Diving right back in

Hello friends! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Having taken the summer off I feel like my batteries have been properly recharged! We’ve had a lovely, lazy summer with camping and holidays, day camps and of course knitting and it feels amazing to have reconnected with my mojo!

Ah summer! I miss you already!

Ah summer! I miss you already!

It doesn’t hurt either that with September here all the woolly-ness has started off with a bang to keep the momentum going. Last weekend was the fourth annual Great London Yarn Crawl and once again I was signed on as a Yarn Guide. This time the teams were all named after stitches and we were Team Bobbles, visiting shops Nest, Handweavers Studio & Gallery and Fringe.

London project bag at the ready for the Great London Yarn Crawl

London project bag at the ready for the Great London Yarn Crawl

Hosted at Nest especially for the day was Linda from Kettle Yarn Co. who had a little pop-up shop with her gorgeous yarns and samples from her new book Baskerville: dawn to dusk. The garments were stunning and in a beautiful palette of blues. Linda was originally dyeing them with indigo but has switched back to her regular dyeing method for greater control and consistency. It was really interesting to talk to her about her dyeing process, and the Baskerville yarn itself which is a custom blend exclusive to Kettle Yarn Co. Linda talked about it some more in a “live” session of the Yarn in the City podcast at the after party, which you can listen to when Episode 45 goes up on their website.

Linda's Kettle Yarn Co. pretties on display at Nest

Linda’s Kettle Yarn Co. pretties on display at Nest

Following Nest we quickly made our way over to the Handweavers Studio & Gallery. I was determined for us to get in and out as quickly as possible as we’d been tipped off that there was an Arsenal game that day and we knew the area would be packed with people on public transport! Handweavers is an Aladdin’s Cave of treasures though, with so many different and interesting yarns and fibres for weaving and spinning – and knitting if you’re looking for something really outside of the box!

I can't wait to see what frothy fairy confections these yarns become!

I can’t wait to see what frothy fairy confections these yarns become!

My daughter has been obsessed with fairies this year and has requested a special fairy dolly for Christmas so the book Knitted Pirates, Princesses, Witches, Wizards & Fairies was my close companion on the crawl as I sought out yarns and trims that would suit a fairy’s wardrobe. Happily, Handweavers was a HUGE success on this front as I was able to procure some amazing novelty yarns that are perfect for a fairy’s fanciful ensemble!

After Handweavers and a spot of lunch we made our way to our final stop, Fringe. Like Nest, Fringe was also well in the spirit of the yarn crawl and doing something “extra” for the yarn crawlers. Erika Knight was on hand as their special guest and had a pop-up shop of her new yarns, Studio Linen and Gossypium Cotton – which we’d each been given a ball of in our goody bags as she was the also the title sponsor of the yarn crawl. And the samples of the garments were there as well.

And wow – the samples! Jean (from my knit group who was also on Team Bobbles) and I fell completely head over heels for the Studio Linen Collection which is classic Erika Knight. Clean lines, elegant in it’s simplicity, ageless garments that will be worn again and again. We each bought a sweater’s worth of Studio Linen to knit Sicily and I’m looking forward to our own mini knit-a-long. It was exciting to meet Erika and chat with her and learn more about her own process as a designer too.

Can't wait to get started on this jumper - for next summer!

Can’t wait to get started on this jumper – for next summer!

We did debate the possibility of squeezing in a fourth shop en route to the after party but in the end opted for a few well-earned cups of tea and some relaxing knitting and chatter before heading to the evening’s festivities. As in previous years there were fantastic door prizes and a Grand Prize raffle which helped to raise additional funds. All monies made on the day after expenses are donated to UK charity Refuge, which supports women and children who are victims of domestic violence. This year’s tally was over £1,000 making the tally over 4 years over £3,500!

If you fancy coming to London to check out any of the shops or another Yarn in the City event, they are doing a new show – the Yarnporium – this November 5-6, 2016 at King’s College on the Strand which will feature a marketplace, indie maker spotlight, and workshops too. And I’ll be there as a vendor with patterns and a few yarn-y surprises for you too. More on that another day!

Meet the Indie Dyer: The Wool Kitchen

It’s funny grey-ish day in London today. The sun keeps playing peek-a-boo and just can’t seem to decide if it’s going to stay out or not! No matter, we’ve got colour galore on the blog today thanks to Helen Reed of The Wool Kitchen. In what is possibly a HUGE occupational hazard, Helen is a local-to-me indie dyer here in London which makes it even harder to resist her wonderful yarns! Read on to learn more about Helen and her growing yarn-dyeing business.

Helen Reed of The Wool Kitchen

Helen Reed of The Wool Kitchen

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Knitterly distractions

I’m glad I took my kids with me to the polls yesterday, so they could see what happens and understand the process. I feel passionately that they understand that it’s important to vote – and that it’s up to them to decide how to vote. My son is into maths just now, so he understands how close the result was, and how important it is therefore that we have our say.

But since this is a blog about knitting and not politics, I’m distracting myself by getting my summer knitting planning underway.

Do you do this too? Planning for a season is something I find helpful, not just for a specific trip or outing. We’ll be in and out a bit over the summer hols and there’s the summer KAL happening soon on the Ravelry board. I’ve been thinking ahead to what I want to work on – and when – so that it’s easy for me to know which project to reach for. Here’s my plan:

I just love how light and airy Colour Trail is knit in lace - perfect for summer!

I just love how light and airy Colour Trail is knit in lace – perfect for summer!

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Have a Play: Using a gradient in Flight of Colour

I’m excited to share with you a new feature on the blog that I’ve been wanting to introduce for a while. I often get emails from happy knitters and shops that have knit samples of my patterns, but with their own playful changes. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember to make notes in your project page on Ravelry, or to look at what others have done. I thought it would be fun to have the knitters of those projects share their modifications here so that everyone can be inspired to knit their own version.

Sarah's Flight of Colour shows off a gradient interspersed with solid stripes

Sarah’s Flight of Colour shows off a gradient interspersed with solid stripes

Today’s guest blog post is by Sarah Lewis of Purlescence who created a lightweight shop sample of Flight of Colour using SweetGeorgia Yarns Tough Love Sock and one of their Party of Five gradient packs. Read on to learn how she did it.

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Woolly Wonderful Wonderwool

After reading Alli’s guest blog post about Wonderwool last year I was determined that this was a show that I had to visit! Happily, the London Guild of Spinners, Weavers and Dyers organised a coach from London this year and I was quick to secure a place.

So close to being finished my Affinity shawl!

The distance to Wales meant that we were going to spend more time traveling in the coach than actually at the show! But this sobering reality was quickly swept aside with the prospect of eight hours of unhindered knitting time stretched out in front of me! I’d been saving my project for the Affinity KAL to finish so surely this would be enough time?! (Truthfully, I even had time for a wee nap on the way back!)

This was my first trip to Wonderwool Wales and it definitely did not disappoint! The show is held in a series of large, agricultural barns in Builth Wells – a bit different from the livestock pens at the auction mart where Yarndale is held. Walls are put up for the stands and the wide spaces of the aisles mean that even when it’s busy there is still lots of space to move within the show. It was a welcome surprise.

Also a surprise was the food! Definitely the best food I’ve ever had at a show. I had the most amazing Scotch egg for lunch (I’d heard the ones at Wonderwool were legendary) and local ice cream for pudding. Delicious! Since my family aren’t as thrilled with yarn as presents as I would be, I took them home some local cider, cheese and meringues they were very well received.

What a friendly show! It was a pleasure getting to chat with so many vendors and I was delighted to see Wendy Fowler wearing her own Shadowlines!

But what about the show, Louise? I hear you ask. Tell us about the yarns! Well… they were fabulous, of course. Wonderwool’s focus is definitely on the fibre arts and there were many, many options for spinners in amongst the yarns. In fact, I came home with a beautiful resin spindle from Wildcraft and a renewed commitment to get spinning all the beautiful fibre I already have at home in my stash!

The relaxed and friendly atmosphere of the show made for lovely catch ups with vendors I already know. I had a lovely chat with Sarah from Purlescence who had managed to get her hands on some Faery Wings by Fyberspates! I was also able to admire Sarah’s Flight of Colour in real life ahead of the KAL starting May 1st. I’m now determined to do one using the same Party of Five pack in teals from SweetGeorgia Yarns. While I’m still mulling over what colour to pair with it I also rounded out my ChiaoGoo interchangeables set with a few more tips.

It was also lovely having a catch up with Caerthan from Triskelion Yarns, and to finally see the new colours of Elmet Aran and 4ply. I took a skein to swatch in a deep, rusty red. The yarn is a blend of 75% Bluefaced Leicester and 25% Brown Masham. I am completely taken with yarns with Masham in them at the moment because of how the colour changes and has more depth. I had an initial taste using Baa Ram Ewe’s Dovestone DK for the Maltings cowl and now I can’t seem to get enough!

As for purchases, well you know I couldn’t leave all the pretties there, right? I got some local Cambrian Welsh wool in a lovely, soft colour palette, as well as some stunning handspun since I can’t spin fast enough myself! I’m keeping it on my desk for inspiration while I get my head around designing for it. Plus, it’s just beautiful. In fact, I saw a lot of natural coloured yarns which have been giving me all kinds of ideas!

These macaroon coloured yarns from Willow Knits look good enough to eat!

It was also fab to see Victoria and Eden Cottage Yarns with her colours looking very at home in rural Wales. Coastal Yarns also had a soft, spring palette. It was definitely a theme I noticed throughout the day, including at Willow Yarns where their yarns reminded of the colours of a delicious box of macaroons!

Tiny, perfect mini skeins sets from Five Moons

My biggest splurge of the day though was with Five Moons. A handful of variegated beauties from bright to autumnal, as well as some tiny, charming mini skeins packs. I feel like they’re sweeties – you can’t have just one!

Aside from the rollicking swaying to and fro of the mini bus along the winding Welsh roads (I think most of us put aside our projects until we were back on the wide and straight motorway!), it was a super show and fantastically friendly. Even down to the staff who were shooing us out the door when the show closed at 4:30pm! I definitely hope to get back again another year.

Stars in a Denim Sky

Hello friends! I’m getting ready for a whirlwind visit to Wonderwool Wales this Sunday (I’ve been making my show plan already!) but wanted to pop in and let you know about my latest pattern release, Denim Sky.

Introducing Denim Sky – in hues the colour of your favourite jeans

Denim Sky was originally released as an exclusive with The Loopy Ewe’s Giftables Club and now that the rights have reverted back to me I’m able to offer it to everyone! Releasing a new pattern always makes me happy. I feel a little springier in my step than usual – maybe because a new pattern and a yarn show on the horizon is the perfect opportunity to play? Continue reading

Meet the Indie Dyer: Triskelion Yarn and Fibre

triskelion photoHello! The kids are back at school this week so I’ve been turning my thoughts to making a plan for the upcoming Wonderwool show. I can’t wait to visit this highly popular show in Wales, in just a couple of weeks. Going through the list of exhibitors I realised that I hadn’t had an indie dyer profile on the blog in a while and it seemed the perfect opportunity to have a chat with someone whose yarns I’ve long admired: Caerthan Wrack of Triskelion Yarn and Fibre. I’m looking forward to seeing Caerthan again and after our chat about everything he’s been working on I’m sure I’ll acquire some new pretties at his stall once again! Continue reading

Quiet time

The knitting continues, my friends. And with it reflections on which projects to move on to next. It’s been an intentionally quiet time this spring, and I’m truly enjoying it, instead of trying to feel as though I must be constantly rushing to the next thing.

In the meantime the Affinity KAL has been ticking along nicely on the Inspiration Knits board on Ravelry and I wanted to share some of the lovely WIP photos that have been popping up. Continue reading

WIP Wednesday: What have I been working on?

I was chatting with a friend last week about feeling like I’m in a limbo, float-y kind of feeling since the launch of Knit Play Colour last year. After being focused on such a big project for such a long time, I’m just not quite sure what I’m supposed to be doing next.

My friend gently reminded me that it has only been less than six months since my book came out (really?! seems like an age ago!), and to not be so hard on myself at not figuring out which direction I want to go in next. But her best advice? “Get back to your knitting, just the knitting.” Continue reading