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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)

Friday, 13 June 2014

BEHIND THE SCENES - photoshoot

It takes a LOT of baby whispering to get a great shot!
A photoshoot for a new collection always feels like a very tangible step towards realising all of the hard work that the MillaMia design team have put into developing unique and exciting new pieces. The knitted samples begin to arrive at the office a few weeks beforehand - always received with squeals of delight - and then Helena, Katarina and Tanya begin to plan for the shoot itself. They source props, locations and work on the theme for the collection - often making backdrops and parts of the set.

As the day approaches, we are all caught up in a flurry of excited activity, and this shoot was no different. With a full collection of beautiful garments for babies and kids in our (shhhh!!) brand new yarn weight, we knew that we needed a LOT of lovely young models.

We've been fortunate with sourcing some of our models for previous collections as Katarina has very generously produced three beautiful children whom we have shamelessly exploited - and their friends have also happily featured in some of the books too!

Baby Benjamin was so calm and little Olive kept a watchful eye on Mum

This time, we sent out a request on all our social media channels and were utterly thrilled with the amazing response! We want to say a HUGE thank you to all of those who took the time to get back to us and to the incredibly obliging mums, dads, aunts and other family members who brought their precious models along - we hope you'll love seeing your children swaddled in cosy knitwear in the next book.

Helena stole a quick cuddle with sweet Clara, but nephew Erik wasn't so easily charmed!

It was such a relaxed day considering the shots we needed to get, and the amount of garment and set changes we had scheduled. There were two Dads who brought their kids along - in sole charge - who did a fabulous job organising and keeping their offspring happy. Katarina and Helena managed to persuade their brother Mikael to bring the super Erik along to feature in his first photoshoot - although I'm sure he'll be 'employed' for lots more in the future! It was also lovely to meet 2 new people who, quite by chance already had connections with MillaMia. Baby Daisy's gran had knitted the Teddy Blanket for her when she was newborn and Louise's mum Linda had knitted with MillaMia - something we only found out after we had approached her in the park!! What a small world!

Cousins Johan and Erik hangout before their big moment

If you are now wondering just what this exciting new collection and yarn is all about, then keep watching this space! We'll be releasing sneak previews - like this one - right up until we launch in July here on the blog and on all of our other social media channels.
(posted by Max)

Friday, 6 June 2014

HOT RIGHT NOW - Emma Boatneck

Emma Boatneck in midnight and fawn
The sun is beginning to peek out from behind the glowering, rain-sodden clouds and there is a definite feeling of warmth in the breeze. Dare we contemplate that summer is finally on its way? Can we begin to plan a summer wardrobe with light dresses, cropped jeans, sandals and . . . cool knitwear?

I say yes! And I am certainly turning my thoughts towards some key summer pieces that will see me through the mild days of early summer and into cool evenings. Along with layering pieces such as the Erika Cardigan or the Anna Bolero which are great to put on as temperatures drop, I think the main key piece for this season has to be the Emma Boatneck. Such an easy to wear sweater, the Emma will look great teamed with jeans and heels or a cute summer skirt and some pretty sandals. I am currently deciding just which 2 colours I will knit mine in!

And it isn't just me that thinks the Emma is sure fire hit for the coming season. After the Emma pattern promotion we ran a week or so ago, a staggering 2265 Ravellers downloaded it and another 133 added it to their queue! It attracted 601 'fav's' and of the 14 projects that are currently listed a couple of these were started in the last week.

Here are a few of the projects by knitters on Ravelry who have already completed their Emma Boatnecks:
Kathfozz's Emma in plum and fawn
okdoakknits Emma in midnight and fawn
sally321's Emma's in plum and fawn and midnight and claret

Seeing a download per minute in our inbox is thrilling in itself to us at MillaMia, but to add the icing AND a cherry to the top of a delectable cake, our Emma Boatneck also raced it's way up the Hot Right Now pattern board on Ravelry. The entire MillaMia team watched with baited breath as it crept higher . . .

and higher . . .

and finally reached the top! Our first ever pattern to reach the highly coveted number 1 spot!

If you haven't got your Emma Boatneck sweater pattern yet, then you can find it on Ravelry for £4, or in the Country Escape collection (the pattern promotion is now finished).

Now, should I try fuchsia and scarlet for a REALLY bright splash of summer colour or go for a more sophisticated berry and putty? Oh, but what about daisy and snow, forget-me-not and storm or midnight and snow . . . the choices are endless!!
(posted by Max)