Midwinter Woolfeast 2017 is proud to be sponsored by New Zealand's most fabulous woolcraft artisans.
I will be publishing interviews as we lead up to Midwinter Woolfeast 2017, so we can take a peak behind the woolly curtain of these inspiring businesses.
Happy-go-knitty is known for its exotic, luxurious 2ply and 4ply bases and dazzling kalaidescopic colour range.
I had a chat with Helene from Happy-go-knitty to find out more about this exciting brand...
Happy-go-knitty is one of the cornerstone indie dyed yarn brands in New Zealand, how did it all start?
I started dyeing yarn more than 12 years ago. By then I still lived in my native Sweden and I used to dye cotton yarn. When I moved to NZ I tried dyeing wool and I was hooked! Happy-go-knitty was born around 8 years ago.
You have such a dedicated following, tell us why Happy-go-knitty is the favourite brand of so many quality yarn lovers.
I think I have managed to create my own niche. People know me for dyeing 2ply and 4ply high quality yarn. I stock some unusual yarn including no less than 4 different yak blends! I have two very popular silk/merino (2ply and 4ply) and ever since Happy-go-knitty started, I have dyed BFL (Bluefaced Leicester). I also stock a lot of NZ spun yarn, in different bases, which I'm really happy about!
My main style of dyeing is semi-solid, which is what many knitters like to use. And many knitters now that I stock the amazing ChiaoGoo needles.
I love the names of your yarns, what inspired them?
All my bases are named after the area the fiber originates from. My NZ yarn bases are named after beautiful places in our country – Ahuriri, Aoraki, Hakatere, Manawatu and Rimutaka.
The yak blends are named after places where the yaks can be found – Annapurna, Himalaya, Langtang and Sikkim.
My silk blends, Kashgar and Niya, are named after citites on the Silk Road.
The BFL sheep can be found in the UK and therefore my BFL yarn is called Dartmoor.
And the sparkle yarn, well, it's called Shangri-la!
Any exciting Happy-go-knitty news that you can share with us?
I have a gorgeous brand new yarn in my range – a singlespun 4ply yak/silk/merino! I always keep my eyes open for new, exciting yarn on the market and if I see something I like, I will definitely buy it! I'm considering adding some 8ply to my range, if I find something that is really scrumptious.
I'm planning to dye self-striping sock yarn again, something I haven't had time for in the past year. It will be on Dartmoor (BFL), Aoraki (merino/nylon), Shangri-la (sparkle) and maybe I will throw in some Ahuriri (high twist merino) as well!
What can we expect to see on your stand at Midwinter Woolfeast 2017?
Lots and lots and LOTS of yarn in the most gorgeous colours! And of course, the very popular ChiaoGoo needles as well.
You have created such a stunning colour range, I find it so had to choose, what's your personal favourite Happy-go-knitty colour?
I'm a sucker for a good purple so I really like the dark Black Doris Plum. I'm very keen to try it on the new singlespun base – I think it will be delicious!
What are you most proud of about Happy-go-knitty?
That I have managed to create a product that people love.
Looking at all these delicious Happy-go-knitty colours, I had to spoil myself with some Kashgar.
Here's a sneak peek of the next free pattern I'm working on, I'll upload it to the blog when it's finished...
Maniototo Wool is known for its entirely New Zealand produced, woollen and worsted spun yarns, hand dyed in gentle shades inspired by the natural New Zealand environment.
I interviewed Mary from Maniototo Wool, to find out more about this uniquely New Zealand brand, read more below...
It's a very unique product, what was the inspiration behind Maniototo Wool?
Maniototo Wool started in 2013 when I visited the farm of our friends, the Duncans in the Maniototo region of Central Otago, and heard about the breeding programme they were following to produce the type of wool being sought by American markets for high quality wool garments that don’t feel prickly to wear. This wool was all exported. None was available in New Zealand, so, being a spinner and a knitter, I decided to do my best to make this great raw product available in the form of yarns for knitting.
How do you select the wool you are going to use for the yarns?
We visit the farm at shearing time which happens once a year in August. A woolclasser is in charge of the shearing shed. As the wool is shorn from the sheep, she selects the fleeces that we are looking for and bales them separately. They are selected for evenness of the crimp, strength and a minimum of vegetable matter ie:, hay, grass, dirt. The wool is scoured in Timaru, and spun into yarn in Christchurch.
You have a passionate following of yarnaholics, what is it about Maniototo Wool they love so much?
They like the fact that our yarns are made entirely in New Zealand. They like the fact that we have woollen spun yarns as well as the worsted yarns they are more familiar with. They like the gentle colours of our yarns, the fact that they are hand dyed by me in small but repeatable batches, and that the inspiration for colours is mostly inspired by nature. Overseas buyers love the fact that Maniototo Wool is a truly New Zealand product, whose origins are fully traceable.
What are you most proud of?
I love having a variety of yarns all made from the same fleeces, and feel very proud to be able to make them available to yarnaholics, and introduce them to others who will become yarnaholics. I absolutely love having a product that I know to be of the best quality available.
I enjoy the opportunity to help people select the best yarn for the article they want to make.
I do a massive amount of research, mostly on Ravelry, finding designs that will work well with our yarns. I do a lot of knitting of samples and am happy to recommend what I know will work so that the buyer will have a positive experience in making something beautiful with our yarn.
Give us a little hint of what we can expect to see in 2017...
I have already collaborated with designers by providing yarns that will suit their designs, and look forward to doing more of this in the future.
...oooh, that sounds exciting! Please tell us what you'll be bringing along in June to Midwinter Woolfeast 2017!
All our yarns are 100% wool, undyed white as well as hand dyed. You will see a full range of our woollen spun yarns in Aran style and DK weights. These yarns are ideal for making warm lightweight garments for cosy winter wear. You will also see our worsted spun lambswool yarns in DK weight. These are smooth soft yarns for making fabrics that are sleek and drape beautifully. None of the yarns are chemically treated for machine washability, so you are seeing the natural product in all its beauty. You will see a selection of dyed and undyed yarn available to purchase by the kilogram if you wish
Vintage Purls is known for fantastic customer service, stunning hand dyed yarn and a comprehensive range of knitting and crochet accessories, including a great selection of 'must have' imported needle brands.
I asked Morag about all things Vintage Purls, have a read below:
I know you've probably been asked this loads but where do you find your colour inspiration?
I’m a total magpie. Anything and everything serves as inspiration.
VP is one of the best known hand dyed yarn brands in NZ, so I'm interested to know, how did Vintage Purls start?
Knitting has been a passion of mine for most of my life. Pre internet I didn’t know many other knitters and I struggled to get the yarns I wanted locally. Ravelry happened, I met a bunch more knitters (a lot of them in my own town) and I realised that many agreed with me about a lack of sock-weight yarns in NZ. So, I decided to do something about it. I quit my day job and started in business. That was 2008. The NZ market for yarn has changed so much in that time, there certainly isn’t a lack of sock yarns now! But I still love finer-weight knitting yarns, so that’s still my focus.
...and what are you most proud of?
That I’ve been operating for nine years now! When I began I heard “most business fail within the first two years” so often. I was delighted when I reached my 2nd birthday, but 2017 will be VP's ninth birthday - I think I might have finally proven that I can run a small business. :)
It must be a lovely business to be in, what do you enjoy most?
That it’s my full-time job. I do what I enjoy all the time. It is immensely satisfying. The fibre-world is a great place to spend your days, when you sell what people want for a hobby that makes them happy, you don’t encounter many angry people.
I have to ask, what's your personal favourite product, give us the inside scoop?!
Superstar - without a doubt. I adore this base! It was a long time in the scheming, but I couldn’t be more delighted with the product I ended up with. I love working with it, and I am delighted by the feedback I’ve had from other knitters. I really did just make the yarn I wanted, so it’s very nice that others enjoy it too.
I had to try this yarn, so I designed a shawlette in it, the free pattern is on the blog!
And lastly pleeeease tell us what you'll be bringing to Midwinter Woolfeast 2017?
Everything I can cram in my car to bring. :)
Lots of yarn, I know that there is no substitute for seeing and feeling a yarn in person, so they’ll be plenty of all of my VP bases to fondle. I’ll have Zauberball too. And needles and accessories, lots and lots of needles - they pack small so I can generally pack a good proportion of my KnitPro and ChiaoGoo stock.