The teaching schedule has now gone live for Woollinn, a full week ahead of when booking opens!

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Edinbugh Yarn Festival and Woollinn are my only teaching bookings for next year, so if you're keen to take a class you may want to have a persual at the workshop list and see what takes your fancy. The event is well situated in Dublin, close to the airport which itself is not too far from the city centre, making it very accessible for travel. And of course, it's Dublin - you can't go wrong.

I'll be spending the weekend in great company - Carol Feller, Karie Westermann, Justyna Lorkowska, Nancy Marchant to name but a few (and I'm looking forward to catching up with each of them ;). With so many great tutors, a great city and fantastic organisers (the crew at This is Knit are amazing) it's guaranteed to be worth every penny and then some.

See you there?

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead

My want to reduce the amount of knitting I do, and in particular knitting with finer yarns, hasn't dampened my yarn buying!

 
 

I was keen to visit River Knits and check out her yarns, and I wasn't disappointed. With her family she lives on a canal boat and I can't not support another nomadic creative sort, and I came away with these DK yarns.

The speckles is right out of my comfort zone, and I've already wound it for some mindless knitting to keep my fingers busy as we travel this summer, for what will likely be a future free pattern come grafting tutorial.

Both yarns are gorgeous, this is one talented dyer.

 
 

I'm rather excited about this yarn, I must say. It's from 3rd Vault Yarns and I kinda wish at this point that I hadn't already busted my budget as there were more gorgeous colours! All of her yarns are Sci-Fi inspired, and being the Sci-Fi fans that we are (though not total geeks - I'd fail any quiz) they struck a chord.

This is definitely going in the future design stash - those flashes of colour are sublime.

 
 

And finally, I couldn't not buy any SparkleDuck yarn. 

I didn't know Michael would be at the show until the saturday morning, and as soon as I had the chance I went to find him in their usual spot to give him a hug. It made me cry; I can't imagine how Michael would have felt or managed throughout the show but he did, with so much support from the Cambridge knitters and Fibre East regulars. So many knitters went home with SparkleDuck yarn in their bags, to do wonderful things with them in Heather's memory.

These yarns don't belong in my stash; Michael took SparkleDuck to the show because Heather would have wanted her yarns in the hands of knitters, being used, and I didn't want to buy them only to have them sit in my boxes. So I bought them to give away as random lucky dip type prizes during my MKAL this year. Buying them to share felt like the right thing for me to do.

I generally only get the chance to buy yarn as shows these days, and thankfully I'm not visiting anymore for a while, as there's not much more space in my studio! Working with indie dyers is my preference when it comes to designing and yarn choices, and I'll always try to buy a few skeins when I can - some become designs, some prizes or gifts. 

And now I'm going to spend the rest of my Saturday knitting some RiverKnits speckles, watching CSI back to back.

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You can't go to a yarn and knitting festival without a little something coming home with you, and that's just how it should be. The only time I get to see great hand dyed yarn in the flesh is at shows, and I may as well support the vendors if I can. And I bought a little more than usual at Pomfest, as there were some new to me dyers there!

 
 

I'd not come across Rauwerk before, and they had some amazing eco and ethical yarns and there was no way I could not bring something home with me. Interestingly, through the Friday I found myself drawn to these muted pinks and had to keep myself in check. 

Being woollen spun, it's a lofty yarn with some seriously good yardage - in the skein it looks more like a worsted or aran, yet the label tells you it's a DK. My skein is a 100% organic single farm yarn, hand dyed with natural dyes.

I've been eyeing The Wool Kitchen's greys with colour yarns over on Instagram but not being a huge fan of speckles, I was mighty glad to see a grey with bright solids. It's still a little out of my comfort zone but I don't doubt it'll make a seriously fun Hat!

 
 

Qing is another new to me dyer, and I was rather taken with the top skein, which is essentially the same colour as my henna dyed hair, with splashes of black through it. It's going to make a gorgeous Hat.

The 2nd skein is a single ply DK in a pretty busy colourway.... I don't normally lean towards single plies as there's always a chance of ripping and reknitting when designing, and the plied yarns stand up to that much better. I do think though that design wise, this 2nd skein wants a simple Hat, and it may be my sanity knitting that becomes a free Hat pattern this summer.

I really struggled to get the colours right in these two with my phone.

 
 

I knew of Julie Asselin's yarns, but this was the first time I saw them in the flesh. And that green is stunning! (again, tricky to capture on my phone with the light today... hindsight tells me it may have been better to pick a white background....)

The Hektos is a luscious blend of high twist merino, cashmere and silk in worsted weight. This will definitely become a Hat! (I'm just not promising when)

La Bien Aimee is another dyer I'm familiar with online, but hadn't yet had the chance to see up close. Not being a fan of speckles I thought I'd push myself a little and see what I could do with this one... it's kinda greys and lilacs and there's no white bits, which always helps.

 
 

And there was non-yarn swag!

The little cat tape measure from Pink Hazel was not going to not come home with me. As well as her usual array of gorgeous hand sewn needle cases and knitting cases, she stocks a range of Fair Trade extras, including hand crocheted animal tape measures. Win-win.

And after spying a gorgeous hand knit cardigan being worn at the show, I bought a copy of Pompom. Part of me kinda thinks that maybe I'd got a little carried away with show shopping, as I'm now having doubts about this, but I'll sit on it for a bit. I'm not very good at buying lots of stuff and always find that there's one item that's loved less when I do have a half decent spend (mostly I think 'cos I'm a frugal old sort and well, I don't like having a lot of stuff). It's a nice cardy and I just need to decide if it'll suit me... I have the hand-dyed black DK yarn already.

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I'm at Fibre East in 2 weeks time with Babylonglegs and if I'm not careful, I'll end up with too much yarn! (yes, that is a thing; remember that storage space isn't in endless supply in my world)

And now I'm starting to feel buyers regret, dammit. 

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A few of the folks that live here are often commissioned to create sculptural or light-based installations for the town to be displayed during the festive season. This year, this tree was the big new piece of work, and it is amazing.

This piece was developed by Nicky and a local architect (whose name I keep forgetting - sorry!). At the core is a steel structure and the mosaic like effect is actually reclaimed plastic bottles, cut into squares and ironed. All of the local schools helped collect the plastic bottles, and the kids helped create all the squares. A community project.

There are 2 entrances to the tree, enabling you to go inside and get a real feel for the scale and atmosphere. Here you can see the wee dude enjoying the opening night, whereby little people ran round and around inside, after filling themselves up with the free chocolate and bread on offer!

From the inside, looking up to the top, giving you a real sense of scale and proportion.

And of course, I love all the circular features!

When we were in town at the weekend for a photo shoot for a bunch of new designs, we thought we'd try and photograph Corella inside the tree.

For some reason, that shade of green hasn't been especially flattering with either Silvia or Alyx to the camera's eye, but I think this time it's looking much better. I hadn't sent this one to my distributors yet, as I didn't want them printing up photos that I wasn't happy with, and it's now merrily on it's way to them. 

The glass effect of the plastic bottles looks very different in daylight, and it's really effective as a background, too. We had a few problems with Silvia looking somewhat green but I think we've made her skin tone look closer to normal now..

The Xmas lights hanging around town were made by folks here too, but we haven't taken many photos yet this year, and I promise we'll be out and about one evening real soon, and will share a few shots once we have them. 

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Oh boy, was this trip some mad adventure!

After 3 planes and some 30+hrs of travelling, we finally arrived in Columbus, Ohio. I travelled from London with Ann Kingstone and Carol Feller joined us the next day, the 3 of us room sharing to help keep the trip within budget. The pace never really slowed; when we weren't busy meeting people or setting up trunk shows or walking the floor, we were busy eating or socialising or sleeping. It really was non stop. Sleep was a tad elusive for me, and by monday sleep deprivation was doing it's worse, yet we went to meet & greet and that's exactly what we did, sleep or no sleep.

I don't really know where to start, as so much happened and we met so many people, so I'll write it all down as it pops into my head....

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On saturday I had a trunk show in the Ravelry booth, as part of their In-Store Sales promotion. This was fun, as I got to meet both Mary-Heather and Sarah + bump. Although most of the enquiries were from retailers interested in the programme, there were several store owners who came to see me, who stocked my patterns, and I found myself signing patterns or having my photograph taken! This was wonderful, I really loved being able to meet such great folks, and it was also slightly overwhelming for this partial recluse that tends to hide away in her bus in the countryside ;)

There was also a display of my Hats in the Deep South Fibers booth and I'm kicking myself for not taking any photos of that. I spent time there on saturday and at first I was a little dumb struck talking to retailers, as I'm so used to retail shows, not trade. But I soon got into the swing of it, mostly. Meeting Donna and the DSF crew was one of the benefits of travelling all that way - it really helps to put a face to names and voices to emails when you've being doing business with folks. And I've no doubt it benefited me too, to meet the lovely store owners who stock my patterns.

Of the fellow DSF designers, I was chuffed to finally meet Kate of Tot Toppers and Anne of Crafty Diversions. Both were lovely and friendly and very down to earth, which always helps! Infact, everyone was warm and welcoming, which was very much appreciated by this shy sort.

Like any other show I guess, the social aspect is as much about making connections as it is having a chat and winding down. There were a couple of evenings when I didn't go out as I was just too tired, which I do regret and am already planning sleep aids for next year, so I don't miss out. Here are a few of the random photos I took of everyone hanging out in the Hyatt Bar...

Carol & Ann - I think between the 3 of us our accents amused and confused many!

Tot Toppers Kate & Kristi Porter, cocktails abound

There were so, so many lovely people to meet, and this last photo gives you an idea of just how many would be hanging out at any given time! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few of the lovely folks I met, many for the first time:

Cecily Glowick Macdonald of Winged Knits, Laura Nelkin (with whom I'd previously had dreadlock chats on Twitter), Michelle of Fickle Knitter who cracked me up (that means you made me laugh. A lot), Kristen Tendyke who I chatted with about her little house and down sized living, Miriam Felton, Hannah Fetig, Mercedes of Kitchen Sink DyeWorks and PieBird Designs, fellow Brit Andi of KnitBrits (who still has her accent after all years in the US!), Allegra of Petite Purls, Jaala of KnitCircus, Heather of Army of Knitters, Julia of PatternFish who was as lovely as I'd thought she'd be (and I'm sorry we didn't get to hang out more during the show!), Carol of Black Bunny Fibers who also cracked me up, Bonnie Marie Burns of Chic Knits, Chris Church with her wee baba, Susan B Anderson who was delightful, Sarah of The Sexy Knitter (who taught me all about spanx - who knew?!), Anna of KnitandKnag, Shannon of Knitgrrl fame, Jenn Jarvis of NipperKnits (wish we could have talked more), Pam of FlintKnits, Stefanie Japel and Romi of Designs by Romi (with whom I shared an incognito boob photo...) all of whom I met for the first time. There was also the chance to meet again Anne Hanson, Clara Parkes, Deb Robson, Annie Modesitt, Norah Gaughan and well, too many more to mention. Forgive me if I've missed anyone, blame the jetlag!

I've no doubt you'll find just about everyone talking about Jeni's Icecream, I guess it's another TNNA legend. I'm no big ice cream fan but I did enjoy their Bourbon Buttered Pecan flavour, and did partake more than once. For me though, my first trip to TNNA also meant my first trip to America, and that in turn meant bus envy. And it also meant I took far too many photos of trucks and mini tractors and buses to share with my boys.

This beast was simply amazing! I'm fond of the vintage Airstreams, and this bus had a similar aesthetic. So big and shiny! Can you imagine converting this beast for living? It'd be pretty cool.

Of course I had to snap a few American trucks and buses for Aran's benefit, and I won't bore you will all the details but I will share this one...

.... never ever have I seen a bike on a bus like this before!

I will go again, that I can say. And next time I won't rely on buying ear plugs when I get there, as I'll remember that most don't fit my ears or don't work. I'll also remember not to rely on getting an eye mask on the plane, even though wearing my (clean) knickers on my head proved somewhat effective. I got a lot out of the show, and I've no doubt I'd have got even more had I had more sleep whilst there. One thing I did come home with was the understanding that more people knew who I was than I expected, and that's still sinking in. Nearly everyone I spoke to or was introduced to had heard of Woolly Wormhead, which is pretty mind blowing.... even Martin Storey had!

Lots of new things came home with me too, especially from Marly's designer dinner! But right now I'm still jet lagged and out of words. Besides, I need to photograph it to do it all justice. There's a long list of people to thank for sponsorship and I'll be sharing some of the goodness too. So until then, I'll be sleeping and letting it all sink in!

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