Friday, 28 September 2018

September's Wool Adventures. . .

Whew - where did September go?

I've been here, there and everywhere on lots of woolly adventures and also a fabulous hiking holiday in Scotland.  Shall we start with the wool?

I love checking out new, independent yarn shops around the country. As with indie bookshops, each has its own personality, its own curated stock and friendly, knowledgeable staff. So when a friend from my knitting group suggested a Wales road trip to check two of them out earlier this month, I was very excited.

Our first stop was in Mold, a beautiful town that is quite near Liverpool but one I'd never had an opportunity to visit. It was market day and there was a wonderful stall selling the most glorious array of plants and flowers (I bought a few pots of lavender for the garden) and a lovely cafe where we fueled up on coffee and the equivalent of Welsh flapjacks.

Then it was off to Yarn O'Clock - a tightly packed shop full of wonderful yarns, books, needles and notions. I was really pleased to see so much British wool on display too.

I bought a skein of the most plump and squishy DK blend of BFL and Romney.  The wool is local and comes from sheep on the Llyn Pennisula (where I've gone walking in the past) and it's hand-dyed by Anne, the owner of the shop.  I also picked up a copy of Carol Feller's new collaborative project of designs celebrating ancient Irish history - Echos of Heather and Stone.  There are some amazing cabled garments in this book.

If you visit Mold, it's also well worth paying a visit to St. Mary's, built in the 15th century.  All along the upper moldings are hundreds of carved creatures, mostly looking like rats, but not exclusively.

It was then off to Betws-y-coed and Find Me Knitting which I think has one of the best logos for a yarn shop ever.

Again, it was another lovely space filled to the brim with yarn and supplies.

When in Wales. . . this skein of Cambrian 4ply had to come home with me.  I find I'm increasingly drawn to these dusky shades of purpley-grey.

Mid-September saw us off to Scotland for a hiking holiday (that will have to be another post!) but hmmm, I may just have managed to plan it so that I could attend the Perth Festival of Yarn on the way up.  This was my first time going and what a lovely event it was - lots of local vendors that I hadn't seen before, and just the perfect size to get around to all the booths within the three hours that we had before we had to catch our train to Inverness.

Despite my resolutions not to buy too much, I was in holiday mode and that's always bad for temptation.  Still, I'm really pleased with what I purchased.

I can't remember the booth now, but there was a basket filled with recycled Shetland wool which is frozen to remove any moth threats and then re-dyed.  I just loved the vibrant colours of the two skeins I picked up.

Black Isle Yarns gathers the fleeces from several local flocks around Inverness and they have such lovely, lovely yarn. I picked up these mini DK skeins which I think would work together in a pair of colourwork mittens or a yoke, and a skein of speckled dyed non-superwash DK.

And some super rustic, super sturdy Swedish wool from Midwinter Yarns.

I just love the rich tones of heather and I seem to be drawn towards deep mauves and purples this autumn.  Not sure yet what I will do with the set of gradient mini-skeins from J. C. Rennie, but no doubt I'll think of something.  And finally, the most exciting discovery was the launch of this North Coast Shetland Tweed yarn from The Border Mill.  All the colourways are named after favourite places on the North Coast 500 route which takes you around north-west Scotland.  The timing couldn't have been better - this was true holiday souvenir yarn.  As a preview to where I went, the colourways I bought were An Teallach, Torridon and Loch Maree. 

Here's a shot of their wall of North Coast - rich, luminous colours and as you can see, if you are after gradients you could pick and choose easily from this selection.  I love the packaging too and the labels with the map of this glorious part of Scotland. 

Here are a few skeins in the wild:

Finally on my way back home, I stopped off at New Lanark which is a World Heritage Site.  If I'm honest, I was a bit disappointed by the history on show; it felt a bit more like a theme park and there are other historical mills, such as Saltaire, or Armley Mills (both in Yorkshire), that convey a sense of the past in a less dumb-downed way. Having said that, New Lanark is located right next to the Clyde River Nature Reserve and I spent a couple of happy hours in the woods, wandering along the nature paths originally carved out by the Victorians to afford the best views of the waterfalls.  Imagine my surprise when a fellow walker stopped me as she'd recognized a sweater that I was wearing from ravelry.  I love bumping into knitters in the wild!

New Lanark was originally a cotton mill, but they do spin and dye their own wool now. I managed to pick up this enormous skein of mill end DK for a bargain.  That's nearly 1200g of DK or at least 2.5 sweaters. It's a lovely marled neutral with flecks of orange in it. I shall enjoy pairing it up with some complimentary colours.

Ahem, I know I've added quite a bit to the stash already and yet there's one more September trip to take this Sunday when I pop off to Yarndale in Skipton.  It's a big show and there will be a lot of temptation but I shall try my best to be restrained.