Finding Inspiration, Tips for Knitting Events & Some Yarn

One of the things I've loved about An Inspired 2015 has been the sense of ease that it has afforded me. Giving myself permission to explore creativity has meant that this weekend I viewed the knitting show Unravel with different eyes. When it comes to knitting shows, I've noticed a growing sense of franticness, almost like we have to attend, we have to buy, we have to be the first, we have to be in-the-moment-with-the-thing-that'- happening-that-everyone-MUST-be-part-of.... it can get a bit overwhelming. 

This weekend though I wandered happily and took in the stands as a whole. For their part, the Unravel team had done a wonderful job of creating the space and time to browse meaning healthy foot fall for vendors without any frustration to us as visitors. I saw the amazing efforts vendors had taken to make their stands enticing and I breathed in all that colour and texture with delight.

Mostly, I TALKED. I think it took me an entire morning to get upstairs! There were so many people wanting to chat about their latest projects, their favourite things and share tales and I loved hearing it all. Rest assured, there is some seriously juicy content on its' way over the coming year, starting this weekend with a podcast interview with one of the Unravel's teachers, Bristol Ivy, about her knitting inspirations. 

(In case you missed it, I shared just a few of my highlights on Instagram)

Kettle Yarn Co Waltham Aran

I came home with just a little treat- 2 skeins of the Kettle Yarn Co's Waltham Aran (100% BlueFaced Leicester) in the 'Peaky Blinder' colourway. I've been wanting to try some of Linda's hand dyed beauties for quite a while now so I was thrilled to find just the right shade of grey for a slouchy warm hat next Winter. 

There are a lot of events in the UK calendar and each with their own unique feel. Unravel always marks the start of event season for the year and I often feel that it is a real litmus test of things to come. If Unravel is any indication of the shows 2015 holds, it's going to be a really exciting year for vendors and visitors alike- the vibe was great! 

If you're thinking about attending a yarn show this year, here's my top tips to make sure you enjoy it!

  1. Research- Travel, tickets, purchases, workshops... it soon adds up. Take your time to look at what you will be getting from each show and plan accordingly. It's easy to get sucked into 'but every is going!' but buyer's remorse is yuck so just take a breath and think about what you want from your making this year. You'll enjoy the show a lot more if you do. 
  2. Nourish- Most events have some on site catering but it's wise to pack water and some nibbles. I'm always that person nibbling squashed flapjacks or an equally mangled satsuma as I just know that I'll get a case of the grumpsies otherwise!
  3. Be prepared- I usually update my Ravelry queue just before I go to a knitting show, adding in stash I already have patterns in mind for, projects I wish to have yarn for and the yardages and fibre types I might need. This helps me plan if there's something particularly special I want to get first. You can see my queue notes here. (always check for wifi and take a charger for your smart phone if you use this method!)
  4. Take it all in- Vendors work hard to impress you and showcase their best side- it's extremely inspiring and if you don't have a particular purchase in mind why not take a circuit and see what speaks to you? Chat to vendors, enjoy their knowledge and see what takes your fancy.  
  5. Keep it together- Events are as much about the people as about the products so take time to meet, chat about your day and share ideas. I get most of my blog and podcast content for the next 3-6 months from attending just one show and it recharges my good feeling about the making community every time. 

So what shows will you be attending this year? What do you enjoy most about them?

 

 

Constant Craving

There is something about the cold snap in the air, twinkle lights and new pattern releases that's got me craving some high quality knitting sessions. It always happens- the leaves turn, they fall, the cold wind cuts through my winter coat and I'm craving chunky knits and the snuggliest of sweaters. 

You can imagine my joy and dismay when I saw the news that one of my beloved dye friends and sponsor!) is updating THIS friday and there's going to be some new bulky weight yarn. I asked for a sneak peek. I shouldn't have....

'Moss'

'Moss'

100 yards of Superwash Merino in a bulky weight dyed by Lisa of NorthBound Knitting. It screams fast knit accessories on Christmas Eve right? It's like Lisa felt my yearning, took one look at my current green phase (seriously, it's out of control, I'm casting on MORE green) and decided to call a siren song from her snowy Canadian abode. I'm there, clicking refresh. Catch me if you can. 

Metallurgy

Metallurgy

(Want the full update details? Friday December the 19th at 11:00am EST. Preview in Lisa's group)

I have also been dreamily watching Veera Valimaki's advent unfold. Have you caught it yet? An inspiring series of patterns from children's accessories and garments through to adult with plenty of free options sprinkled in for good measure. My queue is in overdrive right now. Here's some of my highlights:

' Bear ' by Veera Valimaki

'Bear' by Veera Valimaki

Rag Rug Mitts  by Veera Valimaki

Rag Rug Mitts by Veera Valimaki

'Coal' By Veera Valimaki

'Coal' By Veera Valimaki

Talking of queues, the Secret Santa Pattern Palooza is on and I'm having so much fun reading everyone's reasons for queueing vs favouriting and how they use their queue to inspire their knitting. Totally fascinating and even if you're not participating I think you'll enjoy the chat

It also means all those pattern codes are now live for juicy discounts from some of my favourite designers- anything from £5 off to a 25% off running across publications and Ravelry downloads. I feel so lucky to have so many supportive designers on board. Go check it out and buy yourself a little festive treat!

Guest Post: 12 Yarns of Christmas- Ideas for Luxury Hand Dyed Yarn Based Gifts for Knitters

It’s always tricky at this time of year to select the perfect gift for the knitter or crocheter in your life. Often, your intended recipient can appear to be a crafter who has everything: all the cool, useful little gadgets, needles for every occasion and project bags to match every outfit and work in progress. So, you decide the one thing every yarn aficionado needs – always – is a little more yarn.

This seems like a good idea, until, of course, you decide to start exploring the offerings out there and realise that we crafty folk are blessed with a great choice from a wide range of both commercial and independent producers. I’ve collected here a selection of my favourite dyers and yarns to give you a little head start! In true Christmas style, I’ve also based the colour choices around those you’ll find wrapping the chocolates in a box of Cadbury’s Roses, that perennial family favourite during the festive season. And I am talking the old school version here, not the new-fangled one. So, sit back, grab your hot chocolate and choose your favourite chocolate!

Festive Yarn Roundup

Hazelnut Swirl: DyeForYarn 

Nobody does saturated, jewel like tones and depth of colour quite like Cordula and Nicole of DyeForYarn in Germany. If your intended recipient is a fan of knitting with silk blends, or you just want something that will shimmer when they open your gift, you are sure to find that perfect skein here.

Image Copyright DyeForYarn.

Image Copyright DyeForYarn.

DyeForYarn Silk Lace Yarn in Love is Poison OOAK, 100% Silk, 800yds/750m per 100g, RRP £21.93 

 

Golden Barrel: Quaere

Rhode Island based Quaere Fibres do some fabulous self striping yarns, for those who like a bit of fun in their lives. They also do some great solids, and this sunshine skein will make fabulous shawls and garments.

Image Copyright Quaere

Image Copyright Quaere

Quaere Fibre Fingering/Sock Yarn Singles in Gold, 70% Superwash Merino, 30% Silk, 438yds/400m per 100g, RRP £16.36

 

The Blue Almond tin foil wrapped one you used to be able to get when there were still Bourneville mini bars in there: Coach House Yarns 

New dyer Linda, based in Oldham, has created a series of yarns based around another classic film that is bound to be gracing terrestrial TV this Christmas season: Labyrinth. Inspired by the legendary Goblin King himself, this pretty blue colourway reminded me of those almond chocolates with the ridges in, also popular in the late 80s and early 90s, but now, apparently extinct.

Image Copyright Coach House Yarns

Image Copyright Coach House Yarns

Coach House Yarns Opulence 4ply in Goblin King, 75% Organic Falkland Merino, 25% Silk, 369yds/337m per 100g, RRP £16.50

 

Caramel Velvet: Kettle Yarn Co

There are no shortage of luxury blends or gorgeous shimmering semi solids at Kettle Yarn Co. Hand dyed by Linda, Canadian but living in the UK, your knitter will be thrilled to receive one of these skeins. Personally tested using Linda’s own rigorous regime and awarded a shaver rating according to their performance, you can be sure these yarns will stand up to wear.

Image Copyright Kettle Yarn Co

Image Copyright Kettle Yarn Co

Kettle Yarn Co Westminster in Holly, 55% Camel, 45% silk, 583 yds/533m per 100g, RRP £24

 

And finally…

Strawberry Dreams: Eden Cottage Yarns

Who hasn’t fought over the strawberry creme in a tin of Roses? Eden Cottage Yarns’ Victoria hand dyes all her yarns at home in her kitchen, and if your knitter is into understated palettes that allow the projects to shine through, look no further.  This skein is 50% baby yak – ideal for those knitters who love to try different fibres.

Image Copyright Eden Cottage Yarns

Image Copyright Eden Cottage Yarns

Eden Cottage Yarns Bedale 4ply in Fucshia, 50% Baby Yak, 50% Mulberry Silk, 436yds/400m per 100g, RRP £24.

 

 

About the guest writer:

Jo Milmine is a podcaster and blogger based in Scotland. She co-owns The Golden Skein, the company that brings meticulously curated luxury yarn clubs showcasing the finest hand dyed yarn the world has to offer. Passionate about crafting (and comedy knitting patterns), you’ll find her podcasting as Shinybees.

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

Sunshine

OH this weather! Yes, I've kicked off a blog post talking about weather. I'm so British right now but do you know what? This wet weather is getting me down. Layers, miserable walks, no freedom for toddlers and absolutely no decent light with which to celebrate FOs. 

Luckily I had a skein of this wonderful stuff. It's Vivacious DK in the 'Sunshine' colourway and it has cheered some really miserable days let me assure you. I worked on two hats, ripping one back because I couldn't find a rhythm and starting afresh on the Evernia. It was the right decision because a) it had lace and b) POM POMS!

The yarn held up really well to so much pulling back so I'm hopefully it will wear well. The hat is a little slouchier than I'd ideally like as I cast on with the wrong needle size but a brim that can be pulled over your ears in this weather is no bad thing let me assure you. It looks even slouchier in these pictures because it's worn by my sister who is a dot of a thing in comparison to me. She was a good sport to let me snap pics on a sleepy Sunday morning after the Playful Tot had kept her awake all night. Ahem. 

Tori has written a fab pattern with multiple options. There's charting and writing instructions and everything is crystal clear and WORKS. I actually feel quite addicted to hat knitting right now. A designer I know proposes that a hat is the perfect medium for trying things out and practising technique. She's absolutely right as I got my Lace fix with the instant gratification of a hat rather than the sobbing that would have gone with full on Lace shawl. 

Oh and the variation in colour between pictures? Yeah that would be the lack of light and need to photoshop it to oblivion in order to see any stitches. urgh. Roll on Spring. 

In the meantime? More hats!

Handspun Heaven

Right before Christmas, I received a package that can only be described as an early Christmas present. Nestled amongst samples of Lo-Lo hand balms, David's teas and some pretty yummy chocolates were these two fabulous skeins. Let me tell you, pictures in the current monsoon weather we're enjoying, do NOT do them justice.

This has left me with two dilemmas. First, what on earth should I knit with them? I adore handspun but thus far it's all gone into the 'Golden Stash', the collection of skeins too precious to pick the perfect project for. I do not want this to happen but yet.... they're perfection itself. Any ideas?

The second problem is the issue of how does one reciprocate? I want something so amazingly mind blowing that the person knows how much I understand the value of handspun.

I wonder how much Benedict Cumberbatch is going for these days?