[advertisement: unpaid links]
After spending only one day at H+H Cologne last year, I decided to opt for a full three days this year. This is definitely necessary if you want to explore new companies and have some time to talk, be it at the stands, with fellow knitting bloggers or designers.
H+H welcomed its visitors with a cosy coffee bar right after the entrance paired with a small exhibition focusing on sustainable and eco-friendly products right next to it.
There were quite a few novelties shown:
One of my first discoveries this year was Elbwolle, a small company from northern Germany.
Traditionally, sheep are held there to graze many of the greens, but their wool had not been put to use in the recent years. Elbwolle wants to change this and produces yarns, loden cloth, bedding and fertiliser using local wool. They offer two very different types of yarn, fingering weights and super bulky ones.
The fingering ones have a slightly rustic feel, just like I love them. They remind me of Traditional British and Scandinavic 2-plys. The super bulky ones range from 80g/ 10m, spun around a cotton core, to 220g/ 20m, spun around a woollen core. As an idea how to use them, Elbwolle has shown some knitted squares to be used as cushions as the yarn has some sort of built-in padding due to its construction and thickness.
They also offer huge, handcarved knitting needles and crochet hooks to match their super bulky weights.
I also like that their yarns have a code showing all process details. This starts with the crop year and the sheep breed and continues with all manufacturers involved in all steps of the making of the yarn! I am really impressed about this level of transparency!
Another very interesting, young company is Nomad Noos, a yarn manufacturer that sells handspun yarns from Mongolian animals.
The yak, camel, sheep and goat fibres are bought from nomads directly, then handspun in Nepal. All processes in the production are sustainable, the people involved receive an income above the countries’ average. You can read more about their mission here.
The yarn range consists of four fingering weight qualities. Dry desert camel, a 100% camel yarn, high mountain yak, a 100% yak yarn, smooth satul sheep, a 100% Mongolian sheep yarn, and so soft yak and satuul, a blend of yak and Mongolian sheep. All yarns are incredibly soft and wonderful to touch. Although the sustainable and fair approach makes these yarns luxury goods, I am deeply impressed about the consistency of this small company. I really hope this concept will work out in the long run.
I spent quite a while at Gepard, a small yarn company from Denmark.
They work with small, family owned Italian yarn mills and have a very interesting range. Their Kid Seta, e.g., has a remarkable fibre length, comparable to the Uschitita Kidsilk Lace I have used for the Birds of a Feather shawl. It comes in a large colour palette so well composed all shades go well together.
Another yarn that caught my eyes initially is Wild Soft, a fingering weight, worsted spun blend of 60% Merino and 40% wild Tussah silk. It also has a DK weight, woollen spun sister yarn, Wild Wool Silk. I really like this idea of spinning the same blend differently depending on the resulting yarn weight! There definitely will be interesting differences in texture, reflection and drape in the results.
A more classic yarn quality is Pura Lana, a DK weight blend of 50% alpaca and 50% Merino. In my opinion, this eco-tex certified yarn could be an alternative to the squishy, pure Merino DK’s of other manufacturers. Gepard also has a GOTS certified base, Cotton Wool, a blend of 50% organic cotton and 50% organic Wool. It is availabe in fingering and aran weight.
I was really surprised by the beautiful knitting patterns. There were some of the designs at the booth which all were very clever with lovely little details.
If you like unusual hand-dyers, you might want to take a look at Urth.
It is a family owned American company which has their yarns dyed in Turkey. Apart from the sock yarns which contain 25% Nylon for durability, their yarns are 100% natural. They have semisolid range, Monokrom, in fingering, worsted and chunky weight single-ply Merino. The Uneek range comprises variegated, but tonal yarns on the single-ply Merino bases as well as a pure cotton DK weight and a self-striping sock yarn.
The sock yarn also comes in non-striping variegated colorways as Merino Sock.
Now to their true gems. Coexist is a fingering weight 80% silk and 20% Merino yarn, that I wish was available in semisolid colourways, but that I have seen in lightly variegated colourways only. I would like to try it anyway as I imagine the result to be super drapey but with a lot more elasticity than pure silk. The next rarity is a fingering weight 2-ply pure cashmere yarn, Kashmir Mono. It is available in a variety of semi-solid colourways, among them a beautiful dark grey.
Their most extraordinary approach, in my opinion, is Harvest, a fingering weight, plied, pure Merino. This collection is dyed with natural colours only with stunning results! They even have a black as black as can be. This is pretty difficult even with artificial dyes and this is dyed naturally. Wow.
Urth also supports the Trees for the Future project with one planted tree per skein of yarn sold. I am really happy to see more and more companies trying to be more eco-friendly by whatever approach. Maybe there is hope for future generations after all.
It is always a pleasure to see The Fibre Co. at H+H Cologne. They develop their own natural yarns and have strong values behind their products. I attended their Saturday brunch where Daphne introduced us to the company, the yarns and a new project: The one sweater. The idea is to provide a classic sweater pattern that comes in 13 (!) sizes and that can be styled to suit everybody’s wardrobe. This means all sizes, ethnicities and different styles. I am really looking forward for the campaign as I expect a large variety of interpretations.
Last year, Lore was introduced. It is a wonderful DK weight yarn made from British Romney sheep with a fantastic stitch definition. As it took way longer than one year to develop it, there will be no new yarn this year. Instead, the colour palettes of the existing yarns will be extended.
I am currently working on two projects with The Fibre Co. yarns and I like them so much that there might be more in the near future. I will tell you more, soon.
Pascuali served their yummy yarns in dessert bowls, ready to be tested by you.
They just have launched Cumbria, a vegan, fingering weight yarn made from 60% cotton and 40% rayon from bamboo. It is very soft, drapey and good to work with.
Apart from their vegan range, Pascuali is well-known for their luxury fibres. Their selection includes camel, cashmere, musk ox, yak and even vicuña. They offer everything to make a yarn lover’s heart beat faster.
GGH always has a beautiful way to highlight their products.
If you are still looking for a yarn for your summer knits, I can definitely recommend their Bambu, a 100% rayon yarn made from bamboo. It is super soft, light and has a beautiful drape. It also is the yarn I chose to realise my Sleeves shrug.
Austermann surprised me with their brand new booth. Designed to provide a lot of open space, it was held in neutral colours to highlight their yarns.
Their novelties include a beautiful, DK dip-dye effect yarn (60% rayon, 40% wool), a fluffy alpaca yarn and a 100% cashmere, fingering weight chainette yarn. They also have some interesting designs for the next a/w season, e.g., a simple, yet wonderful hooded coat in Alpaca Fluffy.
Every year, I’m looking forward to see Novita‘s new colourwork designs. They never disappoint:
They recently have published a collaboration with Moomin featuring some really cute designs.
I really like Novita for their yarn policy. They often add new colourways and discontinue older ones, but the yarn bases change rarely. I, personally, am always happy to have long-term sources for durable, classic yarn qualities. Novita definitely is one of them.
This year, Rosarios4 are celebrating their 40th anniversary. At H+H, they took this opportunity to decorate a full wall of their booth with portraits of some of their workers at their workplaces.
The Portuguese company is not only a trader, but also a yarn manufacturer focusing more and more on natural yarns. Their eco-friendly (plastic-free) collection currently comprises 28 winter and 24 summer qualities they even have naturally dyed yarns and 5 GOTS certified, organic yarns. To draw more attention to this approach, there was a large shelf showcasing their sustainable products only.
Gedifra easily combines playfulness and opulence. Did you know that all of their yarns are mulesing-free? I fully appreciate this philosophy!
Their new yarns include a cashmere lace yarn made from 95% recycled cashmere fibres and 5% wool as well as a self-striping glitter sock yarn, skeined to be knit into two identical socks.
They also presented their sustainability project make me, take me in cooperation with Green Bag Lady. The idea is to sew, knit or crochet sustainable grocery bags to replace plastic bags. Initiative Handarbeit aims at 10.000 German bags to be made until the end of this year. To keep count, you can order numbered labels to put on your handmade bags.
I really like the concept, but Green Bag Lady has started this idea back in 2008 and me and all my friends and family already use sustainable shopping bags only, so I wonder if this initiative did not come up a bit late. However, I am happy for every plastic bag that can be avoided.
Like every year, Initiative Handarbeit also organised a fashion show with all the key looks by Lana Grossa, Swafing, Rico Design, Austermann, Online, Veno, CONCEPT by Katia, Gütermann creativ, GGH, Schachenmayr, Gedifra, Rowan and Lang Yarns.
They also have new pom-pom makers that feature handles to facilitate holding them.
Maybe they inspire you to make yourself such a gorgeous pom-pom chair:
I will close now with some pictures of the Katia booth which always is decorated beautifully. Thank you so much for having me, H+H Cologne! See you next year!