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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Paris-inspired socks

One of the most amazing things about being a yarn dyer is the opportunity to collaborate with some truly fabulous people and to get involved with some great projects.

I’m very excited to say that Travelknitter yarn has been used in a project that is very close to my heart: the brand new London Craft Guide by Yarn in the City.  This is just the sort of book that I would have loved to publish myself:  a great mixture of travel inspired knitting projects, coupled with a guide to London’s wonderful crafty venues.  Perfect!

My brief was to provide yarn support for a sock pattern inspired by the Eiffel Tower.  I instantly knew it had to be the BFL Supersock, which is my idea of the perfect sock yarn:  smooth sturdy-but-not-itchy British Bluefaced Leicester blended with nylon for extra strength.  I had a look through my own photos of previous trips to Paris, and decided to create a new blue-grey colourway, inspired by the glorious ironwork structure:

eiffel tower ironwork

After a few experiments at the dye pots, a new colourway was created:

Puddled Iron

 

I chose the name Puddled Iron, after the wrought iron that was used to build the Eiffel Tower.  I’m in love with this colour!  It has a more blue-ish tone than my usual greys, but I think it really works.   And I love how the kettle dyeing gives a subtle tonal quality to the colour, making it perfect for both plain and lace patterns.

Puddled Iron BFL

 

The images of the finished pattern have now been released, and I’m thrilled at how my yarn has been used to knit up these gorgeous La Ville de l’Amour socks by Fiona Hamilton-Maclaren.

La Ville d'Amour socks

Image credit: Juju Vail

The socks are worked toe-up (my favourite!) and the pattern comes in a range of five sizes too.  I’ll have to cast on for these beauties.

You can read more about the pattern, including an interview with the designer, here.

La Ville de L'Amour

Image credit: Juju Vail

I haven’t yet seen the sample socks, but Yarn in the City will be launching the London Craft Guide at Unravel (February 19-21), so I’m looking forward to seeing all the projects in real life.  And just to add to the excitement, you’ll also be able to pick up a skein or two of Travelknitter yarn on their stall!  BFL Supersock Puddled Iron will be available, as well as a few other lovely colourways.

If you can’t make it to Unravel (or just don’t want to wait that long!) you can purchase the yarn right now over in my Etsy shop.

To get a copy of the London Craft Guide as soon as it’s released, you can pre-order your copy here.

This is one book that I can’t wait to get my hands on.

White Gum Wool comes to London

One of the highlights of my recent trip back to Australia was taking the opportunity to meet up with Nan Bray at her farm, White Gum near Oatlands in the midlands of Tasmania.

I’d heard about Nan’s ethical superfine merino wool a few months prior, and so we arranged to meet up on my trip back to Tassie.  I thought we might have a little chat, I’d pick up a bulk order of yarn, and I’d be on my way.  However Nan was so incredibly welcoming and generous with her time, we got a fantastic tour of her farm in to the bargain.

the farm

Even though I grew up “in the bush” in Tassie, I didn’t grow up on a farm, so I don’t know a lot about the intricacies of wool farming.  I loved hearing all about Nan’s stories of how she is raising the sheep.  The sheep all have access to such a wide range of grasses and plants in the paddocks that they get all the nutrition they need, and the sheep know what plants to eat when they need particular nutrients or are feeling unwell.   The sheep are kept together in their natural family groups, allowing them to pass on such knowledge through the generations.  The sheep are raised on strong ethical lines.  Nan is able to avoid using all mulesing, and has been able to stop tail-docking.  It’s so lovely to see the sheep running around with their tails waggling!

White gum sheep

It was a warm day, so we found the sheep all huddled together in a coil to keep nice and cool.

on the farm

To find out more about Nan’s farm (and yarn), you can check out this episode of Landline.

So, now we know all about where the yarn comes from, this is what it looks like when it’s all dyed up in a few of my travelknitter colourways:

London Skies

London Skies White Gum Wool

Autumn Spice

Autumn Spice White Gum Wool

Double Happiness

Double Happiness travelknitter White Gum Wool

It really is the softest merino I’ve ever come across, and it’s very light and lofty.  There’s an amazing 470m per 100g, so it goes a long way.  I love it!  It’s been really interesting developing new techniques to dye the yarn as it isn’t superwash, which means it keeps its lovely natural woolly texture and smell.  I love seeing how it takes the colour in very subtle, muted ways.

These skeins are all available at Wild and Woolly in East London.  If you’re elsewhere in the world and would like some, just drop me a line or send me a message through my etsy shop to request a custom order.

to market, to market

It may be rather quiet over here on this blog, but there’s lots going on behind the scenes.  Not much in the way of knitting, granted, but rather more in the way of dyeing.

I’m about to slip in to a dyeing frenzy, as I’ll be having another stall at the Spitalfields City Farm Sheep and Wool Fayre, on Sunday May 20th.

I just hope this rain stops sometime soon so I can get the yarn dry!

Spread the word, and if you’re in London, please stop by to say hello.

a playful giveaway

It’s the season for giving, and also the season for warm woolly stuff here in the northern hemisphere, so there’s no better time to give away some yarn.

Some of you might be aware of the knitting blog and podcast known as A Playful Day (you might remember that I was interviewed for the podcast back at the Spitalfields Sheep and Wool Fayre).  It’s hosted by the lovely GreenTriangleGirl, who has put together a fantastic giveaway palooza.  There are loads of great prizes to be one, including a skein of yarn dyed by yours truly:

This is a skein of one of my favourite bases, 50% Superwash Falkland Merino/ 50% Silk.  It’s a 4-ply weight, and is beautifully soft and shiny.  Definitely recommended for the purpose of draping around the neck!  The colourway is Ruby Ruby, and I hope it cheers up someone’s grey winter day.

The competition closes on 7th January, so be sure to drop by and enter the competition here.

I’d also like to say a huge thanks to those of you who have already bought yarn from my little shop – I’ve been having so much fun sending little parcels of goodies all around the world.  I love the idea of my yarn travelling from my London flat to far flung lands!

I’d love to see photos of what people have been making with it though, so I’ve got a little promotion running: update your Ravelry with a photo of travelknitter yarn, or link to a project you’re making with it,  and I’ll send you a coupon code for a discount off your next order.  Hurrah!

spitalfields sheep and wool fayre

What an incredible day!

I’d been struck with a heavy dose of panic the night before and was very close to not going to the fayre at all.  I mean, where do I get these crazy ideas from?  Then the train lines conspired against me with their engineering work, and it seemed that I really never would get there.  After fighting buses and trains, all the while carrying all my yarn and stall supplies in my trusty backpack, I arrived at Spitalfields City Farm Sheep and Wool Fayre.

As soon as I met my fellow stall-holders, I knew I was in for a fun day.

On one side of me was the wonderful tillyflop – her knitterly themed cards were a hit, although I think her son was somewhat surprised that people other than mum knew what the knitting abbreviations meant!  I couldn’t pass up one of her fantastic red ‘interactive’ teatowels; the interactiveness doesn’t relate to actually drying up, but rather to highlighting what you’d rather be doing instead:

To my left was Tess’s stall focusing on felted crafts.  She and her husband are such lovely lovely people with lots of felted goodies, and some particularly eye-catching hats!  Their squooshy felted sheep brooches were especially popular.  Tess was even doing some felting at the stall as a demo; perhaps I should have brought my niddy-noddy to do some re-skeining?

A couple of stalls to the left was Lauren of the Lollipop Stop, selling cute little pouches.  I already have numerous knitting bags but Lauren had this one in a sweet red robin print, so it had to come home with me:

I wasn’t the only yarnie there of course.  Further along was Martina of Yarn to Knit with a great display set up, and if you fancy some yarns in super-sheeny bamboo or tencel blends, you really won’t find anything lovelier.

As for my own stall, I can’t believe how much fun I had!

I’ve never met so many fantastic people in one afternoon.  Every single person who came past was friendly and chatty and interested in wool, and I got to hear about so many people’s crafty pursuits.   I got such great feedback on my yarns, and actually sold most of what I had brought.  Thank you so much to everyone who stopped by for a chat and to stroke the yarns!

I didn’t get much of a chance to wander the fayre taking photos, but Anna did a great roundup with pictures here, and for an aural treat, A Playful Day has a great podcast of the day here, including an interview with me.  It’s quite a strange experience hearing my voice over the internet – I’m sure  I wouldn’t have recognised myself.

Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be replenishing my yarn supplies and gradually stocking my little etsy shop.  I had so much fun as a stallholder though, I’ll definitely be planning some more market days.