english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


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Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

Hurrah for Christmas holidays! I’ve finally caught up with video editing and have a few vlogs to share soon. First off, I have some footage from a day trip to The Knitting & Stitching Show in Harrogate, back in November. You can view the video here:

I bunked off work for the day with my friend and colleague Sheena and we had a very nice day trip to Harrogate and mooch around the show. Afterwards, I met up with another colleague and friend to head to a Cecille Grey (whose music is featured on the vlog) gig in Nottingham, so an extremely fun day all ’round.

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

The Knitting & Stitching Show, Harrogate

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The Smiths Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

This is my latest Linden Sweatshirt (number seven blogged). It’s View A, Size 0 – although in this fabric I should probably have sized up to a 2 as it has limited stretch.

The original inspiration for this jumper were the excellent British wool band jumpers which Hades released earlier in the year. The Hades jumpers were limited edition and I missed the chance to buy a The Smiths jumper, so I thought I’d make my own. I’d love to knit something closer to the Hades original, but am a bit wary about tackling knitted lettering without a pattern, unless anyone can recommend something similar??

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

For this version, I cut a stencil of the lettering in acetate (more stable than paper and also reusable) and screen-printed the text using black ink onto the pre-cut Linden sweatshirt front. For reference, I always use Permaset Supercover screen printing ink to print on fabric and find it really reliable, Fred Aldous stock it in the UK.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I found it difficult to gauge the best size and placement of lettering while the sweatshirt was in pieces. If I make another, I will increase the size of the lettering, and move it closer to the neckline.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The fabric is a loop-back jersey purchased at Guthrie & Ghani during SewBrum. This pale pink is great for letting the text stand out, but does also get grubby easy.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

I also made my scarf. This is TOFT’s Block-Colour Filet Scarf crocheted in their (British) yarn, in a natural (stone) for the main colour, with yellow for the accents. I’m pretty sure this is the same pattern (knitted in a solid colour) available from TOFT’s free pattern section. I’m not great at crochet, but this is a nice easy pattern and a relatively quick project.

My jeans are not me-made, but were made in the UK by Community Clothing.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

These photos were taken in Hagia Irene, near Topkapi Palace in Istanbul, which was the first Byzantine cathedral built in Istanbul, and is now a museum. Like all Byzantine religious buildings in Istanbul, this has had a varied history, including earthquakes and acting as an armory. We had the building entirely to ourselves on our visit, and it makes for a pretty atmospheric backdrop.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

P.S. in a similar vein, I previously blogged a screen-printed Morrissey tee.

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt

The Smiths Screenprinted Grainline Studio Linden Sweatshirt


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Yarnporium

Yarnporium 2016

Recently, I spent a weekend in London for a friend’s birthday and to visit new yarn show, Yarnporium.

I spent a couple of hours in the Yarnporium marketplace, while Phil did his own thing. Footage of the marketplace, plus chatter about what I bought (spoiler, I have a lot of knitting to do), is on my latest vlog. Watch it here:

Also, a friend recently introduced me to the music of Cecille Grey, who are based relatively local to me in Nottingham. Cecille Grey have very kindly allowed me to use my favourite of their songs on the vlog – I hope you love it too.

Photos of the marketplace are below. Follow Yarn in the City to keep up-to-date with future Yarnporium and other events.

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016

Yarnporium 2016


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Cornish Tin II & St. Kilda

British yarn maestros Blacker Yarns have two new yarns going on sale today at 10am!

Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin II & St. Kilda Yarns

The first is a range of new colours for Blacker’s St. Kilda lace-weight yarn, hand dyed by Joy of The Knitting Goddess.

Blacker’s St. Kilda yarn contains wool from St Kilda’s (an archipelago which is the remotest part of the British Isles) native Boreray and Soay sheep – two of the oldest and rarest of all British breeds – blended together with Shetland wool.

The St. Kilda yarns aren’t a one-off, but there will be a limited supply annually due to the fact that there’s only a limited amount of Boreray and Soay fleece available. That, coupled with the fact that this range is dyed by hand in small batches, makes this a really unique yarn (and likely to sell out fast).

Blacker kindly sent me a small skein of St. Kilda in the Conachair colourway, and I can report that the dyeing process means the colour has loads of depth – in the photos you can see that there is variation in the colour of my swatch, as opposed to a solid colour. I found the yarn bouncy, easy to work with, and great for showcasing texture and detail.

The range includes ten dyed colours, plus two natural undyed shades, and can be purchased from Blacker Yarns and The Knitting Goddess.

If you’d like to hear more about the yarn, there’s a great interview on episode 66 of the KnitBritish Podcast.

Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin II & St. Kilda Yarns

The second new release is the final batch of Cornish Tin II. This is a one-off, limited edition yarn to celebrate Blacker’s 11th birthday (following the very popular Cornish Tin last year).

The yarn is blended from 100% British fibres from small producers, and contains Alpaca, Portland, Saxon Merino, Gotland, Jacob, Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain, Mohair, and English Merino. The yarn is available in a silver grey, plus seven dyed shades (shown on the left in the photos below) all named after Cornish Tin Mines, and in 4-ply and DK weights.

To accompany the yarn, Blacker have released a gorgeous (free) sock pattern (going straight in my Ravelry queue!), and hat pattern.

Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin II & St. Kilda Yarns

I got my hands on some of the original Cornish Tin yarn last year, which was lovely to knit with, and from what I’ve heard Tin II is even more popular.

Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin II & St. Kilda Yarns


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Sheepy Events

Harcourt Rare Breeds

In the last few weeks, I’ve had the chance to take part in a few sheep/wool related events due to being a member of the Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

A couple of weeks ago, I spent Bank Holiday Monday visiting Harcourt Rare Breeds. The Harcourt flock is split over two sites, with one of those sites relatively local to me in Market Bosworth, and the other in Harrogate. The Midlands flock is housed in the ‘back garden’ (fields behind the house) of owner Shaun, so it was very kind of Shaun to welcome some members of our Guild into his home for lunch, and into his garden to meet the sheep.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Suitably enough, to reach Harcourt Rare Breeds we traveled through the parish of Sheepy, which contains the villages of Sheepy Magna and Sheepy Parva. As you can guess from their name, Harcourt specialise in rare breed British sheep, including Border Leicester, which look like overgrown rabbits due to their  upright ears, and Leicester Longwool, which have a beautiful long silky fleece.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds

Harcourt Rare Breeds sell both fleeces and prepared yarn. Since I still haven’t (nearly) finished preparing the last fleece I bought, I instead came away with three skeins of Leicester Longwool yarn. Shaun also gave each of us a goodie bag of fleece! I selected Leicester Longwool fleece, and you can see the before and after shot of the fleece and prepared yarn from the flock below.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

There are quite a few lambs in the flock currently, and one came into the house to visit us to our delight.

Harcourt Rare Breeds

The next outing we had as a Guild was to visit Wooly Week at Sandwell Park Farm. I wasn’t aware of the Farm before but will definitely visit again, it’s located in a restored Victorian farm, with lovely walled kitchen gardens, a tea room, and a number of rare breed animals.

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Shearing demonstrations were taking place throughout the day, and my Guild were attending to demonstrate the process of preparing the fleece to produce yarn. The rare breed animals on the farm include a couple of sheep from a traditional breed (pictured below, the name of which I’ve forgotten) which malts its fleece, rather than requiring shearing.

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Sandwell Park Farm Woolly Week

Finally, last weekend my Guild ran a Back-to-Back Challenge at Lickey Hills Visitor Centre. My understanding of the history of the Back to Back Challenge, is that the initial inspiration for the challenge is the Newbury Coat. In 1811, in the village of Newbury, a Baronet allegedly made a large bet that a local mill owner could produce a tailored coat in one day. In thirteen hours and ten minutes, those involved sheared a sheep, washed, spun and wove the wool into cloth, the cloth was then scoured and dyed, and finally tailors cut and sewed the cloth into a formal hunting coat. The Baronet sat down to dinner wearing the coat at the end of the day.

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

The original Newbury Coat challenge celebrated contemporary developments in mill machinery, but in 1992 the Back to Back Challenge was created to raise funds for charity by producing a hand-knit sweater from a fleece in a day (I believe the World Record is less than 5 hours). Official Back to Back Challenge entries need to follow set rules, so our Guild Back to Back challenge was more informal. Rather than starting by shearing a sheep, we started with a local Romney fleece, unwashed but pre-sheared. Participation was open to all interested members of the Guild, with everyone contributing depending on their skills/preference, including carding, spinning, plying, and lots of knitting. My spinning skills are still very basic, so I carded until yarn was available and then mostly knitted.

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

We didn’t quite complete a full garment during the day (our event took place from roughly 09:30-05:15), but we got very close, with just a little knitting and seaming left to do to complete an adult’s oversized cardigan, from a pattern designed by a member of the Guild.

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre

Back to Back Challenge Birmingham Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers at Lickey Hills Visitors Centre


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British & Icelandic Karusellen Hat

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

As you’ll know if you follow me on instagram (I may have gotten carried away posting photos!), I’ve just returned from a holiday in Reykjavik, New York and Boston.

I made four new items for the holiday (one of which I was hemming as we waited for the cab to the airport…) – Closet Case Files Clare Coat, Paprika Patterns Zircon Sweater, a Karusellen hat, and Cecelia Cowl.

I’m going to talk about the knitted items in this post, and follow up with a separate post about my Clare Coat, but it’s also pictured in the images below, all of which were taken in Reykjavik.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

My hat is the Karusellen pattern by Erica Knits from Pom Pom Quarterly Autumn 2015, which was a particularly awesome issue of the magazine. I used stash yarn – the white is a leftover skein of John Arbon Textiles’ organic Falklands Merino from my Lesley sweater, and the mustard is Ístex Álafoss Lopi in Golden Heather which I bought when I visited Sweden last year. That yarn combination means that I made a British and Icelandic yarn hat for my trip to Iceland – could not resist;)

The pom pom wasn’t from my stash; I treated myself to an alpaca fur pom pom when I visited TOFT recently to attend a crochet workshop.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

The hat pattern includes two sizes; I selected the larger size based on my head measurement but it’s actually a little bit big. I have the brim folded double here in order to fit, but it does mean that the horses hooves are slightly hidden.

I was worried about my knitting ending up too tight as a result of the colourwork so kept my colour floats quite loose, which may be the cause of it ending up slightly big.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

The cowl is the Cecelia Cowl by Rachel Atkinson for Loop London. The pattern is designed to use one ball of Freia Ombré Super Bulky. I chose to use the Amaranth colourway as I thought it would complement my coat, without being too close a colour match.

The yarn isn’t cheap, but given that only one ball is required for the project I decided it was justifiable. I’ve already managed to leave this cowl behind in a cafe in Boston, but was able to go back and retrieve it the next day, so I hope I don’t lose it too soon (never is probably too much to hope I think!).

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

The cowl is a really quick knit; I stated it on the flight from Birmingham to Reykjavik, and had completed and was wearing it when I got off the plane.

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

Clare Coat, Karusellen Hat, & Cecelia Cowl in Reykjavic, Iceland

As you can see in these photos, Reykjavik is beautiful. It’s very expensive, but happily yarn is cheap! I bought yarn to knit the Stopover sweater, from the Handknitting Association of Iceland store in the city centre. The store stocks a wide range of Istex lopi yarns, including colourways unique to the store, and the Love Story lace-weight yarn by Hélène Magnússon. I ran out of time to visit the Alafoss Mill store but it’s easily accessible via bus and has even cheaper prices.

Reykjavic, Iceland

Reykjavic, Iceland

We spent one day on a golden circle tour which we really enjoyed – particularly watching the geysers erupt at Geysir, something they’ve been doing 10,000 years. The tour ended at Laugarvatn Fontana spa, which was very nice on a particularly cold day.

Reykjavic, Iceland

Reykjavic, Iceland

In town we particularly enjoyed the National Museum (which includes historic embroidery, and spindles), the Tjornin Park which is a great place for swan stalking, and the Mikkeller bar as a perfect spot to spend the evening.

Reykjavic, Iceland

Info on my Clare Coat, and on our trip to New York and Boston next!

Reykjavic, Iceland

Reykjavic, Iceland


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Tamar

Blacker Yarns Tamar Yarn

As a British yarn addict, I’m always really excited by the prospect of a new yarn from Blacker Yarns. Not only do they produce lovely yarns, they do so using unusual wools, create unique blends, and support small producers in the UK.

The newest yarn from Blacker, Tamar, is released tomorrow, 03rd February.

Blacker Yarns Tamar Yarn

Tamar contains wool from four British sheep breeds listed as either ‘at risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust: Wensleydale, Teeswater, Cotswold and Black Leicester Longwool. These are all historic breeds, with Cotswold and Leicester Longwool dating back to the 13th and 17th centuries. They are also lustre longwool breeds, meaning the sheep’s fleece has a distinctive appearance and characteristics. If you google any of sheep breeds included in the yarn you’ll get a sense of their fleece – it has a long silky appearance, as opposed to the shorter ‘bouncier’ fleece of a cartoon sheep.

Lustre yarns have the characteristics of being smooth and silky, but can be lean and lack ‘give’. To address this, Tamar also contains 30% Cornish Mule, giving the yarn the ‘bounce’ that we expect from wool.

If you’d like to hear more about the yarn and it’s development, Chapter 112 of the Curious Handmade podcast features a great interview with Sonja at Blacker Yarns.

Blacker Yarns Tamar Yarn

I was sent a sample of Tamar in advance of release in the Lerryn colourway and DK weight. I already had my eye on the Right Angle pattern by Georgia Farrell from the Spring issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, so decided to test knit a swatch of the pattern using Tamar to see if they were a good match.

Blacker Yarns Tamar Yarn

I’m really happy with the result. Tamar has great structure and stitch definition, which showcase the Right Angle design, and it also has a lot of drape, perfect for a short top.

The yarn – and resulting fabric – are silky and shiny, but also feel strong and hard wearing. It has a slight halo, which is just visible in the photos.

Blacker Yarns Tamar Yarn

Tamar comes in DK and 4-ply weights; 15 dyed shades plus two natural shades. Each colourway is named after a tributary of the river Tamar, which gives the yarn its name. The yarn is available direct from Blacker Yarns, and BritYarn will be stocking the 4-ply weight. Blacker have released a selection of free patterns to coincide with the launch of Tamar.

Blacker Yarns Tamar Yarn

I’m definitely going to knit Right Angle using Tamar, I just need to make a decision on which colourway – I’m thinking maybe the turquoise shade, Tresillian.