Hole and Sons and the unicorn sighting of the yarn world

Hole and Sons and the unicorn sighting of the yarn world

A lot of you remember (I know, because I get asked about it) when I posted last spring about how Instagram-famous British farmer @benjaminhole was making a yarn from the fleece of his Poll Dorset sheep, under the brand Hole & Sons Wool. Many of us eager knitters, myself included, waited and waited — and waited — for any subsequent news on the release of the yarn. Last summer there was a photo with a note that it was done and needed labels, then it would be ready. Weeks after that came another saying once the harvest was done. Seven weeks ago @kararosenlund got some. Other than that … silence. I don’t know about you, but I’d given up hope. Then one morning the week before last, I was lying in bed scrolling through Instagram and saw a comment from @thesachemfarm saying “@karentempler did you see this?” I recognized the photo instantly and knew exactly what it meant, so I literally leapt out of bed and ran for my laptop, expecting the supply would only last a minute and guessing I might already be too late. I pulled up Etsy, found it, placed a hasty order, and refreshed to a blank page. It was gone. The yarn, and for a moment even the shop. Then the shop came back, but empty. Did my order go through? And if so, what exactly did I order?

The product page at the time said only that it was 50g balls, no mention of gauge or yardage, so I had no idea what I was buying. Assuming it was tiny fingering-weight balls (given the geographic context, the look of the balls, and the relatively small price tag), I had plopped 10 grey in my cart and wondered what on earth I would do with them. For a few hours, it looked like maybe the order hadn’t gone through and it wouldn’t matter. Then came two notes from Etsy saying they had cancelled it, and more notes from Sue Hole (“Ben’s Auntie,” she said, aka @harpstone) — who I only later realized had made the announcement on Instagram, and who I hadn’t been following — that there was a problem between them and Etsy about taking payments, but that my yarn was on its way. At this point, I almost had to wonder if it was a scam — someone using the Hole family name and photos to make a fake Etsy shop — but the messages from Sue seemed genuine enough, and she wasn’t asking to be paid until the yarn arrived, seemingly understanding how fishy it all looked. So I waited again, to see if it would materialize.

Friday afternoon, my sopping-wet mailman handed me a sopping-wet plastic mailer, which I assumed was something else. When I tore it open, you can imagine how far my jaw dropped. Not only is it here, it isn’t tiny fingering-weight balls at all — it’s a sweater’s worth of dk/worsted-weight splendor. With a perfect hand-drawn label by Ariele Alasko, who totally won the talent lottery. (I mean.) And of course, I instantly began fantasizing about what it would become. Whatever it is, I will not be rushing into it! I feel so lucky (and almost guilty) to be in possession of this yarn — from sheep I follow on Instagram, ha! So it needs to be something special, and probably something very classic and British. Like a vest. Probably a vest.

Obviously the question on everyone’s lips is will there be more? Sue tells me they have another batch of fleece ready to go to the mill and it will be a couple of months before it’s yarn. I don’t know how long after that before it appears in the Etsy shop, but she’s promised to keep me posted. Meanwhile, following @harpstone is probably your best bet.

Next of the Best of Pre-Fall 2015: Moody blues

Next of the Best of Pre-Fall 2015: Moody blues

These two knits make me dizzy. Literally and in a drunk-with-joyful-inspiration sort of way. At the top is MM6 Maison Martin Margiela’s crazy sweatshirt. I do think it’s some kind of tapestried jersey and not sweater knit, but it gives me Linden ideas, and also makes me want to attach marled sleeves to a stranded sweater body. (As long as someone else knits the body for me. Tag Team, anyone?) And then we have Mulberry’s insane colorwork-meets-stockinette coat. The stranded portion includes some kind of extreme mohair that makes the patterning look like a painting that’s been splashed with water and is beginning to bleed. Oh so beautifully.

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PREVIOUSLY in Pre-Fall 2015: Camel sweaters

New Favorites: the other Lene Holme Samsoe sweaters

New Favorites: the other Lena Holme Samsoe sweaters

Now that my Amanda is finally finished, I was about to put the book, Essentially Feminine Knits, back on the shelf. But the problem with patterns in books is it’s easy to forget you have them. So I wanted to put a pin in a couple of them by posting them here—

TOP: Nikita is a much girlier sweater than I am typically drawn to, but I have a soft spot for cable-and-lace combos and I’m intrigued by the counterpane construction of this one.

BOTTOM: Lana is the cover sweater, more of a sweater coat, and though I think I would change all of the edging, I too would like to have that to wear with my sweatpants on a lazy Sunday someday.

There are three or four others under consideration as well, but these are the ones I have stared at the most.

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IN HOT SHOP NEWS: A lot of sold-out favorites have been restocked in the past few days (bonsai scissors, bone crochet hooks, rosewood crochet hooks, bone DPNs …) but I specifically wanted to note, because so many have asked, that I got another small batch of Knit Wit magazine in last night. Get ‘em while they’re hot!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

First of the Best of Pre-Fall 2015: Camel sweaters

First of the Best of Pre-Fall 2015: Camel sweaters

One of the things I believed about knitting before I learned to knit was that I would never again have trouble finding camel sweaters because I could just make them myself! And then, as I was lamenting the other day, I discovered that camel-colored yarn is harder to come by than it should be. There is truly nothing more classic, versatile or timeless than camel (not even grey!), as demonstrated by these very different looks from very different fashion houses for Pre-Fall 2015: Michael Kors sending out the epitome of the camel sweater over a long-cuffed white shirt and cropped dark jeans with the most amazing coat of all time, all of it very Mad Men; Chloé doing badass chic with a sleek camel turtleneck under a biker jacket with navy flares; See by Chloé showing us camel’s demure side in a simple pullover with an ironic toile skirt and matching handbag; and TSE putting together a more contemporary allover camel look built around a lattice-stitch funnel-neck sweater.

Anyone who doesn’t have a good camel sweater in their closet should knit one post haste, and there really are good camel-colored yarns out there — they’re just not in every yarn company’s palette like I might have imagined. The core, American-wool Quince and Co. yarns (Finch, Chickadee, Lark, Osprey and Puffin) all come in a seemingly perfect shade called Camel. (How did I not see that till now?) Most of the Fibre Company yarns come in some shade of camel — notably, Canopy Fingering and Canopy Worsted in Wild Ginger (a very light camel), worsted-weight Knightsbridge in Goldfirth and bulky Tundra in Larch. Woolfolk has a slightly light-brownish camel in Color 7 of both worsted-weight Far and fingering-weight Tynd. Blue Sky Alpacas fingering-weight Metalico in Gold Dust is one of the prettiest yarns I’ve ever seen. (I have a beloved super-bulky cable hat knit in Blue Sky Bulky in a nice camel that looks like it’s no longer available. So sad!) So they do exist — this is just a small sampling. And perhaps if we all knit with them there will be more added — and fewer removed — from the yarn palettes of the world.

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New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

Nobody does “simple” like Carrie Bostick Hoge. And nobody has quite the same finesse in taking existing patterns and changing them up — flipping the construction, changing the gauge, etc. — to make you look at them anew. She’s just released her Madder Anthology 2: Simple Pleasures collection and, as with others before it, it’s a combination of new patterns and reimagined favorites. Eleven sweaters and six accessories, all of them in spare but gorgeous combinations of garter stitch, ribbing and stockinette. And like a good caprese salad, where those three ingredients better each be perfection, she’s pretty much nailed it. My favorites:

ABOVE
top: Lila Winter, a bulky, top-down version of her popular Lila
bottom left: Liv, making me rethink my position on open-front cardigans
bottom right: Lainey Cowl, in chunky garter rib

BELOW
top left: Charlotte Light Accessories, a finer version of her Charlotte set
top right: Lori Shawl, lovely asymmetric (I presume) garter triangle (named for the model’s mother?)
bottom: Lucia Hoodie, making me rethink my position on hoodies

New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Mosaic scarves

Elsewhere

Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

I’m on a plane to Phoenix today, headed for the winter trade show. Last winter in San Diego was when I wore my one-armed Acer in the Hyatt lounge one night while drinking with a bunch of knitters. This year I’m taking my Amanda with me with the full intention of wearing it to the actual show on Saturday — and I haven’t packed a backup. So instead of doing a Monday blog post last night, I worked on my button bands. If it’s not done, will I wear it all day without finished bands or buttons? Let’s all hope/pray we don’t have to find out. And yes, that means there’s almost surely no blog post for Monday. Sorry! But hopefully these links will keep you busy for a bit—

Could use a scarf like this about now

Can’t wait to see where Carrie Hoge is going with this

Love. This. Girl. (thx, Anie)

–  The making of Clara’s cormo (I’m saving this to read on the plane)

Jen’s wardrobe plan makes me want to sketch again. Also: Mesmerizing

How is this even possible?

– and have you ever seen a more beautiful yarn cabinet?

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ON A SEPARATE NOTE: We’ve restocked the concave horn buttons, narrow-rim horn/bone buttons and soft concave corozo buttons and have expanded the size and color variations available in all three. DG will be shipping today as always! And I’ll do my best not to run off with whatever is left upon my return. That is seriously a whole lot of beautiful buttons.

Happy weekend!

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PREVIOUSLY in Elsewhere

 

New Favorites: Mosaic scarves

New Favorites: Mosaic scarves

Of the things I’d like to try my hand at this year, mosaic knitting is probably at the top of the list. And it seems to be in the air; it’s everywhere I look these days. Mosaic knitting is colorwork without the stranding or floats. By working one color per row, and strategically slipping the stitches from the previous row, you wind up with a reversible fabric. It sounds like magic! I’m particularly smitten with these two big fringed mosaic scarves from two of the winter knitting mags, both of which include multiple mosaic patterns—

TOP: #05 Long Fringed Scarf by John Brinegar from Vogue Knitting Winter 2014/15

BOTTOM: Tessellating Leaves Scarf by Ann McDonald Kelly from Knitscene Winter 2014

If I try the technique and it seems doable, I might have to go with the whole amazing blanket. And in fact, this looks like a very good issue of Vogue Knitting — I like this and this and this and this. Bonus points for the toned down styling!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Favorite New Favorites of 2014