Tag Archives: Yarn

My best of Wonderwool

At Wonderwool there were hundred of thousands of beautiful yarns and fibre related products to wipe out our bank balance on. Fortunately I didn’t buy enough to wipe out the bank balance so the things I chose were all carefully considered and so, I think, worth writing about.

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I didn’t buy anything until about 2pm having arrived around 11.30am. I wanted to buy circumspectly and to adore the things I chose and I’m feeling like that was a great philosophy to go with. I definitely worked for me. I didn’t buy loads, mainly because my stash is fairly full, and fairly full of some really nice stuff that I want to use within the next year. And also because the spinning wheel has been on the horizon for a while and I knew that that would detract from my knitting time and also that I would need to waste some fibre getting the hang of it. I’m expecting lots of over twisted squiggly stuff that probably won’t ever get knit with. And the first thing I bought when we got buying at Wonderwool was a spinning wheel.

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I bought it from Ann Fisher Rhodes. I had already figured out by reading blogs and forums that I wanted to get a wheel with a double treadle and had identified Kromski as a make that gets talked about for both it’s quality and it’s good value. My husband and I had talked about it quite a bit and felt that we didn’t want to go for something cheap if it compromised on how nice it was to use or how long it would last, but we also didn’t want to pay for a name or to assume that the most expensive available is the best. I hunted through the list of stall holders on the Wonderwool website and found Ann and emailed her. When she was so helpful in her response and on the day, I felt like this was a great place to purchase my wheel.

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Having made such a big purchase I was quite aware of not getting tempted by every stall carrying yarn. Quite quickly though there was a stall that really stood out for me. The yarns were really lustrous, beautiful colours. Vibrancy and brilliance shone out from every strand of yarn with some gorgeous colours. And small dye lots. This really looked like yarn that had been loved in creation and it was back to this stall that I headed once I had had a good look round. The yarn is from Juno Fibre Arts and I chose a fingering weight had dyed yarn, 50% silk 50% merino wool.
On making my purchase the feel I had about the stall was reinforced. The lady selling the yarn seemed so pleased that I liked it so much and had chosen to buy it. I don’t know, but I suspect she was the dyer. As you can imagine I was fairly effusive about the whole thing which made her beam which made me beam too. That thing again, of noticing the bit of soul inside..

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I made one other purchase (see, I really was restrained!) at a fibre stall that Sam the Inspiration recommended to me. I wanted to buy a reasonable quantity of a couple of different types of fibre to begin spinning with. I didn’t want anything too special as I’m aware that the fate of at least some of this will be to become tangle but I also wanted something that I would enjoy working with. And something fairly flexible. Which is to say, undyed so that I can ply it together in various combinations, do some experimenting without feeling that I’m going to get something at the end that I wouldn’t really want to to knit with anyway. Like a mixture of blue and yellow or something. So I bought 400g of white merino wool and two 200g plaits of Shetland. we have yet to see what becomes of it but I’m sure next year at Wonderwool I’ll be heading to various fibre sellers looking for something special to spin. I’ll have got the hang of it by then. I hope…

Inspiration

I wanted to write a post about how I got started with knitting and what it has done to my life. That sounds like a grand entry but then this has become quite a big thing for me.

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Sam teaching knitting

I have the usual “my grandmother taught me” line to begin with, although I’m not sure she quite managed it. She taught me to do the knit stitch. But not to purl or to cast on or off. I guess maybe as a seven year old I just wasn’t interested enough. More fool me. I hadn’t really thought that about it much since then until I was pregnant with my son. There were some long, sick months with that and it occurred to me that maybe although I couldn’t get up off the bed, I could perhaps sit in bed and knit. I was wrong. I couldn’t. So I didn’t.

Then when my son was a year old we went to the Cotswolds for a weekend with a group of friends. There was a couple there I hadn’t met before. And on the Saturday evening Sam casually got out of her bag a beautiful book of knitting patterns and a pretty blue hat she was working on. Several of us eyed up what she was doing, flicked through her book, chatted about knitting and the fact that we didn’t, and then carried on with our weekend. I spent quite a bit of time that weekend thinking about Sam’s knitting. I hadn’t seen knitting books like that before. It was a Kim Hargreaves one. And the yarn she was using. That looked nice. And squooshy. I like squooshy. A couple of weeks later I picked up a book and some acrylic yarn and within six months I had completed a strange roll neck sleeveless tank top thing, a shawl and a cardigan. Admittedly the sleeves of the cardigan were several miles too long but I had the bug, and the more I experimented the more I discovered. Things like ravelry, online patterns, knit companion, and beautiful yarn. A whole world of knitting.

And from that point I have never really had problems with feeling down and blue again. And that is what knitting has done for me. I had interests before, things I still enjoy now – playing and listening to music, reading, writing – but not a hobby that was a real passion. I didn’t often feel down and blue but it came up every now and again. Now, if I feel any of that coming on I know to head straight for my needles, which isn’t hard. They are never far away.

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Last week I went to Wonderwool and there I met up with Sam and her lovely husband and beautiful children. We had corresponded quite a bit since the weekend in the Cotswolds but hadn’t actually seen each other. It was fantastic to see her again, talk about our projects and the projects we are dreaming of. I will always be grateful to her and her Kim Hargreaves book for giving me a glimpse of the delight that comes from a gorgeous pattern paired with the perfect yarn.

Wonder wonder wonderwool!

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At the weekend I went to my first fibre festival – Wonderwool, held at the Welsh National Showground in Builth, Wales. I was very excited! The kind of excited where you can’t sleep for dreaming of what’s coming up and also the kind where when it’s over you can’t sleep for excitement of remembering all it turned out to be.

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It was a fair drive for us, around two and a half hours, and the family all came along for the ride which was nice. There wasn’t loads of stuff for kids which was understandable although it would be a good avenue to explore: finding fun stuff for children to do to introduce them to the wonders and variety of working with natural fibres. There was a whole heap for any kind of yarn lover though: hand dyed yarns, fibre, felt, buttons, tools, notions, nicknacks.

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I had a class booked in Woolschool for 12pm. We arrived at around 11.30am and I really needed to grab some food before trying to learn some stuff so we headed straight for the food court. It was a good start – I chose some tasty curry which provided me with good lasting fuel for my drop spindle class. They definitely have a good catering set up.

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I bought my drop spindle maybe six months go and used YouTube, my excellent friend, to get the idea of it. Turned out not many people in the class had done that. Maybe it’s the demographic. For me that’s the first place to go when I want to learn something new. I’m going to be going there a lot in the next few months… The drop spindle class was fun and also interesting to note the differ teaching styles of the tutors. One was very clear about what she thought was the right way, another very clear that there isn’t a right way. It was a good combination. And it was reassuring to feel like I had kind of got the hang of it, because the reason I wanted to try it is that I’ve been thinking a lot about making my own yarn and about reaching further back in the process of making garments from wool. So having finished my class I hunted out the Krowski spinning wheels stand!

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I had emailed the stand owner, Ann Fisher Rhodes, prior to the day and she was willing to let me try some wheels and gave me some direction about how to get started. It must have been quite stressful for her trying to teach me – entirely a beginner – and helping out other customers. I was really grateful for her patience and encouragement. First I had a go on a portable wheel which was good, then I had a go on a Krowski Symphony and that was great!

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This was the one for me. A quick dash outside to the man with the money (I will be forever grateful) and the wheel is on its way to me. Hoping for its arrival any day soon! I’m sure it’s going to take some time and patience to get the hang of it, but I’m feeling so excited for this new venture to begin. Once I’ve mastered it, maybe then it’s time to get some sheep….

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Manos del Uruguay

So Dark and Stormy is coming on a treat. It has been such a fun pattern and I can now try it on. As long as it doesn’t grow too much in the wash it is going to be a good fit.

I did want to just provide a bit of a review on the yarn I am using. It’s the colour way Leo, 30% silk, 70% , merino wool. It’s quite variegated which I thought for a while that I wasn’t keen on but the longer I knit with it the more I love it, and I loved it quite a lot to begin with. It’s really soft and squooshy but also has a lovely sheen to it. The stitches stand out so well that even though it’s variegated you don’t lose the cables in the colours.

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It wasn’t that cheap, although I did get it on offer, and I’m totally a yarn snob. There is difference between cheap and expensive yarn and it is not only in the price..
The other thing I think is worth mentioning is the ethics of the company. Manos del Uruguay is a cooperative of artisan yarn dyers and on each skein is the name of the artisan who created your yarn. The idea is that these women working in rural Uruguay create something beautiful and they get paid a wage that reflects the skill and work they have put into their work. And I think you can feel that in the yarn. This is something that a person has made, not a machine. Which is central for me to what knitting is about. I’m really enjoying using this beautiful yarn and I am hoping that what I make with it will be beautiful too.

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