All the Yarn – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016

I am just surfacing from volunteering at Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016. What a fabulous time I had. I took quite few photos, but my camera was playing up, so my apologies for the poor quality, but you still get a great feel of the event.

I was checking people into workshops for most of my volunteer time, but on Thursday I help with the marketplace set up, and thought you might like to see some behind-the scenes-photos. I was acting as a runner essentially, and was dipping in and out of the marketplace; it was exciting to see people unpacking and all the colours of the yarn emerging.

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Marketplace set up1

Marketplace set up 2

Marketplace set up 3

Here is Lindsay Roberts, aka The Border Tart, and her helper, setting up the Blue Moon yarn stall, bit of a way to go yet:

Border Tart set up

This is the Pompom Quarterly stand unpacking:

Pom Pom Quarterly set up

And this is Weft Blown, with some of their beautiful weaving hanging up:

Weft Blown set up

 

Friday was the start of the Festival proper, and I was there bright and early to check people into their workshops at the Water of Leith Centre. However I had plenty of time to explore the marketplace for real, after my sneak peek the day before.

I loved how Emma Lamb had decorated her stall and displayed her crochet, it all looked very cosy:

Emma Lamb 2

I love the way she puts colours together, those crochet flower garlands are exquisite.

Emma Lamb 1

Joe’s Toes stall was very eye-catching, they had created a felt fireplace:

Joe's Toes 1

They sell their own components to make your own felted slippers: great idea, and great colours.

Joe's Toes 2

Every time I walked past the Wollmeise yarn stall, the vivid colours made my mouth water – I seem to have a synesthetic reaction to colour. However once the marketplace opened I could barely see the yarn through the crowds of customers:

Wollmeise stall

Here’s what the fuss was about:

Wollmeise

I was chatting to Wollmeise owner, and she was saying she no longer sees the colours as everyone else does, she just sees imperfections as she strives for newer better colourways.

Lindsay Roberts did me proud displaying both my shawl designs, Gujarati Diamond and Dreaming Daisy, prominently on her stall. I headed around there regularly in case anyone needed any pattern support:

Border Tart stall

Jess at Ginger Twist kindly had my new sock design, Fair Flooer, displayed with her sock yarns on here stall. Lots of lovely bright colours on her stall including Jess and a customer – Redheads unite!!

Ginger Twist

More bright colours in abundance on the Rainbow Heirloom stall:

Rainbow Heirloom Yarns

With beautiful designs from Tin Can Knits, that’s the Vivid Blanket on display:

Tin Can Knits

Which you can buy in kits in their clever colourways.

 

One of the new discoveries of the festival for me was the daughter of a shepherd stall. It was the first stall with a queue on Friday morning, and a lot of the people queuing were designers and other stallholders. This is all because of the story behind the stall, from Rachel Atkinson, whose Father was offered a pittance for the wool from his flock by the Wool Marketing Board, and decided to get the wool spun and sell it directly to knitters. This was the first blog post she wrote about it, read the whole story in these posts.

 

On Friday night there was a ceiligh:

Ceilidh 3

It was a good opportunity to relax and kick up our heels:

Ceilidh 1

Ceilidh 2

Edinburgh Yarn Festival organiser, Mica and knitting pattern designer, Ysolda led the way:

Mica & Ysolda

 

So we were all ready to do it all again on Saturday. Time to consolidate and complete purchases, and chat to old and new friends.

Sigi, one of my fellow volunteers, proudly showed my her Style Award ribbon bestowed on her by the knitting pattern designer, Stephen West. She is wearing a Stephen West Shawl and jacket.

Sigi Style

I caught designers, Kate Davies and Amy Detjen hanging out on Ysolda’s stall with stall holders, Becca and Sarah:

Amy, Kate, Sarah & Becca

Alison and Laura in matching Carnaby skirts:

Carnaby Skirt

I was introduced to the Sockmatician, Nathan Taylor, in his beautiful shawl, one of his unpublished designs:

Nathan Taylor

Although the festival was very much an international affair, I felt there was a strong emphasis on British wool. I got to chat with Louise Scollay, who does the Knit British podcast, and Isla Davison, from Brit Yarns, and Carol Christiansen, from Shetland Museum, all of them passionate about British wool and our knitting traditions, techniques and culture.

 

Of course, I did some shopping. I was fairly restrained.

I wanted to make a Utilitarian Sweater in Tunisian Crochet, it’s a 2 colour design, and I had just been given 2 skeins of Baa Ram Ewe Titus in the Wesley Bob colourway (red), and I was looking for a second colour. I found it on Easy Knits stall, Big Boy, in a lovely hand dyed burnt orange. I bought a crochet hook while I was there, and started the project during the festival:

Big Boy and Titus yarns

I had a yearning for an unusual self-striping sock yarn, and was also keen on some of the new splashy dyed yarns, and found a lovely hand-painted Colour Scroll sock yarn on Skein Queen’s stall. This is it unrolled:

Skein Queen colour scroll

I eventually succumbed to the pull of Wollmeise and bought a vivid blue/green mermaidy sock yarn. I also bought a purple Alpaca Tweed from The Border Mill, good to support a local company, and I wanted to replace my own pair of Camellia wristwarmers, as I have worn them out by wearing them so much.

My Haul

 

Roll on next year!! 10-11 March 2017

 

 

 

 

Fair Flooer sock pattern

I have just published a new sock pattern – Fair Flooer

Fair Flooer sock

 

The pattern is designed especially to be knitted using Ginger’s Hand Dyed Sheepish Sock yarn, which Jess handdyes and sells in her lovely wee shop, Ginger Twist Studio in Edinburgh. She chooses great names for her colourways, this one is My Little Pony, there is a red one called Girl on Fire, and a deep rich purple variegated one called Father of Funk.

 

I specifically chose this colourway because, like my sock design, it makes me think of spring flowers. It is great to knit with and is really soft; I think it has the perfect amount of variegation in the yarn, it creates soft striations across the sock, without looking too busy or bitty, so you can see the lace flower pattern clearly; it didn’t give me any problems with colour pooling either.

 

My design started with me thinking up a sock pattern for my first and only (so far) skein of yarn I spun on a drop spindle. The lace design evolved from playing around with the arrowhead lace stitch pattern; I saw simple flowers could be made by slightly adjusting the existing stitch pattern, and I liked and retained the linear effect of the arrowhead lace.

 

This was the first iteration of the design in my handspun yarn:

Fair Flooer prototype

 

Quite honestly, the design is better than the yarn, which was unflattering to the design, as it was quite uneven and veered wildly from 4 ply to DK weight, it knitted up quite tight and because it had a high silk and bamboo content, after a few washes the sole became quite cardboardy!

 

The new iteration on the pattern in Ginger’s lovely yarn is a huge improvement. I created a twisted rib cuff, which reflected the placing of the lace flowers.

 

Fair Flooer sock

 

And the twisted rib in the lace flower pattern extends into the heel flap, a feature which was suggested to me by my friend, Cathy Scott from Stitchmastery, (the program I create my charts on). The socks are knitted top down, and there are both written and charted instructions.

 

Fair Flooer Heel

 

This pattern has interchangeable leg/foot width, leg length and foot length.
Choice of Adult S (M, L)
Foot Circumference: 16.5(19, 21.5) cm / 6.5(7.5, 8.5) ins,

Choice of Leg Length: 1(2, 3) – 15.5(18.5, 21.5) cm /
6(7.25, 8.5) ins

Choice of Foot Length: A (B, C ) – 21(24, 27.5) cm / 8.25+(9.5+, 10.75+) ins – each option can be lengthened.

 

As I live in Scotland, I gave the pattern a Scots inspired name: Flooer is Scots for flower. The design made me think of the first flowers of Spring, which are so welcoming to see after a long Scottish Winter, so I was keen to take photos of the socks with Spring flowers, particularly snowdrops. However it proved a real struggle to get a combination of sunshine and snowdrops, and make the socks look good, and stop me freezing to death with bare legs in Scotland in the middle of February. This was the first attempt in Kelso after about an hour of searching for non-muddy snowdrops and sunshine:

 

Fair Flooer 3

 

The second attempt was more successful and my friend Morven Donald, who works with me at the National Museum of Scotland, and I dived out to the Meadows in Edinburgh to take some photos on a sunny lunchtime. We couldn’t find any in the Meadows, the flowers were all still in bud, so we headed to George Square at the University of Edinburgh Campus, and luckily found some snowdrop clumps in the middle of the square under some trees.

These were the results:

 

Fair Flooer sock design

 

Fair Flooer sock

 

Fair Flooer socks

 

It must have been quite entertaining for the people having their sandwiches on benches around the square to see us prancing around like mad pixies in the snowdrops:

 

Ruth in Snowdrops

 

 

Learning about Shetland Lace knitting

I was at the Border Union Show this Summer with the Tweed Guild of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, and picked up a leaflet about Shetland Lace knitting workshops.  They were being run by Mavis Clark, who regularly exhibits at the the Border Union Show, with stunning Shetland Lace shawls on display. My friend Ruby and I decided to go along to a November workshop, held in Wooler, Northumberland.

Ruby and I are quite experienced lace knitters, but felt we could learn more about Shetland Lace. We were given a circular knitting needle and a ball of cobweb 1 ply Shetland wool, which were included in the extremely reasonable price of the workshop. Mavis started knitting Shetland lace about 20 years ago, as it was suggested to her to try it by someone at the Royal Edinburgh Repository, a place where women can earn money through selling their handicrafts. Mavis also visited the Shetland Museum at Lerwick, and has been fascinated by Shetland Lace ever since. I didn’t realise Shetland Lace patterns use different abbreviations for the stitches, e.g.

c (cast up) = yf – yarn forward, this becomes a yarn over as you knit the next stitch

s2kp = Sl2, k1, p2sso – slip 2, knit 1, pass two slip stitches over

T (take in) = k2tog – knit two together

PT = p2tog – purl two together

T3 = k3tog – knit three together

It was a bit tricky to start, but I soon got used to it.

She started us off knitting an edging, we then cast off and picked up stitches down the side, which looked like this:

Picked up stitches from lace edging

It is the finest weight of wool I’ve ever knitted with, but my experience with lace weight stood me in good stead. I then tried out Roundel Stitch (similar to Cat’s Paw Stitch), and then had a go at a more complicated stitch, Madeira Stitch, which had lace stitches on every row, as opposed to just on the right side rows. This is the result:

My lace sample

Close up - My lace sample

Indian Diamonds

I have just published a new lace shawl design – Gujarati Diamond shawl:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

It was designed in collaboration with Lindsay Roberts – The Border Tart (not a real Border Tart, we both live in the Scottish Borders, where the tart originates). Lindsay developed her range of natural hand-dyed indigo yarns, Blue Moon, after participating in a textile residency/exchange in India. The shawl was designed specifically for Lindsay’s indigo dyed lace weight yarn, and it seemed only right that the design should be inspired by India.

These are Lindsay’s Blue Moon yarns:

Blue Moon Sock Yarn

The different shades of blue are created as the indigo becomes weaker during the dying process. Unlike acid dyes where the yarn sucks all the dye out of the water; indigo slowly fades, so the strongest, deepest blues emerge first, and subsequent dye batches gradually end up pale blue. Indigo has to be oxidised to bring out the blue, a process I explained in my blog post – Natural Dye workshop.

A semi-solid colour is achieved by immersing the yarn in the dye and not stirring, so the dye is  absorbed unevenly, which creates a lovely soft ripple effect when knitted:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

These are her lace weight yarns:

Blue Moon Lace Yarn    Blue Moon Lace Yarn

She uses dip-dyeing and tie-dyeing techniques on her 4ply sock yarns to create different kinds of variegated effects:

Blue Moon Sock Yarn   Blue Moon Sock YarnBlue Moon Sock Yarn

Lindsay also dyes heavier weights of yarns with indigo. The most time-consuming part of the process is rinsing, it takes many rinses to get all that loose blue out.

Lindsay showed me the beautiful textiles she brought back from India, some stunning embroidery:

Indian Textiles

Indian Textiles

This is a purse:

Indian Textiles

The free-form shapes and the added buttons are fun on this one, a bodice of a child’s dress:

Indian Textiles

I love how unplanned the designs are – the embroiderer clearly ran out of space at the end of the central panel and had to squish down the size of the squares to fit the space:

Indian Textiles 3

This is a block print sampler piece:

Indian Textiles

Here is some exquisite finely tie-dyed fabric:

Indian Textiles

I love the run-off at the end, which almost looks like bobbing shore lights reflected in water.

Here come the diamonds – a woven geometric design:

Indian Textiles

This was a piece given to Lindsay as a leaving present, and is a good example of typical motifs used in Kutch, Gujarat:

Indian Textiles

These are also Kutch motifs:

Indian Textiles

You can tell which motifs inspired my shawl design:

Gujarati Diamond textiles

Even the triangles from the textile border appear on my edging:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

Lindsay and I had a fun time on the photoshoot for the shawl; I chose to go the Monteath Mausoleum, in the Borders, as it has quite an Indian feel to it:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

As it turns out, it is deliberately Indian style, as General Sir Thomas Monteath, who lies here, was an army officer in the Bengal Infantry.

It was quite an endeavor getting up the hill in a long white dress, and lovely to see the stone lions when we got there. Awake lion:

Awake lion

Sleeping lion:

Sleeping lion

We particularly liked sleepy lion, so we had to include him in the photos:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

There is a spectacular view over the Borders countryside:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

The shawl is a shallow semi-circle, correctly a semi-oval, nearly a crescent, and it’s very wide:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

Perfect to cover your head:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

Or for elegantly draping around your neck to dress up a pair of jeans:

Gujarati Diamond shawl

Or for talking to lions:

Gujarati Diamond shawl