Today I have another special interview to celebrate The Travel Trio – this one is with Sylvie, the colour mastermind behind Phileas Yarns. Her bold colours are inspired by her many travels and adventures around the world.

If you are in the UK and are planning to visit Yarndale in September be sure to pop along and say hi to Sylvie who will be there with all her glorious yarn, including a few special treats prepared just for the festival.

Interview | Phileas Yarns

Oolong knitted by Sylvie of Phileas Yarns | Copyright Sylvie Jerez

CD: Please tell me a little bit about why you decided to start your yarn business and why travel and knitting seemed to go hand in hand for you.

Travel and knitting are two passions of mine that have truly been intertwined for a while. You won’t see me without my knitting on a plane, train or bus – knitting is an integral part of the journey I’m taking. The finsihed object becomes, of sort,  a journal of my travels; I have my Southern India socks, my Northern India socks, my Canadian shawl, my African tank top etc…

It was only a matter of time before I decided to take this to next level. I started to think about dyeing yarn for myself at first, but quickly I found that it was a great support for my creativity. A year’s work and many experiments later, I opened my shop and I couldn’t be more thrilled of the support from the knitting community around the world.

CD: How do your travel adventures inspire you yarn choices and colourways?

My travels naturally and organically provided the source of my colour inspiration when I took on dyeing. Wat (the colourway used in the Aussie Sunshine socks), as a matter of fact, was one the colour I was dreaming to transform into yarn from the beginning. I have been obsessed with the gold of those temples in Thailand for a long time, I have a gazillion pictures of statues and roof tiles etc… But more than trying to reproduce the colour, I want my colourways to represent my memories of my travels. Sometimes the colourway I bring back from a place or journey isn’t one I really expected. In Madrid for example, where colours are exploding at each corner of the street, I found myself inspired the most by the grey shades of the royal palace; and I created Palacio Real upon my return.

As for the yarn bases, I try to think as a knitter who travels and choose yarn that will stand the test of being shoved into a backpack and the ordeal of going on an adventure – as much in yarn form as in a finished object that I would wear on my travels.

Buddha – Wat Pho in Bangkok | Copyright Sylvie Jerez

Explorer (Merino and Nylon) in Wat | Copyright Sylvie Jerez

This stunning colourway inspired the Aussie Sunshine socks from The Travel Trio.

Explorer in Wat | Copyright Sylvie Jerez

Passenger (BFL and Bamboo) in Palacio Real | Copyright Sylvie Jerez

CD: You have travelled a lot, could you tell me about your favourite journey or most memorable trip?

Good grief, I can’t answer that! Every journey, every destination has its own marvels. I can’t compare places I travelled to alone to adventures I took with friends either, each is defined by a very different mood.

But perhaps I would pick, as my “favourite”, the trips in which I ticked two of my five bucket lists items. Yes, only five items on my lists, I try to travel without expectations, I find it much more rewarding.

I have been obsessed with elephants since chilhood – obsessed! So naturally seeing elephants, especially African elephants, has been at the top the list since forever. I got to see plenty of them, each more magnificient than the other, on a trip through Namibia and Botswana, two countries of incredible beauty. I have seen elephants in Asia too (even been blessed by one in a temple in India!) but the majesty of the African elephants roaming around those stunning landscapes is simply a magical thing to see.

This winter I got to tick another one my bucket list items. I saw the Northern Lights! Oh my, what a sight! This was during a trip to Iceland, which is a extremely beautiful country. I like to travel to many different places, but Iceland I could just go back to all the times; those landscapes! Mother Nature at its wildest and its best.

Northern Lights  – Grundarfjordur, Snaefellness Peninsula | Copyright Sylvie Jerez

Elephants in Chobe National Park, Botswana | Copyright Sylvie Jerez

CD: Do you buy souvenir skeins? What is the most unusual skein of yarn you have brought back from an adventure?

Of course I do! My favourite souvenir skeins are those I find by surprise. I usually do a bit of research beforehand, and have discovered little gems of yarn shops this way, but stumbling on a tiny shop after wandering away from the beaten tracks to find local yarn is just wonderful. I didn’t expect Africa to be much of a woolly place, so I would say that the two cakes of mohair I bought in a tiny shop in Swakopmund, Namibia are my most unusual find. I still haven’t made anything with them…

CD: What is your favourite travel knitting project? Do you have any tips for getting the most from your travel knitting?

Socks and shawls are my go-to projects for travelling, in general. Sometimes I will take a lightweight top. My criteria for a travelling WIP -and this is my tip- is something that won’t take too much room in your luggage, that you can knit in a confined personal space (sandwiched between two people on a plane, for example), and something that isn’t demanding a huge amount of focus. Ditch the project that would require you following a crazy lace chart, or the fair isle that has too many colours to play with. While I encourage everyone to learn new techniques to keep their knitting exciting, I do not think travelling is the best time for that. Keep it simple, keep it comfortable. And keep it stress free by making sure you’ve swatched so you know which needles you need, and pack your notions pouch carefully. While I’ve never had any problems going through security at an airport with my knitting, I like to pack a spare set of DPN or cable/needles tips just in case. And waste yarn. And since we’re on the airport security subject, don’t be afraid to take your snippets with you, the blades are so short they’ll get through no problem (a good alternative to little scissors is a nail clipper, if you’re really worried.).

Sock Files

Magic loop / DPN or tiny circulars? 

DPN. (5 inches long bamboo, to be precise…)

Top down or toe up?

Top down. It took a few pairs of socks to refine my ideal measurements for top down socks, but now I can’t look back.

Favourite heel?

I like a good heel flap construction. I find it enjoyable to knit, and it fits my feet better than an afterthought heel or short row heel, for example.

Favourite cast on / cast off for socks?

I’m a top down gal, so I’d cast on with a German Twisted Cast On and finish with Kitchener Stitch. I actually really like grafting!

Favourite base for sock knitting?

My favourite sock yarn base is a 80% Merino 20% nylon, which is exactly what my Explorer sock yarn is. My yarn choices for Phileas Yarns are all about knitting with what I like, so that was an easy one… (I like other Merino based yarn too, but with no more than 20% nylon in it. I find that any more -like a 75/25- isn’t so comfortabe to kint with.)

Yarn Love

Sylvie has a fantastic selection of yarns to choose from and regular Etsy updates. You can find all her yarns in her Etsy store – click HERE to be whisked straight there.

For those of you not based in the UK Sylvie has an extremely generous free postage arrangement for those spending over £25! More details can be found on her Etsy page.

She will also be attending Yarndale (in September) and the Geeky Puffin Palooza (November) if you want to squish all the gorgeous yarn as you decide what to buy.

Here are some of my favourites from her Etsy shop….

Until next time …

Happy knitting,