed Pom Pom Magazine’s tip to stick a piece of washi tape under my current pattern row, and move it up as I completed each row.
For anyone considering the pattern, what makes it complicated is that both right and wrong sides are charted (in contrast to many lace patterns where the wrong side is purled), and (because of the sun beams design which stretches across the stole from the left corner out) there are limited repetitive sections which can be memorised. Don’t let that put you off though, it’s a beautiful design and I’m learning loads knitting it.
You can see that the Cornish Tin yarn gives the design body and definition – possibly a little too much for this pattern, although I think it probably just needs a more agressive blocking! I fancy the DK weight Cornish Tin for the Pianissimo scarf included in the most recent issue of Pom Pom magazine.
Cornish Tin is a limited edition yarn which will only be made once. If you fancy trying it check out Blacker Yarns or stockist Brityarn. I’ll be getting supplies to finish my Gyre stole before it sells out!