Meet Ingrid Wagner and her gigantic knitting needles

Today is probably the last post in my series of posts on the artists that I met at the I Knit Fandango show in London this May. Today’s artist is called Ingrid Wagner and she is a textiles artist and teacher as well as a painter and writer. So a very talented and versatile artist. Ingrid’s focus is on extreme knitting and crochet and she has her own line of knitting needles and crochet hooks including tunisian crochet hooks. For the extreme knitting/crochet she does not work with yarn but with leftover weaving cloth. Let me explain. Imagine a textile factory producing all types of woven fabric. This fabric is then cut and made into something and thus there are always going to be cuts and scraps and leftover fabric and this is precisely what Ingrid uses in her work. She also works with roving which is basically wool ready for spinning. So she prefers working with 1 strand of chunky material versus a number of strands of different yarns. Ingrid Wagner big knits at www.knittinginfrance.com Here you can see a portion of her booth. In the back you see her gorgeous rugs and blankets. Hanging in the front is a white throw in tunisian crochet made from roving (the material is shown next to the throw). You also see her balls of roving (in the front) and her balls of woven fabric. These are mostly wool but she also has a selection of woven cotton which she uses for example to make bath mats and these are really nice. Ingrid Wagner This is Ingrid’s assistant for the weekend and in the front of the picture you see a selection of her circular needles. She sells single pointed needles, circular needles, crochet hooks and tunisian crochet hooks Ingrid Wagner big knits Do you see the sturdy plastic “cable” on these circulars? ingrid wagner needles Her single pointed needles are colourful and the longest/biggest needles measure 1.20 m!! Impressive don’t you think? Ingrid wagner big knits  A big crochet ingrid wagner tunisian crochet The tunisian crochet also comes with a sturdy “cable” like the circulars and has a wooden “button” on the other end to keep stitches from falling off. Ingrid Wagner big knits And this is the lady herself holding her big needles (1.20 m). Ingrid was really fun to meet and full of enthusiasm. She took the time to explain how she sources her “yarn”, showing me her different kinds of needles and hooks and just explaining what she is all about. A wonderful and creative character and I think she engaged a lot of visitors who may have stopped just out of pure surprise but went away feeling inspired and happy after a few minutes of exchange with Ingrid. Ingrid has her own website where you can see pictures of her work, purchase from her shop or sign up for a workshop and you can visit her website by clicking here Ingrid also has her own Youtube channel where you can see her knit/crochet and learn to do so yourself. You can also see her in an interview with BBC on the occasion of her being in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010 for knitting with the longest needles – 4 m each! Not for the faint of heart:) You should definitely check that out by clicking here Ingrid has a fun take on knitting and crochet and her textiles are really beautiful for the home – I like her rugs, throws and cushions. I have tried my hand and extreme knitting myself when I met Rachel John at a craft show in Paris a few years ago and I bought my first set of extreme knitting needles and made blanket for my sister. I also purchased a kit for a rug but haven’t gotten around to actually doing it but I intend to one of these days. I even stocked some big single pointed knitting needles for the shop but they are not currently listed in my Etsy shop but should you be interested, you can always send me a message and I’ll get back to you with available sizes and prices. Knitting with big needles is quite different from knitting with “small” needles. I knit the blanket on size 26mm and I had to do so in a sofa so the ends of the needles could rest on either side of me to avoid having all that weight on my arms and shoulders. Also the movements are not the same. I did find this to be a fun addition to my skills and I love the look of chunky home accessories which always look so modern and comfy. So if you want to try your hand at extreme knitting, don’t be afraid, if you know how to knit or crochet you can do so with larger needles as well. Before I say good bye, here’s a picture of me knitting my first piece of extreme knitting blanket www.knittinginfrance.com That’s all for now. Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed meeting Ingrid and learning about her big knits. Until next time, take care and enjoy your crafting:)

ps- Hi guys, I just got an email from Ingrid and she asked me to make it clearer that she does BIG KNITTING whereas other designers such as Rachel John whom I mention in the post, do what is called extreme knitting. So two things not to be confused. Also I misunderstood how the woven fabric she uses is made so I thought I’d just share with you the explanations that Ingrid just sent me and my apologies to Ingrid and all of you for not getting this right the first time around:)

Ingrid:

Our selvedges are not produced as you have described but are the selvedges (right hand edge) of woven fabric which is cut away after weaving has been finished. They are there for technical reasons during the weaving to hold the right hand edge straight and, when weaving is completed, they, too, have completed their job and are considered a waste product by the weaving mill.  Because the mill will have woven miles and miles of the fabric, the cut selvedges are also in one long piece. Therefore, there are no “cuts & scraps”. The long piece is one of the reasons why the selvedges are so good to knit with. The others are: a) they would go to landfill if we weren’t using them b) 100% wool   c) colour & pattern already woven in.  The selvedges won’t fray because the fabric has been fulled (commercial word for felting) before being sent out worldwide to be made into goods of one kind or another. The mill which has done the weaving will not be the manufacturers of the goods. They are simply weaving to order.  I fell over the selvedges one day when I was in a mill sourcing other textile yarns, asked the question “what’s this” and thereby, as they say, hangs the tale.

 Rachel was already doing Extreme Knitting at the time and I could see that there might be a problem in that 1) lots of strands of yarn together could cause problems to the maker 2) buying the real thing i.e. wool, would be expensive and customers might very well resort to using acrylic in their knitting, not appreciating the difference.  I didn’t want to contribute to either situation and decided to look for something different.

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Kettle Yarn Co and East London Knits

Hi there, lets continue the presentations of all the wonderful talents I met at the I Knit Fandango show in London this May. I didn’t have the time to post yesterday so we are a day behind “schedule” but I’m sure you’ll forgive me for that. Long weekends are not necessarily good production weekends and this one was spent with friends and family so not much knitting or writing got done:)

Now on to today’s subject. So at the I Knit Fandango show my booth was across from the talented Linda of Kettle Yarn Co and she was assisted by her friend and designer Renée Callahan of East London Knits. Both Linda and Renée were present at Unwind Brighton last summer but I did not get to know Linda until now. Renée however I did get to know last year and was pleased to get a chance to meet her again in London.

Linda founded her company Kettle Yarn Co in 2013 and her focus is on luxury yarn, quality blends of British yarns that are ethically sourced. She has a great sense of colour and the yarn bases she has chosen to work with are all gorgeous. Her booth was full not only of her beautiful yarns but also with knits made from her yarns – shawls and sweaters and those all drew people in and made people want to cast on for one of those in her yarn immediately!

Linda is an independent hand dyer like myself only she has reached a stage where she is able to focus solely on her yarn business as a full time job – something I currently dream of:) Another thing that inspires me about Linda is that she has worked hard to create colourways that she can repeat and thus dye a number of skeins in the same colour which in turns makes it possible for you to knit a large piece such as a sweater using skeins from the same dye lot or if not the same dye lot at least of an identical colour. I need to think more like Linda and take her as an example and come up with my own repeatable colourways because at the moment I’m all in the “inspiration of the moment” phase which means my yarns are more for small projects such as mittens, socks, hats, cowls, shawls and not so much for larger projects like  sweaters (unless you place a private order for X number of skeins for your project).

You can visit Linda’s website/shop/blog here

Kettle Yarn Co

Like I said above, Linda had a helper in her booth, her friend Renée Callahan which you may know as the designer behind East London Knits. Here she is in Linda’s booth (Kettle Yarn Co)

Renee Callahan in Kettle Yarn Co booth  Many of the designs displayed in the Kettle Yarn Co booth were designs by Renée knit with yarns from Kettle Yarn Co. Renée has a background in fashion studies and works as an independent knitwear designer. She self publishes her own patterns and also does patterns for third party publications. One of the things that differentiates her from many designers of hand knits, is the fact that she is also a skilled machine knitter. On her website/blog you can see some of her work as she does commission designs as well as her own projects. I don’t know if the machine knitting skill adds to her performance as a hand knit designer but I do know that it does not subtract from it:) You can buy Renées patterns on Ravelry and if you click here you’ll be taken directly to her Ravelry pattern shop.

As a fan of her designs I own a few of her patterns myself such as:

Beetlebum of East London Knit Beetlebum shawl

Frost and Flame of East London Knit Frost and Flame shawl

Rhombolution of East London Knit Rhombolution double knit scarf

The first picture is of a shawl called Beetlebum which was actually gifted to me by Renée herself! Thank you soooo much Renée 🙂

Here are some pictures from her Ravelry page:

Beetlebum of East London Knit Beetlebum by Renée Callahan of East London Knit I love the combination of patterns and how the diamond shapes are “hugged” with a “stripey” lace pattern on each side.

Renée gave me this pattern last week and I immediately went about casting on. I cast on twice, once using a lace weight yarn and once using a fingering weight yarn. The pattern calls for lace but when looking at the pictures I thought the yarn looked a bit heavier than the lace yarn I had on hand so I decided to try both fingering and lace.

Beetlebum shawl in fingering www.knittinginfrance.com Beetlebum shawl on www.knittinginfrance.com  You can clearly see the different results here. I like both. The fingering gives this a “sturdier” look and is maybe a more “everyday” look whereas the lace version is “ethereal”, delicate and lightweight. After sharing my little test knits on Instagram I decided to go for the lace version which was getting more likes than the fingering version (but I just may cast on for the fingering version anyway after this one is done). And so I undid everything and cast on FOR REAL.

Like I said before, this weekend I did not get much knitting done but I did knit a bit in the car on my way to our family event and before going to bed. After all a day with no knitting at all is just not an option 🙂 So here is where I’m at today:

Beetlebum by East London Knits Looking good so far I think.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about these two young and talented ladies and encourage you to visit their websites and support their work by sharing what you like and why not purchase a pattern/skein or two:)

That’s all for today. More fun stuff to discover tomorrow, until then take care and have a lovely day.

Meet Max of Maxsworld

Today I’d like to introduce you to a very talented lady called Max. Max is from the UK and she makes and sells knitting and crochet themed jewelry as well as knitted moths which are sold as wall decorations. You can visit Max’s shop and blog here

Her website is a joy to visit. I love browsing through the gorgeous jewelry and enjoy seeing her hand knit moths which I find totally amazing. Another super fun feature, are her knitting themed animation videos (knitimotions) . She did a course in animation and has shared some of her videos on the website for us to enjoy. Max also has patterns some free some for sale on her website.

Max Alexander on www.knittinginfrance.com    Max Alexander at work (picture taken from her website)    max in her booth     Max in her booth at the I Knit Fandango show last weekend

maxsworld earrings on www.knittinginfrance.com      maxsworld jewelry on www.knittinginfrance.com      earrings by maxsworld on www.knittinginfrance.com     A selection of her jewelry

Max Alexander hand knit moths on www.knittinginfrance.com Max Alexander handknit moths on www.knittinginfrance.com  Her knitted moths which are just stunning artwork

maxsworld jewelry on www.knittinginfrance.com This is what I bought from her at the show. I just love these, they are so clever and cute!

So if you were not familiar with Max’s work I highly recommend you take a look at her website and shop and I’m sure that like me you will be mesmerized by her work. Just click here to enter into her magical world.

That’s all for today folks. I hope you enjoy my posts on the creative indie artist that I met at the I Knit Fandango show last weekend. I still have some more to write about so stay tuned!

 

I’m back from London

Hi there, I’m back from doing the I Knit Fandango show in London. When I think about the show I admit that I have some mixed emotions although most are good ones.

Let me just get the bad ones out of the way: So unfortunately the organisers of the I Knit Fandango did not advertise the show ANYWHERE! So to even know that there was a show, you’d have to be either a friend or family member of one of the vendors or be a client or follow them on social media. So even though there was a queue outside both mornings, there just wasn’t enough visitors to make this a successful show for anyone! This was very disappointing to me and all the other vendors at the show. Most of the vendors came from the UK but others did come from far away such as myself and another lady who also came from France (Polo & co) and then at least 1 vendor came from Germany. This means that all of us vendors had to sell for X amount of £ to break even and cover all costs involved with participating in the show and unfortunately, due to the lack of visitors not all were able to do so and those who did probably just broke even so profit is not a word that comes to mind when thinking of this show.

This was so super disappointing because the selection of vendors was really top notch. The vendors all had gorgeous products to offer and if I had been able to sell more I would have bought a LOT more from my fellow vendors than I actually did. All the vendors I spoke to had the same story so I know it was not “just me” or me items but that this was a general problem at the show what ever the vendor was offering, whatever his price range, big name or small. So even though I did just manage to break even I can’t shake the feeling of missed opportunities and deception.

OK! That’s out of the way! I’m sorry but I just had to do a little venting:)

Now on to the more pleasant topics. So these shows are never only about the money of course and what I loved was meeting all these people. Some I had met at Unraveled in Brighton last summer and some I was just meeting there. Doing a show is always so nice because I love meeting new people and see what other indie dyers are doing. I love getting inspiration, I love hearing people tell me that my yarn is lovely or that they had a pleasant experience buying from me. I love meeting knitwear designers that I’ve heard of on Ravelry, in person. So on a personal level these shows are always very enriching and this one was no exception there of.

When I walked around I would see something I wanted to buy absolutely everywhere! There was so much beautiful yarn and spinning fibre. Also there were gorgeous knitting patterns that I liked and knitting/fibre related jewelry. I did make a few purchases of course, not possible to do 2 days in such a place and go home without any goodies!

I also met a few people who had made purchases from me online and hopefully I will have made a few future clients as well 🙂

I also met someone with whom I’m going to collaborate with later in the year, but I’m not telling just yet who or what that is all about.

One morning I took the time to go photograph some of the most interesting booths (in my opinion) and I also collected business cards to be able to further explore once I was back home. I’m going to be doing post on these different indie dyers/designers on the blog because I really want to tell you about what they are doing and introduce them to you if you do not know them yet.

So I’m excited about that because I’m sure you’re going to really enjoy “meeting” these creative people as much as I did.

But that’s it for today as I now must return to my suitcases and unpack them and more importantly list all the unsold items on Etsy for you to enjoy:)

But before I leave, here are a few pictures of my booth and others at the show to give you an idea of what’s to come on the blog.

IMG_3254 IMG_3216  IMG_3219 IMG_3224  IMG_3227   IMG_3235 IMG_3238  IMG_3244  IMG_3250IMG_3249