books, Podcast, Wool Exploration, Wool Exploration Review
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Episode One hundred and twenty-burble-burble-burble (127)

Hello friends,

Welcome to episode— what is it now?  I think it’s episode one hundred and twenty-burble-burble-burble (checked later – its 127!)

I knew when I sat down that this would be a long one!

  • Today I’m talking about all the ‘I haven’t done that for a while’ things I did in November, which caused me some anxieties and some soul-searching. 
  • I tell you about the awesome new book Perspectives, from Julie Rutter and Emily K Williams.
  • I’m discussing all the things I want to cast on this festive break (or the endless days  as we reach the end of the year, depending on how you look at it!) 
  • and we, EVENTUALLY, have Wool Exploration with Zwartbles!

Come on in, the water’s fine!

Listen to the podcast 

Also available on Spotify, iTunes and wherever you find your podcasts! 

Show notes

I didn’t podcast in November because I almost felt like I had, except it was a different podcast entirely. I was on the BBC Scotland Outdoors Podcast, as I had written into their regular programme, Out of Doors, in response to an assertion from a correspondent of their show, that there was no knitting wool in Scotland!

It also prompted me to write the post below.

*Yarn from Scotland

November was a bit of a recurring pattern of “I haven’t done that for a whiles” (IHDTFAW). The Scotland Outdoors podcast was one such thing. It was the first time in ages since I had spoken about wool, on a platform that wasn’t mine and to a largely non-crafty audience. I can’t explain just how nervous I was. I was ill with nerves. I knew I wanted to do it, I knew I wanted to set the woolly record straight, but I was really petrified

I have put this down to having allowed myself to disconnect this year – due to COVID, etc – I was happy to take the slow pace that 2020 offered, but that had a knock on effect when I tried to pick things up again.

The podcast went well, despite my nerves. Someone once told me about public speaking that if you are nervous, you should smile when you talk, and all people will hear is your smile. That worked.  

The next IHDTFAW was I gave a talk at a conference which was not about wool. There was a bit of relief with that in that I could pre-record my talk and so while I was nervous, I wasn’t quite as overwhelmed. I also gave a talk at Maddie Harvey’s online knitting retreat and that was a lot of fun, I enjoy waxing woolly!   and the focus on this one was thinking about local wool when it comes to wool subs and the things we need to think about when it comes to subbing – I.e. what goes into a wool and the process to get a yarn that is similar to suggested yarn in the pattern, but my goodness, I was so nervous beforehand. And like the podcast interview, I still felt that way after it too.  

I drove myself to the point of utter distraction with these IHDTFAW’s and I really didn’t enjoy that feeling. It was almost that I couldn’t balance all the things I wanted to do, with the things I needed to do and bound up in there were also issues of anxiety and imposter syndrome. I’ve spent an awful long time since trying to focus on that.  I spoke to several friends about it too. Many reminded me that I am a great communicator and my enthusiasm shines through no matter, that is something that I do know and did try to focus on, but it’s a strange feeling and it’s sitting with me still a little bit.  

I think the other side of this is that I haven’t necessarily missed doing that kind of work. Don’t get me wrong, I probably will do so again in the future, but again – I’ve had to mediate quite a bit on why that might be and I think its very possible that 2020 has just shifted my carefully placed boundaries around the things I do (and keep separate from podcast/online life) and I just need to work a bit on rethinking those. 

So, I am standing in a space where I can both be grateful to 2020 and curse it for what it has done and changed. I think we are all a bit like that and all these feelings are valid!

Perspectives – Julie Rutter and Emily K Williams 

I am sure that you have all seen that there is great new book out at the moment!

You might remember I spoke to Julie Rutter, back in Episode 75, when she discussed how she started her business Black Isle Yarns.  Julie has been creating wonderful yarns, from hand-selecting fleece from her local area for a few years now and this May she released her newest base, Auchen – which is a beautiful blend of Cheviot, Shetland and BFL fleeces, all of which comes within an hour’s drive from Julie’s home! Some of the WoolWork community roadtested this yarn for Julie and the results were glowing; voluminous, robust-yet-next to skin soft, a versatile yarn for all items and stitches!

As we all know, the story yarn tells us doesn’t stop with the yarn in the skein and Julie knew from the very early stages of Auchen’s creation that she wanted to create a design book. She teamed up with her friend, and designer, Emily to collaborate on Perspectives. Together they have worked with some absolutely incredible women to create a book, which is both a love letter to wool, the Highland landscape and incredible design. 

The patterns are created by a global team of six designers and they are just divine

Pityoulish Vest – Emily K Williams; this is a super core-cozying sweater with a beautiful lace detair

Rothiemurchus Cowl – Mieka John– two colours and an absolutely beckoning brioche tuck stitch – this might be my first cast on.

Feshie Shawl – Maddie Harvey – this shawl is positively undulating with plumpy lace lozenges 

Balvattan Mittens – Julia Billings – makes me crave for snow and creating snowballs in creaky, crunchy snow in these

Inshriach Hat – Julie Rutter – The perfect winter colourwork hat

Eanaich Shawl – Tyne Swedish – This tips a loving nod to the traditional hap, but is in a shape that is a lot more wearable!

The book is a beauty to see and hold – you know I like a good layout, a nice paper stock and a good, visually accessible font and all of these boxes are ticked! Jeni Reid is the photographer, and her images in this book capture the beautiful designs and the stunning backdrop – her eye is incredible.

Congratulations to Julie and all involved – this is a joy!

What I failed to say in the show (its been a while, you’ll forgive me!) is that Perspectives is available as a paper and ink book from Black Isle Yarns for £15 and you can buy digital copies on PayHip too.

Julie has offered us a copy of her book to giveaway – which is exceptionally kind. Please go over to and have a look at the book. Leave a comment on this post telling me which pattern you would cast on first and tell me which colour of Auchen you would use (yarn not included in prize, I am just nosy!). I will close the giveaway in the New Year.

| Your Christmas Cast on

I am finally feeling more optimistic about casting on new projects. I am planning to cast on a Tubed Hat, by Woolly Wormhead, in Old Maiden Aunt Corriedale, in Crazy Ivan.

I am also coveting the Tabular sweater by Maja Móller, from Pom Pom 23 and Donna Smith’s Peerie Leaves,  from the 2020 Shetland Wool Week Annual.

What are your plans? If you are on instagram you can post a comment to my post about this.

| Wool Exploration with Zwartbles

I know, eventually!!

I will post some notes and pictures about this bouncy, downy, sproingy wool in due course.

Our Wool Explorers were Carole, Mariette, Clare, Debra, Belinda and Nathalie. We looked at Zwartbles yarns from Lancashire Farm Yarn, Rosecombe Farm. Purewol and Groene Hart Wol in the Netherlands. There were also spinners using Zwartbles from Winghams Wool; Wychwood Spinner and John Arbon.

(Listen out for the bit where I realise I have been talking too long, and I just can’t form words anymore – I think I sound like a zombie when I am talking about my own notes)

| Thanks and goodbye

Thanks for all your support and enthusiasm this mad year! I hugely appreciate all the ways you do and it means a great deal. As I had some nice comments about reading poems last episode I close with Liz Lochead poem from her poetry book Fugitive Colours . The poem is called, How I’ll Decorate My Tree.

Take very good care, friends. Whatever you do, take good care, 

I always link to a resource of helplines on my instagram, but if you do need to talk to someone over the festive period and you’re struggling, please do find that link here:

Update: Wed 20 Jan 21

I have used a random generator to pick a winner. The first numbered comment it picked was mine, so I drew again and it was the 17th comment, which was Ann Burrell. Congrats Ann, I will put you in touch with Julie at Black Isle Yarns and she will send you your copy of Perspectives. Thanks everyone who entered and thanks again to Julie for the prize


  1. Louise, power to you for expressing your raw fear, anxiety and ‘I actually don’t miss this’ feelings. I guarantee that there are thousands of your listeners relating to those feelings in their own way. For what its worth I think you have created one of the [if not THE] best podcasts supporting local wool. But not only that, you’ve created a huge loyal following of listeners who want to hear what you think about what’s going on in life generally, or specifically -and that’s a HUGE achievement. Have a peaceful, restful holiday break and return refreshed ready to do what you want. When you want!

  2. Shannon Yeaton says

    Hmm, so hard to pick a pattern, but I think I would cast on for the Rothiemurchus Cowl in Auchen’s Dark Indigo. Thank you for this giveaway, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  3. Melissa Ryon says

    Thank you, Louise, for this and all of your episodes. I deeply appreciate all that you share on the podcast, as well as the time and energy you spend to create this for your audience. I have just ordered skeins of Auchen in Haar and Dark Indigo for the Eanaich shawl – so excited!

  4. Denise says

    I dream of knitting the Pityoulish Vest in Aachen Brick color for wearing in the fall. It was such a wonderful surprise to hear you on the Scotland Outdoors podcast! Louise you did a great job on the interview! You have such an amazing depth of wool knowledge, I so appreciate all you share with us..Thank you!
    PS I am the listener, Denise, that Mark refers to after your interview. I sit on my porch in the mountains in Washington state, knit and listen to podcasts I have downloaded, including yours of course

  5. Mazzy Fautley says

    I’ve just finished listening to this episode with a mug of coffee and a slice of Christmas cake. I’d definitely like to leave a big fat ditto to all of Linda’s comments on the podcast.

    And to say that the Rothiemurchus cowl was the pattern that really caught my attention from Perspectives. I think it would look mighty fine in Dragon and Winter Light.

  6. Thank you so much for this episode, Louise. It was so comforting to spend time with you and just what I needed.

    I am currently researching Zwartbles as a possible sheep breed for a small holding I am building. I was nervous that the wool wouldn’t be considered as special as I think it is, so I was thrilled to hear what you all thought. This in an incredible resource for me now, as I haven’t found a great deal of information so far. This is important, detailed work. Thank you.

    The Pityoulish Vest is what I want to knit first, probably in the undyed but possibly in Pearl. Beautiful!

    Please keep the poems coming. Thank you again.

  7. Lizze b says

    I would knit the pit you list vest in sea green. Beautiful book which will go on my wish list. Look forward to listening to the podcast.

  8. Chris M says

    It was so good to hear your voice again Louise. Firstly the book looks delightful and there are several patterns that I would consider, the cowl, the triangular shawl but the one I would most likely make and wear is the Pityoulish vest and in the deep indigo colourway.
    But a little seasonal story. In October my husband went to Shetland without me as I am over in Canada. I asked him to get me a knitting belt and some long DPNs which he did. However instead of giving them to me as soon as he got to Canada he made me wait until Christmas morning. The #$&@. My gift to him was a swatch for a jumper I tried to knit several years ago and frogged. I am ready to try again. But should my first cast on be the jumper for him or a swatch with the new needles……….The pattern I chose is Masham Road by Amy Herzog and I am using a grey yarn and a blue one that I dyed myself so it will be striped. His will get done eventually

  9. Ellena Kirk says

    Oooh, what a choice to make! I think the inshriach hat in dark indigo and winter light 😍

  10. Carole says

    It was lovely having your podcast to keep me company this afternoon 🙂
    Perspectives looks like a great collection with something to suit all tastes. I particularly like the Inshriach hat, which could be for winter or the festive season -whichever you prefer. I like the Eanaich shawl for its more unusual shape but with a traditional hap design and the Pityoulish vest because I love layering up with this type of top. An excellent book!

  11. Ellena kirk says

    What a lovely listen 🥰 So reassuring to hear of another’s struggles with anxiety. It’d be better if we none of us had to experience them, but who are we kidding? 😏
    As I listen, I’m wearing my wool exploration inspired Teeswater cabled jumper next to skin and LOVING it! Thank you for all the inspiration and I hope you have a peaceful new year 😘

  12. Sandra Larose says

    I’d like to knit the Pityoulish vest in Harvest Gold. The colour reminds me of daffodils in sunshine. Oh how I’m looking forward to wearing warm weather clothes in the spring looking forward to better times. Knitting has been a godsend this year.

  13. Lisa Lessard says

    I think I would knit the Pityoulish Vest in Winterlight. I only have one vest and I enjoy wearing it. I think it is high time for another! 😁😁

  14. Rebecca says

    What a treat to get 2 podcasts listens this go around! So glad you spoke up for Scottish wool. Imagine living in Scotland and not knowing about this national resource! Wishing you a better 2021, with opportunities that come your way when you are ready to grab them. Oh, and the Pityoulish Vest, hands down!

  15. Ann Burrell says

    I would cast on the Feshie Shawl in Raspberry.
    My husband told me about your podcast which he had read about somewhere and I was already signed up for Maddie’s online retreat !
    I thought your talk that day was fascinating and I learnt a lot . I am a total convert to swatching ( was pretty lazy about it before ) and I have definitely been more thoughtful about yarn choices !

  16. Robin VanderRoest says

    Wow, the patterns in Perspective are amazing, as are the yarn colors. I would cast on either the Pityoulish Vest (in light indigo) or the Feshie Shawl (in Rockpool Green). Thanks!

  17. Vanessa Ehlen says

    I want to knit the Pityoulish vest in the natural light grey, but I treated myself to that lovely book and if I win the book I‘ll give it to my lovely friend Susanne who really deserves it.

  18. Jacky Y says

    I have been putting your podcasts in a folder for a long time – at last, while knitting Fair Isle and Latvian mittens for Christmas (oops, sorry for the C-word) I got round to listening. I went back to the start and binge-listened all the way through 3 pairs of mittens, a hat and a jumper. Even Himself got interested. How does a man do a swatch-test when he doesn’t have a bra to anchor it against his skin? He wanted to know – thank you Wesley, for answering that to His satisfaction.
    The jumper was for me – Flax Light by Tin Can Knits in Uist Sian, because of WoolWork. Mum gave me money for Christmas and I instantly spent it – the wool arrived on 24 December and it was hard to wait a whole day before opening it.
    I looked at Black Isle Yarns, but as we’d booked a long weekend in the area for my birthday in Feb, I was hoping to go in person. Doesn’t look like it now. I fancy the Rothiemurchus cowl – The Highland Lady, for anyone not familiar – in Winter Sea and Winter Light.
    Apologies for loquacity. Flax Light will be ready to wear tomorrow.

    (jkyy on that site which is not to be named)

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