Many thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions for BritYarn. If you are sitting comfortably with a beverage to hand lets begin!
I'm Louise and for the last two years I have been knitting British. That is to say that for every crafting project I undertake I only use wool that has been grown, spun or dyed in the UK. I talk about the journey through connections of Britishness in wool and knitting on my blog and in my podcast.
When not working from home on all those things (sat at a computer or mic in close vicinity to the cat and thelovelyfella) I can be found (for the meantime) in Shetland, working in the local library.
How and when did the KnitBritish podcast and blog start?
The whole concept of KnitBritish came to me on a train journey from Aberdeen to Edinburgh. I was knitting with a yarn that was very local to me in Shetland and as the train passed through fields of sheep I was really struck by the idea of discovering more of the breed yarns available in the UK.I worked on the concept for about 4 months and did a lot of research into British sheep breeds, the yarns available and also British based dyers and mills - it was like someone turned a massive bulb on for me – there was a whole world of wool that I hadn't fully appreciate. I had never bought wool based on these things before and there is a huge treasure trove in the UK.
Quite soon I realized that I wouldn't be able to stop at a year, with such a woolly wealth of resource on our doorsteps KnitBritish had truly become a lifestyle for me, rather than a challenge.
I love knitting and after a lengthy sabbatical after primary school, I re-taught my self to knit in 2007/8 when I gave up smoking (the first time). I am constantly amazed at how knitting is a permanent learning curve – there is always something new to master.
I have recently bought a wee sample loom too and really enjoying exploring a new woolly craft.
After I publish a podcast episode the pen and pad come out and I jot down the schedule for the next one. There is a podcast every other week, (sometimes they are more frequent). I jot down content ideas, my to-do list and also a note of important links for the show-notes.
That's proper minxy question, Isla! *Isla cackles in the background* What if all my other British yarns hear? I get asked this a lot and it is really hard to answer with one as I have a favourite longwool, a favourite down breed, a favourite primitive, etc...then there is, of course, other British bred fibre, such as alpaca and mohair. They all have wonderful qualities in terms of their different textures, structures, ability to wear....
I think I love texture the most and particularly garter stitch and lace – If I were knitting something that required that I would go for a sheepy Shetland, or a Corriedale yarn. If I wanted to knit something soft and drapey I would go for a BFL or alpaca...But I don't think I could be drawn on one favourite.
Wow! I think it's got to be The Podcast Lounge at Edinburgh Yarn Festival. It was a brilliant atmosphere, we had a great weekend of sessions and laid-back chat. The feedback was just wonderful and I got to meet so many listeners, many of whom told me how much the podcast means to them in terms of the wool they buy and over and above a woolly level. It was an incredibly strong community event and one that will stay with me for a long time. It really cemented in me that I love what I do and I am going to keep on doing it.
I have been blown away at how people have embraced the hap. The amount of hap action has really knocked my socks off.
For those who don't know, a hap is a shawl traditionally worn in Shetland; square or 'half' (triangular) the design usually starts with a central panel, after which a lace section is knitted, followed by edging. It can be knitted in pieces and grafted together, or the stitches can be picked up around the central panel to continue knitting the item in the round.
Are there any future KnitBritish plans / projects you can share with BritYarn?Hmmm, well I am very, very good at keeping secrets and do like to spring surprises on the podcast, but you and I have some plans coming up, don't we?
In July we are co-hosting the Scollayalong, knitting the wonderful Scollay cardigan designed by Karie Westermann. I know that lots of people have been eager to cast this on and I am utterly delighted that we are working together on this. We will all be casting on Friday 17th July and there will be a cast on virtual party that evening. The KAL will end on Friday 25th September so perfect for some summer knitting!
The KAL will be hosted in the BritYarn and KnitBritish Ravelry groups. The sign up thread will open on Monday 22nd June in the KnitBritish group. The chat (and party) will move over to the BritYarn group on Friday 17th July. The chat thread will then move a week later, on Friday 24th July, to KnitBritish where it will stay for the week before hopping back to BritYarn for a week etc. The FO thread will be in the KnitBritish group so make sure you post pictures of your finished Scollay's there to be in with a chance of winning a prize. Prizes will be announced nearer the time but we can say there will be a prize for the Best Scollay made in British grown wool.
There is a special BritYarn Scollay-along discount code for 10% off any DK yarn from today, Monday 15th June until midnight Sunday 28th June - scollaykaldk15
You can go to the website www.knitbritish.net and you can subscribe to email updates straight to your inbox when there is a new episode or blog post.
You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, listen on the podcast app, on Stitcher Radio and on PlayerFM.
Anyone interested in KnitBritish can also join the group on Ravelry and that is a really good place to catch up with what's happening with the KB community – KALs, British wool projects, questions, suggestions and general chat.