We’re extremely proud to have announced our partnership with McIntosh®, the British yarn brand with a difference. Lovingly created by James McIntosh, it’s the natural-fibre, pure wool and yarn brand that blends a passion for well-being with beautiful, hand-dyed yarns that are good for you and better for the planet.
McIntosh was inspired by James’s very own experience with depression. Like anyone battling with their mental health, his experience is unique to him, but like all of us, he needed to find a way to overcome it to truly recover… his journey to recovery started at home with a pair of chopsticks, some string and the desire to calm his mind. This is James’s story…
You may recognise Mr McIntosh: an award-winning food writer and TV presenter, James is a household name. But at age 35, he found himself facing his biggest challenge yet - he was suffering from what was diagnosed as a moderately severe depressive episode. Desperate to find a way to calm his panic attacks and anxieties, James attempted to shift his focus onto something new: knitting.
Without a pair of knitting needles or yarns to hand and with no previous experience, James used the tools he had available: a pair of chopsticks – we love his ingenuity! – some string and some trusty knitting tutorials on YouTube. The rhythm and attention required to produce each little stitch gave James a different focus and helped his mind to “slow down” – the anxieties that troubled him were a little quieter, his mind a little calmer with each stitch and row.
Knitting was meditative for James, who struggles with more traditional meditation practices. With his focus on the soft feel of the yarns and the soothing, rhythmic dance of the knitting needles between his fingers, James’s mind was able to settle; he was able to be present within the moment, aware of his surroundings and his own emotional state, yet he was calm. James realised that knitting was his form of mindfulness, something he calls “knititation®”.
James says: “Knitting saved my life. The only way I could control my panic attacks and anxiety was by knitting. I realised that knitting was a form of mindfulness, which I call ‘knititation’. As I started to get better by practising knititation, I published a book about it with Dr Thomas Ernst FRCP: Knit and Nibble. I chose a life of colour and now knit every day.”
James has overcome his depression, but his love for knitting has remained. He is now on a mission to share his story to inspire everyone – crafters and non-crafters alike - to try knitting to help calm their mind and find a sense of contentment in their day, even if it’s for just a few minutes.
Knitting as a form of mindfulness is becoming more and more popular. For many knitters, yarn craft is more than just a creative outlet; it’s an opportunity to separate themselves from any stresses, anxieties or negative emotions that have built up during the day. Like James’s experience, they’re able to allow their negative thoughts and feelings to be there, without needing to “solve” or change these emotions. Instead, they accept these thoughts and feelings, allowing the brain to self-soothe while they engage in the simple joy of knitting.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with both James and Dr Thomas to discuss the connection between mindfulness and knitting to aid wellness. Dr Thomas, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, has both a personal and professional interest in mindfulness practices to aid mental wellbeing. He says: “The main reason to pick up knitting is for yourself. Our brains use negative symptoms to help us. When you notice stress, don’t stop it, just knit noticing you’re running on stress, and your brain will slow itself down.”
There is an abundance of mindfulness practices available to anyone who is looking to find a way of coping with their daily stresses and anxieties, and it’s important to know that these practices are not a one size fits all – that’s why there are so many to try! Each and every one of us is unique, and it’s these differences between each one of us that inspired James to make his yarn range a little bit different to the rest.
McIntosh was born to share the wellness benefits of ethical and sustainable knitting with everyone. James’s ambition was and continues to be to create a yarn brand that makes a person feel whole. He says: “When you knit with a truly pure, natural fibre, you have a feeling in your fingers that is like butter. It’s so comforting. When you finish a product with it and put it on your body, you really notice the worth of that product, and it makes you feel something good again.”
To ensure his yarn range promotes that good feeling, James has used only natural fibres and British wools that have been accredited as a British Wool blend or 100% British Wool by British Wool - so you can trust that McIntosh yarns will produce beautifully soft, warm knits that you can be proud of!
James’s attention to detail and commitment to creating a more ethical yarn range doesn’t stop at the yarn fibre. He lovingly hand-dyes his yarns himself (he even has a bit of dye on his toes to prove it!) using repeatable dyes, so each is as unique as you are, but that’s the beauty of it!
What’s more, each one of James’s yarns comes dressed in a beautifully tactile yarn band made of biodegradable laminate, so it’s both strong and ethical… now that is a good feeling! Stored neatly inside the yarn band is the McIntosh sew-in label with full wash care instructions, so you can care for your knits the right way and proudly show off YOUR McIntosh creation.
McIntosh Yarns at Deramores
We’re beyond thrilled to bring you two incredible McIntosh yarn ranges: BFL and FABULOUS…
Sure to become every knitter’s new best friend, BFL – British Bluefaced Leicester - is the 100% wool yarn spun from the fleeces of, you guessed it, the British Bluefaced Leicester sheep. Available in 4-ply and DK, the wool has a longer staple fibre length than other yarns, which gives your knitted garments and accessories stunning stitch definition and a luxurious feel wear after wear.
A new addition to the McIntosh range, FABULOUS is exactly what it says it is, a truly fabulous yarn spun from a luxurious blend of British Bluefaced Leicester wool and Grade A Mulberry silk. Also available in 4-ply and DK, it offers the same incredible quality as British Bluefaced Leicester, but with the added strength and natural shine derived from the silk.
Available in a stunning colour palette of vibrant shades to deep, muted tones, these yarns perfectly represent everything that James has set out to achieve; they’re beautifully unique – just like you – high-quality and a product you can be proud of.
Whether you’re a keen knitter looking to achieve mindfulness through your favourite yarn craft or a complete newbie to knitting and the mindfulness practice, McIntosh is here to help you live a more colourful life.