In da Club III: Claudia Hoell-Wellmann aka Wollmeise
Claudia Hoell-Wellmann and her “Rohrspatz & Wollmeise“-yarns hardly need an introduction, because her beautiful color-creations are well known and appreciated by knitters around the globe. Since I came across my first skeins of Wollmeise six years ago, I have been hooked: They are smooth, shiny, the multicolor skeins surprise me every time and they are dyed with an eye for perfection that is hard to match. Claudia’s special sense of color can also be found in her semisolid skeins that very often are just the color that one has been looking for so long. “I just love to be spontaneous and develop new colorways, that’s what I like best about dyeing yarn!”, Claudia says. Her favorite color changes according to her mood and new colors often come to her mind after she has experienced something new. Her latest color is inspired by her cat, Xaverl, who has been residing in Wollmeise’s home for a couple of months now. Claudia has developed her yarn bases herself, in cooperation with spinneries in Europe. “I wanted yarn that does not pill, shows my colors brilliantly and has good stitch definition”, Claudia says. I am not the only knitter who loves to work with her yarn bases, so I really, really hoped to have a Rohrspatz & Wollmeise yarn in Strickmich! Club. And well, dear friends of Wollmeise: She said yes! Claudia has agreed to dye a new, special colorway just for Strickmich! Club.
On Saturday I had the pleasure to hold a little reading at Wollmmeise’s Shop in Pfaffenhofen (Bavaria), and those who attended already got the big news! I also had a little trunk show with my designs which are 80 percent Wollmeise. I can’t help it: very often I see a skein and just know what I want to make. Or I have a special shape in mind that will work in garter stitch and would just be perfect for one of those multicolor skeins – just like “Hitchhiker” that I knit with one skein of “Red Hot Chili”:
Claudia started dyeing yarns in 2002 with Kool-Aid. “Before that, I used to spin my own yarns from different colors of roving because I wanted to achieve a very special color – but dyeing was so much faster and I knew: That’s it!” When she started using professional dyes, one of her first attempts was “Regenbogen” (“Rainbow”), that is not very easy to dye: “But I really wanted that one to work out!” Claudia always strives to dye the perfect skein, no spots, no knots, no mistakes – her perfectionism is legendary. And the little miracle that occurs when the colors of a multicolor-skein form perfect little stripes on your sock is her reward. Claudia has been selling her yarns since 2004, in the beginning only on markets, later online.
Thanks to Ravelry, knitting blogs and podcasts very soon almost every knitter on the planet knew about those special yarns from Bavaria. The demand for Wollmeise grew, every update in the online shop was sold out within minutes. Claudia had to expand – and get help. Her husband Andreas (“Rohrspatz” – German “sparrow”) is head of the office, finances and organization, women with good eyes check the quality and colors of every skein on a big table in a well-lit room, and friendly helpers answer customers’ e-mails, so Claudia can focus on her dyeing in her workshop. In 2009 she opened her real-life store in Pfaffenhofen. A year before that she had moved her business out of her house to a workshop just outside town (that’s where we took the picture of us at the top!). On Sunday, Claudia showed me around a little bit, and I felt like a kid in a candy store:
When the yarn is controlled, twisted, labelled and beautifully arranged in her shop, it’s just irresistible:
As a designer, I am especially pleased that Claudia herself knits my patters, although she really does not have much time to knit. She has made several Hitchhikers and this spectacular Nuvem:
She dyed the yarn for this one herself, with a special method: First, she knits the undyed yarn with her knitting machine, then dyes it and rips it all out – this way, the beautiful stripes are created. At the moment, Claudia is working on her second Nuvem (with beads!) in a warm, rusty orange yarn with alpaca and mohair that is not from her workshop. “This Nuvem is supposed to really feel like a cloud, so I needed some other yarn”, says Claudia. She usually knits when she is at the shop. “I knit only a little, but enjoy it very much. Except when I really, really want to finish something!”
I had the most wonderful weekend in Pfaffenhofen – thanks again to all knitters who were there, and to Claudia’s great team! I am really looking forward to the cooperation between Rohrspatz & Wollmeise and Strickmich! Club. I hope you are, too!