Friday, 23 December 2016

Yarns We Love: Hemp Tweed

Rowan Hemp Tweed caught my eye the moment we unpacked our first delivery of it over a year ago. It was unlike any other wool I had seen before. It is a wool that seems a bit odd in description but in reality is soft to the touch, gorgeous to the eyes, and truly delightful to work with.

Hemp Tweed has a slight sheen to it, which is something you don’t typically see in a tweed wool. But the sheen and tweed effect combine perfectly in each different shade to create a uniquely textured appearance that has a stunning effect in knitted and crocheted pieces.

Hemp Tweed is 75% wool and 25% hemp. If you are unfamiliar with hemp as a fibre, then here is a little interesting information for you. Hemp is a plant that is believed to have been one of the first plants spun into a usable fibre over 10,000 years ago. Hemp fibre has since been used consistently throughout history for products such as fabric, rope, and canvas. It has a long history of being an incredibly sturdy and durable material.

So all that basically means that Rowan Hemp Tweed is combining everything you love about wool with the added bonus of a durable (and wearable!) hemp fibre. Rowan Hemp Tweed gives excellent stitch definition and it has elasticity without losing its shape over time.

Hemp fibre is also an incredibly breathable material, similar in that respect to linen. When combined with wool it is an excellent temperature regulator. When its cold, it will keep you warm, and on those slightly warmer days it will stay cool. Last Christmas, I knit my dad a hat in Hemp Tweed and he claims he finally has the perfect winter beanie. As a man who positively detests getting over-heated (and can usually manage to do so, even in bitterly cold Ohio winters) he said he has really enjoyed a hat that can keep his ears warm but still allows his head to feel like it can breathe.

If you can’t tell how excited I am about Hemp Tweed so far, just wait, there is more. This fall Rowan has released the new Hemp Tweed Chunky. Original Hemp Tweed is approximately Aran weight. Hemp Tweed Chunky shares all the same gorgeous properties of its thinner counterpart, but it is a thicker wool. Perfect for plush cowls and cozy garments. I definitely think I will be treating myself to a knitted snood in Hemp Tweed Chunky this winter.

Post by Leah in our Edinburgh shop

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Yarns We Love: Patons Merino Extrafine

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Patons Merino Extrafine DK: feeling the love

You know which yarn is great? The Patons Extrafine range. When it first came in to the shop, I thought to myself that it was just another pure wool, what’s the hype?  Well! It swiftly became one of my favourite yarns. It has a fantastic range of colours, it comes in a 4 Ply, a DK, an Aran and a Chunky, and it has a fantastic texture.

I first bought it for my Fiance's jumper. I chose it because it is machine washable and can be tumble dried… I may not trust him with the laundry… he may have ruined my handknit alpaca jumper (ahem) but that’s not the point - it’s pure wool and easy to wash!
I have found a yarn I trust, and have started another couple of projects in it, including some weaving - turns out it’s also good for that!

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Merino Extrafine DK looks great in weaving!

The texture is so smooth I didn't have to worry about itchiness at all, so I believe this would be a great yarn for the wee ones as well. If you look at a normal yarn, it will usually have several strands plied together; if you look at the Extrafine, each strand has already been plied, then plied again, which makes it so smooth.

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‘Bibi’ from Kim Hargreaves’ Honey, knitted by Emma in Patons Merino Extrafine DK shade 151

Post by Emma in our Stirling branch

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Top Tips For Travel Knitting

Being an American in Scotland means I end up travelling long distances multiple times a year. And, because of this, I’ve become quite accustomed to carrying my latest knitting along with me for the journey. I also frequently get asked by customers in the shop how I go about knitting on the go without facing the headache of dropped stitches or airport security guards. So I decided to write this blog post compiling my top tips for making your holiday knits as stress-free as possible.

1. Use wooden or bamboo needles

Wooden and Bamboo needles don’t trigger the metal sensors at airports and are also a lighter weight option for taking around in a carry-on. My personal favorite are the Knit Pro Symfonie rosewood needles.

2. Use circular needles, even if you are knitting straight

Travelling usually entails long journeys in tight quarters. By knitting on circular needles, you save a lot of space and you avoid your needles jutting out into your seat mates’ territory. Also, circular needles are great on the go because they can be easily folded and you run a much smaller risk of losing any stitches off the end.

3. Consider interchangeable needles

When I travel, I use circular needles that are interchangeable. The Knit Pro interchangeable needles are great because they allow me to have a range of needles and cable size combinations without having to carry a different set for every possible need. Also, in the terrifying instance that a security guard at the airport does demand you hand over your needles, you can simply unscrew the tips and at least save your project.

4. Choose a yarn and a project that is not too fiddly

You will be a much happier knitter if you take a nice stocking stitch pattern along with you. There is nothing more likely to make a knitter pull their hair out than trying to untangle a complicated lace design on a 7 hour flight! On my most recent travels, I took a long a stocking stitch cardigan that I was working up in Rowan Lima. Lima is one of my favorite yarns so it kept me interested, and the simple cardigan design was easy enough to work on during 4 crowded flights overseas, a few long car rides, and a handful of lazy days in my grandmother’s living room.

5. As hard as it may be, don’t take too much yarn with you

If you have any inkling that you may have a full suitcase coming home from a trip, try not to over pack your yarn. I made the amateur mistake this summer of taking an entire 9 balls of Rowan Superfine Merino DK with me to Ohio. I thought I would have plenty of time to start my second project of course! Oh was I wrong. I didn’t even touch my second project. And because of my short-sightedness, I had to leave my lovely wool in Ohio, awaiting my return at Christmas!

Post by Leah in our Edinburgh shop

Friday, 1 July 2016

Recent FOs

Over the past couple of months, our staff have been busy finishing off projects so we thought we'd share them with you here.

Left: Oshima from Magazine 59, Right: Emma's modified version

Emma in our Stirling shop made this gorgeous crochet top in Sirdar Cotton 4 Ply shade 524. 
"After looking for a nice lacy crochet top for summer I found this in the latest Rowan Magazine. After doing the main design of the front and back I made a few tweaks; shortening the rib, getting rid of the sleeves and changing the neck edging. Just what I was looking for. Don't be afraid of changing a pattern! 
PS. It only took two and a half balls of the Sirdar Cotton 4 Ply!"

My proudest knitting accomplishment was this yoked sweater, knitted in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted:

This was such a quick project and I really enjoyed making it. It's designed to be knitted in one piece, from the bottom up. I knitted the body first but then I was so excited to get started on the colourwork that I decided to postpone the sleeves and knit the yoke first. I worked a provisional cast-on at the top of the sleeves, knitted the yoke, then picked up the sleeve stitches and knitted them top down.  
The Creative Focus is incredibly warm and I love having sweater that matches my hair!

Fionnuala in our Stirling shop has recently completed these two lovely projects:

"As the weather was so horrible for my day off, I finished a couple of garments. The child's duffle cardigan was knit in Hayfield Chunky Tweed, shade 182, from Hayfield pattern 4486. It is for my German friends' new baby; they are coming to Scotland for my wedding and I thought the child might need a warm jacket!

The other one is an edge to edge cardigan. Having knit it last September, I  just finished sewing it up. It is knit using Rowan Pure Silk, shade 159 Rose, which we have on offer on the website. The pattern is Sublime pattern 6085, which is also in booklet 667The stitch in the main body was simple but effective.
Now my dilemma is what to do next. For the first time in a while I have nothing on the needles!"

And finally, we were so happy to see that Leah from the Edinburgh shop has finally finished her Nordic mittens!

Leah's Nordic mittens in Rowan Pure Wool 4 Ply

These mittens were knitted in Rowan Pure Wool 4 Ply, shades 412 and 455, and Leah adapted the pattern to include her friend's initials and wedding date. The blue and cream shades look beautiful together and the strong contrast between the shades allows all the details in the colourwork to be visible.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Ideas For Fathers' Day

Fathers' Day is fast approaching, so we wanted to share with you our top 5 gift ideas. Whether your Dad can’t put his knitting down or relies on you for all his socks, we've got you covered.

1. For the father who has everything

From toilet roll pencil pots to macaroni covered Christmas decorations, you probably used to hand make all your gifts so why stop now?
With one 100g ball of Arne & Carlos yarn making a pair of socks, this is the ideal gift for anyone.


2. For the father interested in history

Knitting for Tommy is a must-have addition to any amateur historian or knitter's book case. Published to coincide with the centenary of the First World War, it tells the story of those who knitted for the troops. It includes patterns, posters and copies of the adverts used to encourage people to knit for the front-line soldiers.


3. For those who have a jumper for every occasion

Novelty Knits is the fantastic collection of jumpers compiled by Gyles & Saethryd Brandreth with, quite literally, one to suit every person and occasion. It really is the perfect Father’s Day gift.


4. For those for whom a plain blue jumper will do every occasion...

... This collection might be more suitable. Dutch Traditional Ganseys by Stella Ruhe contains over 60 traditional designs, accompanied by the stories behind the Gansey tradition that allowed the fisherman to be easily identified to their home town.


5. If in doubt there are always Gift Vouchers

Let him choose the colour combinations that will keep him happy... at least until next year.

Post by Alasdair in our Edinburgh shop

Thursday, 19 May 2016

"...What You Got Cooking?"

If you’ve popped into one of our shops, you’ll know our staff love to knit and crochet! Often it’s socks or samples of the latest yarns.

In Edinburgh, our attention has turned to something a little bit different.

Can you guess what it is?


What about this one?

Need a clue?

Don’t worry we’re not reestablishing as a bakery. Our window display from July will be “Bake Off” themed and we were so excited to get started on these little creations we started now.

We will keep you up to date here as our crème de la crèmes begin to take shape.

All that’s left to say is “Ready, Steady…. Knit”.

Post by Alasdair in our Edinburgh shop

Monday, 9 May 2016

Fionnuala's Baby Blanket

Today we wanted to share with you Fionnuala's latest project: this gorgeous baby blanket from Sirdar pattern 4528, knitted using Rowan Cashsoft Baby.

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"I started in pink as my friend told me she was having a girl. I struggled a bit with the butterfly but got it in the end, then I got a message to say they got the sex wrong!

I decided I was not going to rip back the butterfly but leave it and do the other blocks in different colours. I redesigned the blocks in the pattern, using a heart and pussycat instead and ending with a blue block with motorbikes. (They are biker friends after all!)

I have not blocked out a blanket before, so used these KnitPro Knit Blockers along with Blocking Mats and it has definitely given the blanket more definition."

The soft shades of this yarn work perfectly together and the final blanket looks absolutely brilliant. Well done, Fionnuala.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Yarn Tetris

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Yarn Tetris Round One

When I started working in the Edinburgh shop last September, I realised pretty quickly that working in a yarn shop would be unlike anything I'd done before! There's so many unique things about the job - from searching the shelves for that elusive dye lot to tracking down patterns for dog hats. And of course, every day usually involves a round of my favourite game - Yarn Tetris.

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New (to us) shades of Jamieson & Smith Shetland 2 Ply Lace

For example, last week we received a very exciting delivery of the Jamieson & Smith Shetland 2 Ply Lace, in a beautiful range of colours that we haven't stocked in Edinburgh before! But since our shelves are always packed, to make room for all the new colours it was time for Yarn Tetris. We shift the yarns around until we find ourselves with an empty cubby hole - although sometimes it takes a little creativity, like turning all the balls of Rowan Fine Tweed on their sides so they take up less space.

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Rowan Fine Tweed now views the world from a new angle

Some yarns are easier to find a space for than others - the new Sublime Evie is wonderfully squishy and only needed three cubbies to show off all its shades! Others - especially with a big delivery like this one - take a little longer. But it's worth it when all the new colours are out on the shop floor, making a beautiful yarn rainbow.

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Sublime Evie: compact and beautiful

Post by Christabel in our Edinburgh shop

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Guest Post by Lone

This week we received a very exciting email from Lone, who used to work in our Stirling shop, showing us her latest finished project:

Lone designed and knitted this amazing cardigan - what an eye for style!

Below a photo of latest finished project - at last! Been on the go for two years!
Somehow always got put to the bottom of the knitting pile.

The story is that not long after starting at McAree Brothers, I soon realised that I would never reach knitting a garment with all the yarns I would like to try and knit with. Thus an idea was born: buy a bit of all of them, get colours that could work together and put them all in one garment. Seemed a good idea at the time but my, what a lot of ends to sew in!

Yarns used:
Rowan All Seasons Cotton
Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK
Rowan Fine Tweed
Rowan Panama
Rowan Tweed DK
SMC Extra Merino Big
… and to finish off, since my Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK colours had been discontinued (drama!) ( don't leave things on the needles for two years), Patons Extrafine Merino DK.

Phew, glad it's finished and it fits!

Post by Lone

This is such an inspiring idea, as there are always so many yarns we're dying to try out and there just aren't enough knitting hours in the week. And as for the pattern inspiration? "Ehhh made it up as I went along after the initial idea..."

Lone, you're our kind of knitter! 💜

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Knitted Cable To Save Forth Bridge

Engineers Need Ewe

Wool this project set a precedent?

We have been asked to help in the search for a crack team of knitters by engineers at the Forth Road Bridge. They need volunteers to help with an ambitious project which could secure the future of the bridge for years to come. Plagued with structural problems in recent times, a knitted cable is to be made that will support the bridge deck and prevent further damage. A specially spun yarn from sheep in the Highlands has been designed to be strong enough to hold the weight of cars and lorries crossing the bridge.

Sceptics have accused engineers of "woolly thinking"

Senior Engineer Mhairi Knowles said, "We are combining innovative technology and age old craft skill to create this giant cable. It's the first time such an ambitious project has been attempted anywhere in the world." 

Drivers were severely affected by delays in December last year when the bridge was forced to close for four weeks. A long diversion was put in place and bridge bosses were tasked with finding a solution. When finished the cable will be almost 100m long and is expected to take the team six weeks to complete. Anyone interested in joining the project should get in touch to apply, by writing to the following address:

Sheep Dept.
Forth Road Bridge
South Queensferry
EH30 9SF

Post by Alasdair in our Edinburgh shop

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Knitters' Block?

It seems that, for me at least, every year around this time I get a case of knitters' block. I just can't ever seem to commit to a new project, and even worse, I often struggle to finish old knits still sitting on the pins.

I currently have half of a Norwegian mitten, similar to the ones in Nordic Knitting Traditions by Susan Anderson-Freed, resting on a pair of double pointed needles, and a quarter of a Rowan Kidsilk Haze scarf taking up my 5mm pins. I can't be the only knitter who struggles to finish a project, right? Despite these unfinished projects, I think it would be nice to knit something new in the lead up to spring. But I am lingering on the agonizing question: What do I knit?

Working in a wool shop means I'm lucky enough to see all the newest wools and patterns straight away, but it's also a bit of a curse because they are all so tempting. It’s impossible to choose just one! Right now I'm teetering between the Jampa moss-stitch cardigan from the new Softyak DK Collection and the Bronte cable and lace cardigan from the new Summerlite DK Collection.
Jampa in Softyak DK shade 240 Pasture
The Jampa cardigan is a clean, beautiful design. The simple moss-stitch creates a wonderful texture and the look is perfectly finished off with one metal button. This cardigan has a really modern look that I love.
Bronte in Summerlite DK shade 461 Khaki
The Bronte cardigan on the other hand is a more classically designed knit. It also uses moss-stitch, but it incorporates a bit of cable and some lace as well. This cardigan has a feminine design that I really enjoy. I could imagine pairing it with all my summer dresses.

For now, I've still yet to decide which of these patterns I'll tackle next, so stay tuned!

Post by Leah in our Edinburgh shop