Life at The Little Grey Sheep

Hello Summer! - A Shawl by Heike Gittins

Hello Summer! - A Shawl by Heike Gittins

Heike has done it again! I love this stunning triangular shawl knitted in our Stein Fine Wool 4ply using a 100g skein and a mini skein pack. Inspired by "walks on balmy summer evenings through flowery meadows on the farm" it is a great summer knit.

Just the right size to throw over your shoulders in the evening or swizzle round your neck and snuggle up as the summer sun fades.

Heike has such a good eye for colour and her patterns are popular worldwide. A well known author her books include, The Little Book of Shawls, Eight cosy hugs for strong women, cowritten with Claudia Freiss.

We have put together a kit as well as some colour suggestions here or find the pattern at Made with Loops 

Summertime Cowl - A Summery Project

Summertime Cowl - A Summery Project

I first published the Summertime Cowl pattern a couple of years ago. It has been a firm favourite of both mine and my customers ever since. However with the changing of our website last summer all of the blog posts got lost in the ether and I have been trying to get myself organised to republish it.

The idea behind it is that the cowl is light weight and warm. For a summers evening or chilly morning it is big enough to be wrapped double keeping your neck snuggly warm. When working on the farm it important to not have things loose that could catch in the machinery we use. The Summertime Cowl has been designed to be  a practical length, so it can easily be tucked inside a jacket or doubled up.

Any amount of colours can be used, but I have used one of our 5 mini skein packs. There is a whole range of colours from fun and funky to a more sophisticated palette 


Summertime Cowl



GUAGE – 26 x 36 stitches on 3mm needles over 10cmx 10cm

MATERIALS – 2 x 20g skeins Stein Fine Wool Colour 1

1 x 20g skein Stein Fine Wool Colour 2

1 x 20g skein Stein Fine Wool Colour 3

1 3.5mm circular needles 29inch wire

FINISHED SIZE – 45cm x 26cm


The cowl is knitted in the round in Linen Stitch.

When working in the round, the right side of the fabric is always facing


Any number of rows as long as they are even may be used in any colours.

Linen stitch in the round

Worked over an even number of stitches.

Round 1: *K 1, slip 1 with yarn in front; Repeat from * around.

Round 2: *Slip 1 with yarn in front, K 1; Repeat from * around.

Work with colour 1 for two rows and colour 2 for two rows. Continue to

alternate colors every two rows. The two color pattern enhances the

woven effect. Cast on with colour 1 and go right to Row 2, then

switching to colour 2 for the next two rows. This keep the edge neat.

When changing yarn colour twist the new yarn around the last colour to

ensure that you do not create a hole in your fabric


Cast on loosely Using Colour 1( using long tail method) 240 stitches, join

in the round. Be careful when joining the stitches to make sure you have

not twisted the stitches.

Round 1 and 2: Colour 1

Round 3: Change to Colour 2 for two rounds

The next two rounds are in Colour 1

Repeat these 4 rounds four times

Next 2 rounds Colour 3.

Next 2 rounds: Colour 2

Next 2 rounds Colour 1

Next 2 rounds Colour 2

Continue those 4 rounds a further nine times

Change to using Colour 1 and Colour 3

Knit a further nine rounds with these two colours.

Knit the next four rounds with Colour 3 and Colour 2

Knit the next six rounds with Colour 1 and Colour 3

Cast off loosely and weave in any loose ends.


Gently block or steam, making sure to not put the iron in direct contact

with the fabric.


Hope you enjoy x



A Portuguese Adventure

A Portuguese Adventure

When Neil suggested a break in Portugal my mind didn’t immediately turn to thoughts of woolly things although, unsurprisingly,  it didn’t take me long to start investigating.

The history of Portuguese wool is rich with diverse breeds of sheep produced for meat, milk and fleece. However, as with the rest of Europe, the decline of wool production tracks the rise of alternative fibres, and the subsequent loss of it's financial value to the farmer. This has forced the diversification of fine wool flocks into mutton and milk production.

A view of the city from São Jorge Castle from its commanding position overlooking Lisbon. 

In 2010 a group of people passionate about revitalising the cultural heritage of Portuguese wool established a project to renovate the spinning and weaving machinery to produce Burel. The wool is locally gathered from Bordaleira sheep, a breed capable of growing resistant, but still soft to the touch, fibres. The result is a tight, wear-resistant, natural fabric that is also water-repellent and fire retardant, without losing its flexibility. Burel was traditionally a very hard wearing fabric which had been spun and woven from the local sheep and then either boiled and compressed into an attractive, touch pliable fabric, or used as blankets and clothing.

The project looked at ways of bringing a contemporary feel into this ancient art. Through innovative design they have produced a range of outerwear of the most beautiful bags. Burel also now provide the felted fabric to architects and designers looking to utilise it's fantastic acoustic dampening properties.

The Burel shop located in Lisbon is cool and stylish and although I could of taken home many of the goodies on offer I opted for a back pack, as a girl never has enough bags.

A few of the Burel blanket designs.

The other treat to be held was Retrosaria a small shop, easily passed by on the Rue do Loreto 61. Through a rather tired doorway and up a steep stairway to the second floor we discovered a room full of beautiful things. From interesting Japanese pattern books to ribbon manufactured for the shop in Portugal. A worn table displayed many skeins of Portuguese yarn. All rather rustic, but beautiful and representative of the different sheep. The owner Rosa Pomar spends her time between the shop, where she teaches, and her field research of Portuguese textiles. Rosa has been crusading to bring back yarns produced in Portugal and has written a book , El Mundo de Pica Pau, which will be on my Christmas list as it is out in English later this year.

 My goodies from Retrosaria.

Our next stop was the seaside town of Cascais, 40 minutes taxi ride further West than Lisbon it sits sheltered from the Atlantic. The streets are a mosaic of limestone and black basalt in beautifully intricate patterns, wide promenades play host to numerous cafes and small restaurants where fish is fresh from the local fishing boats.

Through one of my Instagram friends I was steered towards The Craft Company, away from the beach front it caught my eye immediately with a lovely shop front display. Inside the tiny shop was an array of haberdashery and knitting treats, covering the walls from floor to ceiling. Suffice to say I managed to buy some holiday goodies before departing.

For rest of the holiday, I ended up steering away from more fibre related retail therapy, giving me a chance to concentrate on my holiday knitting.

Portugal is a beautiful country with kind hospitable people and the most amazing food. Inspiration abounds due to the fantastic landscape and light and it will definitely be on the list for a return trip.