Sunday, 23 October 2016

'tis the season to get knitting!

It's finally here! Autumn! The crisp mornings when you can see your breath in the air. The glorious display of leaves changing colour. And most of all....temperatures cold enough to pull out all your best woollen knits or indeed, weather rough enough to justify staying indoors with a big mug of tea and a lovely new project.

And we are nothing if not ready for the beautiful season here at Midwinter Yarns. First of all: a formal introduction of our great new yarn for winter: Suomivilla. 




This beautiful aran weight yarn is made of pure wool from Finland and is lovely, lofty and squishy (yes, this is a recognised technical yarn term).  It comes in 6 natural sheep shades and it is absolutely fantastic for proper, solid winter sweaters and has wonderful stitch definition, as shown here on Heidi Kirrmaier's Catch of the Day sweater. 



This sweater was a joy to knit: unusually for a cabled pattern, it is knit seamlessly from the top down to Heidi's very systematic instructions, and although I think the pattern may have been intended for ladies, I think it works just as well for men...although I might be stealing this back off Mark soon enough.

If a whole cabled sweater seems a little daunting to you, or perhaps you are starting to think of Christmas and need some quick to knit presents, then we also have kits made up with the Suomivilla for Donna Smith's iconic Baa-ble hat. This joyful hat is a great first introduction to fair-isle knitting: the chart is very clear and instructions well written, and what better way to celebrate the sheep who give us wool than with their natural and diverse shades?



The kits are available online now. 

Next up on the agenda? YARNPORIUM!




Only 2 weeks until this brand new yarn festival right in the heart of London, and just in time to plan your special Christmas knits, be they presents for yourself or for your loved ones. We will do our very best to bring you inspiration for the season, from ready-to-knit kits to project bags to yarn for that perfect Christmas jumper.
There will be a new sweater on display for the thicker Ullcentrum 3-ply. Most of you are already familiar with the 2-ply from our Linus kits, which is a sport weight. 3-ply has, as it says on the tin, a third ply, making it a heavy DK weight, all in that same, warm, rustic Swedish wool.



We will also have our hand made Vintage Fabric Knitting bags with us. These roomy project bags are made using original vintage fabrics from the 50s, 60s and 70s and lined with a heavy weight cotton. They have a folded-under base to allow them to stand on the table while you are working, and a simple drawstring closure.



and finally: a little housekeeping

With so many new and exciting things happening this winter, we are making a little room by having a great big sale on two of our lines:
Ohut (thin) Pirkkalanka is now only £8 a hank, and the chunky Lovikka is only £5
Enjoy!




Friday, 9 September 2016

Breathing Space Sweater

I recently completed my Breathing Space sweater by Veera Välimäki. Some of you may have followed its progress on Instagram, but I am just so pleased with the result that I think I want to show it off some more!



It all started with the Lightest Grey colour arriving to Midwinter HQ from Ullcentrum. It is a wonderfully subtle blend of natural white with just a hint of undyed grey and I became obsessed with it. I had plenty on my needles to get on with, but it was definitely next in line. 




I had also been pondering a sweater version of our Linus shawls for a while. In my mind it was going to be a simple top-down cardigan, but when I came across Veera's pattern I thought it would make a more interesting and modern take on the striped idea, and be a little more interesting to knit too!


Photo by Jonna Jolkin for Veera Välimäki

It certainly lived up to my expectations: the pattern is very well written, very straightforward with just a little bit of technical challenge to keep you interested and the ever changing colours of the Lapland gradient made the whole thing into a really enjoyable knit. 




The Lapland colour way never ceases to amaze me. Of all the lovely gradients that Ullcentrum produce, it is the one that seems to capture people's imagination the most, and I can see why. In the hank it looks almost too bright, too primary-coloured....but knitted up, the gentle transitions between the colours give it so much more depth , and all of this with the warmth and texture of pure Swedish wool. 




To me, my Breathing Space is a perfect Back To School sweater. It's that combination of sensible grey with all the rainbow colours of your brand new pencils. It's also a lightweight, warm cover-up for the first autumn chills, and one that won't be too bulky under a coat later in the year either. 

You could of course make it in any combination of Ullcentrum 2ply Sport weight....maybe one of these?


L-R: Monochrome Cold Grey/Anthracite, Cool Sky Turquoise/Marine, Vibrant Cerise-Orange/Plum


Pattern: Breathing Space

Designer: Veera Välimäki

Yarn: Ullcentrum 2ply (sport weight) in Lightest Grey and Lapland
Amounts: 3 hanks Main Colour, 2 hanks Contrast Colour

Needles: 3.75mm

Gauge: 23sts/10cm - this is a larger gauge than given for the pattern. I worked to the instructions for 42" chest and got a 50" finished sweater. 



Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Summer catch-up

It's a busy couple of weeks here at Midwinter Yarns right now: we have just returned from Fibre East and are heading up to the British Wool Show in York this weekend.

Fibre East was lovely and vibrant this year - I will admit that the poor weather last year rather marred my impression of the first show, but it was made up for this weekend! 



We were stationed in the newest Herdwick hall together with our good friends Eden Cottage Yarns, Triskelion Yarn and Fibre and Five Moons, which brought a higher level of giggling and after-show drinks than usual. Victoria from Eden Cottage also turned out to be an enabler of the worst order when a simple "mosey around the show" resulted in my buying a new handbag. And yarn!






There were a few new things on display this time - I've really tried to adapt a bit more to the seasons and finished the Diagonapples scarf by Anna Maltz just in time. The scarf is worked in our Lithuanian Linen mini hanks so provides lots of lovely summer colours with the cool, draping feel of linen. 


Also using the linen is my version of Heidi Kirrmaier's Climb Every Mountain, this time held together with a strand of our Indiecita Alpaca yarn. Together these yarns produce a wonderful fabric: all the drape and fall of the linen but with the softness and fullness of the alpaca, and I think that works particularly well with Heidi's lovely little layering top...sort of like a comforting half poncho, half sweater. 




Also off the needles is Mark's Fika Shawl by Karina Westermann. Karina designed the great Hygge collection around our yarns last year and we had her original samples on loan for the winter. However, she was rather missing her favourite shawl so it was returned to her to be paraded around Glasgow and Mark cast on his own in the original Deep Orange of the pattern. 



Fika is made using 2 hanks of the fingering weight Ohut Pirkkalanka - available from the shop now. 

My personal obsession at the moment is the Breathing Space sweater by Veera Välimäki . I fell in love with the Lightest Grey Ullcentrum yarn as soon as it arrived and was looking for the perfect striped sweater to use it for. I'm really pleased with how it's looking so far - I've just started on the slanted stripes and starting to see the colour change in the Lapland contrast yarn - think it's going to make a really cool, graphic, go-with-anything sweater for early autumn.




                                     Pirkkalanka Sale!


                               

                                       More show news

We will be at the British Wool Show in York next week , at the fantastic Yarndale in Skipton in September and are very pleased to announce that we will be part of the brand new Yarnporium in London on the 5-6th of November! 

Saturday, 18 June 2016

Summer already??

I know, I know, I've been AWFUL at posting on the blog, and now spring has flown by again! 
We've had a few exciting moments - Wonderwool Wales was fab as always, especially from our new spot and larger stall looking out onto the cafe. Wonderwool of course has a special place in our hearts: it was there that we had our very first day of trading 2 years ago, and it is always lovely to see so many familiar faces who have supported and encouraged us from the start there, plus our knitting group always comes by and feeds us cheese scones and such. 




We were also featured on the lovely Shiny Bees podcast...in a full length interview, no less, where I prattle on about the story of our little company....and also about cake. You can find it in full here. 

The Knitter magazine also dropped by and fell in love with our Scattered Showers shawl, so much so that they featured it in their news section last month!



We've also got a whole new yarn in the shop: our very own, hand dyed range!  The base for this yarn is spun by Ullcentrum, using the strong Swedish wool that we know and love but adding 20% Silk for that extra shine and softness, and hand dyed by us here in the Welsh Valleys.



This sport weight yarn is worsted spun with some "thick-n-thin" for added texture and interest. The lustre in the yarn really shows when you start knitting with it, and gives the fabric beautiful drape, a real treat without losing the rustic character of the wool. 

And with all those news keeping us busy for the last couple of months, time has already come around to start getting ready for Woolfest next weekend. 

I am desperately hoping to finish my Climb Every Mountain layering top. I am really excited about this one as it's an unusual combination of yarns that I think will work so well to wear. I am using one strand of Indiecita Alpaca and one strand of Lithuanian Linen to give me a soft fluffy garment with structure and fantastic drape. I'm also looking forward to finishing it as it's going to be the perfect thing to wear at the semi-open venue in Cumbria in this not-quite-hot summer weather we're having. Only 15-20cm to go, should be doable ;) 


Mr Midwinter is working on the Fika shawl in Thin Pirkkalanka - the designer Karina Westermann took her samples back earlier this year (and has been greedily wearing the shawl ever since) so we needed our own version to show off. Mark thought about a few different colours but decided that the original Deep Orange was the best to go with the pattern, so there it is. Not entiiiiiiiiirely sure he will have it ready for next weekend, even with the best will in the world, but maybe for Fibre East? or Yarndale? or Christmas?

Since he's too much of a chatterbox to follow a lace pattern whilst on the stand, he will be bringing his latest (fourth!) Linus with him to work on at Woolfest. Dubbed "the Mad one", this fantastically bright version started life with a customer of ours. She picked out the colours and I must admit that we were a little hesitant if they would work. She later sent me a picture and the result was surprisingly great! I think it has something to do with opposing colours on the colour wheel or something along those lines, but it totally works and we've seen a few of these be made already :)



We will also have supplies with us for our latest Midwinter Yarns design: The Sunset Sunburst Scarf. This crochet scarf uses one pack of Linen Mini Hanks and two regular Linen hanks in a simple granny square variation, and the pattern is available to download now from Ravelry.


















So there we are, getting ready and looking forward to meeting lots of you in the beautiful Lake District very soon! You will find us in stall I184 - hope to see you there!!

PS. We will have a slightly smaller stall than usual at Woolfest so will not be able to bring our full range of yarn - if there is anything in particular you are hoping to see, do send me a message beforehand to make sure we bring it ;)

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Spring

Spring is very tentatively arriving in Wales - the days are certainly longer, and we've had moments of glorious sunshine and spring flowers peeking through the mud, but the temperatures are slow to follow.

That said, lambs are appearing on the hillsides around us, meaning that I have once more become a menace on the roads. It doesn't matter how many widdle wambs I see in my lifetime, they still make me lose all my composure!




Things are busy at Casa Midwinter too, mainly because I seem to have come back from Edinburgh wanting to Cast On All The Things.

First up is Masgot by Justyna Lorkowska. I've been eyeing up this cool garter stitch design for a little while, and really wanted to make it in our Thin Pirkkalanka. As I know having already made Colour Affection with it, it's a great yarn for garter stitch, and the generous meterage goes such a long way that it is perfectly suited for Justyna's huge shawl designs.




The colours used are Natural Pale Grey, Chartreuse and Plum.

Mark finished his latest (third!) Linus in lightning fast time too! He cast this on at Unravel in Farnham, but had to frog quite a large section as he'd completely forgotten about the garter stitches down the sides! The end result is lovely though, the bright and happy rainbow gradient of the Lapland colour way set against the soft natural white. A perfect springtime Linus - light and cheerful, but quite capable of keeping those poor temperatures at bay. We haven't listed this as a kit yet, but if you put the White and Lapland in your basket, we will include the pattern for you :)



Mark has now working on the Fika shawl by Karie Westermann. Karie designed the fundamentally Scandinavian "Hygge" collection for us last year, and judging by how often it appears in her Instagram feed, the Fika shawl seems to be her favourite. We're going to have it on display just as it was designed, in the gorgeous Deep Orange shade - both yarn and printed patterns are available in the webshop now.

Of course, if spring is coming to your area a little quicker than it does in Wales, you may be thinking of things less woolly. I have been unpacking and winding a new delivery of linen yarn this week, and dreaming of cool, draping summer knits. The little "Sweet Pea" packs are now also back in stock, in a slightly different format to last year. They now come as a selection of of 7 mini hanks of 50 meters of yarn each, grouped in various colour themes, and work wonderfully either a few packs together in a multi coloured project, or combined with the regular 100gr hanks as stripes or colour accents.


Personally, I have chosen to use mine for a Granny Sunburst scarf, combining the Glow pack of warm colours with the midnight blue Ink, but the possibilities really are endless to mix and match.



This weekend we are off to Wonderwool again, marking our second birthday! We'll be bringing all of our usual range, plenty of Linus kits in some new colour combinations, the Sweet Peas and maybe even a little taster of something completely new ;)  Hope to see you there!






Saturday, 2 April 2016

Edinburgh Yarn Festival 2016


Can't believe that after all the preparations and build-up, the Edinburgh Yarn Festival is already over for another year! But what a festival it was, starting with a most stylish welcoming committees, dressed head to toe in Ullcentrum!



The most incredible selection of vendors came from far and wide to show the best of fibre crafts, classes on a wide variety of subjects were taught by the great and good of the knitting world over four days and through it all Jo, Mica and their tireless team kept everything running smoothly. The words "Creme de la creme" were mentioned a few times....and then there was us in the middle of it!



We had a couple of new things to unveil for EYF - Estelle was very excited about her custom built new box system for displaying the Pirkkalanka yarn which not only worked and fitted perfectly, it looked rather snazzy too.

But probably more importantly, it was the first outing of the Scattered Showers shawl that she had been frantically and secretly working on in the months leading up to the show.



Scattered Showers is huge blanket shawl in stranded colourwork made from our Ullcentrum sport weight yarn. It is worked in the round and steeked - a traditional fair isle technique which involves knitting a few extra stitches to then *gasp* cut the work open to make a flat garment.
The finished product measures 235cm across the widest point and 95cm from the top to the point
It is a gorgeous mass of warmth in winter, and because it's made from Ullcentrum's hardy Swedish wool, it will likely last a lifetime too.



We had many people admire the sample at the show so will hopefully start to see them out in the wild  soon,  including the one chosen by friend and EYF volunteer Fiona who changed the colours to reflect her beloved Mirri Dancers (Northern Lights if you're not Scottish)
The kits are available in their original colour way from the website now - we are looking at making the pattern alone available on Ravelry but still need to work out the logistics of that.



Another Finished Object to grace the stand at EYF was my Last Autumn jumper - so called because it was supposed to be finished by last autumn .... still at least it's finished now and I was pleased able to show people what the Autumn gradient looks like knitted up. I must admit I am pretty pleased with it - it's my first ever sweater and a really good, lightweight but warm one at that. I used a basic top-down "raglan calculator" pattern .... well, Estelle did and then told me to knit x far until a certain point where she separated the sleeves out and told me to knit some more ;p



Unfortunately, like many of the vendors, Estelle came back with a big dose of Scottish Flu, so things are only just starting to come back to normal at Casa Midwinter again - restock orders are on their way from Sweden and Finland, and right now the house is filling with mini skeins of Lithuanian Linen heralding the arrival of spring and the return of the Sweet Pea packs.




On the Needles -

Mark


I have just cast off the Lapland and White Linus I started in Farnham. I had to rip back quite a lot as I completely forgot to knit the garter edge, but I've caught up really quickly and it's looking lovely and bright waiting for a soak and a block.



Estelle


Estelle has been wanting to make Masgot by Lete's Knits for some time, and after meeting the designer herself in Edinburgh, finally cast on in Thin Pirkkalanka, in the hotel bed, the morning after the show. Any excuse to use her new knitting bag from the Kettle Yarn Company, really...



She then disappeared for a three hour Sunday breakfast with that other great knitting insomniac Caerthan of Triskelion Yarns while some of us stayed in bed til' lunch like normal people.




Where to find us next -

We will be at Wonderwool Wales on the 23rd-24th April at the Royal Welsh show ground in Builth Wells, which has always been a special show for us as it's our "home" show, and the place we had our very first day of trading, 3 years ago already! We will be at a fancy, bigger stall, right by the café in Hall 1, so don't forget to come and say Hi!


Thursday, 25 February 2016

And so it begins ..

Our show season kicked off last weekend at the Unravel show in Farnham Maltings.





Thank you so much to the many people who stopped by and had a chat, it always makes these shows special to able to talk to so many great people.

We had a couple of shiny new things launching at the show: a new pattern for the thin Pirkkalanka, written especially for us by Rita Taylor. The Lancet Window Lace Cardigan is a lovely, open lace cardigan, perfect as a little spring cover-up.  I think it would look fantastic in any of the Pirkkalanka colours, from the soft, frosty ones like Frosted Lime or Blush, to more vibrant Raspberry or Grass.



Estelle also finished her Siri cardigan just in time for Unravel, even running off to Textile Garden for buttons as soon as we arrived. This one is worked with our Filcolana pure Gotland Wool which makes for a wonderful lightweight but warm garment. The Siri pattern is very clever - the yoke has a slightly challenging stitch in it, but once you get used to it, it makes for a beautiful texture!

 








As always, the Linus kits proved incredibly popular, with some even coming back for their third or fourth version! We saw some great new ideas for the Linus on the Line shawl, including these bold pink and black options, and use of the new solid Cerise colour way. Amanda and Emma sent us this picture of them casting on as soon as they got home from the show!


For those of you waiting for the kits to come back in stock, rest assured that they are being shipped from Sweden as we speak, so keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for updates.


On the Needles

Mark
- I am still working to finish the last autumn jumper that Estelle challenged me to complete for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.
- Simply because the jumper was a bit big to be able to attach to my belt and wander around with, I cast on another Linus in the beautifully bright Lapland and solid White colours.



Estelle
- Is locked away in the Top Secret Midwinter Yarns experimental knitting department (Otherwise known as the sofa in front of the T.V. ) coming up with something special for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival looming ever closer.

I love being being completely over dramatic about that :D