Local yarn love

It has been incredibly exciting this last week seeing all of the Maltings cowls slowly starting to take shape in the Unravel KAL on Ravelry. As wonderful as it is to see one of my designs go off into the world and be knit and loved, I’ve been completely thrilled by the sharing of yarn porn that has happened on that thread! There was some serious #yarnstashlove happening as people were diving into their stash and emerging with gorgeous skeins.

I was so inspired seeing everyone else’s Maltings that I had to start knitting one that can be just for me and not a design sample!

What I really love and appreciate so much about this KAL though, are how thoughtful people have been with their yarn choices. Most have been making the decision to use yarn that is local to them, or even finding precious souvenirs from Unravel or other yarn shows past. Even knitters joining in from far away have picked up the theme and chosen yarns that are local to where they are. I’m happy that so many of you have taken the opportunity to re-discover some long-lost loves in your own stash.

While the Unravel Kal is still underway I’ve also been checking out photos of your own #yarnstashlove on Instagram and thought I’d share some of my favourites so far:

@jemarrowsmith is wondering what to do with her leftover Sparkleduck after finishing a striking Spectra shawl by Stephen West

@elkrenee has been getting her design on following what looks like a major stash toss!

And @porpoise_fur has been inspired to adapt the #yarnstashlove hashtag to suit her own needs and created #fibrestashlove – I’m going to join in with this with my own modest fibre stash!

Have you been falling in love with your own stash again this year? I’ve love to hear how it’s going for you, or see your photos! Don’t forget to use the #yarnstashlove tag on Instagram so that everyone can see your pretties!

Maltings: the Unravel KAL pattern

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Maltings: cowl for the Unravel KAL

Maltings is a gorgeously textured cowl inspired by barley grains. Shaped to fit, it is narrower at the top and gently flares out to sit perfectly on the shoulders.

I wanted to create something I’d love to wear to a show – pretty but practical. Cowls keep us warm on a cold morning, stay neatly out of the way when we’re petting yarn, and can be folded up into a pocket as the day warms up. Perfect.

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Get ready for: Unravel KAL

I do love to collaborate with others in my work, whether that is with yarnies, bloggers, stores, other designers or other wonderful knitterly people. To start this year in style, I have been working with the lovely team at Unravel to cook up something special for this, my favourite, yarn show.

Test KAL image 2

I’m thrilled to give you this early sneak peek of a special knitalong, commissioned by Unravel. It starts next Thursday, 28th January, and runs until the show closes on Sunday 21st February. The pattern will be free to download while the knitalong runs – keep your eyes peeled on the 28th!  Continue reading

Workshop news: Unravel

Choosing yarn colours from Sweet Georgia's palette.

Choosing yarn colours from SweetGeorgia’s palette.

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time you know that I’m pretty passionate about yarn. I get so excited about it that my design listings on Ravelry often suggestion three, four or even five different yarns that you can use to make the project. I like knitters to have options!

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Which is why I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching a workshop at the upcoming Unravel festival on Substituting Yarn: Picking the right yarns for your projects. The aim of the workshop is to help you find the best match of yarn to the pattern you’re knitting, with a little bit of theory and plenty of examples, and help you build your confidence to be able to make these choices on your own.

One of the reasons I include so many yarn choices with my patterns is because there are so many yarns I want to try myself! Most have been swatched in a number of different yarns or combinations, depending on what I’m going for. What if the yarn is variegated or semi-solid? What do I want the finished fabric to be like? Does it need to drape or flow or have more structure? I love experimenting, and like most things in knitting there is never only one “right” answer.

Once I’ve swatched and am happy to move forward, the knitting begins – and not just on my own needles. I have a fantastic team of supporters who test knit for me, which allows me to see how the design looks or feels in an even wider variety of yarns.

Mini skeins for swatching and a shade card for Baa Ram Ewe’s Dovestone DK for a new pattern design.

And then there’s you, dear knitter.

No sooner is a pattern released I get asked about the suitability of a different yarn. Do I think it would work? Or you’ve got something in your stash that you’ve been wanting to use but it’s not the right weight of yarn. In fact, all of your questions were the inspiration for the Play sections in Knit Play Colour and formed the beginnings of this workshop. How would the design look in this yarn, or this yarn…or even in this yarn?

The Substituting Yarn workshop takes place on Sunday, 21st February from 10:30am to 12:30pm at the Unravel festival at Farnham Maltings. Click here to buy tickets. Workshop price includes a day ticket for entry to the show on Sunday. Bring your yarn and pattern combo questions, and I look forward to seeing you there!

A Year of Yarn Stash Love

Or should that be #yarnstashlove?

Loving the sheen on this Kettle Yarn Co. Beyul that I stalked for ages

If you’ve been following me on Instagram you may have seen me posting a lot more photos of yarn than usual since the beginning of the New Year. Who are we kidding? Let’s call it what it is: straight-up yarn porn.

As 2015 came to a close I found myself thinking about the year ahead without a large project such as The Book to keep me occupied. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to working on a number of different new designs that I have in the queue but it’s the getting started on them that’s the problem. Its always SO easy to be distracted by a new and covetable yarn coming home to play.

These lucky members of the stash are all contenders for new designs and are wound up and ready for swatching

Actually – if I’m being honest – it’s not just new yarn that’s distracting, but the yarns in my stash as well. You’d be right in thinking that as a designer, as well as being a lover of fabulous yarns, that I have an excellent stash. I do! I LOVE my stash! I like to think of it as a jewellery box of colourful beauties just waiting to be knit up into something that shows off how spectacular they are.

On one of my forays into the stash before Christmas I was struck by the usual thought that I have this time of year, “oh, I really must get some of this knit up before I buy anything else, cold sheep for me, etc, etc”. The problem I have with these proclamations is that they feel negative to me. As if there’s something wrong or that it’s a dirty secret that I have this much stash, or any stash at all!

If there’s one thing I love, it’s jewel tones and my stash definitely has some beauties – like this skein of BFL and baby alpaca blend from Triskelion Yarn

But while I was digging through the stash (looking for the perfect yarn for a new design, of course!), I was also struck by how much I LOVE my stash. I still remember where I bought them, the trips where they were souvenir yarn, or the indie dyers they came from. They’re all wonderful!

The sad part for me though, is how easily a yarn can be forgotten when it’s not cast on right away and tucked into the stash. Out of sight, out of mind. Then I had an idea, and I’d like to challenge you all to join me as well.

I’m declaring 2016 the Year of Yarn Stash Love. I will endeavour, every day (or as close to it as I can), to post a photo to Instagram of something from my stash. It might be the stash itself or perhaps a WIP pic of how it is turning into something and I’d love for you to do the same.

Share your photos on Instagram with the hashtag #yarnstashlove (please tag me too and follow me to see mine!). Include a note about where it was from, or what made you buy it. Do you have specific plans for it or did you just buy it because you thought it was pretty? Maybe it was a gift from your BKFF or yarn that came to you after your grandmother passed and so is all the more special. Let’s celebrate those stunning skeins in our stashes this year. No guilt. No judgment.

Don’t confuse this with cold sheeping; this is about celebrating yarn. Photos of new additions are just as welcome! Impulse buy for which you have no plans (yet) but you couldn’t let it get away? That’s #yarnstashlove too.

Can’t wait to see your pics!

A gift that gives back

One of my favourite things about this time of year is coming back to other crafts that maybe don’t see as much love as my knitting the rest of the year. We had so much fun doing a craftalong together in the Inspiration Knits group on Ravelry last year that we decided to do it again this year. No restrictions to knitting only, we’ve been quietly crafting along and admiring everyone’s finishes, whether they’re knitting or sewing or cardmaking… Continue reading

Meet the indie dyer: Countess Ablaze

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Manchester, and the home of those amazing, boldly-coloured yarns from Countess Ablaze. Rather excitingly, the Countess (as I’ve learned people DO call her!) has opened her new studio doors to the public – making it the best kind of indie yarn-lovers space for miles around! Lyndsey kindly took the time answer my questions so that I could share more about her space with all of you. Read on and enjoy!

Countess Ablaze herself, Lyndsey Blackwood

Countess Ablaze herself, Lyndsey Blackwood

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