Nice to Knit You! Get to Know Marie Wallin's Aran

It’s not every day we get a brand new yarn to play with at TWT HQ, and when Marie Wallin announced the new Aran yarn addition to her British Breeds collection - we could not contain our excitement!

Inviting a new yarn to my stash is one of my favorite things to do, so I wanted to share with you how I acquaint myself with a new yarn and, more importantly, how I find the perfect pattern to cast on for it! 

Nice to Swatch You!

Ask many of us in the yarn world and we’ll tell you swatching is a must before a project - gauge is essential to get a proper fit and avoid post-blocking surprises. But what if you don’t know what you want to cast on? You can still swatch to get to know your yarn and the fabric it produces! 

Between us yarn connoisseurs, my favorite way to swatch is when I don’t have a pattern! I start with the recommended needle size provided on the yarn label and pay attention to fabric density and the texture of the yarn between my fingers, noticing if there are any grassy bits, tweedy flecks, etc. There’s no need to worry about stitches per inch or shifting the needle size up or down a bit to fit a certain requirement, just getting to know your yarn! 

Here are some things I note as I swatch…

  • Fabric Density - go up a needle size for more flowy fabric, down for a tighter gauge
  • Stitch structure - do I like the stockinette fabric or should I experiment with texture such as cables or brioche? 
  • Needle type - does it knit smoother on metal or wooden needles?
  • Color - Would this shade fit into my wardrobe as a full garment or accessory? Could this be a good addition as a household good? 
  • Blocking - does it grow or shrink when washed? I make sure to add my favorite no-rinse soap and double-check for any color bleeding.

It’s your swatch so you can play around here. This is also where I experiment with different stitches or colorwork motifs from my knitting books I’ve been curious to try. Let this swatch be your stitchspiration and take it to the next step! 

Pair with a Project! 

There are a few ways to turn your first swatch into a new project, and my absolutely favorite way is to do some digging on Ravelry’s Advanced Pattern search. There’s a long list of categories you can filter for on the left or simply type in the search bar, you can pick just one or keep narrowing it down. Here are some useful ways to filter on Ravelry… 

Gauge: After swatching you can choose your stitches per either 4 inches or 10 centimeters. The stated gauge for British Breeds Aran is 19 stitches per 4 inches, which I plugged in and it narrowed down my options from over 1.3 million to just over 22,000. While that may seem like a lot to choose from, it’s only 2% of what you previously had with no filter. If you have trouble matching gauge, maybe start with your stitches per inch and it may be easier to find your pattern!


If you only have a certain number of skeins, filtering by yardage is also a useful way of narrowing down your options. Sometimes a skein doesn’t fit into the ready-made categories, so you can click ‘customize’ and enter the specific yardage: in this case of Marie Wallin Aran you can enter 93 yards for one skein.  

Filtering by weight is also a quick way to narrow down your search. When you’re searching for British Breeds Aran, you’ll want to plug in worsted rather than Aran. This is because, in British knitting lingo, Aran is what American makers would recognize as a worsted weight. Turns out even in knitting, there can be some translation required!

Finally, I often find inspiration in more traditional patterns from different regions. When I first heard the name of Marie Wallin’s base, my mind began conjuring images of dreamy cabled sweaters of the Isle of Aran. You can narrow your pattern search by region under “Attributes” or simply typing into the search bar. Here, I’ve chosen Aran-inspired patterns but there are many places to choose from including Shetland, Norway, the Faroe Islands, Latvia, Turkey, and many more. It feels like taking a trip without having to book a ticket!

Top Pattern Picks for British Breeds Aran  

Now it’s time to pick your pattern! We have fallen head over heels for Marie’s accompanying pattern book of the same name which features several pullovers, cardigans, a vest, a hat and a scarf. There's something special about knitting a design by the same person who developed the yarn and color palette herself! You can shop by-the-ball now and start picking your project from her Aran Collection - read more on our blog post about the designs here!

Remember, kits for each of the colorwork designs will be available at TWT starting April 26th. Each kit will come with all the yarn for your chosen size, a TWT tote, and a digital download of that pattern.

But perhaps you'd like to begin with a smaller project to get to know British Breeds Aran, starting with just a skein or two of your favorite color. We took some time to find other types of projects to cast on as well! 

Mug and French Press Jacket by MK Carroll 

Available for free on Ravelry, this pattern is a great way to use up one skein of British Breeds Aran. Stitched flat with a small bit of circular knitting at the bottom, you finish it up with a cute button from your stash. The cables have both a written chart and video tutorial and are a great way to dip your toes into textured knitting before casting on a bigger project like Bamburgh or Amble from Marie’s Aran book

Here We Gnome Again by Sarah Schira

Forget Elf on a Shelf, we want a Gnome for our Home! Sarah Schira’s adorable gnome pattern series, and her latest is just too cute not to cast on! Great for pairing two colors together, we love the combination of cables with no-sew techniques with plenty of tutorial support on Youtube. Thistlers have loved making Gnomes, just check out the projects on our group Ravelry,and we think this is a fab way to include woolly wool in your home decoration! 


Stovetop by Tin Can Knits

A blend of your favorite British wools is going to be cozy as can be, so we think this yarn is a top pick for a hat! The Stovetop hat from Tin Can Knits is chocked full of cables and textured seed stitch. We love these patterns as they’re sized for everyone in the family from baby to an Adult Large. Top it off with a pom pom and you’re ready to go! 

Caldwell by Stephen West 

Want a garment without a trip to Sleeve Island? A project for our upcoming Vest Knit-Along starting in May? This cabled vest by Stephen West is a great cast-on! This pattern balances the more complicated cables on the front, with reverse stockinette striping on the back so you can unwind with your favorite Knitflix while you stitch away. We’re dreaming of button combos to add to the front, too! Don’t have any? Be sure to check out our selection in store now!

Keep in Touch!

We want to hear what you think about Marie Wallin's British Breeds Aran! Be sure to share with us your thoughts and reviews, by leaving a review after your purchase, or sharing in our social groups!

Shop Marie Wallin's Aran Collection Here!


1 comment

  • Martha M Guyer

    Thanks for sharing about what Ravelry can do (the specifics about finding a pattern for a specific yarn). I knew you could search like that but have never done it. The blog was super informative. Thanks and have a great day.

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