Eco bamboo yarns


I get asked a lot about the fibres we use, I love these questions because it makes me work harder at finding out about where things come from, and how things are sourced. I frequently get asked about bamboo. Bamboo is generally touted to be an eco fibre, which to be honest makes me a little uncomfortable. Yes, it's sustainable and grows quickly, but when it comes to processing, well, this is where I take issue with the eco stance. The processing of most of the bamboo you find in clothes and yarn is actually 'viscose bamboo' and takes a fair amount of chemical processing using the viscose process, to put it bluntly, what you put in is not what you are getting out. It got me thinking, was there any way of using the fibres that have been a little less processed? i.e the fibre we think of as bamboo in its rawer state. 
I asked our fibre guys about using raw bamboo, and everyone eye-rolled and said, no, it's not a nice fibre, it's course, like linen, etc. I eye-rolled back and said, please can I have a sample. Eventually, they gave in to my badgering, and send me what was actually a nice bunch of fibre, I could see the potential, and we had samples made.

The raw bamboo is marginally courser than processed bamboo, however, once blended into the yarn, it's negligible, and makes a really lovely yarn. it's virtually impossible to tell our old and new bamboo yarns apart. 

We are always looking to improve everything that goes into our yarns, and this although a small step, it's important to keep making improvements, lots of small steps lead to big impacts over time. We hope you will love the new yarns, We are replacing our current bamboo blends with the new eco bamboo,  and also have a bamboo merino silk blend to add to the mix. I can't wait to see what you think of them :)

Our new merino bamboo blend is 49107N (N for natural bamboo). 80% Merino, 20% bamboo  (exactly the same as the old bamboo, just with the natural bamboo in it).
We have a new 65% SW merino, 20% bamboo and 15% silk blend 49186N with the natural bamboo, 400m per 100g.


Platinum & Titanium, whats the difference?

One of the most common questions we get asked is whats the difference between Platinum and Titanium sock yarn. Firstly lets start with the obvious similarities, they are both 75% Superwash merino, 25% Nylon, and both have 425m per 100g skein.



The fundamental difference with these two yarns is the number of Plies, this effects the look of the yarn and the resulting knitting:


As you can see in the picture above there is an obvious textural difference between the two yarns, which is  a result of the number of plies they are made from, and the twist of these plies in each yarn.

Platinum has 4 plies, so if you slightly untwist the yarn, you will see that the yarn is made up of 4 strands, where as Titanium is made up of 2 ends. This makes Platinum smoother, and Titanium more bumpy or textured (as the more plies in a yarn, the less obvious they become).

The difference in texture does slightly alter the way the yarn takes the dye and the resultant look, in this test I found that the speckles have more prominence on the Titanium than the Platinum because they tended to stay on one of the fatter plies of the Titanium, but obviously spanned more plies of the Platinum giving slightly less prominence, but ofcourse it completely depends on the dyes, temps and how you are speckling. Its not that Titanium is necessarily better for speckling, but  you can use the fat plies to your advantage for this technique.

So how do they look different when they are knitted up? Actually I was suprised at the different in the swatches, please ignore my rubbish swatching but here we go:


Combinations of knits and purls is where you notice the difference most in these yarns. Again, the smoothness of the platinum creates a much smoother swatch, and gives a smoother stitch definition, where as Titanium gives a bounce to the fabric, both swatches were knitted on 2.5mm needles, but the Titanium gives a wonderful plump fabric, and Platinum a smoother one.

 Its not easy to see here, but the stitch definition on the left with the Platinum is smoother, and more textured with the Titanium on the right.

Its not easy to see here, but the stitch definition on the left with the Platinum is smoother, and more textured with the Titanium on the right.

 Again, the Titanium creates more pronounced stitches,  but the Platinum produces a flatter smoother fabric, and slightly 'clearer' stitches.

Again, the Titanium creates more pronounced stitches,  but the Platinum produces a flatter smoother fabric, and slightly 'clearer' stitches.

So to sum up, the difference is one of construction, which can effect the way the yarns look when dyed, and when knitted create different fabrics, I absolutely love both yarns, I would use both for socks, but I think I would err on the side of platinum for a sock thats cabled or has lace in it, where as for something I wanted to show off colours and speckles I would err on the side of Titanium.  For sweaters, both would be awesome, but I suspect the platinum may block out slightly more than the titanium, making it slightly better for sweaters which require larger than 2.5mm needles (3mm upwards).

Tips for dyeing stellina yarns.



One of the most common questions we receive is about how to treat stellina when dyeing. Stellina is used in our sparkle bases, and we sometimes get questions with respect to the dulling of the sparkle which some dyers  occasionally experience when they dye it, in addition the sparkle can taking on the colour of the dye. We have worked with this fibre for years, and these are tips for dyeing sparkle yarns succesfully.

How to keep the sparkle in your yarn sparkly!

Contrary to popular belief, stellina is not actually metal, its a type of metallic toned nylon. Sometimes with excess acid when dyeing, the acid basically degrades the surface of the nylon and takes away the metallic tone, this can make the sparkle seem to have disappeared, it hasn't, it's still there, but just blends in with the other fibres, but it's no longer sparkly.

Basically there are three rules of thumb that affects the sparkle:

  1. The longer the sparkle is in contact with acid, the more likely the stellina is to dull. 
  2. The higher acid concentration you are using the more likely the stellina is to dull. 
  3. Anecdotally citric acid causes more dulling than vinegar.

High acid (especially citric acid) + a long time in contact with the acid the more likely you are to get dull sparkle!

  • Acid levels: Reduce the amount of acid you are using when dyeing these particular yarns. Lots of dyers have found that vinegar is less abrasive than citric acid. My own experience of dyeing this yarn holds with this theory in that I have dyed an enormous amount of stellina (always using vinegar), and never had a problem with the sparkle dulling. However after much research and testing, I'm convinced its more down to the acid concentration levels rather than which acid is used, so don't worry if you have a preference for citric acid.

How much acid you use is obviously a personal preference, I am not a specific dyer, and don't use exact amounts, it's more of a table spoon here and a glug of vinegar there, but to give you an idea about how much I would use with a sparkle yarn its as follows: 

For one Jam jar/ 1.5cups of dye with one teaspoon of dye:

Vinegar: approximately 1 Tablespoon of vinegar. 

Citric acid: approximately 2 teaspoons.  

If I was adding the acid into a kettle I would probably use about 1/4 cup of vinegar and 2 table spoons of citric acid.

If you use significantly more acid than this, and are worried about reducing the acid levels that much, I would suggest starting at the amount I have suggested and working upwards, keep increasing until you get a satisfactory dye uptake vs your sparkly staying sparkly (you don't need to use a whole skein each time, take a few feet and test it). 

High heat is going to be your friend if you are decreasing your acid level, and I say this because sometimes when I'm helping people with this issue, especially with low immersion dyeing, it inevitably comes out that peoples dyeing temperatures are really not very high, (below 80C / 176F and this means it can take hours for the dyes to set, this will be exacerbated if less acid is being used than normal as well so finding a way to increase your temperatures to make the process more efficient is something to consider, using lids on your pans to maintain internal pan temps or even a final steaming of the yarns can help once the initial dye is in the yarn etc.

  • Reducing the time the yarn is in contact with the acid: Instead of adding acid to your yarn pre -soak, add your acid directly to your dye solution, or dye bath. If you pre-soak your yarn before you dye with it, just soak your sparkle yarn in plain water (no need to add any scouring agents). Consider increasing your heating temps to make the exhaustion time quicker, (one reason I like to steam set yarns is because it sets quicker than the microwave or oven, for me anyway.)
  • Sparkle taking on colour of the dye: Sometimes the sparkle takes on the colours of the dyes being used, especially with saturated and dark colours. Because the stellina is nylon, it can sometimes absorb some dye, although not quite at the same rate as wool. I personally quite like this effect, but to stop this from happening, add the yarn into a cold dye bath and then bring it up to temperature this will stop the stellina taking up the dye colour.

I hope this is helpful! If you have any other tips or comments please feel free to leave them in the comments section.






Shibori stitched throw using the Superwash merino Fabric

This is one of those projects that might go on for some time, it has a life of its own, I love it, it will be cherished once its finished.

To start the dyeing of, I didn't just want a simple indigo and cream throw, I wanted it to have some depth, so I decided the first colour layer on this fabric would be yellow. I also wanted to create distinct circles, so I started with some jam had lids clamped on the folded fabric using some cheap plastic clamps normally used for wood working, these hold things super tight, so work perfectly:

Next up I dyed the first layer yellow, the fabric takes the colour better on the outside:

This was then dyed again in Navy acid dye.

 The Fabric is then unclamped, where the Jam jar lids were clamped to the fabric the fabric remained undyed.

The Fabric is then unclamped, where the Jam jar lids were clamped to the fabric the fabric remained undyed.

Next up I wanted to apply some other textures across the circles, so I wrapped the fabric around a drain pipe and wrapped lots of string around it, where the string ties the fabric the dye doesn't penetrate and so you get some lovely wavy textures:

Superwash merino fabric 2
Superwash merino fabric 3
 Pop the fabric into the dye bath, and then turn it over every so often in the dye.

Pop the fabric into the dye bath, and then turn it over every so often in the dye.

 The resulting fabric is now ready to embroider

The resulting fabric is now ready to embroider


Shibori using pebbles on our new Superwash Merino Fabric

To demonstrate various ways to use our new fabric, I tested one of my favourite techniques for use on fabric - Shibori dyeing.

The first attempt was tying little pebbles into the fabric before I dyed them:

 Wrap cotton around the pebbles to secure them in the fabric.

Wrap cotton around the pebbles to secure them in the fabric.

 I popped this into navy acid dye in my bain Marie, and left it for about 20 minutes, note the cotton doesn't take the dye, which is why I used cotton thread instead of wool. Once the fabric is dry, unwrap the pebbles from the fabric.

I popped this into navy acid dye in my bain Marie, and left it for about 20 minutes, note the cotton doesn't take the dye, which is why I used cotton thread instead of wool. Once the fabric is dry, unwrap the pebbles from the fabric.

Shibori superwash merino fabric

Superwash Merino Fabric - Brand new!

I love dyeing things, anything really, and for the past few years have become interested in dyeing fabric, and like a lot dyers I have more experience with using acid dyes than I do using cotton dyes. I do have a go with procion, and natural dyes on cottons, but I just know my way around acid dyes a lot better. Which got me thinking, I searched around for wool fabrics and there are lots of them, but no superwash merino ones, not that I could get hold of anyway, so.... after much badgering of Andy we ran some trials and had a go at making some. Fabric that could easily be printed on (like peeps do with the Sock blanks) or tie dyed, or using techniques such as Shibori, or even marbled, which totally works! Basically if you can think of a use for acid dyes you can probably do it on the fabric. I loved the trials so much we got the fabric made.... and its exclusive to us, it's awesome and its here!

Its made of 100% Superwash merino and comes in 5m x 1.4m lengths, the weight per 100 square meter is approximately 160g.

The fabric has a lovely drape, it's quite a heavy fabric, can be used for making clothes, but also great for homeware. Because this fabric is Superwash merino making it slipery, it also means it will fray at the edges, this can be rectified by either hemming, using a securing stitch, or because I'm lazy, I used Fray stop, super easy and perfect for small pieces of fabric when I made trousers with it.

There will be so many uses for this fabric, your mind really is your only limit, you can dye it to match your yarns, you can dye it to match your favourite colour scheme, you can print it, draw on it, speckle it, and even stitch on it, as the weave is very even.... you name it, its super easy to do. 

It will make wonderful throws, baby slings, cushions, dresses, bags, anything your imagination can conjure up!

I have run a few simple examples of what I have used it for to give you some ideas:


 A simple Shibori attempt using a Jam lids and a clamp, tutorial to follow.

A simple Shibori attempt using a Jam lids and a clamp, tutorial to follow.

 Trousers made from the fabric.

Trousers made from the fabric.

Email for info and pricing info.

Sample it!

It's that time again, yes, this week we're giving you all the chance to buy our yarns at just over the wholesale price in minimums of 500g, but just for this week, giving you a chance to sample the delights in small quantities.  

It's the perfect chance to try our new bases, such as our brand new Yak Merino Silk Singles 4ply, so why not experiment with something new?  

 Bronze Sparkle Sock (Type 49158)

Bronze Sparkle Sock (Type 49158)

Our entire range sectioned into 500g packs will go live here on the Special Offers page at 6pm BST on Sunday 23rd October and will be available in these smaller packs at the special price for one week only!  

Happy Dyeing!


Stunning new Yak Merino Silk Singles 4ply

Yes, it's new yarn time and our latest base is a keeper.  I certainly want to keep all of it, but apparently, I'm not allowed!  

Meet the soft buttery gorgeousness that is Yak Merino Silk Singles 4ply:  

We know how much you love our grey Yak bases for the way they create depth of colour when overdyed and we also know how many of you love single ply yarns, so we decided to combine the two to make an awesome new yarn!  

Obviously we had to try it out as soon as it arrived!  

It works really well in shades of semi solid yellow, so don't be afraid to try paler colours!  

We tried a complex tonal variegated too and found it almost gives an iridescent effect where the dyes have layered up, so you could create some real showstoppers with this.  

Available in 120g skeins (480m per skein), this is the perfect yarn for shawls and will have a gorgeous drape when knitted up.  Jeni has already claimed the yellow skein!  

We can't wait to see what you do with it!  

Trend predictions

Pitti 2016

Pitti Filati is the main European textile trade show which happens twice a year in January and June. manufacturers gather with their new collections of yarns and fabrics, and next years trends and colours are outlined.  There are always themes that seem to pop out and these do appear on the high street in the following year.

The displays were themed around '24 hours in Knit' showing how knitwear can be part of any activity in the day, from wearing your dressing gown first thing in the morning, to walking the dog, playing sport or doing yoga, hanging out with your children, and for workwear, basically how you could work it into an outfit for every activity (pics below)!  

As this quote from the colour predictions booklet says: 

“H24 will explore applications of various fibers through 24 ‘moments’, 24 colours, 24 atmospheres, 24 sensations and 24 physical states that need a different garment for every hour of the day and night. It is a way of getting to know ourselves better, to respect ourselves and to reap the maximum benefits from what we wear: twenty-four hours in knit.”

The themes which jumped out at me in terms of knitted fabrics were plaids in knits, rather than woven plaids, almost Fair Isle plaids (yes, these fabrics are actually knitted rarter than woven): 

Tweeds were also present, as were subtle sparkle (for a similar look, you could try one of our yarns with Stellina such as Angel Sparkle (49036), Sparkle Lace (49025), Sparkle Sock (49041) or Sparkle DK (49216) which all give a subtle sparkle without overpowering a finished piece) and beads:

Finally textures were all about printing onto knit fabrics, embroidery on knit fabrics, and creating really interesting textures by creating sheer fabrics with patterns and textures underneath, and idea that has great potential for hand knits:

The colour predictions for Autumn/Winter 2017/18 work around the same theme of 24 colours for 24 hours (one for each hour of the day from dawn at the top of the shade card to night at the bottom): 

I'm really looking forward to seeing how everyone interprets these trends over the next two years!  

New Yarns, Hand Spun

New Andean hand spun yarns!!

Our newest yarns have just arrived and this time we have something quite different from our other ranges, two beautiful hand spun yarns! 

Meet Marshmallow Hand Spun: 

Marshmallow Super Chunky

...and Spira Hand Spun:

We are really excited about these two new yarns, hand spun in the highland communities of Puno, the main Alpaca producing region of Peru. 

The women living in communities of Alpaca shepherds have a long history of traditional textile skills going back generations including hand spinning, which the program helps to preserve.  

Combining their skills with modern yarn designs has created these beautiful hand spun yarns which are not only wonderful to dye and knit with but also provide these small highland communities with more trade, enabling them to maintain their way of life as it has been for generations.  By supporting this program we are helping to keep their skills alive and also the mountain villages themselves, where sheep and alpaca have been farmed for centuries, keeping families together by giving them the opportunity to earn money without having to move away from rural areas.  

So, I guess you'd like to know a bit more about the yarns? 

Marshmallow Hand Spun is a beautifully soft single ply super chunky yarn spun from 100% super fine alpaca, with approx. 40m per 100g skein, this yarn is lovely and squishy, perfect for cosy accessories!  We can't stop petting this skein, it's so soft!  

Spira Hand Spun is a single ply yarn with a wonderful texture, a little thinner than Marshmallow Hand Spun, with 50m per 100g skein.  A mix of super fine alpaca and Peruvian Highland wool, this yarn has a very subtle variations in colour when dyed thanks to the way the two types of fibre take up the dye differently.  We've got in three lovely shades for you to choose from in this yarn too!  Two of the shades use white wool together with a different natural shade of alpaca fibre, and the third uses natural white:

 Three gorgeous natural shades in our new Spira Hand Spun  Clockwise from top: Mid grey, white and fawn

Three gorgeous natural shades in our new Spira Hand Spun

Clockwise from top: Mid grey, white and fawn

We were so excited to see how these yarn dyed up and we've not been disappointed! 

 Here's how they dyed up!    Clockwise from top left: Mid grey, fawn, white

Here's how they dyed up!  

Clockwise from top left: Mid grey, fawn, white

We particularly love the way the mid grey yarn dyes, it would be absolutely stunning dyed with jewel colours like teal, sapphire blue, purple or ruby (too many ideas and not enough time!).  Grey yarns give a wonderful depth of colour when dyed, so don't be scared of trying them.  

New yarns!!

We love it here when we get new yarns, Lottie and I pour over the packs rip them open, fantasise about what colours we will dye them, and then go hunt for appropriate patterns on Ravelry.

These two newbies were no exception, the first out of the box is a Superwash Merino Nylon DK, so you know what that means? YES DK socks socks socks!!! Its 75% Merino, 25% nylon with 225m per 100g hank, it has a lovely twist and is soft and delicious...

Second up is 49178, this is SUCH A GORGEOUS YARN, its totally worthy of the Caplocks!

 I like twists, different kinds of twists create such different types of yarn, I've wanted a 3ply high twist for ages, they work better on larger needles, unlike 2ply high twists, which can sometimes look a bit unbalanced. Since I've been nagging Andy for this for ages.. finally when he decided to do this blend, I realised this was my chance :D and its so good, so so good. The blend is 70% Superwash merino, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere with a good 400m on it. Its smooth, soft and shiny all in one.

I had to have a go at dyeing this one.. see below....

 In its pure undyed state...

In its pure undyed state...

I keep trying to tell Andy he should call it MCS epic twist.. but he's not having it yet ;)

Happy dyeing folks!

Jeni and the team x

Sample it!

This week we are giving everyone a chance to buy our yarns at just over the wholesale price in minimums of 500g, but just for this week, giving you a chance to sample the delights in small quantities.

Our entire range is here on sectioned into 500g packs, orders can be placed any time up until tomorrow midnight.

Happy Dyeing!




We are proud to announce we are distributing JUL designs in the UK and Europe

I love buttons and closures, and I always think that the quality and look of them can make or break a freshly knitted Garment. We spend hours and hours knitting/crocheting  something special, its the least we can do to use a delicious fixing to compliment the work thats gone into it. Not only that to add a gorgeous shawl pin to a shawl makes the most PERFECT present. In my show days I could not get enough shawl pins to sell, especially metal ones, beautifully crafted shawl pins are hard to come by, so when we had the chance to distribute JUL Designs, we jumped at the chance.

This is some of the shawl pins we will be distributing, aren't they just divine?

But what I really wanted to tell you about was the leather fixings and just how clever they are...

These fixings are great, you can use them to change the way your knitwear is styled by removing them and putting them back on again, you can change the style by using different fixings or colours, or simply move them onto new knitwear, they are fabulous!

Here's how to use them:

1. This is what the button looks like Back and Front:

You unscrew the back to take it apart like this:

Leather button in pieces

Push the large piece through the knitwear like so: (showing the front)

The back looks like this:

leather 5.JPG

Pop the smaller leather piece on:

And screw in the fixing to close it:

This can be undone and moved at any time.

JUL DESIGNS has all sorts of wonderful versions of these these are just a few:

JUL designs

If you are interested in retailing these or are a designer and would like to use these in your designs, please drop us an email.

Using Natural coloured yarns for Dyeing

We have quite a few naturally coloured yarns in our range, from the Natural grey alpaca in our grey Angel to the honey comb camel in our Camel silk blends. We also often get asked if these are ok to dye or whether they have to be used as they are. You will be glad to know the answer is both! We produce these yarns with the coloured bases to give a twist and depth to your dyeing. The natural grey in the yarns will add a depth to colours, the light greys producing a smokyness and the darker colours creating a rich undertone to your colours. 

To show you what I mean I dyed 3 yarns. Angel which comes in the natural white and then the natural grey, pictures on the left and middle. On the right is the Tibetan which has a much cooler darker grey base, which can make colours almost iridescent at times, I have seen some wonderful yarns by my fav dyers using this base, they are magical in quality.

So.. below here are the undyed bases:

Natural Angel 4ply and tibetan 4ply

Below are the same 3 yarns dyed in one dye bath at the same time, I choose a semisolid light pink because it shows off the effect better:

Angel and Tibetan Dyed pale pink

To show you the warmth a brown base can create, here is a hand paint I did a while ago, the natural honey comb colour of the yarn richens the colours and adds tremendous warmth:

Camel Silk Lace 49029

I highly recommend having a go at using natural colours!

To show you other uses for the natural colours we also use them as they are I decided to have a go weaving them, (ignore my tension lol its just a practice)

Angel Tibetan and Camel silk weaving

A little zigzag stole Lottie designed for the Angel 4ply Natural and Natural Grey:

Happy Dyeing!


Sprinkle Dyeing

One of the best things about dyeing, is messing about and seeing what happens. I certainly find there is nothing worse than having to recreate the same thing over and over again, that takes all the fun out of it!

I often like to mess about and try different techniques, its good to not be scared to make mistakes, after all the great thing about dyeing is we can over dye anything we don't like right?

So.. this is our chunky singles yarn  (49417) a yarn which I always feel is a little unloved, its quick to dye, and sucks up the colour because its super wash merino, and it is so quick to knit, as you will see below..

This yarn is chunky and as its a singles it has a large surface area, which makes it perfect for catching sprinkles.

I soaked this yarn first in water and vinegar, and then used 3 colours and gently sprinkled them on, wrapped them up and steamed them for 30 mins. Hey presto I got pretty yarn...

This yarn knits SO quickly, I made this hat in about 3 hours, a bit less I think the hat takes 1 hank and the pom pom was out  of the second hank, not bad going me thinks, a great knit for presents or gift.

And here is the lovely Rachel Coopey modelling it :D

Happy Dyeing!




Angel - Baby Alpaca Silk Cashmere

Angel is probably our most favourite blend at Chester Wool, it has the most incredible softness, with just a touch of silk shine. It takes the dye beautifully well and makes for the most luxury of garments or accesories.

We have 2 new additions to the Angel range, 2 lace weights, one with a hint of stellina Sparkle and one natural grey.

Angel sparkle is a must for christmas knitting, how could anyone not want a soft scarf or shawl made from this yarn?

 Type 49025: 65% Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere and 5% Stellina 800m 100g

Type 49025: 65% Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere and 5% Stellina 800m 100g

Stellina doesn't take acid dye, so it works beautifully especially against dark colours.


Our second blend is for the super stylish, it uses natural grey baby alpaca to create the softest warm natural grey, this is perfect either knitted as it is, or over dyed giving a rich depth and warm hue of colour to your dyeing.

 Type 49037: 70% Grey Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere.

Type 49037: 70% Grey Baby Alpaca, 20% Silk, 10% Cashmere.

The natural grey also comes in a 4ply