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With Love From Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016..

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I just waved goodbye to a good friend who had been teaching at EYF 2016 and was passing through Glasgow this morning. We never got a chance to connect during the festival itself – the weekend was hectic – so it was good to relax together for a few hours. This is what I both love and find so frustrating about fibre events: I get to see all these incredible people but I only meet them for a brief second.

Glimpses of connections. Fragments of conversations. Moments of meeting like-minded folks. I talked to Tori Seierstad on the bus about knitting local and Norwegian spinning mills. Donna Smith made a comment to me that made me think about knitting in a new light. Career advice was doled out (I both gave it and was on the receiving end – there will be a few changes going forward). I saw old friends and made new ones. And so many people I did not even know was there or that I missed seeing.

Never one for big crowds, I stayed away from the really big vendors – but the marketplace still felt really intense. So many lovely people! So much amazing knitwear! Such a buzz! It felt so exciting and so overwhelming. I was very thankful to have Mr D with me – not only does he love a good chat but he was also excellent at supplying me with coffee.

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I think it will take a few more days for me to process EYF 2016. It was more international than ever – I felt this both in the Corn Exchange itself and certainly in my classes. It also felt more colourful – if that makes sense. Knitters were more stylish than ever and I saw so much incredible colourwork and colour combinations. I saw some incredible yarns up close – from undyed single-breed yarns where the vendor could tell me the name of the sheep to the high-end luxury blends with saturated colours. Orange and yellow were everywhere, but plant-dyed yarns were also pretty hot. Shawls dominated (so many Byatts! I loved them!) and socks were definitely less of a thing than they had been in previous years.

But mostly, like all EYFs, it is all about the people. I got to spend time with some very awesome people and it made me so very happy. Thank you Jo & Mica for another terrific year!

hey ladies

This is one of my favourite photos. We were very, very silly.
L-R: Larissa of Travelknitter, me high on yarn fumes, Helen of the Wool Kitchen, and Amelia of Woollen Words

See You at EYF 2016, Lovelies

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I’m currently knee-deep in prepping for this year’s EYF. It’ll get done but I’m thankful I have Mr D chipping in! We will be at EYF Friday and Saturday (I’m also teaching Sunday). Will you be there? Wave your hands here, so I know to look out for you!!

(Note: I’m *terrible* with names & faces but can spot good knitwear from ten miles away! Don’t be offended if I mess up your name even if we spoke yesterday – I sometimes call my best friend by the wrong name!)

FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE

  • Come & say hello at the Ripples Crafts stand between 11.30am and noon.
  • I am teaching Pattern Writing in the afternoon – it’s a new & exclusive EYF class and I’m really looking forward to talk really nerdy stuff :)
  • I won’t be at the dinner or ceilidh, sorry.

SATURDAY’S ALRIGHT FOR, er, KNITTING (sorry Elton)

  • I’m teaching Faroese Shawls in the morning. Another new class and another one where I get a bit nerdy.
  • I’m doing a signing session/trunk show at Ysolda’s stall at 2.15pm. Bring your Wool Tribe magazines! Come and show me your projects! Grab a shawlfie with me! I’m bringing samples and patterns! Wheee!

LAZING ON A SUNDAY AFTERNOON..

  • Except I’m teaching Beaded Knitting in the afternoon. This is always one of the most relaxing workshops I teach and it’ll be a lovely way to wind-down after a hectic weekend.

GENERAL STUFF

  • Ripples Crafts will be stocking Frances Herself kits & is happy to talk colour choices if you cannot decide! She also has a few Byatt patterns in stock if you are looking for a hard copy. I won’t be bringing any Byatt patterns myself, just fyi!
  • The Queen of Purls is selling several of my patterns (including Mahy and Scollay) and is also bringing some really luscious samples. Her Mahy is just beautiful – go check it out!
  • I have recently cut my hair, so if you see a long-haired chubby brunette with a blunt fringe & black specs .. that is no longer me! I am now a bobbed-haired chubby brunette with a blunt fringe & black specs! I know this is a strange thing to point out but I have had this happen to an acquaintance recently!

RIGHT – WHO’S GOING?! What are your plans?

PS. If you are waiting for an email from me, please be patient. It’s all EYF prep, festival and recovery in Casa Bookish. If it’s urgent, please text me.

Getting Ready for Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016

March 2015 052I cannot believe Edinburgh Yarn Festival is less than two weeks away. Where did the time go?!

Last year I was so busy that I never really made it into the marketplace and I missed out on so much. This year I may be teaching three classes, but I’ve made sure not to overcommit myself. No pop-up stall, no evening shenanigans, and no .. well, okay.. I do have a few things planned but I’ll get back to those closer to the Festival.

If you have never been to a fibre festival before, I wrote a small survival guide last year. EYF is one of the biggest events on the knitting calendar and my guide contains some great tips.

However, I’ve heard from people that they think EYF sounds too big and stressful – this could not be further from the truth. Despite the apparent scale of EYF, it is rooted in community. It is a real celebration of the knitting community, you’ll be among like-minded people, and there are big pockets of calm throughout. Last year the Podcast Lounge was an amazing place to hang out with comfy sofas, people knitting, and lovely podcasters like Louise, Jo & Louise spreading joy (and calmness). It looks set to be another great year for the Lounge, so that’s a great place to visit if you need a break from the marketplace.

Speaking of the marketplace, I have quite a few places I want to check out.

Blacker Yarns is one of my top priorities. They are sponsoring the Podcast Lounge and I’m keen on seeing the Tamar colour range as well as checking out a few other yarns I am curious about. Jamieson’s of Shetland is always another draw for me. And naturally I am going to swing past my friends at Midwinter Yarns to have a look at their Nordic goodies. I’ve primarily worked with their Pirkkalanka yarns  from Finland, but the Ullcentrum and Filcolana yarns are also well worth a look. The Gotland yarn is particularly lovely but you do owe it to yourself to have a look at Pirkkalanka. I’m also excited about New Lanark showing up to spread the word about their fantastic workhorse yarns spun just down the road from me.

Then the small indie yarnies. I missed Dublin Dye last year and I was kicking myself. The Little Grey Sheep is also on my list (mmm, gradient packs) and I’m so excited to see The Wool Kitchen with their modern, zingy approach to dyeing. If you’ve yet to see the stunning mohair/Wensleydale yarns from Whistlebare, you are also in for a treat. I’ll be there gazing adoringly.

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And perennial favourites too. I think it’ll be the first visit up north for Kettle Yarn Company – do not miss her. Linda has some really special yarns and a painterly approach to dyeing. Caerthan of Triskelion is your go-to man for rich, deep, astounding jewel colours. Eden Cottage Yarns is another must-visit with her soft, wistful colour palette and unique bases. Skein Queen is back this year with her luxury yarns – I especially love her eye for semi-solids. My good friend Old Maiden Aunt will also be back with her dark, rich colours dyed on the West Coast of Scotland. Finally, Wollmeise. If you need an introduction to Wollmeise, try a Ravelry search. Wollmeise is stuff of knitting legends: strong, vibrant colours on bases that appeal to both sock fans and lace geeks. I think she might be quite busy but I’m still planning to drop by.

ETA. Pretty darn excited to hear that the Knitting Goddess is not just bringing her exquisite hand-dyed yarns (don’t miss her Colour Wheels) but also FQs with screen-printed knitting designs. I swooned over them on Twitter and will be first in line to see these wih my own eyes.

Skein Queen Gotland loveliness

Three stalls you and I won’t want to miss:

Shilasdair hails from the Isle of Skye and I used their stunning Luxury 4ply for my Burnet hat you’ll find in Wool Tribe. Their yarns are naturally dyed (the plants are still picked by hand) and the colours are inspired by the Scottish Highlands.

The Queen of Purls is not just my local yarn shop, but also the name under which Queen Zoe dyes her own yarns. She leans towards a soft, nature-inspired palette (particularly good on yellows and oranges which can be hard to find). It’ll be her first time vending at EYF as Queen of Purls and I cannot wait to see her selection.

Ripples Crafts probably needs no introduction either. Helen lives up, up, up north in the Highlands and dyes yarns that reflect her surroundings. She has a big number of fans already, but if you are curious to see the yarn I used for Frances Herself, do pop by. I am certainly planning to do so!

Finally, finally, I am planning on simply catching up with friends. Because Edinburgh Yarn Festival is essentially about catching up with friends, forging new friendship bonds and being part of a big, lovely, squishy community. See you there.

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Oh My Darling EYF2015

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The past weekend saw the second Edinburgh Yarn Festival happen. Just like the first EYF, it was absolutely brilliant. I don’t have many photos to show you. I was too busy to take photos and, while appreciative, David does not feel like taking 9500 photos of yarn stalls. I don’t quite know why.

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Old Maiden Aunt

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Baa Ram Ewe

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Podcaster Plutonium Muffin was drop-spindling this beauty

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The Evening Ca-BAA-Ret with the dream team, KNITSONIK and Ms Y.

March 2015 142Helene Magnusson had an exquisite stall

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Lovely to see rustic Scandinavian yarns in the UK

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This photo cracks me up because it makes me look like a photo-bomber.

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Weaving is the new spinning is the new knitting is the new yoga

Because I was so incredibly busy, I did not have time to make any purchases and I also missed out on seeing many, many friends (you know who you are). However, I did meet an incredible amount of amazing people and I had some really thought-provoking conversations. I honestly never knew so many of you read this blog and I am blown away by some of the insightful comments you made to me. It really made me think about big, hard things and on my way home on Sunday night, I wrote the first draft of the preface to my next big, big collection.

EYF 2015 was incredible. I have already thanked the organisers profusely, but I also want to thank Louise Scollay who really came through for me when I hit my Wall of Stress. The Podcast Lounge was a sanctuary for many people and I loved hearing all the small conversations between total strangers. EYF also had a very strong community feel with an emphasis on smart, bold people who march to a different beat. It was inclusive and positive – and it felt very personal and warm despite its size. I took a lot from it (not least hugs and chocolate).

Over the weekend I worked 35 hours, slept for seven hours, and travelled for six hours – and I would happily do it all over again. Just give me a week to recover from this one.

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Loved this bridge right by the EYF venue. Look at it!

An Edinburgh Yarn Festival Surprise!

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Released Soon: Proserpine

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Heads-up that the Proserpine shawl is heading for general release tomorrow (Wednesday, March 11). I will be bringing hard copies of it with me to Edinburgh Yarn Festival and you’ll be able to see the shawl on the Old Maiden Aunt stall.

The original sample was knitted out of two skeins of the truly gorgeous Triskelion Amaethon 4ply for the Arts & Crafts issue of Knit Now (and you’ll see me wear that at EYF). That sample was sadly unavailable for me to wear at the photo shoot, so I was incredibly lucky to have my friend Gwen step up to the challenge with a sample knitted in OMA merino 4ply in the “Crazy Ivan” colourway (observant readers will note that this is actually the same colourway/yarn I used for my Byatt shawl!).  Unfortunately Gwen is rather unwell, so I really appreciate her help and support on this. Thank you so, so much!

This week will be really unusual for me and I have a huge to-do list to get through before EYF. This means I won’t be around as much and I might take longer to reply to pattern support queries. I don’t know what possessed me to release a pattern during this week too, to be honest. I have these moments of “Yes, of course I’ll do that!” and then later I actually realise what I’ve decided to do may be .. slightly silly.

I’ll leave you with a gorgeous little piece of street art that David spotted the other day during our walk in the beautiful sunshine. Spring is here.

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The Fibre Festival Survival Guide – The Edinburgh Yarn Festival Edition

Attending a fibre festival is always a great day (or weekend) out. You are surrounded by people who love the same activities as you do, and you get to do some serious knitwear-spotting too. It can also be a really exhausting time because there are just so many things to see and do – and you might find yourself so overwhelmed that you end up leaving empty-handed and slightly burned out.

With Edinburgh Yarn Festival just around the corner, I thought I’d share some of my tricks for having a fabulous time.

 

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  • Plan ahead. Start by looking through the vendor list and visit their websites, so you know roughly what to expect. Make a short-list of your must-visit vendors and grab the official EYF programme to find out where their stalls are. This stops you from feeling completely overwhelmed by all the squishy yarn goodness on offer!
  • Plan ahead, pt 2. Look through your Ravelry queue and make a note of yarn requirements for those must-knit-next patterns in your queue. Do the same for any needles or hooks you may want to pick up at EYF. You don’t want to buy a 3mm needle when you actually wanted a 3.25mm needle! And nothing’s worse than picking up a perfect skein of yarn and then realising the pattern calls for two skeins!
  • Plan ahead, pt 3. If you are meeting up with far-flung friends at EYF, make sure you have exchanged phone numbers before heading out! Also make sure to describe yourself (“I’m short with curly brown hair and will be wearing a blue/white/yellow Colour Affection”) if you are meeting up with internet friends who may not have met you before.
  •  Food. If you have special dietary requirements, always make sure to bring a back-up lunch. Personally I always carry some bottled water to keep myself hydrated and a small bag of mixed nuts to snack on so my blood sugar stays level throughout the day.
  • Bags. Scotland has implemented the carrier bag charge (very good news for the environment!) so remember to bring your own carrier bags. You can also buy gorgeous tote bags at the events, of course.
  • Wear sensible shoes! You will be on your feet most of the day, so leave your high heels at home. I hear the “wear sensible shoes!” advice all the time and yet I keep seeing miserable-looking people in high-heeled boots at events.
  • Budget. Unless you are a multi-millionaire, chances are that you will have to make some tough decisions at EYF. Decide before you leave home how much you are going to spend. Decide how much you’ll spend on yarn, how much on notions, and how much on cute accessories like tote bags, mugs etc. Then leave room in your budget for impulse buys. Even the smallest budget should have an impulse buy allowance. You will fall in love with something unexpected.
  • Travel. The EYF brochure contains everything you need to know about transport, so make sure you know your train times and keep your tickets in a safe spot. Allow yourself plenty of time to get to and from the venue. Make sure you have a perfect travel project on the go – travelling to a fibre festival is part of the festival fun!
  • Be Social! Say hello to people! Smile and talk knitting while you are waiting in a queue. Let strangers know how awesome their cardigan is. Enjoy the atmosphere. If a vendor or a tutor has been especially incredible, let them know! Take pictures of amazing things and share them on the internet. Use the hashtag #EdinYarnFest both during the weekend and afterwards when you share your memories.
  • Remember to Breathe. Fibre festivals can be exhausting (especially because so many of us are introverts). If you get tired, take a break. If you need some fresh air, go for a short walk. Nothing is more important than you enjoying yourself, so be kind to yourself rather than push through. The perfect buttons will still be there ten minutes later.
  • And just have fun! This is going to be one of the highlights of your year.

And this from the comments (THANK YOU, Jackie!): “if you’re taking a class, make sure you check what you need to bring 5 days before you need it. Then you’ll have plenty time to stash-dive or pop to your nearest lys before the event itself!”

Looking Forward To The Edinburgh Yarn Festival, pt 2

March 2013 EYF

The second Edinburgh Yarn Festival is almost upon us. In part one I wrote a little bit about the first EYF and I touched upon some of the vendors I am really looking forward to seeing. I think it is time to write about what I’ll be up to and then look out for part 3 in which I’ll give you some tips on how to best navigate the festival!

I’ll be teaching two classes, both fully booked: how to use beads in knitted projects (there are several methods that’ll give you different results) and a continental knitting class. I’ve taught both classes before and they are so much fun to teach. The beading class usually has a lot of tiny beads rolling around and the continental class usually has people side-eyeing me as they try to make their hands do funny things.

I’ll be appearing in the Podcast Lounge with Louise Scollay at 11am, Sunday morning. We’ll be talking about the first day of EYF as well as catching up with all my news and I’ll try my best to make The Scollay spill a few beans too. If you listened to Knit British episode 18, you know you can expect a lot of banter – but also some more thoughtful reflections.

I’ll be at the Ca-BAA-ret on Saturday night – there will be door prizes galore, Felix Ford is performing and she’ll host a woolly pub quiz together with Ysolda. I’m one of the defending pub quiz champions from Unwind Brighton, so bring it on!

And I think I might also be doing a signing session at some point (I need to find the email). Once the programme goes live, I’ll have all the details for you and will be able to confirm things fully.

I’ll be bringing my Byatt shawl and don’t forget that if you wear a Byatt shawl to the Old Maiden Aunt stall, you get 10% off your purchase. Also, if you show up in a Byatt and you manage to grab a photo of yourself and me at EYF, you get a staggering 50% off my next Authors & Artists pattern. I’ll also be bringing the Proserpine shawl pattern which is going into general release in the days leading up to EYF.

Phew.

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I have been knitting a cardigan to wear at EYF. It’s a bit of a cheat as it’s actually not my own pattern, but I wanted to learn about different construction methods and didn’t have time to grade an entire cardigan and launch it at EYF. So, I’m two rows of buttonband-knitting away from having finished Andi Satterlund’s Hetty. It has been a super-quick knit and once I grasped the construction method, I was pretty much just away doing my own thing. I’m amazed that I’ve used just under 700 yards of worsted weight yarn to knit myself a cardigan. I’m not a petite lady.

(I’m tempted to start another EYF project, but that would just be madness! Right?)

Since I wrote my first post, several more vendors have been added. I simply won’t have enough time to really go in depth with stall-browsing, so I have spent time making a (very short) list of new-to-me vendors I really want to see. I’m excited about Black Bat Rare Sheep Wool, SiideGarte, Whistlebare Yarns, and Susan Sharpe Ceramics. Obviously I’ll have a good look at all the other stalls too and I cannot wait to see so many of my friends (I have a lot of hugs to hand out).

Will I see you at EYF? As these things can be a blur of faces, make sure to say who you are because I am rotten with names & faces (I remember knitwear though!). Many apologies – it’s totally me and not you.

Counting down the days now..

Hello Byatt KAL (and Other Things)

Thank you so much for all the lovely words regarding the Byatt shawl. It is my first real stand-alone release after I completed the Doggerland collection and I was nervous about what people might think. Doggerland was all about a very pared-down design vocabulary and Byatt is positively decadent by contrast. I am relieved that people appear willing to tag along with me on my new design adventures and I cannot wait to see which colour combinations you choose. I have already seen quite a few people comment that Byatt is perfect for stash-diving (we all have those one-off skeins in our stash, don’t we?) while other people have been searching on their book shelves for colour inspiration.

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Here is the challenge for all of you going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival: can you knit a Byatt before then? I have a few incentives in store for you. Firstly, you’ll get a 10% discount on Old Maiden Aunt yarns if you show up in a Byatt knitted in OMA. Secondly, if you show up in a Byatt and you manage to grab a photo of yourself and me at EYF, you get a staggering 50% off my next pattern.

And the final challenge is open to everybody regardless of whether you can make it to EYF or not: finish a Byatt shawl before March 31, post a photo and you enter into a really exciting prize draw. I’ll be picking out a few goodies from EYF vendors and you get to help me design a shawl. I designed Byatt partly because a few people had told me they wanted a two-skein shawl. What would you like to see? Cables? Triangular shawl? Semi-circle? A shawl in a DK or worsted-weight shawl? You tell me.

Now , there is a very good reason why I let David take photographs of all my knitted things. I took the photo below and it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. It was surprisingly hard to take a photo of the Byatt shawl flat – I have worn it quite a bit (so it’s a bit crumpled) and it’s rather big (so it’s hard to capture in one fell swoop). Still, I hope this helps those of you who wanted to see the shawl shape (though a schematic is included).   January 2015 183

If you follow me on Twitter, you will have heard I got up this morning to a very cold flat (8°C / 46°F). It’s really pretty outside with all the snow, but our old-fashioned (and very pretty) Victorian tenement flat has no double-glazing, very high ceilings and two badly-sealed fireplaces. I’ve turned on the heating and it’s now a staggering 12°C/53°F. Hooray for wool! Yet again I am a complete convert to woolly socks, I’m wearing my old pair of Fetchings and my bedraggled Noro jumper which fits nobody (and especially not me). Nothing like winter to make me break out the old knitted things that are now so tatty I cannot wear them in public anymore.

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Look! Baby Karie! So young & so pleased with her fingerless mitts! Awwww.

I hope you’ll join me for the Byatt KAL and I am really looking forward to being gazoomped at EYF by you all. Stay tuned for colour combo suggestions and ideas. I’m off to speed-knit another pair of woolly socks.