Saturday, 11 June 2011

Knit Nation extra! Read all about it!

I'm sure that many of you, like me, are counting down the days (currently 34!) until this year's Knit Nation. I still remember the feeling of heady excitement upon entering the Marketplace, the vividness of the Wollmeise stand, the discovery of new yarns and the opportunity to learn from some of the greatest knitting teachers in the world! Here's a little reminder for you!

KnitNation 2010

The organisers of this knitting extravaganza are Alice Yu (aka Socktopus) and Cookie A. I am thrilled that Alice agreed to do a blog interview for me. So if you're interested in finding out what makes Alice tick, read on!

Alice - Socktopus

How did the idea for Knit Nation first come about?

I found it frustrating that the opportunity to learn from the cutting edge teachers whose books are must haves in our libraries was so limited in the UK! Cookie and I thought it would be wonderful to create an event with an equally strong emphasis on furthering knitting and spinning skills as on a carefully curated marketplace showcasing independent businesses; our goal was to nurture, stimulate and inspire through education and in providing an intimate and friendly environment in which to network and socialise.

You must have been delighted by the success of Knit Nation last summer to organise another event this year. How do you envisage Knit Nation developing in the future?

We are taking it year by year, learning as we go. We're holding our second Knit Nation this year and we've been overwhelmed by the response. It's wonderful! We aren't holding one in 2012 due to the Olympics, so we'll see how things go for 2013.

You've got some fantastic teachers coming over for classes. Is there anybody else that you'd love to come over and teach at a future Knit Nation?

Oh the list is long. There are so many people out there who are innovative in their field, who are wonderful teachers and who have a great following!

If you had the time to take one of the Knit Nation classes this year, whose class would you sign up for and why?

I'd probably go for Elise Duvekot's Meandering Mittens class using her Knit One Below technique since the fabric looks perfect for winter mittens - lovely and warm and works so well with variegated yarns. Either that or Lene Alve's Rovaniemi Mittens class - I've been dying to learn that technique too.

How do you go about finding vendors - do people approach you, or do you actively seek out new indie dyers?

A little bit of both. There are people that I think would be perfect for the marketplace, and then people I haven't come across before but whose products are beautiful and must be in the marketplace.

As well as organising Knit Nation, you've been incredibly busy preparing for the publication of your book of sock patterns. How do you manage to fit so much in?

LOL by working 14 hours a day 7 days a week. The first five months of this year have been so crazy hectic; I haven't been that busy in years, not even when I worked in a law firm in the City! I also launched my new sock yarn Sokkusu Original at the same time (like they say, it never rains but pours) which is being carried by Loopy Ewe in the US, Stitch Perfect in Birmingham, L'Oisivethe in Paris and Holland Road Yarn Co in New Zealand. With the book out of the way there is a little more breathing room. I am really looking forward to having my weekends back.

How do you approach designing a pair of socks? Do you have a seed of an idea in your head and knit a swatch, do you chart it out first or do you just play around with needles and yarn until something emerges?

I start with the general structure (i.e. toe up, cuff down etc.), then swatch a few stitch patterns to see what I like, then I plan the cuff and heels. Then I get charting to make sure things work.

Where do you get your inspiration from when dyeing your yarn? What happens to your dye-pot disasters?!

It's random- sometimes I know exactly the effect I want, and I have to experiment to get to it, like 2 November 1983 which I wanted to capture an image from a tv show - a yellow eyed demon burning down the main characters' childhood home in the middle of the night. It took a few tries to get exactly what I wanted. Lorelai on the other hand, I wanted to use a specific series of colours and I just love the outcome.

If I really dislike something I overdye it. If it is simply not to my taste but is still pretty, it goes to the 'tickle my fancy' pile which are one offs and sold as such.

Other than your own yarn (of course!), what are your favourite yarns to knit with? What do you have stashed away at home?

I love Handmaiden, Fleece Artist, Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, Socks that Rock, Old Maiden Aunt, Pagewood Farm ...... but I have to say that my hands down favourite yarn is Sokkusu Original. If I have to knit something, I find myself reaching for Sokkusu over and above everything else. It is tightly spun but has a fine merino count giving it a lovely soft hand. It is great for socks, but equally lovely for lace (blocks beautifully.) I guess I am totally biased, but since I created it as my ultimate sock yarn, it makes sense it would be my favourite!

Is there one project that you really want to knit, but you've not got round to it yet?

I'm working on my Wild Apples Bohus. I'd really like to finish that this year, but alas I am queen of WIPs. Work knitting takes precedence over personal knitting so lots of my personal projects get put on hold.

When did you first discover knitting? Who were you knitting inspirations?

First came across knitting in university, but didn't get very far. Then about seven years ago I just had a yen to learn to knit. Taught myself to knit continental then English from Montse Stanley's Knitters' Handbook and then discovered socks. I haven't looked back since! My knitting inspirations? Those who can and do. Elizabeth Zimmerman and all those who channel her 'can do will do' attitude - the curious, the innovative and the adventurous.

What essentials do you always carry in your knitting bag?

LOL I have stopped carrying around tools. I can pretty much graft with just my knitting needles, though it is definitely much easier using a tapestry needle! Just the WIP of the moment, the rest I leave at home.

If you could take one knitting project to a desert island, what would it be?

Just one?!?! A really, really, really, really big one so when I got bored I could frog it and use the yarn for other things! I am no good with one WIP. Being a total knitting hedon I have to knit what my mojo tells me to, which changes from day to day (hence the many WIPs!)

Do you have lots of projects on the go at any one time, or are you a monogamous knitter?!

Haha - see answer above. WIP tart, totally!

You've become well known for your fantastic sock designs - but which of these do you prefer?

  • DPNs or Magic Loop? Magic Loop all the way. I drop and lose DPNs. Too clumsy!

  • Heel flap or short row heel? Heel flap.

  • Top down or toe up? I used to be toe up, but them for years and years top down. I really prefer top down because I find a cast-on edge is much better, cleaner and more even than my sewn cast off edge (I dislike the look of regular cast off edges so only use a sewn bind off for socks).

How do you see knitting developing in the UK over the next few years?

We are heavily influenced by the US scene, due to a strong Internet community and the fact that the US has the much larger demographic. But we have a strong and healthy community in the UK which more and more is moving online. I think it's great - getting online gives a greater sense of community and cohesion to the UK scene as there is a place we can all get together - despite scattered geographical locations.

Well, I hope that you enjoyed reading the interview and found it as fascinating as I did. Huge thanks to Alice for being so generous with her time. By way of a thank you, and to make a little space in my stash for a few (ahem!!) Knit Nation purchases, I've decided to have a little giveaway in celebration of Alice and Knit Nation. I've rummaged deep in my stash, and pulled out a skein of Laughing Yaffle sock yarn in the colourway Seaside Town.

Giveaway yarn (4)

To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is become a follower of my blog (if you aren't already) and tell me what your all time favourite yarn is. You have until midday next Saturday (June 18th) to leave your comment and I'll randomly select a winner after that date. I'm happy to post anywhere, so please do enter! Good luck and see you soon! xxx


Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog (thanks to the Rav Knit Nation board!) and am very excited to subscribe.

My all time favorite yarn is probably Skein Queen Delectable. It's a 50/50 blend of Merino Silk laceweight and it drapes beautifully. Also, the Skein Queen is a fabulous dyer!

Northern Monkey said...

Great interview. I can't go to knit nation this year and couldn't go last so I suppose I'll have to start saving up for 2013! Plenty of time for working through my stash I suppose.

Hmm my favourite yarn...going on ones I've knit with (as I have some lovely looking stuff in my stash but wouldn't like to judge before I actually knit with it no matter how beautiful it is in the skein) I'd say my favourite indie-dyed yarn is Laughing Yaffle sock yarn. I love the colours and it washes (by hand) really well and has yet to fade. My favourite mass-produced yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, I love the colours and the yardage is great.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for giving me an opportunity to learn a little more about Alice!

My favorite yarn, eh? I like Wollmeise Twin and 100%, Old maiden Aunt and Sokkusu Xtra (has a bit of cashmere).

See you at Knit Nation, right?

Karmawitch said...

Thanks for the link on Rav, great read !!

Can't wait for KN!!

My all time favourite yarn has to be the wonderful Wollmeise, followed by Lunayarns, I love following some of the smaller Indie dyers!

Laughing Yaffle is fab and I'm currently finishing my Spriteling in it!!

Tilly said...

great interview, sadly I cant go to knit nation maybe one year though!! I love most types of yarn to look at I love Nero but I am knitting with Posh yarns diana 2ply at the moment and I just love it, and its in duck egg (or robin egg) blue :D

fourchette said...

Great interview and letting us know a bit more about Alice!

My fav yarn evvah? It has to be ( and be careful, once tried you will be hooked ;D) Posh Yarn Eva 2ply!

See you at Knit Nation!

Jean said...

Good to read your blog and of course I 'know' you from KnitSpot!

Trina Mell said...

Am looking forward to this year's Knit Nation even more now that I've read the interview!

My favourite yarn for not socks/mittens, etc. is Cascade Venezia Worsted. Seeing it and falling in love with it literally compelled me to learn to knit not socks/mittens. (-:= My favourite sport-weight sock yarn is hands-down Colinette Jitterbug, and my favourite fingering-weight sock yarn is - I swear it's true! - Alice's Sokkusu Original.

Spinthrift said...

Mmmm...keep trying to leave a message without success. Love your blog. My favourite yarn that I have used recently is "Sparkle" by Easyknits - I got it in a Christmas swap & love it! I also love using my own homespun/hand-dyed as I feel so proud & know that it is completely unique. Actually, there is not much yarn I don't like.

Anonymous said...

My all time favorite yarn is Malabrigo! Super super super soft yarn!
Really nice interview!

craftink on Raverly

Anonymous said...

Only 34 days? Yay!!! And Woolfest before that :)

My favourite yarn - hmm, difficult one, but probably rowan Felted Tweed at the moment, I just love the fabric it produces. Wollmeise is running it pretty close though. I'll tell you what it definitely isn't though, and that's Debbie Bliss Amalfi, one project in that is almost one too many, horrible splitty stuff that it is!

GirlAnachronismE said...

Wow, I love the pictures. And I didn't know about Knit Nation, so I'm really glad I found out about it.

I think my all time favourite yarn at the momnet (since I'm quite new to knitting) is Rowan Classics Cashsoft since it's just so smooshy and soft! Plus I thought I couldn't wear wool, and its changed my opinion.

Typstatting said...

Terrific interview my favorite yarn is Berroca but would love to try Laughing Yaffle as we dont have it here!

Stitched Together said...

Asking for a favourite yarn is like asking for a favourite cooking ingredient. Everyone is perfect for a given job. I really live Louisa Harding Hand Dyed Grace. It is glorious. However I also adore Malabrigo Sock. Then there is Rowan Felted Tweed. I can't tell you what my overall favourite is, only what my go to yarn is for a given garment or pattern.

Ozzy Blackbeard said...

Hello, I tried to leave a comment here yesterday afternoon, but it wouldn't work. Maybe Blogger had thrown a wobbly!

The interview is great, for some reason I thought Knit Nation had been on the go for a few years. Don't know where I got that from! I shall visit Knit Nation vircariously through your blog.

My favourite yarn is Malabrigo Merino; Mmmmm... squishy.

Jenny said...

A favourite yarn, that would be like saying which is your favourite child. All yarn is good. Unfortunately Mr FF just discovered one of my stash hideouts and he was amazed at the quantity, lucky he didn't find the other two places. Let that be a warning to you when you go to Knit Nation.

Heather-Joy said...

For socks my favourite is The Yarn Yard's Toddy but of course I have to keep trying others just to be sure! For shawls its harder to decide but something with silk in it must win although for really fine shawls Heritage Kitting's Gossamer Cashmere will take a lot of beating.

Peppermint Mocha Mama said...

I am a follower and my favorite yarn depends on what I'm knitting really. Since we were talking with the sock guru herself, I'm going to have to Three Irish Girls for sock yarn. She is delightful and her yarn creations are amazing.

Thanks for the opportunity to win!

Rhian Drinkwater said...

Ooh great interview thanks - I can't wait till Knit Nation, especially as I didn't make it last year.

Have to say my favourite yarn is Laughing Yaffle. I'm a sock addict and the colours are amazing, plus I can machine wash it without any problems.

snoopydog said...

Lots of favourites! I love 'Old Maiden Aunt', 'Natural Dye Studio' and 'Laughing Yaffle'. My favourite of the moment is Fleece Artist's 'Nyoni'. XX

Kenoshia said...

I've followed! Lovely interview. I found your blog in the Ravelry Blog Hub group.

I would have to say my favorite yarn is anything Madelinetosh. I've never owned it yet, nor have I knit with it. Every time I go to the store I have to hold it for a while though. The color range is gorgeous!

Yarnina on Ravelry

Julie said...

My favorite yarn I'd have to say is Malabrigo Merino--merino is the only wool I can wear!

Julie (dnadiva on rav)

Lindr said...

Nice interview. I loved making Alice's Spriteling - such a beautiful pattern. My favorite yarn (right now!) is alpaca. I don't have a particular brand; I just love the fiber.

Jen said...

Arghh - what yarn... I guess it depends what I'm making - I think the favourite one I used was Tantra frolm Artfibers but I'm also really liking Alice's Sokkusu through the Knit Love Club

pinkundine said...

I'm already a follower :)

My favourite yarn pretty much has to be anything with silk in it! Really, I'm a sucker for it, especially blended with alpaca...

I'm so looking forward to knit nation!

dye2knit said...

Just found your blog through Ravelry SMSKAL - for Alice's Spriteling.

I've just discovered a new yarn and seem to be knitting everything from it - it's SaffronDyeWorks...all of Dee's bases are just amazing and the colors so beautiful - irresistible

Anonymous said...

Very nice interview!

Favorite yarn? Hmm... I was recently seduced by the Malabrigo lace, but I don't think it will really make me question my love affair with more "rustic" feeling yarns like Kauni or Holst Garn.

Underground Crafter said...

I'm a follower. My current favorite yarn is Cascade Eco Duo. Soft and eco-friendly!

Napiligal said...

Nice interview. I like ALL sock yarn (almost). I have knit in inexpensive and expensive yarns and find that if I like the color and feel it doesn't matter which one I'm using. I do have to mention that my first socks were knit in Pagewood yarn and and are holding up very well. I'm currently doing my first socks with cables. I knit on 9" circular needles.

Patricia said...

It was great to fall over your blog. We are almost neighbours, I am just down the road at Lowestoft. Sadly due to long term illness I won't be visiting 'Knit Nation' but, I wish everyone who is going a happy time and hope that your money stretches further than ever! Squish some for me.

Hard to choose a favourite yarn, so many that I haven't tried yet, but love Old Maiden Aunt and Posh Yarn.

lorraine said...

awesome giveaway and great interview..mal lace id have to say thanks!!

Polarpurplebear said...

I have you in my faves and read all your posts! My favourite is malabrigo twist - so lovely and soft!

JanieB said...

Well I think I may be on the road to change Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn would be my American fave, Ripple Crafts for the UK.

But Gerard has just started dyeing so right now the IKnit or Dye would be pretty dan tricky to beat.

hewi said...

Great interview. Wish I could go to Knit Nation. Maybe next time.

My favourite yarn at the moment (it changes all the time!) is The Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga. Love the colours :)

Anonymous said...

Mmm, I don't think I've tried enough yarns to pick a favourite - but I suppose my favourite so far is fyberspate's scrumptious, so soft and warm.

Jade108 on Rav

Gypsygirl said...

Found your blog thanks to KN thread. Great interview. Fav yarn would be Brooks Farm Trio or Solo Silk.