If you've ever encountered Midwinter Yarns at a fibre show, you'll probably have met Mark. He can usually be found knitting away on the stand and usually chatting up a storm or in quiet moments making sure the yarn is organized and tidy - he has a thing about this. Mark is the other half of the Midwinter Yarns story, we chatted with Estelle last year; both equally passionate about their yarns and their knitting.
Caption: Mark knitting away at Yarndale Photo by Victoria Magnus
I encountered Midwinter Yarns for the first time at the first UK fibre show I attended a few years ago. It was Wonderwool Wales and I believe it was their first show as well. It was Mark I met on the stand - not yet a knitter at the time but very enthusiastic and helpful and I was convinced to walk away with enough yarn to knit several sets of mittens. He has since become an avid knitter and has quickly expanded his repertoire, though as you'll read below, he has a favorite he goes back to again and again.
So here is Mark's story, I think you'll enjoy it:
Q: What is currently on your needles?
Currently there is yet another Linus shawl on my needles! It's my 5th or 6th one now, but we had some new colours come in just ahead of the pop-up and they just looked so good together. It's the Dark Crocus combined with the new Cerise on Grey.
Q: When did you start knitting? Who taught you?
It's quite a funny story, actually. One of the first shows we attended after setting up Midwinter Yarns was Unwind in Brighton. I didn't yet knit at this point, but approached yarn-selling from my retail background. I was familiar with the weights and lengths and prices and was serving two gentlemen when they asked...."But what is it like to knit with?". I had to admit that I didn't knit and they took a step back and looked me up and down with raised eyebrows. I had no choice but to ask Estelle to teach me once we got home. My learning project was a garter stitch cowl which is somehow much looser at the end than the beginning, and has some short rows in places where there really shouldn't be any.
Q: What do you enjoy most about knitting? What keeps you coming back to the craft?
I enjoy creating with a medium that I had not really considered before (I have degree Mixed Media Fine Art) and seeing the colours and textures develop. I also enjoy keeping my hands occupied and am starting to reach the stage where I feel restless if I'm sat with nothing to do.
Q: Do you have a favorite thing to knit?
I do most of my knitting while on the stand at wool shows, so I prefer simpler knits that allow me to keep talking to customers. This is why I've ended up making so many Linus shawls! They're very simple to knit, but the ever-changing gradient colours keep them exciting.
Q: What is the last project you completed?
eeeeeeerrrrr.....a Linus? I have knitted other things, honestly, but the last one was the "Funky" Linus. It was a colour combination picked up by a customer: the very bright Cerise-Orange with the equally unsubtle Blue Blend. We were a little skeptical at first, but when she sent us pictures through, it actually looked fantastic and is now part of the standard kits.
Q: You are part of a yarny business, how did you get started with Midwinter Yarns?
I was only supposed to be the help! But then my many years in retail kicked in and I started to get more and more involved. I really enjoy talking to customers and have found the yarn business to be full of very passionate and creative people. It's different from selling someone, say, a pair of shoes. Each hank is something that someone will spend time working with, maybe as a treat for themselves, maybe as a thoughtful gift. It's just more involved and I like that.
Q: Where do you get inspiration from?
I knit whatever Estelle tells me we need on display!
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?
I'm still fairly new to the craft, so I've started by familiarising myself with the Midwinter range and have mostly worked with that. I do have a small stash from various shows though, and one of my favourites at the moment is from Dye Ninja. I like her deep saturated colours and we've bonded over our love of Terry Pratchett as the proceeds from some of her colours go to an Alzheimer charity in his name.
Q; How has knitting effected your life? or What role does knitting play in your life?
Knitting has become very central to my life - almost all my traveling and a whole new set of friends has emerged from working with Midwinter Yarns. I've also discovered that there is a great nerd community amongst the knitters where I feel right at home.
The Midwinter Yarns Pop-Up runs from 15. October - 22. October in the shop with a wide selection of their scrumptious Scandinavian yarns, including a super special kit for the iconic Baa-ble Hat by Donna Smith, which you can see modeled here by both Mark and Estelle.