Thursday, 22 February 2018

Unravel 2018

On Friday, Jane and I went to Unravel knitting festival and it was awesome!  Alright, so it started with me not getting the job I interviewed for on Monday, but it majorly improved after that!  As I was knitting my socks on the train, a lady walked past me, wearing the most amazing beaded shawl.  As she came back, she leaned over to ask which yarn I was using - at which point we both said in unison: "Are you going to Unravel?" You couldn't have written it!

The ticket machine in the carpark was not working properly.  We tried putting in £3; it didn't give us a ticket and refunded us £2.  We tried putting in £4; it didn't give us a ticket and refunded us £2.  We tried putting in £3; it didn't give us a ticket so we thumped it, and it refunded us back £6.  Apparently thumping it after putting in each coin was the way to go - but ouch, we ended up bruised!

We had decided to have a look round all the stalls first, before coming back to buy anything.  This was a good idea, although it did mean going back to nearly the first stall I saw!  I was also aiming to buy just one ball of sock yarn.  The crucial word in that sentence is aiming.

Part of the catalogue, showing the vendors
We went to a talk in the Long Kiln Gallery - which was decorated with artwork created by Kate Talbot.  There were too many to comment on, plus not all of them were good for photographing, due to the lighting.

Lemmy Kilmister - complete with bottle of Jack Daniels
Losing The Thread - a picture of Iris Murdoch and her husband John Bayley
The thread has been left loose and unravelling to depict the effect of Alzheimer's disease on the academic mind. 

Jane had left her knitting at home, and clearly had itchy fingers.  The socks I was knitting had suffered a major yarn barf, so she was helping to untangle that.  She even offered to weave in my ends!  I did feel a bit mean about knitting in front of her (a bit like eating in front of a starving child), but it's not often you're encouraged to knit whilst listening to somebody gives a talk!

The talk was given by Anna Maltz about the colourwork technique she has developed, called marlisle.  She comes from an art background, and wanted to be able to break the rules - but to do that, she needed to know what the rules are in the first place.  Whilst her peers were working with paper and paint, she decided to work with knitting, as she knew its rules.  From there, she developed marlisle, a way of creating colourwork using two strands of yarn held together.

Mittens made with the technique. 
One of the comments she made, was about knitters wanting to be breed specific, which isn't necessarily a good thing with people.  She said that Brexit was leading people to become more isolated from each other and instances of racism have increased.  Given that we were in Surrey, I thought that was pretty brave!  I was incredibly impressed at the thought that she has given to the yarns that she uses for her projects.  Most seem to be inspired by people she knows, or places connected to her or her family.

I've also found a new 'thing' for yarn shows - collecting business cards and making a note on them of any clothes, patterns or notions that you like the look of.  So, when I want to know who had the 'Industrial Kingfisher' colurway, or that pattern for the ball of yarn I'm trying to get rid of - I have all the contact details.

Of course, there was always the one that got away - for which I'm now cross with myself.  There was a stall who had a reduced ball of sparkly light brown sock yarn, which would have been brilliant for a shawl, and so different to anything in the stash at the moment.  Annoyingly, the guy running the stall was too busy chatting to somebody to serve me - despite somebody else pointing out that I was waiting.  So, I put it back and came back later - only to find that it had been bought by somebody else.

The big octopus. Not suitable for babies

Jane wanted to go and see the octopuses - so that was next on the list.  Octopus for a Preemie came from Denmark.  I can't remember exactly how the first octopus came to be in a baby's incubator, but it was noticed that the baby was playing with the tentacles instead of the wires (it's thought to remind them of the umbilical cord) and their heartbeat went down.  From there, more octopuses have been made and given to babies and the project has spread internationally.  The rules for knitting or crocheting an octopus are incredibly strict.  If the octopus isn't deemed suitable for a premature baby, it's given to an 'angel baby'.  We both got kits to knit our first octopus.

A tank full of smaller octopuses. 

Then it was time to hit the marketplace!  I thought the bags had sold out.  They hadn't.

The Unravel 2018 bag

I got a couple of books.  The one on Icelandic knitting is gorgeous.  As well as patterns, it's got a lot about the history of knitting in Iceland. 

Marisle, by Anna Maltz

Iclandic Hand Knits by Helene Magnusson
What can I say - it was reduced! 

And then there was the yarn - in this case, two skeins from Easyknits which was almost the first place I looked.

Two skeins of Deeply Wicked + sock yarn
L = Flicker and Flame, R = Cockatoo

All in all, it was a lovely chilled out, yarney kind of day.  It was the pick-er up-er that I needed and would definitely go back again next year, if I had the opportunity. 


  1. How fun! Interesting to read about the technique of marlisle. That vendor dude, I wouldn't buy from him if he couldn't at least say hello and I'll be worth you in a minute. I had about that octopus charity. What a neat concept.

    1. I agree, it's not a way to encourage business - but *oh* that yarn! It took me quite a while to get over it.


Once Upon a Sock: February

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