pippu shawl

Happy New Year to you! I really hope that 2018 promises to be a good one for you and that you have some lovely plans to look forward to… my year is still taking shape but, after a wonderfully busy 2017, I’m aiming for a good balance of time at home and some adventures further afield this year! In this quiet time of planning and regrouping before the work year starts, I just have a bit of news that I wanted to pass on- a new knitting design in woollenflower yarns!

Pippu Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Pippu Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Pippu Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Ambah O’Brien, who I met at this year’s Craft Sessions after following her work online for years, has used my plant-dyed Kid Mohair/ Silk and Alpaca/ Silk/ Cashmere together for her Pippu Shawl, named for the avocado pips used to dye the shades for her sample, pippu being the Japanese word for pip. Among other things, Ambah is known for designing beautiful shawls that are both wearable and interesting to knit so I was thrilled when she chose to work with my yarns and really interested to see what she came up with. For Pippu, Ambah drew inspiration from a recent trip to Japan, its gentle ripples and lace reminiscent of a Zen garden with its walkways trimmed with mosses; playing with textures and the way the dye material is taken differently by the different fibres, Pippu is a gentle design, perfect for the softest yarns in soothing colours. Knit on the bias, it begins with easy stripes, alternating a fingering-weight with a single strand of laceweight, followed by a simple lace section worked with the laceweight doubled, giving the asymmetrical triangle a floaty finish.

Ambah is releasing the Pippu Shawl on Ravelry tonight, Friday January 5 Glasgow time. I’m always thrilled to see what people make in my yarns and can’t wait to see some more Pippus out there so please do tag me on Instagram and use #pippushawl so that I can keep up with your projects!

Pippu requires 1 skein of Woollenflower Alpaca/ Silk/ Cashmere (400m/ 100gm) and 2 skeins of Woollenflower Kid Mohair/ Silk (420m/ 50gm) and some of each will be available in the shop tonight- that’s Friday January 5 at 9pm. They are now listed for preview if you’d like to have a look! Ambah worked her shawl with both yarns dyed with avocado pips to achieve a subtle variation in colour and I have dyed 5 shades of both yarn bases in the same dyebath to achieve a similar result, however there is also the option of adding more contrast to the stripes by choosing more contrasting shades… 

Buckthorn berries and logwood


Avocado pips

Indigo and goldenrod


Well, that’s it for now but I wish you all a very peaceful January, whether you’re snuggling by the nearest heat source in the northern hemisphere like me or relaxing in the summer heat down south! Either way, may you have time for the things that make you happy…

Pippu Shawl

shop update

Hello! It’s been quite a while since I’ve had a chance to sit down and write here… I really wish I’d been able to make time to do so as I love sharing a little of what I’ve been seeing and doing but I suppose we all have to prioritise activities and this year has been so full of lots of wonderful travels that I this little place has not got a look in. And I know I’m not alone is feeling that, somehow, the longer between posts, the harder it seems to get back to write one. But I do have a couple of plant and dye posts in the works and more waiting and hope to share them with you over the next couple of weeks! In the meantime, I just wanted to let everyone know that I’m adding some pouches to the shop tomorrow…

A plethora of pouches

This is a cheerful bunch, made up of some of Lorna‘s beautiful handwork (that has been so loved by many of you- thank you!) and a few special fabrics. I’ve slowly worked my way through my lovely collection of worn-out jackets (and have also been doing a lot more plant-dyeing) and, as a result, my pouch-making has slowed down this year… I see this as a natural part of the way I work- there are only so many beautiful Harris Tweed jackets out there needing a new life and my focus has always been to do just that, to find a purpose for waste. But I stumbled on some beautiful (new) fabrics that I wanted to highlight in a short run of pouches, this time from Peter Grieg of Kirkcaldy, the same mill that weaves the linen I use to line my pouches. They are made from lambswool so are a softer fabric than HT but are based on some of the old Scottish tweeds and tartans and make a lovely juxtaposition to it.

Benmore Red from Peter Grieg (L, M and S)

Ancient Robertson (L and M)

As you can see, I’ve also expanded my range to include three sizes of pouches! Over the last couple of years, I’ve stored up some larger scraps so, when Rachel of Daughter of a Shepherd asked whether I’d be able to make some different sizes for our collaboration, it seemed like a great time to start using them. Because of the way I work, not all sizes are available in every fabric- it really depends on what size pieces I have- but I do have quite a few of each size in this update. My standard pouch is now my M and I’ve added a S (perfect for notions or needles) and a L (fits a medium shawl project or a baby garment) and they are £26, £23 and £30 respectively.

Harris Tweed (L and M)

And the other special fabric in this update is this wonderful hot-pink and green wool boucle!

Josh’s wool boucle

I was lucky enough to be contacted by Josh, a Dutch knitting friend from Instagram, offering me this wonderful vintage wool boucle- it had formed part of her godmother’s treasured fabric stash until her recent death and Josh really wanted to find a way to honour her and her stash and wondered if it might work as pouches. I held it back for a while, unsure if it was a bit thick for the purpose, and then realised that the gauge of the fabric would work really well as a larger pouch. And it does- the combination of that hot-pink/ grass-green/ sage check and the plump, dense fabric has made super cosy pouches and I love them!

So that’s the update. Please do head over and have a look if you’re interested- they are available for preview now and for sale tomorrow evening, Friday December 1 at 8pm Glasgow time. (For any overseas buyers keen for delivery before the holidays, please get in touch after making your purchase to discuss postage- as a guide, a small parcel containing up to 3 pouches tracked to Australia/ US costs £12.95 and takes an estimated 7-10 days. Please note that, while it’s almost certain to arrive by December 24, I can’t guarantee delivery!)

Many thanks for your interest!

shop update: pouches!

In the lead up to this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival, my friend Lorna of Chookiebirdie and I hatched a plan to work on a small collaboration- I would make some of my regular pouches and she would work her magic on them, embroidering with wool felt and threads in her own charming style. I left the design up to her but, as the base fabric was a dark, heathered blue-brown reminiscent of the sea and seaweeds of West Scotland, we discussed the idea of a sea creature of some kind… we hoped that they’d capture the hearts of knitters attending the festival and they certainly did- her oystercatchers (an iconic bird found on Scottish coasts in the warmer months) had such life and character that they found homes in the first ten minutes of the show! So, when the opportunity to exhibit at Pomfest came, we thought it was time to make more of those beautiful pouches for me to take along! And, because I know that not everyone can go to Pomfest, I held back a small number for the shop  : )

Lorna made more Oystercatchers…

Oystercatcher Pouch

Oystercatcher Pouch

as well as exclusive Pompom heart pouches to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pompom magazine…

Pompom hearts for Pomfest!

Pompom hearts for Pomfest!

and used the wee knitting foxes from her much-loved badges on others…

Wee knitting foxes!

Wee knitting foxes!

and combined birds and flowers for these- perfect for a Chookiebirdie-woollenflower collaboration, aren’t they?

Bird and Flower Pouch

Bird and flower pouch

I also have a handful of my own, unadorned pouches going into the shop too…

A classic herringbone in silver/ charcoal

Beautifully subtle salmon/ oatmeal

A warm and joyous blue

Shades of heather from a 1970’s Scottish skirt

As you can see on the sky-blue and charcoal pouches, I’ve used tweed from jacket fronts that have darts in them… for a long time, I stored these pieces, assuming that people would not want seam lines on their pouches and wondering what I could do with them. And then, talking to Lorna, I discovered that she didn’t think that seams were a problem, that people may in fact feel that the seams told more of the story of the jacket as origin… I hadn’t thought of that! That is such a good example of why working with others is so important- it’s just so easy to become fixed in the way we see things, isn’t it?

All the pouches are now in the shop for a sneak peak and will be available at 9pm Glasgow-time tomorrow, Sunday July 30. Enjoy and many thanks for your interest in my work!

(A brief word on pricing… Lorna’s pouches are a very special bunch and the price reflects the fact that they incorporate both her handwork and my sewing. And I have been holding off on increasing the price of my pouches but, after hikes in the cost of materials, such as zips and lining, I’ve had to push it up a bit. I hope that you understand and that it doesn’t make them too exclusive- I’m increasingly aware of the fact that certain corners of the knitting community can be a bit intimidating to those with less income so please do get in touch if you desperately want one but are not able to afford it- I’d be very happy to discuss a trade of some kind!)

shop update

It’s been a while between drinks but I’ve made some pouches for the shop! The update  will be tomorrow, Saturday April 8 at 3pm Glasgow-time, but they’re already loaded in the shop in case you feel like having a leisurely browse beforehand : )

As always, I got a kick out of choosing fabrics that work together and there is quite a bit of Harris Tweed in this batch, as well as the last of the teal camper van cushion covers and a couple of other colourways…


Scottish wool in oatmeal/ berry from my friend Lorna of Chookiebirdie

Harris Tweed in sage green/ straw

Tobacco/ rust/ oatmeal

Harris Tweed in tobacco/ rust/ oatmeal

If you’re in the market, I hope you get the one you like! Thank you as always for your enthusiasm and support xx

munro, kintail and ardnamurchan

After being happily car-free for more than two years, we all of a sudden realised that we really wanted to have more freedom to explore Scotland and to see more of its wild and hidden places… in the best of affirmations, less than a month passed between making that decision and finding a perfect little van for ourselves, not for city driving but just for weekend hikes and camping and we are very happy that we made the decision! We’ve already got quite friendly with our “Munro”, heading out of Glasgow almost every weekend since, and it’s already enabled us to visit friends on the west coast, with more visits planned soon… Crucially for me, self-employed and working from home, it’s really creating a break between the end of the working week and beginning of the weekend, something I’m not very good at. So it’s a wonderful thing. And, just so you can see how wonderful, here are few highlights of the first couple of outings in Munro!

Rainbow over Loch Lomond

On the way up to Skye- Eilan Donan, one of Scotland’s most photographed views

Eilan Donan

One of the five sisters of Kintail

The view from Glenelg to the five sisters of Kintail

For all the HP fans: the Glenfinnan viaduct

In the hills of Ardnamurchan, looking to the west coast

As I said, another thing about Munro is that he enables us to visit friends around Scotland and the UK and I was especially keen to visit my friend Debbie and her husband John in Ardnamurchan. Deb has been extraordinarily supportive and generous since we met not long after Scotto and I arrived in Scotland and I really wanted the chance to spend some time with her (although on one of the world’s most beautiful train lines, Ardnamurchan is so beautiful that you want to cruise along the tiny coast roads and really take in the views, either in a car and on foot if you have the time!).

We timed our trip to combine it with a workshop run by Plantlife Scotland on lichens and the Celtic or Atlantic rain forests of the west coast of Scotland and so met Deb and John at the Ariundle Centre in Strontian. We spent the day learning about lichens- the complex, almost magical way that these organisms come about and the intricate relationships that they have with the plants and environment around them- and collecting and dyeing with some of the windfall species found in the rainforest. There are so many different species of lichen in this habitat…

A mini forest of lichens!

Lobaria sp

Lobaria sp

Dog Lichen (because of the "teeth" on the underside)

Dog Lichen (because of the “teeth” on the underside)

Macro closeup of the tiny fruiting bodies of Cladonia sp.

Lobaria pulmonaria (Lungwort)

Beautiful white crusty lichen and moss

Beautiful white crusty lichen and moss

And here are a few moments captured in the dye studio:

Preparing Bog Myrtle and Usnea dye baths

Fleece dyed with Lungwort, Usnea and Bog Myrtle

Usnea sp (Old Man’s Beard) and a small sample of fleece dyed with it

Yarn dyed with Lungwort

It was a wonderful day and a lovely way to share some time with new friends!

Next stop… who knows! But I know it will be somewhere beautiful- pretty much all of Scotland is stunning : )