Saturday, 22 August 2015

An introduction to the Hygge yarns

When we first started the company, some friends a little concerned about my choice of name. Midwinter. In English mostly prefaced with "In the bleak". Why chose that as a name?
Because I'm Scandinavian. Our winters last longer and are darker than here, but instead of complaining about them, we wallow. We pull on our raggsocks and curl up, surrounded by tea lights and cute lamps , with mugs of hot chocolate and have it "mysigt". We bake cakes and take them to friend's houses with our knitting and have it mysigt with them. Once the darkness creeps in in the autumn, we place lamps on our windowsills to make our homes look inviting from outside...and show off how mysigt our house is. 

So midwinter is not negative or bleak. It is a time to enjoy and indulge in some posh tea and beautiful yarn - to ignore the wind and weather and lose yourself in an exciting knit, be it a challenging one full of texture or a simple one that will make a warming gift come Christmas. 

So when Karina Westermann approached me with the idea to create a truly Scandinavian collection of patterns, it didn't take long for us to agree on the theme of "Hygge". You see, "hygge" is the same  thing as"mys"...just in Karina's native Danish as opposed to my Swedish. 

And as the patterns are about to start being released - starting with Fika on Monday the 31st of August - I wanted to take a moment to introduce the yarns featured in the collection.

We wanted to use yarns in a variety of textures and thicknesses to best reflect our shared Scandinavian heritage. Some are finer, for a more delicate wear-everywhere fabric. Some are big and chunky for a quick, satisfying knit. What they all have in common are natural materials and deep rich colours. 
Some people think that Scandinavian style is all about muted neutrals, but that is far from the truth! Some of our best known designers are all about colour - Marimekko and Gudrun Sjöden. Their palettes are bright, but never shouty, and that is what I love about our Pirkkalanka range. Finnish Pirkkalanka produce a wonderful, crisp hard wearing wool yarn in glorious colours full of depth - the trick being that they are dyed on to a natural grey base rather than a bleached white, bringing life and variety to the colour. 

Hygge features both thicknesses of Pirkkalanka and I think Karina fell a little in love with the Deep Orange featured in the Fika shawl as it comes back a couple of times in the collection. Indeed, it is the perfect Hygge colour - warm like autumn leaves or embers in a wood burner. 

Ohut Pirkkalanka - fingering weight in 314 Deep Orange and 3734 Moss

Vahva Pirkkalanka - worsted weight in 314 Deep Orange and 308 Teal

We also wanted to include some yarns anchored in Scandinavian knitting traditions, namely the chunky Lovikka yarn. This thick singly ply yarn is traditionally used for making mittens in Lapland and is designed to slowly felt with use in snow, wind and rain - I have a pair that my grandmother wore in her youth and they are the warmest, most windproof mittens I own. 

Ullcentrum, who produce our Lovikka yarn, are a company close to my heart. They collect wool from their local farms around Öland island and the neighbouring mainland which would otherwise be incinerated as a waste product (much the same problem we have here in Wales) and turn it in to their beautiful rustic yarns. Along with the Lovikka, they also produce a stunning range of gradients - a yarn that has proven a firm favourite at shows - and we couldn't possibly produce a collection without including one of these proper, woolly, sheep-smelling, lovely Autumn, of course!

I do hope that you will enjoy discovering Hygge over the next few weeks, and creating things that will bring you pleasure both in the making and the wearing, and perhaps find a little hygge of your own. 

Fika will be released as a stand-alone pattern on August 31, but you can pre-order the Hygge: Knit the Things You Love to Wear collection now. It’ll cost slightly different things depending upon where you live, but it is 25% off from now until August 31.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Very exciting announcement!

Midwinter Yarns are very proud to announce our collaboration with the designer Karina Westermann:
Hygge (Knit Yourself the Things You Love to Wear) is a mini-collection celebrating a truly Scandinavian concept. It is a concept that can be difficult to translate, but essentially it means “a feeling of comfort, cosiness, and happiness”. It is what I would call "mys" as I am Swedish, but as Karina is Danish, she calls it "hygge". The mini-collection contains five small projects all relating to aspects of hygge – from spending time with good friends to drinking a mug of hot chocolate after a long, cold day. 
The knitting patterns are all small accessories knitted from a selection of our favourite yarns. All patterns use between one or two skeins of yarns. With hygge being the overall concept, Karina wanted the patterns to give joy and comfort – both in the process of making and in wearing. The projects are also designed to make great little gifts for people you love. Spread the joy, the warmth and the happiness.
What is next? The five patterns will be released over the next month and you’ll be able to see more at our stall at the Yarndale wool festival in Skipton this September.
Karina is now taking pre-orders for the collection and will be releasing the first stand-alone pattern very soon, so head over to her blog for all the news