A bit late but remember Perth Festival of Yarn?

To my utter shame it’s almost 2 weeks since I travelled up to Scotland for this year’s much anticipated Perth Festival of Yarn. So much has happened over the 11 months since I was first contacted by festival organiser Eva Christie who invited me to be this year’s Keynote Speaker. And, to be honest, I had no idea how nervous I would be undertaking that role but – notes in hand – I travelled up the motorway to the Dewars Centre in Perth for a weekend that flew by far too quickly. Here’s a little taster, sorry for not providing a more detailed record. But, having spent so much time on social media recently,  it was really liberating to NOT constantly post updates about the festival on Instagram.

So here’s a little taster of everyone setting up. The venue had a lovely feeling of space which meant you could browse and shop quite happily without feeling restricted in any way. There was also plenty of accessible space between the stands.

fullsizeoutput_14a9

It was great to meet Hutch and Barry of Dye Candy @dyecandy who came over from Belfast for the show. Of course being from Northern Ireland they had lots to chat over with Sam and were sweet enough to gift me a hanks of yarn – I’ll post a pic of that later.

fullsizeoutput_14ab

IMG_0801

Here’s a shot of some questionable interior decoration at The Lovat Hotel although this particular De La Soul single caught my eye.

fullsizeoutput_14af

Loved meeting @gailmadebyme and @mrsgooner5776 although to be honest they were very quiet when they said hello and despite following them both on IG I didn’t recognise them. Ladies I loved seeing you, thank you so much for coming to hear me speak. Be bolder next time!

IMG_0758

This lady was kicking it in this amazing shade of red but I’m so sorry I’ve forgotten your name on IG!

fullsizeoutput_14b4

Sara from @yarningham pitched up with a batch of her freshly baked chocolate and sesame cupcakes. Yes I know I ‘poo pooed’ them too but they were so delicious I ate most of what you see in this picture. And loved every mouthful.

fullsizeoutput_14b8

Got to spend Saturday at the Gala Dinner talking all things BIPOC in Fiber whilst sitting next to these two incredible women – Felicity Ford @knitsonik and Alyson Chu @alysonhere the brains behind the BIPOC in Fiber website and who I only met the day before.

fullsizeoutput_14bb

And having worked for the The Knitter for more years than I care to mention I finally got to meet Kirsty McLeod @kirstie.mcleod and Ali Johnson @iamalijohnson

fullsizeoutput_14bf

On Sunday I taught my Dipped Stitches class (which I”ll be teaching at Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus & Austin next month) and here are some of my happy students

IMG_0804

IMG_0805IMG_0806

The rest of the week was spent catching up with friends from when we lived in Edinburgh and trying to get some rest because the pre Perth build up and the preparing the BIPOC in Fiber Crowdfunder has genuinely been so exhausting.

Now I’ve been back at home for a week I’m not exactly rested (in fact I’m actually coming down with a cold) but I’m even more excited about the upcoming projects and collaborations for the next year or so. There’s lots more teaching, the new website, more designing and so much more to come.

So expect another blog post before the week is out.

J x

 

Yarningham 2019

Screenshot 2019-07-12 at 11.55.23

This weekend Birmingham’s very own fibre festival is back for it’s 4th year.

It takes place in the Uffculme Centre, a former home to the famous Cadbury chocolate family located in between the areas of Moseley and Kings Heath.

As well as the the usual opportunities to learn new skills from renowned tutors like Karie Westermann who’s teaching ‘Knitting the Landscape’ there’s also a chance to ‘Stitch Your Own Notebook’ with local designer maker Helen Wilson. If you’ve missed out on tickets for either of these classes don’t worry there’s plenty of other ways to feed your fibre addiction.

The marketplace is where you’ll find lots of stalls to spend your hard earned cash, it’s ticketed but you’ll find more details on the website (details below). While you’re there check out the Yarningham merchandise – love the Donald and Boris badges – and the official brochure which includes exclusive designs by Jiminez Joseph (a BIPOC designer)  and Rebecca Milton.

There’ll be demonstrations of various fibre crafts by the Birmingham & District Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, a knitting surgery run by the Knitting & Crochet Guild for anyone with a knitting dilemma and a raffle in aid of local charity RSVP (Rape and Sexual Violence Project). They work with survivors of sexual violence and abuse, aiming to help victims cope with trauma and rebuild wellbeing, confidence and hopefulness so it’s an amazing cause and the prizes are fantastic. And, should all that learning and yarn stash enhancement get too much there are refreshments too; including lots of cake, just in case you need a sugar hit.

I don’t routinely write about yarn festivals but in the light of the work I’m doing to highlight BIPOC working in the fibre community this one is particularly relevant. 

Co-founded four years ago by Sara Fowles – a woman of colour – and Helen Winnicott it’s the only fibre festival, of which I’m aware, that’s had a BIPOC influence from the outset. This makes it particularly important, unusual and ahead of many others in it’s awareness and efforts to be welcoming and inclusive to BIPOC visitors as well as, of course, to non BIPOC attending their show. Curated and run by Sara, Helen and the Stitches & Hos crew they are very keen not to subscribe to the snobbery of knitting being the superior craft with all types of crafts being celebrated and are inclusive in their selection of vendors and accessibility both in terms of venue and transport links. 

I really wish I could have made it along to the show this weekend but unfortunately I’ll miss out but you never know, perhaps next year….

Sara, Helen, Venetia, Lilith and the rest of the team – I’m sending my love, have an amazing show. 

And if you you’re visiting show have the best time and spread some love while you’re there.

J x 

For more information visit the website www.yarningham.co.uk

Perth Festival of Yarn 7 & 8th September 2019

 

fullsizeoutput_f85

There’s been a lot of anticipation and excitement but finally the tickets for this year’s Perth Festival of Yarn are now on sale. I’ve known a lot about the classes, events and vendors on offer for some time but now all the secrets are finally out of the bag so you’d better be quick if you don’t want to miss out. 

I’ve never been to PFY before but I’m making up for that by taking on two very important roles. First and perhaps most nerve wrackingly I’ll be there as Keynote Speaker to talk about BIPOC representation in the knitting community; why it’s important and how the community needs to change to make it more truly diverse. The website describes this as a lecture but I hate the idea of ‘lecturing’ people although having been married to me for years my husband Sam would no doubt disagree. 

‘BIPOC and the need for representation in the Knitting Community’ at 1:15pm on 7 September at the Dewars Centre. For more details click here

fullsizeoutput_e59

 

I’ll also going be teaching a class where you can learn the technique of ‘dipped stitches’. This is a really interesting and unusual technique that explores working through the knitting to create dense, squishy fabric textures with exciting surface effects. As a designer I’m excited by any technique that makes me question how it might done so I’m really looking forward to teaching this class. In it you’ll learn the basics, learn how to read dipped stitch charts and start to create your own dipped stitches. 

You’ll nee to bring along a few basic materials such as 4.00 mm needles, a could of balls of DK weight yarn and small amounts of DK / fingering weight in contrasting colours as well as scissors, notebook and pen.

Dive Into Dipped Stitches  2:30pm – 5:30pm on 8 September in the Methven Room, The Station Hotel, 1 Leonard Street, PH2 8HE. For more details click here

I’m not going to list everything else that’s happening as you really should visit the website for all the details but I will just add that as well as me the other tutors are Francoise Danoy, Steve Malcolm, Beverley Dott, Karina Westermann, André de Castro, Julie Dubreux  and Lyndsey Roberts. There’s also a Gin Flight Night (I think tickets may have sold out for that, oops) plus a fantastic marketplace full of incredible vendors including the amazing Lady Dye Yarns from Boston, MA USA who I worked with earlier this year for one of their Craft Club Collaborations.

One of the major issues in the continuing conversations about lack of BIPOC representation, diversity and racism in the knitting community was the call for organisers of fibre festivals to step up and be much more intentionally inclusive when planning their events. Well having contacted me back in October last year Festival Director Eva Christie was already ahead of the curve when the discussion set social media alight at the beginning of January this year. Having had the pleasure of getting to know Eva over the last 5 months I know how carefully she’s curated this event and the lineup of tutors and vendors shows how diversity can be thoughtfully realised when it’s always at the heart of what you do and not simply a just knee jerk reaction. 

Roll on September!

J x

Post EYF 2019

This time last week I was in Scotland getting ready for Edinburgh Yarn Festival and although I arrived home on Monday evening I found it so exhausting that it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts on how it went. Being a first time visitor to the show there was a certain amount of anticipation but as I was also sitting on the Diversity and Inclusion panel held on the last day of the festival there was of course a lot of added pressure. Oh yes I forgot I’d also written this.

FE7F1C5B-B652-42F1-B2C9-5310C1809034

As part of the Wool:press guide to the festival event organisers Jo & Mica created a double page feature highlighting POC working in the fibre community many of whom they’d found through the list of POC Designers & Crafters I started last year. I was honoured to be asked to write the introduction to the piece as I hope it added context for anyone not on social media who previously may not have aware of the discussion.  

To be honest I met and spoke to so many people that Saturday was a bit of a blur for my already fried brain to remember everyone I actually spoke with. Plus time went so quickly that I actually forgot vendors wouldn’t be there the following day which accounts for me attending such a big yarn event having bought NOT ONE HANK OF YARN…….AT…..ALL! 

Yes I know what you’re thinking….. I wouldn’t have thought it possible either. My only bit of EYF swag came courtesy of the lovely and talented @julietillyflop from whom I bought a selection of her brilliant and witty cards whilst we had a good chat about the lack of BIPOC representation in our community. 

83D1E62C-06CE-47E8-8F53-FAB893FE4F42

Ok so I need to rewind a little bit. At the start of the show a small group of us had arranged to meet in front of @mahliqwire’s stand for something of a BIPOC photocall. As you can see it’s a wonderful shot for many reasons. For a start I’ve never seen so many BIPOC / POC faces at any UK yarn event I’ve attended so it truly was a beautiful thing to be a part of this picture. Secondly, we’d been chatting so much online it was lovely to actually meet in person so there was a lot of hugging going on but unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to spend any time actually sitting and chatting together. Never mind, fingers crossed there’s always the next festival. 

fullsizeoutput_f1c

The rest of Saturday was spent catching up with lots of folk, some from my days living in Edinburgh others I’d never met before and whilst I’d love to tell you everyone I met you could do without reading a list which resembles a fibre themed Oscar acceptance speech. 

What I can tease you with is that there is exciting news to come; some very soon so watch out for future blog posts and some later on in the year.

31F68E26-C492-48BD-8670-4891B68B6E5C

fullsizeoutput_f50
Aimee Gille from @labeinaimee
C7A899F6-E462-4D07-83B3-B332A51ECFE1
Cecelia Nelson-Hurt @creativececi
fullsizeoutput_f4e
Sopha Cai @sophiatron

 

The big event at EYF on Sunday was the Diversity and Inclusion panel in which I took part with Sophia Cai @sophiatron, Aimee Gille @labienaimee and moderator Cecilia Nelson-Hurt @creaticececi. For anyone who wasn’t already aware this was a pretty big deal given the current discussions surrounding racism in the fibre community and the lack of diversity and representation of BIPOC in knitting. The panel was a ticketed event which took place on Sunday morning and although priority was given to BIPOC I was really pleased to see there were also many non BIPOC faces in the audience. It may sound odd but there was no point having this discussion with only non white crafters in attendance, after all there’s no point preaching to the choir.  As the event was professionally videoed for later release I won’t go into detail about what was discussed but what I will say is that it seemed to be well received. As soon as the video is available to view I’ll let you know. With all the controversy about Kate Davies not speaking at EYF this panel was convened at pretty late notice so Jo & Mica should be congratulated on what they managed to achieved in such a short amount of time. I do hope however that as was mentioned by someone in the audience they won’t feel it’s ‘business as usual’ when selecting vendors for next year’s EYF. The issue of BIPOC representation in the fibre community isn’t just a 2019 hashtag or trend. I really want to see change. 

Enjoy the rest of my rather random Edinburgh highlights and please excuse any poor grammar, still recover from a migraine. Oh and sorry there’s not more yarn porn, but there is food porn

 

J x

Happily Unravelled

When I completed last month’s #31daychallenge to blog everyday I had such high hopes and plans to blog twice a week and less than a month later I’m failing….. miserably. I do have quite a bit of work on at the moment and this seems to be turning my brain into mince so almost every word I type first appears like the 7 letter selection you get in Scrabble. Absolutely nothing makes sense until you take time to untangle the letters. Anyway, I’m not posting on a grey Monday morning to dribble on about any head yet again but rather to say what a fantastic time I had on Saturday at the Unravel festival.

I was really looking forward to going having had so much time out from yarnie gatherings so after being picked up early by Christine, my lovely editor from Knitting, we toddled off to Farnham Maltings for the show. When I say ‘toddled’ I actually meant that Christine drove while I sat, knitted and double checked the sat nav wasn’t going to lead us up a narrow one way street with a deep muddy puddle at the end of it.

I’ve had a stall at Unravel in the past and although you always plan to have a good look around there’s never quite enough time and before you know it the show is over. This year it was lovely to have a leisurely mooch around with a friend who drools over yarn as much as you do and will step in when needed should you look like you’re about to make an impulse purchase of an expensive yarn in an unflattering colour that won’t even knit a pot holder. No danger with Christine and I though. We were really very restrained.  When we first arrived Christine had to pop over to interview Louisa Harding about her recently launched Yarntelier range of luxury yarns and while she was gone I seized the opportunity to  have a coffee, look through the catalogue and make a plan of action based on who was showing where.

fullsizeoutput_3bc
Cards by Tilly Flop Designs

The internet is a very strange entity as it can make you feel that you already personally know people whose social media account you follow when in fact you only ever see tiny, daily snatches of their life. Well once I met back up with Christine we started off in the Great Hall and after saying a quick hello to Maggie and Colin at Textile Garden  we wandered up to the stage and found JulietTillyFlop. (I know that’s not her actual name but that’s how I know her on Instagram ). Now I’ve never met Julie in person before but we gave each other that ‘we’ve never met but I know who you are’ look before actually introducing ourselves. Oh yes and she’s also got one of those wonderful, broad smiles that makes you feel you think ‘I do know you…don’t I? Like the lady herself there is a genuine warmth and wit to Julie’s work and despite swearing to myself that I wasn’t going to buy anything my first purchase was a handful of her beautiful cards one of which will be winging it’s way to it’s recipient in London later today. You can shop online through here Etsy shop Tilly Flop Designs.

I spent the rest of the day chatting to, being inspired by or flashing a quick hello to the likes of (deep breath) …. Triskelian Yarns, Easyknits, Fine Fish Yarns from Belfast  (who I hadn’t known before so thanks to Bronagh Miskelly who I also saw for flagging them up) Louise from Sincerely Louise (who from this week will be working full time with Iesha previously one of my Kingston Uni students), Lyn Roberts whose solid silver crochet hooks, dpns and cables needs are just exquisite, Mariusz and Vida from Namolio, Nicola & Louise from The Knitting Shed, my lovely friend Jane Crowfoot, Sarah from Bigwigs Angora who chatted so affectionately about her 100 rabbits from which she ethically sources her British angora fibre, Heather from Sparkleduck, plus Rachel Coopey, Joanne  Scrace (notsogranny), the ladies from Waltham Abbey Wool Show (who recognised me whilst I looked at them blankly, I’m so sorry my memory for faces is even more crap than it used to be), Francesca Hughes & Juliet from John Arbon, Belinda Harris Reid, Sue Blacker and Woolly Wormhead. Phew! Oh yes Christine and I also had a lovely long chat with Susie and Emma from The Little Grey Sheep whose display of soft, juicy coloured, hand dyed yarns smacked you in the face as soon as you entered the hall and whose Hampshire Chunky yarn I’m looking forward to using for a design to be published in an upcoming issue of Knitting. Of course I’ll post more details nearer the time.  Now whilst this may sound like a hideous round of name dropping it’s really just to give you an idea of the great selection of makers, spinners and designers that the Maltings brings together so if you weren’t fortunate enough to have visited at the weekend, get it in your the diary for next year.

img_0398
Yarns & books from The Little Grey Sheep

There was lots of chat at the weekend about the Edinburgh Yarn Festival which is the next stop for a lot of those showing at the weekend and whilst I’m hugely jealous that I won’t be there I hope they have a great time. I’ll content myself with the good vibes I got from meeting so many lovely people on Saturday and look forward to Unravel 2018.

J x