My favorite finds at EYF 2019: Beyond Merino

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A collection of yarn, pompoms and buttons surrounds a poster for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

If the last two years at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (and fiber events in general) were all about the speckle, then 2019 was the year of embracing sheep-y goodness in all its many varieties. The vendors at EYF have long promoted British wool, but this year it seemed like there was so much fiber content beyond Superwash Merino, even among the indie dyers who tend to gravitate towards that tried and true base.

My finds at EYF 2019 bore out that trend — in fact, I’m proud to say that there is no Superwash Merino in my haul!

Here are some of my favorite finds from this year’s EYF.

A table displayed with colorful yarn from La Bien Aimee.

One of the first things I had to check out was La Bien Aimée’s new base, Mondim. This yarn is collaboration between Aimee and Rosa Pomar, the owner of Retrosaria Rosa Pomar in Lisbon, Portugal. Rosa has created yarn bases comprised of wool from Portuguese sheep and they take more than two dozen of Aimee’s colors beautifully.

Jars of pink-hued buttons.

There were already a few sweater samples knit up, including Andrea Mowry’s LYS (which stands for Little Yellow Sweater) and Isabell Kraemer’s Eula, with her sample using buttons from ultra-tempting EYF vendor Textile Garden.

A skein of light aqua yarn.

I was also excited to see London-based dyer Ocean of Ocean By the Sea, whose botanically-dyed yarn was available in a special pop-up in Ysolda’s space at the festival. There were so many tempting soothing colorways and bases, including this skein of Falkland wool in the appropriately-named Beachcomber colorway.

A pile of brown-gray yarn.

No EYF would be complete without yarn from one of Scotland’s many islands. Uist Wool is a mill that has been based in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland since 2013. I was particularly attracted to their Canach cottongrass blend, spun from Scottish Merino, a cross breed of Shetland and Saxon Merino sheep. The flecks of white in the dark gray yarn I ended up buying makes for a beautiful natural speckle.

A wall of colorful yarn.

A cream colored sweater with gray and gold colorwork.

Kettle Yarn Co.‘s colorful display of Northiam DK British Bluefaced Leicester, which is spun and dyed at a British mill, also caught my eye, as did her sample of Caitlin Hunter’s Tecumseh.

A display of yarn and patterns.

Martin’s Lab (who I’m excited to have as part of this year’s Indie Untangled yarn club) debuted a new base called Aubrey Sport, a blend of BFL and silk. It was used in the Homecoming Collection of mitts to sweaters by 10 designers.

A flared pink sweater with a cream colored yoke.

Speaking of patterns, a couple of my favorites from the show did actually use Merino: I loved Fiona Alice’s grown-up version of her Mabel baby cardigan. This sweater, called Mabel’s Sister, uses Viola DK and was available in kits at the stand for Loop London.

A pink shawl with a green stripe.

I also loved glimpsing Casapinka’s latest designs in the wild, including this new multicolored shawl, Botanique, in collaboration with Walk Collection.

Knitflixing Corner: Shetland

It’s such an amazing time to be a knitter, crocheter or crafter, with a huge selection of yarn and fiber choices, and accessories, at our fingertips. It’s also a great time to be a knitter who likes to settle in on the sofa with an absorbing or entertaining TV show or movie. But just as it’s so difficult to narrow down the yarn choices, picking just the right thing to watch when you’re trying to finish that cabled or colorwork sleeve is a hard task. I’m hoping to help with this new blog series.

I know, I know — a BBC series that takes place on the Shetland Islands is a pretty obvious choice for a blog post on knitflixing, but the show has been the perfect companion as I get ready to travel to Scotland for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (thanks to Rebecca of Fuse Fiber Studio for the recommendation!).

Based on Ann Cleeves’s Shetland mystery novels, the show follows Shetland police Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez (Douglas Henshall, who won a BAFTA Scotland award for the role) and Detective Sergeant Alison “Tosh” Macintosh (Alison O’Donnell), as they work to solve murders on the hazy Scottish archipelago. Other familiar faces include Anna Chancellor (Henrietta in Four Weddings and a Funeral), Nina Sosanya (I recognized her from Love, Actually) Ciarán Hinds (known for many things, including Game of Thrones, in which he portrayed Mance Rayder) and Archie Panjabi (Kalinda on The Good Wife). It’s your standard-issue detective show — the murderer is always the person you least expect it to be, or at least I’m not the best at figuring out these plot twists — but with a stunning backdrop and those wonderful accents.

The series starts off with one- or two-part episodes, with the third season comprised of a six-episode arc that starts off with a death aboard a ferry to the islands and veers off into a web of family connections and crime down in Glasgow. The rolling green fields and sharp cliffs play a role in nearly every plot, so even during those times when I’ve been concentrating too much on the the decreases or increases of my latest sweater WIP to follow all the ins and outs of the plot (and not wanting to continuously rewind) I’ve just enjoyed the scenery and the music. The show is otherwise engrossing and I am impressed by the sensitive, yet still emotional way they handled the issue of rape in one of the Season 3 episodes (Cleeves has a nice take on it).

Unfortunately, only Seasons 1-3 are currently available on Netflix, but if you just can’t wait for Season 4 to start streaming there, you can purchase a subscription to Britbox on Amazon Prime. In the meantime, there are so many other things to watch…

What are some of your favorite things to Knitflix? Recommend my next binge in the comments.

Indie Untangled goes to Edin Yarn Fest

I’m writing this post from a hotel north of the Edinburgh airport, where I was sent after my flight home to New York was canceled in anticipation of the nor’easter. While I’m crossing my fingers that I’ll get back in time to attend the Mohonk Mountain House Knitting Weekend, where I will be vending in the marketplace, the travel hiccups haven’t yet wiped away the happy feelings from attending such a wonderful knitting event and the joy I got from being around so many friends and fiber people, including many who traveled from around the world — our apartment had representation from Norway, Greece and Israel!

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival, which took place from March 15-17, is probably best described as a combination of the New York Sheep & Wool Festival and the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show. There was a mix of bright speckled skeins from indie dyers such as La Bien Aimée, Uschitita and Martin’s Lab, and more rustic, local blends spun from British sheep (Blacker Yarns, Uist, TOFT, Daughter of a Shepherd and John Arbon, to name just a few of the indie companies). Some dyers — Kettle Yarn Co., Eden Cottage Yarns, Old Maiden Aunt — combined the two and dyed fiber beyond the usual Superwash Merino and Cashmere.

The local feel came through in the events surrounding the extensive marketplace, including a giant crocheted highland cow and the Friday night ceilidh, where some of the vendors, instructors and attendees came together for traditional Scottish dancing (Stephen West’s dancing background was evident).

Here are just some of the pictures I snapped. You can check out more on Instagram.

The Eden Cottage booth.

A sample at Blacker Yarns.

Ysolda Teague’s Stockbridge.

A highland “coo.”

A glimpse inside the Edinburgh Yarn Festival with Casapinka

I know I’m not the only one who had a hard time looking at Instagram last weekend, when it seemed like the whole knitting world was over in Scotland for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. But, I figured there was no such thing as too many festival pictures, I asked Bronwyn, AKA the designer Casapinka, to file a report for the Indie Untangled blog. Her post makes me even more determined to plan a trip across the pond next year!—Lisa

I was starving when I arrived in Edinburgh from Boston, after dropping my 10-year-old off with his grandparents in Dublin. I went into the local shop and found some nice, wholesome, Haggis-flavored chips (crisps) that I happily washed down with some Diet Coke. You laugh? You gag? They are really good and you should try them if you go to EYF!

The line outside The Corn Exhange (for those who didn’t pre-purchase tickets, ahem, note to self!) was long. At one point it started to rain and the nice people from EYF thanked us for waiting and handed out very cute tote bags. All the people with pre-printed tickets who zoomed right in didn’t get very cute tote bags so it was totally worth it. Also, the best conversations among strangers are started in yarn festival lines! I had an hour-long talk with an air traffic controller which made my year (I’m an aviation geek.)

When I got in, I made a beeline for Eden Cottage Yarns. The fibers are just so beautiful, with lots of subtle colors that aren’t the norm for me, but still call my name. I did some damage there, for sure, and had a nice conversation with Victoria, the owner. Everywhere you looked in this booth you almost died from Gorgeous Fiber Overwhelm! It got quite crowded as the day went on so if you go to EYF, get there early.

The wool watching at EYF was second to none. Shawls, fair isle coats, lots of Kate Davies jumpers (and the woman herself, of course) was rubbernecking at its best! When the booths got so crowded I couldn’t even go inside, I just sat on the floor, ate some lunch (the food is amazing!) and watched all of the wool finery go by.

Another booth I wanted to visit was the Loop London booth. I ran into the Spincycle Girls (Rachel and Kate) there and we had a chat. I then drooled over all of the hand sewn bags and the Lichen and Lace yarn which I really wanted to squish. I bought a couple of skeins (how could I not?) and they are waiting to become something special.

I was also just dying to see the La Bien Aimee booth. Who can’t love all of those candy- and pastille-colored yarns with their beautiful contrasts? I did, in fact, climb onto the table in my eagerness to get to the singles but no skeins of yarn were hurt in the process. I did a fair amount of damage here as well and plan to give some away in giveaways in my group. Really. I swear!

I think it’s important to note that in the UK and Ireland, a “fry up” is the only way to start one’s day. Even vegetarians can partake: minus the sausage, rashers, haggis, white pudding – well, there is toast, beans and mushrooms! This keeps you going through mad knitters poking you in the butt with their knitting needles as they vie for space in the Brooklyn Tweed line. I live for my morning fry up!

Since I’m on the subject of food, the snacks and meals at The Corn Exchange are great. This is called a Victorian Sandwich. Yes, you read that right. So, technically this could be lunch (a piece of it – I didn’t eat the whole thing, you guys). So, come to shop for yarn but also come to eat and admire the scenery and make new friends from all over the world!