Scotland

More Yarn – Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2017

Another year has passed and it’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF) time again. So enjoyable to be volunteering and catching up with everyone involved.

 

Here are some of the stalls setting up on Thursday afternoon. It takes a lot of work to get all the yarn on the stalls ready for opening on Friday morning.

EYF17SettingUp

That’s Kate Davies Designs stall setting up at the end of the walkway on the right.

 

This is Java Purl and Di Gilpin’s stalls:

Java Purl and Di Gilpin

 

Estelle at Midwinter Yarns unpacking:

Midwinter Yarns

 

Thursday night, I was at the knit night at Akva in Edinburgh and was getting my first view of knitters parading their beautiful knits:

Colourwork shawls

 

It was a good opportunity to catch up with friends and meet new ones:

Sigi and Hikaru

Sigi and Hikaru

Knitters are generally friendly in herds, and Sara and Helen came over for a chat

Sara and Helen

and told us about their yarn festival, Yarningham in Birmingham. Only in its 2nd year, and the photos of their 1st year really reminded me of EYF’s 1st event.

 

And Friday we got to see all the beautiful yarn; a complete feast for the senses:

 

 

 

Wool Kitchen close up

Wool Kitchen

 

 

Love the rainbow array of kids’ dresses across the stand.

 

Incredible examples of designers work:

Lucy specialises in Celtic knotwork shawls and blankets, she’s been a feature of EYF for the last 2 years; it’s amazing to see how her designs have developed in style and complexity.

 

The stunning colours of Amanda Perkins’ crochet blankets:

Amanda Perkins

Amanda Perkins

 

Birdie cuteness from Sue Stratford:

Sue Stratford

Sue Stratford

 

My friends and I were examining an amazing shawl from one of the festival goers:

All the Stitches

I think it is coming on Ravelry soon – “All the Stitches”, knit in the round and then steeked.

I saw the same lady from the knit night, now wearing a colourful coat. I think she is a German designer, but I don’t know who she is, and the shawls from Thursday and the coat are her own designs, they remind me of Kaffe Fassett’s work.

Colourful coat

 

Friday night was Ceilidh night, and despite a busy day, heels were kicked up. Sadly not mine, as I’ve still got a bit of a sore foot from my foot operation last year.

Ceilidh dancers

Ceilidh dancers

Ceilidh dancers

Ceilidh dancers

Dancers I recognise are Jon from Easy Knits, Aimee from Le Bien Aimee, Nathan Taylor and my friends Kersti and Emma, and Cathy from Knitmastery.

 

On Saturday there were yet more opportunities to shop, knit, drink tea, and have photos taken in the Knitmastery booth.

Here is me in my Gujarati Diamond shawl:

EYF Photo booth Gujarati Diamond

And in the Lotus Crescent shawl by Kieran Foley I’ve just finished knitting:

EYF Photo Booth Lotus Crescent

(Thanks to Edinburgh Yarn Festival and Knitmastery for the use of the photos; photographed by Malena Persson.)

My friend Ruby, who was volunteering at the festival with me, is an amazing knitter and spinner, and she was fascinated by the spinning wheels on Spin City’s stall; and owner Louise was so friendly and helpful:

Louise - Spin City

 

I was delighted to meet Kate Atherley in person, she is Technical Editor for Knitty.com, and I previously worked with her online to prepare my Evangelina socks design for publication. I bought her marvellous book, The Beginners Guide to Writing Knitting Patterns, and she signed it for me.

 

I had chatted to Nathan Taylor, Sockmatician, last year at EYF, so it was great to renew our friendship, he was very helpful with some advice on a design I’m working on. He’s such a good egg, but maybe a little too obsessed with yarn?

Nathan Taylor

I like to think he’s praying to the God of yarn here. Such an amazing double knitted shawl he’s wearing.

 

And the festival just would not run at all without the helpful volunteers (I’m blowing my own trumpet here).

The Information Desk on Saturday afternoon, with Kersti, Catherine, and Oom (left to right)

Volunteers 1

And the Info Desk head honchos, Fiona and Hannah (left to right):

Volunteers 2

And of course thanks to Mica and Jo for thinking up this brilliant event and executing it so wonderfully.

I think it was a particularly warm, friendly and colourful one this year.

Advertisements

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