SQ Blog

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.

 

Azure Cardigan
Pattern: #278 Neck Down Scoop Neck Cardigan by Diane Sowey
Yarn: Voluptuous Skinny in Azure – 2 skeins
Knitter: Stephanie (pomonaknits) from Kent

 

 

Pont Neuf
Pattern: Pont Neuf by Emily Wessel
Yarn: Voluptuous in Verdigris – 2 skeins
Knitter: Jennifer (wishonastar) from London

 

Green for Spring
Pattern: Carpino by Carol Feller
Yarn: Voluptuous Skinny in a dark green/teal – 2 skeins
Knitter: Kate (katepricey) from London

 

 

Siri
Pattern: Siri by Linnéa Öhman
Yarn: Oosie in Periwinkle – 3 skeins
Knitter: Joanne (joanne33) from Cambridge

 

 

Waiting for Rain
Pattern: Waiting for Rain by Sylvia McFadden
Yarn: Delectable in Elf Garden - 1 skein
Knitter: Heidi (heska) from Norway

 

 

Epistrophy
Pattern: Epistrophy by Kate Davies
Yarn: Voluptuous in Granny Smith – 2 skeins
Blissful Plump in Naked - half a skein
Knitter: Christine (EllaSkye) from Stirlingshire

 

 

Bright Blast(er) of Sun Cardigan
Pattern: Blaster by Andi Sutterlund
Yarn: Squash in Buttercup - 2 and a half skeins
Knitter: Fue (BundgaardF) from Denmark

 

 

Breathing Space
Pattern: Breathing Space by Veera Välimäki
Yarn: Tweedore in Dark Hinterland (club) - 2 skeins
Entwist in Summer Fun - 1 skein
Knitter: Maki (mikan) from Japan

 

 

Talisman shawl
Pattern: Talisman by Helen Stewart
Yarn: Little Squashes gradient set in Wild Orchid
Knitter: Sally (sallyjuras) from Kent

 

 

Brickless - Like Jellyfish
Pattern: Brickless by Martina Behm
Yarn: Crush DK - 2 skeins
Knitter: Ines (edler007) from Germany

 

 

Manu
Pattern: Manu by Kate Davies
Yarn: Voluptuous in Sour Cherry - 2 and a half skeins
Knitter: Stephanie (pomonaknits) from Kent

 

 

Building Blocks
Pattern: Building Blocks by Stephen West
Yarn: Selkino in Arabian Sunset (club) - 1 skein
Selkino in Mirage (club) - 1 skein
plus 1 skein of MadTosh and 1 skein of Plucky Knitter
Knitter: Tina (tcoffman1) from California

 

Such beautiful work. Thank you so much to you all for agreeing to let me showcase your work on the blog.
I'm truly flattered and flabbergasted when lovely customers say that I'm their favourite dyer! There are so many amazing dyers out there that it really gives me a glow inside (and makes me blush a little) when I hear this. So thank you.

 

And thank you to every one of you who has supported us over this last year. I truly hope that SQ yarn has brought you some ounce of pleasure.

 

As we approach our tenth anniversary, there are some extraordinarily exciting changes and adventures happening at SQ HQ, so it's all looking like we might have a very bright and shiny start to 2017.

 

In the meantime, I'm still posting out orders until midday tomorrow (22nd December), then we're taking a short break over Christmas and will be back to normal posting out from the 3rd January.

 

Hope your holidays are jolly yet restful with plenty of knitting time - see you next year!

 

 


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.


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.

Genius.

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.


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.


Skein Queen Open Studio - the review June 29 2014, 4 Comments

"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


Skein Queen Open Studio June 23 2014, 0 Comments

Here at SQ HQ, we're gearing up for the Open Studio this Saturday. We're based in Thatcham, Berkshire.

Visitors can see where all the dyeing action takes place, eat cake, drink tea from vintage teacups, squish yarn, knit and generally have a lovely afternoon in the garden.

There will be SQ hand-dyed yarn available for purchase as well as Lotus Yarns yak, 50 shades of Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift, Dolly What Not lavender bags and purses for knitting notions, Addi needles, Fripperies and Bibelots stitch markers and NovaSteel shawl pins should you wish to do a bit of shopping during the day.

Click here to read more and leave a comment!

The art of naming a new yarn base April 04 2014, 0 Comments

I'm often asked "So, how do you get the names for your yarn bases?"

It's not as easy as you might think.

When I first started Skein Queen, I wanted to use names that encapsulated the luxurious nature of the yarn. So some of the originals were Opulent, Lavish, Delectable, Mellow, Wisp, Sumptuous, Blush, Elegance, Decadent, Plushness, Glister, Splendid, Desire and Divine. For various reasons, some have been discontinued but many have become SQ staples and I hope are thought of with some level of fondness by their owners.

As other yarns have been added to the range, I've had to get a bit more creative with names:

A camel/silk was called Oasis as it conjured up images in my mind of the old Silk Road trading route.

Yarns which contained silver and gold stellina were called Five-For-Silver and Six-For-Gold after the nursery rhyme about magpies.

100% silk was called Kimono.

A merino/seacell was called Shore.

A merino/bamboo was called Bali.

A squishy merino was called Squash and its nylon partner, called Crush.

Their high twist versions were called Entwist and Entwine.

An aran weight organic merino was called Grandiose, to convey its weightiness.

And Voluptuous was introduced to the range - the first of the weighty 200g skeins - I wanted it to sound heavy and enticing at the same time.

Tweedore was a challenge - 85% BFL with 15% Donegal nep. If I remember correctly, I looked up the names of mills in Ireland. No joy there. Nothing rang true. Then I searched on towns in Donegal and came up with Gweedore. I quite liked that. I liked the tenuous connection with my Orr surname. Then substituted the Gwee- for Tweed- and there we have a new yarn base name.

Other additions have been Luminosity (to convey the shine on a silk), Blimey (100% British yarn), Selkino (merino/silk singles), Lustrous, Noble, Luscious, Exquisite, Encore, Elixir, Enchant, Entice (a lot of "e's"), Cushy, Indulgence, Blissful, Bamboozle, Alpassion and Duchess.

And the most recent has been Oosie - which is a very special yarn which needed a special name. This one actually took me six months to think of. I knew John Arbon was spinning me a Scottish/English yarn and it was a considerable challenge to think what on earth I was going to call it. Some failed considerations were Unity, Hadrian, September and MacBeth. In the end, I opted for Oosie which comes from the Scottish word for wool "oo".

Once you've established the charactistics of the yarn you want to encapsulate (woolly or silky or soft or tweedy), the first port of call is always the thesaurus.

The perfect name might present itself, but there are a LOT of wool companies and yarn dyers out there, so the next stop is check on Ravelry in the Yarn section to see if the name has already been taken. And guess what? Nowadays, it most probably has.

Then you have to establish if the name has been used for a one-off handspun yarn that is unlikely to ever make an appearance again, or is a well-established known yarn base. If it's the latter, as a courtesy to other traders, I don't use it. That's my own personal choice.

As you can see, even from the names used within just the SQ range, we're reaching saturation point for finding new yarn names.

But there are other options: one dyer uses female names, another uses local place names, yet another uses animal names.

I plan to continue to get creative - so watch out for what will be coming next!

In the meantime, have a very happy, indulgent Easter and I'll be back in the workshop adding colour to white yarn in a week's time.


Exciting new British yarn March 19 2014, 2 Comments

Custom spun by John Arbon for Skein Queen, Oosie is a bouncy, woolly, non-superwash yarn. Perfect for cardigans, scarves, gloves, hats, sweaters.
Oosie is derived from the old Scots word for wool "oo" and means fluff.

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.

So this is what he came up with:

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.
  • 200g.
  • 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!