Vintage Knitting, Retro Dressmaking, Make do and Mend, Original and Vintage Inspired Knitting Patterns, Vintage Inspired books

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Excelana unveiling!

I have just got back from having a thoroughly lovely time at Unravel in Farnham, Surrey. I have done the show for the last three years but what made this one rather different is that it was the official unveiling of 'EXCELANA' our beautiful new vintage inspired yarn.

 Excelana is 70% Exmoor Blueface/30% Blue Faced Leicester and the sheep who kindly provided the fleece all live on Exmoor less than 50 miles from the mill where the fleece is spun and processed.

Here is a picture of our lovely ladies on the hills of Exmoor

courtesy of British Wool Marketing Board

The British Wool Marketing Board and the Campaign for Wool are both supporting the brand and I hope that we will be able to see the yarn in shops around the country and all around the world. In the meantime, the yarn can be bought through my website or directly from the Excelana website that we've set up.

So what got me started on this mission? John Arbon, who owns and runs Fibre Harvest in North Devon, has long wanted to use the Exmoor Blueface sheep for a knitting wool. But the fleece of this particular sheep does not usually get used in this way and John has had to jump through many hoops to get to the point where we would be ready to do so. John and I met through A Stitch in Time, when he bought a copy for his wife to be Juliet. We have all been firm friends ever since. John and Juliet are both in love with the 1940s and 1950s and loved the idea of a vintage inspired yarn. So we set to work!

My requirements for a truly vintage wool were -

For it be extremely stretchy with good recovery
To be lustrous with a soft handle
To drape well but to have body
To have good stitch definition
For the stitches to bind well to each other
A yarn that takes colour well
To have the right feel
A colour palette with individually beautiful colours that combine to work perfectly together.

I studied a lot of sources for my colour palette but one of main references was this amazing shade card from the 1930s which showed a wide and stunning range of wools available.

Image copyright Arbour House Publishing 2009

Eventually I made my decisions - 7 colours plus a natural undyed and waited for the work to be done and to be able to see and touch the finished yarn.

And here they are, eight beatiful colours

Image copyright Arbour House Publishing 2011

From left to right we have: Persian Grey, Nile Green, Cornflower Blue, Powdered Egg, French Rose,
Ruby Red, Alabaster and Saharan Sand. To purchase you can follow the link below or click on the button in the side bar.

And here are a few of the colours when knitted together

image copyright Arbour House Publishing 2011

The stitches really cling together well which is just what you need to knit fairisle.

Initially we only have 4 ply available but it will be followed by DK, Aran and yes, 3 ply and hopefully more colours in forthcoming seasons. Obviously the yarn has to sell for this to happen so do keep your fingers crossed for us, do buy the yarn if you are so disposed and ask your local wool shop if they would think of stocking it.

Wholesale enquiries are all done via the contact information on the Excelana website and there is pattern support in A Stitch in Time volume 2 as well as a forthcoming Excelana booklet.

And that, for today is that. My lovely technical editor, Jen, is with me for a few days as we go through more patterns than you can possibly imagine and in a few days time we'll have another reveal from A Stitch in Time Volume 2.

for now
Ruby xxx


Tasha said...

How wonderful, the yarn looks divine! And I absolutely love that you've come up with a yarn with the vintage knitter in mind. :)

Lauren Hairston said...

Exciting! I can't wait for my copy of volume 2 to arrive!

Lisa Marie Olson said...

Oooo I am so excited these look amazing and the fact its all UK based is a dream :) just recently picked up my Knitting needles again after being so inspired by you at the Clothes Show Live and I am loving though I have a very long way to go yet!! LOL
Can't wait to get my hands on them :)

Shearer's Girl said...

I was in the audience! I found your talk at Unravel really interesting. I even wrote a review at
It is so important to use British wool.

Judith said...

Oh my I love the colors! I hope the yarn will be available in Germany, too... but thank God there is Internet :)

Miss Meiow said...

This looks super, but one important it itchy?! x

Just call me Ruby said...

Hi Miss Meiow,

No it certainly isn't itchy. Its nice and soft but it is wool as it would have been back in the day, so if you have any reactions to wool I can't guarantee you wouldn't with Excelana.

p.s. there are some great accessory patterns coming in volume 2 that use Excelana, so you could always try it out on say, a hat, first and see what you think.

kind regards