Saturday, 3 May 2014

Yarn Shop Day

Earlier this week one of my yarn suppliers alerted me to a press release from the WI announcing that they had developed a new range of knitting yarn which is available exclusively at Hobbycraft. Having looked at what they're promoting - three acrylic yarns, one shetland wool - and where - a large retailer - my first reaction was to have a little rant, then I thought what an opportunity they had missed to support a UK talent or supplier or independent business.  So this post on this special day - Yarn Shop Day - will celebrate instead some of my best sources of yarn available from independent businesses.

A little promotion first for my own local yarn shop Maxime Wools in Carshalton Beeches, Surrey http://www.maximewools.co.uk.  Since taking over this business Alison has transformed it into a haven of yarn deliciousness.  Almost every brand imaginable from luxury yarns to 'essentials' in a huge variety of colourways this shop caters for every knitting skill from beginner to experienced.  There's lots of help available and very friendly staff on hand.  Well worth a visit.


Since I've been running Lavender Heart I've become more and more drawn to hand dyed yarn because of the amazing colour fusions it produces and the fact that every skein is different.  I love the fact that when knitted up each item I make will be unique.  My first foray into this yarn led me to designer Beth Sutherland and in my Facebook news feed today I see that she has just listed some new and one off colourways in her shop. http://shop.bethsutherland.co.uk/collections/hand-dyed-yarns.  Incredible colour combinations as always.

If you're drawn to more 'natural' colourways then you must visit Eden Cottage Yarns http://www.edencottageyarns.co.uk.  Victoria's dyeing technique leads to subtle variations in hue in beautiful colours, some vibrant, some more muted but all gorgeous and based on the best natural fibres.


Her yarn is available from some physical shops but also from her online shop and at some of the best knitting events - see her website for details.  Always a fantastic service.  I'm using her yarn for my Gingie 2014 jumpers this year.

If you're online then on Etsy https://www.etsy.com and Folksy http://folksy.com you will find a wealth of other hand dyers, each one independent, each one a small business producing something unique who will appreciate the support you can give by buying from them.  Recently I found Marley Yarns https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/MarleyYarns and can highly recommend their hand dyed alpaca which is lovely to work with - it's been used in these items in my Etsy shop.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/184373861 and https://www.etsy.com/listing/187231638


If you want to see what's new in the world of wool then a visit to unravel at Farnham Maltings in Surrey in February is a must http://craft.farnhammaltings.com/portfolio/unravel-festival.  It's become such a good event that it's been extended over the years from one to three days and draws some of the best suppliers of yarn in the UK.  Here you will find keepers of alpacas, sheep and goats who turn their fleece into yarn which you can buy - you can't find more independent than that! You'll also see what you can make - workshops there are brilliant - and there is a wealth of patterns, equipment and buttons to buy too.  I especially love the handmade ceramic buttons from Injabulo which you can also buy online http://www.injabulo.com/acatalog/Buttons_and_Beads.html.  I use these in my corsages:

https://www.etsy.com/listing/187899244 and https://www.etsy.com/listing/18790709












If you can't wait until next year then I notice that a new event will be on in Brighton in July http://unwindbrighton.blogspot.co.uk - and there's the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace in October which is home to everything from the luxurious to the bargain.  You don't have to spend a fortune to get the best - as well as the shows, I've found the twice yearly sales at John Lewis to be one of the best places - excellent quality branded yarn at half price.

If you want to get someone interested in knitting what better way than to buy a kit or yarn from Made by Ewe http://www.madebyewe.co.uk, an independent business using 100% British wool in all their supplies. This business also has a new physical shop now based in Dorset.


With the wealth of UK yarn suppliers and talent around (and what I've mentioned here is the tip of the iceberg) I'm shocked that the national institution which is the WI have chosen mainly acrylic yarn for their signature product and furthermore only made it available in a large retailer.  Their press release announces this as part of the resurgence of interest in knitting led by celebrities but in truth they're out of touch: interest in knitting has been growing phenomenally for ten or more years and been led by those with talent for design, creativity in colour, support for UK producers and passion for passing on their skill.

In one blog post I've only been able to touch on a few of the huge number of amazing UK yarn businesses. If you too want to support your local shop, dyer, spinner, designer - anyone who loves yarn - today leave me a comment below.

Back to the needles now.

Lots of love as always,
Alison




Friday, 25 April 2014

Crochet Challenge

It's been a whole year since I blogged and although it's a cliche I don't know where the time has gone!  Lots of change here with my daughter moving on to sixth form college, studying for AS levels (exams just around the corner already) and learning to drive.  I, on the other hand, seem to be doing more of the same!  So when The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity posted this on their Facebook page earlier this month


"We need ideas of things beginning with C!

If you could do something beginning with C to raise money for The Royal Marsden this September what would you do?

So far we’ve got cake-baking, cross country running, comedy night and ceilidh dancing"


CHALLENGE was the first thing that came into my head rapidly followed by CROCHET and CARDS.  I usually knit embellishments for my cards so why not crochet them instead?



I've raised money for The Royal Marsden before by selling fluffy cushions made from eyelash yarn.


This was a pattern from Simply Knitting magazine which they allowed to be made and sold for charity - although we have several in various colours lurking around our house too (the cat's particularly fond of his).  I have some of the yarn left so will knit a few more for this September's fundraising challenge as CUSHION fits the bill too.

But back to crochet.  I did learn when I was young but I wouldn't say it's something I've ever mastered.  So I looked around for the type of crochet which would appeal to me the most and which would fit the kind of crafts I sell.  A browse round Amazon led me to three beautiful books by Caitlin Sainio.


She works mainly with thread rather than wool or thicker yarn producing very delicate flowers and leaves. The trims book is gorgeous too and the snowflakes so pretty - I can see those adorning our Christmas tree this year or maybe I'll make some into a garland to hang in the window.  I love the fact she's made them in colours other than white too.



But just in case this is all too much for my mature and slightly swollen fingers I have also bought this book by Claire Crompton.  I already own one of her knitting stitch books and this one is also full of ideas and designs which can be used as building blocks for larger pieces.






If all else fails I will be quite happy looking at the pictures and can always buy some crocheted pieces to embellish my cards.  Recently, courtesy of British Crafters, I found Myfanwy's Appliques.  Take a look at her Etsy shop and be amazed. https://www.etsy.com/shop/MyfanwysAppliques



And just yesterday Blooming Felt posted that they had restocked crochet butterflies and roses.












See these on http://www.bloomingfelt.co.uk/ You can buy from their website or pop along to their next Open Day on 3rd May.  That's Yarn Shop Day 2014 in the UK so if you can't make there why not make a trip to your local yarn shop instead?

I'm looking forward to the challenge of re-engaging with crochet.  If you want to see the results follow this blog or my Facebook page.

If you want to do something beginning with C to raise funds for The Royal Marsden in September here's the link to their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/royalmarsden

Until next time, lots of love as always
Alison