Tag Archives: Mergelland

Mergelland, Edition 2017

Last Tuesday they arrived, after nine long months of waiting: 12 cardboard boxes, each containing a series of sealed plastic bags, each of the bags containing 12 balls of Mergelland yarn.


We did hope to get them a few days earlier, right on time for the Slow Fashion Market at Tour & Taxis, but they got stuck in transport. No harm done, there’s still plenty of time to start knitting for the next winter season.

As with the previous clip, we sorted the fleece ourselves, put everything in bags and transported the whole lot to the mill in Cornwall. It’s quite a drive and this year there wasn’t that much time for sightseeing. What’s more, on the ride back home it did rain hard from the moment we left the mill until we got the car on the Shuttle!

This time we chose to use all of the black fleece for adding a darker shade to the series of natural colours we had from the 2016 clip and the remaining white for a first batch of dye colours. Choosing colours for the first time was rather stressy: how do you decide, not only on colours that you like, but also on colours that go nicely together and that will appeal to your customers? And once you’ve decided, how do you convey your wishes to the people at the mill and how can you be sure that the colours you will receive several months later are the ones you’ve requested? It’s actually almost as complex as running an IT project!


Obviously there was no reason to worry, I could have trusted the expert knowledge of the people at The Natural Fibre Company! The colours turned out really well!

We try to stick to hard materials when choosing names for the colours, so in order of appearance you’re looking at Dark Slate (okay, I didn’t do a lot of effort there), Rust, Gold, Emerald, Navy (sorry, there is no stone or metal in this colour) and Shingle. They’re all in the shop now.


Cabled Scarf

On December 1st 2016 I very proudly launched my webshop, with exactly one single product: the Mergelland yarn, in three natural colours, Chalk, Silver and Slate. It had arrived from the spinning mill just one week before, a week that I had needed to design, print, cut and glue ballbands, to make sufficiently decent pictures and to put everything online.

On that same day I found an email from Annelies Baes in my shiny new Greener Wool mailbox. “I design crochet patterns,” she wrote, “and I publish them in magazines and on Ravelry. My husband is from Limburg, from the same Mergelland region where the sheep come from and we like to go there over the weekend. I’d like to work with your yarn. Would you like me to make a nice and beautiful design with the yarn?”

I still don’t understand how she found me this quickly, but of course I was really happy with the request! Only months later I figured out that she’s actually very well known in the world of crochet and that she’s a prolific designer: check out her Instagram or – even better – her page on Ravelry where she has over 250 designs!

Today we can show you the cabled scarf she made. The pattern was published in Inside Crochet Issue 97. It requires two skeins of each colour of Mergelland, six in total. Pictures by Leanne Jade, styling by Claire Montgomerie.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

10 different ways to knit a ball

Do you also feel that clickbait titles are nothing but a source of disappointment? I read a catchy title, I’m eager to learn something, I click, and I get to read the most simplistic series of commonplaces. So I won’t list the 10 ways to knit a ball. Instead I’ll make a short analysis of the elements that shape a ball and the choices you can make for every single element. Then it’s up to you to combine them into the ball of your liking. Obviously there are thousands of combinations, not just ten.

To seam or not to seam

I prefer to avoid seaming, but sometimes there’s no way around it. In a small object such as a Christmas ball it might even be the preferred option. It’s much easier to hide a stripe jog when knitting flat and seaming. In a ball the seam is on the inside anyway, nobody will see it.

Even when working in the round, seaming is an option. If I set similarity of the top and bottom half of my ball as the top priority, then knitting the two halves separately and seaming them together along the equator is the only option. Increases do have a different look than decreases. Working both halves separately from the equator to the pole and joining them afterwards allows us to use decreases only. That solves the issue.

This pattern by Jessica Goddard from ODDknit works the ball in two halves but picks up the cast-on stitches from the first half to work the second half.

Increases and decreases or short rows

Using short rows can be another way to avoid the increase/decrease issue. Instead of working the ball from pole to pole, you work along the meridians using short rows to shape the ball.

This pattern from Brent Annable shows you how to do this. Brent closes the ball with a seam. That’s unavoidable when shaping it this way.

When making a ball with a different colour per segment as in this pattern from Heaven to Seven, short rows definitely have my preference. Just imagine how to do this in circular intarsia and you get an instant migraine attack!

Most patterns however do use increases and decreases. Both placement and type of increase/decrease define very much the visual aspect of the ball. That’s something for next week though.

Knitting Balls

So I wanted to knit balls. Christmas balls, that is, using my own Mergelland yarn. The famous Arne and Carlos wrote a book about it. I’ve bought it and tried the pattern using 4 mm circulars. Quite obviously they’ve used different yarn, so the ball I ended up making would require an XXL Christmas tree.

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Sizing down the pattern isn’t difficult, but I was not too happy with the esthetic aspect of increases and decreases. I tried a few things without really thinking it through, so now I have a series of different balls. Every single ball has some kind of issue: holes that make the filling peep through, unbalanced increases and decreases which make both sides of the ball look different, almost invisible or over-large increases and decreases.

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That’s where I started thinking that I should approach this more systematically. How many different ways can one imagine to knit a ball? Which one is most suitable in which situation? Which type of increases and decreases do I prefer? How do I pair them?

That’s only considering balls in stockinette stitch! See that little garter ridge on the grey ball? How do I avoid those circles becoming squares because of the increases and decreases? Not showing on the picture: I tried cables … What a disaster! I’ve frogged them instantly!

All the thinking and trying out has taken a bit more time than I thought. Let’s be clear, we’re no longer talking Christmas 2017. Before we’ve sorted it all out, it’s going to be high time to knit the 2018 Christmas balls!

Want to know more? Keep an eye out for new posts on this blog …