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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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,

 

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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…

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!