Every One's a Winner

Things have slowed down considerably as we ease into a family seaside holiday. We have eaten (far too many) cream teas with locally produced clotted creams and homemade jams and scones. We've been distrustful of the waves (the Tot remains unconvinced that this water is as fun as her familiar swimming pool) and we've had lots of good weather that reminds you that the UK can be SO pretty and quaint. 

Before I dissolve into a pool of relxed moosh, I thought I'd best draw a winner for the Eden Cottage Yarns giveaway in celebration of Unwind Brighton 2014. There will be a new Vendor/ Teacher feature tomorrow and it's another corker. In the meantime, the random number generator has spoken and has declared Michelle the winner with the comment, 'Picking one is hard, I want them all! But Milburn in Night Sky is a firm favourite.'

 

Congratulations to Michelle! Please do get in contact via gmail (aplayfulday) to claim your Milburn!

Unwind Brighton and Eden Cottage Yarns

Unwind Brighton is almost here and I'm so excited! There's something about this event that seems to have really drawn together some of the most inspirational teachers and vendors in the fibre community and really got people buzzing. The sense of international community that Dani, Unwind Creator, has captured is really charming and something I'm really motivated by. I am constantly in awe of the way knitters and crafters support one another so I feel like this is the perfect opportunity to spread some excitement and cheer about the many talented teachers and vendors attending the show. 

Even if you're not attending, my hope is to bring a little Unwind into your day!

So here's the first (of many) features about one of the Unwind folks that I'll be making a beeline to say hi to on the day: Victoria from Eden Cottage Yarns. Following her guest post and a huge response on Ravelry and Twitter (thank you), I asked Victoria to tell us about some of the British Breeds she includes in her yarn ranges and there's a chance to win a skein too!

Victoria wearing Brampton, her own design

Victoria wearing Brampton, her own design

Victoria is the dyer (and designer) behind Eden Cottage Yarns. The Eden Cottage Yarn range offers a wide selection of bases, all in Victoria's trademark muted and subtle colourways. The colour palette is inspired by nature and you'll often see pictures shared on Facebook of Victoria's inspiration, whether it's cherry blossoms in the Spring or the greens of the trees that surround her Yorkshire home. Updates are regular and I love how active Victoria is both on social media like Twitter but also attending events. She really interacts with the knitting community and that's something really impressive when she does all the dyeing too!

Now about those yarns and colours.....

'Copper Bucket' on Bowland DK

'Copper Bucket' on Bowland DK

First up in the British Breeds is a big softy: Bowland DK. This DK is Victoria's Superwash Bluefaced Leicester base and is one of those yarns that gets softer the more it's worked and used and as with all Blue Faced Leicester, has a gorgeous lustre. I had a hard time choosing between this base and the Polworth that I actually came away with at Unravel because it looked incredible in the skein and the price was so reasonable for the yardage (£16 per 245 yards per skein). 

'Blossom' on BFL Sock

'Blossom' on BFL Sock

Next is her BFL Sock, which is a generous skein at 436 yards per 100g. Again, this is a yarn that wears well and blooms nicely with a wash so it works perfectly for both garments as well as socks and mitts. I really like the roundness of this yarn in the skein (yes, I spent a lot of time at Victoria's stand at Unravel, cooing over the yarn. Does it show?)

Ullswater on Milburn 4ply

Ullswater on Milburn 4ply

Another yarn of interest, with British roots is the Milburn 4ply range, named after a pretty Cumbrian Village (Victoria's originally from Cumbria). Victoria has been working with a mill to have these 50g British Bluefaced Leicester and Silk skeins dyed in typical Eden Cottage Colourways. With so much handdyeing and wholesale, Victoria collaborated with a mill to produce yarns that could be dyed in an Eden Cottage palette and complement her hand dyed range. Pretty smart and already pretty popular!

Like what you see? As well as being sure to check out Victoria's stand at Unwind, you can also win a skein of one of the 3 skeins mentioned above. Leave a comment below, telling us what skein you would like to win  and what colour by visiting the Eden Cottage website and I will pull one lucky winner with the random number generator. Be sure to enter by 18th May 2014 as I will be posting the results on Monday and announcing a new vendor/ teacher feature and giveaway!

Good Luck!

Love Our Indies

It's no secret that I'm a fan of independent producers. Why? For me it's a lifestyle choice. When I interact with an independent producer I can see who is producing my yarn, pattern or pie. I like to know about their process, where things were sourced and how they were put together.

The other thing about being in the independently produced habit is you find yourself drawn to a certain aesthetic and it becomes about crafting your personal style and way of living. Like many, I buy into that element too; I see myself as part of a certain tribe of women that dig handcrafts, love being outdoors, are practical and whose children run free and wild. Fine, I'm actually a more than slightly frazzled working Mum who rarely gets time to sit and craft these days but it's an aesthetic I'm drawn to nonetheless. 

We all do that right? We all like the idea of our purchases reflecting who we are whether you're a 'global tribal' or 'urban modern' kind of woman. These are just a few of the phrases I see bandied around in advertising and I smile every time because in the choices we make as consumers, we are aligning ourselves with certain ideals whether I buy from a store (Whole Foods vs Tesco) or choose from the rich variety of independent producers out there. 

It's why I do the work I do. Working with a host of independent designers, writers, publishers, dyers, and more means I am constantly in contact with some truly inspiring women who deserve to be successful. (Note: I say women because this is an industry that is predominantly but not exclusively made up of women working in their home, more on that later though). Successful means a many things: coping with their work load, being paid what they're worth, interacting with customers in a way that is fulfilling, balancing their business around life and family commitments. If I produce web copy or plan some publicity that helps make this happen, I'm a happy bunny indeed. 

So I've decided to host a series of guest blogs and invited some of the most interesting indies currently working in the industry to talk about some of the issues that they feel strongly about. I'm hoping to start a conversation and I'm really hoping you will join in too. This might be a useful resource if you're thinking of starting your own business, food for thought if you're a consumer and hopefully a source of inspiration for all. 

 

Let's love our indies!

 

Tomorrow I will be featuring a piece from Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns and why she's concerned about the Women's Institute's recent campaign featuring HobbyCraft. 

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