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Stephen Sheard
Stephen Sheard

When you think of yarns famous for British quality and tradition the first name that comes to mind is Rowan. Headquartered in the UK, Rowan has become respected throughout the world for its contemporary designs and tradition of exceptional quality. It is also admired for its wide variety of yarns that range from soft blends of silk and mohair to slubby, rustic tweeds and ecologically responsible organic and recycled fibers.

The company was founded in 1978 by Stephen Sheard, a trained textile designer, and his business partner Simon Cockin, both of whom wanted to enter the hand weaving craft market. But they didn't have the money to purchase the machinery they needed, and were unable to obtain a bank loan to pay for it, so they did the best they could to develop a market with their limited resources.

After three years, Sheard realized that Rowan's true potential lay in the hand knitting market where they could speak directly to the consumer and build an identity of their own. Sheard teamed up with the then unknown, but now famous designer, Kaffe Fassett to create and sell kits to knitters. These kids were made available first through fashion and home interest magazines.

They caught on quickly, and the collaborators were beginning to see results as more and more stores started to carry their products. But Sheard remained unsatisfied; he wanted to distinguish Rowan as an innovator and leader in its field — as a manufacturer of superior quality yarns.

Sheard expanded his network to include other British designer knitters of the 70's and 80's who were selling their art pieces at ready-to-wear shows. Rowan provided these artists with yarns and collaborated with them to make knitting pattern books of their designs.

After five years of collaboration and risk-taking, Sheard realized it was time to take a big leap for his company, one that ultimately propelled it to success. He didn't want to sell single knitting patterns; his work with designers had convinced him that he should, instead, create a magazine to build the Rowan name and reputation. After labouring over the format and content, Sheard launched Rowan Magazine: a visually stimulating presentation of innovative designs that knitters immediately embraced. Those enthusiastic — and powerful — knitters put pressure on shops throughout the world to help get the magazine the distribution it needed.

By the mid-1980's the company was an established leader in a very competitive market. Sheard and Cockin had created the brand and the identity they'd worked so hard to achieve, and Kaffe Fassett was a respected hand knitting pattern designer.

In the mid-1990s, Rowan became part of the Coats Crafts division of Coats and Clark, one of the powerhouses of the textile industry, and both Sheard and Cockin became members of the Rowan-Coats management team. Today, Stephen Sheard and Simon Cockin are happily retired, and Kaffe Fassett continues to develop the magnificent designs for which he has become famous. The company continues to innovate in design while maintaining its high standards for product quality. It recently launched Rowan Magazine #48 and several new yarns — including Purelife Renew, a yarn of recycled materials — to meet changing consumer demands and to demonstrate corporate responsibility for the environment.

Rowan started off as one company, and morphed into something much grander. This innate ability to change and adapt while always innovating is what has made Stephen Sheard, and Rowan, an inspiration to knitters throughout the world.


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Hot Yarns
Yarnmarket Top 10

All Seasons Cotton

All Seasons Cotton yarn is a bouncy cotton blend yarn that can be used in garments throughout the year. It offers fantastic stitch definition and is soft enough for baby items, yet strong enough for pet projects! 60% Cotton, 40% Acrylic/Microfiber yarn. It's available in 18 solid colors.

All Season's Cotton

Belle Organic Aran

Amy Butler's Belle Organic Aran yarn is a wondrously soft blend of 50% organic wool and 50% organic cotton. You get the best of all seasons with this fabulous fiber mix in popular worsted gauge, and you're being socially responsible at the same time. 11 colors in stock for fast delivery.

Belle's Organic Aran


New this Season


New this Season

Hot New Books















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Purelife Renew

Purelife Renew is another earth-friendly fiber blend you'll want to try. Crafted in Italy of 93% recycled wool & 7% nylon, Renew is spun from recycled garment fibers. Soft enough to wear next to your skin, chunky-weight Renew is ideal for quick-to-create projects. We have 8 fall colors.

Purelife Renew

Big Wool

This season the big fashions news is great, big chunky knits. Rowan Big Wool yarn is 100% Merino wool in two soft, fat plies that look and feel like a single yarn. Popular for quick-to-knit beginner scarves or chunky cable-knit cardigans, this popular yarn is available in 31 glorious colors.

Big Wool
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Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK

Building on the popularity of their earth-friendly Purelife British Sheep Breeds yarn, Rowan has created a lighter weight version. It's 100% British wool in the undyed, natural colors of the fleeces, this yarn is now available in solid earthtones plus lovely marls combining several hues.

Purelife British Sheep Breeds DK

Cocoon

Make something pretty — pretty quick! This wool-blend yarn, Cocoon, is available in a superb selection of 21 unisex neutrals. A touch of kid mohair makes it extra soft. Its generous 100-gram skeins mean fewer ends to weave in! Crafted of super soft 80% merino wool and 20% kid mohair.

Cocoon
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Colourscape Chunky

What do you get when world-renowned colorist Kaffe Fassett creates a 100% lambswool chunky-weight yarn? Colourscape Chunky! This soft-to-handle, tweedy gem has long repeats of color in a Shetland-like twist. Crafted in Yorkshire, England in 16 colors from pastels to deep, rich tones.

Colourscape Chunky

Felted Tweed Chunky

Quick-to-create Felted Tweed Chunky provides warmth with softness and loft. You'll love the color palette of 12 muted shades flecked with complementary and contrasting hues for a trendy tweedy look. Made in England of 50% merino wool, 25% alpaca and 25% rayon.

Felted Tweed Chunky
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Felted Tweed

Rowan Felted Tweed yarn is a luxurious blend of 50% Merino Wool, 25% Alpaca, and 25% Viscose/Rayon. We think it's an exciting alternative to traditional DK weight yarns for jackets and hats. 25 colours that are perfect for the fall fashion season.

Felted Tweed

Drift

This tweedy, classic cousin of Big Wool gives you the same lovely results in a different palette of 8 colors. Spun and dyed in Italy of 100% merino wool, Drift has traditional, earth-tone multis that you can coordinate with the solid shades of Rowan Big Wool or use on their own.

Drift
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Silk Twist

Silk Twist comes in 10 saturated, tone-on-tone marled colors in a luxurious silk blend. Constructed by loosely twisting together a lustrous strand of 53% silk, a fluffy thread of 12% superkid mohair and a durable strand of 30% wool/5%nylon, Silk Twist gives superb results in worsted-weight projects.

Silk Twist

Kidsilk Haze

By far one of the most popular yarns available is Rowan Kidsilk Haze. This yarn is soft and light as a feather, created with 70% Super Kid Mohair and 30% silk yarn. Even when knit on large needles for loose stitches, it provides unbelievable warmth and comfort. 31 colors.

Kidsilk Haze
Designer Spotlight
Kim Hargreaves
Kim Hargreaves

The list of designers whose creativity has established Rowan as a leader in the industry reads like a Who's Who of Knitting Luminaries. Kaffe Fassett, Erika Knight, Martin Storey, Jean Moss and Sarah Dallas each have served on the Rowan design team, bringing their own creative flair and passion to a company that never stops innovating.

Rowan has also helped launch the careers of both Debbie Bliss and Louisa Harding who have each gone on to create their own knitting empires. Many of these designers were first discovered by Stephen Sheard who recognized their gift. His vision and passion not only led Rowan to produce the finest yarns, but has also nurtured the greatest talent the knitting industry has known.

Beginning with Kaffe Fassett, who started creating kits for Rowan in the 1970s, the organization has always sought out young, enthusiastic designers who are passionate about their craft, and who appreciate fine quality fibers.

Kim Hargreaves began with Rowan at age 17, helping her mother in the warehouse. She learned to write patterns, and to design and style. When Stephen Sheard recognized her burgeoning talent, he asked her to develop some patterns for Rowan. Soon she was serving as Stephen's right hand man and learning the business from one of the industry's greatest innovators. Today she runs her own online company and is a published author.

Kaffe Fassett
Kaffe Fassett

Sarah Dallas, another prominent knitwear designer, was discovered by Sheard while she was working on a tapesty in a studio in Skipton, UK. Today she teaches at the Royal College of Art while she continues to design beautiful, intricate patterns for the company.

Today, Marie Wallin is the Senior Designer for Rowan's in-house team. She's responsible for the concepts of each season's magazine, including the most recent masterpiece, Rowan Magazine #48. It's a big job — from developing mood boards that inspire the designers to art directing the photo shoots and even knitting some of the patterns. She also lends her expertise to the creation of new yarns to add to the Rowan line.

Although she initially studied science, Marie obtained a university degree in textiles. She'd learned to knit when she was a very young girl, having been taught first by her mother and then at school, and she decided quite late in her education that this was the field she wanted to enter. Now, she's known throughout the knitting world for the creative direction she provides Rowan and for her contributions to the craft. Even though she's very busy developing the next great trend for Rowan, she teaches and offers workshops to ensure the next generation has the skills to continue the fine craft of knitting.

Sarah Dallas
Sarah Dallas

As Stephen Sheard recently said in an interview, "The model has not changed over the years as new designers have always injected new blood into the company ' Rowan's stable of designers. We build their reputation along with our own. "

For over 30 years now, Rowan has maintained the highest standards in both its fibers and its knitting patterns. It has inspired knitters throughout the world to create timeless fashions that blend a truly British heritage with innovative design that has universal appeal and a global following.

hot projects

Here's an item that is perfect for your new autumn wardrobe. This long sleeveless jacket is created with Belle Organic DK yarn. Graceful lines make this a flattering piece that looks great open or belted. It has a wide shawl collar and the back has ties that add a wonderful fitted touch. Instead of ties, you could use wide ribbon for a nice contrast. Instructions include a version with sleeves.


This fantastic cabled jacket is created with Renew yarn from Rowan. The wide cabled panel runs around the back as well as does the ribbed upper yoke. The sleeves and bottom portion of the jacket are knit in moss stitch and flare slightly for a flattering feminine shape, and comfortable oversized fit. This is one of those jackets you will fall in love with and wear everywhere!

Knitted up in thick, sumptuous Rowan Big Wool, this chunky coat won't take you long to complete. The A-line style is knit in double moss stitch for terrific texture and extra warmth. The oversized styling can be worn with just about anything and looks flattering on any figure. Because Big Wool comes in so many gorgeous colors, you might be tempted to knit more than one for yourself or as a gift!

Ponchos are big in style this season. And this stunning version is created with Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds yarn. A beautiful all-over cable design makes this poncho even more special. It's knit in two pieces that are joined before you add the neck and ribbed border. Finished off with a simple tie belt, this is sure to keep you warm and also get you compliments wherever you go.

We think this is one of the coolest warm weather items we've seen! Marie Wallin of Rowan created this cropped, cabled pullover with horizontal cabling instead of the more traditional vertical version. The end result is a high-fashion design with a trendy, volumized shoulder line in quick-to-knit Cocoon yarn. This sweater would look fabulous in any of the 21 Cocoon yarn colors.

Kaffe Fassett's renowned use of color takes a new direction on this sloped-shoulder sweater that's perfect for your autumn and winter wardrobe. To create added interest and excitement, Fassett reverses his intarsia stripes diagonally using two colorways of Colourscape Chunky yarn from Rowan. The dramatic dolman sleeve shaping begins just above the garter stitch border.

Imagine yourself in this absolutely spectacular wrap. It's created with Rowan Felted Tweed and Kidsilk Haze. The background is tweed while the intarsia work is done with a double strand of the mohair. The unusual corkscrew fringe is crocheted and the strands are done one at a time then attached to the piece. We love this stunning pattern, and you will, too!

Looking for a quick and easy project to use for yourself or give as a gift? This terrific bag is terrifically quick and easy because it's created with chunky Big Wool yarn from Rowan. It's a roomy bag that will hold everything you need to take along with you, and it would also make a super knitting bag. Choose from lots of pretty Big Wool colors. The finished size is 9.5 x 12 x 4."

This elegant shrug is created with Kidsilk Haze yarn that comes in so many pretty colors! The sparkle imparts an evenint look, but this garment can be worn days as well. A beautiful lacy pattern and even lacier cuffs make this the ultimate in femininity. Worked with two strands, it knits up quickly. Use a brooch or add sheer silk or satin ribbon for ties.

We love the Purelife line from Rowan! This lacy shrug is knitted with Purelife Revive yarn which is made from recycled silk, cotton and rayon. Worked in one piece, from cuff to cuff, this pretty little shrug has a delicate lace pattern and requires very little seaming. The edges are finished in a narrow band of garter stitch. This would make the ideal holiday garment or gift.


What could be warmer and softer than the alpaca, wool and nylon blend of Lima yarn? This gorgeous long coat is created with luxurious Lima yarn, a woven chainette yarn that comes in several in tone-on-tone colors. A diagonal rib pattern is used all over for beautiful texture with a band of diamond cables around the empire waist, the cuffs, and the pocket openings.

Designer Leah Sutton has created this romantic cardigan with feminine flair and open-weave detailing. It's so versatile that we're sure it will become a spectacular addition to your year-round wardrobe. Beautifully knitted in Rowan's soft mohair-blend Kid Classic, this little jacket works sensationally alone or worn over your favorite blouse or top. It would make a wonderful gift, too!

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Rowan yarns

All Seasons
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Win
Prize Package

You could win a Rowan Gift Collection worth over $150 by answering a skill-testing question. This prize package includes a copy of Rowan Magazine #40, Purelife Recycled Collection, Purelife Autumn Collection, 10 balls of Rowan Purelife Renew Yarn and a pair of 26" size 3 U.S. bamboo needles by Crystal Palace.

To enter, you must correctly answer this question: "Who is Rowan's current head of design?"

Send an email with your answer to Rowan@yarnmarket.com. Make sure the subject is: Spotlight on Rowan.

A winner will be drawn at random from all correct entries received. One entry per person, please. Entries must be received by 10/31/2010 and the winner will be announced on 11/2/2010 in our blog, Shear Bagatelle.

Congratulations! The winner of our Debbie Bliss Spotlight gift package was Sally Silver of East Lansing, Michigan.

     

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