Edinburgh Yarn Festival, KnitBritish, knitting, Podcast, review, Value series, Wool Shop Shout Out
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Episode 114 – be an advocate

Today I’m going to talk about advocating for wool, woolly biz and knitty woolly people. I also have a review of Turned Studio.

Listen below

You can listen via iTunes, or wherever you listen to your podcasts. 

Show notes

| Advocating for wool

As long promised, this is part of my talk, that I did for the NANSWool conference, back in September (see episode 110).

The part of my talk I really wanted to bring you is about being an advocate, but I thought this was a really good opportunity to also introduce myself to new listeners and reintroduce the concept of  what KnitBritish is for me (foremost) and why sharing #LoveLocalWool with listeners is important.

The yarn that sparked KnitBritish was from Uradale

I also talk about the importance of learning together and what can be achieved through that – such as our KALs and, of course, the important fieldwork we are doing with #WoolExploration and how this shared love of local also sees us taking part in wider conversations about wool. Larger campaigns for wool focus on global fashion, flooring and upholstery and seem to only pay lip service to the incredible work happening on the grassroots level.The rest of my talk was dedicated to showing how small wool businesses (can) so artfully and impact-fully tell their own stories. 

Also important to impactful storytelling for wool people and wool businesses? Us! We can all be active in wool enlightenment and advocate for wool and small wool businesses.

“We always need more people to advocate for local wool. To take up the mantle in their making and shout about it.

Start a blog, start a podcast, start a vlog; campaign; raise awareness on your social media about your continuing adventures with local wool (whereever your local is). Write to your MPs, your MSPs, those who are in political power and tell them what you need – be a voice in local wool enlightenment and join up with others to do this. Having a singular voice is great, but it can be difficult to be heard when it counts. “

I’m going to extend that today and further add that this is what we need to do in our knitting community, to raise up designers and makers of all kinds – particularly those who have been marginalized and who struggle to be visible. Last episode I talked a lot about the conversations that have been happening on racism, inclusion and diversity,  and being an advocate for your fellow wool-lovers is the very least we can do,

I have done several episodes which feature the theme of value and being an advocate for wool, wool people, wool issues, wool activism shows that you value these things and you value who and what makes up our community and the things that effect us. 

| Shout-out

I wanted to share with you some of the incredible UK-based BIPOC dyers that I have been introduced to recently. Links to their online places are below

Leila at The Urban Purl dyes on mulesed-free, ethically sourced merino and British BFL. Her yarns have a really jewelled and luxe look and feel. The Urban Purl is on Etsy and @theurbanpurl on Instagram.

Lola is the dyer behind Third Vault Yarns. Based in London, Lola is inspired by sci-fi and fantasy – so there are awesome colourway names – and dyes on a variety of merino and blend yarns. Lola also has designs on ravelry. You can also find her on IG @ThirdVaultYarns

Almas is @WitchcraftyLady on instagram and that is also the name of her etsty shop. Almas is a hand-spinner and hand-dyer and you can buy not only her beautiful handpun & dyed yarns but also knit and crochet items. She also has spinning fibre and often has Shetland, BFL, Falkland Merino as well as other bases. 

Ellen Shek is the dyer behind Mrs Lam Yarns and she also makes beautiful project bags. Ellen website is KalokShekEllen and she is also on instagram as @kalokshekellen. Ellen creates shawl packs with her colourways, and she also has a mystery yarn club!If you are going to Perth Yarn Festival in September, you wll see Ellen there as she is going to be vending. 

Ocean by the Sea is the hand-dye business of Ocean Rose and her art is botanical dyeing! Follow @oceanbythesea on instragram and you will see her beautiful skeins in her feed. Colour can really speak to you and her delicate shades always soothe and make me feel happy

I also want to point you to an amazing post by The Yarn Mission (you can follow them in IG too) and their blog post, which I read this week Black Yarn Dyers and the Case for Purposeful Support – this is an important resource if you are looking for BIPOC dyers and business owners. Thanks to The Yarn Mission for that post. You can also find a great resource in Marce’s stories on IG @HeyBrownBerry.

| Turned Studios – a review

(c) Copyright Turned Studios

I recently got an email from Jack McDonough who wanted to let me know about his business, Turned Studios. I had a little look at his instagram account and I was totally bowled over by his wood work – yarn bowls and other turned items, all from wood sustainably sourced in Northumberland. Talk about great local resources!

Jack asked if I would be interested in receiving a yarn bowl in exchange for an honest review. I was pleased to be able to do that and tell you more about Turned Studio. 

Firstly, when the box arrived I was really impressed as to how well packaged the bowl was, plenty of protective layers and a box sized for the items inside. (I get so annoyed by improper packaging!). My next thought was – genuinely – wow! A beautiful beech yarn bowl, smooth, tactile, naturally beautiful with a simple cut-out design… I put it straight to work! Listen in to hear my full review. 

The bowl got put to work right away!

I asked Jack if he could tell us a little bit about himself and why he is so drawn to wood turning.

I first saw a guy wood turning mushrooms in the New Forest, on a family holiday, when I was about 9 years old. I remember being absolute mesmerised by the process, but didn’t really give it a second thought after that. 
Through growing up and realising I wasn’t cut out for an academic career, I turned to my main passion FOOD. From school I went straight into professional kitchens. Being a quick learner and not at all work shy, I worked my way up to a head chef position pretty fast. I continued cheffing for a further 8 years (13 years in total) but -as most people know being a chef is not the most healthy environment, both mentally and physically. I’m not at all ashamed to say it finally got the better of me and I found myself in a position where I had to rethink my career. 
I had a friend who was an amazing woodworker, so I started to do a little work with him making furniture.. I then took a job at a local wood recycling community interest company, making furniture for them from reclaimed wood.. it was here that I rediscovered the wood lathe! I started making salad bowls and jewellery boxes in my spare time, eventually moving on to selling my work at markets and local shops. 
Last February I decided to make the big scary jump to start my own business. I wasn’t entirely sure how it would all pan out but had faith that everything I had been making had been selling well. 
If my main passion is food my second is undoubtedly wood. Many woodturners like to work with exotic woods, personally I find this a bit strange and an unnecessary drain on the environment. 
For me its all about local. Whether its food or wood. Its so easy to over look what’s right on our doorsteps. I’m passionate about displaying the natural beauty we have all around us.  
I work almost exclusive with native hardwoods. I like dense woods that feel heavy once dry, like oak, ash, cherry and beech. As I’m sure it is with wool, different types lend them selves better to different application. But if I had to pick a favourite I think it would be beech, beech trees are the known as “the mother of the forest” and that appeals to the hippy in me 🙂 its has a very sentient feel to it, it is warming, soft and unpretentious. 

Material is very important to us wool lovers and I think you will also love the beautiful English wool bowls that are created at Turned Studios. Each is from sustainable sources and are traceable to Northumberland. The wood is cut when it is still fresh and as it dries is takes on a slightly different and unique shape. The bowls come in two sizes, from 6″ diameter and 8″ diameter and prices start at £44.  The bowl I review is a 6″/Medium but I reckon you could easily fit at 150g ball of yarn in the medium one. Not only are they practical, they are a work of art, so tactile, so beautiful – and no more yarn balls rolling under the sofa!

In addition to sending me a bowl to review, Jack has given us another bowl – this time a cherry one – to give away as a prize, so this will be a prize in our fieldwork make-along. And even further to this kindness, Turned Studios has given KnitBritish listeners a 10% discount in the shop. To be able to partake of that offer, just use the code TURNEDKB10 at the checkout. Thanks so much to Jack for being so kind. You can find more info at  @turnedstudios on Instagram and at turnedstudios shop on etsy. You may even see Turned Studios at wool events this year and some of my yarn store owning listeners may also like to know that Jack is able to offer wholesale to stockists! 

Cherry yarn bowl

Edinburgh Yarn Fest and Fieldwork Make-along

Edinburgh Yarn Festival is nigh! (21-23rd with classes and events from 20-24th) I don’t think my bank balance is quite prepared, but I am going to do that old trick of looking at my stash and actually preparing a list, rather than go in all wool-buying guns blazing. 

If you are going to EYF, or any big events, do be kind to yourself. I know lots of us suffer from anxiety, or the ill effects of being in an otherwise positive environment. Take water, snacks; make a little plan to break up your day. There is also nothing wrong with saying “this is all a bit much, I just need to duck out a moment!”.

I will be assisting Uist Wool over the festival, I hope to see you at their stall! I will also be at the Make:Wool Event on the Sunday. 

Have you seen the vendor list? Perhaps you are taking part in our FIeldworkMAL and making with 100% wool from one of the vendors? We have lots of FOs already (cowls are big this year!) and you still have time! Cast off date is 17th March. I haven’t organised a meet up yet for this – it is always hard to do this and not disappoint someone (who can’t go at the chosen time or day). I think the Sunday will be my free-est day, but I will have a think about how to organise a cuppa with fieldworkers. Otherwise, if you see me at EYF, flag me down and show me your FieldworkMAL FO!

Next time

I should have an episode for you soon, before EYF, but on a topic that is a bit different. Then I’ll be back after EYF with an episode and our Cheviot wool exploration. Until then!

Important Information

Music this episode is Doctor Turtle – Doctor Talos Opens the Door and  David Mumford – Singin in The Rain These are available via freemusicarchive and shared via CC-BY.  I was sent a yarn bowl from Turned Studio for free and in exchange for an honest review. I do not get paid or seek payment for reviews. I am 100% honest in feedback. Images are belonging to those who are attributed, or belong to me. 


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