A Yarn Story

Your Yarn Story: Rosee Woodland January 26 2018

We're really excited to be hosting the multi-craftual and multi-talented Rosee Woodland in the shop for a few workshops and I thought it would be great to have her share her Yarn Story with us.

Rosee is a knitting designer and writer but she also sews, crochets, makes and works as a technical editor and stylist too. Read on to learn more about Rosee's passion and inspiration.

Rosee Woodland

Q: What is currently on your needles?
A: Some rainbow socks for commuting knitting, a new cable mitten design, a design in Socks Yeah yarn that I really must finish, and, most importantly, the swatches for my new book.

Greenwich Village socks by Rosee Woodland

Q: When did you start knitting/crocheting? Who taught you?
A: My nana taught me to knit when I was about seven and my mum taught me to sew around the same time. There are textile people going back generations in my family; my great grandfather was a tailor, his wife was seamstress to Lady Winston Churchill (!) and my aunt had a small fashion label before she retired, so it’s in the blood! Having said that, although I’ve always sewed, knitting didn’t really ‘take’ until I was in my late 20s, but from then on I was addicted. I taught myself to crochet a while later from Debbie Stoller’s Happy Hooker book.

Q: What do you enjoy most about knitting? What keeps you coming back to the craft?
A: I love how versatile knitting can be. I’m a big fan of strong colour, which you don’t find much of in high street shops, so I enjoy how freeing it is to make my own clothes in whatever hue I choose. I’m tall with long arms, so I also appreciate being able to adapt patterns to fit me perfectly. I usually have to add 10cm to ‘normal’ length sleeves!

Owl Feathers cardigan by Rosee Woodland

Q: Do you have a favourite thing to knit?
A: Socks were my first knitting passion and you can get such great yarns for them these days (hello La Bien Aimee!) but yoked sweaters are my absolute favourite. I have designed a few (more coming soon...) and it’s so satisfying working out how to adjust the yoke patterning as the stitch count decreases. You can make them super colourful too and I just find them really fun to design.

Q: You're a multi-craftual person and also crochet and sew too. Do you have a favourite craft? How do you balance your time between all your interests and makes?
A: I don’t really have a favourite craft. Knitting is probably what I’m most skilled at, and I love its portability, but please don’t make me choose! I am also pretty obsessed with quilting, but I’ve decided to keep that for myself, rather than doing anything professional with it. To be honest, I’m not great at balancing my crafts as I have so many unfinished projects. If I didn’t have to work I’d quite happily just make things all day long!

Sigga sweater by Rosee Woodland

Q: You're also a knitting designer and are teaching our Design Your Own Jumper class. Where do you get inspiration from?
A: I take a lot of inspiration from the natural world - my use of colour is bold, but it usually comes from something natural to start with. I am a keen wild swimmer and freediver so I get to see beautiful marine animals up close and they really inspire me.The wildlife, plants and flowers on my allotment give me lots of ideas too. I’m also really interested in the history of textile crafts and have a lot of books about traditional knitting that help me with starting points for designs.

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: I’m probably most smitten by traditional style ‘workshorse’ yarns, like Jamieson and Smith Jumper Weight or Frangipani Gansey yarn. At the other end of the scale, I also adore the speckled yarns that are so on trend and have bought quite a few hanks of La Bien Aimee from A Yarn Story - the colours are absolutely incredible. But if I have to choose, I would go with Cascade 220 - a worsted weight pure wool that comes in a zillion colours. It’s an incredibly versatile yarn - I’ve used it on 3mm and 6.5mm needles and everything in between to great effect. The shade range is the widest I’ve found and really frees me up to be completely creative and express my love of colour.

Montana hat by Rosee Woodland

Q: How has knitting affected your life? Or, what role does knitting play in your life?
A: Well, without knitting I’d probably still be a news journalist, which is how I began my career. I worked on a big local daily paper and it was a very fast-paced, high pressure environment with six editions to get out every day. After years on the paper I ended up as deputy news editor. It was a job I loved, but it was an absolute grind, so I started knitting again to bring some calm to the rare free moments I had during a long newsdesk shift. My editor was totally bemused, but knitting reawakened my love of all crafts, and I eventually side-stepped into magazines, editing The Knitter and Knit Today, before going freelance a couple of years ago. I don’t miss the newsroom at all and love my work these days, as a writer, designer, technical editor and tutor. It gives me creative freedom and I don’t have all that crazy stress any more! 

Rosee will be teaching Design Your Own Jumper over two days this April and a Learn to Knit Socks class this February. Update: The socks class is now sold out but we'll be scheduling it again so send us an email and we'll put you on the list to be notified when it's running again.

- Carmen


Your Yarn Story: Justyna Lorkowska May 24 2016

A few months ago I received a really lovely e-mail to my inbox from a designer that I had been following and admiring for a while now. That designer is Justyna Lorkowska of Lete's Knit whose elegant yet fun designs are a pleasure to knit and wear. Justyna is an incredibly versatile designer and creates equally sophisticated shawl patterns as well as chunky cabled accessories. It is this range of designs that I particularly admire.

Justyna will be coming over from her home in Poland in a few weeks and teaching a couple of her very popular classes Eastern Uncrossed Knitting and The Beauty of Knitted on Borders. She'll also be in the shop for a Trunk Show on Saturday 11 June from 11-1pm to show of her beautiful samples and sign patterns. I asked Justyna if she would answer a few questions about her knitting journey for us and she happily obliged, so here is her yarn story:

Q: What is currently on your needles?

A: 
I’m a very polygamous knitter, which means that my needles are constantly busy. At the moment I’m working on several different projects. I’m finishing a new shawl design.  I’m also knitting a simple striped sweater in my husband’s first hand-dyed yarn. I’m working on a couple of collaborations, as well as a very special project that's particularly close to my heart. As you can see, there’s no room for boredom.

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

A: Actually I began crocheting first when I was a young girl, but watched my mom with her knitting needles all the time, and my transition to knitting somehow happened on its own. I observed her and tried to copy what she was doing, and this is probably why I knit a little bit differently. She had been taught by her mother-in-law (my grandma) whose family came from the East.  Thus I've knit Eastern Uncrossed style since childhood. 

3. What do you enjoy most about knitting? What keeps you coming back to the craft?
You want to know the truth? It is largely the pride I feel when I wear something I have made with my own hands. There is just something magical in every stitch you’ve created yourself. Knitting also gives me an outlet for my creativity. Actually, it’s not only knitting. I love spinning, weaving and sewing as well. All of them give me a sense of accomplishment and joy.

Q: Do you have a favorite thing to knit?


A: Recently I’ve been knitting lots of shawls. They are so much fun to make. Probably like most knitters I often fall in love with an irresistible yarn so I buy a single skein and then nothing happens. Shawls are perfect for using those lonely skeins. I also enjoy knitting for my kids, but mostly because their knits are cute and fast to make. My most dreaded knits are endless seas of Stockinette, sleeves, and simple scarfs.

Q: What is the last project you completed?

A: That’s a dress! I started it in January just for fun and because I saw a gorgeous lace motif in one on my stitchionaries. I was knitting it on and off for a couple of months (yes, the dreaded endless Stockinette!), but now it’s done and I can’t wait to wear it.

Q: Do you have a design philosophy that guides you?

A: I’m not sure if it’s a philosophy, but I always try to make something I would gladly wear myself. If I wouldn’t, I just don’t make it. I like simple knits with a twist, and I always try to achieve a balance in colors and patterning.



Q: You are very versatile in what you design, everything from shawls, garments and hats, to children's clothing: do you have a favorite item to design? Why is it your favorite?

A: 
Not really. I like everything, and the things I make come straight from my heart. If I stop loving it, I just rip it without hesitation. As I said, if I don’t want to wear it, I won’t make it.


Q: Where do you get inspiration from?

A: Mostly from my stash and knitting books. The ideas from both mix in my head and then are transferred onto the needles. Sometimes I do draw a sketch, but that’s mostly when I’m discussing the final ideas for collaborations.

9. 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?

That’s a very hard question. I have a couple of yarn crushes which won’t go away - not that I’m trying to fight them ;-)  I love everything dyed by Vikki of Eden Cottage Yarns. I’m fascinated by the colors from Triskelion. I’m closely observing Snail Yarn. And now I’m almost “swimming” in yarn as my own husband has begun dyeing.



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

A: Knitting has had a huge impact on my life, and at the moment it seems my whole family is “infected”. I knit every day, and it has become my profession (I used to teach in my previous life).  My husband plays with yarn and acid dyes. My son is trying to talk me into buying a sheep, and my daughter is begging me to teach her crochet. One crafty family, huh?

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give someone who is just starting out as a designer?

A: Work hard. Talent is just 1%; the rest is just work.  

If you'd like to join us for one of Justyna's classes you can sign-up here.

-Carmen