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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The Black Metal Hoodie

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When I stumbled upon Pascuali‘s Nepal yarn last year, I knew I had to find an extraordinary project for it. I wanted something lightweight to wear directly on my skin, which would also showcase the yarn’s beautiful drape and texture. Sadly, I could not find a suitable pattern, so I designed my own. The idea was to knit an airy, sleeveless summer top to wear on goth and metal festivals. Combining some classic styles, the black metal hoodie was born. With its oversized hood, extra large armholes and a racerback, it is my perfect garment for this summer.

The yarn composition is 60% cotton, 28% linen and 12% nettle with a meterage of 180m per 50g. It is a soft, fingering weight yarn that knits up easily. I definitely recommend you to try it out, it feels very comfortable on the skin. It is perfect for summer garments and accessories.

The hoodie weighs only 321g, more than half of the weight is used in the hood. I’m really looking forward for this year’s festival season!

H+H Cologne 2018, Part 2

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Colour

The most stunning colourwork sweater this year, imho, was shown at Novita, a Finnish yarn company. This honestly inspires me to try multicoloured intarsia:

Schoppel, as expected, has beautiful new designs for their fantastic yarns. They always follow their unique style with lots of new ideas every year. This is truly impressive.

At Pascuali, I have found some colour inspiration packs. They consist of three to four balls of one yarn quality in matching colours. There is no pattern included so they are just intended to get your creative juices flowing. Nice idea!

Over at Rowan, I found an interesting knitted sample. It is only stripes and slipped stitches, but the effect is fantastic:

Now to the last section of my summary:

Fun

Prym has developed some new gadgets. There are, e.g., tassel makers, flexible cable needles, stencils for animal pom poms, or a special pom pom maker for teeny tiny pom poms with a diameter of 3cm only. All of them were demonstrated live by @daniela_maschenkunst and @realmenknitpink:

Chiagoo now offers a set of interchangeable mini needles, going down to 1.5mm and with super short cables. How cool is that, please? Gorgeous engineering, by the way!

I also stumbled upon a wall of knitted trophies, but I forgot to note the company. Sorry!

What makes H+H Cologne so special, apart from seeing the latest trends first, is meeting up with the knitting community. Although I had very little time this year, I met so many nice people, among them @queenofwhatever, @knitting_miki, @brezelbutter, @himawari_knits, @wollnation, @_humbol_, @jetztkochtsieauchnoch, @feinmotorik.blogspot, @feierabendfrickeleien, @carosfummeley and @strickteasefrankfurt, to name only a few. I have linked their Instagram profiles because they all are quite active there and you may want to check them out. You can also find me on Instagram as @pinkzombiecrafts.

Thank you H+H Cologne for inviting me! It was a blast! See you next year!

H+H Cologne 2018, Part 1

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Like last year, I was allowed to visit H+H Cologne as a blogger. Sadly, I could spend only one day there due to other appointments I had that weekend. This was definitely too little time although I had planned my visit in advance. However, I nonetheless have found a lot of inspiration.

Textures

I was happy to see so many designers play with textures. At Habu Textiles, e.g., I found this subtle texture:

At Lana Grossa, I unexpectedly stumbled upon this beauty:

At Novita, I instantly fell in love with this coat, a stunning combination of lace, cables and bobbles:

Bobbles seem to be quite popular at the moment, another example from Katia,…

…from Nako,

…or in a pom pom interpretation from Lana Grossa:

Schoppel once again surprised with very unusual textures:

Another great find was The Fibre Co.‘s latest collection using their new yarn base Lore. A small excerpt (thank you, Daphne!):

To finish this section, I just have to show you Katia’s texture samples. They were too beautiful:

Yarns

I am always looking for interesting yarns. But as I am not that much into colours, I tend to fall for structure instead. I am not surprised to have spent quite a lot of time at Blue Sky Fibers. Their range of yarns is stunning, particularly because of their composition as well as their construction. The sport weight Metalico, half baby alpaca, half silk, comes in natural shades only, which, together with the single-ply structure, underline its natural shine. Next to it, you can see the sport weight Baby Alpaca, which comes in a large range of colours. It has a plied structure, but is beautifully soft.

Another fantastic yarn is their worsted Organic Cotton. It is unusually thick and soft for a 100% cotton and I am looking forward to try it out in a project soon. It even is available in different shades of grey and has a great stitch definition.

As I was invited to The Fibre Co.‘s blogger and designer event, I was further introduced to their exquisite range of yarns and was able to take a look at Lore, their latest addition:

It is made of 100% Kent lambswool and has a yardage of 250m per 100g. I almost can’t wait to try out the greys and the dark purple!

But there are also other really interesting yarns, e.g., Terra, an aran weight alpaca, merino and silk blend, …

… Knightsbridge, a light worsted weight baby llama, merino and silk blend, …

… or Meadow, a merino, baby llama, silk and linen blend you probably already know.

At Pascuali, everybody was invited to try out their luxurious yarns:

One of their new products is Soffio, an aran weight blend of 90% cashmere and 10% silk. It is extremely fluffy and soft, perfect for winter garments:

Pascuali also have an extraordinary new pure cotton yarn, Suave. It is lightweight, fluffy and pretty far from anything you might expect from pure cotton with 162m per 25g. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of it. Maybe I was too busy admiring it.

My next stop was at Habu Textiles‘ booth. Well, I just do not know where to start, so I’ll start with a picture:

This is paper yarn and maybe I’m a bit in love.

Another interesting find is this 100% silk yarn …

… or these textures…

…or these tiny pom poms on thread:

When I arrived at Baa Ram Ewe, I was surprised not to see the colourful Dovestone range which was introduced only last year. But it has a worthy successor, Winterburn. The only difference to Dovestone is that they have exchanged the Wensleydale fibre for Masham, which makes Winterburn a bit softer than Dovestone. I am looking forward to combine the Winterburn sample I have received with my remaining Dovestone bits to compare them directly. Dovestone, by the way, is still available undyed and at baa ram ewe directly.

I want to finish this section with two new yarns by Lana Grossa. There will be a sparkly aran weight yarn in the Lala Berlin range and a fingering weight merino and linen blend. They both look pretty interesting:

I will stop for now as this post already is quite long and will tell you more about H+H Cologne tomorrow.

H+H Cologne 2017, part 1

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After some years of absence, I finally managed to attend this year’s H+H Cologne again. What shall I say, the weekend exceeded my already high expectations. I spent quite a lot of time with Sabine Berlipp who I got to now accidentally only a few days before. That seems to have been sort of karma as we had a really great time discussing ideas, fashion and music. I really hope we will realise some of our ideas soon.

As Rebekka was working at the trade fair, there was only time for a quick hello and an improvised selfie together (thank you, Rebekka!). As you can see, we were in an excellent mood.

Of course, I did not try to spot any trends. As usually, I focused on interesting yarns and colours as well as artsy things.

I’ll start with the Pascuali booth. They sell luxury, high-quality yarns, in the unlikely case you have not heard of them, yet.

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One of my favourite Pascuali yarns so far is Cairo 4, a 100% camel DK weight yarn which is available undyed (second from left) as well as in a nice range of colours. It is all soft, warming yet lightweight and supposed to be very durable. I surely will give it a try, soon.

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Another yarn that caught my eye and turned out to be some sort of love at first sight is Nepal. It is a sport weight yarn consisting of 60% cotton, 28% linen and 12% nettle. The structure is visibly plied, which gives it a slightly raw touch when knitted. It is unexpectedly very soft and urges to be knit into some goth summer top or dress. As a first appetizer, Paul Pascuali gifted me a dark green skein to try it out. Thanks a lot, I will swatch it very soon!

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My next stop was the Schoppel booth. Famous for their long colour repeats and gradients, e.g. in Zauberball, as well as for interesting yarn structures (Cashmere QueenReggae) and innovative knitting patterns, they just never disappoint.

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As I happened to knit a garment for their upcoming collection, I received a skein of their beautiful 6 Karat laceweight merino and silk yarn which is going to become a new shawl design. Thank you so much!

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I was very happy to see Blacker Yarns at H+H. I saw an almost full range of their yarns for the first time on a trip to Edinburgh 18 months ago, but they have introduced two stunning new yarns since then. Tamar, introduced last spring, is a worsted spun lustre blend of Cornish Mule, Wensleydale, Teeswater, Cotswold and Black Leicester Longwool. The colours come out all vibrant and shiny, in fingering weight as well as in DK weight.

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This spring’s addition to the Blacker range is a silk blend, Samite. It is a woolen spun (!) light fingering weight yarn that consists of 30% Blue-faced Leicester wool, 40% Shetland wool, 20% Ahimsa silk, and 10% Gotland wool. It has an extraordinary colour depth, beautiful shine and drape and a silky yet woolen soft touch. I am looking forward to test this beauty, especially as I have been gifted a sample. I am so happy with it, thank you!

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I’ll stick with the British for a while, as I was happy to meet each one of them and discuss their yarn ranges, which have all some sort of signature style far from classic and popular Merino yarns.

My next stop led me to Baa Ram Ewe, whose Titus, a 50% Wensleydale Longwool, 20% Bluefaced Leicester and 30% Alpaca blend, I already know and like a lot. Its shades are deep and underline its natural halo.

img_20170401_163001.jpgimg_20170401_163021.jpgThey also showcased their sister yarns Dovestone DK and Dovestone Natural Aran, both blends of 50% Bluefaced Leicester, 25% Masham and 25% Wensleydale. The worsted spinning adds a heathered look to the wonderful shades of the DK weight, whereas the Aran shades are undyed natural sheep colours. I am all happy to have been gifted two samples of Dovestone DK, whose structure I like a lot. I am looking forward to play with it, thank you!

 

The third British yarn manufacturer I visited was West Yorkshire Spinners. Apart from their single breed yarns (the Fleece range) and their prize-winning Signature sock yarn, two jewels caught my eye, namely the Wensleydale Gems DK collection and the Exquisite lace yarn. The first one is a pure Wensleydale yarn, the 20 colours showcasing the natural lustre and sheen of the fibre. What a rare beauty! But, WYS can do even better. Exquisite does full justice to its name. It consists of 80% Falkland wool and 20% Mulberry silk. It glows even without spotlight on it and seems like a perfect choice for intricate lace projects. I am looking forward to try their yarns, they feel and look just gorgeous!

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I will leave you with the first part for now, but I am sure you will like the second part as well. Be prepared for Northern yarns and some eye candy!