The Purbeck Collection

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A collection inspired by the coastline, countryside and community of this unique peninsula.

The Inspiration

If you have ever been lucky enough to visit the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, you will know that it has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It offers the chance to absorb spectacular views and draw on a sense of calm and stillness. My collection is a response to the rhythms and textures of the landscape, using yarn sourced from the farmland that completes this community.


The Collection


The Purbeck collection comprises five key accessories for you, your family and your home. While each piece has been inspired by natural forms, they all include an element of geometrical patterning or shaping to give them a contemporary feel – bridging the gap between town and village, city and country. Each design is named after one of the beautiful places I visited recently.


SMEDMORE and STUDLAND:

An infinity loop worked in 4ply and offered in two different variations. As a designer I enjoy exploring the effect that colour has on stitch patterns. Smedmore combines soft pink and ochre, offset by soft cables in the palest of greys. Studland is a bolder version of the scarf with a rich,conker brown and cobalt blue section offset by a rib stitch worked in a chalky blue. Both designs are available as a combined download. ( Images are credited to @aplayfulday


PURBECK

This is the first design I worked on for Isle Yarns and uses their original DK. The hardwearing qualitiesof this pure Poll Dorset DK make it ideal for homewares. I have introduced a second and third colour to a technique that is often only presented in one colour, to enhance the sense of movement and patterning. The back of this cushion cover is worked in a textured stitch and has an envelope opening.

STOBOROUGH

This elegant, vortex style shawl is a firm favourite. I have combined two different stitches to evoke images of the ploughed farmland meeting the coastline. It is worked in a 4ply blend that not only provides excellent stitch definition and fantastic drape when blocked. I used a soft green, but it would work well in any shade from the 4ply palette.


LULWORTH

This cushion would make an ideal partner for Purbeck. I have used colour once again to highlight patterning and bring depth to this
deceptively simple stitch. Isle Yarns have just added some new colours to the DK range am I am already looking forward to knitting up some new colourways in this design.


KIMMERIDGE

Kimmeridge is an idyllic spot and this final piece is inspired by the many pathways the area has to offer. The Kimmeridge Beanie is worked in the round and combines different cabled stitches. This not only provides texture and interest, but ensures a great fit. It is shown here in one of my absolute favourite shades, Haylands. I hope it becomes one of yours too!


Isle Yarns

I was recently invited to visit the home of Isle Yarns. It was a great opportunity to discuss future plans and meet with other designers. We toured the farm, needle felted with the fleece and ate supper watching the sun go down over Kimmeridge Bay.

It was a chance to fully appreciate the ethos behind wool production at Isle Yarns

“From farm to needles with an authenticity and our own unique story”

To find out more about the yarn and the farm you can visit www.isleyarns.co.uk, or you may like to listen to a conversation between Sue Hole, (owner of IsleYarns) and local lifestyle blogger, Kate O’Sullivan via www.aplayfulday.com or www.patreon.com/aplayfulday and
be part of a growing community.


Patterns from the collection will be available to download from Sunday 9th October 2016. A great way to celebrate Wool Week 2016.

Small is beautiful

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Today I would like to share an article with you that is at the heart of this year's Wovember campaign. I wrote this piece because the focus for 2015 is on the small producer - and I am lucky enough to have one on my doorstep......

Tucked away on East Chase farm in Kenilworth, Warwickshire , there is a tiny woolshed that every knitter should know about.

I found out about In The Woolshed through the Warwickshire Open Studios Event earlier on in the year. Every year at the end of June and beginning of July, artists open the doors of their studios and invite people in to see how their work is made. I was so excited to learn that only half an hour from my house was a dye studio, where I would not only be able to buy yarn, but witness the entire process from fleece to skein!

In the Woolshed is the result of a vision shared by two sisters, Emma and Louise. They grew up in Kenilworth, but spent lots of family holidays on the Lleyn Peninsula in North West Wales. This was followed by several years travelling around India, learning and sharing textile skills with villagers and farmers in a remote Himalayan village.Fast forward a few years and Louise has marred a local farmer and Emma hastrained as afine artist. However, the sisters found themselves wanting to find a way of realising their passions for real craft, to create a business that embodied the simplicity and authenticity of the handmade. This has been made possible by them sharing both their skills and resources.

Louise's farm is home to a flock of Lleyn sheep. In fact these sheep are the first thing that you see when you turn off the main road and drive up towards the farm. They are good mothers, have a high milk yield and produce beautiful white wool.

Louise also provided the container that sits in the farmyard and is the shop for all the gorgeous yarns and kits.

Emma has a dye studio in one of the barns and this is the real creative hub of the business. As you approach the studio you will find last year's fleeces stored outside the door.

Lift the latch and you enter a orld where yarn is dyed by hand using only natural dyes and environmentally friendly mordants. Emma first started experimenting with natural dyes as a student in Manchester and recalls that there were always pans boiling and fleeces soaking in the flat that she shared with other students. It is this sense of exploration and discovery that underpins Emma's work.

It is barely six months since I first met Emma, but we both recognised a shared passion for colour, texture and the desire for a purposeful way of working. The process and results of natural dyeing have been a revelation to me. I wrote a book several years ago called Exploring Colour in Knitting, (Collins and Brown 2011). I would love to be able to go back and wtite an additional chapter on natural dyes! The book describes how colours relate to each other and how to manage different aspects of your colour in your knitting, given that the colours we want to use are largely dictated by those that the manufacturers select for us.

How often have we pored over a shade card and not been able to find the right shade of blue/red/green etc?. Natural dues do not necessarlly hold all the answers - there are some who would find the levels of unpredictability quite problematic, but they can help to satisfy several other issues. To start with, they are a world away from the uniformity of chemical dyes, offering a wealth of variation. They mature with age, developing a kind of patina of their own. You can take part in the process and dye you own yarn. Natural dyeing has a low carbon footprint and encourages a slower, more thoughtful way of working.

And then there are the colours......yellows, so acidic, they make your mouth water,

deep and complex purples that conjure up sloes and damsons, rich paprika reds,

dark, indigo blues that will fade and age like your favourite pair of jeans, tranquil teals and greens and the calm of those neutrals that are difficult to pinpoint, but you know you will never tire of.

I am so pleased that this year's Wovember campaign has celebrated the small producer. In 1973, an important collection of essays was published by British economist, E.F Schumacher. It was called Small is Beautiful: A study of economics as if people mattered. Schumacher's central philosophy was one of 'enoughness'. He believed that production should always be about appropriateness of scale, 'obtaining the maximum amount of well being with the minimum amount of consumption'. Like Schumacher, Emma has had direct experience of village based economics. Those same principles of small scale production are intrinsic to the Woolshed - it's not fast and furious, it is slow, (it takes nearly two and a half from a lamb being born to a ball of yarn being ready to work with), it respects the hand made and promotes a slower, more reflective response from the knitter.

My Colour Block cabled Hat kit is now available as part of the Slow Comfort collection. I wanted to design something that would be cosy in the country and chic in the city, so that everyone can experience the benefits of pure wool. The kit uses naturally dyed yarn from In The Woolshed and come in three different colourways - Grellow, Denim and Madder. Let's keep wearing wool!

Autumn Glory

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If you have read my last post, you will know that I was hoping to come back to you with details of my next project. It was going to feature Blacker Yarns Cornish Tin yarn - however. the success of this yarn was so overwhelming that it sold out in three days! I was absolutely thrilled for Blacker Yarns and glad that I had bought a skein in each of the beautiful colours, but this has meant some rescheduling on the design front!

The end of September was all about meeting deadlines including a Christmas supplement and a six month KAL!

October has seen the start of a new way of working for me. With book and magazine deadlines out of the way I have been able to swatch and explore new yarns and different ideas. The quality of the light and the colours of autumn have caused me to stop in my tracks more than once. The noise and clamour of summer has faded and been replaced with the deep and thoughtful tones of terracotta, ochre and claret, offset with acid yellows and greens for a bit of edge!

I love dahlias and so I spent a couple of hours in the garden yesterday, building and exploring a new palette. It was totally absorbing. The photo is the first in a series that I will be posting this week via the blog and Instagram featuring inspiring colours and natural dyes.


The wait is over.........

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Today sees the launch of an outstanding new yarn called Cornish Tin. It has been produced by Blacker Yarns to celebrate their first 10 years in the industry. Like many good things, it is a Limited Edition and has been carefully blended from 10 of Blacker's favourite small producers. Cornish Tin celebrates more than just a milestone though. It embodies all that is special about this company's ethos - preserving rare breeds and helping to sustain local communities.The yarn is available as a DK and a 4ply and combines Alpaca, Gotland,Shetland Jacob, Shetland, Black Welsh Mountain, Mohair and English Merino. This blend means that it is a dream to knit with and suitable across a range of techniques, especially lace and colour work.

And it is the colours that are the real icing on the birthday cake for me. The palette is small but in no way limited. Four colours, named after Cornish Tin mines are balanced with a slivery grey that picks up and holds the light beautifully.

Every day this week I have been counting down to the launch by focusing on the essence of each colour via my Instagram, (@sarahhazell6) and Twitter (@sarahhazell6) accounts.The idea behind each of the images is to build up a real sense of the depth of each of the colours.

I hope I brightened your Monday with Botallack Blue. Botallack is one of the oldest and most easily recognised of Cornwall's tin mines, (especially if you watched the recent BBC adapatation of Poldark!). This blue really packs a punch when used on its own and provides great definition when combined with some of the other colours.


Ruby Tuesday was all about the deep and velvety Wheal Rose Red. This proved quite a tricky colour to photograph, but I hope the image gives you some idea of how sumptuous it is - think of a nice glass of red wine and wood smoke and you're nearly there. This mine suffered a great disaster in 1846 and only the engine house and mine stack remain. It is now part of the Lappa Valley Steam Railway complex.

I love teal and Dolcoath Turquoise does not disappoint. This is a real slaty teal and one that you see all over Cornwall everywhere from the sea to local packaging. Dolcoath means 'old ground' in Cornish and at its height was the fifth most productive mine in Cornwall. Rather like some co-operatives today, the mine often paid shares or 'dollies' to its shareholders. I think this will be a firm favourite for knitters and will certainly feature in the project that I ma working on currently!

By Thursday I thought everyone might like a break from colour and looked at Levant Grey. I really like neutrals that you can't quite pinpoint - is it grey, is it pale brown?, because they respond so well to a variety of contexts. On it's own Levant will look demure and understated. In combination with Wheal Rose Red or Botallack Blue it will provide contrast without being stark. Today Levant Mine is a National Trust property near St Just, where you will find the only Cornish beam engine still operated by steam. Some of my Instagram followers said that this was their favourite image.

I saved one of my very favourite colours until last! Pengenna Green has to be seen to be believed. It is a powerful green without being harsh, similar to the beautiful weathered greens you find on old pieces of copper. In terms of colour depth it sits somewhere between Botallack Blue and Dolcoath Turquoise, On a dull day it would be the colour of the sea - tranquil and calming with hidden depths.......

I hope you have enjoyed sharing in the celebrations of this new yarn!

I'll be back in the next few days to talk about my recent visit to St Ives and how it has inspired my next project.......