… is not that easy! Luckily I switched back to planning my weeks on paper at the beginning of 2017. Nothing gets lost, I have an overview of the current week with a to do list that makes me prioritise my tasks. In this video you can watch my planning process (in German! I will make another video in English as soon as possible :))
Colors, colors, Dibadu! Barbara Wolff lives and works in Germany, at the border of the Teutoburger Forest, close to the town of Paderborn. And she loves colors, and that’s the first thing you will notice when looking at her gorgeous hand dyed yarns. When she knits herself, she will always choose a multicolored, preferably modular project: “Knitting with just one color, that’s just not me!” she says. “I love to work with lots of different hues and shades, even if I have to weave in 295 ends when I am done!” Her passion for crafting goes way back: “I was one of those students who would constantly knit during class in the 70s and 80s” she recalls. After finishing school, Barbara went on to become a flutist and music instructor. When she and her husband started a family, her knitting career took a break: “With four kids it’s kind of hard to find time and peace for creativity”, Barbara says.
When her youngest son turned three and started to attend daycare, that changed: “I remembered what was most fun to me when I was a teen: Knitting!” She started to look for beautiful yarns and soon discovered the world of handdyed beauty. “Handdyed yarn – that sounded exciting and promising”, she says. She started to experiment – and has not stopped working with colors and dyepots ever since. The step from music to colors was not a big one for Barbara: “I am a synesthetic. In my head, numbers, letters and sounds each have a different color”, she says. So, in a way, Barbara composes a symphony of colors with each hand dyed skein for us!
A Trio Aquarell from Barbara’s workshop (Photo: M. Behm)
Barbara lives and works in Germany, at the border of the Teutoburger Forest, close to the town of Paderborn. “When I dye yarn, I make sure the colors are harmonic and pleasant when knit up – it should not pool unless it’s intended to”, Barbara says. She tolerates pooling only when it is planned, like with her “Sockenmaler” (“Sock painter”) or “Maschenmaler” (“stitch painter”) yarns. Her specialty are her “Trios”: Combinations of three skeins that are meant for one project, but differ. It may be a subtle gradient, a common sprinkle pattern or an underlying tone. “Each Trio tells a story with three voices”, she says. Her artful yarns can be admired at fiber festivals or in her online store: from light cobweb angora to chunky wool, combinations of 2 big skeins or mini skein sets – everything turns into colorful beauty under her hands.
We are very curious about what she will dye for Strickmich! Club 2018 – and are more than happy that Barbara agreed to contribute one of her wonderful yarns to our Club. Welcome!
P. S.: Sign-ups for Strickmich! Club will start on November 6th on our Sign-up page.
And here she is, our third yarn supplier for Strickmich! Club 2018: Sue Blacker and her wonderful Blacker Yarns! Sue is not a handdyer, but a yarn composition virtuoso: Her small spinnery in Cornwall that she has been running since 2005, specialises in all natural yarn with wool from British sheep. “The breeders bring or send us their fleeces, and we will make beautiful yarns from them – even in small quantities”, Sue says. Which fibres are suitable for which kind of yarn, whether it should be woollen or worsted spun and how it should be plied is her expertise. “We have learned over time that you cannot make everything out of every wool. The characteristics are very important: thickness, drape, elasticity, luster and whether it’s hard-wearing or not, and we help our clients to work that out”, Sue says.
Of course, Sue employs this knowledge for her own yarn brand “Blacker Yarns”, as well: She carries pure breed yarns like Shetland, Gotland and Bluefaced Leicester, but also blends with silk, linen or compositions of different wools. “Tamar” for example is a blend including Wensleydale, Teeswater, Leicester Longwool and other similar fleeces, all consisting of long, lustrous hairs that give the resulting yarn a special shine – perfect for shawls and flowing sweaters. Yarns like this will also help sustain rare sheep breeds, which is a very important aspect of Sue’s work.
Sue Blacker must be one of the most astonishing people of the fiber world: She studied history and worked in the City of London as an analyst until the late 80s. “In 1989 the industry changed, and my work became less interesting.” So she and her husband decided to start a new life in Cornwall, where Sue moved into consulting charities and small businesses. And she bought a couple of sheep: “We had ground, we needed the grass cut, and that’s what sheep do!”
Sue and her flock
When the sheep had to be shorn, Sue took their fleeces to the spinning mill for processing. A couple of years later, she heard that the owners wanted to retire and were looking for someone to take over their business – and saw an opportunity. “I love opportunities!”, Sue says. She moved the mill from Wales to Cornwall, bought new equipment for spinning more different kinds of yarn and added a dyeing house. “I wanted to do something for small farmers and knitters alike by making beautiful yarn from British fibers,” she says. “When we started out, first we had to explain to everyone why they should knit with wool and not acrylic”, Sue remembers.
But Sue is not only an entrepreneur, a fiber expert, a sheep breeder and wool activist (take a look at her blog), she also knits and designs. “I like to play with texture as in guernseys, cables or brioche. Broken rib is one of my favourites, it makes wonderful fabric with tweeded colors”, she says. “I only knit items that I want, and I like projects that are suitably mindless.” Sue also has a big knitting library – “and many more ideas than time!”. Her favourite yarns are those that have body and “a presence. I don’t like it if a yarn runs through my hands like cooked spaghetti!”
The color palettes of Blacker Yarns are the most beautiful ones that I have encountered so far. And I am very excited and happy that Sue will provide Strickmich! Club with one of her yarns in a new and exclusive colorway!
Sign-ups for Strickmich! Club 2018 will start in November on our sign-up page.
Her yarn have this special, relaxed feeling to it – looking at it, touching it or knitting with it feels like a vacation! That’s probably because Bridget Henderson lives in South Africa, close to Cape Town, just a 15 minute walk away from the Table Mountain National Park. “Cowgirlblues” is the name she chose for her brand, and I am proud and happy to announce she has agreed to dye a new, exclusive color for Strickmich! Club – for a sunshiny feeling when knitting!
Bridget has been dyeing yarns since 2012: “I had learned to spin and the natural next step was to start experimenting with dyeing. My first experiences were with some yarn and with wool roving as I was still thinking about spinning.” In the beginning she focussed on dyeing already knitted yarn and dyed a lot of garments, she says. “At this stage I wasn’t aware of the huge move towards hand dyed yarns internationally. But knitters and crocheters in South Africa started seeing my colours and began asking for yarns, so I started doing these as well.”
Pictures: Kathrin Schafbauer
The first merino sheep arrived in South Africa in 1789 and mohair goats in 1838. “So unlike many European countries we don’t have the traditional knits and patterns that have been handed down over hundreds of years”, Bridget says. But sometimes that’s an advantage as we aren’t tied to a historical way of doing things, so I think I would say that people are fairly open minded and interested in trying new things here.”
Bridget creates all of her colour blends from primary colour dye powders and she and her team mix them up themselves. “I think both the palette and the combinations of colours make our yarns stand out”, she says. “They have a vibrancy about them that I think is a little different. And maybe there’s a trace of the passion we feel for the product that lingers on the yarns, left behind by all the hands each skein has passed through in the process.” Bridget works with South African natural materials which are predominantly wool and mohair: “I love these fibres and the different blends of them.”, she says.
When Bridget has free time, she continues her creative journey: “I am a maker, so I’m often playing around with different projects and at the moment I’m in a bit of a woodwork phase and have been learning to make shelves and drawers … it’s quite difficult. I have a garden and like to potter about and play, and I’m always experimenting.” She also spends a lot of time walking the mountain with her Siberian Husky, Meera. And, of course, she knits: “I like easy knitting projects! I use knitting as a way to relax, so I like something that’s quite meditative where I don’t have to think too hard about following a complicated pattern. And I like to let the colour do the work…!” So it looks like she is just perfect to be a part of Strickmich! Club, as Martina’s patterns do exactly that!
We are more than happy to have Bridget and her fabulous yarns in Strickmich! Club and are excited to see what color she comes up with for us!
P. S.: “Cowgirlblues” comes from Tom Robbins’ book “Even Cowgirls get the Blues”. Bridget has this quote from the book on her website:
“If you take any activity, any art, any discipline, any skill, take it and push it as far as it will go, push it beyond where it has ever been before, push it to the wildest edge of edges, then you will force it into the realm of magic.”
— Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues
Sign-ups for Strickmich! Club 2018 will start in November on our sign-up page.