SQ Blog

And the winner is... June 15 2016, 0 Comments

Having selected a winner at random from nearly 400 entries across Facebook, Instagram and the blog, I can say a Huge Congratulations to raychball!

Thank you all so much for taking part and for all the touching and humorous comments. And thank you for all the support over the last nine years xxx


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.

Good luck!!


Open Studio! May 28 2016, 1 Comment


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.


Lemony-Butterscotch-Chocolate Exploration Station March 01 2016, 2 Comments

This was the first Stephen West pattern I'd knitted and I loved how he kept my interest throughout this rather sizeable shawl. Also loved the neat icord edging which prevents any rolling.

Yarn used:

Selkino in Butterscotch

Selkino in Citrus

Enchant in Lemon Drop

Lustrous in Truffles

Having successfully managed the Bountiful Brioche section, I messed up on the Nothing but Knit section. So decided to make it a bit slimmer, with fewer rows.

Now it's hard to look at yarn without choosing the next colour combination for another one!

 


How to knit two-at-a-time top down socks January 31 2016, 0 Comments

I made a little video of how I do this technique.

Watch to the end to see a cheeky little outtake.

Hope it's helpful in some small way.


Sock Fever January 27 2016, 5 Comments

I'm feeling a little clammy. Think I've got a temperature coming on. My hands are all twitchy. That's right, because I've got a bad case of SOCK FEVER!!

Cannot stop looking a yarn and thinking - MORE SOCKS! And the more heavily variegated, the better. Now that I've discovered the delights of knitting DK socks and can knit a pair, two-at-a-time top down in less than a week - well, the sock world's my oyster.  I knitted them on a 4mm needle this time for even speedier knitting! It makes them look a little more squat, but they are a good size 6.

Sock knitting feels like getting back to basics.

This pair were for my sister as part of her birthday present. She was admiring the Thick and Quick socks I was making in the last blog post when I came up to Edinburgh to visit in December. The Saturday before her birthday, I had the brainwave to shoot over to the studio and nab a couple of skeins of Dancing Queen before they went into the update.

I enjoyed knitting every single stitch of these socks and was a bit sad when they were over. But they've now arrived with my sister and I think she likes them. 

I keep returning to my improvised pattern of Eye of Partridge used throughout - it almost looks like fake brioche. 

Maybe I should write the pattern up some time? 

The yarn used was Dancing Queen in Crush DK and I used 110g. I've got a new delivery of Crush DK arriving today, so will get some similar colourways into the next shop update.

You may think the next shop update is some way off being on 24th February.

That's because I've been invited to give a talk on running your own hand-dyeing business by the Buckinghamshire Guild of Spinners, Dyers and Weavers. Having shunned public speaking for 47 years, this is a pretty big deal. The talk is for an hour, so I've been working away on my speech, which has actually been a brilliant opportunity to look back at all the projects I've been involved with over the years. And I've been preparing lots of hand-dyed yarn and project examples to bring along. The lady I've been talking to seems so lovely and welcoming that's it's made it all a lot less daunting.

Over Christmas, I couldn't resist breaking into my skein of Hedgehog Fibres Twist Sock in Tapestry. I've called these 'Cos Dyers Have Stashes Too socks.

They're knitted using the two-at-a-time top down pattern in my head.

I'm also thinking of putting together a little YouTube video of how to knit two-at-a-time socks, if anyone's interested.


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...


Coopknits blog interview October 08 2015, 0 Comments

Honoured to have made an appearance on the wonderfully talented Coopknits's blog. You can read my interview here.

I already have her Toasty Knits Volume One, but have you seen the patterns in Volume Two? Just stunning. 


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:

These yarn bundles (with handy cotton tote bag) are now available for pre-order in the online shop and the Cornucopia pattern is available here.

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.

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.


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.


Siri cardigan finished May 12 2015, 3 Comments

Having spotted this design wandering around Unravel - a gorgeous yellow version by fa1ry_elephant on Instagram - I knew I had to knit one. The pattern is by Linnea Ohman and is called Siri. (Apologies for lack of accents on the designer's name).

I'd been craving something in emerald green but couldn't find anything in the shops, so dyed up three skeins of Oosie in Emerald City and ended up using two and a half with 96g left over.

I love the way the yoke pattern continues down the sleeves. It took an age - like mini cables and reminds me of a Scandinavian forest of pine trees - but then the stocking stitch went speedily. The ribbing is a twisted rib.

The green does look a little different in each photo! I chose some vintage jade coloured buttons given to me by an ex-colleague and the ribbon braid on the left of the picture from Namolio.

I knitted the XL size and it's a perfect fit for UK size 16.


A little survey April 28 2015, 0 Comments

Create your own user feedback survey

 

(Unfortunately doesn't work on all mobile devices. Works best on a PC.)


A fair amount of knitting has been going on here... March 19 2015, 1 Comment

It's been a wee while since I posted any actual knitting content in the old blogosphere - when I looked back at recent projects, I realised there were quite a few to show you, if you're interested (and I guess you must be at least vaguely interested if you clicked to land here in the first place).

So, in no particular order;

The Halyard Shawl

Pattern by Tetiana Otruta

Yarn: Skein Queen Flockly in Butterscotch - half a skein

Skein Queen Selkino in Winter Water - half a skein

Knitted by me

Lush cardigan

Pattern by tincanknits

Yarn: Skein Queen Voluptuous in Toffee - one and a half skeins. 

Buttons: by Textile Garden

Knitted by me.

POP cardigan #1

 

 Pattern by Rachel Atkinson

Yarn: Skein Queen Blissful Plump in Ava Pink - one skein

Buttons: by Textile Garden

Knitted by me, for Baby Ava born on New Year's Day

POP! cardigan #2

Pattern by Rachel Atkinson

Yarn: Skein Queen Blissful Plump in Red Plum - one skein

Buttons: by Textile Garden

Knitted by me as a shop sample

Jazz Hands

 

 Pattern by Kate Davies

Yarn: Skein Queen Voluptuous Petite - half a skein Shell Rose, half a skein English Damson for a pair.

Knitted by me.

Waffle socks

 

 Pattern - Hermoine's Everyday Socks by Erica Leuder

Yarn: Skein Queen Entwist - one spatter-dyed skein - 30g left after knitting the pair

Knitted by me

Koigu plain vanilla sock and Koigu cowl

Both improvised patterns knit in Koigu - single sock took one skein.

And the awesome sock model is from Jacksons following its sad demise (check out the reference to "Cruella").

Knitted by me.

Oh No Bear!

Pattern - Oh My Bear! by tinyowlknits but with no bear on the front and no ears.

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Donegal Tweed - 7 skeins - ran out just at the end, so added a bit of something special to finish off the hood.

Knitting time: 2 weeks - gotta love chunky

Knitted by me, for Lily

Mr Fox

Faux Taxidermy Kit by sincerely louise bought at Unravel

Another quick knit - just a few hours - chunky yarn again - he lives in the studio

Knitted by me.

Pebble Beach

 

The bottom one (top one is On the Pier in Selkino)

Pattern by Helen Stewart

Yarn: Skein Queen Selkino in St Emilion - one skein

Knitted by Rachel Moutrie as a sample for Unravel and for the shop

Saunton Tides

Pattern by Suzanne Stallard

Yarn: Skein Queen Gotland Rustic in Moss - half a skein

Knitted by Rachel Moutrie for a sample for Unravel and for the shop

Whew! I think it's taken longer to write this blogpost than to knit some of that lot! 

Next up: a Siri cardigan by Linnea Ohman in Emerald Oosie. I think a few of us were inspired to knit one of these beauties having seen a gorgeous yellow example floating round Unravel (one of the best aspects of attending shows - I always get so inspired seeing people's creations being worn). I'd love to get a KAL going on this, so if anyone's interested, do let me know.

I feel like I'm brimming with creativity and ideas at the moment - must be the time of year - and I'm heading off to Cologne, Germany next week in the hope of discovering more ideas, yarns and accoutrements to bring to you in the coming months.

Happy knitting

SQ x


Unravel 2015 - the best show yet February 24 2015, 0 Comments

A huge heartfelt thank you to everyone who stopped by to chat and maybe make a purchase. We came back with considerably less than this! So thank you for making packing up super easy!!

Unravel really does just keep getting better and better every year, and this year again, it was a fantastic show. Having it spread over the three days seemed to make it less hectic and much more comfortable for shoppers and browsers and gave us more of a chance to chat, help with projects and ooo and aah over purchases.

I may have made a few purchases myself - a faux taxidermy fox head kit for the studio from sincerely louise, a couple of Unravel bags, a vintage wooden airer from Eliza Conway, some gorgeous ribbon and vintage scissors from namolio and MORE buttons and ribbon from Textile Garden to add to the collection.

There was much, much yarn and fibre temptation, but I was a very good girl and am awaiting the next order of Voluptuous Skinny from John Arbon to arrive to dye up for a particular garment I have in mind - and the excellent news is that John said it's very nearly ready!!


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.

Oasis Grande 

Delectable

New Lovesome sock yarn

 

Voluptuous Petite

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!


The story of the Jazz Hands yarn bundles January 22 2015, 8 Comments

Some time just before the turn of the year, I got a message from the lovely Kate Davies asking if she'd mind if she used some Voluptuous Skinny she had for a mittens pattern.

I silently squee'd. Then very professionally answered with a delighted "Yes please" or similar. Not to say it wasn't a daunting prospect for a one-woman dyer with a brand new studio assistant who works part-time (but who is a very fast learner).

A couple of weeks later, she sent through photos of her beautiful design; colourwork based on the geometric design she'd used for Epistropheid and Epistrophy.

Introducing Jazz Hands - the pattern is available to buy here.

So I had to get to work.

Voluptuous Skinny is a 4 ply yarn consisting of 80% Exmoor Blue 20% organic merino and is spun by John Arbon in Devon.

The Exmoor Horn is a rare, hardy hill sheep native to Exmoor in Devon and the ewes are often bred with the Blueface Leiceister ram to produce a hard-wearing but soft yarn with a lovely bloom. The organic merino hails from the Falkland Islands.

I usually buy in 30 kilos at a time and the lead time at the mill is around 3-4 months.

 

The undyed yarn comes in 100g and 200g skeins, tied in two places. These then have to be tied by hand in a further two places. And all the yarn is soaked overnight in large tubs with food grade citric acid (an alternative would be vinegar, but it's a bit fragrant for me). This preparation time can take an hour or two.

The skeins are then fully immersed in dye in hot water - 3 or 4 at a time - and left for 20 minutes. I then, very carefully, lift the skeins, one-by-one, out of the pots to avoid tangles. Mix up more dye in hot water, add it to the water, and extremely carefully, lower the skeins back into the pot to ensure maximum coverage. They are then left in the water for a further 20 minutes. This is called double dyeing and can lead to a certain intensity in colour.

Production was very nearly brought to a halt on Monday by an almost-electrical-fire in the workshop - moisture and electricity - the eternal battle of the dyer. Hence regular electrical inspections are essential. Pleased to report that the workshop is all dried out now and safe for the next batch of club dyeing next week.

The yarn is then spun, dried and brought to the studio.

For these yarn bundles, we had to break the yarn down from 100g and 200g skeins into 50g skeins.

Here's Eliza loading up the new swift which arrived from the States just after Christmas.

She sets the metre on the electric skein winder to 170m. It automatically stops when the desired length has been reached. However, this is far from an exact science. All kinds of factors play a role including the exact positioning of the flexi-skeiner arms. 

Hence we have ended up with skeins varying between 46g and 59g (depending on the generosity of the original skein too). But we will team up the lighter skeins with the heavier so that you will receive 100g or more in total and as the largest size called for 115m, there will be more than enough yarn for the mittens.

And to make matters more complicated, our original set of winders refused to count in metres. So we used rotations to gauge the weight. 

Both of us worked all day on Tuesday on the skeining up. Then I worked on it myself yesterday and Eliza is furiously winding up more as we speak. The skeins she's currently winding will be available in the online shop from 8pm GMT tonight (22nd January).

And tangles are time-consuming. It's a bit of an art to know when to persevere and when to abandon!

This morning, we were ready to go as Kate launched the pattern with 100 yarn bundles, with more to be added tonight at 8pm GMT.

The tags, yarn labels, tissue and ribbon are at the ready. One customer has already come in to purchase her set and there are many orders waiting to be wrapped and posted out around the world.

Next week, I'm committed to club dyeing, but am aiming to get more bundles into the February 5th shop update. Due to demand, I'm being very strict with myself and sticking to the original colourway and original yarn weight. 

I would hope to produce enough so that everyone who wants one gets one, and to have some in the shop permanently available. But it may take us a few weeks to get to that point - thanks for bearing with us. And so looking forward to knitting a pair of Jazz Hands for myself at some point!

Huge thanks to Kate - it's been fab working with you.


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?


Happy Christmas to one and all December 23 2014, 0 Comments


Skein Queen is recruiting November 12 2014, 1 Comment



Skein Queen is seeking a self-motivated part-time Studio Assistant to help with the day-to-day
running of the business based in an old barn between Newbury and Thatcham. Skein Queen is an
indie yarn dyeing business established in 2007 with a discerning international customer base that
appreciates the deeply saturated one-off colourways on luxury yarns, excellent customer service and
attention to detail.


- starting beginning of January
- 3 days a week (Tues, Thurs, Fri)
- 5 and a half hours per day
- 9am-3pm or 10am-4pm
- £6.50 an hour plus 40% discount on yarn


Position: Studio Assistant


Location: The Barns, Lower Henwick Farm, Turnpike Road, Newbury, RG18 3AP


Key responsibilities:
Winding yarn speedily whilst maintaining high quality standards expected
Labelling yarn - yarn identification training will be given
Photographing yarn - training will be given
Loading yarn into online shop - training will be given
Printing out orders and postal addresses
Wrapping and posting out yarn using OBA system - training will be given
Working to tight deadlines
Serving customers


Not required: any dyeing duties


Would suit:
Someone with a lot of patience (sorting out tangled yarn requires endless patience).
Someone with knitting knowledge to be able to advise customers on suitable yarn types and to work
out quantities required. Previous retail experience an advantage. The retail aspect is secondary –
visitors are mostly by appointment.
Someone who is computer-literate.
Someone who can work alone for much of the time.

If you have a passion for yarn, love colour, want to work for an exciting, slightly unusual business in a
semi-rural location, enjoy listening to the radio all day and are happy working in a tiny team, then
this could be the just the job for you.

Please apply to skeinqueen@gmail.com with your CV and a paragraph or two on why you think you
would make a good SQ Studio Assistant.

Closing date for applications: 30th November 2014

 


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.


Jamieson's of Shetland and Twittens August 06 2014, 2 Comments

As you might know, I'm deep in the process of acquiring some studio premises and way back in April, when the prospect first presented itself, it was the perfect opportunity to invest in a new range of 100% British wool that I've loved using myself for a long time - and now, it's finally made its way into the online shop too - you can find all 50 shades of Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift here.

I've had the luxury of a few days off this week, and have spent the time getting back to my colourwork roots. My mum taught me how to do stranded knitting back in the day when I kept nagging her with "but how do you change colour?" and following charts comes naturally having done so much stranded knitting, rug-making and cross-stitch over the years.

The Jamieson's was perfect for these Titbird mittens by Natalia Moreva - although that name always makes me giggle somewhat immaturely, so I've rechristened them the Twittens.

The colours I used were Rye for the background (almost got away with one ball, but needed to break into a second ball just for the thumb), then working up through the mitten, Stonehenge, Bluebell, Surf, Grouse, Old Gold, Gold, Buttermilk, Caspian, Crimson and Maroon. 11 colours - 12 balls in total, although could have made them with fewer colours, I just wanted to experiment.

I went down a needle size to 2.25mm - my hands are small.

These are unblocked - in fact, I'm not entirely sure how to block them?

But the pattern was fun - the second glove took two days and I loved every stitch. Even loved working with the Jamieson's in the heat and sunshine we've been having.

It's worth browsing Natalia Moreva's other patterns - so many beautiful designs.

Feel free to leave a comment here

 


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


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!

More Southwold in the Snow yarn bundles coming in the shop update tonight June 17 2014, 0 Comments


Southwold in the Snow yarn bundles coming tonight June 03 2014, 1 Comment

Having had a few requests for Southwold in the Snow shawl bundles (click the photo below to find the pattern), we've decided to put together 18 bundles of Voluptuous Skinny 4 ply - each bundle is a unique colourway - no two the same - and none in the original colourways.

The pattern requires 200g of the main colour and 2 x 100g skeins of a contrast colour and the bundles will be £37 each.

These will be uploaded to the Yarn Bundles section of the shop tonight - Tuesday 3rd June at 8pm BST - so is an extra POP-UP shop update ahead of the scheduled one on 11th June.

 

 


Much dyeing May 23 2014, 0 Comments

I'm afraid I haven't got much knitty news as still working on the WW1 ribbed cardigan! Onto the sleeves now - working them two at time to make them go faster!

But have been doing very much dyeing this week getting ready for the Purlescence Open Day on 7th June.

In the meantime, there are 2 skeins of Voluptuous and a skein of Opulent cashmere up for grabs amongst other UK dyers' yarn + some gorgeous Tin Can Knits patterns over at their Big Spring Destash - worth checking out if you've been waiting to knit Tin Can Knits Lush cardigan or Loch hat.