Grand Opening at YAK

Looking for a local yarn store to find yarn and supplies can be tricky and one that inspires you enough to travel for needs to be extra special. 

Last weekend, I took an indulgent train ride to YAK, Brighton's newest yarn shop and it was all the things a yarn store should be: inspiring, beautifully presented and packed with the kind of yarns and supplies crafters want to work with. There's plenty of variety from high end treat to good work horse basics and I have a feeling that Kate, the owner, will be keeping a regular flow of enticing new products as has already become her norm while selling online for the last couple of years. She's launched knit nights and classes already so this is destined to be quite the hub for urban knitters and crocheters in need of a location to gather around!

So what makes YAK so special?

First, there's the yarns.

Local, British wools such as Bessie May and The Uncommon Thread nestle amongst overseas friends Dye for Wool and Malabrigo, to name but a few. There's everything from sock basics to unusual blends such as the Bessie May Nettle (which really intrigued me). 

yarn on display at YAK
Bessie May Nettle

High quality craft supplies.

I think this might be the first time I've seen Inspinknity Wires in the wild and they nestle amongst well loved brand names such as Fringe Association, Hiya Hiya and Yellow Bear Wares. Everywhere I looked I could think of something I NEEDED for my crafting life: wool wash, needles, scissors.....

notions on display
Yellow Bear Wares

Beautiful Presentation:

This is the part that really impressed me about YAK. Kate displays things with such a clever eye for pleasing details that you just want to create the minute you walk through the door. Notions are tucked into old suitcases and top hat boxes retrieved from her family's loft and everywhere you look there's little reminders of sheepy goodness like some rather intimidating sheers.

Sirka stitch counter displayed in top hat box
Sheers and swift on display at YAK

Inspirational displays:

Kate's window currently displays Pebble Beach by Curious Handmade, the winner from the Unwind Brighton Design Competition. It's worked up in local dyer The Uncommon Thread's yarns with more tempting goodies underneath. The shop is full of knitted goodies you want to make too and plenty of information about YAKs...

information about YAKs
Pebble Beach in TUT
YAK display details

Excellent Location:

YAK is 10 minutes walk (downhill!) from the main train station and just past the noise and crowds of the much famed North Laine area of Brighton. You can shop, thrift, eat and drink in between petting yarn and casting on. It's always worth a day trip to Brighton and now there's even more reasons to go!

textiles for sale in the Laines
vegan food at the Laines
leather bags for sale on the Laines

I hope you'll manage a trip to YAK to see this wonderfully curated shop of treasures. If you do manage a visit, don't forget to check out the little detail on the restored clock in the top picture. A wee YAK logo tickled me pink. Such attention to detail!

Unwind with Justyna Lorkowska

Here we go, the last Unwind Brighton featured giveaway. I can't believe it's almost here (I can't believe I haven't packed yet- I leave tomorrow!). I'm still binding off my One The Pier but am hopeful to wear this stylish frothy shawl for everyone to see! Justyna is such an interesting designer for both adults and children and I was thrilled when she was one of the official KAL designers. I asked her a few questions to help me introduce you to her....

Justyna wearing her Yakushima  (c) Marcin Duda

Justyna wearing her Yakushima  (c) Marcin Duda

My name is Justyna Lorkowska. I live together with my husband and two kids in Toruń - a very beautiful and monumental city in central Poland. I've been knitting on and off since I was a young teen and shortly after I had my first baby I began designing knitwear. 

Where does your design inspiration come from?

That's a very nice question.  Sometimes the inspiration lies there in the yarn itself. Its color, structure, the way it feels next to skin. I'm a terrible stasher and most of the ideas that came to life had to spend some time in the yarn box, but once I knew what that particular skein wanted to be I could make the sweater in a week. But sometimes it's the opposite - I fall in love with a stitch pattern I come across and then frantically start digging through my stash to find a skein worthy of the idea. And my mind goes crazy. "what if I made a sweater with it?" "What about a hat?" I like this way of designing a lot - it's just me and yarn, and whatever there is in my head. Finally sometimes I'm inspired by, let's call it, "an occasion", like Unwind Brighton. When Dani and I decided I'd make something for the festival I sat down and thought "What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think Brighton?" And the answer was quick: "blue, white, the sea, the pier". Thankfully I had a skein of wonderful blue in my stash and the shawl was born in a couple of days.

On The Pier (c) Marcin Duda

On The Pier (c) Marcin Duda

What yarns are you drawn to when you design and create?

I must admit I don't like working with lace weights. My favorite weights are fingering and worsted. I absolutely love working with handdyed yarns and I really don't mind that you need to alternate skeins. Once you finish a sweater and you see how the colors play, you forget about all the tedious juggling with yarn balls. Finally, I love good merino blends - they are so nice to work with, very often have wonderful stitch definition and are durable (which is very important for me if I make something for my kids).

Peachick Eyes Cardigan (c) Justyna Lorkowska

Peachick Eyes Cardigan (c) Justyna Lorkowska

Do you have any other crafty hobbies?

As a matter of fact I do :-) Apart from knitting I love crocheting, but mostly blankets, and at the beginning of this year I also started quilting. 

Favourite summertime fruit?
Oh that's easy. Gooseberries and strawberries. 

What are your Unwind plans?

I'm so excited to be coming to Brighton this week and have lots of plans. On Sat and Sun I'll be attending classes with Ragga as I'm really interested in Icelandic knitting and steeks. Of course I'll be visiting the Market Place (probably many times until my yarn money runs out :-)) to admire the yarn and meet people. So if you see me do not be shy and say hi! In the evening we (I'm taking my Hubby with me) will be having fun at Pompom shindig.

I'm turning into quite the Justyna fan (seriously, my queue quadrupled just writing this post!) and hope you are too. If you'd like to make On The Pier with me, Justyna has 3 copies to giveaway. All you have to do is leave a comment, telling me your favourite Justyna design along with your Ravelry ID by midday GMT Friday 11th 2014. I'll announce a winner from Brighton hopefully! 

Unwind with TUT (and Veera and Joji)

This post is brought to you by the power of awesome. One of the things that really stands out about Unwind is the amount of collaboration and inspiration that it seems to be encouraging. When I asked Ce of The Uncommon Thread what she's up to for Unwind, I did a little happy dance at the answer that came back. 

Firstly, there is the limited edition base that she's launching. It's a decadent 60:40 blend of Silk and Cashmere Fingering weight that will join the line up of luxury blends Ce will be bringing. Having worked with some of Ce's luxury blends, I can say without any doubt that checking out her different bases is a real treat. Ce has just the most amazing intuition for fibre and yarn so that everything she dyes up works just as it should for your projects. If it's meant to be soft as a feather, it is. Hard working and full of stitch definition? Check. I can't wait to see them all in the flesh! 

Then there's 4 new colourways that she's launching. I think my TUT sweet tooth comes from her eye for colour. Allow me to just pause a moment and let the colours do the talking....

'Olive Leaf' will be available across several bases

'Olive Leaf' will be available across several bases

'Salty Air' will be available across several bases

'Salty Air' will be available across several bases

'Tourmaline' will be available across several bases

'Tourmaline' will be available across several bases

'Witching Hour' will be available across several bases

'Witching Hour' will be available across several bases

Recovered? Well there's a few more surprises and this one pleases me greatly. Ce will be hosting a meet and great with designers Veera Valimaki and Joji Locatelli at 12.45 pm on the Saturday. When Veera and Joji joined forces to create Interpretations, much of the yarn support was provided by TUT and the results were spectacular. 

(c) Interpretations

(c) Interpretations

One of my favourite of the 12 patterns released was 'At Dawn', is an asymmetrical shawl worked up in TUT Posh Fingering and BFL Sock. I love Joji's ability to design both complex and intricate looking peices as well as simple stylish items such as this. Such a dynamic designer!

(c) Interpretations

(c) Interpretations

Then there's Laneway by Veera that feeds into my stripe addiction entirely. Worked up in Ce's Fingering Weight Lush Twist, this is a really typical Veera design: long feminine lines that are clean and modern looking. I love it!

10446714_410043609134895_2779113247138169003_n.jpg

If you're hoping to nab some yarn and patterns to start working your way through Interpretations, you can get one of the patterns free with a yarn purchase above £100 on the day. Of course if you can't wait till then, you can enter today to win a pattern. I have one Veera and one Joji pattern download ready for 2 lucky winners who comment below telling me which design they'd most like to knit from the collection. Please don't forget to include your Ravelry ID and enter before Monday 7th July 2014 at noon GMT to win. 

Good luck!