Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Edinburgh Yarn Festival Recap Part 2: Skeins With A Story. . .

One of the great things about going to a yarn festival like Edinburgh is being able to talk to so many indie vendors about the yarn they spin or dye or knit or crochet or weave with.  There are just some incredible British yarns out there produced by people who are passionate about promoting the British wool industry.  I definitely went a little over budget with my purchases but I love a skein with a story, not to mention how gorgeous and top quality these yarns are.  I'm going to need to find some very special projects for these beauties.  All these are available online (or will be soon) so if you weren't able to attend EYF but want to knit with British wool, here are some suggestions:

Daughter of A Shepherd:

I've been following the story of this yarn ever since Rachel Atkinson wrote this blog post that touched a lot of people when it went viral.  Her father had sent 300 Hebridean fleeces to the British Wool Board and received a cheque for only 94p in return.  Rachel decided that she could do much better and decided to research the process of turning those 300 fleeces into skeins of yarn.  The result was launched in Edinburgh and it was the first booth I headed to when the marketplace opened.

My photo doesn't do the colour justice - it's a rich, dark chocolatey brown with black, grey and even reddish brown fibres sticking out of it.  It's really soft and has the most glorious and intense sheepy smell.  I can't wait to see how it knits up.  We were allowed to buy only two skeins each, but they will be available online soon.  Click on this link to see better photos and sign up for her newsletter that will let you know when the yarn is available. 

The Knitting Goddess:  Wensleydale/Shetland Blend:

How absolutely gorgeous is this yarn?  The Knitting Goddess is well known for her sock yarn, but I'm thrilled that she's dyed a non-superwash, pure British wool, which also had its debut at EYF.  This is 85% Wensleydale and 15% Shetland and is a 4ply weight.  The colours just glow, thanks to the lustre of the Wensleydale.  It's not as soft as Blacker's new yarn, Tamar, but the crispness will be wonderful for stitch definition.  Brityarn also stocks it. 

Speaking of Tamar:

I've blogged previously about this beautiful yarn here, but it was so nice to look at the full palette of colours in the Blacker booth and to see lots of Tamar skeins going home with knitters. 

Ysolda Teague also came with a new yarn - Blend No. 1.   I had read about it on her blog (she had wanted to create a soft "cool undyed grey" ) but I didn't know she also had some skeins dyed in greens and blues. That green really pops so it had to come home with the grey.  It's a mixture of Merino, Polwarth and Zwartbles.

I never go to a yarn show without stopping at the John Arbon booth (and thankfully they seem to be at every show!)  In some ways they are the heroes of British wool.  They spun both Daughter of a Shepherd and Ysolda's Blend No. 1,  in addition to providing lots of yummy skeins of their own.  I seem to be drawn quite heavily to grey these days and they had a limited edition Devon Grey Wensleydale 4ply that was so luscious I had to buy three skeins.  I also bought some Exmoor Zwartbles DK weight.  Mmmm, dark grey with light grey and green.  That's a good combo.

Speaking of grey, The Little Grey Sheep was also at EYF.  This yarn comes from their own flock of sheep in Hampshire, is scoured in Yorkshire, spun in Devon and then dyed back at the farm.  I'm in love with their Gotland lace and was so excited to see mini-skeins in that weight too.  I'm already thinking a striped Featherweight cardigan needs to be cast on with this.

I have to admit I was a bit starstruck meeting Kate Davies at EYF.  She is my number one knitting heroine, not only for her wonderful designs and blog, but for creating her own beautiful Scottish yarn Buachaille.  Her launch of it last year with the Seven Skeins club was quite possibly the most fun I've ever had with knitting.  And as with all of her patterns, there was so much thought put into the development of the yarn which she wrote about here and here and here.   The hard work and the skills involved by so many people to produce the yarn that is flowing through my fingers as I knit makes me feel very proud on their behalf and makes me cherish the yarn even more.  I love the new golden Furze colourway and can't wait to see all the upcoming designs that will use this yarn.

Finally, I bought some very special wool that is the last of its kind.  Jane from Orkney Wool has decided to retire and stop dyeing the Texel wool she gets from a local farmer.  The remainder of her stock is being sold by Kathy's Knits in Edinburgh where I got these balls; she still had quite a few left as of Sunday but I don't think they'll last long.   I love this mustard colour as it will be the perfect matched for some of the many grey skeins I've bought in a striped or colourwork jumper.  I just need to find the perfect pattern.

I'd say that if the Edinburgh Yarn Festival accomplished anything (and it accomplished TONS!), it definitely showcased the very best of British wool and the amazing people behind it all.  And this is just a tiny portion of what was available in the marketplace.  I feel so incredibly spoiled for choice living in the UK; truly, these are some of the best yarns in the world!


Meg said...

Gorgeous set off yarns there! I also invested in Daughter of a Shepherd, Buachaillie and Tamar. I kept to my budget so didn't get any of the new Knitting Goddess sock yarn at EYF but shall once I'm through my modest stash of sock yarn. Do you mind me asking, what are the names of the gorgeous ochre, grey and burgundy you bought. I think they may make a nice version of Karie Westermann's Frances Herself shawl...

Rachel A said...

Thank you so much for your lovely comments about my Daughter of a Shepherd yarn. I am overwhelmed by the incredible response it has had and can't wait to see what you knit with it. Enjoy x

Blithe Spirit said...

They would be perfect for a Frances Herself - I was thinking that myself, although I haven't yet decided what to knit with them yet. The colours from the tags are Gold, Gunmetal and Plum - I really love the latter colour, a deep burgundy with purple undertones. It really gleams in the light.