Our next hand dyed yarn update is all about aran; and having been knitting with it a lot recently as a result, it's reminded me how wonderful aran yarns are to work with! They're a joy to dye, they're lovely to twist up because they're full of bounce and very forgiving, they're lovely to work with because they knit or crochet up so quickly but without being too bulky, and they're lovely to wear because they don't feel heavy yet they are so warm and cosy.
Langdale Superwash Aran
We've always had one long-standing aran yarn, which you'll have known as Langdale Superwash Aran. It's 100% superwash merino, the same as our Pendle 4ply base. The merino is from non-mulesed flocks, you'll be pleased to hear, and it's the best quality merino with lovely long fibres and worsted spun so it doesn't pill. If you'd like to find out more about worsted spinning I really recommend having a read of THIS blog post by Hilltop Cloud.
That previous sentence mentioned two issues that I find myself talking about a lot in various Facebook groups and other discussions! Mulesing is a rather contentious issue; I won't go into detail now - that's for another blog post I think - but suffice to say we do not use merino wool from sheep that have been mulesed. It's only done in Australia (because of their climate) so it's only our merino fibre that this is relevant towards.
The second thing I mentioned was pilling. This can be really bad with merino - a lot of yarns, particularly bigger companies, use shorter and cheaper merino fibres, which means they're a lot more liable to get pulled out of the yarn and form a bobble (ie pill). We use long staple merino fibres of a really nice fine quality - it's more expensive but I believe that you get what you pay for, as I've got items I've been wearing for years that haven't pilled or felted. So this is why I have the confidence in the yarns that I use - that includes the aran! Here's a jumper I made in it a few years ago - barely a bobble in sight, and still nice and crisp with the stitch definition:
The pattern is September Morn by Thea Colman, I highly recommend it.
Anyway, so that's some background on our first aran yarn. What I really wanted to talk about is the fact that we are renaming it - basically I don't know why I didn't give it a name to match its 4ply counterpart, but hindsight is a wonderful thing! It wouldn't matter except we are also going to be introducing the same yarn base but in both DK AND chunky, and when we were talking about names for them I said "well it really needs to be Pendle DK and Pendle Chunky", but then I felt the aran really should match now, too. So.... this is a very long-winded explanation to just basically say: Langdale Superwash Aran is from now on going to be known as Pendle Aran.
The next bit of news is a NEW aran yarn - hooray!
It's Bowland Aran so anyone who's familiar with our yarn should recognise that name and guess what the fibre content is! Same as our long-standing Bowland 4ply and Bowland DK, this is 100% superwash treated Bluefaced Leicester; a perennial favourite. I am really excited to bring this yarn to you! It's completely different to Pendle Aran but does have similar qualities - it's soft, squidgy, lightweight yet warm and cosy. The main difference is the wool type - I'm sure many of you will be familiar with the diffefrences between merino and BFL, but the BFL is all of the qualities I described but with a much more woolly feel - there are fibres sticking out, meaning it has a woolly halo. I've made fingerless mitts in it and they have pilled a bit - they are getting heavy use though - I've also made a hat in it and that's not pilled at all. The fingerless mitts still look and feel great though. I found (as with most yarns to be honest) that this yarn *really* softens with wear. It's like a pair of leather shoes! It seems to be nonetheless hardwearing, which is what I'd expect given my experience of wearing Bowland DK. It's got a lustre that the merino doesn't have, too - again if you've used BFL before you'll know of the amazing shine it has - BFL doesn't compare to many other types of wool so it's something you need to try in order to understand it, really. Anyway, here are my fingerless mitts and hat that I've made in it (the mitts are Lambing Mitts):
The hat is Castlelaw by Clare Devine. It's a great pattern and I really recommend it. I stopped the crown instructions early and worked three rounds of 1x1 twisted rib before casting off, in order to make a hat with a hole in for my hair - I often wear it tied up so wanted a hat that would let me do that. The colours haven't come out overly well in this pic - I must admit we struggled for light for photography last week as it was so dark (the challenges of winter photography!).
So there we have it; TWO ECY aran yarns - hooray! They'll both be on the website on Friday the 1st of November at 7pm, and if you want to go straight to the aran category where they'll be or to see what's currently in stock, just click HERE.