Woolness = Wellness

Many of you will already be aware that it is currently Wovember, the month that is all about celebrating wool.  This year the theme is “Woolness – Where Wool Meets Wellness”, and “Woolness = Wellness” is the prompt for day 2 of the Yarn in the City Instagram Challenge.

I wasn’t planning on writing this blog post, nor even putting up an Instagram.  (I’m not even putting up a photo, the cardinal sin of the internet).  The thoughts came to me this morning as I was lying in bed, contemplating the day ahead.  I’d allowed my mind a bit of space to wander, as the heavy rain allowed me to declare in advance that today was going to be a low-key indoors day.  Sort of a mental health day, where I try to take a bit of pressure off myself (but still somehow needing to be a bit productive).  I’ve already had a few days in bed this week thanks to an underlying health condition, so the topic feels especially relevant.

There is an increasing body of research on the health benefits of knitting, and especially for mental health.  If you’d like to find out more about the therapeutic benefits of knitting and other crafts, Betsan Corkhill’s site Stitchlinks is a good place to start.

This is the bit where I come out to you all:  I’m not really a knitter.  I can hear the gasps! An imposter!  I mean, I know how to knit, and I carry my project bag with me every day just in case a suitable knitting opportunity arises.  Many of my friends are knitters, and I’ve built a business based around knitting.  But I don’t have an innate need to knit every day, and weeks could easily go by without having knit a single stitch.  I’m incredibly envious of the stunning knitted projects that I see people create, and I wish that I was  driven to knit more so that I could have a handknitted jumper for every day of the week, or a drawer full of handmade socks.

I find that I don’t need to actually knit with yarn for it to be an integral part of my life.  I’m surrounded by wool and yarn.  I work with it, I dye it, I read about it, I talk about it.  My home is filled with wool, whether dyed, undyed, knitted or unknitted.  I wear wool clothing every day, even in summer, whether handknitted or factory made.  I love the cosiness and sturdiness of wearing wool.  It help grounds me and keeps me in touch with something real.  My natural inclination is to spend far too much time in my own head, and my day job only exacerbates this.  Wool is an antidote that brings me back to the tangible.

If I don’t necessarily knit with it, then what else do I do with yarn?  I just enjoy it.  In my business, I dye it, skein it, twist it, label it, wrap it up in tissue paper, and send it off to new homes to be loved.  I pile it up, I rearrange colours, I put different combinations together.  I relish all the different textures; smooth or rustic; chunky or delicate.  I don’t quite roll around in it, but a dear friend has (only half-jokingly) suggested creating a yarn pit to do just that!  Just playing with yarn, without even needing to knit a stitch, still brings together all the same sensory experiences.  Essentially, I just like to play with wool.

Tomorrow you can find me back at Wild and Woolly, rearranging the yarn cubbies, tidying up all the gorgeous skeins, getting my weekly therapeutic dose of real joy.

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And the winners are…

Thank you so much for your entries to the Travelknitter / KnitShareLove From Dorset With Love giveaway.  I structured the competition from a purely selfish perspective: so I could read about all your wonderful road trips!  It seems like such a long time since I’ve been on a trip myself, and as soon as the warm weather arrives all thoughts turn to adventures.  You’ve given me some great inspiration for future plans!

I’ve drawn the names out of the figurative hat (aka random number generator).

Drum roll please, and the winners are:

  1. Mel  – one skein of hand dyed Travelknitter Extra Fine Merino DK in your favourite colourway
  2. Gill – one ebook of the full From Dorset With Love collection
  3.  GardeningWitch and Becca – each win one digital copy of the Lulworth Cove hat.

Congratulations everyone!  Please drop me an email (travelknitter at hotmail dot com) with your contact details, including Ravelry ID).

Happy travels!

 

New pattern release: From Dorset With Love

Some of you may already have noticed that Clare Devine has released a new collection of patterns, From Dorset With Love.  Clare has a way of  coming up with wonderful patterns with special details that are always completely wearable.  From Dorset With Love is inspired by a life-changing road trip that Clare made to Dorset two years ago.  The images she describes are so evocative and make me want to hit the road myself.
The collection contains six patterns based around Dorset locations.  I was particularly excited that the first pattern released was Lulworth Cove, a slouchy beanie pattern knit in the snuggly Travelknitter Merino DK.
Clare knit the sample using the London Skies colourway (always one of my favourites), and the sample has such a beautiful, timeless quality to it:

Photo by Kate O’Sullivan @aplayfulday

For my own sample I wanted to try something totally different.  I anticipated that the stitch pattern would show up a variegated colourway really well, so I went with my Travelknitter Merino DK in Brambleberry.  I love the effect!  It has a totally different feel to it.  Huge thanks to my friends Vicky and Helen for joining me down the pub: Vicky for modelling and Helen for photography.  The next round is on me.
Travelknitter Brambleberry DK Lulworth Cove
To celebrate the pattern launch, Clare and I have put together some goodies!
Clare is offering a 20% discount to my followers who purchase a single pattern from the collection.  Simply purchase the pattern via Ravelry and enter the code travelknitter20 to claim your discount.  This offer is available until 31st May.
I’m also hosting a little competition here on my blog, and we have four prizes up for grabs:
  • One skein of Travelknitter Merino DK in the colourway of your choice
  • One ebook of the full collection
  • Two digital copies of the Lulworth Cove pattern
To be in the running, just leave a comment on this blog post and tell me about a special road trip you’ve either been on, or one that you want to go on.  The competition closes at midnight, Monday 29th May (British Summer Time).  Looking forward to hearing your tales!

UK yarn shows for 2017

Happy new year everyone!  I hope your 2017 is off to a good start.

My 2017 has been great so far: I’ve just been back in London for 2 days after returning from a whirlwind trip to Australia.  It was pretty amazing, and now my head is buzzing with all sorts of thoughts, ideas, and half-plans for the year ahead.  Once I recover from the trip and get back in to real life (and some sort of sleeping pattern), I’ll be sure to do some posts about my travels.

travelling wombat

Thinking about the year ahead, I bring you my list of UK knitting and yarn shows for 2017.

This is an annual list that I’ve been compiling for a number of years now.  As the knitting community continues to grow in the UK, there are more and more events being held around the country, with new events each year, and some events being discontinued.  It’s becoming trickier to keep up to date with what’s happening where!

Keep in mind that in addition to the 25 events that I have included, there are many other smaller events around the country aimed at local communities of woolly enthusiasts, so be sure to keep an eye out for those.  I’ve listed the larger events that knitters more often travel for.

I find it really helpful at the start of the year to get an overview of what’s coming up over the next twelve months.  I hope you find it useful too.

My own first scheduled show for the year is the wonderful Edinburgh Yarn Fest, where Travelknitter and The Wool Kitchen will again be sharing a stall again (a great time is guaranteed!).  I’ve applied to be a vendor at other events later in the year, so I’ll let you know about those once details are confirmed.

travelknitter stall

UPDATE 16.02.17:  A month is a long time in the knitting events world.  Since my original post, there’s been one cancellation, one addition, and a change of venue.  The list is now duly updated.

Download a PDF copy of the 2017-travelknitter-guide-to-uk-knitting-events-updated.  Enjoy your travels!

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November yarn shows

Where has the year gone?  It seems I blinked and missed it!  It just means that now we’ve reached autumn, the knitters’ favourite time of year, and it’s peak yarn show season.  Being a solo yarn dyer I try to plan out my year’s schedule carefully, but sometimes it’s a bit like buses that all come along at once.

First up is the Yarnporium this coming weekend, November 5th and 6th.  It’s an event held by the team behind Yarn in the City, and there is a great range of stalls and workshops over the two days.   The event is located very centrally at King’s College London on the Strand, and is perfect for people travelling across London as well as further afield.

yarnporium

Then the following Saturday 12th, I’ll be back at Hitchin Festiwool.  This is my third year there as a vendor.  It’s always such a friendly event, and I’m very much looking forward to catching up with lots of people from previous events.

hitchin-festiwool

I’ll be bringing your favourite colourways of course, as well as a brand new Brambleberry colourway inspired by the season.

These are my last two shows for the year, so I hope you can come along!

 

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Summer yarn, winter yarn

Here we are at September 1st already.  For those of you here in the northern hemisphere, I hope you had a fabulous sunny summer.  And for those of you in the south, I hope you’ve had a wonderfully woolly winter!

My own summer has been busy but enjoyable.  I’ve recently launched two new colourways (if you were at Fibre East at the beginning of summer, you would have seen them); one of them is pure summer and one is much more wintery.  Both colourways happen to draw their inspiration from Australia.  This was completely unplanned, but really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as I’m finally going back to Aus for a visit at the end of the year, and so “back home” has been on my mind a great deal.

Two of my eagle-eyed readers were able to guess the inspiration location for my first new colourway:

Travelknitter_Freycinet_Pure Merino Sock

Named Freycinet, this colour is based on photos that I took during my last visit to Wineglass Bay, in the Freycinet National Park in Tasmania.  The East Coast of Tasmania was my camping holiday destination as a teenager, and I went back a few years ago.  Wineglass Bay is one of those amazing places that really does look picture-postcard perfect, and is well worth a short hike to get there.  This colour turned out exactly as I’d imagined from the very first skein, and I’m completely in love with it.

Travelknitter_LanewayCity_BFLSupersock

The second new colourway is completely different, and involves a quick hop across Bass Strait to the wonderful city of Melbourne.  It’s a city where famously everyone wears black (I’m sure that’s part of the reason why it suited me so well) and is the inspiration for Laneway City, a neutral dark grey to black colourway.  It’s perfect whether you want some cosy black socks, or for pairing with jewel tones in a stripey shawl.

Both colours are available online now.

I hope you enjoy a little taste of Aussie inspiration.

 

 

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Heading to Fibre East

The Etsy shop is shut, the bags are (almost) packed, and the excitement is high: this weekend will see Travelknitter yarns at Fibre-East in Bedfordshire for the first time.

I’m getting just a little bit excited about this now – too excited to type properly actually – so I’ll keep it brief!

I’ll be bringing all the yarns and colourways that you know and love, as well as a few limited editions and two new colours.

There will a new shade of grey to add to the collection:

 

travelknitter_greys

 

And a spiffy new holiday-inspired summer colour that I’m rather in love with:

travelknitter_Freycinet

I’ll be in the Jacob marquee, so please come and find me and squish some yarn.  Looking forward to it!

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