Blacker Yarns

Blacker Yarns has probably the largest collection of natural yarns from a wide range of Britain’s sheep breeds in one place.

Search for British natural yarns for hand knitting and there are a number of suppliers and manufacturers in the UK. Start looking for yarn on the cone for machine knitting and the search narrows to only a handful.

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Beautiful natural yarns from British sheep

I found Blacker Yarns whilst looking for a natural undyed yarn with a soft and luxurious handling quality, and of course it had to come from British sheep.

Instantly struck by the variations of breed, colours and yarn weights, it was clear that this was where I would find my quarry.

Blacker Yarns incredibly well presented website instantly allowed me to choose from yarn breed origin, yarn weight or type and even scoured carded fleece.

The site also has a wealth of information about the different fleeces /yarns which helps when choosing a yarn for a particular project and their use of high quality images gives a very good idea of the texture and quality of the yarn.  Videos taking you on a short “mill tour” add a friendly and welcoming touch.

Yarns are available in an extensive range of weights and include everything from fine 2 ply to chunky.

Blacker Yarns range of over 150 knitting yarns are all made from natural wool, mohair and alpaca, and all come from British sources, mostly the UK, but also the Falkland Islands.

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Stunning, sophisticated colours


Gone are the false garish colours found in many fashion offerings from the high street.  Instead, you will find a rich palette of undyed yarns the way nature intended and coloured, overdyed yarns which retain the beauty and depth of the wool fibre, enhanced with natural stylish and sophisticated colours.

About Blacker Yarns

Blacker Yarns was created from the knitting yarns side of Blacker Designs which was launched in 2008 as a brand of The Natural Fibre Company, a specialist wool mill at Launceston on the Devon-Cornwall border.

So as well as buying British wool for Blacker Designs’ scarves, throws, cushions and blankets, they also use the wool for their own range of specialist knitting yarns sold under the Blacker Yarns brand.

The mill specialises in adding value to fleece supplied by farmers and turning it into high-quality knitting yarn which they can sell for themselves and generate a new or growing source of income from their flock.

Although wool has been spun at The Natural Fibre Company since 1991, the services have changed dramatically since 2005 when managing director Sue Blacker and her family bought the company from its previous owners.

Moving the company from Lampeter in Wales to a new home in Cornwall at Launceston on the Devon border, signalled the start of a minor revolution.

Worsted spinning was introduced in 2007, and the summer of 2008 saw the birth of an on-line shop and a dye plant. As well as matching specialist colours supplied by customers, the dye plant is also producing its own range of yarns in a range of colours carefully created to tone with the natural fibre colours.

To compliment Blacker Yarns, Sue Blacker also retails quality, knitted items, knitting kits and her range of unique patterns.

Blacker Yarns is an absolute treasure trove which knitters, weavers and spinners will keep coming back to time after time.

More information

Blacker Yarns – Premium quality, British yarns.

Designaknit 8 now available

Designaknit is a great software tool enabling both hand and machine knitters to design garments and stitch patterns.

Designaknit 8 is the biggest upgrade to date, bringing it in line with the modern Windows environment.

Designaknit 8 promo images

Upgrade your existing version or buy new

Launched globally by Soft Byte Ltd in September 2011, this latest software upgrade has proved a huge hit with devotees with everything in one program for the hand & machine knitter or designer who wants it all.

Unfortunately, we were not able to test drive this software as it is only available for Windows operating systems, but we have been told that a Mac version will be forthcoming with the next major release.

However, Machine Knitting Monthly gave DK8 a big thumb up in it’s October issue review.

Choose your package…

Three versions of the latest software are available;


More features for the domestic machine knitter
A complete design and charting system for the hand knitter,
including an extensive collection of stitch cables. Select from
200 new hand knitting stitch symbols with abbreviations and
knitting instructions. Use as they are or alter to suit your needs.

Machine Standard

Designaknit 8 promo images

Packed full of new feaures

The basics for machine knitters with a set of standard garment
shapes and great stitch pattern design features. Full support for
colour changers. Optional cable connections are available for
almost any machine.

Machine Pro

More features for the domestic machine knitter.
features of Machine Standard plus the freedom of
Original Pattern Drafting*. (*Included in HandKnit, Machine
Pro, and Complete editions.

Easy Graphics

  • Take images from internet,camera, graphics programs, or scanner, and convert to stitch patterns.
  • Control exactly how image colours are converted to yarn colours.
  • Pick colours from the image or from your yarns.
  • Choose how many stitches & rows, and the number of colours per row to convert to.
  • Use bird’s eye patterns to create extra in between colour shades.
  • Design with the new Cables Tool. The new font of hand and machine knit symbols.
  • Adjust patterns made with Graphics Studio or draw from scratch, for a variety of knit methods.
  • Use a standard size for men, women, children, or babies, or edit body measurements & ease for a perfect fit.
  • Keep database of personal data. Adjust styling features.

Versatile original pattern drafting

Designaknit 8 promo images

Original pattern drafting

A versatile pattern drafting tool to create a range of tops and skirts.
Design multicoloured and textured stitch patterns, and integrate with garment shapes.
Trace directly onto the screen using a graphics tablet, and draw text with any TrueType font, or start from a square block.

  • Take full control over edge shaping with the new Exact Stitch Layout
  • Alter a standard garment, experimenting with layout and orientation, cutting or joining pieces…
  • Choose from a wide range of printout formats.
  • Receive row by row colour change or shaping instructions while you knit by
  • machine or hand.
  • Synchronize almost any knitting machine to your PC using a DesignaKnit cable link.
  • Measure around edges or in a straight line.

Machine Lace

Design machine lace for Silver Reed, Toyota, and Brother using the optional
Lace Tool. While knitting, receive instructions when to change carriage or carriage settings.
Keep on top of your files with the thumbnail viewer.
Visually browse your shapes, stitch patterns, palettes, and graphic files.
Use up to date Windows functionality including long filenames, network, and mousewheel support.

Easy Upgrades­

Designaknit 8 promo images

Machine Lace made easy

DesignaKnit can update itself from the web.
Edit shapes and stitch patterns freely with 20 levels of undo and redo.

System requirements

Windows 98 SE or later.
Compatible with 32 and 64bit Windows.
Free USB port for optional cable links (does not apply to HandKnit).
Screen size at least 800 x 600 pixels.
500 MBytes hard disk space (if installing tutorials). 80 MBytes without tutorials.
Comprehensive search and sort options help you find what you are looking for.
Support by email or telephone is included.

View the PDF leaflets below for more information on this exciting new upgrade.

Where to obtain Designaknit8

DK8 can be purchased from the following retailers;

Andee Knits (UK based with sales also available to US customers)
Yarn store (US)
or direct from Soft Byte Ltd. – The developer’s website is currently awaiting an upgrade, so please use their contact details below.
Quarry Lane,
SY10 9HH,
Tel 01691 828556
Fax 01691 828195


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Rennie Handknits Yarn review.

Britain has always produced quality yarn for centuries, whether it be for handknits or a Saville Row tailor, making some of the best quality fabric available.

J C Rennie of Scotland - handknit yarns

A palette that only nature can create

Nothing is more evident than in the range of yarns produced by J C Rennie of Scotland.

Rennie use British sourced wool where they can but all lambswool fleece is sourced from the former colonies of either New Zealand or Australia. A tradition which has changed little since the Industrial Revolution, and is part of the romance.

Their most popular machine knitting yarn is the 2/11 Supersoft. However for those who prefer a more authentic look, there is the 2/9nm Unique Shetland yarn.

There has been an increase in customers asking for their supersoft cashmere which has the look of lambswool but the texture of cashmere. This also comes in a wide range of colours with a sumptuous feel, giving a very natural but fashionable finish.

Rennie’s 4ply supersoft handknits are loved by many discerning knitters and some of the colour palette has now been extended into the popular Aran range.

Amazing colours

Handling quality of the yarn is exceptional and the colours are truly amazing.

The chunky Aran weight  pure new wool in COUTURE 1464 looks as though is has been dyed with a handful of squashed berries from the Scottish hedgerow, whilst the 4 ply Lambswool in Thistledown and DK Supersoft Cashmere shade 053, reflect the colours of the heather which cloak the mountain sides.

J C Rennie yarns of Scotland

Beautiful melange yarns with a luxurious finish

Fitting very easily into the contemporary palette of purples, mauves and lilacs, these yarns will produce very fashionable garments which will just ooze quality.

The melange shades inspired by “The Colours of Scotland” are made up of blends of many different colours of wool, fused together during the carding process.  However, this is very subtle and we feel, results in one of the finest natural colour blends available.

Knitting in more than one colour with these yarns is a dream, as all the natural shades blend so well with each other, just as they do in nature….the only problem is; which ones to choose.

Scottish Yarn

J C Rennie of Scotland have produced high quality genuine and authentic yarn since 1798, made in the Aberdeenshire countryside using traditional methods which has changed little since the Industrial Revolution.  One of Scotland’s oldest and few remaining woollen mills, they, like us are passionate about manufacturing and the woollen industry in the UK.

Yes, we have waxed lyrical but as knitters who like quality, these yarns are an example of what Britain does best.

Their range is now available to weavers, machine knitters and hand knitters, on the cone or in 50g balls.  Prices for the J C Rennie yarns are also very competitive, making this brand exceptional value for money. – Purchase these sumptuous yarns online or view their list of suppliers.


Everything a Machine Knitter needs or desires to aid their machine knitting  is available from Metropolitan.

Metropolitan machine knitting logoYears at the forefront of Machine Knitting

Metropolitan Machine Knitting has been going since 1925 and have always prided themselves on being ahead of the competition in bringing you top quality goods and services.

Over the years, thousands of people have benefited from Metrolpolitan residential knitting courses.  They offer accomodation and food and give you a relaxed environment to learn in while you work on a real project to take away at the end.

Shopping and Accessories
A comprehensive shop with everything you need from knitting machines, yarn to needles, spares, books and magazines, to name just a few.  All pares and accessories are genuine, sourced directly from the manufacturers.

Visit the Metropolitan website for more information.

B Hague & Co

B Hague & Co. in Nottingham are specialists is Linkers, winders, twisters and accessories.

PDB 125G ELECTRIC YARN TWISTERAchieve a truly professional finish and save hours of sewing up with the Hague Linker.

The PDB yarn winders and twisters will enhance your speed and creativity.

An extensive range of accessories inculdes the Tricot Not a-Knot yarn defect indicator, the De-knit stitch removal carriage and the Intarsia Multi-Yarn Brake.

Full selection of machine knitting aids, such as pickup tools, side weights, needles and punchcard rolls

Visit for more information

Machine knitters required

Machine knitting is quite popular in the US but appears to be a minority craft in the UK.  We are looking for articles, news and views from manufacturers, machine knitters and suppliers.Machine knitting image

Even obtaining a knitting machine in the UK can be like asking for the keys to Fort Knox.

For those thinking of adding machine knitting to their craft skills, the general information is quite scant and is aimed at those who already have some knowledge.

The quest for patterns, punch cards and even yarn suppliers can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

We would like to encourage knitting groups, suppliers and technicians to submit questions or articles to this site.

You can do this by simply using the comments section at the end of this article.


Machine Knitting Monthly

Machine knitting monthly is a magazine aimed specifically at machine knitters.

Machine Knitting Monthly magazine imagePacked full of useful information, this UK based subscription magazine features a news and reader’s letters section as well as information on patterns and charts.

Issues feature a selection of patterns and you can also find details of local machine knitting groups and clubs near you.

Their website is slightly clunky but does have a useful forum and  a directory of suppliers and clubs.

More information