Eden Cottage Yarns

Well I think it's fair to say that I fell in love last weekend. I'd long suspected that this would be the case but my 'favourite of favourite' circle of indie dyers just made room for another: Eden Cottage Yarns

Victoria's booth was like a siren song that all weekend I popped back to, sighed and wished myself in a better place knitting wise. I wanted something in every yarn weight. I could just see the projects with her gorgeous sense of colour and great selection of yarn bases. 

In her own words, Eden Cottage is the

"home of semi-solid colours, from muted pastels, to stone-washed mid-shades and rich, jewel-tones. The yarn is dyed with an emphasis on simple but gorgeous colours, as well as sustainability, and ECY has become synonymous with a muted palette of semi-solid shades"

. Victoria is not kidding. Her stand at Unravel was like a wardrobe full of knits waiting to happen. Everything was just so wearable. 

I brought a sweater quantity home, my single yarn purchase all weekend. I wanted to save myself for something I truly wanted and apparently, I truly wanted Oakland DK. This is New Zealand Polwarth, handdyed in the 'Midnight' colourway. 

I think it's destined to be a Hooray Cardigan by Veera Valimaki. I've been wanting to make one for ages, ever since I saw the thick cables on the front. I think this bouncy and crisp feeling yarn will give great stitch definition and I'm excited to try a new-to-me fibre too. It made adding it to my stash feel much less naughty somehow as I didn't have any other Polworth. See? Totally justified!

(C) Veera Valimaki

Big Love

So how are you feeling today? Are you feeling the love? 

Over in the Playful Group, we've been sharing some gorgeous stories about selfish knitting, unselfish knitting, knitting memories, crochet dreams and spinning to die for. Why? Because we're all about the Big Love Along I'm currently hosting. There's even prizes just for entering!

Rules are simple:

  1. Kick off when the Ravellenics end
  2. WIPS and double dipping allowed.
  3. You have to be a group member
  4. You have to tell us your BIG LOVE story.

So what will it be? A skein you’ve loved for a long time? A technique you adore? Fibre you’ve lovingly spun for a friend? Something loving for YOURSELF?

Tell us!

We have some gorgeous skeins donated from Whimzy yarns who collaborated with our sponsor this month, Inspiration Knits, to bring fabulous kits to Unravel. You can read all about the patterns Louise recommends Whimzy for here

On the left is Sokkusu O, (O for Original), a 100% Superwash Merino base in the 'Summer Storm' colourway. On the right is 'Johanna' on Silkie Merino, another 

fingering weight yarn but this time 50% Superwash Merino, 50% Silk. To lucky winners will get a skein each, drawn at random from the FO thread. 

Another Way (c) Inspiration Knits

Then whether you have a hankering for 'Another Way' or a different design of Louise's, you can choose a pattern if you're the 3rd lucky winner in this solidarity along! 

The along has already started and I think I'll close the FO thread at the end of March so come on over and join in the chatter!

Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover, Fenella and Susan Crawford

I feel like I have weeks and weeks of blogging and podcasting material thanks to Unravel. I'm on about day 2 of recovery though so today is an indulgent, lingering kind of post about all things Susan Crawford

I've always loved to see Susan's booth at shows. It's a wonderful setup full of gorgeous samples, books and yarn but the thing that strikes me most, without fail, each and every time, is that I step in and feel like I'm in someone's sitting room. She brings wallpapered walls and period pieces to display her vintage inspired finery and the effect is not lost on me. I feel the crowds disappear and wish I was wearing a string of pearls EVERY TIME. I'm transported to another era and my mood is instantly lifted. 

Susan always looks the part, showcasing her designs and more often than not a fabulous, authentic hairdo too but I'm afraid to say it was her husband that stole the show this year. He was modelling the Wartime Farm Sleeveless Pullover that Susan designed, complete with hat and tie. This picture will give you an idea of why I sighed every time I looked down the hall and saw him in that booth of charm and wonder. I longed to show my Grandmother; I felt like I could hear my Grandfather humming 'We'll meet again' each and every time I saw him. (Which my Grandfather does interchangeably with 'Here We are Again' and it's a habit I adore)

WartimeFarmSleevelessPullover_02_medium2.jpg

(c) Susan Crawford

If you haven't heard about this wonderful sweater and the project surrounding it, you really should go and take a look

In the wake of the popular Wartime Farm BBC TV series, you can now knit your very own authentic Fair Isle Sleeveless Pullover, modelled on a 1938 original and as worn by Alex Langlands no less! 

For each pattern sold, a £2.50 donation will be made to the Women’s Land Army Tribute Campaign to help raise money for a permanent memorial to these forgotten ladies and their untold toil during the World Wars. There's a kit available featuring Susan's wonderful yarn that she's developed to help you achieve the most authentic garment possible. 

Talking of yarn, I was mid interview with Susan when I spotted this little bit of deliciousness peeking at me.....

fenella.jpg

'Myrtle'

This is Fenella, the newest recruit to Susan's unique yarn range. Susan understands that vintage inspired patterns require vintage inspired yarn as the modern day equivalents often don't behave like their predecessors. With this in mind, Susan has been working with British Wool supplier John Arbon Textiles to develop a yarn range that will allow knitters to create garments with authentic colour choices and achieve that perfect fabric. 

Fenella is a 2ply that knits as a 3 ply, a weight that many vintage patterns call for but has all but dyed out in modern milling. Available in 124m (135yds) per 25g, this is 100% pure new British wool, (70% Exmore Blueface, 30% Bluefaced Leicester). It's amazing and I'm currently pondering what it wants to be when it grows up. I guess I will have to indulge myself by curling up with one or two of Susan's inspirational books and see what I find eh?

All in the name of research and recovery. Obviously. 

Slow Burning

A discussion picked up on Twitter the other day about the pleasure in a slow and steady knit. It was quite apt given the garment I just finished and FINALLY took pictures of but I'll talk about that a bit more in a minute.

What we agreed was that while wearing knits was wonderful, it's always with slight sorrow that we bind off. I find myself eager to get to that finishing point, to have my hat, to wear my shawl, to share it with other knitters who will 'ooohhhh' and 'ahhhhhhh' along with me at the clever pattern features and gorgeous yarn. However, I always feel slightly bereft at the point of cast off. I wish I was at the beginning again with all that fresh promise. I love the first few sessions of knitting on a new project. It's like making a new friend.

It's often when you're at the end that you've really hit your stride and can do the pattern repeat instinctively and of course, that's when it all speeds up and you're suddenly almost at the Bind Off. To be fair, there's also been projects that I've cast off and thought 'Oh thank God, I'm never knitting that again!' As a general rule though, slow meditative steps in our knitting should be celebrated as much as the 'quick knit' and the instant gratification that it promises. There's lots of workshops out there for you to speed up your knitting. I know I'm slow but I love every piece just as much.

If hats are fast and dirty, sweaters and socks are slow burners for me. I just don't knit that fast. It irked me when I first learned to knit as I wanted all my sweaters to be handmade and never to have to buy socks again. This is absolutely ridiculous at the rate I knit and even this far into knitting, with a back catalogue under my belt, I'd not make such a silly pledge.

It was rather lovely though to photograph these two slow burning projects at long last because I took them at a very steady pace which means I adore wearing them all the more.

Julissa in Miss Babs Yowza!

The first is my Girl Crush Sweater. I settled for photographing it on my sister (oh she had a lot of modelling to do that weekend) so this doesn't quite show it's full glory, but still, a special sweater all the same.This sweater saw me through the discovery that I was pregnant, the big move from North to South London, settling into a home full of some pretty enormous DIY projects, the arrival of my daughter and then finally settling into Motherhood and feeling I had run a marathon! Each stitch has a story and I smile each time I reach for this sweater. I will always think of the many moments I retreated into its' comforting lace and cables when there was some huge changes going on in my life.

Pyrite Socks in JFA Buffy Toughie

Then, finally, there is the Pyrite Socks and I adore them. I bought the yarn after a visit to Asti's farm and each time I look at the beautiful colours I think of that magical countryside holiday with close friends and our family. Meeting Asti was the icing on the cake and we've formed a friendship that I treasure.

So I am now slightly lost and a little perturbed about my next knitting plans. The Ravellenics always unsettles me, making me feel that I should run to keep up and then, as is so often the case, I shrug and retreat into my slow, plodding knitting and remember that I'm just not that way inclined. I prefer to be the person coaching the team; I'm better suited to enjoying other people's glory than my own. I won't even model my own sweater for goodness sake!

x

The Scrumptious Collection: Volume 3 Blog and Podcast Tour

Hello and welcome to my post for the Scrumptious Collection Volume 3 launch! I've had the pleasure of being involved in the build up to this release and have really enjoyed the posts so far. You can see a full list of them here so go look as there's some real goodies!

The Collection is part of the Scrumptious Collection series that supports the Fyberspates Silk and Merino yarn range 'Scrumptious'. It's a popular series and I featured the first volume on the podcast some time ago. You can even hear the interview here for the podcast that I did with Jeni, the Director (and all around lovely lady) of Fyberspates. What I liked about this particular collection was how 'British' it feels: 13 exclusive designs from 8 British designers, all shot on location in the coastal region of Lyme Regis, UK. 

The collection includes 5 garment (3 sweaters, 2 cardigans) and 8 accessory patterns. There's some chunky knits, some lace, some new to me techniques such as Fair Isle and some interesting sweater designs. It's got options for digital as well as hard copy which I always like to see. 

Simene Stole, (c) Jesse Wild

So what am I going to focus on for this blog post? The yarn obviously. There's a pattern that I'd personally like to play with and I've been pondering yarn options for ever since I saw the proofs.The Simene Stole is a geometric lace stole that is knit up in a stunning yellow for the book sample. I've actually just finished a hat in the same colourway, using a different base and I'll be talking about how happy it makes me in this weekend's podcast. Designed by Melanie Edgar, this stole calls for Scrumptious Lace base which I love for it's sheen and definition. I also think the Fyberspates Gleem base would be beautiful as it's just that little more crisper in definition due to the BFL content although still with the high shine Silk content. Mind you, Ethereal, the cashmere blend would be an amazing laceweight both to work with and to wear. This stole would just be so snuggly. It seems patterns are very enabling and I can spend hours considering yarn options!

Ethereal Laceweight in 'Tumeric'

I've also just finished working with another yarn that I am itching to try again. Fyberspates Twizzle Silk is a gorgeous Silk: Merino single that would be a stunning heavier option for this stole. It would certainly be less crisp in definition but wow would it be luxurious to wrap around your shoulders on a cool evening. I worked up a shawl recently and the garter stitch in the soft stitches it created just made my heart sing. 

Knit Night in Twizzle Silk

I think this is what I enjoy so much about Fyberspates as a company and why I love working with Jeni. The yarns are constantly evolving and so with each collection you feel you have a range of options to indulge on the patterns. I'm currently craving lace and this could be just the fix I need. If only I could choose a yarn....

You can grab your copy of The Scrumptious Collection Volume 3 either on Ravelry or directly from Fyberspates for £12. There's also a list of wholesalers so do check it out to see if you're LYS is stocking it. 

Block Party

Blocking is not my greatest love. There, I said it.

I love its' magic don't get me wrong. The way good blocking can take a crumpled mess of yarn and transform it into smooth stitches and perfect shapes. I'm just so so impatient and actually, I realise, not very good at it. I get impatient with the wires and halfway through I kind of lose momentum and ponder if the shawl really needs to be that shape (it does).

So when I say I had a blocking party, what I actually mean was a slightly irritable morning pinning shawls to my futon while muttering that I should make more hats.

The results were kind of ok though....

The first shawl is

Knit Night

by Louise Zass-Bangham and is worked up in Fyberspates

Twizzle Silk

, their Merino: Silk singles base. It was my first time using a single and I'm very taken with it. I am pondering if this might be my version of all those halo/ fluffy yarns that I can't wear or use due to my asthma going wild each time I do. It's not fluffy but certainly not crisp either. I like! You can see my project page here.

The second is Nangou by Melanie Berg who I have fallen madly in love with for her chic simple style and I want to be just like her when I grow up. The shawl used up the long term stash Wollmeise and a donated sampling of TUT Posh Fingering too. A very grown up and yummy project. I'll talk some more about the outcome of blocking this shawl in the podcast this weekend. For now, the project page is here.

What have you been blocking lately?

Resolving not to Resolve

It's that time of year isn't it? New year, new start, new resolutions. I'm dire at them. Really. I once achieved a fantastic year of knitting when I challenged myself to learn all these new things like sweaters and cables and socks and I had a sort of sponsor via a knit friend. We rewarded each other with amazing packages whenever we accomplished a goal we'd set out. You can see the list

here

on my project page. It was ace. I've achieved absolutely nothing like it ever since.

When it comes to my knitting intentions in 2014, I have so much good stash and so many good intentions. I've got

knits crushes

galore and I just want to knit all the things. Oh but I have a Playful Tot and work from home without childcare. Tricky.

So rather than make a mountain of goals I just thought about what it is that I might like to achieve this year. Stash enjoyment is high on the agenda once more because I've really got some good stuff in there! I want to work with it and if I do eventually get my much covetted spinning wheel, I want to feel there's room for fibre in the stash and that I have knit lots of things that I've always wanted to make before I start splitting my already precious time further still. There will always be new patterns I want but I hold this mental list of favourites that could really do with some working on now. Do you do the same?

So I spent a joyful hour queueing a ridiculous amount of projects. Chances of knitting all of them? Pretty slim but I did tag them with stash I have, stash I could overdye, stash I could add to in order to complete them and stash to splurge on as a treat. I'm attending a few events this year and I'm going to try to only invite yarn for the 'splurge' section into my stash so it has an intended purpose and the correct yardage (a major failing of my stash I've realised). The yarn that I'm not sure about can be gifted or overdyed. Yes, I'm crazy enough to try to dye over some pretty fancy yarn. If it's something I keep hovering over because it's just not exactly the shade I had hoped, I should play and try to improve it. I used to love dyeing so it's time I got the dye pot out again and started relearning what I once enjoyed so much. It's just trapped potential in those skeins otherwise and I have some patterns that I really want on (and off) my needles!

So stash curating and dyeing. What else? Photography. Urgh, I missed my camera so much in 2013 and when I take more pictures, I blog better and I'm more creative I've noticed. It's time to dig out that SLR and relearn the settings (there's a theme here have you noticed?). It also will spur me to block and photograph some finished objects. I can't believe I still haven't shared my

Girl Crush Sweater

for example. To be fair, the light has been dire thanks to the typhoon we've been enjoying. Yuck.

So I guess my theme is consolidation and making what I have work. I don't get much slack so I should refocus on what I already have.

Oh and did I mention that sewing machine in my loft room? Yeah..... that needs to happen this year too. Time travel anyone?

Among Stones

Welcome to the last stop on the Among Stones Blog Tour! I've been eagerly waiting to write this review up since Carol sent through my copy a few months ago. Having interviewed Carol Feller, the designer behind the label 'Stolen Stitches' some time ago on the podcast, I have a great fondness for her work. She creates with a passion and commitment to quality knitting patterns and knitwear and is really rather lovely to boot. 

As my part in this tour, I have been secretly working on a project both inspired by a theme of Carol's work as well as an actual pattern. I'll explain as we get going....

The Collection: Among Stones contains nine patterns - four women’s  sweaters, one child sweater, a beaded scarf, a shawl, socks (in adult and child sizes), and a hat  and mitten set - all photographed in locations in Ireland and Scotland. In the designer’s words: 

“This book is filled with some of my favourite kinds of knits: simple, interesting, wearable. All photographed in some of my favourite kinds of places: secret, beautiful, tranquil. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.”

The Inspiration:

Carol's work is often photographed in wonderful locations that have a special meaning to her so I started thinking about my own knitting stories that I've not yet shared here on the blog. The most obvious was that Carol lives not far from much of my maternal side of the family in Southern Ireland and I recognise much of the landscape in which she creates. 

(c) Buffy Toughie in 'Messenger'

However, an experience this Summer kept springing to mind that I wanted to share. I had the pleasure of visiting Asti, the founder and master dyer at Juno Fibre Arts this summer while staying with very close friends. The combination of a wonderful afternoon talking about knitting and dyeing with Asti, in the company of a close friend and the Playful Baby clucking along happily is an extremely pleasurable one for me and I wanted to knit something that reminded me of my own personal knitting geography. I chose Buffy Toughie, one of Asti's wonderful sock bases to work with. I'll be talking in a little more detail about this visit and yarn in my next podcast but Carol's commitment to sharing her favourite places through her knitting was such an inspiration that I couldn't resist adding this element to my post. It's something I think I would like to do more of in the future: commemorating and marking the special stories we create thanks to our knitting community. I owe a big thank you to Carol for making me smile every time I reach for my project. 

(c) Buffy Toughie in 'Messenger'

The pattern: Such a variegated yarn demanded a very particular pattern and luckily, with Carol, you're in safe hands. I chose Pyrite, a sock that is worked from the top down in a subtle slip stitch pattern, It's an ideal way to smoothly blend a variegated yarn or just add a little textural interest to your sock. I've tried a few slip stitch sock patterns now to break up a variegated and either found them lacking in enough rhythm to memorise or just bored me to tears. Somehow, Carol has got it just right with this pattern. I just want to sit and work on it all the time, (time however, is quite a barrier these days). 

(c) Joseph Feller

As I would expect from Carol, there are multiple sizing options, clear instructions and explanations of techniques where necessary. There are multiple pictures of the project too so I have a clear idea of what my final socks will look like. Carol is an experienced pattern writer now having published two previous books, (Contemporary Irish Knits and Scrumptious Knits) as well as being widely published in books and magazines, such as Twist Collective, Interweave Knits,  and Knitty among others. She has also taught at numerous international events and for Craftsy.com so there is something reassuring about Carol's pattern writing. There's no hidden surprises and you can navigate around the patterns and pattern notes easily do to the intuitive layout. I will be knitting many more of these socks!

To find out more about Carol and her wonderful new publication, tune into the next podcast where I'll be talking about the other 8 patterns or visit Carol's websiteto pick up your copy. 

Carol can also be found on Twitter (@stolenstitches), and Facebook

A heartfelt thank you to Carol for letting me review the book, the inspiration and the many socks I will be knitting. 

Amongst Stones

RRP: €17, £15, US$22

ISBN:978-0-9571212-2-5 (print) 978-0-9571212-3-2 (digital) 

Direct Customers: Order from  www.stolenstitches.com

US Wholesale: Deep South Fibers http://www.deepsouthfibers.com/among-stones/

Europe Wholesale: Contact carol@stolenstitches.com