Wool Week – Day 4: Knitting is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll

As I am writing this, Wool Week 2013 draws to a close. It’s been a wonderful week full of  inspiration, shared creativity and  fun.
I tried to go to as many events and workshops as time would allow. On schedule for thursday was the Rowan Yarns workshop at John Lewis Oxford Street. The classes were all booked out, so I decided to just drop into one of their open sessions, which also allowed me to check out the progress of the wool window.
People have been hard at work all week, and by now you can view the finished room in the side streets off Oxford Street. Just as a reminder, we started out with this on monday…

Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas

By Thursday, things were looking rather different. A majority of the originally white interior is now covered in colourful stitches.. they don’t even stop at the afternoon tea.

Those who still think knitting is for old ladies only, think again. Knitting is the new Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Knitting is the new  Rock 'n' Roll

After saying Hi to the busy people in the window, I headed up the First Floor for the Rowan workshop. Upon arriving I noticed models of the snoods they were teaching to people – 3 different variations, all knit in wonderfully soft and chunky Big Wool. I borrowed a pair of needles, and one of the design consultants who work at John Lewis attempted to teach me to knit English Style (I’m normally a continental knitter). I started working on this cabled cowl and will definitely be making a few of these as Christmas presents.
 Cabled Cowl

Stuart Hillard from the Great British Sewing Bee having fun knitting a purple scarf.

Stuart Hillard Knitting

After a good two hours during which I more or less successfully attempted fair isle knitting with one colour in each hand, it was time for another class. This one was fully booked, and even reality TV star Oliver Proudlock joined the group to learn how to knit. Since the pop-up store was getting really crowded, I packed what I had made into my already too-full bag and headed over to Liberty’s, where the Awards ceremony for the winner of Wool Week 2013 Hand Knit & Crochet Award was taking place.
The Awards are a collaboration between Rowan Yarns, The Campaign for Wool, Liberty’s and The Royal College of Arts. To learn more about the awards, head over to the Campaign for Wool’s website. I got a chance to talk to the winners and Rowan brand manager Kate Buller and designer Marie Wallin, who are both very passionate about the competition, and who knows – they might even be recruiting some of those fresh talents to work with on future collections. Marie Wallin (wearing her own design Anatolia from Rowan Mag 54) then presented the awards and prizes to the winners and told the audience a little more about the designs and the creative minds behind them.

I am a bit sad that Wool Week 2013 is now nearly over, but am sure that Wool Week 2014 is already being planned as we speak, and will have many more inspiring exhibitions and events in store for all of us. I’m signing off now to work on my knitting :)

Summer Socks in Rowan Fine Art

I know, I know. Knitted socks, in SUMMER? But seriously. One of the great features of wool is that it regulates temperature – it keeps you warm when it’s cold, and it cools when it’s hot. Pretty handy, isn’t it?

Rowan Fine Art Socks

Fine Art is Rowan’s first handpainted sock yarn, and may I say so, it is my new favourite. It’s a blend of wool, mohair, silk with a dash of polyamide to make it more durable. I don’t know who first had the idea of adding silk to a sock yarn, but whoever it was is a genious. Silk is a strong fiber, and it feels amazing in combination with the mohair. Seriously, you’ll never want to wear socks that are made of anything else again. They’re so.. slinky. And a little fuzzy at the same time. I love mohair, wearing a garment made from this fibre is a bit like carrying your favourite pet around with you 24/7. The fibres for this yarn are sourced, spun and hand painted in South Africa. If you’d like to know more about the process of creating Fine Art, check out the story behind creating it.

My favourite of the Fine Art colours is Lapwing, a beautiful blend of green shades. I was so happy when I opened the package  to find Rowan had sent me just this colour together with the Rowan Fine Art Collection book. The skein itself looks like a piece of art, the colours are brilliant and thanks to the silk it shines and reflects the light like a gemstone. I am actually thinking of ordering another skein just for the sake of displaying it, that’s how pretty it is (there goes my resolve not to buy yarn this year until my stash has been reduced considerably – oops).


Rowan Fine Art Collection contains 14 designs made with Fine Art Sock yarn, but don’t you think they’re all just socks. It’s a mixture of beautifully patterned scarves, wraps and several sock designs by some of Rowan’s favourite designers Martin Storey, Gemma Atkinson, Marie Wallin and Lisa Richardson.

I am in love with Warbler, a pair of overknee socks designed by Gemma Atkison. Alas, this is a rather time consuming project using three skeins of Fine Art and knit with cable details, so I decided against making it for now as I have been working on so many different projects recently and just wanted a quick fix that meant I could knit on the go without having to follow a pattern. I’d really love to make these socks, but am hoping Rowan will bring out Fine Art in Solid colours in the future. I’d love to wear the socks with a dress or skirt so you can actually display the beautiful yarn and pattern, however personally I find the handpainted colours are a bit too busy for a piece that will already draw lots of attention simply because of the gorgeous design.

Knitting with Fine Art was an absolute pleasure, the yarn is so silky it glides through your fingers easily and knits up relatively fast despite being knitted on 2,5mm needles. It creates a sturdy yet very delicate and soft fabric, and just holding the finished socks makes you want to put them on immediately. I actually had strangers coming up to me while knitting on the train asking about the yarn and wanting to touch the socks. I don’t think that’s ever happened to me before. One skein is enough to make a pair of adult size socks, I am a size EUR40/UK7/US9 and I had quite a bit of yarn left as well after finishing.


Feet wriggling away happily