Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Knitographer interviews... Red Riding Hood Yarns

One of the highlights at KAN was getting to meet some of the amazing indie dyers. It was really great to meet Hannah Gordon of Red Riding Hood Yarns - I ended up buying a few skeins of scrummy DK and 10ply yarn. 
Hannah was kind enough to tell me a bit about her extremely popular yarn (her last Facebook sale sold out in a matter of minutes) and current Pledge Me campaign to increase her production.

How did Red Riding Hood Yarns begin and how can people buy your yarn?
It all started after I learnt to knit four years ago. Knitting lead to playing around the dyes with a few friends, which lead to other friends asking me to dye for them. One day I decided why not try and see if I could sell my yarn to others? I took a few weeks of trial and error with websites ( I started out on a blog) and bases but after a couple of months I settled into the facebook scene and found a local base yarn to work exclusively with. I now sell exclusively through my Facebook page with co-ops in my Ravelry group. 

Do you have a particular love of fairytales?
Not really with fairytales in general but definitely with Little Red Riding Hood! Being a redhead is a big part of my self identity and my business name is an extension of that - although I nearly went with Little Bo Peep due to the sheep/yarn reference!

Your colourways have really cool names - where do you draw your inspiration from and which is your favourite?
I love naming yarn colourways! It's one of the perks of the job. My stockings are always themed and a lot of my inspiration comes from Pop Culture. I have many books, TV series and movies in my yarn repertoire. I also like to think outside the square and chose names that people will remember and associate with RRHY. 

What kind of projects do you think your yarns are most suited for?
Although I work with multiple yarn weights, the majority of yarn I sell is DK weight and being superwash and hard wearing is ideal for children's wear. Many Kiwi indie dyers work solely with sock yarn and lace weight so I think I help fill that gap. My dyeing style means there is no pooling risk too! 

You're running a Pledge Me campaign at the moment - tell us a bit about this.
I have been wanting to ramp of production for a long time now but lacked the funds to make that jump. I heard about crown funding through social media and thought I would give it a go! I have had an overwhelming response and its wonderful to be able to join forces with all my supporters and be able to offer rewards and expand at the same time. Win win! 

Hannah from Red Riding Hood Yarns

Your fanbase on Facebook is growing so quickly - do you think the campaign will help you keep up with the huge demand for your hand dyes?
That's the plan! The manual labour or reskeining everything by hand takes up about 50% of my time, time that could be better spent dyeing yarn. I am so excited about all the extra time I am going to have up my sleeve for new ideas and increased output. There is so much demand at the moment that my stockings are selling out within minutes so I would love to be able to satisfy that demand a bit better. 

If people miss out on your Facebook sales, is there a way they can still buy yarn?
Due to the speed of my Facebook stocking sales I don't actually ever have "in stock" yarn. I do however run co-ops and pre-orders for certain colourways in my Ravelry group. Colourways are voted in by you and I dye bulk lots at once. I also run yarn clubs throughout the year where you receive themed monthly instalments including exclusive yarn and other goodies from yarn related businesses, exclusive patterns by some of Australasia's top designers and of course yummy treats! 

You recently had a trading table at KAN - how was this experience for you?
This year was my first year at KAN and it was an experience I will never forget! Getting to meet face to face with long time customers, showcasing my yarn to a whole new audience, and being amongst other yarnistas was priceless. I learnt a lot and will definitely be back next year! 

Where do you see you and your yarn biz going in the next year?
With help from my Pledge Me campaign I am going to be improving my systems to become a lot more efficient so I will be producing a lot more yarn :) I am also going to be dabbling in some design work of my own to go with my yarn which is something I have wanted to do for a long time. I also hope to do more travelling around the country and participating in yarn related events now my children are getting bigger and I have that extra freedom. There is also always room for learning new techniques!

Check out Red Riding Hood Yarns in all these places:

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A newbie's report from KAN #2 - Mill tour

I went on a great tour of the Design Spun mill while on my knitting adventure in Napier. It is the only "woollen" mill left in New Zealand - a once mighty industry here.

I can't begin to describe all of the steps involved from making raw wool into one ball of yarn, but here's a selection of photos outlining a bit of the process!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A newbie's report from KAN #1

I'm already back to reality after my first knitting retreat, but it's filled me with excitement, inspiration and enhanced the yarn stash!

Top L-R: Three skeins of Skeinz Moody Hues in Geranium
A project bag from Zippy Wippies 
 Two sets of stitch markers from Jodulbug Creations.

Bottom L-R: Red Riding Hood Yarns' Beau Wool/Merino DK in Slumdog Astrophysicist
Fibre2Go's 4ply merino/nylon sock yarn in Kingfisher
Knitsch Yarns' merino sock yarn in 1/4 Acre Dream (I went back for another!)
Jodulbug Creations' 8ply wool in Poseidon
Red Riding Hood Yarns' Riche 10ply wool in Paris
Two skeins of Happy-Go-Knitty's BFL sock yarn in Rainbow - one for me and another for a friend who couldn't make it to KAN this year

I also grabbed another project bag, although a maker wasn't labelled. 

Both Jodulbug and Red Riding Hood Yarns are new discoveries for me, and I'm having a lot of fun trying to decide what projects to create with their beautiful hand-dyed yarns.
It was also great to meet the faces behind so many of the Ravelry and Twitter names - I really think I've made new friends and I've been re-inspired with my crafting.
The talent of some of the people at KAN was just immense - the dyers, designers and knitters are all such a clever bunch and it was a pleasure to sit down, have coffee and pick the brains of the best. 
I also hope to feature a few people here on the blog soon!

I'll be around again later this week sharing some more of my KAN adventures - from the classes I attended to the tour of the Design Spun mill.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Knits for guys are just so cool

I've always wanted to steal a couple of my husband's sweaters or shirts and just wear them. Sometimes I find boys' clothes are just so much cooler than girls, in a casual-yet-chic kind of way. I've been known to buy mens' shorts, in the smallest size possible, and wear them to death (as much as I love my denim short shorts, a girl can use some variety). 

But I've never been in a position to steal husband's clothes. Unfortunately for me, I am a tiny person, and his shirts and jumpers are a bit big for me to steal and wear without looking like I'm wearing a tent (though he is probably thankful for this). 

Boyfriend Sweaters is published by Random House
 under the Potter Craft imprint.

I was pretty excited to discover this recent book while on a lunch time library trip a couple of weeks ago. There's potential I'm going to rack up some overdue fees. Boyfriend Sweaters by Bruce Weinstein and photographed by Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed fame is probably the coolest pattern book I've stumbled across in a while.

All of the sweaters are in men's and women's sizes! It's actually genius. 
I am in love with the Boat Neck Faux Rib Pullover (as modeled by the woman on the cover) and I think it will be the next sweater on the needles. 

There are quite a few in there that husband likes also, but I've heard the story about the sweater curse (even covered by a chapter in the book!) and I just don't think I'm ready for a break-up yet. I'll just knit them all for me instead!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Countdown to KAN!

Less than a week to go until I fly down to Napier to go to KAN, aka Knit August Nights!

I've never been to a knitting convention before (do you call it a convention? Seems a bit formal sounding...) so I'm not really sure what to expect. I've got my list of classes and the other events that are on, so it looks like it's going to be a full on weekend. 

I am a bit nervous, seeing I haven't been to a knitting weekend before. I guess sometimes I don't feel like a real "knitter". I don't have a stash of stylie stitch markers or super cool project bags, so I hope I'll 
fit in okay! 

Things I'm looking forward to at KAN:

  • Napier - the Art Deco capital of the world. 'Nuff said.
  • Classes. You know, I've never actually been to a knitting class before, so that will be a new experience.
  • The Skeinz Mill tour. I love Skeinz yarns, so it will be great to see where the magic happens.
  • The farmers' market tour.
  • The yarn market. I'm leaving space in my suitcase.
  • Seeing lots of lovely knitting friends - many I haven't had the chance to meet in person!
Now I just have to figure out what I need to take and what projects I'm going to pack. Does Air New Zealand allow knitting needles in the hand luggage? 
I don't think there's much chance of me finishing my Array cowl by Friday. Maybe if I knit in all meetings and every spare second I have over the next five days. Eek!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Knitographer Interviews... Yarning Together

Photo courtesy of Yarning Together
A Kiwi craft group is looking to set a fibre-craft world record at an agricultural show next year - I chat with Christine from Yarning Together about the attempt.

What is the inspiration behind this world record attempt - how did it all begin and when is it taking place?
We are inspired by the revival of knitting and crochet and the eclectic and fun new life these crafts have gained - celebrating our agricultural and survivalist heritage, the productivity of making your own things while bringing us together, but also the use of knitting and crochet as political tools - for example in knitted graffiti and World Wide Knit in Public Day. 

We also support a celebration of wool (merino, alpaca etc) as a great natural, sustainable product. One of our founding members attended a Lamb Festival in Roscommon, Ireland where the then Guinness World Record for knitting was broken. It was a true community event supported by the Irish Government as part of their Year of Craft festivities and also celebrated the important role of wool, yarn and knitting, in society. On her return she published a travel article (Next Magazine, May '13) about the experience and the Irish Craft Trails. Given New Zealand's wool heritage (almost lost to synthetics), it seems appropriate to celebrate wool and yarn here and raise its profile for New Zealanders and tourists alike.
The event will be held within the 2014 Kumeu Agricultural and Horticultural Show on8 & 9 March. It's one of the biggest A&H shows in the Southern Hemisphere. The 'Kumeu Show' usually includes sheep shearing, livestock competitions etc so this event fits in perfectly.
Are you going for an official record attempt? Will there be someone there to record the numbers?
We are going for an official world record attempt, with details all recorded. We'll be asking people to register for logistical ease, and will provide a form for doing so, but people are welcome to express an interest in the meantime, via our Facebook page, Yarning Together, or to contact us directly at
What is the current record?
Although there's a world record set for knitting together (3083 people), there's no official world record for knitting and crochet, so we will be setting the standard with our approach. That means whatever our achievement, it will set a new world record.

Who can take part? Knitters? Crocheters? Spinners?
All knitters/crocheters whatever skill levels, gender or age are welcome. A registration fee will cover entry to the Kumeu Show as well as participation in our event. There will be displays, stalls, demonstrations, fun activities and the actual world wide knitting attempt. The main focus will be on Sunday's World Record attempt but there will be activities going on the entire weekend.
Furthermore spinners and other textile artists are invited to demonstrate or sell their wares. Stall holder costs will be additional to the registration fee but as about 30,000 people go through the Kumeu Show there's a huge potential audience.

Sounds like it's going to be a fantastic day - I might head along myself! If you're interested, make sure you check out the Facebook page for updates!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

An array of knitting

I've been meaning to get started on a Shibui Array Cowl for ages. I fell in love with the pattern a while ago and since I've noticed that I've made a distinct lack of scarves recently. 

I'm using the Skeinz Vintage DK in Pewter that I bought a month or so back, as well as the Skeinz Prism DK in Toy Red that's been in the stash for a very long time.

I'm really liking the pattern and the way the stitches look like a series of beads, but I really underestimated how long this would take. I've done about two inches over the last week or so - it feels like slow progress. Each round you knit or purl on every second stitch and slip the rest. 

I've never knitted a pattern with slipped stitches, so I wasn't sure what to expect.
It's every easy to do, and I love the effect, but it does mean that to do one complete round in both colours, you have to do four rows. That takes a while across 320 stitches! 

I'm sure it will be worth it though, I'll just have to squeeze in some extra bus knitting.
hopefully I can get her all finished by KAN!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sewing success

I would like to take a lot of credit for this skirt, but really all I did was some pinning, threading the sewing machine and be a dressmaker's dummy. The actual making was all done by Mum, who is pretty much a genius. 

The family kitty decided she could help out with the sewing machine.

And here it is, all finished. I took it for a test drive to work on Friday, I consider it a success.

The fabric is just what is needed to beat the winter blues.

The next one we make though I'll try and do a bit more of the actual sewing. Maybe.