Bainin Yarn


Alice Starmore Bainin is the classic yarn for Aran knitting.

It is priced per 100g ball and available in a choice of 5 colours; Arkle, Cairn Gorm, Culmor, Schiehallion and Suilven,.

Standard Knitting Tension
19-20.5 sts x 24-26 rows to 10cm on 3.75mm – 5mm needles.


It is said in Lewis that when the mountains of the mainland are visible across the Minch, it is a sure sign of rain. When the mountains are not visible – then it’s raining. This wry piece of pessimism ignores the fact that when the mainland mountains are visible, they entice like a distant Fairyland.

Towards the northern end of the magical mountain range is ARKLE, which aptly rhymes with sparkle. It is composed largely of a massive, angled bed of quartzite and displays a silver sheen when you get close to it.

CAIRN GORM – the blue mountain – has suffered the works of man more than any other of Scotland’s mountains, but it literally raises its head above it all and remains a powerful national symbol.

From where I live, on a clear day I can see the whole north-west coast of Scotland from Cape Wrath down to the Isle of Skye. This coastline takes the form of a magic mountain range, seen sometimes in silhouette and sometimes in glorious snowy detail when the weather is cold. SUILVEN is directly opposite me across forty miles of sea: a teal-blue spike of Torridonian Sandstone pointing straight into the sky.

SCHIEHALLION is the fabled Fairy Mountain of Caledonia, with woodlands at its foot, and I have used its name for a rich green. But for all its fey reputation, Schiehallion has a hard scientific element to its history, for in 1774 it was at the centre of a scheme to weigh our very planet. It was proposed by Sir Isaac Newton that a mountain exerts a gravitational pull. If you could measure this accurately then it would be possible to calculate the basic force of gravity, G, and hence calculate the mass of planet Earth. The calculations depended on knowing the mass of the chosen mountain, and this entailed the mountain being of a conveniently regular shape that could be easily surveyed. Schiehallion suited this purpose and in 1774 it was swarmed over by a team of scientists led by the Astronomer Royal, Nevil Maskelyne. The calculations were later shown to be inaccurate, but an interesting by-product of the experiment is in constant use today. Charles Hutton, a mathematician in the team, sought to rationalise the huge amount of spot-height data that was being accumulated, and he had the idea of drawing lines through points of equal height. Enter the concept of the contour line, born on the slopes of Schiehallion and used on maps throughout the world ever since.

CULMOR literally means ‘big back’ and it is a commanding presence in Inverpolly Nature Reserve near Ullapool. Its summit offers spectacular views of Assynt and beyond, but it was its own distant, deep-blue purple that we sought to capture in this shade.



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