Sunday, 27 March 2016

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016 - Recap

Let me just say: If you love all things wool and the Edinburgh Yarn Festival comes around - go there! I don't care where you are, go if at all possible. This year's festival was a major success and everyone I heard from enjoyed it immensely. There was so much to see, so many people to meet, so much money to spend.... 

Travelling the whole length of the country for 6-7 hours just to be there was definitely worth it. (We even braved packed trains full of Cheltenham Festival goers, which is something I would NOT recommend, if you can avoid it. We nearly did not get on our train despite seat reservations and at one station alone there were 500 people wanting to get on. I believe it was only down to my furious face that we were allowed on the train in the end - I have a very effective furious face, just ask my colleagues.)

Thick fog greeted us as soon as we entered Scotland, but it did not dampen my spirits. I spent the day before the festival checking out the lay of the land and taking a bus to the venue. You may have seen me loitering around the entrance for no particular reason, but at least I was prepared for my visit the next morning. On the way to the Corn Exchange I bumped into a lot of fellow Germans who were very excited to be there, too, and we had a nice little chat before we lost each other in the crowds and got distracted by all that yarn. Understandable, I think! I wonder if some of us actually happen to be on the same German Ravelry teams.

I decided to first head for stands I definitely wanted to buy from. So Wollmeise, Blacker Yarns, Ripples Crafts and Ysolda were on the top of my list. Blacker Yarns were hidden away in a separete area and I had to ask for help to find them. They were at the podcast lounge and full of wonderful yarns, including Tamar, which is the yarn I had my eye on from the start. As I mentioned before leaving for Edinburgh, I was planning to buy whatever I liked, regardless of the cost. Now, this isn't typical of me at all, but it was the best idea beause I did not end up regretting leaving something behind. So when I came to Blacker Yarns, I immediately chose these beautiful four hanks of DK. All I know is they will make a nice colourful shawl and I want to design it. I can't wait to start!

Ripples Crafts was present as well and I finally had the chance to buy their yarn. I first came across Ripples Crafts on a previous visit to Edinburgh about 6 years ago. There was a trunk show in a small wool shop and I had no money on me. The yarns were beautiful, but I couldn't buy it. I never forgot that yarn and am so happy I was able to look at a greater selection of hand-dyeds at the festival this year. A gradient pack in denim shades made its way into my suitcase (yes, I did take my suitcase with me to the venue - sorry if I rolled over anybody's toes). What will it become? You may have guessed it: a shawl, possibly of my own design.

You may have heard that Ysolda has created her first yarn in collaboration with Jonn Arbon. I just had to have a look, especially as the cover of Wool Tribe features mitts in this yarn, too. Two hanks somehow fell into my suitcase (ehem) and a day later I cast on those exact same mitts. They're not yet ready, but I am loving the yarn and its surprising softness. It is a thing of beauty.

Wollmeise was inundated with customers when I arrived, but I braved the crowd and had a rummage as best as I could. It wasn't easy and I decided to go for a lace yarn that's not too colourful. It was just too busy to think about colour choices in peace and I didn't want to come away with something I wasn't entirely happy with. So I chose a hank of Bluebell (blues and purples) that has knots somewhere. The price wasn't bad, considering. It was only a few days later that I found the sample of Wollmeise wool wash they popped into the bag, too. What a nice surprise!

But I didn't just buy yarn, oh no! Of course I had to buy a bag with the Edinburgh Yarn Festival logo on it and since I was already there, why not throw in a badge as well, eh? I found another bag from Knitting For All that I liked because of the bear on it. A surprisingly expensive DPN case from German seller Pink Hazel called to me as well and it has more space than I will ever need. The price made me think twice, but the case is well made and secure and I love the alpaca-print fabric.

Just before I left the venue after nearly four hours, I gave in and finally bought a yarn bowl from Wendy Fowler. I hesitated at first because I was worried about breaking it on the way back to Bath, but it survived the journey and I have been using it ever since I cast on my mitts. I love it! It's a beautiful colour, heavy enough to not slip as you pull the yarn, and the ball stays safely inside. I am very pleased with it.

Regrets - I've had a few

I came away from EYF2016 having bought everything I liked and wanted. It was a good plan to not restrict myself or set a budget (cue maniacal laughter at the mere thought). However, there were things I missed because I simply did not see them. I walked through the halls 4 times and still did not see things I would have loved to get. There were books (Little Red in the City, Knitlandia) and fabric with knitted print I have on my wishlist and didn't realise were available at the festival. I only noticed them when looking at other visitors' photos on social media. Ah well. Then again I had the opposite experience as well and ended up leaving things I had expected to buy. There were yarns I thought I would love to finally see in person and they turned out not to be to my liking. Swings and roundabouts, I guess.

Now I'm off to enjoy the Easter break before the usual madness at work begins again. If you have blogged about EYF2016, leave your link in the comments so we can all read about your experience and admire your haul.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A Quick Hello

Hello from Edinburgh!

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival is over and I had a fab time. I did indeed have a suitcase with me to BUY ALL THE THINGS, as I said I would. After three hours I filled it half way and decided that was enough. Well, okay,  I did add a yarn bowl just before leaving the venue. And some totes. And a bagde... 

Right now I am enjoying the final days in Edinburgh, but I promise there will be more details about all things woolly once I am home and settled again.

See you soon!

* I apologise for any wonkiness in this post: I am trying to blog from an app on my phone for the first time.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Knitting From Bath to Edinburgh

Today we are travelling all the way to Edinburgh! We will have a 6-hour train journey ahead of us, so like all good knitters I am prepared.

My plan is to knit this hat for Mark (because he hasn't had one for a few years - he keeps losing handknits and I had to stop knitting for him). The original idea was to cast on as soon as I am on the train, so I can cast off just as we arrive. However, I had to make sure my gauge is right and all that, so I cast on early. I won't knit any more till I am on the train, though, I promise! (Having said that, my fingers are already itching to get started.)

I chose a ball of Cascade Yarns 128 Superwash because I am really enjoying Cascade yarns right now. This particular one is a bulky weight and very soft to the touch. It will make a really comfortable hat, I think, and most importantly it will be warm. Mark chose the colourway and decided on navy. 

After suggesting a number of patterns, he settled on a simple k2 p2 rib, which is fine by me. It will be a quick, satisfying knit that I won't have to focus on too much. I am beginning to think that the hat may be finished much too soon, so I will have to take an emergency WIP along; I am thinking about casting on some convertible gloves for myself, actually. Time for a last-minute stash dive!

At least one of us won't freeze to death in Edinburgh, then. By next winter, Mark may also get a matching scarf. That's another thing he keeps losing.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Wool Tribe: The Edinburgh Yarn Festival companion

I know what I'll be reading as my train makes it way towards Scotland soon: Wool Tribe!

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival organisers Jo and Mica have put together this wonderful magazine that is full of beautiful photography, 6 free patterns from some of the designers at the festival, information about Edinburgh and places of interest to crafters, Scottish sheep breeds, a list of exhibitors and, of couse, a floor plan. I have no idea how they managed to cram all of this into just 64 pages.

The magazine has the perfect format, too. It is small and compact, and I love the sturdy matte paper it is printed on. This isn't a cheap, flimsy job! It is a sturdy little magazine that feel wonderful to the touch (knitters will understand the importance of this). 

Even if you aren't going to the festival, you can still buy yourself a copy of Wool Tribe for £8. Included in the magazine is a Ravelry download code. As this is a limited edition, make sure you get yours while you can. 

See you in Edinburgh!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Mulitlingual Knitting - Or Not

@MmedeBeauvoir has granted me permission to use her photo. 
Follow her on Twitter for knitting and football.

Sometimes being multilingual is a strange thing. Being fluent in more than one language doesn't mean that you are eqally as fluent in certain areas as you are in others. 

For instance, I speak  German and English equally well, having grown up with both. Yet, I can only really knit using English patterns because that's how I learned the craft. 

German pattern instructions are very confusing to me. They have their own terms that make no sense to me half the time and just arent clear enough. I have a few German pattern books and can't imagine I will ever knit anything in them, simply because it is far too much work to figure out what it all means. (That is why I love charts - at least I can figure out what the stitches are from looking at them; experienced knitters can do it easily.)

Of course, some phrases and stitches are easy to guess, but on the whole this very specific jargon is alien to me. I remember it being the same when I started using English recipes - you need to know exactly what something means to get it right. You can't just guess and hope for the best. Cookery, like knitting, has it's own language. 

Have you tackled patterns in more than one language? How did you get on?

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Buttle My Yarn, Please


It's a little bit of a luxury, but a very useful thing to have nonetheless: a yarn butler. I finally treated myself to this one from ChiaoGoo during one of my January shopping sprees at Purlescence. 

It's already come in handy for my jumper knitting. It stops the yarn from rolling around, keeps it in one place, and I find it especially useful when knitting with two colours. I keep one ball on the yarn butler and the other somwhere nearby so they don't get too tangled. 

This yarn butler is surprisingly heavy, but it is very sturdy and I like it. When I tug on the yarn, the ball bearings inside the base make a rumbling sound that I mistook for distant thunder at the beginning. It runs very smoothly and I look forward to using it regularly.

What's your latest knitting helper?