Sunday 21 September 2014

Autumn shop update

The temperature may still be teasing us in the 20s but the days are definitely drawing shorter, and thoughts turn to things warm and woolly. Therefore, I would like to take the time to introduce the new yarns that have joined Midwinter for the season:

Ullcentrum 3-ply

I have mentioned this yarn before, and it is now available in the web shop
This is a thicker version of the Ullcentrum single ply lace and 2ply fingering gradients, and comes in vibrant solid colours dyed on grey yarn for added depth. It knits up as a good DK weight and would be perfect for Christmas jumpers! 200m / 100gr

Filcolana Gotland Wool

Gotland sheep is a breed of Swedish origin but are bred elsewhere in the world too, including here in the UK. The Filcolana Gotland Wool, however, is spun in Denmark from Swedish sheep and has all the wonderful characteristics of the Gotland sheep. Light-weight and somewhat hairy, it is sometimes called "Nordic Mohair" and makes for wonderful, draping garments with a hint of metallic sheen. This one is next on my knitting list! DK weight with a generous 270m / 100gr 

Genuine Greenland Wool

This yarn proved very popular at the Bristol Wool Fair - wonderful, hardy wool from beyond the arctic circle! Great for outer layers and non-clothing items such as cushion covers, in 4 natural undyed colours.
Aran weight - 160m / 100gr

Ullcentrum - new colours

A couple of new colours have just arrived: Cerise-Red, a glorious, deep, rich combination of deep pink and red, another one that I just can't wait to knit up, and Gooseberry: forest green, soft pink and natural brown, both in the 2-ply sport weight. 

Finally, a new colour in the lace weight: dramatic Red and Black. I can imagine this with beads on for the party season!

I do hope that you'll like these new yarns and that they will inspire you for the cold season. The summer has been long and wonderful, but as a knitter, this is the season I enjoy the most!

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Bristol Wool Fair

This weekend was the first ever Bristol Wool Fair, taking place on the Durdham Downs. For a first event and a gamble by both organisers, traders and visitors, it turned out beautifully.
Making use of the ancient right for commoners to graze sheep on the Downs, the event had a real country festival feel in the middle of town. There was a great selection of independent yarn and fibre traders - some a little more seasoned, many brand new to the market like me - housed in 3 marquees around the central arena where there were sheep sheering displays and duck herding.

The weather was kindly on our side for the whole three days bar a brief spell of rain on Saturday morning.

I arrived very early on Friday morning - unusually, this wool fair was trading for a full three days - and set about putting up the stand by myself as Mark was tied up covering holidays at work. If Santa is listening, I would hereby like to ask him for an electrical screwdriver for Christmas! A couple of hours flew by just trying to get the racking up and I had barely started getting the yarn on the shelves when the safety inspector came around to check that we were ready to open, so my sincere apologies if I seemed utterly flustered around the first visitors.

I had thought that opening on a week day would give us a gentle start to the weekend, but the day absolutely flew by with a very steady stream of customers and wonderful people to chat with all day long.

I had written a new pattern for the occasion - the Linus shawl, designed to show off the gradient colours of the Ullcentrum in alternating stripes.

The sample is knitted in the Heather and Natural Greys colourways and both of those had sold out by the end of the first day. In the evening I found another 5 hanks of the grey at home that I had put aside for my next project - these too were gone by Saturday lunch time! Rest assured that I will be ordering both of these colours back in in the next couple of days and let you know as soon as they are back in the shop :)

Saturday morning was a little overcast and drizzly, but a much more relaxed start for me. I arrived a little before opening and had a lovely stroll around the grounds, greeting the sheep and the alpacas and finally getting a chance to see some of the other stalls.

My first purchase was some beautiful plant dyed Shetland yarn from the small flock at Gone Astray. Plant dyes mesmerise me -the colours are so beautiful and gentle. These are dyed with different batches of indigo, onion skins and teal plant and will become a stripy jumper...after the other two jumpers I'm already planning this winter...oops.

Sunday I snuck in a little more shopping in the morning. My stall was in the same marquee as Five Moons and Sharon, myself and a group of visitors had bonded over Gudrun Sjoden clothing. One of my favourite things is watching customers pick out colours that I would never have thought of putting together myself and coming up with truly inspiring combinations, and a recurring , Gudrun-esque theme this weekend was green and pink. Sharon had some Pirkkalanka in those shades from me, I returned the favour with a selection of her mini-skeins for 2 pairs of socks which I can't wait to cast on!

I also bought some Welsh Wool fabric for my mother for a skirt, and this ball of Estonian lace yarn from Namolio. I'm not quite sure just what I'm going to do with 1400 meters of very fine grey yarn, but one of my customers let me pet a ball that she had bought and then I just wanted one of my own!

My absolute highlight of the weekend though was having people come to my stall to show off their finished projects.
Sara and Francoise have been champions of Midwinter from our very first day at Wonderwool and on Saturday, Sara came in wearing her Ivar cardigan in the thin Pirkkalanka.

Later the same day, another lovely lady came to show me her Reverse Psychology shawl in Ullcentrum Lace weight bought at Unwind, and the very neatly matching handbag with it.

Sadly, this was the last show that we had booked for this year. I'm going to miss doing them a lot over the winter, it's so much fun going on road trips and meeting fellow knitters and crocheters and introducing the yarns and their backstories to them. Hopefully, we will be at many many more shows in the spring, in the meantime, the online shop is of course available and there is now a Midwinter group on Ravelry where you are welcome to share your projects and ideas :)

Monday 1 September 2014

Looking towards autumn

The first ever Bristol Wool Fair is kicking off this Friday, looking like a promising celebration of all things wool. Sadly it is our last show for this year - I would have liked to have done many more but due to the late spring date that we started the company, we missed most of the deadlines for applying. But don't worry, we fully intend to participate in every show that will have us from next year! There is nothing quite like the opportunity to show off the yarns "in the flesh" and interacting with knitters, crafters and other yarn traders and I really enjoy the road-trip aspect of travelling to shows as well.

After a lovely long summer, I am now really looking forward to getting stuck in to autumn knitting and taking the opportunity to introduce a few new yarns at Bristol. We'll be bringing plenty of sweater amounts, hoping to inspire some proper winter woollies :)

First up is Ullcentrum's 3ply Swedish wool. This is a thicker version of the Ullcentrum single ply lace and 2ply fingering gradients, and comes in vibrant solid colours dyed on grey yarn for added depth. It knits up as a good DK weight and would be perfect for Christmas jumpers!

I've also been working on a new pattern in the 2ply gradient - a very simple striped shawl alternating two different colourways to really show off the yarn. I will have the pattern with me at Bristol and make it available on Ravelry soon after.

After my trip to Sweden and Denmark last month, I've also been looking in to new suppliers and am very excited to say that we finally have some Gotland Wool coming our way - fingers crossed in time for the show!

I have also been test knitting a very rugged wool from Greenland, no less. Not one for your next-to-the-skin knits, but for strong, warm, lightweight aran sweaters certainly, available in a small range of natural colours.

I also want to share a little discovery with you: Tiger Stores, a cheap and cheerful scandinavian chain that are rapidly expanding across the UK, are now selling circular needles in their hobby section. For the grand price of £2 a pair, I was very impressed with the quality and design: Bamboo needles with a reasonable join and nice looking nylon-covered wire cable.

Maybe not ones for pure silk lace weight heirlooms, but I used them for test knitting the sweater yarns and found them very nice to work with, especially as bamboo needles in John Lewis will set you back £6 at least. At the moment, they only seem to be available in 60 and 80cm and whole sizes from 3 to 6mm but hopefully, with a little feedback, they might expand the range?

So don't forget to come by and say hello if you are coming to Bristol - we will be in the Blackbeard marquee....I must dig out my eyepatch for the occasion!