Our Covid Guidelines for Safe Workshops

As we’re now launching our new season of workshops, we wanted to let you know how we’ll be making them safe for you and our staff.

It’s important to note that when you book onto one of our workshops, you are agreeing to follow these guidelines.

 

Please do not attend if you are unwell (particularly a high fever, continuous cough, or loss of sense of smell or taste).

The shop will be closed to the public on workshop days.

The rule of 6 will be observed; 1 member of staff, 1 tutor and 4 attendees.

The chairs, tables, doorknobs and toilet facilities will be sanitised prior to your arrival and again at lunchtime. Please assist us by not arriving too early on the day as we will be preparing the shop for the workshop.

The seating will be 1m+ apart, this means the workshop will be spread over two rooms.

You can choose where to sit but this will be your seat for the day, no swapping!

There will be a sanitised plastic box in which to place your personal belongings.

Unless exempt for health or disability reasons, everyone will wear a face covering except when eating or drinking. A visor can be made available to you on the day should you wish.

Please use the hand sanitiser on entering the shop and throughout the day.

Your details will be kept for 21 days after the event and then securely disposed of in line with NHS Track and Trace.

In the event that updated government Covid guidelines mean we have to cancel our workshops, you will be refunded in full.

 

Sale Yarns are now available online!

During the UK coronavirus lockdown we’ve made our sale yarns available to browse and buy online.

Most are greatly discounted – they are all yarns which we won’t be continuing to stock at Spin a Yarn, so snap them up while you can!

Please be aware that there are only certain colours left – please click into each product listing below to see what we have.

We’re still taking orders and posting out roughly twice a week, plus we can arrange ‘socially distant’ pick-ups if you’re local.

If you prefer to buy over the phone, don’t hesitate to call us on 01626 836203.

Trish’s Yarn Sightseeing Trip to Amsterdam

Last year December 2019 BC (Before Coronavirus), my friends Deslyn, Nikki, Anne and I took a trip to Amsterdam because they all had significant birthdays ending in Zero. I have promised not to mention any ages but as the youngest I have been dubbed the Apprentice as I first met them in a workplace environment 13 years ago and we have remained firm friends since.

Although this trip was not about me, the first stop on our itinerary was the local yarn shop Stephen and Penelope – Stephen being the knitwear designer Stephen West. With smartphone in hand and Nikki navigating we found the shop without too much trouble, even though Nikki would keep saying left or right and pointing in the opposite direction! The yarn-bombed bicycle outside was a giveaway.

Trish outside Stephen and Penelope Yarn Shop in Amsterdam
They were very patient with me as I fondled and squished my way around the store, the yarn that is, it is not acceptable to fondle or squish the staff.
There were some familiar yarns to me and lots that were not, so I headed to the ‘local’ section and proceeded to ooh and aah. We’ve all bought yarn and then wondered what to do with it, so I started with the buying of a pattern.

Trish shopping in Stephen and Penelope Yarn Shop

Stephen West is well known for some very elaborate shawls, but I thought I would play it safe and opted for his pattern called Sharktooth. Choosing the yarn was the next step. Having decided I would like something variegated I chose a Merino Swirl skein by Fru Valborg, a Swedish yarn but dyed exclusively for Stephen and Penelope, 80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon in shade Night Owl. Still wanting to get some local yarn, I bought a mini skein of Undercover Otter a hand-dyed yarn from Amsterdam, an Otter Pup, to contrast on the picot edge bind off.

I also snapped up some extra Otter Pups, bespoke bicycle stitch markers and project bags to treat the staff for Christmas.

I had fully intended to start the shawl as a little Christmas present to myself but after hunting high and low on Boxing day I couldn’t find the correct needles. I should have checked the multiple WIPs! I finally got around to starting it (twice) on Easter Sunday. Starting can be tricky and with only a few stitches and 6 stitch markers it was hard to see the pattern establishing at first.

Sharktooth Shawl

The yarn was a delight to knit with and there was enough of a pattern to keep me interested but not too much that requires a lot of attention, there was a nice rhythm to it once you were in the groove. I only knitted the small shawl but I’ve seen a picture of the larger size on Ravelry where the shark teeth are knitted in a contrast to the main body, it would make a lovely accessory to both casual and formal wear…my next project? Without being able to nip over to Amsterdam again, I’m eyeing up our Lilypond Yarns and WYS Exquisite 4-ply.

We Interview Lilypond Yarns

As we recently had a fresh delivery of gorgeous locally-hand-dyed Lilypond Yarns in, we though we’d ask Fiona and Abby a few questions about their yarn, their inspirations and their brand.

Firstly how long have you been dyeing your own yarn for and what got you started?

Fiona and I have been friends for many years and both love craft. I spotted a yarn dyeing workshop at one of our local yarn shops and asked her if she would be interested in attending with me. She said yes and that is really where it all started, it was like a lightbulb moment for both of us as we both loved it so much! We started dyeing yarn simply for ourselves until our stashes started becoming unmanageable! It was at this point that we decided to try and sell some of it simply to de-stash. Fiona had experience of running an Etsy shop so we set one up for this purpose. We were surprised at the response and wondered if there may be a business opportunity there hence…Lilypond Yarns was born!

What’s behind the name “Lilypond Yarns?”

Lilypond Yarns is so named as one of us lives in Lilypond Lane! It’s a lovely name and actually will be the future address of the business as we are having a dye studio built on the premises.

We know you’re local ladies, but tell us a little bit about where you live. Does it inspire any of your colourways?

We both live on the outskirts of Exeter and own dogs which means lots of walks in the surrounding countryside. We are also inspired by the Devon coastline and Fiona spends quite a bit of time on the North Cornish coast. All these lovely views inspire a lot of our colours.

What other inspirations do you have for your shades?

We are inspired by the changing seasons and tend to dye new batches of yarn to welcome in the new season. Sometimes we have no plans when dyeing so music and our moods play a part in what we produce.

How do you choose your lovely yarn bases, and what are your personal favourites to knit with?

This was down to experience really, we have tried various different yarn bases. Our suppliers have such a wide range it was very difficult to choose what we considered to be the nicest and most saleable. We have ended up with a mix of bases we prefer to knit with ourselves as we don’t like to sell anything without trying it out first. Sometimes we will try new yarn bases because there is a pattern on Ravelry we want to try or any other pattern of interest to us. We love knitting with high twist yarn because the stitch definition shows off hand dyed yarn beautifully. We also love our DK superwash merino as it’s a pleasure to knit with and so soft to wear.

How do you think up the names for them?

That is easy, Abby is bonkers! Plus a lot of them come from the objects/situations/views which inspired us to dye the yarn in the beginning.

What’s your favourite thing to knit, and what would be your dream project/colourway combination?

Fiona loves to knit sweaters and shawls whereas Abby prefers smaller projects like hats, one skein shawls and socks. Fiona’s dream project would be a cabled jumper dress held with a beautiful suri silk alpaca or mohair and it would be in a blue or dark red combination. Abby is a lover of neutrals. We are planning to knit the same thing for our next projects – the Weekender sweater by Andrea Mowry, as a little knit along through the Autumn.

What are your hopes for the future of your Lilypond Yarns?

As mentioned earlier we are having a dye studio built. We have been expanding our business over the last few months and are still expanding. The dream is to concentrate on Lilypond Yarns as full time jobs and a enjoy a wonderful crafty life!

Well, thank you for answering all our questions and we hope your yarny dreams come true! The skeins have certainly been a hit in the shop.

We’re currently stocking a number of shades in their Merino/Silk blend which has a beautiful glow to it. If you’d like to buy some, just pop into the shop or give us a call on 01626 836203.

Pompom Magazine 28 – The Botanical Issue

The gorgeous new Pompom Magazine is now here and we wanted to share with you just what a lovely crop of patterns it contains – especially as the theme of this issue is ‘Botanical’ – and we know how many of you are inspired by nature and your gardens!

As you can see there are some lovely patterns from contemporary designers such as Emily Greene and Kelly Ordemann.

One of our favourite things about Pompom is that you’re not just getting a pattern collection – this issue also features Anna Maltz’s musings on plant-based fibres, Rebecca Lawrence’s method for botanical-infused gin, and Paula Goosen’s tutorial for making your own floral lotion bars.

It costs £12.50 which is great value for 9 patterns! You can enquire to buy it here, or just call 01626 836203 or pop into the shop browse it with a cup of tea.

All About Shetland Hap Shawls

You might have seen that we have a workshop on Knitting the Shetland Hap Shawl coming up and wondered to yourself…‘What’s a Hap Shawl anyway?’

Well, we thought we would do a little post all about this wonderful slice of Scottish knitting heritage.

Firstly, what exactly does ‘hap’ mean? Well, according to blogger KnitBritish in her extremely informative post, hap means “to cover, wrap or keep warm” and was “a traditional shawl of everyday wear for Shetland women”.

You can see a variety of charming vintage photographs of these warm, practical shawls in everyday use at the above blog post, but here are a few from there and from other archives:


These shawls originated as a practical garment for keeping the Shetland weather out while working and out and about on the islands – usually constructed as a garter stitch square with a old-shale lace border around the outside. As you can see from the first photo, they were equally as useful as baby blankets as wrapped around the wearer’s body against the elements.

Recently, knitting designers such as Kate Davies and Gudrun Johnston have revived this traditional shawl style and taken it into the 21st century, playing with different shapes, yarns and styles. A quick search on Ravelry turns up many lovely designs – here is just a small selection:

 

As you can see, once the basic techniques are mastered this is a style which you can adapt to your own preferences – working with rustic tweedy yarns and natural shades, or more bright and contemporary yarns.

Anniken Allis will be teaching a workshop on how to knit her own version of a Shetland Hap Shawl (pictured below) on Wednesday 13th March. The workshop costs £59 for the day and materials will be supplied (plus we have plenty of gorgeous suitable yarns to choose from when you decide to make your own afterwards).

To book either visit the listing on Eventbrite or call 01626 836203.

 

With thanks to the beautiful and informative information found at these blogs, click through to read more if you’ve really got the ‘hap bug’ and to view even more fascinating historical photos: KnitBritish, Jamieson & Smith and Kate Davies.

 

The Spin a Yarn Spring 2019 Newsletter

Welcome to the Spring newsletter.

 

If you’re reading this then you are well aware that our brochure is no longer being printed and we are going digital.  Hopefully saving a few trees in the process. Did you receive the mailing in your email inbox? If not then just drop us an email through this link and let us know, we can make sure you get it.

The eagle-eyed among you will have spotted the brand-new logo.  The colours were inspired by those found on Dartmoor and we hope the strap line ‘Knitting Heaven in the Heart of Devon’ fully embraces our ethos.

Over the coming months we will be slowly but surely changing our stationery and the shop signage. Those of you who have visited the shop recently will have already noticed some cosmetic changes, who’d have thought that a set of chairs would illicit such squeals of delight… and that was just the staff!

We have a jam packed programme of Workshops this Spring, all led by your favourite tutors. Plus, this year we have a welcome return of Sue Lewis teaching two Landscape Felting workshops.

We are pleased to announce that Anniken will be teaching some half day workshops and for those of you who have work or commitments during the week, some popular workshops will also be held on a Saturday – look out for those dates!

You can now choose between 3 ways to book our workshops – either by telephone, in store or online via Eventbrite. To view our exciting programme, click here.

There is quite an important change to the Workshops and that is we are no longer able to offer a lunch. Therefore, you will need to bring your own lunch or buy from the fabulous facilities that Bovey Tracey has to offer. We keep a list of local cafes and delis on our website. Refreshments will still be served throughout the day as well as elevenses and afternoon tea time treats.

We’re looking forward this year to sourcing new and fabulous yarns to sit alongside our current range.  The expansion of our Adriafil range and the introduction of John Arbon last year has been successful.

Rowan will shortly be launching a new yarn called Moordale, a blend of British Wool and British Alpaca with pattern support by Martin Storey.

This year we have also made the decision to add an extra knit club session – this will usually be the third Wednesday morning of each month but we will be adding the dates to the Workshops page of our website soon, so do check before you come along and join us.

On a personal note I would like to say a huge thank you to all the staff and customers for your very warm welcome.

Wishing you all a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Trish

Introducing John Arbon Devonia – Gorgeous Devon-spun Yarns

We are often asked by visitors if we stock any local yarns, and whilst over the years we have had small batches of some, we are pleased to say we can now finally introduce a wonderful range to you.

John Arbon and his team run their spinning mill, Fibre Harvest, in South Molton, North Devon, where they cook up a spectacular range of yarns and fibres.

Grab a cup of tea, settle down and enjoy this wonderful video of their mill in action which says more than I possibly can about how skilled the process of creating these yarns is. I should add that the machine creating the skeins towards the end of the video is over 100 years old! It’s quite mesmerising and of course just fantastic to see these skills being kept alive here in Devon.

From their selection of yarns, Trish has chosen Devonia 4-ply and DK for our shop.

Devonia is a beautiful blend of 3 local breeds – Exmoor Blueface, Devon Bluefaced Leicester and Devon Wensleydale. The Exmoor Blueface is our local sheep and brings its wonderful springy nature, the Bluefaced Leicester lends its outstandingly soft handle and lustre to the yarn, whilst the Wensleydale adds its qualities of a beautiful golden sheen and fineness of fibre.

The rich, warm shades are inspired by the work of renowned 19th century French tapestry artist Jean Lurcat. There are 14 in total and each is made up of up to 5 blended pre-dyed fibre tops to create a rich melange of colour in the spun yarn. We are currently stocking every shade here at Spin A Yarn so if you’ve got your eye on any in particular be sure to pop in and have a play! We think this yarn will be perfect for everything from delicate shawls to garments and of course, it is ideal for fairisle or other colourwork. 

 

So, whether you’re eager to support the British yarn industry and British sheep breeds, looking for a gift to show off what your county can do to friends overseas, visiting the county and looking for a souvenir, or just a yarn-lover looking to try something pretty special, come to our shop in Bovey Tracey and have a look!

The full range can be found here:

Devonia 4-ply

Devonia DK

At last! Beautiful, contemporary crochet patterns.

One of the comments we often hear is that our crochet-loving customers wish there were more contemporary crochet patterns on the market. As Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project put it, “often crochet has been viewed as “best for homewares and novelties” and has struggled to lose the reputation created in the 1970s of ill-fitting granny square jackets.”

The Crochet Project have been working hard to completely transform the market and we are really pleased to be stocking two of their recently published books here at Spin A Yarn.

Everyday Wearables harnesses Joanne’s in-depth understanding of how crochet fabric is created, the need for drape and takes fit and construction lessons from both knitwear and dressmaking. A world away from the lumpy garments so many people associate with crochet, she has created pieces that fit well and look great.

Everyday Wearables collage

The book is filled with extremely detailed and helpful photo tutorials, so it’s far more than the 8 patterns it contains – it would be a perfect gift for a novice to crochet who wants to start branching out into making garments.

The Crochet Project are also known for their beautiful shawl collections. We have the fourth Shawl Project book in stock – this time they have focused on designs which make colour-shifting gradient yarns really sing.

We have a huge selection of these yarns in stock – Schoppel Zauberball would be a perfect choice with their long gradients of colour throughout each ball.

 

Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball

Schoppel-Wolle Zauberball

Or what about playing with one of our new Devon Indie-dyed Lilypond Yarns?

 

Mulberry Pie

Mulberry Pie

 

You can find both these book in our shop or read more about them on our website here:

Everyday Wearables by Joanne Scrace of The Crochet Project

The Shawl Project Book 4 by The Crochet Project

Welcoming Wool and the Gang Yarns to our Shelves

If you visit the shop you may notice an exciting new addition to our shelves – we now stock Wool and the Gang Yarns.

 

Wool and the Gang Yarns

Wool and the Gang Yarns

For those of you who aren’t already familiar with them, Wool and the Gang are on a mission to help people embrace the caring face of fashion and re-connection to their creative selves.

Founders Jade Harwood and Aurelie Popper met while studying Textile Design at Central Saint Martins in London. After school they gained experience together at Alexander McQueen and Balmain in Paris. That’s when they were discovered by former model, world traveller and yarn lover Elisabeth Sabrier. Together they founded Wool and the Gang.

The company has a strong ecological focus, with natural fibres such as wool and alpaca being prioritised as renewable and biodegradable, and also working with fashion factories to repurpose their fashion waste into new yarns to reduce landfill.

Billie Jean, one of the yarns we are now stocking, is made from 100% upcycled pre-consumer denim waste. By using no chemicals and no dyes, they manage to save 20,000 litres of water per kilogram of upcycled material! Billie Jean knits to an aran weight.

 

We also have a selection of Feeling Good Yarn – a kitten-soft, chunky-weight alpaca which knits up light as a feather, and Crazy Sexy Wool – a super-chunky, 100% peruvian wool yarn, which comes in a range of shades which are perfectly on-trend for fashionable chunky knits.

 

There are a selection of free patterns available for these yarns, or get creative and use them to knit up your favourite aran, chunky or super-chunky pattern! We can always help you find the right pattern if you pop into the shop.

To read much more about them or to send an enquiry to buy some, just head over to our website HERE.