Sunday, 7 November 2010

My first rep visit: Katia

Yesterday I had the first visit from a yarns rep. It was Alan, from Katia.

It was great to see their wool range: partly like meeting old friends (although relatively new in the UK, Katia has been well established in Spain for many, many years - since I remember).

But, oh! the new ones...! mmmmmm gorgeous fluff. Lovely baby/child range, with some fantastic colours, not just the obligatory pastels, but vibrant, joyful hues too. It made me wish I had more babies in the family, but alas, my close friends' babies are now a bit too big for baby knits... but there's always the shop window... I suppose I will HAVE to knit something for there (what a fantastic excuse fantastic good reason for knitting toddler's clothes I have just created!)

They have gorgeous chunkies, fantastic fantasy yarns, colourful merinos and alpacas... and good value alternatives to Noro, although I wasn't too impressed with the colour blending, so the Japanese brand is still tops in my little list of colour blenders.

Their distinctive superiority comes from the imaginative range - beautiful metallics, thin and thick lace effects, super chunky yet ultralight velvet with vibrant, rich colours, knit-with-your-hands (or a pair of broomsticks) humongously thick and soft rope (it comes out of 'yarn' range!), and some chunky 100% wool especially designed for knitting and felting. ...and then the metallic cords... and the sequin yarn... mmmmmm! (photos in this blog as soon as the shop is open and my order arrives).

I spent almost 3 hours 'ooooeeing' and 'aaaawing' over lots and lots of really nice colour cards and samples. And I was left with their 5 very inspiring magazines from the Autumn/Winter range... as if I needed any more inspiration... lol!

I also had a preview of their Spring/Summer collection: and what a range of goodies are those Spanish peeps preparing for us...! Their customary soft cottons, some really natural looking and flattering linen (think hat & bag knitting and crocheting), and a very special mesh-type yarn... As imagination goes I think they get my price for textures, ...but as we still have the coldest of the winter to come I'll say goodbye for now and pick up my needles: that second entrelac sock is not going to knit itself ;-)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Exciting news!

I'm opening my very own yarn shop! Yippee!

After a career path training sesison at work I had a serious conversation with my husband - you know, one of those about the purpose of life, about what we would really do if we could follow our heart's path etc... and I told him what I would work/play on if money was no object.

Then recently we had a different conversation, again about work/time etc and we decided to explore this 'wool shop' idea. To cut the proverbial long story short: I took the reins, sketched a business plan, looked at finances and we decided on a few places where the yarn shops were a bit thin on the ground... then walking through one of these locations we found a very nice premises, got in touch with the estate agents, put in an offer that was accepted (that was lucky!) and it's now going through solicitors' searches and other official activity ready for the contract to be signed/exchanged shortly.

Now the exciting bit: I've been looking at possible suppliers colour charts and samples - as usual Noro has fantastic colour combinations and is one of the definite ones, as well as the super popular Debbie Bliss, and the very versatile Katia (I'm meeting their rep tomorrow morning), amongst others...

I have also sourced a EU based supplier of qiviut yarn - it's important for me that they're EU based as that way I can keep prices down (very relatively speaking - it's qiviut after all!) but there's no import duty to pay. She only has 5 colour choices but they're absolutely 'lush' colours: natural brown, autumn deep lime green, intense dark turquoise/teal blue, a totally sexy and luxurious purple, and a deep wine red you can almost drink. (I think you can guess I'm excited about this particular yarn...)

Other brands I'm looking into are Manos del Uruguay and Mirasol, not only because the yarns are really nice but also for their ethics. Manos del Uruguay is a trade, not charity organisation; and Mirasol assists women who had been abused and mistreated.

Also featuring will be the all time popular Sirdar/Pattons, and I'm waiting to hear from Colinette.

I have already got some lovely Namaste glass knitting needles and will be stocking Britanny beech needles and crochet hooks.

I want to include something for the spinners (after all I'm one of them), so I'm planning to sell my own hand-painted tops/roving, not only the merino, but also some silks, BFL and others, and some raw fleece (washed!) now and then.

An important part of the plan is the 'enabling': I will be running sessions on different techniques. The programme will be published on the shop's website and will include workshops on intarsia, entrelac, cables, lace, colour work, design your own, etc as well as pop-in and skill share groups.

The premises we've chosen are ideal in many ways: good parking facilities in front and behind the shop, a special semi-enclosed space for toddlers and young children (will be bringing some toys to keep the wee ones entertained), and it's close to other shops with specialist markets (international and farmer's days) nearby on a regular basis. It's also a short drive from Bedford, Milton Keynes, Northampton, and Wellingborough - can you guess where it is yet? ;-)

Well, that's it for now - I'm looking forward to lots of work, fun, meeting new people, making new friends, being very creative and helping people to make really nice things :-)

More news on progress and opening date will appear on Ravelry and in this blog shortly.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Still here

I wrote this blog last at the beginning of the summer and have not been in touch since... tut tut tut.

So what's happening at the knitterwitch's cottage? Well, for a starter my spinning wheel herd has grown with two new friends for Esme the Traveller, first it came Poppy Daisyfield, an Ashford Country that works wonders in fat and bulky art yarns. Recently we had the lovely Alba, a Majacraft Rose that my husband got me for my birthday, and who spins smoothly and effortlessly (the Majacraft, not the husband).

This summer has been pretty busy too. I stayed in the UK and took advantage of all the events I could. I went to WoolFest in June... and then to KnitNation where I took two spinning classes from Judith Makenzie-McCuin and a class on elongated stitch with Merike Saarnit. The lessons were great and I thoroughly enjoyed the KnitNation experience. I've marked my diary for next year's event.

I also purchased a little qiviut fibre although I am in awe of it and haven't dared to spin it... (daft woman, I know...). It's unbelievably soft.

I went to Dorset, to Karen's (Wildcrafts) farm, where we spun, chatted, dyed with woad, and came back with a full set of hand crafted niddy-noddy, nosterpinne and spindle, plus two bags of glorious Ryeland fleece. I have managed to spin one of them (on the grease as it was very clean and loose), and I'm knitting my husband a jumper for his birthday... shhhh! it's a secret!.

What else... Well, on the 26th of September I went to the Flitwick Ravelry meet up, where I met some lovely Ravellers and had a go at making some lovely batts for Art Yarns with Jill Shepherd, who then demonstrated various spinning techniques.

Apart from this social side I have also been having fun with dyeing, spinning, knitting... and I have got a folksy shop - it's called Wowwoolly and I'm selling hand-painted merino tops. It all happened because my finger slipped and I ended up with more merino roving I could shake a spindler at, so I divided it into roughly 100gms lengths and dyed it in different colour schemes - so I'm now selling it. I've also come accross a wholesale lot of Namaste glass knitting needles that will be for sale on my little shop shortly.

I'm off to the knitting and stitching show at the Alexandra Palace (London) tomorrow... have been contacted by a clothes designer who wants to know a bit more about the knitting side of fashion... have been asked to put some of my arty-hats on a local art & craft show... and I've got lots of other plans.

...and that OCA Textiles course that I started (and that was the main reason for me to write a blog)? Well, that's still going - not too fast but seeing that it started me involved in this world of dyes, fibre and magic, it can't complain ;-). I finished the chapter in Colour and I'm starting the one on design. Got a lovely signed book about Zandra Rhodes on the post a couple of days ago and as soon as I scream at my son loudly enough so that he leaves my laptop and my work desk, catch my breath and sit down with a cuppa and my OCA books and art materials, I will be getting on with the work... Ideally I'd like to finish this other section before I contact my (very patient) tutor.

Well, no pictures for this one, but lots to come soon... in the meantime, my painted roving/merino top can be seen at

Bye for now :-)

Monday, 12 July 2010

Spin like a dervish

Well... I had todo something with all the lovely roving I dyed.

The yarn above has been Navajo plied to keep the continuity of blues, from light acqua to dark violet blue. I have washed it since I took the photo and it's now much more even.

Below are some interesting combinations of supersoft merino and silk:

These next two are fun yarns: Strawberries 'n fluff and Killer Kitten, both wool with Wensleydale curls spun in and left to hang out.

Above: natural Shetland wool - gradual change of colours from white(ish) to dark brown. Hand-carded and blended before being hand-spun and plied.

This is coloured angora fibres spun with a two-ply angora cria in natural white... delightfully soft to the touch.

I have spun more yarns but they have not been photographed yet. I've decided to sell some of the yarn I spin... there's only so much I'm going to knit in this lifetime! I've opened an etsy shop called ColourDreams.

Living in colour - story in images

A glorious mess
A little while ago I ordered and received some new dyes from the USA... I also had some white roving lying around waiting for a touch of colour. I haven't got a single bit of white roving left. Here's the result in a bit more detail... I dyed silk, angora, merino and superfine shetland fibres.


The next two are angora, then merino/silk, superfine merino and extra soft Shetland:

Monday, 21 June 2010

The 'feltspun' red scarf

I bought this wool fibre from e-bay. I bought it because it said it was already clean and ready to use... what I didn't realise is that it was described as good for felting because the process was already started :-(

It stayed in its bag for a wee while and then I decided I was going to do something with it... so I dyed it. I put in any shade of red/pink/orangey red I could get my hands on.

... spun the blessed mess and knitted it on to a lopsided scarf (learnt about the knitting unbalanced singles in the process).
So far it looks like this. I've spun and Navajo plied some Leaf colourway silk and I'm knitting little leaves to decorate it... so this one is...
To be continued
Also waiting to have fun with these mystery wool batts I blended on Sunday (There must be some Merino there as it's gorgeously soft and fluffy).
...and I'm also working on the Colour theory section of Textiles 1 - I'll be taking pictures and posting an OCA inspired blog in a little while... but not before or shortly after next weekend as I'm planning to visit Woolfest and I might be even more tangled in wool... shame! ;-)

The English Spring scarf (picture story)

I saw a rapeseed field at dusk, the sun was shining on it at an angle but there were purple clouds above... the colours inspired this scarf.

Merino soaking in water with citric acid.

Colourway design (the one in the middle)...
... preparing, testing colours and applying to roving:

Drying, carding, blending... and spinning. No photo of me knitting - just as well! :-)

And here it is the English Spring entrelac scarf.