Whilst I was away from the Attic through June and early July, a great deal of my time was filled with yarn infested thoughts. This is a busy time for me with a huge amount of Yarndale work happening behind the scenes, so I really appreciated a chance to take off for a couple of days at the end of June to visit Woolfest in Cumbria. Being one of the organisers of Yarndale means that unfortunately I don't get to experience our fabulous festival in the same way that a visitor would. And as I had never been to Woolfest before, a visit with no agenda other than to delight myself with a great deal of yarny goodness was a real treat. I loved being at the festival - as expected, it has a very similar feel to Yarndale, but I would say it's rather more "woolly", with a strong emphasis on natural fibres. Where Yarndale focuses on Creativity, Woolfest has it's focus very much on the Wool. It was a joy to see so many beautiful, real, live sheep, to be able to squish and stroke so much lovingly produced yarn and chat to the amazing people who love to share their talent and passions.
But even better than all the yarn put together was the fact that I was away from home for two days and one whole night, child-free (holy smoke, the luxury of that!!), and got to hang out with my most lovely friend Christine. We had such a laugh, and I came home feeling very inspired, relaxed and energised after my break away.
Two weeks after Woolfest and I was off again on another yarn infested jaunt, this time a short train journey across Yorkshire to rendez vous at the Stylecraft Mill in Slaithwaite. Now this was something I'd been really looking forward to for many weeks, a day to meet up with a small group of wonderful knit and crochet bloggers, a day for a heap load of yarn chat over a delicious lunch, a day to inspire, connect, share and make friends. It was completely brilliant I have to say, and there is nothing like chatting to people who share a combined love of yarn and blogging. It was fun, friendly and hugely inspiring to hear everyone's blogging stories, to share our thoughts and inspirations and our plans for the future.
I have been lucky enough to visit the Stylecraft Mill a few times now, but being a part of an amazing new Bloggers Meet-up was a completely new thing for me. I don't always find social situations easy as I am naturally quite a shy person (I am getting better though), but everything about this day was designed to make us feel good from the moment we walked in the door. I was truly delighted to realise that once we all sat down together I immediately felt I was amongst good friends and the day just got better and better.
So you may be wondering what all this was actually about? This is a brand new initiative created by Stylecraft Yarns to celebrate and support the knit and crochet blogging community. Twelve bloggers have been chosen to make up a Stylecraft "Blogstars" group, with the idea that we can all learn from each other, share ideas, preview new yarns, and generally help spread the yarny love. Spreading the joy of yarn and creativity is something each of us does already through our blogs, so this is a way of bringing us together and celebrating the sharing I guess. In the photo above there are nine of us, so three who sadly couldn't make it to the first ever Blogstars meet up. Do you recognise the other bloggers in the photo with me? I'll tell you who they are and give you links to their blogs so you can go have a pootle.....
From left to right > Katherine of Crafternoon Treats : Sandra of Cherry Heart : Heather of The Patchwork Heart : Julia of Hand Knitted Things : Phil of The Twisted Yarn : Helen of The Woolly Adventures of a Knitting Kitty : ME (!) : Sarah of Annaboo's House : Sue of Susan Pinner Yarn Art.
You can also read more about each of the Blogstars here.
Aside from the thrill of having so many amazing writers and designers all on one room, we were treated to a fascinating insight into the way Stylecraft designs and plans their yarn and pattern ranges. As someone who is very much Of-The-Moment when it comes to designing and making, I am really rather in awe of the huge amount of forward planning that goes on in the yarn world. It's the norm for yarn manufacturers and designers to be working at least 18 months in advance, and "trend forecasting" is used to predict the moods, colours, shapes and fashion elements that will be influencing all things yarny in the seasons to come. We were shown a couple of mood boards which will lead the way for the Autumn/Winter 2016/17 season, and honestly it is so hard for me to grasp that this was all put together way back last year! I can barely think about what I might be doing next week, let alone next month/season/year. The above mood board is influenced by a trend named "The Humble Labourer" and is all about rustic textures, patterns and an earthy, natural colour palette.
And this one is named "World Marauder" which is all about rich jewel colours and intricate decorative patterns. Fascinating, no?? We got to preview some beautiful new Stylecraft yarns inspired and influenced by these trends, and my favourite (by a long chalk) is this.................
..........oh, so delicious! This is a brand new range of yarn called Stylecraft Batik - can you see how the rich colours were inspired by the Marauder mood board I showed you up above? This photo isn't particularly good I'm afraid (was in too much of a giddy spin to focus properly at the time), but let me tell you the yarn is absolutely LUSH. It's very very soft and springy, surprisingly soft and tactile actually, to say that it contains 20% wool (it's an 80/20 acrylic/wool blend).
The yarn is DK weight and comes in 50g balls. Interestingly it's been designed specifically with crochet in mind - the twist of the fibres is quite tight which makes it smooth and non-splitty and lovely to hook with. At the Blogstars meet up we were given a very generous goody bag to bring home, which included the above 16 shades of Batik. Lucky, lucky me. This yarn has sparked a tonne of ideas to whizz into my Creative Mind, but so far I'm only at the stroking and smooching stage. Did I tell you how soft and springy this yarn is? It really is. So Batik has already hit the shops this summer in all it's pretty yarny yumminess. Do let me know if you start a project with it, I'd love to see!
Here in the Attic, there is lots of yarny stuff simmering on multiple creative burners as usual. I'm already working on a colour palette and new pattern samples for my next blanket which will begin at the end of the year - I'll be launching a new yarn pack in November, ready for an Attic24 Crochet-A-Long to start in January. The colours are really beautiful, inspired by the Yorkshire Moorlands which I love - can't wait to show you more!
In the meantime, I'm working on adding printed patterns to some of my yarn packs which don't yet have them - the first will be the re-make of my Original granny stripe blanket....
....then an updated pattern for my Rainbow Raindrops cushion.
At the end of September I'll have a new bag pattern to share with you too - this is my Weekend Bag, and it's been a long time coming!
I'll be making a full tutorial for this cute cross-body bag to share for free here on my blog, and I'm thrilled that there will also be three new chunky colour packs launching at Yarndale, then online in my shop with Wool Warehouse after that. Two of the chunky colour ways are shown above, plus there is a third one in shades of blues and greys. I am excited to share this with you at the end of next month - better get busy!!
Gosh, this feels like it's been a long, overdue catch up, I feel a bit dizzy from spilling it all of a sudden! And breeeeeeathe.............
One last thing to mention whilst I'm on the subject of bloggy stuff and yarny carry ons - I was thrilled to find out that I've been nominated in the British Knitting Awards again this year - these awards have become pretty prestigious and a great acknowledgement of the dedication and passion found within the yarn industry.
I've reached the top five nominations in not one but two categories (sooooo chuffed!) - "Favourite Crochet Designer" and "Favourite Crochet Blog". Wooohooo! If you fancy casting a vote for me, that would make me very happy indeed....voting is for UK residents only (due to the fabby prizes up for grabs), and ends on 28th Aug. Here's the link...
As ever, it's a pleasure to welcome you into the Attic for a chat and a catch up, thanks so much for the company as I bungle through my busy yarn infested days. Now I'm going to go grab a cup of tea and take a bit of a breather before cooking dinner.....see you again soon xxxxxxxxxxxx