This autumn we’re excited to welcome a brand-new member to A Yarn Story, Kayleigh Doherty. Needless to say Kayleigh is as passionate about knitting as the rest of the team, and growing up in Rhode Island, US, meant she experienced plenty of sweater-weather during the autumns, which gave her the perfect excuse to knit. Kayleigh studied in Maryland and Phoenix, before moving to the UK to undertake a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. She recently moved to Bath with her partner Sam, who works in nearby Bristol. We caught up with her at the shop to find out more about her love of knitting.
Welcome to A Yarn Story, Kayleigh, and welcome to Bath too! How are you settling in?
Thanks! As a new arrival to Bath, joining the AYS team has helped me meet lots of new, friendly faces, which is always a challenge when moving to a new city. AYS has a great knitting community that I’m excited to be a part of. As Shop Manager, I will be running a tight ship to keep A Yarn Story organised, as well as assisting customers with yarn for their projects, sending out online orders, keeping track of stock and maintaining the website too. I’ll also be helping Carmen with the event planning side of things, so watch this space for future announcements.
How did you first get into yarncraft?
My mother and grandmother are both prolific knitters, so I’ve been surrounded by yarn my whole life. My grandmother works in a yarn shop in Maryland and I spent many hours sitting around the shop with her and other customers, as well as being lugged around yarn shops by my mom all around New England. So, I don’t think I really had a choice in whether or not to become a knitter!
I remember picking up a pair of needles and getting my mom to teach me how to knit on the way to the beach in Rhode Island, when I was around the age of six or seven. I’m not sure that project was ever finished (since a six year old doesn’t have the best attention span), but I spent a lot of my childhood making scarves for dress-up. In my teens I took on more serious projects, such as cowls and shawls, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit that I knit my first jumper: Tensile by Emily Greene using Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft in Button Jar, which turned out way better than I ever imagined. I was always very intimidated by jumpers but since knitting my first they’ve become my favourite kind of project.
What is it about knitting that you particularly love?
As with most creative arts, when it comes to knitting, I love being able to create something out of seemingly nothing – it’s almost magical. Seeing how stitch patterns come together is always exciting and my favourite thing about the process is trying out a new technique and seeing the cleverness of it all.
I knit for a number of reasons – to relax, to do something with my hands while listening to an audiobook or watching TV – but the most important reason I knit is because of how it connects me to my family and home. Since I grew up around knitters and was in and out of different yarn shops, there is a lot of comfort for me in knitting and being a part of knitting communities. When my extended family (my mom, grandmother, sister, aunt and cousins) gets together, our favourite pastime is to go out to a local yarn shop, buy up a bunch of yarn and then sit around sharing stories and updating each other on our lives, as we work on our individual projects. Again, there is a lot of comfort in that process, which I would never give up.
What are your favourite yarns and projects right now?
I’ve spent a lot of time working with the various Brooklyn Tweed yarns from Arbor and Peerie to Shelter and Loft, so I will always have a soft spot in my heart for them. But right now, I’m absolutely in love with Magpie Fibers’ Swanky Sock – it’s such a luxurious yarn and I can’t believe there’s only 10 percent cashmere in it! I love the way it feels on my skin, which makes it super nice to work with, but also the shiny quality to the yarn that just screams luxury. Last but not least, since starting at AYS, I’ve grown more and more in love with Garthenor’s range of yarns – especially Preseli, which gives off a rustic vibe but is incredibly soft and squishy. As a recent convert, sweaters are a favourite project right now because you never have to do anything long enough to be bored. Shawls are a close second if there is enough colourwork or pattern variation, but I love the shaping involved in sweater knitting.
Where else do you get your creative kicks from?
In most of my creative practices, I’m inspired by nature and woodlands. My partner and I spend a lot of time walking in the countryside and I love picking out patterns that make use of the motifs we come across on our journeys. Woodlands also have an ancient, magical feel to them that a lot of textile art evokes, which makes sense for me seeing how I’m kind of mesmerised by the magic of knitting.
I also spend a lot of time cooking and baking. I was diagnosed with coeliac disease when I was 14, so I learned to cook more complex dishes and treats at a relatively young age. I love trying new foods and combining flavour profiles to create something different and interesting. Gluten-free baking is notoriously tricky, so during lockdown I tried to perfect my own gluten-free cakes and sourdough recipes.
Catch up with Kayleigh over on Instagram @kad.creates