Down a pretty country lane . . .

. . . there sits an eighteenth-century mill.

The mill has been in operation for many, many years.

. . . and behind the blue door . . .

They are making YARN!

The particularly bright yellow that was being spun that day seemed to perfectly match the colour of the Milladen fields outside.

This mill, of course is JC Rennie, which Mel and I were lucky to visit last week on our trip to the north-east.

For many years, yarns spun by JC Rennie have been among my very favourites to work with. There are several distinctive things about these yarns: they are a little finer than comparable fingering weights on the market, have a light soft hand, and are incredibly even and well spun (having witnessed a very efficient blending and spinning process from start to finish I can now see why this is). To me at least, JC Rennie yarns have become instantly recognisable. The company largely work with trade: their hand-knitting yarn is branded by other businesses, and they also spin for many different weavers, machine knitters, designers, and clothing manufacturers. Even if you think that you have never knit with their yarn, I am sure that, in one form or another, most of you will have come across it without knowing it. To give just three examples: you will find it in sweaters sold by a UK clothing brand whose name suggests grilled bread; you will find it in the furnishing fabric lines of a well-known US brand whose name sounds like an academic discipline, as well as in the knitting kits of a popular Danish designer who likes her garter stitch. Over the past five years, as my fondness for knitting and woolly textiles has grown into an obsession, I cannot count the number of occasions that I have wondered “is that Rennies?” This recognisability is partly, as I say, about the yarn’s hand and spinning quality, but is also most definitely about the colours.

Rennie’s palette is beautifully rich and varied. The recipe for each blended colourway can be wonderfully complex.

Mel and I were in raptures, as you can imagine, and, after a fascinating tour of the mill, spent a long time happily squooshing beautifully coloured yarns and fabrics.

Thanks so much, Christian and Marian, for a grand day out at the mill!