a weekend at EYF

And what a weekend it was!  Having a stall at Edinburgh Yarn Fest is one of the most intense ways a yarnie can spend a weekend, but thankfully it’s also one of the most fun.

It’s taken me a while to write this post, largely because I simply needed time to process everything before  I sat down to write about it.  Plus I got back home late on Sunday evening and went straight back to the Day Job on Monday morning, so there wasn’t much time to do anything other than work and sleep.

The weekend began with a rather large group of knitters catching the train up on the Thursday morning, and I do feel for the other commuters (sorry!)  I think we were all slightly delirious with that combination of excitement and exhaustion after all months of preparation.

train treats

We rented a cute Colony House which actually managed to fit us all (that is, Helen, Amelia, Anna, and Jane).  I didn’t even get a photo – clearly I was too busy focusing on EYF itself.

I shared a stall with Helen of The Wool Kitchen, and Amelia of Woollenwords was a star at helping us out.  I heard our stall described as “a riot of colour”, and it certainly was!  There was never a dull moment.

Helen on the stall

It was something of a challenge to plan the layout of the stall using only minimal props, as everything needed to be shipped up from London.  Only two vintage suitcases for me this time!

suitcases o yarn

I loved how international EYF was: I met people from all over the UK and Ireland, people from the USA, people who had made a day trip from Germany (yep!), and the Copenhagen and Oslo yarn stashers were out in force (you can see pictures of their haul on Instagram and Ravelry).  I love the idea of my skeins of yarn travelling around the world even while I’m back in London.

By the end of day two we all started getting a bit silly; the crowds were thinning out and stallholders had a chance to wander about and chat to other stallholders.  Karie Westermann and her partner Dave came round to say goodbye but ended up staying for a while and taking part in some very fun photos.  Karie has a great pic of the four of us over on her blog post.

IMG_0019

Being a stallholder doesn’t allow much time to go shopping elsewhere, but I did make a couple of very special purchases.  I’ll show you those when I’ve finished unpacking.

Edinburgh in the sun

After being inside the Corn Exchange for three days, it was nice to see the sun on Edinburgh just as I was leaving.

Thank you so much to Jo and Mica for organising such a brilliant event, and for letting me be a part of it.  Thank you to everyone who came along and said hi and squished some yarn.  I loved making new friendships, and catching up with old online friends too.  There’s something very special that happens when knitters get together.

See you next year!

heading up to EYF

I can’t believe the time has arrived, but bright and early tomorrow morning I’ll be on a train making my way to Edinburgh for the amazing Edin Yarn Fest.

I am typing this in a slight frenzy, with a long list of things to do before I go.  Like last-minute winding, labelling, printing, packing … all the usual stuff.

Labelling Tanami Dabbling Duck

Most of my yarn has been sent up ahead of time, so I’ve just got to sort out the remaining few kilos that I’ll be carrying with me.  Simple, huh?

boxes to EYF

I’m sharing a stall with Helen of The Wool Kitchen, and I couldn’t be more excited!  There’s something really wonderful about being able to work together with another awesome dyer from Walthamstow.  We both have completely different approaches to colour and dyeing, which makes for some really brilliant collaborations.  You’ll have to come by the stall to see what I mean.

wool kitchen

We’re on stall J6, and we’ve got a great corner spot.  Come see the East End Yarnies on tour!

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a weekend at Joeli’s Retreat

Last weekend I made my first-ever trip to Manchester, and had an amazing three days.  Despite spending the whole weekend there, I barely saw anything of the city as I was there to focus on nothing but knitting.  I was one of the forty-odd knitters descended on Manchester for the first-ever Joeli’s Kitchen Retreat.

first class

Manchester station

I’ve been to a few knitting retreats before, and for me the best part is the sense of community that is created when a bunch of knitters are kept in a confined space that allows complete immersion in all things woolly.  Joeli’s retreat fit the bill perfectly.

I took a day off work so that I could head up early on the Friday, and after dropping off my bags at the hotel I made a beeline for the woolliest place in all of Manchester:  the studio of Countess Ablaze.

You'd never imagine all the colour inside!

You’d never imagine all the colour inside!

For those who aren’t familiar, Countess Ablaze is a fellow yarn dyer who also has a penchant for saturated colourways (so we had a good chat about that!)  Her premises are a working dye studio that becomes an open shop on Fridays and Saturdays (once all the surfaces have been duly scrubbed and bleached of course).  The Countess was incredibly welcoming, and she keeps a good supply of tea and treats for people who come by (and there is a regular knitting group for locals).  I was only planning on stopping by for a quick visit (there was the whole of Manchester to see!) but I actually spent the best part of the afternoon enjoying myself, surrounded by yarn, knitting away with  Jo, Allison, and Lori.

The retreat was held over Saturday and Sunday, with one class on each day.  After seeing Karie Westermann at so many different events over the years, I finally managed to take a class of hers:  Introduction to Two-Handed Colourwork.  I’ve made one pair of stranded mitts before so this was a good little refresher, and Karie was very patient while I got my head around the Old Norwegian cast-on.  It is now firmly imprinted in my brain!

Karie's samples

Karie’s growing collection of colourwork designs

On the Sunday I had the pleasure of taking a class with Julia Billings, who I first met a few weeks ago at Unravel.  She’s a great teacher, all-round fab person, and it was a rare treat to dust off my best Australian accent.  The class was Finishing Your Knits, so I’ll spare you a photo of my swatches and seams.

The weekend finished off with a mini-marketplace where a number of folks got the chance to set up a table of wares – myself included.  It was a slightly surreal experience to sell yarn to so many new friends I’d made over the weekend, but it’s always nice to know that my yarn is going to a good home (including the skeins that Lori is taking back to Colorado.  Woo hoo!

travelknitter at the retreat

Sunshine! Who says it always rains in Manchester?

I believe that there may be another retreat in the future, under the new name of Joeli Creates.  If you get a chance to go, I highly recommend it.

Many of the people I met at the retreat are also heading up to Edinburgh Yarn Fest, so I’m looking forward to a mini-reunion very soon.

 

a very quick visit to Unravel

This weekend I had probably the world’s quickest visit to a yarn show.

Unravel postcard

I set off on Friday for my first ever trip to Unravel.  I had plans of spending the afternoon pootling around, looking at all the woolly gorgeousness, chatting to designers and yarnies, taking lots of photos, and just having a lovely time.  Well, I did most of those things, but just at a super-quick pace.

For those not familiar with Unravel, it’s in Farnham, Surrey.  It’s on the opposite side of London to where I live, so with a few train changes, it should be no more than two hours door to door.  However on Friday there was a horrendous accident on the train line out of London, so it ended up taking me a whole four hours to get there.  I could just about get to Scotland in that time!  After being stranded on various train platforms, I was this close to going home, but hey, I’d already bought my ticket and I knew I wouldn’t get another chance this weekend.

Unravel starts on the Friday afternoon, so with the unexpected travel delays, it was rather late by the time I arrived, and so I eked out every last minute until closing time.

My first priority of course was to head over to the Yarn in the City stall to snaffle my copy of the London Craft Guide.

London Craft Guide

One copy very happily purchased.

 

Socks! And yarn!

Look! My yarn! Now socks!

I then did a speedy lap around the venue.  There are a number of different rooms, of which I’m pretty sure I missed one.

(Helpful tip #1:  be sure to pick up a venue map and make sure you get to see it all).

Everyone I did meet was really lovely, and I managed a quick chat with several vendors I’d been dying to meet.

(Helpful tip #2: yarn shows are always quietest in the last hour.  It’s the best time to speak to vendors once the crowds have dispersed).

I’m afraid I have very little else to report on, but I’ll leave you with this image of these two chaps hanging out on the stairwell.  They made me smile.

Knitted pigeons

 

 

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.

UK knitting events 2016

Happy new year everyone!  I hope you’re all gearing up for a wonderful 2016.  If that includes anything knitterly, then I hope I can help you out with my annual list of knitting events across the UK.

I always really enjoy putting together this list.  Dreaming and planning for trips is one of my favourite things, so researching knitterly trips is just my cup of tea!

As always, there are a mixture of well-established and new events this year.  Newly added to the list is Gwlana, held in Wales.  I’ve mentioned Gwlana on a previous post as a retreat, but I’ve heard whispers that there is something a bit different planned for May this year, so on the “events” list it goes!  I’m very much looking forward to finding out more.  Also new this year is the Loch Ness Knit Festival, about which very little is currently known.  Intriguing.

Get your diaries ready folks!

I’ve also put this information together in a handy PDF suitable for printing which you can download here.
So tell me, what are you especially looking forward to this year?

Update:  For an updated list, see my blog post here.

17 Jan
19-21 Feb
3-6 March
17-19 March
23-24 April
7 May
13-14 May
20-22 May
4 June
24-25 June
30-31 July
5-6 Aug
2-4 Sept
24-25 Sept
24-25 Sept
24 Sep-4 Oct
26 Sept-2 Oct
5-9 Oct
22-23 Oct
(dates tbc)
29-30 Oct
12 Nov
1-4 Dec
Waltham Abbey Wool Show Waltham Abbey, Essex
Unravel Farnham Maltings, Farnham, Surrey
Spring Knitting and Stitching Show  Olympia, London
Edinburgh Yarn Festival Edinburgh, Scotland
Wonderwool Wales Royal Welsh Showground, Builth Wells, Powys, Wales
Wharfe Wool Fair Otley Courthouse, West Yorkshire
I Knit Fandango Lindley Hall, London
Gwlana Powys, Wales (new!)
Leeds Wool Festival Armley Mills, Leeds
Woolfest Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre, Cockermouth, Cumbria
Fibre-East Redborne Community College, Ampthill, Bedfordshire
British Wool Show  York Auction Mart, Yorkshire
Bristol Wool Fair Clifton and Durdham Downs, Bristol
Yarndale Skipton Auction Mart, Skipton, Yorkshire
Masham Sheep Fair  Masham, Yorkshire
Shetland Wool Week Shetland
Loch Ness Knit Festival Inverness, Scotland (new!)
Knitting and Stitching Show Alexandra Palace, London
Bakewell Wool Gathering Bakewell Agricultural Centre, Bakewell, Derbyshire
Glasgow School of Yarn Glasgow, Scotland
Kendal Wool Gathering Kendal, Cumbria
Festiwool Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Knitting and Stitching Show Harrogate, Yorkshire

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

where I’ll be

What a summer of festivals!  Not the usual music festivals that people usually got to in the summer, but rather yarn festivals!  I feel like I haven’t really had a chance to stop and catch my breath.

Not that things are about to slow down, mind you, but I am taking a slight change of direction.  The Big News:  I quit my job!  I finished up two weeks ago.  It’s pretty exciting, although not quite as dramatic as it sounds, as I’ll keep doing freelance work in order to keep food on the table.  Nonetheless I have a little plan to spend more time doing yarning, and perhaps even a bit more blogging!

So where am I off to next?

First up is my first ever trip to Glasgow.  I seem to be going up to Scotland on a semi-regular basis these days (and almost always for woolly events), but somehow I’ve never been to Glasgow.  I’ve booked the trip to attend the In the Loop 4 Conference.  A three day academic conference about knitting?  Oh yes, count me in.  And a knitting event where I won’t be doing anything work-related?  Even better.  I can’t wait.

IamgoingIAfter a week in sunny Scotland, it’s then only a few days before the Yarn in the City Great London Yarn Crawl and Popup Marketplace.  Quite a mouthful, but an awful lot of fun!  I won’t be on the yarn crawl itself as I’ll be flogging my wares running a stall full of hand-dyed travelknitter yarn.  It’s being held on Saturday 5th September at the beautiful Chelsea Old Town Hall, and if you like yarny things, I’d highly recommend going along.

YitCPopup

And then continuing the theme of rampant capitalism and self-promotion, I’ll be at the Hitchin Festiwool on 14th November selling my yarns.  This is the second year for Festiwool, and I had such a good time last year that I had to book again.  I found it to be such a friendly, relaxed event, with a really interesting mix of vendors.

Please do let me know if you’re heading along to any of these events too.  Would be great to catch up.