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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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.

2015 UK knitting events

The year is drawing to a close, and so it’s time to bring you the list of UK knitting events for 2015.  Once again we’ve got an impressive lineup for the year ahead, and the list just gets bigger every year.  Unfortunately that results in a few duplications over weekends, but that just takes a bit more planning.   Who’s excited?

Confirmed events for 2015:

18 Jan
20-22 Feb
5-8 March
14-15 March
27-28 March
25-26 April
9 May
15-16 May
16-17 May
16-17 May
23 May
30-31 May
26-27 June
25-26 July
7-8 Aug
15 Aug
11-13 Sept
26-27 Sept
26-27 Sept
26 Sep-4 Oct
7-11 Oct
17-18 Oct
29 Oct-1 Nov
26-29 Nov
Waltham Abbey Wool Show Waltham Abbey, Essex
Unravel Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey
Spring Knitting and Stitching Show  Olympia, London
Edinburgh Yarn Festival Edinburgh, Scotland
p-LUSH  Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Wonderwool Wales Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys, Wales
Wharfe Wool Fair Otley Courthouse, West Yorkshire
I Knit Fandango Lindley Hall, London (new event!)
John Arbon Textiles Open Weekend South Molton, Devon
FOFEST  Exeter, Devon  (UPDATE: cancelled until 2016)
Highland WoolFest Dingwall Mart, Scotland
Proper Woolly   Holsworthy, Devon  (new event!)
Woolfest Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre, Cockermouth, Cumbria
Fibre-East Redborne Community College, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
British Wool Show (previously British Wool Weekend) York Auction Mart
Popup Wool Show  The Oval Leisure Centre, Bebington, Cheshire
Bristol Wool Fair Clifton and Durdham Downs, Bristol
Yarndale Skipton Auction Mart, Skipton, Yorkshire
Masham Sheep Fair  Masham, Yorkshire
Shetland Wool Week Shetland
Knitting and Stitching Show Ally Pally, London
Bakewell Wool Gathering Bakewell Agricultural Centre, Bakewell, Derbyshire
Geeky Puffin Knitpalooza (retreat with one-day market) Edinburgh (new!)
Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate, Yorkshire
Possible events:
There are a few events that may well be held again next year, but details are still to be confirmed.  However I know people are chomping at the bit to start planning for next year, so I had to get this blog post published sooner rather than later.

Unwind, held in July 2014 at the Brighton Dome Corn Exchange, Brighton UPDATE: not being held in 2015

Glasgow School of Yarn held in October 2014 in Glasgow

Festiwool, held in November 2014 at North Herts College, Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Time to start preparing the shortlist of the events that I’ll get to in 2015!  What’s on your must-see list?

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.

sending yarn in to the world

The last few weeks have been even busier than usual, as I’ve been spending my weekends putting together a lovely stash of hand dyed yarn for a special wholesale order.  It has involved this:

  • Days spent over the dye pots, stirring up a mixture of new and tried-and-true colours
  • Keeping fingers crossed for some sunshine so I can get the yarn dry in between the spring rain
  • Re-skeining every single skein so they all look nice and neat and show the different tones of colour
  • Putting together a new logo and printing out brand new label wrappers
  • Playing with all the new lovely skeins, holding them up, shuffling them around, putting them in to piles, seeing what looks good together, and basically just admiring all the colours and textures (tell me I’m not the only one who does that…)

Once I’d finished playing, I put all the skeins in to a box,

 

IMG_5282

took one last look before closing the lid….

travelknitter yarns

 

and then hopped on a bus, and handed them over to their new caretaker, Anna at Wild and Woolly.  And I couldn’t think of a better home for them to go to!

The sun was streaming in the window, so we sat down with a glass of homemade lemonade and just enjoyed being surrounded by yarn.  The window display was just perfect for the occasion, complete with knitted deck chair and skein sundaes:

 

window display

There’s something about spending time in such a gorgeous yarn shop with someone who’s so passionate about the craft that has really inspired me to (gasp!) actually find the time to knit again.

Anna will be stocking my BFL Supersock, Tanami 4ply (supersoft baby camel and silk) and a brand new yarn, White Gum 4ply (it’s a UK exclusive!)  I’ll tell you more about that one in the next post…

spitalfields market

I had so much fun at the Spitalfields Market a couple of weeks ago.  It was one of those cold, grey London days when being undercover at a market is just the right thing.

I got to meet lots of new people, and particularly exciting was meeting ravellers “in real life” for the first time.  It’s always amazing to make face to face contact with people you’ve interacted with on the internet.

One of my favourite aspects of doing a market stall is getting to know the other stallholders.  I love learning about the stories behind their products and hearing about their experiences.  As usual, my stallholder neighbours commented on how “dedicated” knitters seem to be (I think that was a polite way to say yarn-obsessed) and I couldn’t really disagree.  I completely love the knitting community and wouldn’t have it any other way.

I also had lots of friends pop down (which was great not only for company, but also to give me the chance to get some lunch!) but my only regret was that I didn’t get a chance to go shopping at the other stalls myself.  We were part of the 70 stalls designated for the We Make London designer-makers, so there was no shortage of creative goodness to check out.

One of my friends came along and helped to ensure that my displays were all nicely colour co-ordinated…

I had plans for doing a giant Etsy shop update after the market, but I got the sudden news that my landlord wants her flat back, so I’m currently doing a mad dash trying to put my life in to boxes.  I’ll be moving house next weekend, so there will be new stock in the shop once I’m unpacked.  I’m moving to a very creative part of London, opposite another knitter, so there should be lots of knitterly things coming up!