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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The Travel Trio: a giveaway!

London Skies__by Clare Devine

In my last post I shared news about Clare Devine’s stunning new mini-collection of sock patterns, The Travel Trio.  I’m still ridiculously excited about the London Skies socks, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be casting on for a pair this weekend.  I’m heading on a roadtrip, so the timing is perfect.  As much as I’d love a pair for myself, I know that The Amazing Molly would really appreciate a pair, so I’m trying not to be too selfish!  I’m currently torn between using the original London Skies, or the Dabbling Duck colourway.  Tough call, but I don’t have long to decide.

The Knitalong for Clare’s travel-inspired socks starts tomorrow, and you can join in with all the chat over in the Knit Share Love Ravelry group.

Grellow Love__by Clare Devine

If you haven’t yet got your hands on a copy of the patterns, then here’s your chance:  I’ve got one copy of The Travel Trio collection to give away.  Whoop!

Here’s how to enter:

  1. Leave a comment telling me about a knitting-related souvenir that you’ve picked up on your travels.  You can comment either on this blog post or in the Travelknitter Ravelry group thread.
  2. Only one entry per person (no double dipping!)
  3. Competition closes Monday 20th June 8PM British Summer Time.

Good luck!

 

Update: 

Thank you so much to everyone who entered here and over in the Ravelry Travelknitter group.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s stories of travels and yarny adventures.

Thanks to the magic of the random number generator, the winner of a copy of The Travel Trio is Debbie (muirandco on Ravelry).   Congratulations Debbie – a copy of the ebook will be making its way to you.

Happy travelknitting!

 

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The Travel Trio

The Travel Trio_Clare Devine_June 2016

Designer Clare Devine has just released a brand new pattern collection, and I’m so excited!  The Travel Trio features three travel-inspired sock patterns, each designed in travel-inspired yarn.  The patterns are all designed to be perfect travel projects themselves, and are reflective of Clare’s recent move to Australia from the UK.

Clare says,

I love a good adventure and for me the best knitting companion to a great journey, whether near or far, is a pair of socks.

A good pair of travel socks needs to be easy to pick up and put down without having to do too much thinking. I am a big fan of the plain old vanilla sock but sometimes plain vanilla just doesn’t cut it. I often want just a little bit of detail – some texture, a smattering of eyelets or some interesting colour combinations.

London Skies__by Clare Devine_800px11

The first pattern in the collection is London Skies, named after the Travelknitter BFL Supersock that it is designed in.  Clare explains how she came to choose this colourway:

London Skies is a stunning layered grey, reminiscent of the low hanging grey clouds over London in winter. I knew that this colourway had to be used as my way to say goodbye to the city I love.

I really love Clare’s use of twisted rib in this design.  It’s so simple yet effective, and the texture adds an extra element of light and shade.

The collection includes two other patterns; one in golden yellow (Aussie Sunshine) knit in Phileas Yarn, and Grellow Love, knit in leftovers of both two yarns to make a grellow ankle sock – a perfect stashbuster.

I played around with a few skeins (as you do) to put together some grellow combinations myself.  This is the BFL Supersock in (L-R) Puddled Iron, Jaipur, and London Skies.  I think the Jaipur goes equally as well with either of the greys.  The Puddled Iron is slightly darker, whereas the London Skies and Jaipur are closer in colour value.

BFL Supersock

If you prefer a slightly cushier sock, or prefer to go no-nylon, these patterns will work equally well in the Pure Merino Sock (shown here in London Skies and Jaipur):

Pure Merino Sock

Clare is hosting a KAL from 17th June to 31st August, so head over to the Ravelry group to join in.  Hint:  there will be prizes!

I think my summer knitting schedule just got busier!  I’d love to know what you’ve got planned.

yarn shop visit: The Yarn Dispensary

One of my special skills is finding yarn shops at any travel destination.  No matter where I’m going, I manage to search out some yarny goodness, and it’s my favourite kind of travel planning.

So when The Amazing Molly booked us a weekend in Margate, I set to work.

I’d never been to the Kent Coast, so had no idea about the geography of the area.  However there was one yarn shop in Kent that I’d always wanted to go to, and I wondered if it was in the same general direction.

Checking out some maps gave me the answer I had hoped for:  with only a teeny-tiny detour, we could drive to Margate via Faversham, home of The Yarn Dispensary (previously known as The Old Pharmacy).  Hurrah!

I’d seen photos of The Yarn Dispensary online, and was drawn in by the sense of the history of the shop, and the beautiful apothecary styling.  I was certainly not disappointed.

The Old Pharmacy Faversham

The location is lovely, just in the middle of the town market square.  The owners Gillian and Sam were there when I arrived, and I got the most wonderful greeting!  I was so fortunate that Gillian even gave us a tour of the building and a bit of the history.  Of course my photos don’t do justice.

The Old Pharmacy

The building dates back to the 13th Century, and has a long history as a pharmacy in the town.  Gillian and Sam spent a year renovating the building before opening the shop in 2015, and it has been done beautifully.  The history!  The beams!  The wibbly walls!

collage

It’s also extremely functional as a yarn store, with lots of natural light and a lovely room out the back for hosting workshops.  I bet the knit nights here are fabulous.

IMG_0739

There was no way I could leave without a souvenir, and I knew I wanted one of the amazing “knitware” ceramics by Rose Dickinson.  They are all unique and locally handmade, and sell out as soon as they come in stock (I can definitely see why).  I chose this wee vase with a lovely green glaze, which is just perfect for storing loose DPNs on my desk.

new vase

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I get to visit again soon, and hopefully I’ll get to explore the local area too.  I can’t imagine a more beautiful, welcoming, historic yarn shop anywhere.