Another new yarn to introduce this week, two actually. Keeping with the theme of British breeds and northern England inspired colours we’ve stocked up on Cumbria and Cumbria Fingering the newest yarns by The Fibre Company. It comes in 2 weights, worsted and a heavy fingering. We love that masham is being celebrated in this yarn. Mixed with merino and mohair the brown masham peeks through and produces a deep undertone so even the brightest pinks and blues stay classy. One of our YAK side kicks commented that it might be the most grown up yarn we have.
To celebrate the release of this new yarn The Fibre Company called on designer Bristol Ivy to create a collection using both Cumbrias. Bristol hails from Portland, Maine in the US. A prolific designer her work has been featured in Brooklyn Tweed and Amirisu and Quince & Co to name just a few. We are very honoured to be hosting 2 evenings with Bristol at YAK next month. She will be teaching Reading your Knitting and Introduction to Brioche and because we’ve been in contact organising her visit we thought we would take the opportunity to ask her some questions about her new collection with Cumbria and Cumbria Fingering as well as her pending visit to the UK.
Where did you get your inspiration from for this collection?
I really loved the idea of exploring how rib and eyelets or mesh could shift and change a garment. They’re such architectural elements that I wanted to play with them in isolation and see what they could do! When I started playing with Cumbria, it had such a vintage, toothy, wooly feel to it that it automatically started me thinking about vintage shapes and silhouettes. It was fun to see if I could combine the two influences—architecture and clean lines on the one hand, femininity and history on the other. My favorite kind of challenge!
Do you design for yourself or do you always have your fans in mind when designing?
It’s funny—I think it’s a bit of both! For a while I tried hard to design things that I thought would fit specific niches in the community, that would fill holes in the market, and let this take priority over my own creative interests or artistic urges. But all that ended up happening was that my work both didn’t have an impact AND didn’t fulfill me creatively! So now I focus for the most part on what fulfills me creatively. That way, even if it isn’t a commercial success, at least I’ve gained knowledge and growth from it. I think, perversely, as soon as you stop focusing on marketing to the “right” customer and start focusing on being true to yourself, people resonate with that truth a lot more than a product that is supposedly perfect for them. So I trust that if I do work that I love and I’m proud of, it will find its audience.
I do try, though, to make sure there’s a balance in what I do; in the case of the Cumbria collection, I worked in tandem with the ladies at Kelbourne Woolens to make sure there was a healthy mix of pullovers, cardigans, and tees, and a healthy mix of the two yarn weights. Especially if it doesn’t govern or constrict the creative process, it’s great to be able to offer lots of options and angles of approach!
Cumbria and Cumbria Fingering are two of our newest yarns at YAK, what were they like to work with?
They are SO lovely! I’m a sucker for workhorse yarns—yarns that you know will stand the test of time and be with you many years before they even consider deteriorating. The Cumbria yarns are such good examples of this category, and they’ve been put together with such care and thought, from the ply twist to the color palette. I’ve squirreled away all the leftover bits of Cumbria Fingering for a lightweight pullover for myself!
You’re coming to Brighton in under a month! You’ve been here before so there anything you’re particularly looking forward to doing this time around?
I’m so excited to come back to Brighton! I was there a few years ago for Unwind and was just blown away by how vibrant and fun a city it was. I think the big things I’m looking forward to are meeting the local knitters and getting to explore YAK, and also getting lost in the lanes! My favorite way to get to know a city proper is just to go for a wander and get lost, and I didn’t get a chance to do that last time I was in Brighton. So I might just have to disappear for a few hours and check it out!
Portland, Maine has a high volume of designers and wonderfully creative types, as does Brighton. Do you find the knitting scene difference over here in the UK?
That’s a great question! I think there are definitely some underlying cultural differences. I think there’s been a big generational separation between the last group of knitters in the US and the current one, and I don’t necessarily see that gap in the UK. So you all seem to have a much closer connection to the history and heredity of knitting than we do. But I also see such amazing innovation and individual exploration in your knitting community, with people really digging in to wildly different and interesting topics and seeing where the ride takes them. It’s so inspiring, and I’m so excited to be able to come see it firsthand!
Many thanks to Bristol for answering our questions. If you would like to join her in March for either of the classes she is teaching, please go to each class page to sign up or pop into the shop. Reading your Knitting is on the 15th March and will be an invaluable workshop for beginners and intermediate knitters alike. Empower yourself and gain confidence in the knitting that is on your needles. For something completely different try Introduction to Brioche which will be on the 16th March. Brioche is an versatile stitch that creates a lush, drapey, warm fabric. On this blog we’ve chatted before about the virtues of Brioche, we thought it was a trend but it seem like its is definitely here to stay. If you haven’t tried it before, now is the time to get on board!
Both classes are 6:30pm – 9:30pm perfect for a relaxing evening after work. Full details can be found on the class pages.