Layter launch and giveaway!

I am very excited to announce that Layter is now available to buy as a PDF from my Ravelry store here. This is due in large part to the amazing tech-editing wizardry of Liz, whose help in organising all the information has been invaluable. I have really enjoyed Liz‘s clear, constructive, encouraging approach to organising information, and have been inspired to think more carefully about how I organise ideas within documents.

I am also thankful to Tom, whose eye for detail is very good, and who made some clever suggestions re: aspects of the pattern.

Lastly, I feel very thankful to Mark for taking such superb photographs of the finished garment! Brenda – who has also been a keen supporter of my writing up LAYTER – specifically said that “the images show every part of the pattern that I would want to see as I knit.” I think this is the best compliment a knitter can give to a photographer. Thank you, Mark!

Making this pattern has been particularly special because it has involved developing deeper familiarity with many of our different sheep breeds’ respective fleeces. I have loved working with Blacker Yarns throughout this project, and exploring ways of specifically celebrating the wonderful qualities, textures, characters and sheer beauty of our native sheep breeds and their characterful wools. Seriously, knitting Layter was like the cheese-tasting of fibres. I am so glad to be able to buy and knit with breed-specific yarns, and it was fantastic to find myself in the very mill where such yarn is spun, back in October.

This is Manx Loaghtan yarn being turned from cones into balls at The Natural Fibre Company. When I look at it, I remember it’s specifically soft hand, and the way that it blocks to resemble the soft, inviting surface of a digestive biscuit. Manx was the first sheep breed I was able to identify, with its amazing horns and gingernut/digestive-biscuit fleece.

Manx Loaghtan, first spotted and identified by me in 2009 at WOOLFEST!

I love that I have been able to use some Manx in my Layter, and that since I first made the garment, I have learned to recognise most of the breeds which comprise its sheepy palette. I love that when I was in Estonia, wearing my first edition of Layter, I was able to tell shepherds whom I met there (I’m thinking specifically of beautiful Julika) what my jacket was made of, and where it was spun. I love that when I wear Layter, the conversation – wherever I am, whomever I’m with – turns to sheep. It starts with “I love your jacket” and ends with “yes, and this is North Ronaldsay, which is a sheep which eats seaweed, and this is Southdown…” etc.

Most of all I love that Layter is made with Blacker Yarns because I really love what Sue Blacker is doing. I love that I have made something which celebrates breed-specific wool. I love that I have been in the very mill where the yarn in Layter was spun.

I love that I have met Sue Blacker’s own sheep.


I love that this has all come to fruition in WOVEMBER! It feels completely appropriate to have made and designed a garment which celebrates the work of shearers, (whose work is the current focus of the WOVEMBER blog) and the traceability of garments, at this specific point in the calendar.

I think I could probably get a list of the farmers whose sheep contributed their wool to each stripe in Layter. If I wanted to, I could probably write to them each personally and thank them for growing that wool. And I’ve seen where it’s spun.

That is what Closing The Gap means to me, and I am so jazzed to be launching this pattern in WOVEMBER, amidst all the wonderful sheepiness of the posts people have so kindly contributed to our blog, and amidst all the WOOL LOVE that is going on now that the winter is drawing in and we all need those extra layers.

I will give away a copy of Layter to one randomly picked person. To be in the running, just leave a remark about a sheep breed yarn which you have knit with. Say the breed of sheep, the colour of the yarn, what you made with it, and what it was like to knit with, and your name will go in a draw for a random giveaway for 30th WOVEMBER! In the meantime, you won’t see me here until after the end of the month, so do check out WOVEMBER, because it is an absolute pleasure to be working on it with Tom and Kate.


16 Responses to Layter launch and giveaway!

  1. Chris says:

    I remember the day I met Sunrise on a rainy muddy Maryland farm, and decided to master this art of spinning from the hoof up. Sunrise was a Romney ewe, and her wool was silver tipped golden tan. I learned to skirt and wash her fleece, and how to spin it into fine three ply yarn that ended up double knitting size, or what we now call size 3 yarn. The very first thing I knit with it was a lace wrist warmer for the neighbor who introduced me to the sheep owner and rancher who later allowed me to adopt Sunrise for a year, and receive both a fall and spring fleece in return. The wool felt almost slippery smooth as it was spun worsted, and squishy kinky soft knitted into a warm garter stitch hat and a thick warm shawl from those fleeces of hers, and hope to use the last of it in knitting a Layter of my own. Thank you for writing the pattern, and also for the chance to win this wonderful prize.

  2. LuisaM says:

    I’ve recently knit with icelandic sheep wool – Plötulopi. It’s an unspun yarn, very fragile to knit with, specially because I knit with yarn around my neck.
    Icelandic wool is unique in its composition, consisting of two types of fibres: inner fibres, which are fine, soft, highly insulating and outer fibres, long, glossy, water-repellent (from Istex site).
    Plötulopi knits into a light yet warm fabric perfect for winter layering.
    I knit Freyja in a light brown colour.

  3. Kata. says:

    Such good news!

    I have not knitted anything yet, as I arrived home with copious amounts of Estonian yarn from actual Estonian sheep today. I have spent my night dyeing parts of it.

    Other parts will go into an Estonian Layter – consisting mostly of maalammas, but also Dala and Gotland sheep. I bought several shades, from natural white to dark brown and I can’t wait to knit with them!

  4. LaceLady says:

    Currently knitting a shawl with: “donkey brown” Haunui, “chocolate brown” Manx Loughton, “dark brown” Haunui,”silver grey” Shetland. Spectacular yarns in every respect – easy on hands, smells so lovely, blocks beautifully, silky and lofty, warmth without weight. Handspun and sent to me by a friend in the UK. I would love to knit only with these yarns, but that is not to be, I’m certain. The LAYTER pattern is beautifully written – I couldn’t wait, but did want to participate in WOVEMBER in some fashion. Joyful knitting, all!

  5. Anna says:

    Congratulations! And I agree, it is such a fun working with local fibers.

  6. Lisa G says:

    I made an argosy scarf with hand spun hand dyed yarn in green tones. I purchased the yarn at the Common Ground Fair in Maine and don’t recall which breed of sheep it was. I’d love to knit the Layter with the darker color way to the sides.

  7. The wool I used was from a sheep called Jura here in Germany, a browny colour. I knit a cardigan with 3/4 sleeves and a cable pattern up each front part. It was a joint project with my Mum and such a joy. We both had very soft fingers as the wool is so natural that the fat content is wonderful.

  8. The wool I used was from a sheep called Jura here in Germany, a browny colour. I knitted a cardigan with 3/4 sleeves and a cable pattern up each front part. It was a joint project with my Mum and such a joy. We both had very soft fingers as the wool is so natural that the fat content is wonderful.

  9. Chantelle says:

    I once made a beautiful Aran style cardigan with merino wool. It was natural white which showed off the mix of textures beautifully and of course, being merino, it was super soft and wearable next to the skin. The spring in the yarn made it very comfortable to knit with, letting me knit for a longer period of time every time I sat down to it (my hands can get a little crampy).

  10. Paisley says:

    I knit my favourite cardigan from wool that I handspun myself from a Merino / Border Leicester cross. The fleece was from the black sheep of the flock and hence of “no value” to the farmer who couldn’t include it in the commercial clip. He was a little flummoxed (but I think rather chuffed) that I could quite happily make good use of it. I spun it “in the grease” before scouring the yarn afterwards. The yarn has retained a good amount of lanolin and has a slightly “sticky-sheepy” feel when you’re working with it. But once knit up, and worn and washed a few times, the result has a surprising softness.

  11. Allison says:

    I am currently working on a pair of lace stockings knitted from Romney wool. The yarn is a nice oatmeal-y color, and in the knitting I can feel it’s a little more prickly than the yarn I would normally use for socks, but it has a nice, solid hand (unlike the Merino you can feel pilling as you work), and I think it will be soft enough when washed.
    And I can’t forget to say it’s from Vermont Grand View Farm, here in the US, and that Kim Godling, who runs the farm, very kindly raided her yarny stores to get me two skeins.

  12. Joanne says:

    Wow, such a thoughtful contest. I am new to non commercial yarn purchases..I am still learning to pluses of each breed- I do find myself visually drawn to the deep chocolatey brown colors for a cardigan or pullover for me ( dare I be so selfish!). I love hazy hot days best and when the temperature drops I am greatful for warm wool!

  13. colleen says:

    Rachel recommended using the Blacker North Ronaldsay yarn for my Shetland squares blanket and I just loved working with it. There is what Rachel described as a “waxiness” to the way it feels which she put down to their hardiness from eating seaweed on the beach. An excellent description as it happens. I love the dun colour too, the perfect finish to the blanket. On cold nights I love to feel its weight and run my hand across the textures thinking of the sea.

    In one of the Wovember posts I noticed that that sand and seaweed are often found after scouring North Ronaldsay fleeces! I am completed taken with this because it gives such depth to the story of connection between the place, the sheep, the yarn and the finished object.

    The colours of your Layter are subtly warm and sheepy and Mark’s pictures interpret you and jacket perfectly. So very pleasing.

  14. Sue says:

    It’s lovely to see this garment – I have watched it grow and develop and the finished version is really great! I have bought the pattern and now only need to find the time to knit it …. I confess that my current project is continuously interrupted by technical and swatch work for the business, so it’s seven years old – lucky we go for classic styles – like Layter!!!
    I am loving all the Wovember posts and articles as well and it’s inspiring to see how many people and ideas are coming together for Wovember.

  15. Halley says:

    I recently “discovered” my local growers..I am checking out cormo blend, Leicester blend, and Romney -love the smaller yarn folks.
    Working on holiday gifts and loving the feel of my works in progress!

  16. Maryjo says:

    I’m also “new to non-commercial” yarns but really want to start with those in the New Year. I was able to buy some local black alpaca during a road trip in the US southwest in April — all I an do is fondle it 🙂 One prezzie for sure from Santa will be the Fleece to Fiber sourcebook!

    It is truly “an honor” to read the posts in Wovember — such dedication, and future tradition. And SO much to learn!

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