I’m very happy to tell you that episode 2 of the show is now up. You can find it on YouTube by clicking this link … … Episode 2 … or stay on this site and watch it here!
In this episode we welcome a new product sponsor – Erin Lane Bags – and have 3 giveaways for our viewers in 2 segments.
We travel to Bellingham, Washington to visit Andrea and Andrew Evans of Apple Yarns in our new LYS Spotlight segment. You’ll love their humour and their store and be eligible to win some great yarn and pattern to make the Ripple Effect shawl designed by Claudia Barbo.
After that we’ll go to Chiliwack, BC to visit Kim and Evan of Black Cat Custom Yarns to see just what it takes to dye hundreds of skeins of yarns in over 185 colours!! And you’ll also get a chance to win 2 skeins of yarn from them in the colour of your choice!
That’s not all however as Jenna Vallee of Everlea Yarns will update us with what’s happening around the globe in the world of fibre arts. Fair warning though, make sure you watch right through the credits to get a chance to win all of the goodies up for grabs this week!
I hope you’ll like the show and make sure you subscribe to the channel so you don’t miss anything coming up. In 2 weeks we’ll talk to Barb of Knitted Knockers, learn a cool trick with the long tail cast-on, and check out a mens knit night in Brooklyn, NY. You want to miss that!
Well, by the time you read this, it will be! What time? 7:00 PM BST (British Summer Time). Time to register for classes at Perth Festival of Yarn 2019 and get your tickets! And by Perth, I mean Perth, Scotland, not Australia (maybe somebody should put together one there).
I’m also pleased to say that I’ll be teaching two classes there as well, on guess what? CABLES!! There will be a beginner cables class on Sunday morning, then an advanced class that same afternoon. I promise I won’t have you twisted in knots though!
I’ll also be joined by seven other tutors teaching a variety of classes from Brioche (Julie Debreux of @julieknitsinparis) and Portuguese Knitting (André De Castro) to Exploring Māori Traditions Through Stranded Colourwork (Françoise Danoy of @ArohaKnits) and Dipped Stitches (Jeanette Sloan – who will also be giving the Keynote lecture)!
Why don’t you pop on over to the site to see the full list of classes and the tutors who’ll be leading you through the stitches! I promise you’ll be impressed. I’m honoured and thrilled to be included in this list of diverse and talented teachers! Here’s the link: Perth Tutors.
While you’re there, check out the other great events happening during the festival. There will be an Outlander Tour, and a Perthshire Tour (including it’s majestic castles)! There is a gala dinner happening with a fashion show (yours truly will be emceeing that- hehe), and of course the now legendary Gin Flights at The Green Room to wind down from a great weekend of festivities (see what I did there)?
And what Yarn Festival would be complete without a marketplace??!! Don’t worry, that’s here too. With a list of over 80 vendors you’ll be certain to find exactly what you’re looking for – and probably a few things you didn’t even know you were! Here’s the link of the vendors that will be in attendance … Perth Vendors.
With 135 days before the festival, you’ll have time to work out all the details to make sure you enjoy it thoroughly! But make sure you register for the classes early as I imagine with that lineup of tutors tickets will go quicker that garter stitch on my Addis!
Also of note, today is LYS DAY or Local Yarn Shop Day. For those of you in the lower mainland, it coincides with the second day of Woolith Fair so it’s a perfect excuse to support your local LYS as you complete your yarn crawl!! We are so fortunate to have the abundance of yarn shops we do in the greater lower mainland. Woolith Fair is put on by the West Coast Knitters Guild and features 23 passport stops in the greater Vancouver area, some of which have trunk shows happening so there’s even more fibre goodness. Click this link to go to the website and find out more!
Well, it’s only a few weeks to go now for the first episode of It Takes Balls To Knit – The Show to be released. As a matter of fact, I was just on the Sunshine Coast in beautiful Pender Harbour filming a segment for Dyeing To Knit You with Jenna Valley of Everlea Yarn! We had a great time filming and I learned a lot!! So much so, that I’ll be doing a return trip soon to film a second and possibly third segment. Turns out Indigo dyeing is an entirely different process to acid or natural dyeing! Can’t wait!
Not only is Jenna the force behind Everlea Yarn, she started (and still maintains) Vancouver Yarn, a phenomenal resource for who’s who and what’s happening in the Vancouver knitting scene! She’s been keeping everyone connected here for over 10 years!! Make sure you tune in to see her telling you all about natural dyeing on the show and help support her in her foray into this area of the knitting world!
In regards to the show, I had a giveaway of a Stitchip® from my friends at XRX Publishing – the same great people that bring you the Stitches events every year. I’d like to announce the winner – Risa!! An e-mail has been sent out to her and I’ll update everyone on which of the 6 Stitchips she chose. Risa was eligible for the draw because she subscribed to this website to help support the production of the show. There will be many more subscriber giveaways in the future. I have 5 more Stitchips, and Jimmy Beans Wool has confirmed they’ve already sent some SmartStix that will be passed on to someone in the future (after a review on the show)! If you’d like to get in on the action AND show your support, please subscribe and help me get the show to you. Even if it’s just $1/month, every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated.
There’s one more little thing I’d like to ask you for with regards to the show. I’d like to make this show as interactive as possible, and several of the segments will rely on your feedback and participation. I’d like to start prepping some of those right now, with a little help from you of course! I need your input/feedback for the following segments in the show …
Show Us Your Knits … Do you have any fabulous knitwear that you made that you’re particularly proud and/or fond of? If you’d like it to be featured in the show, please send some pictures (being modelled by a person would be great) or even a short video. Include all information that may be relevant (yarn, special techniques, pattern name, designer, etc) in whichever format is easiest for you. Knitflix … One of our show segments will focus on television shows and/or movies that feature/mention knitting. Are there any that you’ve seen that fit the bill? Just to name a few so you get the idea – Demolition Man : remember when Sly knits the sweater for Sandra while catching up on what he missed while in the freezer?, – Pushing Up Daisies : Chi’s character is a closet knitter of socks!, – Outlander : I’m sure you’ve noticed all the knitted pieces, and now we know Jamie’s character knows how to knit, – Gotham : young Bruce and Alfred sport some great knitted sweaters throughout the series, – Once Upon A Time : filmed here in Vancouver it’s loaded with knitting, – Elementary : I actually have two patterns on this site reverse engineered from the great stuff Joan wears in Season 1, and others. Keep your eyes peeled and if you see/hear of one, drop us a quick note telling us the specifics (show, episode, how knitting is featured, etc). Knitter Spotlight … Would YOU like to be on the show? Do you know someone who should be? Send us the details telling us who and why? We’ll contact you/them and have a short vetting process to see if we can make it happen! We really want to make this show about the entire scope of knitting, so we want to be entirely inclusive of all aspects of the craft, and all the people that participate in it. Event Spotlight … Somewhere around the globe, I’m fairly certain there is an event going on every weekend in the knitting world. If you’re someone that puts on one of these events, or if you know of one, big or small, please let us know about it. We’re working on putting together a list of the events going on globally and need your help to do it. again, any information you can provide – event name, location, contact person, dates, # years running, website, etc – would be great! We’ll add it to our growing list and put it on out events page. We’ll have an Events Segment in the show so you never know. Your event may be in it one day!!
If you have any of the above information for us, you can send it to
We appreciate all submission and look forward to including you in this!
As you may know, I am currently spending 2 months traveling through the UK and Europe. There are a few reasons for the trip, but among the primary ones are to visit family members and friends that I have not met or seen in ages, and to explore the knitting culture firsthand on the “other side of the pond”! I recently got a chance to do the latter by visiting a yarn store in Manchester, England – Countess Ablaze!
I’ve been visiting my aunt Jem for the last week since arriving in the UK, and we went into the city to see this yarn store. I found it through Google which is a good thing as my aunt was unaware of its presence. Ironically, we had visited a haberdashery a few days prior that was less than 2 minutes away! Anyway, given the lack of yarn shops in Manchester (so unlike Vancouver, BC), I was thrilled to find this gem of a shop right in the downtown core! I quickly found out however, that it’s a yarn dyeing studio, not a typical yarn shop.
If you look closely you’ll see Countess and I standing in the window. Just a heads up, when you arrive you’ll have to ring the bell to get someone to let you in. That’s because there are 3 floors to this studio! The first is the main retail space. The second is a combined show room and partial workspace where shipments are sorted and other packages put together. The third floor is exclusively staff and where the dyeing takes place. Countess is often up there working her magic! I say magic because from when you first step into the studio you feel like you’ve walked into a rainbow! Or you’re walking over the Bifrost into the magical realm of Asgard! I have been in many a yarn shop and seen many displays but the sheer magnitude of colour in this one is astounding!
As a custom dyer, Countess has her own brand of sock yarn and fingering weight yarn. There is also a sign warning you that the names of the colourways may offend your sensibilities – how polite considering that is also says, “Oh well”! This character directly reflects that of Countess and she is brashly unapologetic. She has set out to do things differently, and she has succeeded beyond expectations!
I wasn’t surprised to see books and accessories in the studio, but again, not all the usual suspects. She has a great collection of books and needles that aren’t everywhere else. It just adds to the charm and character of the studio. I continued my journey to the second floor and was pleasantly surprised at the great combination of functionality and practicality of the space. Bright and colourful, it just envelops you in warmth. There is a fabulous courtyard which unfortunately is restricted to the store owners along the street, but the windows along the wall allow a tremendous amount of sunlight to flood the displays. Perfect for lighting the brilliant colour and the table where many a knitter has sat and worked happily, whether in the studio to get some help/instruction on a project, or as a participant in the knitting group meetings held on Saturdays! I plan to attend the one on June 23rd so I hope to see you there. Here’s a little peek into more of the colours and yarns in the store.
A great selection of KnitLit awaits you.
Every column and spare space is uded for display.
What would be better than relaxing in this chaise lounge with all this yarn?
One of Countess’ designs.
Another, this one with an ingenious zippered back! Countess likes to do things that others haven’t!
The space is very well organized with everything out on display, even as packages are being bundled!
Boxes of yarn for your viewing pleasure.
It never ends!
If this has whetted your appetite to visit the studio, I am glad and urge you to do so! If you’re unable to visit I recommend you check out COUNTESS ABLAZE and join her group the Antisocials! They’re quite friendly (despite the name, lol) and you’ll get some great insight into the Countess as well as firsthand news about upcoming specials!
Have you ever knit with it? No, it’s not some new fiber developed by the knitting community. Although, it’s creators certainly have the intelligence and background to probably do that!
Well, thanks to Nicole and Cordula, (Kalessin and Haramis17 on Ravelry – follow the links to see some of their great works and designs), you can if you want to! And it’s actually much more pleasant than it sounds. Click on this picture to see how. It’s a merino/silk/cashmere lace weight yarn from DyeForWool.
Clown Barf is one of the many uniquely named colors from the creations of these 2 doctors. Yes, that’s right, doctors, as both ladies have a PhD, Cordula in molecular medicine and Nicole in biology!! Together, these 2 enterprising women have created DyeForYarn, where they come up with hundreds of colorways and dye silk and wool based yarns for sale.
So what takes someone from the worlds of molecular medicine and biology to create astounding colors in a dye lab? Their story is a great one and recently I had the pleasure of asking Cordula and Nicole that very thing!
How did the 2 of you meet? How long have you been friends?
~ We met back at the university, where Cordula just finished her PhD in molecular medicine and I started my PhD in biology, continuing her research in the same field. We soon became friends long before knitting was a thing in our time off.
You’re extremely intelligent women as you both hold PhD’s. What got you into dyeing and do you still practice with your PhD’s? ~ When you’re working in a medical science lab, most of the time there’s no reward for what you do. Plus the experiments have to be repeated over and over to create reliable statistics for publications. You can publish once a year, when you’re good and you get a slap on the back for your work when you’re lucky. So in our free time we discovered knitting – especially complicated lace shawls. A very rewarding pastime in addition to creating something that you can actually use.
That led to the need for lace yarns in solid colours, preferably silk. Which there wasn’t much of in Germany at the time. So after a few Etsy orders which we placed in Canada or the US, we thought we’d try dyeing yarn ourselves. It was very much fun – and very rewarding – so we decided to sell them on Etsy.
Ravelry helped a lot with creating our international success, because we showed our FO’s knit in our yarn and people started to notice us. Btw Cordula is Haramis17 and I’m Kalessin on Ravelry (I change my hair colour now and then). Five years ago we quit our day jobs at the university and have been working in our dyeing lab full time since then.
You have a lot of silk in your yarns. Is this your favourite fiber? If not, what is?
Yes, in fact it is! It’s a very special material, sometimes hard to work with, but always worth the effort.
How do you come up with the names of your colours? Do you always try to make sure there is some sort of idea as to what the color may look like or do you like to make it amusing?
~ Sometimes we dye a colour and it’s clear to us from the first glance, how it’s going to be called. If the colour resembles a certain plant, for example, the name we choose usually indicates this particular plant dyeing or already being dead. But there are colours where it’s hard to determine which hue it actually is. We call those “non-colours” and they get names like “Misanthrope” or “Depressed thoughts”. But not randomly chosen. We still try to find the most fitting name possible in our eyes.
How do you get inspiration for your colourways? ~ We get our inspiration from the things surrounding us. Sky, sundowns, nature, architecture etc. Or from interesting things or names we read in books or hear in songs.
What is your favourite colour (each of you)?
~ Nicole: Dozing by the pond
Cordula: Nocturnal maelstrom
What is your least favourite colour?
~ Actually we like all colours, because each one has its charm. Before we started dyeing yarn the answer would have been “pink” from both of us. But you start to look at colours differently when you work with them all the time.
You are both very beautiful women! Do you have a colourway to match your eyes? They’re stunning! ~ We just had a look at our eye colours. Cordula’s are a gradient of Too hard butter cookie, Burning haystack, Rain in a graveyard and Face of Fear. My gradient ranges from Fango and then the same colours as Cordula’s. In fact the colour Set with our bitter tears is very close to both our eye colours.
In your introduction about yourselves, you mentioned that your desire lead to a need for lighter and lighter yarns. Do you only work with fingering/lace weight yarn? Will this always be the same?
~ At the moment lace and fingering weights are still our favourites, for shawls as well as garments. But we also carry a Silk/Merino DK weight and a super soft pure Merino Sport weight which we started to use for garments as well. So there are definitely options for using heavier weight yarns in the future.
With the multitude of Indie-dyers on hand, how do you manage to stay on top in this extremely competitive industry?
~ When we started our business back in 2010 there weren’t that many Indie-dyers in Germany. That was one of the reasons we decided to dye our own yarns. We offer mostly solid to slightly semi- solid colours, which are especially great for elegant stoles and cardigans. Colourwise we try to dye every colour there is, from very, very light to almost black, from muted to intense, from pale to saturated. This and the special yarn qualities we carry is our way of trying to stay ahead.
You’re a great success in Europe. Any chance of seeing you overseas at one of the knitting conventions here?
~ Actually most of our customers live in the US and we also have a few retailers there. If it wasn’t so expensive to travel overseas with 80 to 100kg of yarn, we’d definitely consider it.
Needless to say, there is so much more behind these women and their wonderful creations. Below are a few links that will get you pointed in the right direction to see their wares. I’d definitely recommend a click onto their sites. The names of the colors alone are entertaining enough, but the vivid colors they create are simply astounding. I especially like the fact that the vast majority of their colors are solids, as that is still my preference as it allows a wider flexibility when putting colours together in a creation. I know Joie would agree! 😉
DyeForYarn (German website – use Translate in your browser to see other language versions)
As a special treat, Cordula and Nicole have set up a special 10% OFF discount coupon in their Etsy shops for anyone reading this blog post! Click on one of the above links, and when you place your order, use the code DYEFOR10 with your order! But hurry, this will only be valid until Monday July 25th!
I really like the ranges they create in each colour, and being a fan of blues, you can probably pick out some of my favorites. And as for the names, lol. Here are a few of my favourites …
St. Patrick’s Day Parade Gone Awry,Giant Clam Closing Forever,Melting Milk chocolate Truffles,Tweety’s Revenge,
First glimpse of a Supernova,Fury in the Slaughterhouse, and Bat in a Dark Mood.
I could write lots more, but I urge you to check out the site(s) and revel in the delight of colours and fibers you’ll find! Comment below and tell me three of your favourites! If you can pick only 3! 😉