I am delighted to welcome Estelle this week. I always enjoy the Midwinter Yarns stalls and particularly their banter so I was thrilled when she agreed to be interviewed on the show…twice. For those who are not familiar with them they are into traditional, robust yarn but with a modern style – very Scandi.
Fair warning, there is a small amount of cake/pastry chat today.
Estelle grew up in Sweden and benefitted from their wonderful tradition of half of the educational year being spent doing textiles and half on woodwork – as well as other mainstream lessons of course. Her mother was a knitter and had already taught her the basics before school even started, though the young(er) Estelle was not a fan. But we know how it goes, given time we wear them all down, and her mother’s trips to yarn shops on every family excursion eventually paid off and stoked an interest.
Several European stops later and Estelle found herself in London. Whilst she was there the indie dyer scene was growing, but she had neither time nor space to create a business then. As she researched it, she realised that there were very few undyed yarn suppliers and so looked back to her home country for alternatives to offer something different. There is so much yarn and yet so little international knowledge of it that Estelle decided she would spread the word…and the yarn. Once she moved to the Valleys, she had the space she needed and could have the business she had known she wanted for some time.
A typical day for Estelle will include picking the orders in the morning and a leisurely stroll to the Post Office, followed by a little bit of production. Clearly, there is lots of knitting involved, sometimes in the garden, sometimes at 2am. That’s the flexibility of running your own business for you. Then there is the upkeep of social media platforms and chats with designers for patterns to show off the yarns.
Another important part is obviously the sourcing of yarn. There is a certain criteria that Estelle prefers the yarn to come under. A perfect example is the Ullcentrum yarn. In Sweden the wool is seen as a nuisance to the farmers and they will burn it (weep) so the people from Ullcentrum will go around their locality and collect all the wool. This appeals to the desire Estelle has for local produce where possible. If it cannot be considered strictly local though, she is happy to use a yarn that harks back to Swedish traditions, such as the Raggsock wool. The final consideration will be colour. Although more a fan of rich rather than bright colours, Estelle will occasionally choose a yarn because it complements their brand. The creative process will also see her work with designers, who know that they want Estelle’s yarn as they have a specific project in mind, like Karie Westermann’s Hygge, but need a recommendation of what will work best.
Estelle’s high points include seeing finished projects. After the yarn is sold and someone is wearing and enjoying it after leaving them: that is always a lovely feeling. Hearing the words ‘You’re on my list’ at shows is also a boost, as it means that people are not stumbling upon Midwinter Yarns, but for some, they are actually a destination in themselves.
As a single high point Estelle gives EYF. Its amazing displays and visitors gave her so much inspiration last year that it led to the creation of the Scattered Showers blanket shawl kit. She now looks back and wishes that as a reluctant 5 year old, she could have known how many friends the knitting community would bring her. The common interest gives you a friend in every port and they (that’s us) are always generous people.
For her parting words, Estelle wants you to know that this is an amazing industry to be in and that she still pinches herself sometimes. As a caution though, you must be aware that it is a business and not all garden knitting. You must try to keep proper hours as you wont have anyone to remind you when your shift is done. Most importantly, the love of knitting never leaves you.
Where to find Estelle:
Instagram – midwinteryarns
Facebook – midwinteryarns
Woolfest 24th and 25th June, Cockermouth
That’s all from me this week. As always, thank you for listening. Feedback is always appreciated, and you can email me or message me via Ravelry or social media. If you enjoyed listening today, please consider leaving an iTunes review, to help others find the podcast too. Happy crafting!