*side note - did you see that my report on the day was published in Issue 63 of Knit Now? Thanks for the opportunity Kate! :)
When I first learned that a trip to Sirdar was one of the grand prizes I was over the moon; not only was I desperately interested in going behind the scenes of a wool supplier, but Sirdar was a name and brand that I knew and loved. I've knitted plenty of projects in the past using their lines, including the semi-recently finished Sophie Cardigan, and last year's Aran Garter Stitch Cardigan. So when they got in touch with me before the visit, I quiet happily discussed the opportunity to review some yarns for myself and for my lovely readers!
I was sent yarn from 3 different lines*, and I chose the yarn to knit 2 versions of a Space Invaders' Hat of my own design. There will be a post next week on the finished hats themselves, and not long after there will be a PDF pattern available for you to buy so you can knit your own! Watch this space.
Both hats were knit with 4.5mm needles - the recommended size for the wool is 4mm, but I have very tight tension.
Something I didn't know before my visit to Sirdar was that they supply the luxury brand of yarns Sublime. I had heard of Sublime, and had ogled over patterns in the past, but hadn't made that connection (hey, with under 4 and half years of knitting experience under my belt, there is still plenty to learn, eh?).
I worked with 3 absolutely gorgeous colours; Tigerlily (pale orange), Palm (pale green) and Spruce (rich, medium blue). Don't the names alone inspire your imagination and creativity? Bold and consistent throughout the whole skein, they compliment each other really well and stand out both in blocks on their own, and when knitted in the fair isle pattern.
Before I started knitting, and after admiring the colours, I squished and felt and investigated the yarn. It felt soft and light, which was a great combination while knitting in the *brief* English summer we experienced a couple of weeks ago. But also strong and warm - there's nothing worse than poorly spun wool that pulls apart as you work with it, but this ain't one of them.
the explosion of colour in the pom pom is one of my favourite aspects about the finished hat
The wool itself is 100% merino wool from Italy. I can't express enough how beautifully soft and smooth it is; while working with it, the yarn didn't split on me once (and, with my usual tight tension in knitting, I'm always impressed when this doesn't happen) and it was really easy to knit with on my favoured bamboo circular needles.
I think the stitch definition is really clear and impressive which I do put down to the wool. With a detailed hat such as this, it helps to be able to see every stitch stand out.
I don't usually knit with luxury yarn, instead favouring acrylics, but this is a brand I will certainly invest in more with future projects. The finished hat is soft and warm, and has enough stretch to fit comfortably on my head but it doesn't feel like it will lose it's shape. Throw in the fact that it's machine washable and I really can't fault it.
Sirdar - Harrap Tweed DK and Sirdar - Country Style DK
My thoughts when requesting some samples from the classic Sirdar range, as well as the luxury brand, is that I don't usually knit with merino wool. If I was to knit a hat as a gift, I would tend towards the more traditional wool, or wool blend as I prefer (I like my things to be machine washable!). You can't go wrong with a tweed woolly hat either, and so Harrap Tweed was the way to go. In order to have the pattern stand out well against the 'busier' base, the simple bold colours from the Country Style range were ideal.
From Harrap Tweed I knitted with shade 100 Simpson, a classic grey and white mix with the odd fleck of red that, when knitted, formed the perfect base for the version of the hat that I had in mind. From Country Style, White and Cherry were the orders for the day and, again, I was impressed with the brightness and consistency of the colours throughout the skein.
They didn't disappoint. The wool was really enjoyable to work with on the bamboo needles, with the finished knitting feeling textured and fibrous. It was very easy to keep my tension nice and even over the colour work, meaning that the red Space Invaders 'pop' really nicely against the tweed background! I like that, with the tweed, the finished knitting isn't as close as with the merino wool, which means that although the hat will be warm, it's also breathable and comfortable to wear.
The finished hat is warm and cosy, and Ben is very excited to get to wear this once winter swings round again. It also has a timeless look which means this hat (should) remain a favourite in Ben's wardrobe. And as the Harrap Tweed is a blend of wool, nylon, acrylic and viscose, it is again machine washable and more comfortable to knit with than 100% wool! Bonus.
I would happily recommend all of the yarns in this post, and in particular the Sublime Merino wool, which I am very excited to work with again and to try more of the fabulous colours on offer!
Which of these hats do you prefer? Have you knit with either of these yarns before?
*These yarns were kindly sent to me by Sirdar to review for the blog. I requested the lines and colours that I was interested in reviewing. All thoughts and opinions are my own.