Zero Waste Knitting

​I have a fairly small yarn stash, but I do have a huge collection of tiny odds and ends left over from design commissions and personal projects. I can’t bear to throw them away. These arm warmers are the perfect way to use up tiny scraps and will keep me snug and cosy. I’m knitting them “flat” because my tension is getter that way and I’m knitting two at a time to make sure they both match. I just wonder … do any of you have a favourite way to use up yarn scraps?


From the Archive: Story of a Shepherdess

It always seems such a shame to me that blog posts are written, read by a few people and then “lost” in the archive. One of my favourite archived posts told the story of Alison O’Neill.Way back in 2013, I first wrote about Alison, who is the neighbour of very good friends of ours. Her story fascinated me, and anyone who has spent time with her, been on one of her walks or listened to her talking about her passion for the fells and her animals can’t help but be enchanted. Back then, I shared this short video made by Ian Lawson Films which gives a glimpse into her life. It might be a little bit out of date, but I still think it’s worth watching. I love how the story of the seasons unfolds and for any knitter who loves wool it really is an eye opener. Alison really does make her living farming on the Cumbrian Fells, and she does it with great style! This is no fairy tale, this is a woman driven by her passion for the Cumbrian landscape and a respect for her animals who has built a business which celebrates the landscape and all that is wonderful about British wool and British craft.

Last year, I caught up with Alison at Woolfest, where she was showcasing her fashion range “Shepherdess” and since then I have followed her adventures on instagram and twitter. I continue to be inspired by her and I love her range, which now includes a few special pieces of Herdwick Tweed. Alison’s enthusiasm for the Cumbrian landscape shines through all her designs, and you can see some of them in this short film made by Summit Fever Media.

You can find Alison’s website here and follow her story on Instagram. You can also see her designs for yourself at Woolfest this year (details here) and I’ll be posting lots more information soon.

Finally, Alison isn’t the only woman who has been inspired by the Cumbrian landscape to create with wool. In future posts I’ll be sharing the stories of Daphne Marinopoulos,  who developed The Fibre Co’s Cumbria yarn, Kate, the talented founder of  Oubas Knitwear (who you can also see at Woolfest this year) and finally The ladies of The Wool Clip, based” just up the road” in Caldbeck, this co-operative is the genius team behind Woolfestand I’m ashamed to say I have never written properly  about them on the blog – so that will be rectified very soon!




New Pattern: Pumpkin Spice

pumpkin spice cowlI’ve just added a new knitting pattern to my online stores on Ravelry and Love Knitting. This simple knitted cowl is an updated version of the previous cowl knitted in Kidsilk Haze, this time I’ve used an aran weight yarn. I am rather pleased with how this one turned out, especially as I hand painted the yarn myself earlier this summer. The autumnal shades weren’t deliberate, I was bit like a kid in a sweetshop and the only reason it’s not just “muddy brown” was the result of great personal restraint with the paintbrush!

I’ve suggested a few suitable yarns in the project notes, and I would encourage you to raid your stash and find something you like (you could always use two strands held together if you can only find a dk yarn). Often a variegated yarn looks fabulous on the skein, but can be a disappointment once you start to knit – in such circumstances I always go back to garter stitch or reverse stocking stitch – these are friend of most variegated or self striping yarns.

I hand painted my yarn on a one day “special” organised by Jeni from Fyberspates, she recently moved to Chester and kindly ran a workshop for our knit and natter group. I’m told she’s also willing to run workshops for other groups and Guilds and I would definitely recommend it. I came away with some gorgeous  painted yarns, loads of advice and a rather full on obsession with hand dyed yarn (I think I ordered every book stocked in our local library!).

I think you’ll agree the cowl turned out rather nicely and photographed on a rather autumnal day, the name seemed appropriate! The pattern would be ideal for a new knitter, and if you’re looking for a festive gift for a new knitter, a skein of yarn, a pair of needles and this pattern would be perfect.



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