Your Yarn Story: Estelle of Midwinter Yarns October 21 2015

This is a new series I'm starting on the blog called "Your Yarn Story." One of the things I love about the knitting and crochet community is that everyone has a story to tell. Whether it's how you got started with your craft or why you continue to be in love with it, it's an aspect that really binds us all. In this series I'll be asking friends, customers and colleagues to share their yarn story.

I get to begin with Estelle of Midwinter Yarns whose cosy Scandanavian yarns are in the shop this week for a little Pop-Up. Originally from Sweden and now living in Wales with her husband, she has a long history with wool and craft. Estelle was kind enough to answer some questions, so I'll let her tell you the rest:

Q: What is currently on your needles?

I'm working on yet another Linus - a shawl in alternating gradient stripes in our Ullcentrum yarns. I see this one as having a bit more of an urban twist, using a black-grey-white gradient against a solid vibrant green.


Q: When did you start knitting? Who taught you?

My mother taught me when I was 6 or 7. It was an absolute chore and I had to be bribed to finish a row. But my mother was a very keen knitter and most of our travels would center around visiting yarn shops, so it was hard not to get inspired and eventually start new projects. My first ever finished garment was a knitted duffel coat - it's still in pretty good nick actually, even if yarn has come an awful long way since!

Q: What do you enjoy most about knitting? What keeps you coming back to the craft?

I'm not sure about "coming back" to the craft....I don't ever seem to leave it! I enjoy the feeling of working closely with natural materials and feeling the texture between my fingers and watching the fabric grow - yarn often looks so different knitted up than it does in the hank and I like watching that magic transition.
I am also a terrible homebody and like to wallow in what we Swedes call "mysigt" (or Hygge in Danish, the inspiration for Karina's collection) - that sense of curling up indoors on a stormy day, with hot tea in your favourite mug, a cat by your side and something equally comforting on the needles.

Q: Do you have a favorite thing to knit?

I'm not sure I can choose! I love knitting big woolly sweaters with yarn that smells of sheep, but I also like delicate cowls in the softest, silkiest of hand dyed yarns. I'm good at acres of plain knitting, terrible with small, fiddly things in the round, like fingers on gloves! Generally, I think I struggle with precision: my seaming is awful and I'd rather bodge a lace pattern than unpick!

Q: What is the last project you completed?

A plain top-down cardigan in our gradient Ullcentrum - we've done so much work with the Linuses that I wanted to show off just a single gradient, and I needed a little cardigan to wear at the shows we do in semi-open cattle market type venues where it can be a little nippy in the morning.

Q: You own a yarny business, how did you get started with Midwinter Yarns?

I briefly had a little yarn dyeing enterprise and came to realise that most UK indie dyers were using the same source for their base yarns, meaning that although the colours were very different, to handle it was all essentially the same yarn. So I started looking around for options and eventually my thoughts led me back to my native Sweden where I realised just how much wonderful and natural yarn is produced but not promoted abroad! I also realised that other indie dyers were making a much better job of dyeing than I was (see precision issues above) and that what I wanted to concentrate on was sourcing and promoting these unknown yarns from smaller, sustainable companies and spread the joy of Scandinavian knitting.

Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

Visitors at yarn shows! It's a real danger to my budget! A lot of knitters take visting a yarn show as an opportunity to show off their best work, or their latest project, so being a trader means seeing a constant parade of stunning knitwear stream past all weekend, and it is incredibly hard to resist asking customers what they are wearing and where they got the yarn from and then running off to get some!

Q: If you could only knit with one yarn for the next year, what would it be? In
other words what is your current yarn crush?

eeeeek, just one? I have a lot of ideas in mind for our Thin Pirkkalanka which could probably keep me occupied for the best part of a year...although as much as I have knitted with it recently, I would probably still say our Ullcentrum 2ply because of the variety it provides: the gradients are always entertaining to knit with and the solid colours are just so vibrant, plus the resulting fabric is a good all-rounder, warm and woolly but not heavy.
In someone else's yarns, I would say Madelinetosh. It's been my special go-to treat yarn for years!

Q: How has knitting effected your life? or What role does knitting play in your
life?

Knitting plays a huge part in my life. It is something that has been constant since my childhood and has now allowed me to fulfil my dream of working from home. My husband has started knitting too, turning it into a true family business. It has allowed us to travel around the country and meet likeminded people, both faithful customers and inspiring fellow yarnies, yet it never feels like "work" - I can spend an entire weekend talking wool with customers and still come home itching to cast something on.

The Midwinter Yarns Pop-Up is going on until 24th October and Estelle will be in the shop on Saturday, so do stop by and say hello.

-Carmen