H+H Cologne 2019

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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.

They showed some fresh designs and yarns for a/w 19/20. I particularly loved the three designs by their new designer Kseniya Bogdanovich.

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.

For the first time, I was invited to the Initiative Handarbeit blogger meet-up. They introduced their 2019 DIY project, a bum bag sewing pattern intended to be customised.

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.

Prym showed the next generation of their knitting mill which now can be fixed onto a tabletop and has the weight integrated into the overall design. Well done, this truly is an improvement!

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!

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Yarncamp 2018

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This was my third Yarncamp in a row and I am sure I will attend the next one in 2019 as well. With its barcamp background, Yarncamp is so very different from the usual knitter’s meet-ups where you mainly buy yarn, take workshops you had to book in advance and hurry through the day to meet your knitting friends who live too far away to see them regularly. At a barcamp, it is you who decides which workshops (sessions) will be held.

Each morning starts with a plenary session where everyone can offer or request sessions covering subjects she knows well or wants to take a closer look at. All suggestions are collected to a publically accessible session plan so you can check it whenever needed. Each time slot has 45 minutes which leaves 15 minutes between two sessions to have a cup of coffee, a quick chat or to grab something to eat from the buffet. To give you an impression on how versatile the sessions are, these are the 2018 session plans:

I attended the GGH session and the tatting and bobbin lace session on Saturday and also held an introductory session to toe-up socks myself.

GGH introduced their new “Bambu” yarn, a 100% rayon yarn made from bamboo. The session participants were asked to try it out, so I took my chance. The yarn knits up easily, has a good stitch definition, is soft to the touch and has a wonderful drape.

I am super happy I was allowed to take three dark grey balls with me to play with, I already have something in mind for next summer. As it is intended to be a summer yarn, Bambu’s colour palette actually is a pastel one, so I am very happy GGH has included a “light black”.

GGH Bambu

 

Uschi Wolf‘s introduction to tatting and bobbin lace was very interesting as she explained the potentials and limitations of each technique, apart from an overview of the techniques as such. She also had brought some of her current projects with her:

 

On Sunday, I attended the labyrinth knitting and yarn festival tourism sessions and held an introductory session to advanced vegan cooking and baking.

Doerthe knocked me off my feet with her labyrinth knitted sweaters. They are constructed by knitting a looong (30m or more) meandered garter “string” which is then assembled to a sweater. Sounds weird? Here is how it is made:

Using this technique, planning ahead is everything. A gauge swatch is mandatory as it affects the shape of your result as such. Moreover, you need to layout your labyrinth on squared paper first, to place the increase and decrease points. And in case you are still interested by now, like me, there is a book on that which sadly is out of print. It is called “Unexpected Knitting” by Debbie New and maybe I have ordered a thrifted version for myself before the end of the session.

 

During the “yarn festival tourism” session, Claudia Eisenkolb and the participants have compiled a list of yarn festivals worth a visit. I have added the links in case you are interested. 😉

17./18.11.18 Barcelona Knits

24./25.11.18 Friedberger Wollfest

25.-27.01.19 Vogue Knitting Live! New York City

09./10.03.19 WollLandia Kieselbronn

21.-23.03.19 Edinburgh Yarn Festival

30./31.03.19 Swiss Yarn Festival

13./14.04.19 Leipziger Wollefest und Stoffmesse

27./28.04.19 Hohenloher Wollfest

27./28.04.19 Le Fil de la Manche

11.05.19 Aschaffenburger Wollträume

11./12.05.19 Saltum Uldfestival

25./26.05.19 Kielgeholt Duisburg

01./02.06.19 Oppenheimer Wollfest

02.06.19 Rheinischer Wollmarkt Euskirchen

14./15.06.19 Woollinn Dublin

23.06.19 Auersmacher Wollfest

04.-07.07.19 Jyväskylä Knit Fest

August 2019 Wollfestival Düsseldorf

20.-22.09.19 Fanø Strikkefestival

28./29.09.19 Yarndale Skipton

28.09.-06.10.19 Shetland Wool Week

September 2019 Berlin Knits

September 2019 Das bunte Schaf Langenfeld

04.-07.10.19 Knit City Vancouver

11./12.10.19 Nederlandse Breidagen Zwolle

12./13.10.19 Wollmarkt Vaterstetten

16.-20.10.19 Loch Ness Knit Fest Inverness

19./20.10.19 German Raveler Meeting Leipzig

October 2019 Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival

October 2019 Westerwälder Wollfest Westerburg

November 2019 Yarnporium London

November 2019 Wiener Woll- und Stofffest

You may wonder why I went to three sessions per day only, but there is so much more happening around that you keep losing track of time. I had a lot of really good talks in the lobby, tried out Schachenmayr’s new premium Regia sock yarn Alpaca Soft on Pony “perfect” dpns at the Schachenmayr knitting lounge and took a look at the book samples Haupt and Stiebner publishing had provided for reviewing.

The yearly yarn exchange table is also something worth mentioning. You are asked to bring some yarn, needles, books or whatever knitting related things you would like to get rid of and place it on the marked table. You also may take whatever you like no matter whether you have contributed to it or not. The leftovers then are donated to a local charity that knits them up for people in need. But look at how full the table was this year! There even were bags and books placed around it!

Apart from yearly charity for people in need, there was another one this time, held by Claudia Eisenkolb, to support Förderverein für tumor- und leukämiekranke Kinder e.V., Mainz. Claudia sold a lot of her personal knits and donated the proceeds.

She revealed the sum of the proceeds in the closing session and I am speechless she was able to donate 1376,56 €. Well done, Claudia!

In contrast to the previous events, this year’s Yarncamp warm-up event on Friday night took place in a bistro only with no yarn shop visit beforehand. As much as I liked the former warm-ups in yarn shops, I have to admit, I prefer the pub only version. It is so nice to have all evening to get to know each other and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere with everybody looking forward to the actual event that starts the next morning. In case you did not attend, you definitely should. You will start your Saturday with a lot more familiar faces who are happy to see you again.

Big thanks to all the sponsors who once again have supported this event. This year’s goodie bag was so filled with yarn, accessories, etc. it almost would not close. I did not take a picture of it as I had to disassemble it completely to fit it into my luggage, but you can find a pictures of it here, e.g.

See you next year, Yarncamp! I already have blocked the first weekend in November 2019 in my calendar. Thank you for a fantastic weekend in Frankfurt!

 

Baby Stuff

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I recently have knitted some baby garments again, namely a cardigan and a pair of tiny mittens.

The mittens are made from 16g Zauberwiese Glitter Sock, the pattern is a loose adaption of a Drops Pattern. I love knitting with this yarn and it adds just a hint of glitter to the result. Lovely!

The cardigan is the one I had planned only a month ago. The Rowan yarn knits up perfectly, whereas I am not completely satisfied with the GGH yarn. But this may be a concern due to my incompatibility with fluffy Merino yarns. The pattern is great and gives a stunning result. Sadly, it took me days and many attempts to puzzle the pieces together. I definitely need to practise sewing sweaters together. Perhaps, I should fully switch to seamless sweaters, but it would be the end of colourwork. Hrm.

However, this is the result:

gingersnap-cardigan.jpg.jpg

I really like it. And it looks all beautiful on the little girl I have gifted it to.

Yarn Shopping and an Entrelac Sock

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I went to my beloved LYS Strickstück today as I needed yarn for another baby garment. So many of my friends are becoming or already are young parents and I love to knit baby stuff you do not find in children’s clothes shops. This time, I plan to knit a Gingersnap cardigan (free pattern, yay!) and I bought 2 balls of Rowan’s Pure Wool DK in avocado and 2 balls of GGH’s Maxima one in black and one in grey. They were all on sale, so it did not hurt that much.

I also have destashed some sock yarn in form of one finished Entrelac Sock and I’m wondering if I should follow the designer’s idea of a lonely sock club. This would mean to knit two different socks from the rest of the yarn and end up with three socks to mix and match. What do you think?