Skein Queen is recruiting! November 17 2017, 0 Comments
Now stocking Laine magazine October 10 2017, 1 Comment
Blog post by Eliza.
We're proud to say that we are now stockists of the beautiful Laine magazine. This collectible publication is packed full of fascinating articles and each pattern is stunningly photographed and clearly laid out. This issue is brimming with warm, wintery knits.
"Laine is a brand new tri-annual, high-quality Nordic knit and lifestyle magazine for people who cherish natural fibres, slow living, local craftsmanship and beautiful, simple things in life. It includes patterns by the leading designers, insightful stories from the world of wool, exciting travel articles, seasonal recipes and strong, visual storytelling."
"Laine was set up in 2016 by Jonna Hietala and Sini Ellen. This duo packed by years and years of experience with journalism and publishing, social media, and wool wanted to create an aesthetic, informative and inspiring magazine for people sharing the same interests."
I've fallen in love with the Treysta sweater by Jennifer Steingass (below) and I'm already planning a batch of apple lingonberry sheet cake, both from issue No# 3 available here.
Open Studio - the review June 30 2017, 1 Comment
The yarn was ready...
The bunting was up...
The cake was ready...
And then the knitters arrived. There was choosing... and chatting... and knitting.
It was an amazing day, having the place come alive with so many yarn appreciators. We really did enjoy it.
So much so, I got enabled into choosing colours to make the ever-popular Find Your Fade shawl by Andrea Mowry. Having seen knitiam's sample, I'm told you can do it in six skeins rather than the seven called for. I've cast on and loving it!
HUGE THANKS to everyone who came along and looking forward to next year already.
We're having a one-off Singles Special in the shop tonight at 10PM BST to coordinate with a little thing happening in podcastland - there's not masses but you can see a preview here.
And don't worry if you miss out as there'll be more of the Berkshire Collection colourways, Heavenly Midnight and Oyster Bay.
This is Heavenly Midnight - a repeatable colourway and one I'm particularly happy with - sometimes the dye-gods come together and a particular alchemy you've been working towards for months finally happens!
And the winner is.....*insert drumroll* May 15 2017, 0 Comments
And the winner of the two skeins of lovely Moonwalk Exquisite Twist is....
Congratulations, Michelle Ainslie! If you could get in touch, I'll get the yarn posted off to you at the soonest opportunity.
And massive thanks to everyone who participated - we raised over £275 thanks to your enormous generosity, helping the Fizzy Floozies smash their original target by raising almost £3,500 towards breast cancer charities.
We were all overwhelmed by one donation in particular - you know who you are - thank you SO much. And to every one of you who took the time to donate.
I'm super proud of all nine of my friends who completed the 26 miles on Saturday night. What an amazing achievement!
And if you want to read more about where the money raised goes, these are some of the charities that Walk the Walk supports.
MoonWalk your way to winning yarn (without taking a step) April 27 2017, 2 Comments
Want to win two skeins of Exquisite Twist in the specially devised MoonWalk colourway and support this breast cancer charity?
On May 13th, nine of my hero friends will be power walking over 26 miles through the streets of London in an effort to raise money for breast cancer. They've all been training so hard - walking for miles and miles in the evenings and at weekends, when they could have been doing other things, like raising a glass of fizz with their feet up.
I'd love to be able to help them to get to their target of £2000, and they're very nearly there, so I'm offering 2 skeins of merino/cashmere/nylon to tempt you into donating a minimum of £2 to their fund-raising page in order to enter the lucky dip competition.
I will pick the winner at random on May 15th and announce who it is here on the blog so good luck! I'll post it worldwide, so don't be shy to enter.
All you need to do is:
1. Go to the Fizzy Floozies fund-raising page here.
2. Make your donation - please mark it with SQ so that I can tell if you've entered.
Feel free to leave the girls a good luck message to spur them on on the night.
And that's it! Best of luck to you and to Michelle Stevens, Sandra Benton, Karen Neumann, Karen Symes, Katie Lewis, Leanne Holland, Amanda Drane, Clare Stewart and Kate Flitter!
(Comments left on the blog won't count - sorry.)
Showcase 2016 December 21 2016, 0 Comments
What better way to round off the year than by celebrating some of the projects that SQ yarn purchasers have knitted during 2016. It's been three whole years since the last showcase, so it's certainly time to show off some of your work and creativity. It's always such a pleasure to browse through all your projects and I'm always blown away by your attention to detail and finishing touches, so this year, I'm sharing some of my favourites.
Working with Ysolda December 09 2016, 2 Comments
Just over a year ago, Ysolda Teague, Scottish knitwear designer extraordinaire (as if she needs any introductions) got in touch to see if I wanted to take part as a British dyer for her club.
Sounds like fun, was my answer. So, I thought you'd like to see a bit of the process involved.
We agreed on Ullvärme as the best option - it's 100% Swedish wool and is collected by a company who can't bear to see this beautiful natural material go to waste as a by-product. The wool is gathered from their local farms on the island of Öland and some on the neighbouring mainland and turn it into yarn which can contain a blend of Dorsets, Suffolks, Dalasau and some Friesian milk ewes. Very woolly and perfect for colourwork.
We met up in Edinburgh in Ysolda's studio and I brought along some colour samples - not that they'd be easy to reproduce - but just as a starting point for a conversation.
Ysolda knew that she wanted a colourwork project using two colours and was drawn to a dark purple-brown and a lighter taupe silver - organically, we came to think of it as the Silver Birch yarn combination.
So I ordered in the yarn from my lovely supplier and a whole pallet arrived - eleven sacks of it.
I'd pick out about 120 skeins a day and soak them in the workshop, ready for dyeing.
Each of the paler colour had to be double dyed.
Each of the darker colour had to be triple dyed to build up the richness I wanted.
The dyeing took place back in April and we got some lovely sunny days for drying.
Once the batch of yarn was dry, I counted it out on our dining room table and batched them in tens.
I then transported it over to the studio, ready for winding.
Eliza, my studio assistant, works for me three days a week and I was winding on the other two days and sometimes before and after she left.
It took us both a good three weeks to get to this stage.
It then had to be all labelled and carefully packed in boxes - we ran out of the yarn protector bags usually used when boxing up yarn.
Six big boxes awaiting the courier pick-up.
I'll not tell you about the hairy few hours when we couldn't locate the boxes, involving phone calls to the Edinburgh Royal Mail depot, but it finally turned up and all was well.
This is what each of Ysolda's club members received - one skein of Hornbeam, one skein of Silver Birch.
And these are the beautiful Ornäs mitts and hat that Ysolda created.
We were so excited to see what she would come up with and I love that she was inspired by the textures and shapes of birch trees. The Ornäsbjork is a type of silver birch that’s the national tree of Sweden.
This pattern was designed for the 2016 Ysolda Club and will be exclusive to the club until May 2017, so keep an eye out for that release.
Sign ups for this year’s Ysolda Club are closed but to be the first to find out about future clubs sign up for her newsletter.
(The last two photos courtesy of Ysolda).
A show in Germany and a word on yarn prices September 09 2016, 3 Comments
Back in October 2015, out of the blue, an email from Betta (the lovely lady pictured above) landed in my inbox wondering if I'd be interested in exhibiting at the second Wollfest in Hamburg. So of course I said yes!
I had a vague idea about the logistics of getting many kilos of hand-dyed yarn from the UK to Hamburg - over 1000km away. However, a lot changes in a year, and my son had acquired my big mumsmobile and I knew I wasn't going to fit a stand's worth of yarn into my Fiat 500! So he drove down from Lincoln to let his mum borrow back his old car and having arranged special insurance (never borrow someone else's car if you want to drive in Europe - it gets super complicated!), myself and Eliza found ourselves in the Eurotunnel with a car-full of yarn.
I know this little map says 11 hours and 47 minutes, but in reality, with stops factored in, the journey took us about 14 hours with me as the driver, and Eliza as the navigator. We passed through France, Belgium and the Netherlands, finally arriving in Germany.
When we arrived, we met up with Suzanne (alabamawhirly) and her husband who'd had a little holiday in Berlin and had made their way up to Hamburg by train. The night we arrived, we headed straight out to see the sights of the city, and indulged in a few local specialities at the biggest food festival in Europe.
The next day, we arrived at Staatliche Jugendmusikschule and set up the stand in an airy, light room.
Here's Eliza, me and Suzanne just before the start of the show, looking just a little nervous. Although we'd practiced some German on Duolingo, it was coming up with sayings such as "The cat is giving a skirt to a woman" which really didn't come in handy at all!
Suzanne was the best at German, although we were all decidedly ropey, but we managed with her help and were so impressed by many customers' fluency in English. Put us to shame!
These new hexagons which I custom ordered from FaodailWoodworks looked rather splendid filled with colourful skeins.
It was a busy show! By the end of day two, the yarn pile had dwindled to one level meaning we brought back very little.
Both the customers and the other vendors were so friendly. We felt so very welcomed and really enjoyed every minute as the yarn was appreciated with much ooing and ahhing - which is pretty similar whatever the language!
You may have spotted my new Holyrood shawl - pattern by Justnya Lorkowska - hanging in the booth.
I chose crazy summery colours as I really wanted to combine all my bright pinks and turquoises into something fun and the different textures of this design work well for frequent colour changes. It's a combination of Little Wrigglers with some Entwine, but you could really use any 4 ply fingering weight yarn.
For a more elegant look, the pattern works so well with two or three colours.
We did get a few hours to get out and about and see a bit of Hamburg. We walked many kilometres and I stumbled across... yarn! I discovered a massive hobby shop called idee and got a little overwhelmed by all the crafting supplies! Look at all that wool, and that was only about half of what was on offer.
And there are some quite tall people in Hamburg...
It really is a wonderful city and Wollfest was a small, friendly show with very high quality vendors and teachers. It happens every two years, and I would thoroughly recommend a visit should you get the opportunity. Massive thanks to Suzanne and Eliza for being brave enough to accompany me on our little German adventure.
And now to the not so nice bit - yarn prices.
As you may be aware, following Brexit in June, sterling took a plunge against the US dollar and other currencies. I'm sure if you're UK based and been lucky enough to have had a summer holiday abroad this year, you'll have experienced directly the lack of purchasing power of the pound.
I have five to six suppliers of white yarn and many more other suppliers from mailing bags to tissue paper to dyes. Some of these suppliers I pay directly in $US and others pay their suppliers in $US or euros. Those not dealing in the dollar have still put up their prices as they have other supplies to pay for which may not originate in the UK.
So it is with great regret and having held off as long as I can, I've now had to make the decision to put up most of my yarn prices in order to continue to provide the highest quality yarn bases that I know you've come to expect. You can find a full price list here.
Please be assured that I highly respect each and every purchase made with your hard-earned cash and strive to provide you with an excellent product that you'll hopefully get a lot of satisfaction from.
Thank you for your understanding.
On a brighter note, I'm currently dyeing up the last installment of the Summer Club ready to be sent out at the end of next week and simultaneously signing up existing members and the waiting list to the Winter Club.
Depending on uptake, there will likely be more club places available at the end of next week, so keep your eyes peeled on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook if you fancy joining.
Help celebrate Skein Queen's 9th birthday June 07 2016, 149 Comments
Nine years old today! And an incredible nine years it has been.
To thank you all for all your amazing support over the years and to help celebrate, we're giving away a £50 gift voucher which can be spent on anything in the Skein Queen online shop within the next year.
To enter, just leave a comment below. Make sure you enter your email address (it won't display publicly as long as you don't put it in the comment field) as well as your name so that I can contact the lucky winner.
We will draw a winner at random on 15th June and make the announcement here on the blog. The draw will also run across Instagram and Facebook, and the names will be pooled. One entry per person.
Our Edinburgh Yarn Festival adventure March 27 2016, 3 Comments
After three weeks solid of dyeing by me and winding by Eliza, and labelling and pricing by us both well into the evening of Tuesday, we had a studio full of yarn that we had to get from deepest Berkshire to my home city of Edinburgh for the event of the year, Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
Bright and early on Wednesday morning, somehow (and I'm still not sure how) myself and Suzanne (alabamawhirly) managed to get the whole lot into my little car and we set off from the farm.
Having bumped into John and Juliet Arbon at Westmorland services (my favourite and the best), they were a little envious of our planned overnight stop in a shepherd's hut. I must say, I was a little skeptical staying in the middle of the woods in March, but... I was proved wrong.
We had a very comfortable stay and were more than toasty as the hut has its own woodburner. Opposite was a wooden cabin with a kitchen and bathroom and in another wooden building, the self-composting toilet!
Suzanne's friend, Tabi, owns the farm. Her job for the weekend was dosing 1000 pregnant ewes! I didn't envy her that little task. To get a glimpse inside the shepherd's hut, check out her Scales Plantation website here.
There was knitting in the evening with cocktails and the woodburner. I say knitting - mine was more like detangling after this - but the beautiful brioche is Suzanne's Askews Me shawl by Stephen West.
The next day, we set out on the road again in brilliant sunshine, through the rolling Pentlands, until we reached Edinburgh in the fog.
Unloading was straightforward, but I'd accidentally ordered a teeny tiny stall, so you remember all the yarn in the studio in the first picture? We had to somehow squeeze it all into a 2m x 2m space.
We used every available inch, but there was still half as much again under the table. But no need to worry - everything was out by the end of Day One and it was nice to be in the position of being able to replenish stock.
Little Wrigglers and gradient Little Squashes - new 20g minis - were particularly popular and there will be more...
These next few photos were taken in a quieter moment.
I wanted to convey and remember the atmosphere of the event.
The excitement of newly discovered yarns.
And the meeting of friends and designers.
We were situated opposite Kate Davies Designs, so were witness to some of the knitting glitterati (knitterati if you will) meeting and greeting and hugging and photographing as they caught up with each other.
We had a wonderful, overwhelming couple of days - so good to meet so many customers from all over the world. I'm only sorry if I didn't recognise anyone - you know what would be great? Badges with your real name and Ravelry name. That would mean an end to secretly checking out someone's name on their debit card! That's it - I've given away my trick! I do wish I had a better visual memory for faces.
It was also great to meet the whole team from Wollfest - the next event we're attending in Hamburg. I met many German knitters in Edinburgh and looking forward to meeting you in your home country in September. As I don't speak a word of German, I've been attempting to learn some using the fantastic Duolingo app. Any useful phrases very much appreciated in the comments below!
Kudos to Mica and Jo for organising such a smooth, enjoyable event. There's not a single thing I would change.
One of the best things was waking up to this view - not dissimilar to the view I used to wake up to growing up between Morningside and Marchmont. And catching up with old school friends and my aunt. It was also lovely to spend a bit of time with Vero (thatCanadiangirl) of Along the Lanes podcast fame and her mum who was over from Canada.
Edinburgh - I miss you.
Quicker socks? December 21 2015, 4 Comments
This last month has seen me getting back into good old-fashioned sock knitting - mostly for myself - because what's better than a pair of warm, woolly to keep you warm in a cold, damp dye workshop?
But now, with the launch of a brand new DK version of Crush (75% merino 25% nylon), sock knitting has just become a whole lot quicker!
This colourway is called Dancing Feet - the colours "dance" from stitch to stitch.
I'm improvising a pair of slip stitch socks as an experiment to see if you can get a pair of socks out of one skein of Crush DK which comes in at 225m. The leg and cuff measure 6". The first sock took exactly 50g for a UK size 6 sock on 3.25mm needles so it's looking like a possibility, but if you're a particularly loose knitter, or would like to knit longer socks with more cables, then I would recommend buying 2 skeins. Update: In the end, they used 110g of yarn - so two skeins needed with 90g left over.
Here are some of the colourways that will be available from 8pm GMT tonight (Monday 21st December).
As an aside, due to knitting on a plane journey, I knitted the first sock on wooden DPNs. There seems to be a huge difference in the looseness of the stitches in the slip stitch pattern in the second sock knitted using Magic Loop on metal needles. I prefer the looser look of the wooden needles, so will be doing a bit of frogging and returning to the DPNs.
Finally, as this is the last shop update of 2015, I would like to wish you all the very merryiest of Christmases and thank you all for all your support over the past year.
We will be sending out parcels until 23rd December, but are now unable to guarantee that they will arrive before Christmas. However, if you're still looking for a last minute present, we offer gift vouchers or I've released a few Queen's Surprise Club places early. But don't worry if you're currently in the club or on the waiting list - more places will be released in early January as usual.
An insight into the world of running an indie-dyeing business October 11 2015, 1 Comment
I made a little video to show you around the attic studio and the workshop.
Click here to see where the magic happens...
A tiny POP cardigan for a new baby October 06 2015, 1 Comment
This is my third POP baby cardigan - can you tell I love Rachel Atkinson's pattern? And if she ever does want to make an adult version, I'll be first in line.
This one is for Joy at the Post Office's first grandchild. I've been posting out parcels with Joy and Liz for over eight years - sometimes they're the only people I see during the day, so they almost feel like colleagues.
I chose a neutral oatmeal colour of Blissful Plump. Then when Joy told me her brand new grand-daughter had been born over the weekend, I felt it needed a little something else... so inspired by Dottie Angel's woolly tattoos, I added some flowers embroidered in Sajou thread.
Hope she likes it!
Cornucopia blanket by Amanda Perkins September 30 2015, 0 Comments
This fruity beauty is the work of crochet designer, Amanda Perkins (of Natural Dye Studio fame).
Amanda is now a full-time designer, specialising in blankets.
Amanda explains that Cornucopia came about through a desire to explore the effect of subtle tonal and saturated colour in the same blanket.
She started with a skein of bright yellow Skein Queen Selkino and added extra colours that worked together from what she had to hand. The effect was a fruit bowl of cherries, oranges, limes, strawberries, apples, mangos and kiwis, so she named it after the mythological “Horn of Plenty” which overflows with fruits and flowers.
Amanda sent me these sample colours to match in a variety of her preferred SQ yarns - Lustrous, Selkino, Luminosity and Flockly.
And here's the result:
It was lovely working with Amanda and great to see her design career go from strength to strength now that she has the time to spend on getting her ideas into crochet form.
Finished project and buttonmania September 21 2015, 0 Comments
One bonus of being laid up for the week with a bad back is that (after the initial not being able to sit up phase) there was plenty of knitting time.
Vitsippa hat was a fun knit. From the diagonal stem pattern at the bottom to the flower stems at the top, the constant change in design kept it super-interesting.
I used the new Skein Queen Ullvärme Swedish wool in Gin and Chocolate Mocha.
Vitsippa hat is by Joji Locatelli - a prolific knitwear designer from Argentina and I'll certainly be seeking out more of her designs.
The pattern appears in Spring 2015 Pompom magazine. If you're looking for a copy, I'll have more in the shop by mid-week.
Another new addition to the shop - Buttons!! Aren't they gorgeous?
High quality European-made buttons from a supplier who is extremely passionate about buttons and gets them made to her own specification.
Made in a variety of shell, coconut, resin and bamboo, these buttons make a perfect finishing touch for a treasured knitting project.
Introducing a new Swedish wool - Ullvärme September 09 2015, 2 Comments
Ullvärme, or "warm wool" is spun by a Swedish company who can't bear to see this beautiful natural material go to waste as a by-product. They therefore collect wool from their local farms on the island of Öland and some on the neighbouring mainland and turn it into yarn. This wool can contain a blend of Dorsets, Suffolks, Dalasau and some Friesian milk ewes.
It's certainly a traditional wool rather than luxury yarn, with a softer handle than Gotland or Shetland, but more rustic than soft, silky yarns. It blooms and softens after being washed. So perfect for hard-wearing projects and excellent for colourwork.
Recommended needle size would be 3.25mm-3.75mm.
Gauge: 26 sts and 33 rows on 3.25mm needles on a 10cm square.
I couldn't resist casting on a Vitsippa hat by Joji Locatelli from the Spring 2015 Pompom Quarterly magazine, but choosing a great colour combination was haarrrrd! Too much choice! In the end, I opted for neutral tones with maximum contrast with Gin and Chocolate Mocha.
These beauties will be released from the shop at 8pm BST tonight (9th September).
Yarn in the City September 07 2015, 4 Comments
After an early start and confusion over trains, a broken suitcase handle, rain and abandoning the tube in favour of a cab, myself, Suzanne and Wendy managed to magic four suitcases of yarn into London.
We piled the yarn high and had an extra vintage suitcase of Oosie propped open on a chair.
(And before you ask, because I know you will, Suzanne's cardigan is Siri by Linnea Ohman and is knitted in John Arbon's Viola yarn in English Mustard. You can see my emerald version in Oosie hanging up on the display. Such a fabulous cardigan pattern - I would knit another in the blink of an eye, and Suzanne's got many, many compliments.)
Around 11.20am, I got a hilarious text from a friend who was going on the Yarn Crawl around the yarn shops of London who was listening to the briefing: "Ahhh, they're holding us hostage away from the yarn!" But she didn't have long to wait as the doors opened to the Yarn Crawlers, and shortly afterwards to the general public. We met old friends and new customers - there was plenty of time for squishing, ooh and ahhing, pattern consideration and recommendations.
We had participated in an event previously at Chelsea Old Town Hall about six or seven years previously and were familiar with the beauty of the venue. A stunning hall with chandeliers, marble columns and original oil paintings called for a celebratory glass of fizz later in the day.
With much restraint, I only made two purchases during the day - a Loop bag and this handy dandy gadget from YAK which Suzanne had been raving about for ages.
I've pinched this from their website : Grellow & Gray is the genius company behind the Sirka® counter. This counter is for anyone who has looked at a pattern with dread when the words “at the same time” appear. This multitasking counter lets you track up to three counts at the same time and will even remind you when to stop.
To top off a most marvellous day, Susan Cropper from Loop presented me the gift of a golden crown. I was a little emotional, I must admit, and it has taken pride of place in the studio, under the pompom tree and beside the silver bunny I bought from her other emporium, Swoon Lounge.
Congratulations to Allison and Rachel for organising the event and I believe they raised over £1000 for Refuge. Speaking of worthy charities, littletreehouse on Ravelry spotted this one today and I thought I'd mention it here in case it spoke to you. It's true, winter is coming.
Queen's Surprise Club places available! September 01 2015, 0 Comments
Be inspired and intrigued by new colourways inspired by books on your doorstep every six weeks. Skein Queen will dye up a unique colourway on a different yarn base each time and deliver it to you.
The Queen’s Surprise Club, run on a three-installment subscription over four months, offers colourways inspired by a particular book each time. Club members can choose their preference from semi-solid or variegated colourways and whether they’d like to receive one or two skeins each month. It’s all about the yarn – so no extras other than a colourway inspiration sheet.
SPACES CURRENTLY AVAILABLE - CLICK HERE - PLACES FOR AUTUMN AVAILABLE UNTIL SOLD OUT OR 5TH SEPTEMBER 2015.
To whet your appetite, here are some past colourways:
Lallybroch and Heatherlands inspired by Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - July 2015
Assendelft and Petronella inspired by The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton - May 2015
The Goldfinch inspired by The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt - January 2015
Open Studio - the review in pictures July 11 2015, 2 Comments
Had such a fun day - thank you SO much to everyone who came along from as far afield as Portsmouth and Somerset.
Together with The Mulberry Bush, we raised £294.48 for Breast Cancer Care.
Thanks to Eliza and Calvin for all their help, to Cate for tying in the event to their Strawberry Tea Party and to Tesco for donating several punnets of strawberries and tubs of cream.
Here's the day in a few pictures (apologies for the poor quality - realised afterwards that there was a dull filter accidentally set up on my camera phone!)
Maxine from Marmalade Yarns sporting her Southwold in the Snow shawl in a beautiful choice of colours she picked out at a previous Open Studio last June.
As there was two to three weeks' worth of dyed yarn on the shelves, there is plenty left for the update on Wednesday.
And the winner is.... ***20 second dramatic pause*** June 19 2015, 1 Comment
After much chin-rubbing, contemplation and cogitation; after collating over 120 entries from the blog, Instagram and Facebook together into a spreadsheet so that we could give them maximum consideration; after blacking out the names, then mulling over some impressive suggestions - we finally settled on a winner - CONGRATULATIONS, KATY!!
I'll be in touch on Monday so that I can send your Luminosity off to you, with your colourway names on the labels.
Just want to say a HUGE thanks to everyone to took time out of their days to enter. I'd certainly like to employ some of you as colourway namers!!
Onwards and upwards to the next eight years.
Skein Queen is 8 today!! June 11 2015, 49 Comments
Blimey! I can barely believe it was eight whole years ago since I set up an Etsy shop to sell some of the excess yarn I had dyed. Little did I know! Thank you all so much for your continued support and kind words - now it's time to give a little back. WIN yarn worth £40 - will send internationally.
Skein Queen Open Studio June 01 2015, 1 Comment
Looking forward to flinging open the doors of the studio to welcome one and all with tea, cake, knit and chat.
Please be aware that there are stairs up to the attic studio.
A little survey April 28 2015, 0 Comments
(Unfortunately doesn't work on all mobile devices. Works best on a PC.)
Very nearly ready for Unravel February 19 2015, 2 Comments
The studio shelves are heaving with yarn.
We've got Oasis Lace, Entwist, Delectable, Exquisite, Oasis Grande, Blush, Noble, Lovesome, Voluptuous Petite, Luminosity, Selkino, Enchant, Lustrous, a little Flockly, mini squeens and a limited amount of Jazz Hands bundles.
There's lots of DK including Voluptuous, Oosie, Blissful Plump and Gotland Rustic.
New Lovesome sock yarn
I'm also bringing a small amount of Koigu to show off the colours, Dolly What Not lavender sachets and purses, Fripperies and Bibelots stitch markers and small tubs of beads.
Unfortunately, I can't reserve any yarn in advance. Please also bear in mind that the colourways on offer are all one-off unrepeatables, so worth making sure you have enough for the project you have in mind. It seems this would be the most yarn we've had for Unravel, with several skeins of many the colourways, so hopefully you'll be able to find something lovely for most projects - especially early birds tomorrow.
Suzanne aka alabamawhirly will be helping me again this year. We're in the Barley Room upstairs and proceedings start at 12 noon tomorrow!
Just got a shawl to finish and block tonight.... better get knitting!
Lush little giveaway to kick off the New Year January 07 2015, 299 Comments
The giveaway is now closed and the lucky winner is...*20 seconds wait to increase the tension*... it's Sheila Barth who commented "I love Lush, made one for my granddaughter. Would like to make one for myself in the gorgeous color!" Congratulations, Sheila! If you could contact me through the Contact form in the Skein Queen shop, I will make sure this little parcel of knitterly goodness makes its way to your door. If I don't hear from you by 24th Jan., I'll pick another name at random.
I am truly overwhelmed by all the entries - almost 600 in the end. Too many to draw from a hat. So my daughter and I spent a couple of evenings carefully entering every person into a spreadsheet, entered a randomising formula into a cell and this morning we pressed the button and it drew a name at random.
Would you like win two 200g skeins of Voluptuous DK in Sweet Persimmon and the Handmade in the UK book of 10 unique designs by Emily Wessel of Tin Can Knits?
Voluptuous DK is a heady blend of Exmoor Blue and organic merino, spun in Devon, dyed in Berkshire and comes in weighty 200g skeins.
One of the most popular designs in the book is the Lush cardigan which Emily originally knitted in Voluptuous.
All you need to do to win is to leave a comment here on the blog or Skein Queen Facebook group here (make sure you comment under the same picture featured above) and your entry will go into a hat to be picked out at random on Wednesday 21st January. The winner will be announced here on the blog and in the Facebook group.
Please note: to leave a comment on the blog, click on the blog title post.
I couldn't resist casting on a Lush of my own during Yarndale last year, choosing an autumnal toffee-flavoured colourway.
It was a joy to knit and I had a substantial amount of yarn left after completing the XL size. The buttons are from Textile Garden - my go-to button provider!
I'm dreaming about my next Tin Can Knits project... perhaps a Vivid blanket in Jamieson's?
Your invitation to come and visit the new Skein Queen Attic Studio October 24 2014, 3 Comments
If it's been a little quiet here on the blog, it's because Skein Queen has expanded into a new studio. The studio is invaluable space for winding up the yarn, labelling, posting out, with a little bit of retail. It's pretty much taken the whole year to find a suitable place, go through all the legal bumpff, get the signage sorted, fast Internet installed, painting the walls and moving in. And now we're ready to welcome you.
The studio is handily located in a barn building above Mulberry Crafts which specialises in papercraft, stationery and home decor.
Please bear in mind, if you do visit on the Grand Open Day, that there is wheelchair access to Mulberry Crafts, but Skein Queen is located up some outside stairs.
Although I haven't got a decent photo, the knitted bunting made by wonderful customers looks amazing strung from the wooden beams.
I've loved working in this little woolly haven over the last couple of months, looking out over the ever-changing countryside and even love my commute - all of about a mile and a half!
If you aren't able to come along on 1st November but would still like to visit, it's worth making an appointment so that I can arrange to be there and let you know when there'll be hand-dyed yarn in stock.
Thank you for all your support and good wishes over the years and for making this possible. I hope I can now continue to produce more hand-dyed loveliness for your knitting pleasure.
Skein Queen Open Studio - the review June 29 2014, 1 Comment
"Just a quick note to thank you all for such a wonderful day yesterday. Beautiful yarn, warm reception, freely flowing woolly chatter and super cakes and cuppas from real china cups made the day lovely, despite the awful rain in the morning."
From a marvellous customer
Despite the deluge of rain and thunder starting at 10.45am and ending at 4pm on the dot, many brave souls ventured out to come and find us all ready with a warm welcome of tea, cake and yarn.
Another row of hand-dyed was added to this prior to opening and I think, suffice to say, it went down very well.
It was lovely to welcome so many enthusiastic and friendly knitters into our home and a huge thanks goes to Suzanne for helping setting up and providing the vintage china and serving tea via Jelly arts charity, Wendy for bringing so many cakes, beautiful flower posies and serving tea all day, to Suzanne and Wendy for washing up, to Michelle and Sandra for being SQ chaffeurs and to Sandra for bringing cakes, to Calvin for being the cash desk, to Kira for bringing cake, to Calvin, John, Sam, Suzanne and Michelle for helping set up the marquee... and I hope I haven't forgotten anyone. You all helped make the day the success it was.
And an extra special mention goes to Heather who had travelled down from Glasgow - it was so lovely to get a chance to catch up properly and I hope your evening family gathering was a success.
And did you spot the knitted bunting decking out the marquee? I had the biggest surprise this week when a box of four strings of bunting arrived for my new SQ studio (more on that at a later date). Vero (thatCanadiangirl) had organised a band of merry knitters to knit up lots of bunting triangles which she'd designed (which you can find here) and stringed them all up, many labelled with which yarn had been used.
26 knitters contributed from 9 countries and I'm not ashamed to admit, I did shed a tear or two. The timing of its arrival was spot on for a number of reasons. So more big thanks go to: thatcanadiangirl, charliesumx, jhocy, littletreehouse, rallan, billybrown, ladymarian, lisknit, mikan, fxhunter, fifili67, smc1948, wildcedar, melarno, patriciakeith, erindcoffman, pomonaknits, mrszoedodd, dollydimple, meganyork, snowdroplady, applegateknits, wickedwoollywitch, bombella, alabamawhirly and kiknits.
What a wonderful week it has been. Click here to leave a comment or let me know what you thought of the day
Knitting for a WW1 movie May 09 2014, 2 Comments
A tweet. It all started with a tweet about six months ago.
Pauline Loven, producer and costumier at WAG Screen, tweeted that she was looking for some volunteers to knit garments for a forthcoming film production of Tell Them of Us - a film about a Lincolnshire family during World War I.
A few months later, and I find myself knitting this RIBBED cardigan for a 17-18 year-old boy.
You know when you cast on a new garment and you can't wait to get past the rib? Yeah well, there is no getting past it on this bad boy!! Actually, it hasn't been so bad - my hands have settled into the rhythm of rib.
WAG Screen are a community-based film group and as such, the wool for all the garments has mostly been donated.
I dyed up some Oosie - Scottish Down Cross spun by John Arbon in Devon - in dark blue and grey tones, colours approved by Pauline to be fitting for the era.
It has been interesting, if a little challenging, to work from a pattern of the time.
I'm not sure I got the pockets quite right - they're knitted as part of the whole garment. You start at the top of the pocket, knit a large flap, then fold it back on itself. I ended up picking up stitches to allow me to carry on knitting the garment - not sure that was what was intended. And they seemed particularly narrow at just 24 stitches, but I think look okay and will be extra cosy with a double layer of knitted fabric behind.
The shawl collar has been the biggest challenge and Liz Lovick has been a great help offering advice whenever needed.
I was giggling and thinking THIS CAN'T BE RIGHT as I followed the instructions carrying on knitting the collar from the back of the garment - it extended to a whopping 15" beyond the top of the neck. I just couldn't work out how it would make a collar at all!
Liz explained that it might work by the time you sew the borders in place and then Pauline posted a photo of the construction of a collar that another knitter had made, and it all clicked into place. The "long bit" is folded over twice, then the shaping at the top of the border and corresponding buttonband on the other side meets at the top, thus forming the shawl collar.
It's taken me longer than I wanted to knit this - I still have the buttonband and the sleeves to complete - I've been sidetracked by exciting things happening at SQ HQ and by a very poorly husband - but it's been a great learning lesson. The cardigan may or may not make an appearance in the film, and if it does, it might only be for three seconds, but it doesn't really matter. It's been a fascinating project to be part of.
If nothing else, it gives you an appreciation of the detail and depth that modern day pattern designers go into and of the importance of stating gauge! Although part of me quite likes the freedom to make it up as you go along...
I leave you with an early preview of some of the 200g skeins of Voluptuous which will be available in Wednesday's shop update - would make a beautiful ribbed cardigan!!!!
Exciting new British yarn March 19 2014, 2 Comments
When I spoke to John at Yarndale last September, I said I'd love a second John Arbon yarn to add to the SQ range and that I'd ideally like a Scottish/English blend, what with the referendum coming up in September and being a Scot living in England, it seemed to resonate with my idea of an exciting British wool.
100% Scottish Down Cross - or Highland Suffolk which is a Suffolk bred in the Highlands and blended with a Scottish bred Cheviot.
- 100% Scottish Down Cross
- DK weight.
- Approx. 500m/547yards.
Spun by John Arbon in Devon. Dyed by Skein Queen in Berkshire.
Gauge: 21sts and 28 rows to 10cm on 4mm metal needles.
On sale in the online shop from tonight at 8pm GMT, including mini skeins if you want to try it out first.
And the lovely thing is that I'll be knitting a garment for a WWI film in Oosie - just got to dye some up in a manly colour first!
Unravel preview February 20 2014, 1 Comment
Unravel is fast approaching so I thought I'd give you a very brief preview of some of the yarn I'll be bringing.
Selkino - merino/silk singles
Blush - merino/cashmere
Entwist - high twist merino
Opulent - cashmere
Noble - alpaca/silk
Flockly - BFL/cashmere/silk
A very small taster of what to expect if you're visiting Unravel this weekend.
I'll also be bringing a selection of Voluptuous and Skinny Voluptuous, so if you've been planning to knit a Southwold in the Snow shawl, you can select your own colours.
Also available will be Delectable, Oasis Cobweb, Crush, Blimey and Enchanting Lace. Along with BomBella fox kits, NovaSteel shawl pins, fripperies and bibelots stitch markers and Addi needles.
Unfortunately, I'm unable to reserve any of the yarn, but very much look forward to meeting you if you can make it.
From sheep to woven fabric project comes full circle February 10 2014, 2 Comments
You may remember a rather lovely project I was working on with a London textile designer to produce a book cover using irregular hand-dyeing techniques to mimic the effect of the piecemeal application of stock marker sprays by farmers on sheep.
The idea was originally conceived by design guru, Peter Saville, in his role as consultant to Danish textile firm, Kvadrat. He saw the bright, almost DayGlo colours of sheep markings as a kind of rural graffiti.
Well, look what arrived over the weekend. Isn't it stunning?
There's even a page on the dyeing and weaving process.
To see how my role in the project came about and the process involved, see this blogpost from July.
To read more about the book, see more photos from it and listen to Peter Saville talk about Kvadrat and how the cover came about, check out this review.
Welcome one and all February 03 2014, 5 Comments
Come in, come in - have a good browse round.
The doors of the new shop are open to give you time to get your bearings, maybe set up your new account and to see where everything is kept. Once you're in and settled and it's starting to look familiar, I'll then add a little new hand-dyed yarn.
If you're a regular SQ shopper, you may notice some differences to the old shop.
- it brings together the old website, shop and blog to one place. Don't forget to reset your Favorites or Bookmarks to the new website domain name - www.skeinqueenyarns.co.uk.
- the photos are bigger and clearer, so you can better see what you're buying. They can be easily pinned to Pinterest, so please do.
- if you click on Hand-dyed Yarn, you'll find a list of the yarn bases and prices but also Origin of Yarns information.
- if you're interested in where to squidge the yarn in person, there's a Forthcoming Shows page under the Information tab.
- can I politely suggest that initial caps are preferable to lower case when completing addresses in the new account.
- if you hold a gift voucher for the old shop, please do get in touch and I will issue you with a new code for the new shop.
- you'll notice that the new shop is set up to accept pounds sterling as Skein Queen is based in the UK. PayPal will do all the hard work if you're paying in another currency - check out Terms and Conditions for more info. on how it works.
There is a small amount of new hand-dyed yarn being added to the shop this Sunday at noon - and as it is less than two weeks until Unravel and I haven't started dyeing for it yet - the next shop update will be after that.
Huge thanks goes to Mr Orr for his stupendous effort and extra hours worked in getting the website up and running and thank you for bearing with us while we decorated and stocked up the new shop.
Please feel free to shower us with comments so that I don't get all lonely on this new, airy, spacious blog.
So all that remains is for me to cut the ribbon and I'm cracking an imaginary bottle of champagne on the nearest doorframe.