I recently completed my first project knit with Virtual Yarns Hebridean 2ply, Alice Starmore’s yarn brand. I’m a big fan of Starmore’s books. I was not around when she first published her work, so got converted when she republished some of her work a few years ago. Someone of a local knitting group I used to go to brought along Starmore’s Fishermen’s Sweaters the moment it was republished. It was one of those mind boggling moments when I first browsed through the pages. My mind was blown by her colourwork designs, and her cable designs. The wealth of information she provided on aran, fair isle and fishermen sweaters fed my initial interest in these traditional crafts.
The recent project was my first time knitting with Starmore’s yarn, as I only recently found out that she had her own brand. I had read about it in her books and vaguely remember registering it when I read it, but somehow it didn’t really hit home, or somehow I convinced myself that it probably wouldn’t be available to people outside the UK. Ha…what a mistake on my part!
It’s a wonderfully bouncy yarn. It’s one of the stickiest yarns I’ve knitted with, which makes is perfect for stranded knitting. It is slightly thicker and stickier than Jamieson and Smith 2ply jumperweight but not as sticky as Lopi (the stickiest yarn I’ve ever knitted with). The yarn is a tad bit softer then both of these yarn brands as well. If you’re looking for a yarn that’s suitable for colourwork, but find J&S or Lopi too scratchy, you might find this a good option. I find that weaving in the ends with sticky yarn is less tedious and more enjoyable as well. I had to weave in a lot of ends for my project and didn’t find it as tedious as I normally do.
Each of the yarns and each of the different colourways has a unique story about the inspiration for the colour. Usually, this is story inspired by Alice’s Hebridean background. The Gaelic fishermen community Starmore grew up greatly inspired her work. For example, if you buy a skein of the yarn, you get a small card explaining Selkies, or describing a certain type of moss. Personally, I’m a sucker for yarns with a story and I love those details.
Lastly, the colours are magnificent. Starmore is, in my humble opinion, a colour magician. She somehow managed to capture the landscape of the Hebrides in her yarns. I couldn’t stop marvelling at the rich colours when I first saw the yarn in person. Alice Starmore made an appearance on BBC’s Coast in one of the previous seasons, in which she talked about and demonstrated dyeing with natural dye materials. Again she made evident how concerned with the landscape and the history of the Hebrides she is and this passion is reflected in both her designs and her yarn.
Aside form the Hebridean 2ply yarn I used, she sells Hebridean 3 ply, the same yarn but in a worsted weight and yarn called Scottish fleet, a 5 ply fingering yarn, specifically made for fishermen sweaters. So lots of options left if I feel like trying different yarns!