A Yarn Story

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...

 


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