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Friday, 1 August 2014

OUT AND ABOUT - Fibre East

How lucky we have been with glorious warm weather (and not too much rain) here in the UK! Of course, it's especially welcome at this time of year as there seems to be a fibre event every weekend, and these days out are always SO much more fun if the sun is shining.

There are always buttons treasures to seek out and the prettiest yarn to stroke!

A mere two weeks after a fabulous weekend at Unwind Brighton, Fibre East beckoned knitters, spinners, crocheters and crafters along to Redbourne Community College in Bedfordshire. Fibre East, by its own admission seeks to 'celebrate the Best of British' - a term that loosely covers anything from UK based dyers and vendors to specialists in homegrown or British breeds.

We arrived early so there was time for some crocheting in the queue!

I love the variety and choice that this engenders - there are always favourites indie dyers, talented crafts people, small local shops and designers who often won't exhibit at the larger national shows due to the huge costs of the stands. It's a chance to go and see (and more importantly feel) the yarns that are mostly only available to view in an Etsy store, to meet the passionate people behind these small brands and to support them. I can happily say that I NEVER come away from one of these local shows without a few skeins of something I hadn't planned to purchase - and consider it a very welcome accident!

Shearing demonstrations were on all weekend - you have to feel sorry for the very hot sheep that were last to relinquish their fleeces!

There were a couple of MillaMia stockists exhibiting including Sue Stratford and The Knitting Hut, The Knitting Gift Shop and Knit One - all stands looked busy with excited customers throughout the day. The Natural Dye Studio, Easyknits, Yarn Garden and Purl Alpaca almost seem like regulars now, and I was excited also to see Rachel CoopeySweet Clement, Kettle Yarn Co and Five Moons.

Sue Stratford with her menagerie of animal kits and the lovely folk from Five Moons

I was perhaps a little surprised that the show wasn't busier. In previous years there has barely been enough room to wrestle your purse out of a handbag - even at the 2012 show that we all affectionately call 'worm armaggedon' due to the horribly wet conditions the footfall seemed higher. This year there was certainly room enough to stroll and browse without an elbow in your ribs, there was space to see what was on offer and time to chat with the vendors. Don't get me wrong, I am all for a more relaxed marketplace where I have more time and choice to make my purchases, but that has a huge impact on the vendors of course.

Time for a picnic with friends in the grounds of the college

I wondered to myself on the way home if we are now experiencing too much of a good thing. It feels like the knitting/crafting community has been craving some really good quality shows for a good long time, and now we almost have a glut! Perhaps a shuffle of the calendar for 2015 will help to ensure that all the shows receive an equal share of the (yarn) cake.
(posted by Max)

Friday, 25 July 2014

BRAND NEW - yarn and collection preview

New yarn.

New collections.

We are so excited about our new yarn weight and collections that we can't wait to share at least a few pictures with you . . . enjoy these cuties all wrapped up in stunning, unique designs using our brand new Naturally Soft Aran . . . coming soon!


(posted by Max)

Friday, 18 July 2014

UNWIND - Brighton

The Brighton Dome - home of the marketplace at Unwind
Once in a while, an epic event grows from a set of simple ideas. The ideas being those of collaboration, inclusion, fellowship of like minds and wholehearted immersion in something you love. It grows in the mind of a special individual who has a vision for something spectacular - something that provides the most incredible platform for all of this to happen. It evolves quickly and organically and before you know it, there is a venue with vendors, workshops, teachers, designers and many, many excited people eager to come and be a part of it.

Dani Sunshine (also known as Lioness Arts) had such a vision last year and took on the mantle of organising the mammoth event that soon became known as 'Unwind' in her home town of Brighton, which took place just last weekend. I cannot even begin to fathom the level of dedication, organisation, and sheer hard work that Dani and her Unwind team put into every single aspect of this incredible event, but I do know that their commitment to making this THE best fibre/knitting show of the year was tangible in absolutely every part.

From the highest calibre of workshops and designer-teachers, to the stunning array of yarn available in the marketplace courtesy of some of the premier indie dyers of the moment; from the beautiful location to the fabulous Seaside Shindig party splendidly organised by the girls from Pom Pom Magazine - this weekend provided full sensual immersion and complete enjoyment for every knitter and crocheter that attended!

We discovered that knitting goes with practically anything!

I, along with Sue Stratford and my knitter friend Caroline, attended for the entire weekend, having booked workshops, our place at the Shindig and with a not inconsiderable list of desirable items to purchase at the marketplace. We threw ourselves wholeheartedly into the experience from the beginning - scouring the Lanes for delicious cake, cocktails and jewellery on the Friday before the yarn market was open and then each of us attending various classes on the following 2 days.

The beginning of my Brioche knitting and Sue concentrating very hard on hers

Sue and I had the privilege of attending the Windrow Cowl Brioche knitting class with Bristol Ivy. Bristol was the most patient of teachers and took great pains to show us the trick of knitting in Brioche style - her Windrow Cowl pattern is very beautiful and I really wanted to learn how to make it. I think I have grasped the technique for knitting Brioche flat, but let's just say that I need quite a bit more practice!

I may be undoing some of my stranded knitting here . . .
Ann Kingstone was the most patient and knowledgeable of teachers

We also went along to learn Stranded Knitting at the hand of the mistress of colourwork - Ann Kingstone, who was equally engaging and demonstrated some techniques that both Sue and I will be forever grateful for. There really is nothing quite like learning these skills directly from the hands of these super talented designers, and I am already wondering what new technique I can learn next year . . .

The Seaside Shindig was great fun - a knitty quiz with yarn tasting, live music and John Arbon spinning the decks - perfect!

The pictures of this awesome event don't really do it justice - but we were often too busy knitting and laughing to remember to take any! I'd just like to add an addendum for any Unwind organisers that may come across this post . . . looking forward to Unwind Brighton 2015!!

Bekky, Me, Sue and Caroline - a Brighton Dome selfie!
(posted by Max)

Thursday, 10 July 2014

NOMINATED - British Knitting Awards 2014

We are incredibly excited to announce that we have been nominated in the British Knitting Awards 2014! The readers of Let's Knit and Let's Get Crafting magazines have been responsible for choosing all the nominees for a whole raft of categories and MillaMia have been entered in the 'Best Ready-To-Use Kits' section.

Firstly we want to say a HUGE thank you to all the readers who initially nominated us - we are so pleased that you think our kits are worthy of a nomination. And secondly (here comes the pitch!) - if you think that our kits make great gifts, are beautifully packaged, contain the perfect project for a beginner knitter/new Mum or Grandmother or just that they look jolly nice in your local yarn shop - we'd love your vote!

Voting is now open and will close on 14th September so you have plenty of time to place your vote. To make it super easy for you, we have included a button here . . .

If you are a regular reader then you will also be able to cast your vote there - forms are in the August issue of Let’s Knit and issue 63 of Let’s Get Crafting – Knitting & Crochet magazines.
Many thanks from the MillaMia Team!

Friday, 4 July 2014


We have long been waxing lyrical about the versatility of our Naturally Soft Merino and how its lovely tight twist lends itself to beautifully even knitted stitches - but how does it stand up when used for crochet? The wonderful Rachel from Tangled Yarn set herself the challenge of learning to crochet when she came upon the amazing Anzen by Simone Francis in Pom Pom Quarterly Magazine. Read on to see how Rachel fared with learning a new craft and finding herself in love with a new yarn!

Rachel: I first saw Anzen when it appeared in the Winter 2013 edition of Pom Pom Magazine and was immediately inspired to learn to crochet! I love the simple styling, but had never crocheted before so I thought I should definitely try. It's actually easier than I thought and the pattern is really well written and fairly straight forward which helps a lot. As a beginner myself, I would confidently say that it's ideal as a pattern to start with, but I would also recommend Youtube as great place to see any stitches or techniques that you aren't sure of - it's always helpful to see somebody else demonstrating.

 The Winter 2013 edition of Pom Pom is available in print and as a digital download

I was so pleased to see that the yarn used for Anzen was MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino as I’d been admiring it for a while. There isn't a stockist locally and so I decided to stock it. I've been very happy with it so far - it's beautiful for both knitting and crochet and is absolutely ideal for this project. I think that MillaMia is a good yarn to start crocheting with because it's far easier to use than cotton (a yarn that is more typically recommended for crochet) it doesn't split quite as much and the stitches are incredibly neat and well defined.

I love MillaMia for its colour palette, all the colours work so well together when you combine two or three in a project like this. For my Anzen, I chose putty grey as the main shade with storm and berry as the accents which complement each other really well. So much of the worry about choosing colours that 'go' with each other is taken away with the colour palette - the guys at MillaMia have done all the work for you!

So far, I'm happy with this first ever crochet project. I’m really enjoying the process and have to confess that I look forward to the end of my day when I can just sit with it on my knee and hook away!

You can find Rachel at her online store Tangled Yarn where she has curated an incredible collection of beautiful yarn, patterns and notions, on her blogRavelry, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

OUT AND ABOUT - with Loveknitting WKIP

What better way to spend a summer Saturday than among fellow knitters (whom you may or may not actually know) in a cool café in the middle of London, knitting squares for a worthy charity? The MillaMia team thought that there wasn't really anything they would like to do more and so Katarina, Helena and I hopped along last Saturday to join Loveknitting and Knit For Peace at Flat Planet in Great Marlborough Street as part of Worldwide Knit In Public Day.
Launched in 2005 by Danielle Landes, WKIP is the biggest knitter run event in the world. It has gathered momentum over the past few years seeing organised events now run through an entire week, and with global reach. It has become an excellent opportunity among the knitting community to not only show off their knitting prowess in public, but to participate in some charitable endeavours for lots of worthwhile causes.
Our colourful group spilled out onto the street and attracted lots of interested glances from passers-by
The team at Loveknitting are no exception and decided that offering free knitting classes as well as knitting up some blanket squares to support the Knit For Peace charity, would be the perfect way to mark the day. They chose a trendy venue, invited some knitting celebrities and provided plenty of delicious café fare to help motivate and fuel the knitters.

Debbie Bliss provided help and advice in her Knitting999 Surgery and happily contributed a couple of very beautiful squares to the effort. The ladies that I ended up sitting next to were busy knitting their own squares as I arrived and I overheard them talking about how lovely Debbie is - they were very slightly starstruck at meeting such a well-respected and well-known knitting celebrity!
Edward from Loveknitting and Debbie Bliss
Katarina and Helena arrived shortly after me and we were all soon knitting and chatting and tucking into some wholly delicious food. Flat Planet were incredibly accommodating of us crafters spreading out across the entire downstairs and up on the street, and fed us with delectable organic English spelt flatbreads topped with all manner of delights.

It was warm and busy up on the street . . .
. . . cool and productive downstairs in the basement!

The generous endeavours of the knitters produced a very creditable 50 squares on the day which will all end up as part of a blanket. Of course, the charity needs LOTS more squares and Knit For Peace are very happy to accept any squares you'd like to donate. Send your squares (10cm x 10cm - any yarn, colour, pattern!) to:
Knit For Peace
Radius Works
Back Lane
The pictures actually tell the best story - lots of knitters enjoying a bit of crafting on a splendid summers day, and some curious passers-by stopping to have a go. As I said at the beginning - what better way to spend a Saturday than meeting new knitting folk, creating something for a great cause and eating!!
(posted by Max)