Unwind with Sweet Georgia

Next in the Unwind series of features and giveaways is an explosion of colour and scent. Yup. Sweet Georgia are here (and they come offering Soak Boxes, more on that in a minute though)! Whether you're a spinner, knitter, crochet lover or other, you will know Sweet Georgia for "unapologetic colour". I have a mini crush on Felicia Lo, creator behind Sweet Georgia as she just knows good fibre and colour theory. Felicia is teaching as well as vending at Unwind and will be working with her UK teams to get the Sweet Georgia love going. I asked Alli, their UK sales rep, to let us know what the latest news is and what we can look forward to (oh and there's a giveaway too). 

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Over the last couple of years our SweetGeorgia Yarns have slowly been making their way across the pond from Canada and we're really happy to be able to share them with you. Being at Unwind is a way for us to support our UK stockists and let knitters know where they can find our vibrant yarns and spinning fibres, as well as bring over some of our luxurious bases that are a little more decadent!

Of course, the most exciting thing about being at Unwind is that Felicia Lo, the founder and creative director of SweetGeorgia Yarns will be speaking and teaching! Felicia will be giving two lectures on Saturday about colour – one called “Colour Confidence” which will cover colour theory and choosing colours for knitting projects, and the other called “Colour Stories” in which she shares her personal stories with colour and how the colourways for SweetGeorgia are developed. [Note from Ms. Playful- there's spaces on these classes, GO GO GO!] You can also see Felicia do a spinning demo in our booth (stand 31, just inside the main doors) on Saturday afternoon from 1 to 2:30pm.

(c) Sweet Georgia

(c) Sweet Georgia

Speaking of spinning, Felicia will also be teaching a 3-hour workshop on Sunday afternoon called “Spinning Hand-Dyed Fibres” which will help spinners get the best out of the colour and fibre. Felicia will show spinners how to subdue, enhance, and brighten colours using different blending, drafting and plying techniques. Too bad I’ll be in the booth as I’d love to take this one myself! I guess I’ll just have to snag one of our Fibre Spinning Kits that we’re bringing over for the first time, although I’m sure our braids of spinning fibre will be tempting too. Maybe you’ll have more luck making a choice between braids of Polwarth+Silk, Superwash BFLBFL+Silk, or Panda than I will!

(c) Juju Vail

(c) Juju Vail

The gorgeous Baya shawl by Mindy Wilkes on the cover of the latest pom pom quarterly was knit with two different SweetGeorgia yarn bases and we completely fell in love with the look and the way two different colours are used together. In fact, it inspired a lot of our yarn choices for what to bring to Unwind! Felicia has used her colour genius to put together some wonderful options for people who might want to knit this shawl themselves, but in a different colourway. We’ll have those kitted up, and of course you can get the magazine from the pom pom girls! 

The shawl calls for one skein each of Tough Love Sock and CashSilk Lace. Tough Love Sock is our post popular yarn. This base is 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon and the hardest working and wearing base we carry. It's really Tough! CashSilk lace is more luxurious and feels like a little cloud with a blend of 45% cashmere and 55% silk.

Nineteen Twenty Shrug by Liisa Nieminen (c) Liisa Nieminen

Nineteen Twenty Shrug by Liisa Nieminen (c) Liisa Nieminen

We'll have sweater quantities in 16 colours of Tough Love Sock in case you're on the hunt for your Unwind project, like Veera Valimaki's Juniper, or Bristol Ivy's Averin shawl. Rounding out our yarn selections will be our Merino Silk Lace, a beautiful 50% merino, 50% silk that is one of our most popular lace yarns, and Merino Silk Fine the same base in a light fingering weight 4-ply yarn. At 765 yards for a single 100g skein, one Merino Silk Lace is all you need for even the most intricate shawls, and two skeins of Merino Silk Fine is enough to knit our latest SweetGeorgia pattern, the Nineteen Twenty Shrug

(c) Sweet Georgia

(c) Sweet Georgia

If you’re really wanting to try the Merino Silk Fine, SweetGeorgia will also have the UK exclusive Soakboxes that they developed with Soak and UK pattern designer Boo Knits. The Soakbox includes a skein of SweetGeorgia Merino Silk Fine, pattern for the sweet and playful Mimosa Shawl, and a 90mL bottle of Soak. The Melon colourway is paired with Soak’s newest fragrance, Fig, while the Blood Orange colourway is paired with Yuzu. Less than 40 of these kits are left but I’ve got one to giveaway to a lucky Playful Day follower. Just leave your name in the comments, along with your colour preference of Melon or Blood Orange. Be sure to include your Ravelry ID and comment by middday GMT on Thursday 26th June 2014 when a winner will be chosen by random number generator. 

(c) Sweet Georgia

(c) Sweet Georgia

Good luck!

Love Our Indies with Louise Scollay of Knit British

Following on from the thought provoking piece by Victoria from Eden Cottage yarns, next in the 'Love Our Indies' series is a guide to Knitting British and buying local by Louise Scollay. You might know Louise for her excellent podcast but it's actually her blog that I've been devoted to for some time. Horrrified by the number of imported yarns in her stash, she set about knitting British, educating herself about different breads and the production behind goods she was buying. It makes for an interesting read and helps me make informed decisions as a consumer of both local AND global goods (more on the open market another day....!!) What I love is that I can think of ways to ask questions in any context whether it's souvenir yarn abroad or locally sourced at home. 

 

(Post reproduced here with kind permission)

: : Knitting British – Dos and Don’ts : : 

This may sound controversial but don’t believe BFL is the only British wool. Don’t get me wrong because I love Blue Faced Leicester and have heaps of it in stash (and have you seen the sheep - they are quite a noble breed!)

It is beautiful and I love how buttery, smooshily soft it is.  It is a very popular yarn, but if you are considering knitting British and include more breeds, I would say delve further as when I first started looking into British wool the searches through up a lot of BFL first.

I checked out the RBST site for rare & vulnerable breeds & searched on from there. It is good to get an idea of which breeds are most at risk and seeking out wool from breeds where your money will go back into supporting the sheep.

Check out Blacker Yarns too: they are a brilliant source of specialist and rare breed yarns as well as Welsh, Scottish, English and Falkland breed yarns.

There is a HUGE wealth of info out there on where to get British wool. I started to compile a stockist list, but nothing can compare to the wonderful time and effort Jane has put into maintaining her list at Woolsack - it is an absolute must when looking for inspiration and choices.

: : : :

Do cast your (knit) nets wide. Check out what is local to you, but also search by UK region and see which breeds are local to that area - I sort of wish I had started at one end of the map and knit my way around to be thoroughly region and breed specific!

There are a couple of groups on Ravelry concerned with the love of British wool and you are sure to find inspiration there…as well as here still, at good old KnitBritish.

Blacker Yarns Map of Sheep Breeds

Blacker Yarns Map of Sheep Breeds

 

: : :

Don’t believe the myth that buying British wool is expensive. I do not know who is telling this lie, but I have had to correct more people than I care to add up.

There are yarns to suit every purse. Even rare breed or at risk breed yarns are accessible and not too pricey. If you ever need any tips, there is a series of blogs on this subject below,

: : :

Don’t believe that just because the wool is from a  British company that the wool is grown or spun here. Many companies have their wool spun abroad, often in Turkey or Italy. That is not to say you would not be supporting jobs in some stages of production &  handling in this country. Do, however look to see if the company have any British yarn, or UK spun brands within their range. Rowan are a thoroughly British company, based in Holmfirth, and while many of their range are spun and dyed out with the UK they do have their British Sheep Breeds range and also their Tweed yarns (though, not felted) are spun in Yorkshire!

And while I am wary about buying wool that has had most of it’s processing done outside the UK, do remember that there is a British industry outside these isles. Falkland Merino is farmed organically on the British Falkland Islands and is processed, spun,  dyed and sold in the UK by the likes of LaxtonsBlacker Yarns andJohn Arbon.

: : :

Don’t be afraid to ask where the wool comes from, where the flock lives or which mill spun it. Most yarn sellers – particularly those involved with most parts of the process – will be more than happy to tell you, often at length. They know exactly how discerning knitters are when it comes to the fibre you knit with.

: : :

If you are allergic to wool, but still love knitting don’t forget that some acrylic wool is also manufactured in the UK. Woolcraft, Marriner, Jarol and Wendy all have some acrylic and blends which are spun or manufactured in the UK, but please check the labels.

Do remember that wool does not have to be difficult to care for. We all know the trials and tribulations of trying to wash and block out lovingly knit garments, but there are lots of machine washable yarns out there and I blogged on a few of them

: : :

Do support your LYS, if you can. I often hear folk say that their LYS doesn’t stock much British wool, but you can always ask them if they would consider stocking some.

If you regularly shop online, then look on Twitter, Ravelry, Pinterest or…*shudder* ..,Facebook and see if your yarn shop or favourite dyer are on there. It is a great way to get regular updates about the yarns they are dyeing, or when they have new yarns in stock and when their shop updates are.  It is also lovely to be able to say hello and tell them how much you like their products. Supporting your YS takes on new dimensions when you bring social media into the equation – I know I have come to look forward to reading their tweets and learning about the process they go through to feed our yarny habits!

: : :

Do just give it a go! Before I started doing this I did not ever think where the wool I knitted with came from. I just loved knitting. And then I began to covet wool and it was a short hop from there before I started asking myself the question, “Where did it come from?”

I love that I can look at my knits and know where I bought the wool and which breed it came from. The fact that it was all sourced from within the British Isles is just so heartening to me.

 

Thank you to Louise for sharing this helpful guide based on her journey as a British knitter, dedicated to shopping local. If you'd like to chat further about our Love Our Indies topic, join the conversation on Twitter or the dedicated Ravelry thread in the Playful Group. 

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!