Edinburgh Yarn Festival plans 1: vendors

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My little EYF haul from last year. The Blend No. 1 and the Buachaille were birthday gifts.

Despite being an Edinburgh native, and despite my mother telling me repeatedly how good it is, I only made it to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival for the first time last year. It was good, oh yes, but it was also pretty overwhelming. I wasn’t prepared for how large the marketplace was, and how hot and busy the Corn Exchange would be, and I spent most of the festival wandering about feeling rather shell-shocked, texting Lucy at intervals: “OMG I am literally a yard away from Kate Davies in the flesh! Unreasonably excited!!!”

Although seeing a lot of fibre celebrities in real life was pretty cool, I don’t feel I made the most of the day, and so this year I am making some plans before I go.

First up: what vendors do I especially want to visit? Like a lot of fibre fans, it seems, I’m getting really interested in the provenance of yarns, and their environmental credentials, so I’m particularly keen to check out British-raised/rare breed/small batch/naturally dyed/minimally-processed yarns at the festival. Vendors who fit this description include (in no particular order):

Home Farm Wensleydales – yarn from the farm’s own flock of Wensleydales (and some Blue-Faced Leicesters). Wensleydales are brilliantly eccentric-looking sheep.

Garthenor – undyed organic yarn from British sheep breeds. How gorgeous is their website?!

Cambrian Wool – a community interest company set up to develop products with Welsh wool.

Uradale Farm – organic wool from Shetland

The Border Tart – a Scottish indie dyer specialising in indigo.

Polo & Co – rustic French yarns in natural shades or plant-dyed.

Shetland Handspun – natural and dyed yarns spun by hand in Shetland.

Ardalanish Weaving Mill – yarns and accessories from a farm on the Isle of Mull that uses fleeces from its own and other local sheep.

Daughter of a Shepherd – undyed yarn from the proprietor’s father’s flock of Hebridean sheep.

Woollenflower – plant dyed yarns, and accessories made from reclaimed tweed.

Uist Wool – a cooperative company spinning undyed yarns from local sheep in the Outer Hebrides.

Black Bat – British rare breed wools.

The Border Mill – undyed and naturally dyed alpaca from a lovely small operation in the Scottish Borders. Apparently they have a new 4-ply alpaca-silk tweed range – sounds nice!

Iona Wool – yarn spun from sheep on the island of Iona.

The Little Grey Sheep – Gotland yarn from Hampshire dyed by hand on the farm.

Whistlebare – yarn from Northumberland, dyed on the farm it’s raised on.

Bigger British companies that also produce this kind of yarn include:

Kettle Yarn Co – ethically sourced, hardwearing yarns, some of which are naturally dyed.

John Arbon Textiles [https://www.jarbon.com/yarns-wools] – a Devon mill that produces lots of interesting yarns, including local and single-breed yarns.

Laxtons [http://www.laxtons.com/shop/undyed-yarns-for-hand-dying] – undyed yarns in large quantities.

Blacker Yarns [https://www.blackeryarns.co.uk/knitting-wool-yarns] – spinners of all sorts of British wool, including lots of single-breed yarns.

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Skeins of Border Mill naturally dyed alpaca aran that I got last year after seeing them at EYF.

Whew, that’s a long list! (Well done, EYF organisers, for bringing in so many interesting small producers.) Are you wondering whether I intend to buy from all of them? Of course I don’t; I couldn’t possibly afford to. I want to keep my yarn acquisitions very small and purposeful this year, so I may not come away with much yarn at all. But visiting these sellers, feeling their yarn and learning more about the sheep and people who produce it will be a) pleasurable in itself, b) a good way to learn more about different yarns and their properties, and c) a way of building up a reference index of yarns I like so that next time I need a whole sweater’s worth of wool, I know where to go for it.

This is not a comprehensive list, so if you know of other vendors like this who are coming to EYF, please leave a comment! What vendors are you excited about seeing at the Festival?

Chicken Carousel

I made this modified version of Kate Davies’s Sheep Carousel tea cosy while on writing retreat with Lucy in Lancashire last month. It was a present for our (absentee) hostess, who has kindly enabled four years of these splendid and productive retreats by lending us her cottage in the Silverdale/Arnside AONB. Dressing her teapot in the chickens she likes so well seemed like the least I could do as a thank you! The FO photos below were taken on a windy day outside the cottage with some very inquisitive farmyard animals.

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chickens_teacosy

I have posted the chart below as a .jpg image – you are very welcome to download it by right-clicking and choosing ‘Save this image’ if you want to make your own chicken carousel. You would need a copy of Kate’s pattern as well. The chicken chart calls for a larger stitch count than the original pattern, so be aware of that when planning your project. Mine still came out at about 20″ in circumference (i.e. similar to the pattern spec), but check your own gauge and adjust accordingly. The details of stitch counts and yarn are all on my Ravelry project page.

The Bantams Beanie on Ravelry (inspired by the logo of Bradford City FC!) supplied the basis for the chicken chart; I am very grateful to its designer, Miranda Jollie, for letting me publish this modified version.chicken carousel

Happy chickens everyone!

Dress WLTM Vest

grey cardiganIn the past week, it has been slowly dawning on me that my beloved denim dress is looking for another woolly partner in crime. If we hadn’t had an unusually cold April, the chunky grey cardigan would already be too heavy, and it certainly will be as we go on into May. That cardigan is also a little thick for wearing under coats, so doesn’t work brilliantly in – for example – very wet weather.

So, something else is required, and perhaps as a result of reading Karen’s (of Fringe Association) numerous paeans to the Anna Vest, my fancy quickly settled on a textured vest (a.k.a waistcoat/gilet for those in the house who don’t speak Transatlantic). It needs to have a high crew neck, and buttons that do up in the middle, and fall straight from the bust to the waist: we are looking, in short, for a textured, cropped, swingy, crew neck, buttoned vest preferably in DK or lighter weight yarn.

Despite Ravelry’s sophisticated search function and the huge number of patterns available, I haven’t found quite the right thing.

threevests

The DROPS waistcoat (left) is cropped but doesn’t button right; the J. short vest (centre) is gorgeously swingy and cable-y but has too scoopy a neck (plus it’s in Japanese!); the Tamaqua vest (right) has good texture but is crochet and too chunky.

threeveststwo

Some other cool vests that aren’t quite right: the Kraemer Yarns V-neck (left); the Decent Days vest (centre); the Rowan Glow denim vest (right)

What to do next? Modify one of the above patterns, or design my own? I’m leaning towards the latter, I think. I’ve never done a whole garment before, so this might take a while, but…wish me luck!