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A Yarn Story

Your Yarn Story: Rachel of Porpoise Fur November 17 2015

I got a bit distracted by actual knitting these past few days. I meant to post this late last week and I've been working on the Doodler MKAL and then the Nordlándda Collection was released on Saturday and I haven't been able to put my needles down. So apologies for the tardiness of this post.

In case you missed it, we are hosting a Knit-A-Long for the Nordlándda Collection which was designed by Rachel C. Brown for The Fibre Co. Rachel is a designer, hand-dyer (Poprpoise Fur is her fibre company), tech editor, one half of Yarn in the City and all-around fibre enthusiast. I met Rachel just over a year ago at the 2014 Great London Yarn Crawl and have had the great pleasure of getting to work with her in various capacities since then. What strikes me most about Rachel is her absolute passion for all things fibre and her incredible breadth of expertise and knowledge on the subject.

So this week I get to share Rachel's Yarn Story with you. She's answered some questions below about her fibre journey and her inspiration for the new collection. I think you'll agree that it is a facsinating and fun read.

 

Q: What is currently on your needles?
A: I’m obsessively working on the 2015 Woolly Wormhead mystery KAL every time a new clue is released, which is loads of fun. I'm also working on a handspun sweater of my own design with an interesting construction that can best be summarised as a seamed sweater with no seams. ;-)
I'm also contemplating casting on all the things for Christmas presents. Sadly my available knitting time does not fit with the number of presents I seem inclined to cast on, so we'll see how that works out.

Q: When did you start knitting? Who taught you?
A: I actually know exactly when I started knitting, due to my father obsessively saving letters from long ago. When I was seven, my Dad got a Fullbright scholarship so my family moved to New Delhi, India for a year. My mother, brother and I moved back to the States after 6 months, and not one month later my Dad heard about my grandmother teaching me to knit. I can still remember the yarn she taught me with: red, white and blue Red Heart Super Saver acrylic (ugh!). When my grandmother passed away a few years ago, one of the keepsakes I got from her house was a skein of that same yarn - now over 30 years old, but still moth-free!

Q: What do you enjoy most about knitting? What keeps you coming back to the craft?
A: I think what I enjoy most about knitting is the creating, which can be as mindless or as engaging as I want it to be. I vacillate between being a process knitter or a product knitter. This time of year I'm definitely in product knitter mode, so lots of smaller things that work up quickly (accessories for the win!), with garter stitch or stockinette being big components.
What keeps me coming back? I wouldn't know what to do with my hands while watching tv otherwise....

Q: Do you have a favorite thing to knit?
A: It’s probably easier to list the things I don't like to knit: I'm not a fan of knitting intarsia of any sort. I do occasionally knit intricate lace shawls, but find that I can only work on them in small doses and when I've got the focus for them, which is not very often.
My recent projects for me have definitely focused on sweaters and shawl-type things. And hats. I also love knitting socks, particularly out of handspun.

Q: What is the last project you completed?
A: I just finished the Angostura Vest by Ysolda out of some of Blacker Yarns' amazing 10th birthday yarn, Cornish Tin.

Q: You work in a variety of roles in the yarny industry, how did you get started? Do you have a favorite role that you play?
A: I started off in the industry, if I can call it that, by submitting my first design to Knitty.com in 2009. That pattern wasn't accepted, but ended up as Drummossie, which was the final round for Sock Madness 4 in 2010. I kept on designing things here and there, and then found myself with some free time and a supportive spouse who encouraged me to start a business of some kind. I thought about selling handspun for a while (I'm a huge spinner, maybe even more then I am a knitter these days), but decided in the end to sell handdyed fibre for other people to spin. That business is Porpoise Fur.
In 2012 I met my Yarn in the City partner-in-yarny-crime Allison at a retreat, and within six months we were planning the first Great London Yarn Crawl. That side of things has expanded dramatically over the past year, and we now are involved in a number of projects, including a book (The London Craft Guide, coming out very soon!), and a number of events and workshops, including the Bath Craft Crawl, which is coming up in a few weeks!
Of all of the things I do in the yarn industry, I have two favorites: one is throwing colours on wool and seeing what comes out on the other side of the dye pot, and the other is working as a freelance technical editor for independent knitwear designers, publications and yarn companies. I've had the great pleasure to work with some absolutely brilliant people through that channel, and I love having the opportunity to help designers get their designs written into clear and understandable patterns that everyone can enjoy.


Q: You’ve just designed the Nordlándda collection for The Fibre Co., can you tell me a little bit about that process and what your inspiration was for the collection?
A: Working with Daphne from The Fibre Co. on this project has been a pleasure from the beginning. The original brief was to create a collection for their gorgeous bulky weight yarn, Tundra - ideally smaller projects that would take 2-3 skeins, and highlight the gorgeous softness and colours of the yarn. Accessories were the obvious projects, and we decided to include a range of different types; the collection includes two cowls, three hats, a scarf/shawlette and two pairs of fingerless mitts. As the collection was destined for an autumn release, I knew immediately that I wanted to do cables. I tend to use textured stitches in my designs in general, but cables seemed to me to be an obvious choice. And the yarn works so well in cabled designs, particularly when worked at a slightly looser gauge, giving a fabric with great drape that maintains good stitch definition.
The process for the collection involved swatching of a lot of different cable stitches to find ones that worked well with the yarn fibre content and the bulky weight. The first design that popped into my head was the Moen Cowl, a cozy cowl with tons of cables and movement, that can be worked up in either a close-fitting version or a longer infinity cowl that can be wrapped around the neck a couple of times.

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?
A: My current yarn crush (and not coincidentally, the most recent commercial yarn I've worked with!) is the sadly now sold-out Cornish Tin from Blacker Yarns, which speaks to every woolly, rustic, crunchy, sheepy bit of my soul. It is such a great combination of strength and softness, with a gorgeous bit of halo. I wish I'd gotten truckloads of it!
Beyond that, my all-time favourite yarns to knit with are handspun, without a doubt. There is a special pleasure in knitting with yarn that you've made, knowing it is truly one-of-a-kind.

Q: What role does knitting play in your life?
A: Knitting is a huge creative outlet in my life. My professional training is as a biomedical research scientist, which has it's own creative side but also involves a fair bit of drudgery and repetitive work in rooms without windows. I find that knitting of any sort gives me an opportunity to let the science-oriented, analytical side of my brain take a break and just chill out in the background for a while. I knit or spin for at least a little while every day, and it plays an integral role in my mental well being. Plus it keeps me warm!

 

Rachel will be in Bath as part of the Yarn in the City Bath Craft Crawl on Saturday 28 November and will be teaching a project class on Sunday 29 November in the shop before she heads back to London. The class will focus on the Moen Cowl from the Nordlándda Collection and the techniques used in the pattern, including a tubular cast-on and off, cabling without a cable needle and reading charts.

There's still plenty of time to join in on the #AYSWinterCablesKAL too! You can find more information here.

-Carmen


Blog Tour: The Klee Collection November 03 2015

I have been favoriting East London Knits designs on Raverly for a while now and I was really excited that I had the chance to meet the woman behind ELK in person during the Yarn in the City Pop-Up Marketplace this past September. I so enjoyed speaking with and getting to know a bit of Renée's story. She has a background in knitwear fashion design and a passion for art history which she has brought together quite expertly in this first collection. So when I was asked to be part of the blog tour for The Klee Collection I said "of course!"

FIrst off a bit of information about the collection from Renée herself:

The Klee Collection consists of six patterns: three garments, each with a matching accessory, inspired by the paintings of modernist artist Paul Klee. The pieces are named for the works of art that inspired them: Angel in the Making, Twilight Flowers, and Angelus Novus.

"Each design features unique geometric lace knitting inspired by the strange and wonderful shapes that run like a language through Klees work, providing interest and detail on extremely wearable garments. Selfish knitting at its best, this collection is intended to be worn and loved for years to come."

 

If you know me as a knitter, then you know I have a slight obsession with fingerless mitts so of course the first pattern I checked out is the elegant Twilight Flowers Mitts. This such a clever and beautiful design. The pattern is written for one size but the 1x1 ribbing will make these very stretchy and versatile. The lace pattern running up the back of the arm and hand gives these long mitts a very romantic vibe, I'm totally in love.

The corresponding garment pattern, Twilight Flowers, is a fantastic sweater design. It's an everyday sweater with a twist. The lace pattern running the length of the sleeves as well as the lace inset on the neckline lend interest to both the knit and the finished garment. Either of these patterns would be a hit in the new Walk Collection MCN Sport in Zen.

I'm also head over heels for the Angelus Novus Shawl. It's a DK weight shawl, so perfect for this time of year and the geometric lace design is stunning. I could imagine a more rustic version of the shawl in baa ram ewe Dovestone or a a super soft squishy version in The Fibre Co. Acadia. Both yarns would lend themselves well to this design and have equally drool-worthy colour palette's to choose from. I envision throwing this shawl on to go for a brisk Sunday walk with Peaches and then settling into the pub for a pint after.

Renée's use of color in the Angel in the Making pattern is perfect. The colorblock yoke and sleeve stripes is the perfect way to show off the lace details. It's another great example of a wearable garment that will be fun and interesting to knit. The detailing along the sides of the body are clever and flattering as well. This is knit in a fingering weight yarn, so it will be a great all season sweater. I'd love to knit this in Townhouse Yarns Grafton 4ply in Menace and Ripped Jeans or Shibui Knits Staccato in Abyss and Ash.

All-in-all an inspired and brilliant collection that is full of wardrobe staples for years to come. You can see the paintings that inspired the collection in the first stop on the blog tour with Curious Handmade. Next up is Plutonium Muffins tomorrow and then you can read what Blacker Yarns and Yarn in the City have to say on Thursday and Friday.

The collection is currently available through Ravelry but a hard copy booklet will be available soon and you'll be able to find it here in the shop. Hope you enjoy the collection as much as I do. 

-Carmen



Year 1 November 01 2015 1 Comment

Today is A Yarn Story's 1st birthday!

I really can't believe that it has been 12 months since I first opened the shop doors. It's been a crazy ride and I've spent the last week reflecting on the journey.

A Yarn Story started in a tiny 110 square foot unit amongst a cafe, farm shop and several other boutique shops in The Shed. In and amongst the other lovely shops and shop owners both I and the shop grew quickly. It was a great place to start but soon it was time to move on as the shelves overflowed. After an extensive search I found the perfect location on Walcot Street in the heart of Bath's artisan quarter. So after just 6 months, A Yarn Story moved to larger premises. The new space has allowed me to greatly expand the range of yarns carried as well as offer an array of classes.

               Where it all started, getting the first shop ready.

               Lots and lots of yarn to get on the shelves after the move to Walcot Street.

While moving the shop so quickly after opening was a milestone event this past year, several other exciting things also happened. I've made great new friends and been to some exciting places. I visited the H+H trade show in Cologne for the first time last March and picked up several new items for the shop. We took the shop on the road to Proper Woolly in Devon and the Yarn in the City Pop-Up Market Place. Kate Athereley and Rachel Coopey have come to teach and I've launched some exclusive products such as the "I Wish I Was an Octopus" range as well as collaborated on exclusive colourways with Hedgehog Fibres and Life in the Long Grass. I've packed a lot in.

 

In between the stocking of shelves, spreadsheets, painting, moving and helping customers, I squeezed in some knitting time. I haven't done as much knitting in the past year as I would have liked but I did managed to complete a few projects big and small. Below is a small selection, the Super Easy Baby Blanket, Ice Cream Sundae, Split Personality, Puck and Garter Goodness.

I'm really excited to see what this next year will bring, we've got a lot lined up already including a workshop with Stephen West in December, our first Knit-A-Long and the release of our first in-house patterns. Before any of that though, there will be a party, so please join me on November 14th for the A Yarn Story 1st Anniversary party.

Thank you all so much for your support this past year, you are all truly awesome!

-Carmen

 


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


Blog Tour: Knit, Play, Colour October 15 2015 1 Comment

I got really excited about the concept of Louise Zass-Bangham's new book Knit, Play, Colour when I heard about it a few months ago and it did not disapoint when I saw it in person. Not only has Louise designed ten beautiful accessories but also shown us ways to adapt and change the design to make it our own. Yarn choice and pattern modification is an almost daily topic in the shop as these can be daunting choices. This book is unique in that Louise invites us to play and try new things and gives several examples of how each pattern can be adapted, from yarn choice to modification, it's all in here.

Knit. Play, Colour

 

 I'm in love with the massive shawl Shadowlines, it's full of cables and looks oh so luxurious. While the pattern is written for an aran weight yarn, I think it would be quite spectular in either SweetGeoria Yarns Trinity Worsted or Julie Asselin's Hektos, the stitch definition and drape of both of those yarns would make for an incredibly snuggly winter wrap. Another great option would be The Fibre Co. Terra the flecks from the silk noil would add a lot of interest without being too busy.

 

Shadowlines

 

And how many times have you picked up a stunning single skein of yarn from a shop or a show and not known exactly what to do with it? Louise designed Yarn Tamer with just that skein of yarn in mind. Use fingering, lace or DK weight yarn, make it long, make it short - it's your perogative and Louise gives you all the tools you need in the 'Play' section of the pattern. I know I have a few skeins in my stash that would lend themselves well to this.

Yarn Tamer

 

I'm also quite taken with Trailblazer for it's simplicity and endless possibilities. Maybe you want to add some beads or use a hand spun yarn? I'd like to knit this using Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK in Old Smoke, the sheen in that yarn would make a super elegant version. It's perfect for a variegated yarn as well though, so something from Hedgehog FIbres or Malabrigo would work really well too.

 

Colour Trail


The patterns are written for beginner to intermediate knitters, so there is something in here for everyone. It's a great next step book if you're just getting in to knitting as it will help you explore the endless possibilities of your project.

Knit, Play, Colour
 
I have a digital copy of the book to give away. Leave a comment below telling me what pattern you'd like to knit and what yarn choice you have in mind. Comments need to be in by midnight GST on Sunday 18 October to be eligible. Don't forget to leave me a way to get a hold of you in case you win.
 
-Carmen
 
photo credits: Jesse Wild

I Wish I Was an Octopus: decisions, decisions October 13 2015

I recently finished off two rather large projects, In Stillness by Alicia Plummer in The Uncommon Thread Everyday Worsted and Garter Goodness by Stephen West which used Hedgehog Fibres, Life in the Long Grass and The Uncommon Thread. They both took quite a bit of knitting, so I have been working on a couple of quick and easy hats as a little palette cleanser if you will. I whipped up Puck by Dani Sunshine as a little birthday gift for my niece and a super simple hat in the custom colourway Lupi from Hedgehog Fibres as per request by Ian. Now, big decisions to make - what to knit next!?!

I've been queuing and favoriting on Ravelry like a mad woman and now it's time to decide what to actually cast-on. I have been eyeing up Leonie by Cocoknits for a while and have been going back and forth on yarn choice for this garment. There are a lot of yarn possibilities for this pattern but I saw a version of it last weekend at the Cocoknits booth at the Knitting & Stitching show using Shibui Knits Staccato and Silk Cloud held together and I think we have a winner. Now, shall I knit it in the stunning new color Cove or go with the more wear-with-everything Tar? Or perhaps Ivory?

As I'm on a bit of a hat kick at the moment I have Spire by Shellie Anderson high on the list. Shibui Knits Maai and Staccato held double should be a nice quick knit and this has got to be in Suit for me (if my sister's lucky she might get a version in Tango for Christmas). Rachel Coopey has a new book out, Toasty Volume Two, and I'd love to knit Hartwith in baa ram ewe Titus in Bramley Baths with an Endeavour pom-pom on top. A bit of texture in both of these patterns, great yarn and a small project, that ticks a lot of boxes.

It's that time of year when I start thinking about mittens, I really like knitting mittens and there are some great options. I mentioned Karie Westermann's Skovtur last week and those might very well be on the needles some time next week during the Midwinter Yarns Pop-up. Ysolda Teague's new pattern Kaerlig are a great pair fingerless mitts too. They are done in a fingering weight yarn, so lots of options and maybe a good way to use up some leftover yarn from stash. This is a pattern from Ysolda's new collection Knitworthy 2 and so far only four of the eight patterns have been released, so I can't wait to see what is still to come.

And if I had all the time in the world I would start Whippet (long) by Ankestrick. A lovely customer did a version of this and used the Walk Collection Linea Fingering and it is stunning. It's something that helped me choose this particular yarn for the shop as it's a fibre combination that maybe isn't as obviously beautiful on paper but in person, it's fabulous!

So those are just a few of the things I've been eyeing up recently. So many beautiful things to knit, so little time. What would you be knitting if you were an octopus?

-Carmen


Yarn Profiles: Townhouse Yarns September 29 2015 1 Comment

It is with great pleasure that I got to introduce Townhouse Yarns to the U.K. earlier this month at the Yarn in the City Pop-Up Marketplace. You see I have been following Townhouse Yarns since their beginnings and well they have been following me too I suppose. You see Townhouse is the in house yarn from This is Knit in Dublin, Ireland and This is Knit (TIK) was my LYS when I lived in Ireland and well it's a great shop run by great people.

This is Knit is run by mother/daughter team Jacqui and Lisa Sisk and when I first started going into TIK I met Jenny Sisk, who wasn't really supposed to be in the shop. Jenny was the non-knitting sister but had come in to help out on a short-staffed weekend and well, she got the knitting bug and has stayed on. About the time I decided I was going to open A Yarn Story, Jenny had decided she was going to start dyeing yarn. Before I had a business plan written and before I had seen anything of hers come out of a dye pot, I knew I wanted it on my shop shelves.

I snagged a skein of her first batch of Grafton 4-ply (photo above) immediately after it's release for my own personal stash and it was sooo good. She chose a Merino/Cashmere/Nylon base to dye and I chose Menace, a beautiful cool and tonal gray to make some mitts for a friends birthday*. I was in love and so I, off and on, pestered Jenny until she was ready to start dyeing larger batches and send some over to me. So I'm really excited to be carrying both Grafton 4-ply and Camden Tweed in the shop now.

The colors are luminous and fresh and make you want to knit all the things. She has a mix of semi-solids and variegated colourways to choose from. My current favorites are the Camden Tweed in Acid Crush and the Grafton 4-ply in Hocus Pocus.

Grafton 4-ply is a 80% merino/ 10% cashmere/ 10% nylon blend. It's soft and plush and will make anything from some special socks to a baby cardi, shawl or light weight sweater.

Camden Tweed is a 85% Merino/ 15% Donegal Nap blend, fingering weight yarn. It's a lovely, soft and modern tweed. Make a cute cowl or fun shawl to wrap yourself up in.

If you are looking for some pattern inspiration both Carol Feller and Woolly Wormhead have designed patterns using the Grafton 4-ply; Georgian Heights and Sophora respectively.

Jenny took the time to answer some questions for me as well and give us a little insight into her process and her story of becoming an indie yarn dyer.

Q: When did you start knitting and who taught you?

A: Unlike most, I didn't have any lessons in school. When my Mum Jacqui and Sister Lisa started This is Knit nearly 10 years ago and the new topic of conversation at the dinner table was wool, needles and patterns, I decided to give it a go. Between the two of them helping me, I managed to finish one leg warmer and a cushion cover. I could knit and purl but couldn't fix my mistakes!

It was 3 years ago when the shop was short-staffed one weekend, I stepped in to help and haven't stopped knitting since.

Q: Why did you want to start dyeing your own yarn?

A: A few reasons really, I trained as a hairdresser many years ago now and always wanted to be a creative colour technician. For personal reasons though, I couldn't work in a salon full-time. So I suppose this gave me the opportunity to be creative, just with a different kind of fibre!

I also wanted to have an input to the family business and a way to bring my own stamp to it.

Q: What's your colour inspiration?

A: I think my mood controls a lot of what goes into the dye pots. I like the creativity of freeform dyeing.

If I don't work off a to-dye list I can get carried away with just producing new shades!

Q: How do you choose the yarn bases you want to dye?
A: Two ways - Working on the shop floor in TIK, you get customers asking for different fibre contents in a certain weight of yarn so I try to listen to what they are looking for.

I then try different samples, look at how they feel in the skein, how they react to the dyeing process and then how they knit up.

Q: What do you find most challenging about being an indie-dyer?
A: At this point it's juggling being an indie-dyer (from my kitchen) and being a mother of 2. There has been many late night dye sessions once they've gone to bed. I am having a studio built at the moment though so things should get easier soon.

Q. Where does the name Townhouse Yarns come from?
A: This is Knit is located in the Powerscourt Townhouse shopping centre in the centre of Dublin.  The building has a rich history and was originally the Dublin residence of Lord Wingfield (the Lord of Powerscourt in Co. Wicklow).  One day we had a visitor from the Dublin Georgian Society who told us how the building used to be the holding centre for all the wool that the Wingfield family would export from their Estate. So I thought it was quite fitting for the new venture.

The building is also located in what's called the Creative Quarter of Dublin, which ties in nicely with the names of the yarns Grafton, Chatham, Camden and Trinity - they are all streets or places located in the same area.

Q: What do you love most about what you do?
A: At the risk of over using the word, just having the freedom to create and be creative!

 

What will you knit with these stunning new yarns?

-Carmen

*I didn't say which Birthday...

 


YITC Pop-Up Marketplace Re-cap September 11 2015

 Last Saturday we took the shop to the Yarn in the City Pop-up Marketplace in Chelsea Old Town Hall in London. This was part of the Great London Yarn Crawl event that Yarn in the City (YITC) has been putting on for the last few years. The Yarn Crawl is a charity event and raises money for Refuge. I had the chance to partake in the crawl last year, which was super fun so when I heard they were adding a Pop-Up Marketplace to the even this year, I said 'sign me up!'

It's really hard to decide what to take to an event like this when there are so many nice things to choose from. We packed up a selection of Shibui Knits, Hedgehog Fibres, Life in the Long Grass and Sweet Georgia Yarns as well as a couple of new goodies.

We launched a brand new yarn last Saturday and it seems you like it as much as we do.  Townhouse Yarns are hand-dyed in Dublin, Ireland by the lovely Jenny Sisk and we've brought in her lush Grafton 4-ply and Camden Tweed. I'll tell you much more about her story and her yarns next week but for now here are a couple of yarn photos:

 

The "I Wish I Was an Octopus" necklace and brooch made their debut last Saturday as well. Once again the talented Designosaur is behind this exclusive creation. I've been proudly wearing my necklace all week :) Both the brooch and necklace are now availble via the website. And of course "Tolly" the alpaca gauge came with us too.

I can't leave out the lovely Kate Atherely, she joined us at the booth for most of the day signing copies of her brand new book Custom Socks. Signed copies of this as well as her other books Beyond Knit and Purl, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers and Knit Accessories are available on the website. So if you didn't get to partake in the event last weekend, you can still pick up a copy.

Chelsea Old Town Hall is an amazing venue and a beautiful setting for an event like this. I kept looking up throughout the day and just being blown away by the beauty of the building. Aside from my love of the building, it was also really amazing to meet so many lovely yarny people. Thank you so much to everyone who came by, it was lovely to meet you!

Hope to see you again next YITC.

-Carmen


Yarn Profiles: SweetGeorgia Yarns July 08 2015

This week I am finally getting around to something I have been promising to do from the start, I am profiling one of the lovely yarn companies we carry in the shop. This post is all about the fabulousness that is SweetGeorgia Yarns (SGY).

SweetGeorgia yarns are hand-dyed in Vancover, Canada by Felicia Lo and her team. Felicia started SGY in 2005 in her kitchen and it grew from there. (I highly recommend watching the video on the page in that link). I knew SGY from yarn shops in the states but hadn't seen it much in Europe and I really re-fell in love with all the beautiful colors after seeing their stand at Wonderwool last year. I took to their website to learn more and felt an instant connection to their brand and their concept. The SGY tag line is: "passionate, relentless and unapologetic color" and that becomes clear the instant you see their yarn. Unapologetic color is the absolute best way to describe the SGY palette, it is an array of stunningly saturated colors, all of which you will want to have, immediately.

Choosing the colors for the shop was a mind blowing task the first time around for this very reason, not only do they have some of the most incredible yarn bases to choose from but also an incredible range of color choice - I think they currently have almost 100 colors and Felicia is always coming up with more. To hear Felicia speak, which I had the opportunity to do at Unwind Brighton last year, is to listen to someone who is 100% passionate about what she is doing and it shows in the products she creates.

So enough about my girl-crush on Felicia and onto the fabulous SGY yarns we have here in the shop and why I love them...

Trinity Worsted was a yarn that I had only seen a sample skein of but I'm pretty sure I would have ordered it just based on it's fiber content alone, it's a truly luxurious blend of 70% superwash merino, 20% cashmere, 10% silk and has both a glorious sheen and drape to it while maintaining excellent stitch definition. 

As soon as I saw the patterns in the recently released Tempest I knew I had to knit the First Beach cowl. This pattern can be knit in either a shorter version that uses 2 skeins (1 of each color) or a deeper version that uses 2 skeins of the main color and 1 skein of the contrast color. I chose to knit the deeper version because I wanted a nice cosy cowl for the fall and winter. This pattern was a dream to knit up and I will absolutely be making myself a jumper in this yarn at some point, I just need to decide on a color...

We also have the ever popular and SGY staple: Tough Love Sock. This is a fantastic all around fingering weight yarn as it's made up of 80% superwash merino and 20% nylon and each skein is 115g with 388m of yarn to work with. So it will absolutely hold up to some wear and tear on your feeet but will also make a lovely cardigan as in Seaswell which is another pattern from Tempest. This was knit up for the shop by KnitInHarmony and it's a great example of what this yarn can do and how versatile it is.

Next up is an example of the lush Superwash DK in Mist which Nadia of Abso-knitting-lutely knit up for the shop. She chose the beautiful Melanie Berg shawl pattern Kir Royale and boy did she fall in love with this yarn! You can read her full yarn review over on her blog. This yarn is 100% superwash merino and comes in a 115g skein; a perfect yarn for just about anything. 

Superwash Six is a beautiful 100% superwash merino chunky weight yarn. It's the perfect yarn for a winter hat, a cosy cowl or some mittens. It's super smooshy and soft and has amazing stitch definition. This is a version of Rachel Brown's Bonfire Night cowl done in Mulberry by StitchAlli.

Not to be left out is the delicate and oh so soft Cashsilk Lace. Made up of 55% silk and 45% cashmere this yarn is the epitome of luxurious. 365m in a 50g skein will make you a little shawl such us the Shattered Sun Shawl designed by Felicia herself. Sweet Georgia's incredible colors just shine on this yarn.

 Last but not least we have the 60% fine kid mohair, 40% cultivated silk yarn, Silk Mist. This lace weight yarn can be used to make a fine shrug or ad a bit of glamour and texture to a project. Tempest has several patterns that feature this soft and fluffy yarn and customers have loved making the Mohair Bias Loop by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas. I don't have any finished photos to show off but I do plan on knitting up Eventide from Tempest in either Deep Cover or Silver later in the year.

So that is SweetGeorgia Yarns, can you tell that I LOVE them!?! New colors and new yarn will be arriving from the SGY studio later this summer and I'm so excited to share that with you when it arrives. Until then, happy knitting!

-Carmen

 


Time to Celebrate May 21 2015

It's been a busy few weeks behind the scenes here but now it's time to celebrate! The Grand Re-Opening party is this Saturday and I'm super excited. I am a strong believer in celebrating milestones and accomplishments, even if that is just the fact that it is a Wednesday and there is a chilled bottle of bubbly in the fridge. (Perhaps we'll talk about my love of Champagne in more depth at a later date.)

I've been posting about the party on social media for the last week or so and have been teasing our special guest, Dani Sunshine of Lioness Arts. I first came across Dani last year at Unwind Brighton, which was her brainchild and an absolutley brilliant yarny event in Brighton, and finally got to meet her in person at last year's Great London Yarn Crawl. In addition to loving her pattern aesthetic and yarns, I was really impressed by her knowledge and insight into the industry. The Grand Re-Opening party seemed the perfect opportunity to work with her and she has dyed up a custom clourway for AYS just for the event. The custom colourway, which we've named Aquae Sulis will be available in store on Saturday and if there is anything left over, I'll add them to website on Sunday.

Dani took the time to answer a few questions so that we could all get to know her a bit better. So, in her own words I'll let Dani tell you a bit more about herself and Lioness Arts:

AYS: Tell me a bit about yourself, a short intro to you.
Dani: I live in sunny Brighton with my family. My kids keep me very busy, I'm currently cooking my third baby :) I'm endlessly optimistic, which leads me to attempt all sorts of crazy schemes!

AYS: How long have you been dyeing yarn? How did Lioness Arts come about?
Dani: In April 2011 I attended a dyeing workshop hosted by Alice Yu of Socktopus. I really went just for fun, but it was an immediate love affair. I went home and immediately started experimenting with kettle dyeing. I stashed my first attempts on ravelry and other ravellers encouraged me to open an Etsy shop, and it soon became a full time job. It all happened so fast, I was a yarn dyer before I even realised what was happening. I'm so grateful to the ravelry community for that, it's been such a great experience so far!

AYS: Were you a designer or dyer first?
Dani: I'd written a few patterns before I started selling yarn, but I'd say both have evolved together. I like doing both because I use very different parts of my brain for dyeing and designing. Dyeing yarn lets me be creative, messy, and take risks. Pattern writing is the opposite - turning a garment in to maths and accurate explanations.

AYS: What inspires you when you are creating colours?
Dani: Pretty much anything can inspire a new colourway. Mainly I experiment by combining colours as I go and see what happens, letting the process take charge. My motto is 'if in doubt, add more blue'. I feel most inspired when I see unusual combinations of colours. I love creating tonal colourways with lots of depth - like the special one I've dyed for A Yarn Story!

AYS: What is your favourite thing about working in this industry?
Dani: Knitters! Knitters are the best people :)

AYS: Tell me a bit about your actual dyeing process and what makes hand dyed yarn so special.
Dani: The best thing about hand dyed yarn is that every skein is special. I don't makes notes or recipes for my colours, I have a clear picture in my mind of what a colourway name means to me and that's what I try to achieve each time I dye it. I think of dyeing yarn as being like painting, each batch is a work of art, and each is unique. Wow, that sounds pretentious, I guess you could call me a typical artist type :D

That's it for now, I've got to get back to preparations; I hope you can make it to the party on Saturday but if you can't you can still help us spread the word on Instagram. We're running a contest there to win a skein of Life in the Long Grass Dappled, so go check it out.
 
-Carmen

New Series: I Wish I Was An Octopus... April 20 2015 2 Comments

I made mention of starting a series of blog posts called "I wish I was an octopus" at the start of the year and well, I've finally gotten around to it. This is going to be a monthly series in which I talk about the projects on my needles and the projects I wish I had on my needles. As is probably the case with many of you, there are a hundred beautiful projects out there I want to knit and I only have two arms. But see, if I were an octopus it would be a whole other story.

On my active needles at the moment, (I say "active" because I have at least 4 WIPs in a basket in my office) is the simple but gorgeous In Stillness by Alicia Plummer, which I am knitting up in The Uncommon Thread Everday Worsted in Pontus. I can't take the credit for finding this pattern, it was a customer who sent me a photo (the one I used below) of her finished sweater and I instantly fell in love. I love things that aren't too fussy, that are simple and elegant in design but with a little something special. This ticks all those boxes. Alicia designed the pattern in Everyday Worsted and it is a perfect match. The stitch definition is incredible and of course the colors are amazing too. I'm hoping to whip this up pretty quickly so I can get on to one of these other projects.

I have been searching around for a baby blanket pattern for a while now as good freinds of mine are about to have their second. I have done a few baby blanket gifts in recently and while I am happy to repeat a pattern I loved, I was looking for something new and hadn't been finding anything that inspired me. That is until last week when this was in my instagram feed:

How great is this blanket!?! It's the latest release from Tin Can Knits and it's called Fly Away which is part of their new book Max & Bodhi's Wardrobe. I have yet to decide what yarn to use but I'll let you know when I do. It's going to be a belated gift as the baby is due in a couple of weeks and there is no way I'll get it done before then.

I have also been drooling over several versions of Stephen West's pattern Dotted Rays. I love both the single color versions and the super-multicolored ones. If I went single color it would have to be Sweet Georgia Yarns Tough Love Sock in Sapphire. It is just the most goreous blue and such a great yarn to work with. It would make a great Dotted Rays. If I went multi-colored route, then I would dig out some leftovers from my stash, as the cresents at the start of the shawl don't use much yardage it'd be a great way to use up some stash that will otherwise not find a home very quickly. Add in some Hedgehog Fibres Sock in Teacup and Skein Top Drawer Sock in Smokestack Lightning. (I'm having a bit of a blue/teal obsession at the moment if you haven't noticed.) 

Last on my list of things I wish I was knitting is Belle by Coco Knits. A perfect pattern for Shibui Knits Linen, a great summer sweater that could be thrown on over a tank top, a bikini or a dress. It's a super flattering shape and only requires 3 skeins for the small and medium while the large only needs 4. I've been eyeing the Fjord colourway for a while now but Cascade has started to speak to me as well, so I just don't know.

Belle

Let's recap for a moment, shall we? I am knitting a sweater, I want to be knitting a blanket, another sweater and a rather large shawl... I'm going to have to pick some smaller projects soon. And I'm definetly on a bit of a blue kick at the moment, all shades of blue. 

I want to say a quick thank you to my friend Dominique for her beautiful illustration, which is the official mascot for this blog series. You'll be seeing more of the octopus in the near future, so watch this space.

Until the next edition, happy knitting.

-Carmen

 


Trunk Show: Pom Pom Quarterly Spring 2015 April 07 2015 1 Comment

The Spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly is full of beautiful, minimalist patterns just right for this inbetween season. There are some hats and mits in case it's still chilly in your neck of the woods and the sweater patterns have a a relaxed yet elegant feel to them, the perfect items to throw on with a pair of shorts on a warm day or your favorite pair of jeans and some flip flops.

I've been drooling over the patterns since the issue was released and even more so since the Trunk Show arrived in the shop April 1st. It's so great to see the garments in person and contemplate what yarns I might knit each pattern in. So, here are my suggestions for some of my favorite patterns from this issue.

Lus by Mer Stevens is super light and delicate in the Merino/Mohair yarn that it is originally knit in, I think a fabulous alternative would be Shibui Knits Cima which is a superbaby alpaca/merino blend that would give both the stitch definition and delicacy required for this pattern. I think a combo of either Ivory/Fjord of Mineral/Bordeaux would be excellent.

If there was a sweater with my name on it, it is Mångata by Candiss Koentizer. This is so me and I'm really excited to get started on it. I've been back and forth about which yarns and which colors on this project, as you need the same color in two yarn weights. I've decided that either The Uncommon Thread in Everyday Worsted and Singleton in Aged Merlot and Into Dusk or Sweet Georgia Yarns Trinity Worsted and Tough Love Sock in either a Mulberry/Slate combo or a Mink/Tumbled Stone is the way to go.

The cover pattern Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay is the perfect everday cardigan with just a touch of flair in those bobble circles along the button bands. The yarn called for is a DK/light worsted weight so there are plenty of gorgeous yarn options. Sweet Georgia Yarns Superwash DK in Oceanside, Ultraviolet or Silver would make great a version of this pattern as would Malabrigo Rios in Aguas.

Last on the sweater list for today is Lysende by Handy Kitty (can we just take a moment to say what an amazing name that is?). This is knit in a DK weight Merino/Silk blend but I would actually really like to see it knit up in Kettle Yarn Co. Islington. I think the sheen and drape of this yarn would work really well for this pattern even though it is a fingering weight. My color pick is Lotus.

In the latest Pomcast Lydia and Sophie reviewed Shibui Knits Pebble yarn and suggest it as a good yarn for Blommande by Hanna Maciejewska and I have to agree. Pebble held double in either Ivory or Poppy would be a beautiful choice for this pattern. The Uncommon Thread Singleton in Into Dusk is also a great springy choice. This is a very versatile shawl pattern and with a garter stitch body it should knit up quite quickly, just in time for the first BBQs of the season.

Which is your favorite pattern from this issue and what would you knit it in?

 The Trunk Show continues here in the shop until April 21st, so stop by and check everything out in person.

-Carmen

Photo credit of the #PPQ12 patterns goes to Ana Mercedes.