When The Stars Align...
I had a really special moment this week when something I’d had planned in my head for a long time came together.
I'll start earlier this year with the launch of Marlisle by Anna Maltz. I love Anna’s patterns and the way she writes and was so excited about her new book that I pre-ordered it as soon as I could. Even then I wasn’t prepared for what a beautiful book Marlisle is. Not just the wonderful patterns and the production quality of the book, but the wealth of knitting wisdom and generosity of spirit that spills out of every page. It is truly a work of beauty! I felt really strongly that this was the kind of book I should have in my shop one day. A joyous sharing of a love of craft and support for and amongst the fibre craft community.
Marlisle is a term Anna has coined for a cross between a marled fabric, achieved by knitting with two yarns held together, and fair isle, stranded colourwork knitting.
I went to the launch party for Marlisle hosted by the inspiring Wild and Woolly shop in London with my friend, and model in the book, Marilla Walker. I met so many amazing, interesting and encouraging people.
A week later and I was off to my favourite yarn festival, Unravel, in Farnham to take part in (surprise, surprise) Anna Maltz’s Marlisle workshop. I had taken yarn from home with me but I knew really I’d go looking for something new to play with. And that’s when I came across the Cambrian Wool stand.
Cambrian Wool is a Community Interest Company (CIC) in Mid Wales that was born out of one of a series of rural initiatives set in place by HRH The Prince of Wales, the Cambrian Mountains Initiative. One of 4 similar initiatives across the country, the aim was to support and develop upland farming economies.
I love that the wool can be traced from sheep to yarn and that the initiative is rooted in the local land and agricultural industry. The fleece is from Welsh Mule. Welsh Mule is a cross of the local Welsh breed and Blue Faced Leicester - the BFL accounts for the lustrous feel and sheen to the yarn. It’s hard to describe in words why this yarn feels so good to work with. It has a kind of waxy, firm quality and, whilst fairly soft, still has plenty of woolly character.
And so it was back in February that the stars aligned for the first time. Here is my little Marlisle workshop swatch (with a half finished knotted steek):
I fell in love with the yarn there and then and went back to see Sue after the class had finished and made myself be brave and tell her that I was buying a yarn shop and ask if it would be possible to stock Cambrian Wool. And she said yes!
When I got home I cracked Marlisle open and found that my Cambrian Wool would be perfect for the Kraai Mitts. Oh my goodness these little mitts give my hands so much warmth yet the wool breathes and never feels cloying or uncomfortable. I wore them a lot when the Beast from the East came to visit, threw snowballs, pulled sleds, and they have worn extremely well! The pattern is great fun and, as a small project, a good introduction to the Marlisle technique.
They are currently living in the shop if you want to have a look/squish.
Fast forward a few months and we had *finally* made the move from Reading to Frome, I’d been working in the shop for a month or so and I was ready to place an order for Marlisle and Cambrian Wool. The stars aligned for the second time with both arriving at the shop on the same day this week. They are meant to be together! I may have danced around the shop a bit.
It is such a huge milestone for me personally to see these in the shop. To be able to share things I feel passionate about with others. To promote and support small, independent producers, designers and businesses. To promote breed specific British yarn that can be traced right back to the farms.
Part of what attracted me to Marmalade Yarns was that I wouldn’t be trying to reinvent the wheel and that the foundations of what I want to offer are already there. It’s really a case of just putting my personal stamp on it. And having Marlisle and Cambrian Yarn in the shop feels like a massive step towards that!