Friday, 7 April 2017

A Yarn Inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites. . .

Running until May 7th, over at Liverpool's Walker Art Gallery, there is an exhibition called Victorian Treasures.   Among the many 19th century paintings are several by the Pre-Raphaelites, as wealthy Liverpool merchants were very fond of acquiring them and the gallery has quite a good collection.  This is my favourite: I have always loved the petulant expression on Frederick Sandys' Helen of Troy, painted in 1866. All subsequent photos of paintings in this post are taken from this exhibition.


The exhibition is free and well worth a visit. I popped in just before the Edinburgh Yarn Festival to re-acquaint myself with the rich colours of the paintings, and to get in the proper mood for Blacker's new yarn that was being launched at EYF.

Samite is a silk/wool blend that was directly inspired by an irresistible combination of the Arts and Crafts movement, Pre-Raphaelite artists and Victorian poetry.

It is a 3ply mixture of 40% Shetland, 30% Blue-faced Leicester, 10% Gotland and 20% Ahmisa silk which is cruelty-free silk, allowing the moths to emerge from their cocoons before the silk is extracted.  As such, it has a rustic texture, but with a lovely drape.  Sonia from Blacker Yarns kindly gave me a shade card and a mini-skein to try out.  The alluring colourways are all deliciously pulled from Victorian poetry - Bursting Figs, Drowsy Flowers, Peacock's Neck, Aspen's Shiver.  Just fabulous. Makes me want to dig out my copy of A.S.Byatt's novel Possession and arrange myself languidly on a chaise-lounge.


I swatched with 'Tide of Dreams' that perfectly echos one of the colours found in this John Everett Millais' painting, The Good Resolve.  As you can see, the yarn has great stitch definition (there are tiny cables in the swatch ) and would also work really well for lace patterns. It's got a great handle, flows very nicely through the fingers and while firm, it's not at all rough. I have only washed and blocked the swatch once, but I feel it will get softer with each wash and will be lovely to wear against the skin.  The yarn isn't cheap, (£24.60 a skein) but you get 460 metres/ 503 yards per skein, and for a special project, I feel you'll get years and years of wear out of it. The price reflects the extra cost of using Ahmisa silk but it's also nice knowing that Blacker has gone out of its way to source an ethical material.

 


I bought two skeins of 'Burnished Night' which matches the gorgeous robe worn here in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's painting, Sibylla Palmifera


And I have decided to knit Lucy Hague's gorgeous Uncia from The Book of Haps.


You might remember that I cast on this hap a few months ago with some Texel wool which just wasn't right for this project.  It gave me texture, but not the drape that I think Uncia really deserves.  So far, I think the Samite will give me both and I can already feel the difference, just in the small portion that I've knitted so far. It's hard to depict in a photo, but the Samite is much lighter and looser while still maintaining the stitch definition.  I am really happy about the switch.


Kudos to Blacker Yarns for yet another innovative and interesting yarn with a great story and ethos behind it.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Spring Colour and a Spring Cowl. . .

A completely frivolous post for a Monday, but with lots of colour.  I was in York over the weekend at a knit and natter and was completely captivated by these daffodils cascading down the hill from the city walls.


York is a wonderful walkable city and I popped into their relatively new Seasalt store as we don't have one in Liverpool.  I love their clothing - it's comfortable, well made and designed with interesting prints.  But today it was their bags I was on the hunt for and I have now bought my perfect summer bag.  It's so large and roomy - a sweater project can easily fit, along with all the other essentials that need to travel with me, and I love the bright orangey-coral colour. This will be the perfect carry-on bag for flights and also a good wool festival bag - I can squish an awful lot of yarn into it.


As a bonus, I picked up one of their new canvas shopping bags too - one can never have enough project bags!  It's so pretty and was only £4. The print is meant to evoke the nautical, but all I see are Crazy Zauberballs!


This might be because I spent several hours on the train and also at the meet-up, knitting away on my helical striped cowl.  I finished somewhere between Manchester and Liverpool and grafted the ends together this morning.


It does have a spring look and feel to it, although it was far too warm to wear it today.



Despite my intentions to knit to the end of both Zauberballs, I quit with possibly 15- 20% of each ball still remaining.  The cowl was certainly long enough and I think I was starting to see stripes in my sleep! I'm pleased with the outcome and it'll be a cozy and cheery cowl to pull out on really grey and cold winter days.