Leipzig Wollefest 2019

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Last weekend, I attended the 12th edition of the annual Leipzig Wollefest. I love this event as the location, the exhibition centre’s glass hall, and the vendor’s list are both pretty extraordinary. As usually, I will introduce you to my latest discoveries as you probably already know the well-established exhibitors.

The very first booth that caught my eye was Kathienchen, a German hand dyer from Dresden.

She offers complex colourways on a variety of mostly Merino based yarn bases. She also sells high-quality kid silk lace yarns with a very high fibre length.

I have found the perfect match for two other yarns there that needed a third colour to become a shawl for a friend. I could not be happier with my High Twist in Peony!

Mominoki, a Berlin based hand dyer, showed semi-solid colourways on rustic yarns.

This is exactly what I had been looking for for quite a while now, and they even have two different bases, a fingering weight Finnish wool and a DK weight German Merino. Both are available undyed and plant dyed, the Finnwool also has acid dyed colourways.

Apart from those perfect-for-me bases, Mominoki offers some more yarns, an optionally plant dyed, drapey ramie silk, plied Merinos, singly-ply Merino and sock yarns. You definitely might want to give them a try.

Another vendor selling beautiful, rustic wool was Nordische Wolle.

They sell rustic, DK weight Baltic yarns in hanks of about 200g in a large variety of colours, but also ready-made stranded hats. The yarns are collected from the area around the Baltic spinnery, so they are entirely locally produced.

Moi Naturwaren showed handwoven linen and woollen cloths as well as plant-dyed yarns and ready-made caps.

All of their natural products are manufactured using traditional methods and processes as well as natural dyes where possible. I am very happy for every company that dares to follow such a consistent approach in today’s volatile times and hope there are enough customers to support them even in the long run.

Another cloth vendor worth I did not know before is Natur zum Anziehen.

This Berlin based online shop offers natural cloths only along with their own sewing patterns. I am particularly delighted to hear they plan to open a brick and mortar shop in the near future in Berlin.

Do you know the concept of Peace Silk?

This means that the silk worms are allowed to complete their metamorphosis and live, which results economically in a much longer process with shorter silk threads. This does not lead to a lower silk quality, it is just more difficult to produce. It is even possible to weave superfine cloths with a classik silken touch.

Seidentraum offer quite a large range of silk cloths, silk yarns and many more silk products. This is definitely a company worth supporting!

Another ethical company I found is we are KAL, a slow-fashion producer of handwoven scarves, handmade garments, handspun yarns, home textiles and hand knits.

They mainly use local and organic raw materials which are plant-dyed only. The idea is to preserve craft and culture in Ladakh, Assam and Himachal Pradesh by valueing their handmade textiles. I greatly appreciate this approach!

There were quite some local alpaca breeders showing their products. One of them was Starker Alpakas from the Dresden region, who sold handmade soaps, yarns, socks and other products.

Another breeder was Sachsen Alpakas, who sold yarns, spinning fibre, garments and cloths.

What I particularly liked was their faux fur, woven with alpaca fibre. It is super soft and warm and has a fantastic look and feel.

I am looking forward to the next Wollefest in 2020! It is always a pleasure to be there!

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!

Birds of a Feather

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When the wonderful Uschitita was looking for sample knitters, I did not hesitate a second to apply. My project was a Birds of a Feather shawl in Uschitita Merino Singles and Uschitita Kidsilk Lace, both in her new colourway Cloudbusting.

The yarns are a dream to work with. Both are super soft and of very good fibre quality. The colours are subtle, yet have endless depth. I would describe the colourway as a toned-down variegated to be used as a semisolid colourway. Try to see her handdyed yarns with your own eyes and you will know what I mean.

The pattern seems to be written for beginners which confused me more than once. You can break it down to a set-up, two pattern blocks and a border in two different shaping variations. So I do not understand why it is spread out onto five pages. Maybe it is due to my engineering background that this bothers me. However, it is well written and suitable even for beginners.

I have used 144g of Merino Singles and 49g of Kidsilk Lace. The finished and lightly blocked shawl has a wingspan of almost 4m. You can see it live at 2019 Edinburgh Yarn Festival. I really enjoyed knitting this!

My Fibreshare Package 01/2019

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This was a very happy mail day! I am still overwhelmed by the contents of this huge package! Let’s take a closer look:

In the centre, there is a picture by my Fibreshare partner’s little-one who also wanted to contribute something. It is an assortment of hearts used as card on the other side. What a beautiful idea!

On top of the painting, there are two packs of super yummy fine green tea from Nordic Tea so good that I am considering ordering some more.

Now to the wrapped packages:

Starting top left and moving counterclockwise, there is a hank of purple Filcolana Genuine Greenland Wool. It is aran weight, so very far from the fine yarns I usually work with, but I love everything about it and will find a suitable project for it. I think it would look fantastic as a hat.

Next, there is a hank of perfect, dark grey Hjelholts Uldspinderi Dansk Pelsuld. Exactly what I love and a perfect match to the dark grey ball of Læsø Uldstue Klitgarn next to it.

I was a bit surprised about the neon pink Grignasco Kid Silk Five, but it actually is a really good cold pop colour for a special project.

Right from it, there is a ball of almost black Wool Addicts Earth, a bulky weight yarn that asks me to be turned into some experimental project using very different yarn weights at once.

Below, you can see two balls of black BC Garn Semilla Fino, one of my favourite yarn brands. It is fingering weight wool, so I will easily find a project for it.

The green yarn cake is handdyed and matches the black Filcolana Indiecita both in composition and yardage, so I probably will knit something using both of them.

Between the two alpaca yarns, there are two balls of black Navia Uno, a yarn I have not heard of before, but urge to swatch. With 700m/100g it is a laceweight yarn consisting of Faroese, Shetland and Australian wool. Already a pleasure to touch and look at it!

The yellow yarn is Hedgehog Fibres Skinny Singles in wiggle, a colour I never would have bought myself but which contrasts black surprisingly well.

The green one is Sysleriget sock in a very difficult colourway for me, but as I really like colourful socks, I probably will turn it into a pair of short socks.

The little extras on top are two eucalan samples (I always wanted to try it but was too lazy to order some), some stitch markers and a beautiful cat-themed enamel pin.

My cat Jimmy, of course, occupied the box as soon as there was enough space for him.

Thank you so much for this extremely generous Fibreshare package! I really appreciate it a lot! And in case anyone still has not participated, you really should give Fibreshare a try. I love it!

Yarn Review: Schachenmayr Regia Premium Alpaca Soft

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During Yarncamp 2018, I was offered a ball of Schachenmayr Regia Premium Alpaca Soft. After some initial problems (testing a set of dpns at the same time, a very bad idea for a convinced magic loop knitter) and some Christmas knitting, I finally have finished my pair of socks.

The sport weight yarn is a blend of 62% wool, 23% Nylon and 15% alpaca, which is pretty close to the classic Regia blend of 75% wool and 25% Nylon. The alpaca adds a light halo, but I have used way softer alpaca yarns before. I have followed a textured pattern, petäja sukat (free but Finnish only), to test both stockinette stitch on the soles and stitch definition on the patterned parts. The yarn looks very elegant in stockinette stitch and the halo surprisingly even highlights the textured pattern. There only is one point I did not like at all: the yarn fuzzes horribly. Whenever I worked on the socks, my pants were covered in short alpaca fibres afterwards. This raises the question how the yarn will behave over time and I am a bit worried the yarn might keep losing fibres. This probably will keep me from using this yarn again, but apart from the fuzzing, the yarn looks really good both in textured knits and in stockinette stitch.

I am very thankful for this testing opportunity and am looking forward to testing the yak version of this yarn, soon.

A package from Finland

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Maybe, you remember me freaking out about the Rowanberry Sweater I saw at this year’s H+H Cologne at Novita‘s booth?

Well, Novita just has sent me the pattern booklet! I couldn’t be happier! They even have included yarn samples of Nalle and Nordic Wool in colours suitable for the sweater! I mean, it’s not a secret I have a weakness for Shetland and Scandinavian style yarns, is it?

I’m so looking forward to knitting my Rowanberry Sweater, thank you so much, Novita! But I wonder why they still do not have a German distributor. Are you so focused on ultra soft Merino wool, Germany?