Episode 73: Let's have a yarn adventure!

Hello and welcome back to the Yarn in the City podcast! We are thrilled to be back and chatting with you guys again after our brief hiatus.

Our first special guest interview of the year is Maylin Scott - a wool-obsessed Canadian living in Liverpool.

Our first special guest interview of the year is Maylin Scott - a wool-obsessed Canadian living in Liverpool.

On today’s episode we’re chatting about our theme for the podcast in 2018, Allison interviews our first special guest of the year and of course we get to catch up on our knitting projects in anticipation of the upcoming EYF too.

What we're working on:

Rachel is knitting Incunabula by Karie Westermann from This Thing of Paper in Valley Yarns Northampton in Sage Heather, and is on the sleeves after having to start over again due to choosing the wrong size at the beginning. True to form, she's made the body longer and decided to change the sleeve shaping. As you do.

Allison's Union Jack cardigan is her first finished machine knit!

Allison's Union Jack cardigan is her first finished machine knit!

Allison has been machine knitting up a storm, with her fabulous Union Jack Cardigan by Brandon Mably, and a bunch of awesome swatches from numerous classes (see short row eyeballs below). She also took a class in Bohus knitting when she went to Vogue Knitting Live last month, and we discuss Poems of Color by Wendy Keele, a good resource for Bohus knitting history.

Allison also learned how to make short rows in a knitting machine class at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC.

Allison also learned how to make short rows in a knitting machine class at Vogue Knitting Live in NYC.

Upcoming events

EYF. That is all (squee!)

We will be at the Blacker Yarns Podcast Lounge throughout the show, so please come by and say hi!

Yarn Adventures

Maylin braves the cold to show off her gorgeous Ella Gordon sweater knit in charcoal grey Shetland wool and a little bit of Canada for the yoke.

Maylin braves the cold to show off her gorgeous Ella Gordon sweater knit in charcoal grey Shetland wool and a little bit of Canada for the yoke.

Last year. the theme that we tried to work through the podcast episodes was Make Happy. This year, we've decided to focus on Yarn Adventures, both ours and those of other people. To start things off, we have an interview with Maylin Scott (aka Blithespirit), a Canadian expat living in Liverpool. We hope you enjoy!


We've got a new photo challenge for those of you attending EYF - Yarn Bingo (or Yingo)! We've put together a bingo card of photo prompts for you to use as inspiration and we're looking forward to seeing your interpretations! More details to follow, but every 5 in a row series or collage of photos is 1 entry into the prize drawing - fill up the card for 5 entries!

Wrap up

Many thanks for joining us for another episode! You can find the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio (please rate, review and subscribe!) and you'll find us on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter, in our Yarn in the City group on Ravelry, or in person on Wednesday nights at our knit night between 7 and 10pm at The Breakfast Club on Battersea Rise.

We hope to see you at EYF!

Music credits (available on NoiseTrade)
Revolution - Kate Tucker
A Good Reason To Smile - Chasing Noise

Episode 71: A Woolly Good Time


1 – 30th November: WOVEMBER!!!! This year's theme is Woolness: where wool meets wellness  

23 – 30th November: London Guild exhibition – The Thames and Southwark: Threads of London Life, Southwark Cathedral, 10:30am - 5:30pm daily, free entry. Also includes a free Introduction to Natural Dyeing drop in session on Sunday, 26 November from 3-5pm. 

2 December: Pints, Purls and Prosecco with Nathan Taylor, from 7-10pm! 

21 January: Waltham Abbey Wool Show, 10am–4pm  

Make Happy – aka – What we’re working on

Rachel has finished her Starting Point Shawl!!!!  she's working on the yoke of her British Blue sweater and on the two Woolly Wormhead Mystery KAL hats. During the podcast, she finishes off a pair of socks in handspun Romney. 

Weaving in ends video from Tabetha Hedrick at SweetGeorgia Yarns

Allison is working on Clue 2 of her Cederberg Shawl MKAL – in SGY Tough Love Sock. She's also started a Gaston jumper for Harrison for Christmas, but is running low on yarn. Does anyone have any Sirdar Eco Wool DK in "Clay"  (soft fawn colour) they can spare? She needs 3-4 more 50 g balls...please get in touch!

But Alli did manage to dye her hair pink, so here's the photo!

But Alli did manage to dye her hair pink, so here's the photo!

A Woolly Good Time: 

Alli has visited a couple of shows since the last podcast and gives us a brief rundown: Knit for Peace's The Great Knit Fest at Chelsea Old Town Hall, and the Nottingham Yarn Expo. Then we both get a bit philosophical about wool, yarn and it's importance in our day-to-day lives. How does wool play into your everyday world?

Wrap up

Many thanks for joining us for another episode! You can find the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher Radio (please rate, review and subscribe!) and you'll find us on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter, in our Yarn in the City group on Ravelry, or in person on Wednesday nights at our knit night at The Goat on the Rise  between 7 and 10pm. We are now back at the Goat now that their refurb is done.

Have a great couple of weeks and we’ll chat with you soon! 

Music credits (available on NoiseTrade)
Ridiculously Happy (feat. Twilight Meadow) - Owl City


Episode 19: Retreat and Recharge


Yarn in the City is proud to be sponsored by A Yarn Story. A Yarn Story specialises in hand-dyed yarns and luxury fibres. They carry yarns from indie dyers near and far, such as The Uncommon Thread, SweetGeorgia Yarns and Life in the Long Grass. Find them at www.ayarnstory.co.uk, or in Bath on Walcot Street in the heart of the Artisan Quarter.

What's going on:

22nd August: The 10th Anniversary edition of the TTC Knitalong, the inspiration for the GLYC, in Toronto..

3rd September: Kate Atherley will be teaching her "Math for Knitters" class at A Yarn Story in Bath.

5th September: The 3rd edition of the Great London Yarn Crawl, and the Yarn in the City Pop-Up Marketplace, which will include the Indie Designer Spotlight.

6th September: YITC workshops on Knit Design and Pattern Writing with Kate Atherley, Soho, London

8th September - 3rd October: Waste Nothing - Finding a Home for the Discarded, an exhibition by the London Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers happening at the crypt at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square, London.

3-4th October - Swiss Wulle Festival, Zug, Switzerland

18th October - Come hear Heather Ordover of Craftlit and "What Would Madame DeFarge Knit?" fame talk about "What Knitting Does to Your Brain: the many benefits of knitting (and crocheting) - this time backed by 95% more science!" - tickets will go on sale 1st August.

23rd-26th October - Autumn Gwlana, Beggar's Reach

What we're working on:

Allison has cast on the Reverb Shawl by Felicia Lo, while still working on her brother's Skulls Sweater. The Toddler Hoodie and She's A Waterfall shawl have been pushed to the bottom of the queue as they aren't quite so time sensitive.

Rachel is working on a series of accessory designs for The Fibre Co, in their lusciously chunky Tundra yarn (60% llama/30% merino/10% silk). In fact, she manages to cast off the current project during the podcast. Otherwise she's working on recovering from Fibre-East.

Retreat and Recharge:

In typical fashion, we wander around and about the topic of retreats for a while, including discussing our first retreat experiences, reasons to go on a retreat, and falling down the rabbit hole of all the yarny/crafty retreats that are out there. Whatever you do, don't go check out Clara Parkes' list of retreats and events on Knitter's Review. Our favourite possibilities include Les Soeurs Anglaises (including Asa Tricosa and BYOP) and a two week cruise to South America.

You can find us on RavelryFacebookTwitterInstagram and Pinterest. Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts and feedback with us, and please come say hi at any of the events we're attending if you get a chance! Everyone is also more then welcome to come join our Wednesday night knit group from 7-9 pm (or longer) at The Goat on the Rise, Clapham SW11 1EQ. We'll be there the rest of July, but on hiatus for August, with plans to start back up again after the big GLYC weekend in September.

Music credits (all available on NoiseTrade)
Loneliness & Alcohol - Jars of Clay
Everything You've Done Wrong - Sloan
Fierce Flawless - Ani Difranco
Retreat - Howie Sutherland

Introducing the Brighton Knit and Make Social

In Pride and Prejudice Mrs. Bennet says, "A little seabathing would set me up for ever."

Not that there's anything wrong with seabathing, but we rather think that the fresh air and sunshine to be enjoyed in Brighton would be even better with a picnic and portable project at hand to knit or make. With the opening of YAK earlier this year and our additional discovery of the Brighton Sewing Centre and Ditto Fabrics, we thought it was the perfect excuse for a crafty day out now that the sunshine and warmer weather is finally here - let's celebrate it!

So won't you join us on Saturday, 20 June for the first ever Brighton Knit and Make Social and Mini Crawl?

We've chatted with the shops and have organised special discounts with them for our guests joining us on the day. And we've also had some lovely door prizes donated from creative Brighton locals: Erika Knight, The Uncommon Thread, Lioness Arts, and Yellow Bear Wares.

The day out is planned to be very relaxed with opportunities to visit the shops, explore the famous Lanes, and of course, provide plenty of time for crafting and chatter. 

Tickets are only £10 and you can get them and more details on our events page here.

And keep an eye on the blog over the next couple of weeks as we'll have profiles of the shops and our lovely door prize donors too. Hope to see you there!

An interview with Felix from KNITSONIK

As it's now only a few weeks until our Quotidian Colourwork workshop with Felicity Ford, we want to give you all a bit more information about Felix, her fabulous book, and what workshop participants can expect come 26th March.

The KNITSONIK Colouwork Sourcebook by Felicity Ford, aka Felix

The KNITSONIK Colouwork Sourcebook by Felicity Ford, aka Felix


The KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook is such a different way to approach stranded knitting - was there a specific event or experience that led to the system for converting everyday objects and sights into colourwork patterns?
I can't say it was one specific event or experience. I do remember staying with my friend Kate about five years ago and seeing her Alice Starmore book of Fair Isle Knitting. I recall being absolutely blown away by a section in that book showing an inspiration source with a knitted interpretation beside it; it's a very small section but it spoke to something in me.

During my stay we went to New Lanark mill and picked blueberries for a crumble from the bushes in the nearby valley. I also filled a bag with shades of New Lanark yarn in heathery purples and greens and plums and pinks and cast on a hat celebrating the inspiration of the blueberries and that wondrous afternoon. My patterns didn't show up very well and I was gutted to discover that translating the 3D world into stranded colourwork was much harder than I had assumed!

Another time I dyed some yarn with walnuts from outside St. Mary's Butts - a local landmark here in Reading. I knitted the yarn into socks celebrating the patterns of the brickwork and there was something delightful about walking around my town in socks inspired by - and physically dyed by - bits of my urban landscape. When I was invited to act as guest patron for Shetland Wool Week in 2013 I wanted to share how seeing the textiles from Fair Isle and Shetland had inspired me to start knitting stranded colourwork from my own environment.

I came up with the Quotidian Colourwork class idea, and then spent six or seven months working out how to show other knitters my creative process. It was in those quiet months before Shetland Wool Week that the system was born! This is the same system which I use in my Quotidian Colourwork classes, and which underpins the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook. 

Reading bricks in stranded colourwork

Reading bricks in stranded colourwork

What do you hope people who read your book come away with?
I hope it will give people a fresh perspective on everyday and familiar objects. I hope it offers practical tools for translating the world into stranded colourwork. And I hope that people come away feeling encouraged to celebrate their favourite things and places in stranded colourwork! I also hope that people come away feeling braver about striking out on their own amazing knitting adventures. 

What kind of inspirational objects do your students bring along to your workshops? Are there some that are easier to translate into colourwork then others?
People bring the most wonderful things! Photos of homegrown veg; old button boxes; tins; favourite books; patterned china... one very special thing about the class is hearing why people have chosen their objects... it makes you realise how much stuff we have around us which inspires us all the time. 

I think that although anything can be celebrated in stranded colourwork there are definitely things which can make that translation more complex. For example I have noticed that students sometimes bring two or three things because they can't choose just one! I love this enthusiasm but it can be difficult to work from several things at once; you know, it can be a bit overwhelming.

I also think family photos can be hard as people are tempted to try and capture every detail of the people they love which is - as you can imagine - quite a tall order! I think choosing just one object and then really going into that one thing in some depth can be easier than bringing lots of things, and an actual object can be easier than a photo because you can turn it around in your hands, hold it up to the yarn to find colour matches and look at it from different angles. In my own work I have found that if I'm working from photos it helps to have lots of images of one inspiration source all taken from different angles; you can find a lot of shapes and patterns that way!

All that said, I really enjoy working with my students to get the best out of whatever they bring to Quotidian Colourwork classes and sometimes the best part of a Quotidian Colourwork workshop is seeing a huge stack of stuff that someone is really enjoying exploring; or working to find just the right shades to describe a wonderful family moment. Everyone has a slightly different creative approach and I love the challenge of finding new ways to support different learning styles. 

What was the biggest challenge in putting the book together?
The biggest challenge was getting the system laid out just right. I wanted to offer a framework and guidance without being too proscriptive and to encourage knitters to take risks and to find pleasure in their own creative knitting process. I knew this might be a bit tricky because knitting books necessarily make clear distinctions between doing it RIGHT and doing it WRONG! This is essential when you are making a sweater that requires hours and hours of knitting! You want a good fit! It has to be RIGHT! But when it comes to designing your own stranded colourwork based on things you love, the error margins need to be much more generous and forgiving. That RIGHT/WRONG format will shut down little ideas before they get off the ground! For guiding swatching, process, mistakes and exploring, a different instructional style is needed. It took trial and error to find the right voice for explaining The KNITSONIK System. However I've had lots of positive feedback from people who have the book so I think it was worth the effort! 

How does your work with sounds fit together with this book?
The impetus to celebrate the everyday world around me started with my work with sounds. In my work as a soundartist I share everyday sounds in ways that highlight their specialness. I like to think that my stranded colourwork swatches do the same thing; for example after looking at the swatch based on my battered little plastic digital recorder (EDDIE) many of its little details stand out more. It seems more special when it is photographed together with its matching swatch. 

The A4074 and the swatch it inspired.

The A4074 and the swatch it inspired.

Amedee Ozenfant once said "Art is the Demonstration that the Ordinary is Extraordinary" and I love that quote and agree with it. I love highlighting the specialness in things that are sometimes overlooked, underloved, tender and ordinary whether I am working in knitting (KNIT) or in sound (SONIK)! Just as in knitting there is a craft to recording sounds and stitching them together. You have to have the right tools and you have to take your time and to think about textures and structure.

To give a specific example of how knitting and sound fit together in the book, one of the subjects I chose for my stranded colourwork adventures was also the focus for a documentary radio show I made for the BBC. I wanted to make a radio show celebrating the road on which I most often drive and I spent the summer of 2010 walking around that road, interviewing other people who use it, recording the bands who play at festivals around the road and so on. In the radio show I celebrate the sonic textures of the road and my relationships with the other drivers who use it. Although the swatch I created from the same road is a very different kind of record of place and texture, I am not sure that I would have ended up knitting that road if I hadn't already fallen in love with it through sound. 

On one of your recent podcasts, you talked about how this project has opened up a new range of opportunities because you have some financial space to think about what to do next. Can you give us any hints about what lies around the corner for you?
I'm currently focusing on completing the album of sounds and songs that accompanies the book - the KNITSONIK Audible Textures Resource - it's taken longer than I'd hoped because managing book sales has been a bit more work than I anticipated (ahem)! I'm really enjoying getting back to more sound recording and editing for that.

I'm also doing quite a bit of teaching this year and expanding my class repetoire to include new concepts growing out of the original Quotidian Colourwork class. As well as our workshop on 26th March I'll be working with Brenda Dayne on our Gwlana retreat in May and teaching at Shetland Wool Week 2015 in October. I love teaching and am really enjoying opportunities to do more of it in coming months!

In terms of other long term plans I don't want to share too much but I'm thinking a lot about ways of applying stranded colourwork to garments because as every knitter knows, the ultimate fun in designing your own amazing patterns comes from wearing them.  

Many thanks to Felix for taking the time to answer our questions, and share a bit more about the KNITSONIK Stranded Colourwork process. Tickets are still available for her Quotidian Colourwork Workshop, happening on Thursday, 26th March 2015 from 6:30-9:30 pm at Homemade London. We hope to see you there!