We are proud of all our yarns, but of course our British wool ones are a particular source of joy. Our Bowland and Milburn yarn ranges have been an intergral part of our offering for years, with Bowland going right back to the beginning of ECY in 2011. Bowland is 100% superwash British Bluefaced Leicester wool; and Milburn is that but with silk blended in - plus it's mill-dyed (also in Yorkshire). I am quite cautious about adding new laceweight yarns to our range as they are not as popular as 4ply/DK yarns (understandably!). However... when a laceweight version of Bowland came to our attention we decided to sample it, and we loved it! So, I hope you'll like it too.
This is a 2ply laceweight yarn but because it’s quite woolly we’ve found that the wraps per inch (WPI) comes out at about 23, compared to Titus Lace and Askham Lace which are about 28 WPI. It’s perfect for lighter fabrics as the weather gets warmer - both on its own and held double with another laceweight (eg fluff!).
As someone who’s a bit obsessed with using fluffy yarn, and yarns held double (I’ve always loved a marled fabric!) I really cannot recommend highly enough using Bowland Lace held double with Eldwick Lace - the latter is our super-kid mohair/silk blend. The fabric that this creates is honestly to die for. I actually think it’s even softer than using Eldwick held double with a 4ply, although I don’t really know why that is. What you get is so soft and lofty, with just enough drape too. It’s really light with a comfy barely-there sort of feel and yet you really feel the difference in warmth when you take it off. In terms of gauge, this works well at around 22sts per 10cm in stocking stitch but it would definitely go bigger or smaller for a looser or more dense fabric.
Although this is a laceweight yarn, don’t be put off if it seems like it might be thin and delicate. It sort-of is, BUT this is a nice woolly yarn which means it has more bounce and structure (or solidity I suppose you might say) to it. It’s not slippy and fine in the way that silky smooth laceweights can be. I would recommend using bamboo needles/hooks with it if possible - or at least wood - as these are more grippy than metal.
Note that the way you block things will affect the gauge - I definitely could have stretched the swatches out more and got a different gauge as a result, or I could have stretched them a bit less. It comes down to personal preference more than anything. Hopefully these numbers will give you a rough idea of what to expect, but please don't expect an exact match.
25.5 sts x 36 rows in stocking stitch on 3mm needles after blocking
22.5 sts x 33 rows in stocking stitch on 3.5mm needles after blocking
20 sts x 34 rows in stocking stitch on 3.5mm needles after blocking - with yarn held double (equivalent to 4ply) to create a marled look
19 sts x 14 rows over 10cm square in UK treble stitch on a 3mm hook after blocking (swatch has a few rows of half trebles across the middle)
18 sts x 12 rows in UK treble stitch on a 3.5mm hook after blocking (this swatch has rows of half trebles across the centre)
I appreciate that the crochet swatches are hard to tell apart, but the one on the 3.5mm hook is just a bit more open and loose looking, in real life at least.
Choosing patterns for this yarn
First things first - there are shawl patterns that call for 2ply laceweight yarn, and of course this yarn is going to be great for those. I won’t go any further on that one in this blog post.
But.. what about garments and accessories? That’s more challenging with laceweight yarn. The first thing I did was look for garment patterns that call for laceweight yarn, thinking I’d find things made on small needles/hooks.. what I actually found was loads and loads of patterns calling for laceweight held double, on not-tiny needles/hooks.
That made my search more challenging to be honest, and that’s what made me want to write this section of this blog post, because chances are if I’m struggling with this other people will too. However, I've now compiled a list of patterns for this yarn that's so large I think it needs its own separate blog post!
What I would say is that if you're searching for a garment to make in Bowland Lace:
- Look out for things made on a 3-3.5mm hook or needles (or smaller).
- Look out for a stocking stitch gauge of around 24 stitches over 10cm or more - any more and I think the fabric will look too loose (unless that's what you want, in which case go for it!).
- For crochet look out for a treble/half treble (or similar type of plain stitch) gauge of around 24 stitches over 10cm or more.
- If you fancy using two strands of Bowland Lace held double for a marled effect you can choose a pattern than calls for 4ply yarn or a light 4ply/fingering weight, as the gauge and the feel of the fabric will work out to be similar.
- If you fancy using a strand of Bowland Lace held double with Eldwick Lace for a fluffy item then the same applies - look out for roughly a 4ply gauge of fabric. I'd be looking for a hook or needle size of anything from about 3.25mm up to 4mm, or maybe even 4.5mm. The fuzz of the mohair will fill out the gaps between stitches so this is a great way to make a really lightweight yet cosy fabric.
You can find my list of patterns that I think would be really good in Bowland Lace HERE - coming soon!
Samples made by us
Nimbus Cowl by Purl Soho - using Bowland Lace held double with Eldwick Lace. The fabric that this has created is very light and quite drapey, but it's so soft and cosy. It's been perfect for spring so far. The top section is just Bowland Lace alone, and the whole thing was made on 3.25mm needles.
ECY cowl by me - using Bowland Lace in a Cottage Original colourway similar to Faded Bloom. This was made on the knitting machine (not a relaxing pastime, it has to be said!) using just Bowland Lace. The needle size was equivalent to 3-3.25mm needles, and it has a neat folded hem plus an I-cord cast off at the top. This is a lovely light fabric, again perfect for warmer months. You can see the lovely sheen of the wool in this pic.
Grayson Cardigan by Laura Aylor - this is a work in progress at the time of writing, and I'm using Bowland Lace in Charcoal held double with Eldwick Lace in Ash. The contrast colour will be both yarns in Hyssop held double. It's top down and I'm about four inches past the split at the underarms and I'm only halfway through the first skein of Bowland Lace, and only just finished the first skein of Eldwick Lace. The fabric (on 3.5mm needles) is absolutely gorgeous, of course!