Podcasts

Ep 126 – A Hat For Every Eventuality

Everyone needs more knitted hats in their life, and today I share seven pattern ideas for hats. I’ve been out of knitting sorts lately and attempting a new hat is just the ticket to get back into it.

I’ve gone through a tricky time recently and I wanted to find a way to order my thoughts through the yogic medium of knitting. I was inspired to look at hats as a quick and satisfying project. This would allow the thrill of an FO with minimal commitment of time and effort. Today I’ll share seven different pattern ideas for you if you need a quick and satisfying project.

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Ep 125 – Hawkshaw Sheep with Sue Horn

Sue Horn of Hawkshaw Sheep in the Scottish Borders is our guest on the show today. She shares the ups and downs of being a shepherdess, creating your own yarns and fabrics and farm life.

Ever wondered what it is like to commission your own yarns? Sue shares how she decided to produce yarn, as well as how she went about producing fabric from the yarns.

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Ep 123 – Strange Brew

This week we review the new Tin Can Knits collection – Strange Brew. It’s a knitwear collection that embraces everything colour work for the whole family. There’s some knitty news and an update on School Council gate.

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Ep 122 – Isn’t It About Time We Put a Stop to All This Nonsense?

Sometimes, when something really gets to you because of its inherent unfairness and solid foundations in utter bollocks, you need to speak out. This episode is one of those times. In a departure from the usual format, this week we share the story of a small girl who wanted to be on the school council. Unlike the boys in the class, the girls had to undergo a separate, extra selection level, because they were not boys.

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Ep 119 – Yarn Shops in Shanghai

Shanghai is the destination for this week’s podcast. I take a trip to not one, but two yarn shops in Shanghai to check out the local knitting scene and the yarns on offer.

News

Podcast Theme Music

Many listeners have emailed me to ask about the theme tune for the podcast and where it can be found for download. I originally sourced the music on Music Alley, which closed its doors a few years back, so I had nowhere to send people to find it.

I have good news however!

The podcast theme music is now available on iTunes for purchase for 79p. The track is ‘I Need a Drink’ by Adam and the Walter Boys, who allow me to use it on the podcast with their kind permission. If you’ve ever wanted to listen to the whole song, go ahead and download it now.

New Project

My new project is currently being built. Some of the details have been sent to the VIP waiting list members, who have kindly agreed to help with testing of the site. If you would like to be one of the first people to get access to the site when it launches, you can join the waiting list and have advance notice ahead of the main launch.

The site helps you find the perfect yarn for your project in one place, quickly and easily, so you can spend more time knitting. If you’ve ever been in the situation where you need a certain colour of yarn on a certain fibre blend base yarn and struggled to find it, this one’s for you. No more needing to go and search through multiple websites or take a chance at Etsy roulette when trying to find that perfect match. I’ve built the site to have specific search algorithms. These will only serve you the yarn and colours you want, instead of a load of random tat a la Etsy. 

I’ll give you more details and the name of the site in the coming week or two. For now, if you want to get in there early, you can request access here.

Heng Yang Xiang Yarn Shop Shanghai

Yarn Shops in Shanghai

First up, I declare my undying love for the efficiency of the CRH railway system. 
I visited two yarn shops in Shanghai this weekend, one at either end of the market. This was a fascinating experience and I would highly recommend checking both out if you find yourself in the area. Both are under 15 minutes from the Bund are easily reached via a Didi or the Metro.

Heng Yuan Xiang Yarn Shop

Address: 358 Jinling East Road, Huangpu, Shanghai.

The company was founded in 1927 in Shanghai, as a silky yarns company, and produces a variety of goods including wools, knitting yarns, knitted apparel and home textiles. It is the largest annual seller of wool sweaters in China and has more than 100 factories. More than 90% of the municipal market in China is covered by the brand, which became a state-owned enterprise in 1956.

The knitting wool brand started in 1991 and in 1997 the brand expanded into sweaters, wool underwear and other knitted products. 

The company has 5800 sales outlets which run as franchises, with 375 million products available through these franchises.

This shop is definitely on the bijou end of the scale, although it is easily identifiable from the street. Some yarn shops can appear to be ladies wear shops from the street, until you actually go inside. It is an Aladdin’s cave, literally full from floor to ceiling with bags and boxes of yarns.

 Yarns in these shops are usually displayed in boxes with clear plastic covers, which I assume are there to protect the yarn from dust or atmospheric pollution.

Raccoon, anyone?

Local Chinese Yarns

The yarns store carries a wide variety of blends, including merino, cashmere, yak, cotton, raccoon(!) and man made blends.

The Beast selected a 70% cottony viscose and 30% wool in a fetching spearmint shade, at RMB48 or around £5.49 for 300g. 

I went for a 100% Australian Merino yarn in a (guessing by eye) DK weight at RMB 102 or £11.67.

Although I would be unlikely to import yarn to the UK, even at this price point, I wanted to investigate what locals are likely to use for their knitting. When in China it is rude not to try their yarns. I decided to give it a bash and see how it performs for research purposes. I am planning to knit another Lush cardigan with it.

Yarn Ave Shanghai

Lotus Yarns Flagship Store (Yarn Avenue) Shanghai

Lotus Cashmere Ltd started in 2007 with the Lotus Yarns brand being established in 2009. It is the distributor for a lot of western brands including Noro, Opal, Louisa Harding, Brooklyn Tweed, KnitPro, Brittany etc.

 Lotus Yarns Flagship (Yarn Ave) yarn store was in the high end Western Joy City Mall.

Yarn Ave is a new store, which opened in January 2018 and is found on Level 6, the Creator level.

 It is set up in a very similar way to any western yarn shop, in that all the yarn is open on the shelves in hanks or skeins, in easy feeling distance. This makes sense as it is inside a climate controlled mall so it is not subject to as much risk from dust etc.

Pleasingly, good selection of samples was available to browse. Notions from familiar brands like KnitPro, Brittany, Clover etc were on sale.

 A workshop was ongoing at the time I visited, which prevented me from reaching the Lotus Yarns. Unfortunately, they were displayed behind a large table, where the workshop was taking place. Additionally, it was not obvious who were the staff in the shop. Staff didn’t appear to have a uniform or clear name badge, and nobody came to assist us.

Overall, Yarn Ave definitely worth a visit when looking for yarn shops in Shanghai. Conveniently located close tourist areas, you can expect to pay premium prices for the yarn on offer here, particularly if it is imported. To give an idea, 100g of high twist South African merino is RMB299 or around £35.

Join the Waiting List

Don’t forget to join the waiting list for the new project.

Music for this episode with kind permission: Adam and the Walter Boys with ‘I Need a Drink’ available from iTunes.

Ep 118 – British Wool, Labelling and Sourcing with Joy McMillan of The Knitting Goddess

Joy McMillan of The Knitting Goddess joins the show today to talk about how her business has moved towards sourcing solely British and some very local yarns. Topics discussed include the difference between British and British Overseas Territory when it comes to yarn, mislabelling of yarns, wanton misrepresentation of yarns as British and what you need to think about when doing a custom blend yarn.

The Knitting Goddess is one of my personal favourite dyers and has been since I began to become interested in hand dyed yarns around seven years ago. The love affair started with the Terry Pratchett themed yarns and even gifted some to Clare Devine, who later, went on to work with Joy as a designer for a number of yarn clubs.

Screen Printed Project Bag. Image Copyright The Knitting Goddess

History of The Knitting Goddess

The Knitting Goddess started around 13 years ago, and having originally been a stockist of yarns from across the world, has steadily moved to all British yarn offering. By this, Joy means mainland Britain specifically, and she works hard with UK based mills to source yarn as locally as possible even within the UK. This includes having her own, custom yarn spun, One Farm Yarn, a truly Yorkshire yarn, with a total mileage from sheep to yarn of just 72 miles.

British Overseas Territories and Yarn

Joy and I discussed the difference between British and British Overseas Territories when it comes to wool: specifically here, the Falkland Islands. Whilst I am a huge fan of Falklands Merino because it is great quality and the sheep are not dipped as there are no pests, and there is no pollution, Joy is less keen. This is not because it isn’t excellent quality, but because it has to travel so far to be processed, which is inefficient. We discussed the relative merit of opening a scouring plant in the Falklands and how, if fleece has travelled so far, then why not use Merino from Australia of New Zealand instead.

Whilst Joy is very keen to stay as local as possible, I am more liberal in my yarn tastes, but I like to know where it is from and as much of the story as possible, so I can make a good buying decision. This brought us on to marketing and labelling of yarn.

Misleading Marketing in Yarn Labelling

This was a big focus of our discussion, probably because it is a huge bugbear for a lot of people. Whilst it’s ok to make informed choices to buy yarn from further afield, it’s not ok for companies to try and pass off yarn as being from a certain place, when it isn’t. Don’t give a yarn British branding when it is spun in Peru, then be coy about it. That is not cool and devalues the British cachet.

Image Copyright The Knitting Goddess

How Do You Find Out If A Yarn Is British (or Local?)

It can be hard to know where to go to look for information on where a yarn is produced, from fleece source, to spinning and dyeing . It is definitely not a habit of yarn companies to show this sort of information, although consumers are becoming increasingly aware of it and are asking the question, thanks in no small part to people like Louise Scollay of Knit British and Felix Ford of Knitsonik and their clear labelling campaign.

Joy recommends asking the mills who produce the yarn  as a first stop, but also that dyers and sellers need to make it their business to find out where yarns are produced, if they don’t know already.

Joy has a personal preference to buy from as close to home as possible, but advocates buying Falklands Merino (or anything else that is clearly labelled) as long as you actually get what you are buying. You know where it has come from and you have an awareness of the level of treatment of the animals and labour conditions in the supply chain, which allows informed choice. Basically, if you’re buying something super cheap from the other side of the world, somebody will have paid for it somewhere down the line.

British Yarn Has Value

The number of dishonest brands trying to piggyback the British yarn label indicates clearly that British yarn has value, and that these brands need to be called out on their mislabelling. Simply putting a label on in the UK does not make it British yarn.

Support Local

Joy is such a fan of supporting local as there is a rich history of wool production in Yorkshire, which continues to this day. Although she is based in the affluent area of Harrogate, she is right next to West Yorkshire, which has a high unemployment rate and associated issues which come from that. Joy believes in making a difference to local businesses through her business, and this ambition dictates a lot of her decisions, even down to moving spinning of her yarns to Yorkshire-based Laxton’s.

How to Design a Custom Spun Yarn

Joy has a number of custom and small run yarns under her belt, and it’s an interesting subject to discuss. A lot of hand dyers buy blank yarn that is already mass-spun and has specific qualities designed for a more mass appeal product. J

Joy worked very closely with Laxton’s to develop her One Farm Yarn. Creating a custom yarn is mildly terrifying because you don’t actually know what you are going to get until the yarn comes back, at which point, it’s too late to change it. She put a lot of trust in Laxton’s to help her make the right decisions, and as the company has incredibly experienced staff, which have worked in a variety of places in the wool industry, they were perfectly placed to advise and ensure success.

Spinners have more knowledge about how certain fleeces and spins work together to produce the characteristics that a dyer wants in their yarn.

Laxton’s also assisted in the creation of Joy’s BFL and Mohair yarn, a no-nylon sock yarn with all British wool and Mohair.

Woolly Wool and Breed Yarn is the New Craft Beer

Joy and I compared the recent interest in craft beer to that of more niche breed wools and small batch yarns. What would once have been the preserve of Birkenstock wearing, bearded anoraks (real ale) is now super hipster and called craft beer (the beards remain, but are more fashionably kempt). Has the same thing happened with yarn, and now we’re moving away from the Fosters of yarn (merino) to something a bit hoppy, with bite?

Listener Discount Code

Joy very kindly has offered 10% off to listeners of the show with the code SHINYBEES10 until 17th September 2018. Only one code per order.

The Knitting Goddess Shop

Find The Knitting Goddess Online

You can find Joy at http://www.theknittinggoddess.co.uk

The Knitting Goddess on Instagram
The Knitting Goddess on Twitter

Music for this episode used with kind permission of Adam and the Walter Boys, with ‘I Need a Drink’, available from iTunes

Ep 117 – Far East Adventures

This week is a bit of a catch up as I share my Far East adventures so far. I’m in China, and I share some of the funnier/more unusual observations I’ve made so far being here, including crotchless baby clothes, sleeping in public and appreciative eating.

Also involved is a marching column of riot police.

Observations of China

I’m enjoying experiencing all the different facets of Chinese culture, whilst on my trip to the Far East. I find it fascinating how people live differently and what their customs and norms are, as well as how they deal with challenges, such as population. Once a geographer, always a geographer!

High Density Housing

Population

It’s hard to get your head around the population density of China. There are just so. Many. People. Here.

I’m staying in a city with a population of roughly 15 million people. That’s equivalent to 25% of the entire UK, or almost 4 x the population of Scotland as a whole. The figures are mind-blowing, and the challenges that come along with sustaining, feeding and transporting a population of that size are considerable.

The most obvious way this is one differently in Chinese cities is via their love of a high rise apartment block. Whilst these are found regularly in the bigger UK cities and in some rebuilt, post WW2 baby boom areas, generally, they are limited in size and area covered to maybe 5-6 in one place and under 15 storeys. In the apartment complex where I am staying here, there are approximately 20 high rise buildings, each of 32 storeys. When you do the maths on this tiny area alone, probably the size of my estate at home which has 36 houses on it.

There, you’re looking at an average of 4 people per house, so maybe a population of around 150. Here, you have 4 flats per floor, with an average rate of 4 people that puts you at around 500 per block and 10,000 on the estate.

And there is estate, after estate, after estate of these tower blocks, as far as the eye can see. I find it very reminiscent of dystopian future sci-fi films.

Chinese Mancunian Way

Crotchless child clothing/public sanitation

One of the most strikingly different things for me has been the widespread practice of entirely crotchless clothes for small children/toddlers. It is very common here for children not to wear nappies, either real or disposable, and to simply squat and pee in the street/museum/waiting room/anywhere really. This makes for some rather interesting aromas on hot days, particularly when carried out indoors, but I would wonder how a mountain of disposable nappies would be handled on the scale that would be required here.

Sleeping in Public

They absolutely love a good nap here in China, and around 1pm every day, lots of people settle down for a good old nana-nap. Now, of and by itself, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing; I mean, everyone loves a nana-nap! What make it different here is that the nana-nap takes place wherever one happens to be at the time. It also means that one may, indeed, decide to go and sit in Starbucks for their nap, as they have nice seating and air conditioning. It does not mean, however, that one intends to buy a coffee – in fact, one may go to the liberty of buying some Pepsi from Burger King and bringing that in with them, for their nap, in Starbucks, where they haven’t bought anything.

One place where I admire the dedication to the nap is Ikea. Go at the right time, and you’ll find lots of people actually road-testing the showroom beds by having a wee kip.

Over-enthusiastic appreciation of food

If you suffer from Mysophonia, this is not the place for you to visit. I an not as bothered by it as some, but there is definitely a cultural requirement here for noisy eating and slurping. This is because it shows you are enjoying the food and it’s considered a bit rude or a slight on your hosts’s hospitality if you do not enthusiastically chew.

Knitting in China

I’m hoping to visit some local yarn purveyors and find the yarn district where I am staying. If you have any good recommendation for yarn shops in Beijing/Shanghai then please let me know.

Yarn Snobbery revisited

On the knitting side, we revisit ep 114 (Yarn Snob) and I share some of the submitted entries for the remaining three categories of yarn snob.

Also, take a look at Anna Elliott’s blog post prompted by the original discussion of yarn snobbery. I loved her thoughtful approach to this subject and how she considered some of the wider aspects of the idea of yarn snobbery and inclusivity.

Join the Community

Want to continue the chatter? Join us over in the Shinybees Podcast Community group on Facebook.

Music for this episode used with kind permission of Adam and the Walter Boys – ‘I Need a Drink’ – available on iTunes.

Ep 116 – Return to Shetland with Susan Crawford

Susan Crawford of Susan Crawford Vintage joins me this week and we take a journey through the past three years since Ep55. In that episode, Susan talked about the Pubslush (crowdfunded publishing) campaign she was undertaking to print pre-orders of the book. She also described at length, the painstaking process she had been through the research and create the Vintage Shetland Project.

Podcast Episode Trailer

Vintage Shetland Project book cover. Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

This involved researching at length pieces in the Shetland Museum archives, along with the stories of the people behind the pieces. It is a social and historical exploration of the Shetland Islands and beyond, as the stories stretch far away from those shores. A computer program was written to record each stitch of each project meticulously, and these details were used to create patterns to recreate these pieces in the modern day, in a range of sizes, for men and women. You can hear the full story of this here, along with more about Susan and her journey to becoming a knitting historian, writer and knitwear designer.

On location at the Vintage Shetland Project photoshoot on Vaila, Shetland Islands.
Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

The Vintage Shetland Project

The Vintage Shetland Project was officially published in February 2018. The culmination of 8 years of painstaking work, the book is an absolute triumph, both as an academic work, but also as Susan was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer just prior to the original planned publication date.

To quote from the blurb on the Vintage Shetland Project book:

Fashion & social history intertwine in the Vintage Shetland Project as Susan Crawford recreates & explores cherished pieces from Shetland’s rich knitting heritage.

The Vintage Shetland Project, is the culmination of eight years of hard work and personal determination. Inspired by the patterns and colours of Shetland knitting, the fashion historian, author, designer and publisher Susan Crawford began a journey into the rich heritage of Shetland knitwear, and in particular the pieces held in the Shetland Museum archive. With the help of Dr Carol Christiansen, the museum’s curator, Susan undertook the task of carefully selecting the most stunning and original designs from the 1920s to the 1950s, transcribed them stitch by stitch, and has here recreated them for the modern knitter, in stunning detail and a range of sizes for women and men. In combination with the collection of 27 comprehensive patterns for garments and accessories are carefully researched essays exploring the stories behind each piece and honouring their creators – some famous, some forgotten. Photographed by Susan on the island of Vaila, situated off the west coast of Shetland, this book also celebrates the untameable beauty of Shetland itself. Compiled with Susan’s trademark attention to detail, this book is a fabulous treasury of Shetland knitting design and a valuable insight into its textile traditions. It offers you the chance to delve into a fascinating era for knitwear design and to bring it to life in stitch-perfect vintage style.

The meticulously written patterns showcase Susan’s new yarn range, Fenella, created specifically to enable you, the knitter, to perfectly recreate these unique museum pieces. Made using 100% British wool, grown, spun and dyed in Britain, in a range of 26 colours carefully chosen to emulate the shades found in the original vintage pieces.
The Vintage Shetland Project is a celebration of stunning design, beautiful knitting and the people of Shetland themselves, during a time of local change, international conflict and revolution in the knitting industry.

Yule – Vintage Shetland Project. Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

In this episode we talk about the realisation of the Vintage Shetland Project into its paper form, and discuss a few of the amazing stories that have come out as a result of this research. This includes a hitherto forgotten knitting historian from 1930, whose work was destined to be lost forever until this project and a daring WW2 pilot, who believed the Fair Isle sweaters knitted by his doting Aunt kept him safe from the Luftwaffe.

Inside the Knocker Jotter. Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

The Knocker Jotter

Next, Susan talked about another project, connected to her diagnosis: The Knocker Jotter. Susan was very open about the details of her journey through cancer. The Knocker Jotter was a creative project, that came about with members of her cancer support group, and was very empowering for the women involved. It involved a photoshoot of all the women, as they are following cancer; all the way from undergoing chemotherapy to a full, double mastectomy without reconstruction. These images were combined in The Knocker Jotter.

FUBC Shawl in the Victoria and Natural colour combination, modelled by Victoria, who inspired the colour way.
Image Copyright Susan Crawford.

FUBC Shawl

Susan also created the FUBC kit, which is a shawl kit that was launched to celebrate the end of Susan’s breast cancer treatment. This included two skeins of Ghyll yarn, one of which was a limited edition colour by one of four of her favourite hand dyers, the other undyed, and two different shawl patterns which combined the two colour ways. £15 from the sale of each kit is donated to Cancer Care, which was the charity which helped Susan during her illness.

One of the glorious views at Monkey Ghyll Farm.

Future Plans for Monkey Ghyll Farm and Susan Crawford Vintage

Finally we return to the present, with exciting plans for Monkley Ghyll Farm. There are naughty Shetland sheep, retreats, workshops and jam and gin on the horizon. Susan has a vision for turning the farm into a creative sanctuary, and sharing this special location with others.

You can find Susan at http://www.susancrawfordvintage.com

Music for this episode is ‘I Need a Drink’ by Adam and the Walter Boys and is available on iTunes.

Ep 115 – Phone Down, Knitting Up

Where do you lose knitting time and how can you go about carving out more time to do it? In this week’s episode, I talk about the idea of cutting out mindless phone scrolling time to increase your knitting time, and the associated benefits of doing so.

News

If you’ve been hiding under a rock, it’s entirely probably that you’ve still heard about the #titsoutcollective organised by Countess Ablaze. 

This was in response to copying of the ‘If I Want Exposure’ colour way (listen to to story of this in 107) and aimed to turn around the the idea of someone ripping off a charity colour way into something far more positive. Launched on 1st July and masterminded in 13 days, 287 dyers, designers and makers from around the world have taken part. You can find all of the, in the Titty Fade Gallery.

Also, if you enjoyed meeting The Countess in 107 and 95, you should know she’s started and new vlog over on YouTube.

UK Yarn Events in July

Tickets for the annual Great London Yarn Crawl are now available. This is taking place on 1st September 2018 in various shops around London and is organised by the lovely ladies over at Yarn in the City.

Another favourite of the show is Jess of Ginger Twist Studio, who is bringing the Indie Burgh Craft Crawl to you all on 27th and 28th July 2018, 1000-1700. Expanded to include wider craft emporia, with an after-party on Saturday at Akva, it’s definitely one to get into you diary, especially given the glorious weather we’re having in the UK this July!

Fibre East is back in Bedford on 28th and 29th July 2018.

Want to Start a Podcast?

If you want to start a knitting podcast, I’m going to be sharing some of my secrets from six years of producing the show. I’m feeling the itch to get more women’s voices out there, speaking about whatever it is that is important to them – including knitting, of course. More news coming on this.

Shinybees Vlog/Video

I’m going to be sharing some of my upcoming travels along with other things like tutorials on my YouTube channel. Don’t worry I’m not ditching audio whatsoever, this is simply in addition to what I already do here. You can subscribe to my channel here.

Phone Down, Knitting Up

The main chat in the show this week centres around the idea of ending mindless scrolling of social channels on your phone to indulge in more of what you enjoy: in my case, knitting.

Do you often catch yourself saying, ‘I’m such a slow knitter?’ I used to, and when I examined whether I was actually slow or not, I made the surprising discovery that my internal and external chat was completely wrong. What was actually the case, was that I spent too little time knitting.

Even if you speed up your knitting by an extra ten or twenty stitches a minute, you’ll still get more done if you knit for one extra minute at your original speed, provided that is more than the amount of stitches you can do in a minute.

eg 60 stitches a minute sped up by 10 = 70 stitches a minute. 60 stitches a minute done for an extra minute = 120 stitches.

Therefore, given that we all have the same 24 hours in a day to spend, how can we get back some time that we are potentially wasting? Every extra minute saved means more stitches, and winter is coming, friends, so it’s time to get those needles clicking. Autumn fashion isn’t going to knit itself, after all.

Gratuitous Knitty Porn AKA Paul Rudd Knitting

Having identified that mindless phone scrolling was a terrible habit (thanks to the Moment app), I’ve decided to try and consciously pick up my knitting when bored or when I have a few extra minutes here or there during the day. Whilst I would say that I don’t have time to be bored (and this is true) I have found myself absentmindedly picking up the phone and scrolling out of habit, rather than for a purpose. To be clear, I’m not talking about all phone usage being bad here – it’s a great tool for looking things up, speaking to friends and looking after clients and business. I’m purely talking about those times where you wake up, face down and drooling, half an hour later, when you were just checking the weather.

I’m curious to hear – is this something you’ve found yourself falling victim to lately? Let me know! I want to hear your point of view and any ways you have found to try and combat the scroll.

Join the Shinybees Podcast Community

Chat about this episode and all things knitting over in the Shinybees Podcast Community on Facebook.

Ep 112 – Knit Share Love with Clare Devine

Clare Devine | Knit Share Love

Clare Devine of #KnitShareLove rejoins me on the podcast this week, as we catch up with her after quite a while since her Sock Surgery days on the show.

Clare is in Australia, the country where her knitting adventure began, at that time, she was in a totally-unsuitable-for-knitting Broome. Now she’s based in Brisbane, which is pretty warm, and presents its own knitting challenges.

Broome – Image Copyright Clare Devine All Rights Reserved.

Knit Share Love Collaborations

Since her last appearance on the show, which was shortly after the adult edition of her book, Sock Anatomy, was released, she’s been involved of lots of exciting projects and collaborations. She’s designed her first cardigan pattern, as well as working with UK dyers Joy McMillan of The Knitting Goddess and Jess James of Ginger Twist Studio on both The Neighbourhood Sheep Society and The Tea Collection.

Moonlight White from The Tea Collection Vol II – Image Copyright Clare Devine

#LoveLocalWool

Recently, she’s turned her attention to working with and raising the profile of home-grown talent in Australia. We briefly digress into the development of independent designers on Ravelry and the idea of training to be a designer.

In terms of local talent, Clare recommended Circus Tonic Handmade, a former geneticist PhD turned hand dyer. She also shared a wonderful story about Tarndie, a farm around two hours west of Melbourne. She found this yarn in a project during her first stay in Oz, having been recommended it to use for a felted bag. Around seven years afterwards, she met Jools of Woollenflower, who waxed lyrical about how wonderful this yarn from Tarndie was, and how Clare must visit when she went back to Australia. After a stint working one day a week in a yarn shop in Melbourne, the owner asked if she would like to teach at an event at… you guessed it… Tarndie.

Tarndie have Polwarth sheep and have been farming for many years, The yarn is spun in New Zealand. They have also been in collaboration with Great Ocean Road Woollen Mill, which is local to them, to produce a Super Bulky yarn called The Henry. This is made from a mix of Alpaca and Wool.

There aren’t many boutique yarn spinners – a lot of the clip is merino, which is sent to China for processing. Clare talked about a Gotland sheep farmer called Cheryl, creator of Granite Haven Gotland Yarns, who is based in Victoria. She has the only flock of Gotland sheep in Australia and breeds for diversity rather than conformity. As a result, her sheep have a wide arrange of colours in the fleece.

Lanson Socks. Image Copyright Clare Devine

Australian Small Producer Yarns

Clare talked passionately about the importance of educating customers as to why local and boutique yarns can be expensive, as well as why they can make great choices. She promotes these yarns by using them in her design work, and also because it allows local knitters to access the yarns, as many people like to knit the pattern with the exact yarn. She advocated being enthusiastic about yarns and  producers, as the likes of Louise Scollay has with KnitBritish, to help share these great products and knowledge with others.

Where to find KnitShareLove Online

Clare can be found at http://www.knitsharelove.com or as @knitsharelove on Instagram.

Continue the Conversation in the Shinybees Podcast Community

Enjoyed this episode? Continue the conversation with fellow wool lovers over at Shinybees Podcast Community