Friday, 18 March 2016

Review of Wool Tribe 2016 + Kate Davies' EYF Offer

Cover image courtesy of EYF
For those who can't make to Edinburgh on 18th and 19th March for the Yarn Festival the 2016 festival companion, Wool Tribe, offers an insight into the city's woolly delights without the need to amass air miles. In fact the £8 book has proved so popular for pre-orders that at the time of writing this post it has sold out online. Note to EYF - please publish some more!

If you weren't one of the lucky ones who ordered a copy to post or pick up at the festival then here's what you missed out on.

A stand out for me is the feature on craft, coffee and cake in Edinburgh, with maps accompanying recommendations of places to visit whilst you are in the city. I'll certainly take this with me next time I'm up in Scotland's capital - hopfully it won't be too far in the future.

The other features are a look at Scotland's 'wool trail' of woolly things to do; a guide to the native sheep breeds in the country; and an article from Louise Scollay of KnitBritish about the appeal of knitting podcasts.

Looking through the advertisers and lists of vendors in the book I discovered some retailers appearing at EYF that I hadn't heard of before. At the back of Wool Tribe is a guide to the marketplace, where the selling of all things woolly will be going on, along with a list of the companies exhibiting. Most have websites. Although browsing online isn't the same as looking at and touching yarn in person, it is a good way to discover different brands and products new to the market.

Of course what most people bought the book for were the six original patterns.

These are:

Inglis Mitts by Ysolda Teague

Image courtesy of EYF

Stevenson cowl by Gudrun Johnston

Image courtesy of EYF

Burnet hat by Karie Westermann

Image courtesy of EYF

Dunedin shawl by Lucy Hague

Image courtesy of EYF

Spark hat by Jo Kelly

Image courtesy of EYF

A Wee Neckerchief by Jo Kelly and Mica Koehimos

Image courtesy of EYF

Whilst all the patterns are are well-written and beautifully photographed, Westermann's Burnet hat pips the others to the post to become my favourite. It's quirky, looks fun to knit and, very importantly, warm to wear.

The date is in for next year's Edinburgh Yarn Festival - pop March 10th & 11th in your diary and don't forget to order next year's Wool Tribe early before it sells out.

Kate Davies EYF offer

Davies released in her most recent email newsletter a very special offer for customers who can't make it to EYF. All items bought from her online shop this weekend will be postage free with the order code EYF2016. Yes, that includes worldwide postage too!

Funyin image courtesy of Kate Davies

Davies recently launched two pattern and yarn packs for the festival: Funyin, a hat inspired by a design inspired by an onion (three degrees of separation); and Miss Rachel's Yoke & Gauntlets, decorated with a delightful fair isle pattern.

Miss Rachel's Yoke image courtesy of Kate Davies
Rather than buy a yarn and pattern kit I'm going to buy the Miss Rachel's Yoke pattern from Davies' Ravelry store and purchase the yarn separately from Davies, taking advantage of the free postage offer. I have some yarn left over from her seven skeins club and hope to use that in the sweater, cutting down the amount of yarn I need to purchase.

Have a very happy knitting weekend!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

All Eyes On Scotland For Edinburgh Yarn Festival

Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th March sees Scotland's capital host the popular Edinburgh Yarn Festival at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange for the third time. Each year EYF grows in size and popularity and in 2016 there's a heck of a lot going on to pack into just two days.

Image courtesy of Edinburgh Yarn Festival

On-the-door ticket prices are £12 for one day or £18 for a weekend pass. Most classes have sold out, but the EYF website has a page listing the few that have places left. At the time of writing this post there are still tickets available to hear Susan Crawford's talk about her forthcoming Vintage Shetland Project book. Classes cost extra above the main admission ticket price.

If you don't get a chance to take a class there's still lots to see and do. For a quick rest head to the Blacker Yarn's Podcast Lounge hosted by Louise Scollay of KnitBritish. The Market Place is where retailers large and indie will by vying to tempt you to buy. With names such as Little Grey Sheep, Kate Davies Designs, Baa Ram Ewe, Old Maiden Aunt and Jamieson's of Shetland exhibiting, it won't be too difficult to spend your money. Plus Rachel Atkinson is launching her own yarn, Daughter of a Shepherd, exclusively at EYF.

Take cash with you because not every vendor will have credit card facilities available and the fees the companies charge eat into their profits. Read more top tips on Karie Westermann's blog post guide to surviving EYF.

Scotland has a firm place on the woolly map this year. Shetland Wool Week has announced that this year's patron is to be Ella Gordon, Shetland born, bred and designer-trained. Gordon was elected unanimously by the festival's committee.

Ella Gordon photo courtesy of Jeni Read
At EYF Gordon will reveal the hat pattern she has designed for this year's Shetland Wool Week. With Donna Smith's 2015's Baa-ble hat pattern having proved a big hit, Gordon has a lot to live up to!

Meanwhile over in Inverness plans for the inaugural Loch Ness Knit Festival, due to take place between 29th September and 2nd October, are gathering pace. I love the idea of taking a boat trip looking for Nessie between classes and yarn shopping.

Sadly, living in the English midlands, all three festivals are too far for me to go for a day trip. Maybe next year I can plan a Scottish holiday around them.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Knit An Eddie The Eagle Jumper

Eddie the Eagle image courtesy of The Daily Mail
Can you remember as far back as 1988? In the Calgary Winter Olympics Eddie 'The Eagle' became an international star by coming last at ski jumping. We Brits like a loveable loser and Eddie was the epitome of the genre - he still kept his smile when he was at the bottom of the pile and was the UK's first ever Olympic ski jumping entrant.

Now Eddie's story has been made into a film. Taron Egerton (no, I haven't heard of him either, but he's set for A list stardom) plays adult Eddie whilst Hollywood stalwart Hugh Jackman is his coach.

Here comes the knitting connection ...

Image courtesy of the Eddie the Eagle film
Eddie's mum wore a hand-knitted jumper with 'I'm Eddie's mum' emblazoned on it when she went to support her son. The Yarn Loop website reports that, to tie in with the film's release, Yarn Stories has produced a free Eddie the Eagle hat pattern to download. The crew went one better, according to Rowan's March e-newsletter, having had 'I'm Eddie's' jumpers designed for them by US knitting retailer Laura Zander using Rowan's Pure Wool Worsted.

My favourite is Egerton's 'I play Eddie' jumper (centre below).

Image courtesy of Rowan

I doubt I'll be knitting my own Eddie the Eagle hat or jumper anytime soon but the story put a big smile on my face and brought back memories from my childhood.

Go, Eddie, go!

Wednesday, 9 March 2016

First Look At Baa Baa Brew Yarn

Baa Baa Brew image courtesy of Baa Baa Brighouse
A few weeks ago I wrote that the online knitting store Baa Baa Brighouse, based in my home county of Yorkshire, was planning to bring out its own yarn range called Baa Baa Brew. Now I've had the chance to test drive (or rather knit) from a 100g skein and rather fabulous it is too.

The USP of Baa Baa Brew is a heart-lifting one: it's made from 100% British Bluefaced Leicester DK wool that is both spun and hand dyed in Yorkshire. This principle gets a huge tick from me, meaning that the yarn is truly British, benefiting farmers and consumers alike, and it hasn't clocked up any air miles during its manufacture.

There are six colours in the range, most being Spring-inspired pastels. I received the 'Woodhouse' colourway, which is a vibrant dappled orange and thankfully my favourite out of the Baa Baa Brew range.

One 100g skein is enough to knit a pair of socks. My plans to cast on a simple sock pattern from a recent edition of Simply Knitting magazine were scuppered by the correct sized needle being used on another half-finished project. Instead I knitted a stocking stitch swatch to see how the yarn handled.

I really like the variegated effect the yarn gives when it is knitted up. It adds a certain sense of specialness to a simple stitch. Baa Baa Brew has quite a firm consistency without being rough and holds its stitch definition. No furry haze here. Whilst Bluefaced Leicester isn't as soft as some other yarns it's a hard worker and has a pleasant feel against the skin - I feel it'll make a great, warm and longlasting pair of socks.

I hope that the company will bring out some original patterns to support the yarn.

Each 100g skein costs £14 and can be bought directly from Baa Baa Brighouse.  For £35 knitters can buy a Baa Baa Brew gift box, containing a skein of the yarn of your choice, a mug, 250g of Yorkshire Gold leaf tea, a 100g slice of Yorkshire parkin (a kind of dark gingerbread), a 100g piece of oat flapjack and a Yorkshire lavender bag.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Review of Simple Chic Knits Book

Mrs Moon is a bricks and mortar knitting shop that moved online, specialising in it's own gorgeously tactile yarns plump chunky and plump DK. I reviewed plump DK in 2015 - see here for the review and a free easy neckwarmer pattern.

Cover image courtesy of Mrs Moon
Now the store's owners, sisters Karen Miller and Susan Ritchie have expanded their repertoire by publishing Simple Chic Knits, their collection of what they call super-simple patterns for modern casual knitted clothes, accessories and items for the home. 

I'd call myself an intermediate knitter aiming to become a experienced one and I enjoy taking on knitting projects that teach me new skills. Sometimes, however, I want to knit something quick and stylish, particularly if it's for a gift, that will pass my EastEnders test - i.e. I can knit it and watch TV at the same time without going wrong or missing the storyline.

Simple Chic Knits passes the EastEnders test with flying colours. Not only is the photography lovely to look at but the patterns are placed next to the photos unlike some other knitting books where they are confusingly in different sections. 

Sweater image courtesy of Mrs Moon
There are six chapters in the book, containing projects for the hime, to wear, for children, hats and scarves, hands and feet, and finally techniques that beginner knitters need to know and more experienced knitters might want to brush up on. Most of the patterns use Mrs Moon plump, but a few other yarns stocked by the shop also make a guest appearance.

Thinking particularly for gifts for my goddaughters I'm loving the child's simple sweater. It's a unisex pattern knitted in the chunky version of plump, of which there are 15 colours to choose from. 

Other great gift knits include the number blanket for a baby, and the two colour cowl or neck ruff to keep grown-ups warm in chilly weather. 

And for me? The herringbone bed runner featured on the book's cover not only looks fabulous but gives me the chance to learn a new stitch. It's also pattern that can be knitted to use up any spare plump yarn. 

Last year I dipped my toes (excuse the pun) into sock knitting. The book includes a pattern for super-cozy bed socks with short row shaping that look relatively simple to tackle. The pair is knitted with plump DK in a beautiful light turquoise colour called sugared almond. I'd certainly like to add this to my 'to knit' list.

Super-cosy socks image courtesy of Mrs Moon. 

Simple Chic Knits costs £12.99 plus p&p and can be ordered directly here from Mrs Moon.
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