Hello there

How have you been. As I am sure you can tell by the irregular posting on this blog I am still working hard at finding my feet in our new home. We are in the middle of winter and boy is it cold! Great hand knit sock weather though – you’ve always got to look for the silver lining.

Today I have a very special interview with Larissa from Travelknitter – originally from Mebourne she now lives in London and loves travelling as well as knitting (it’s all in the name I suppose) …

I used one of her fabulous colourways for the grey socks in The Travel Trio and I thought it would be good fun to have her on the blog to chat about all things knitting, yarn and travel.

If you are in the UK and heading to Fibre East this weekend be sure to pop over and say hi to Larissa who will be there with her sumptuous saturated colours. She also has a cracking stall that is well worth visiting …

Interview | Travelknitter

Travelknitter in Daylesford, Victoria, Australia. Copyright Travelknitter

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.

My first dabblings with yarn dyeing came about as a result of my own frustrations with not being able to find exactly what I wanted. In particular, I was on a never-ending search for the perfect red yarn; something that was deep, rich, a true red, but not too bright.   I had a growing stash of red yarn that just wasn’t quite right. Eventually I realised that the only way to get the perfect red was to learn to make it myself! I took a course in hand-dyeing, and then realised that I wanted to dye so many colours! The link between yarn and travel seemed inevitable, given the significance of each of them in my life.   What better way to combine two passions?

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

The answer to that is many and varied! Sometimes the inspiration might be quite a literal representation of somewhere I’ve been, but it might also evoke something of a feeling of a place.

I quite often do one of a kind or limited edition colourways that allow me to explore so many different colours and techniques and keeps things interesting.

Over the past few years I’ve travelled to Scotland several times – it seems to be my second home. That’s partly because of the amazing knitting community there, but also because I’ve fallen in love with the place. When I went to Edinburgh Yarn Fest this year, I dyed a limited range called Highlands to reflect the amazing purples of Scottish heathers.   I love that knitters have now used that yarn to knit up souvenir projects from their own trip to Scotland.

One of my repeatable colourways is Uluru, drawing inspiration from the Australian Red Centre.   Uluru and the outback are such powerful icons for any Australian, and the images seep in to the national consciousness.   I chose not to directly refer to photos when creating the colourway, but wanted to draw on my own impressions of the changing tones of earth, sand and red ochre. 

Uluru by Travelknitter | Available in her Etsy store.

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

It’s impossible to choose just one. I first moved to the UK in 2001, and during that time had some amazing adventures as a twenty-something backpacking solo in Europe. These days my travels are generally shorter in duration, and less likely to involve dorm rooms (although I still travel with my backpack!) Last year I took a week off work and had a wonderful time in Portugal, somewhere I’d never been before. After a few days enjoying Lisbon (yes, I found the yarn shops!), we headed to the coast. Making the most of any unusual location, I sat down on the edge of Cabo da Roca – the most westerly point of mainland Europe – and knit for a bit. It’s quite possible that no-one else has done that! (Tip: it’s very windy on the edge of a continent).

These days my most memorable trips involve going to Australia, which is unfortunately only every two or three years. Because I’ve lived away for so long, every time I return I see the place with the fresh eyes of a tourist, yet still tinged with nostalgia. It’s always incredibly emotional. On my last trip I got to play “tour guide” as I took my partner around some of the places where I grew up, and that included a trip around the East Coast of Tasmania. It really is incredibly beautiful, and holds such a special place in my heart. If you get the chance to go, I really recommend it.

I’ll be travelling back to Australia at the end of this year for a quick trip, so I’m sure there will be much travel knitting, souvenir shopping, and lots of new inspiration. I’m looking forward to catching up with some Aussie knitters!

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Travelknitter in Cabo da Roca, Portugal. Copyright Travelknitter

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

Wherever I go anywhere, I do my research beforehand to find any yarny / crafty shops, and of course I try to be a good visitor and purchase a souvenir while I’m there! The souvenir might be yarn, especially if it’s something local (like my precious skein of natural coloured alpaca that I purchased at Woolfest years ago and got to meet the alpaca who provided the fleece!)

Sometimes I pick up other kinds of crafty souvenirs. Rummaging through markets is one of my favourite things to do when in a new city, and I’m always keeping my eye out for something special. Cities like Berlin and Paris are amazing for markets, and picking up vintage buttons is a real treat (and easy to fit in to luggage on the way home). I have a large salesman’s card of vintage buttons that I bought in Paris and now have framed in my room. Now that I’ve been living in one place (London) for a few years, I’m enjoying the opportunity to slowly build a collection of mementos from my travels.

Travelknitter in Swansea, Tasmania. Copyright Travelknitter

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

The general rule is to keep the project fairly small and fairly simple. Items like socks, mitts, and lightweight scarves or shawls work well. I’ve been taking socks on my travels quite frequently lately, but actually DPNs are pretty terrible for this, and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve pulled my needles out of my work. Circular needles definitely best for travel knitting.

Another tip: if you are going to take a new project travelling, I’d recommend casting on before you leave (or at the least, be sure to read the pattern through first). It’s frustrating to be stuck on a plane or train without the right size needles or stuck on a particular technique.

Travelknitter in Wineglass Bay, Tasmania. Copyright Travelknitter

Sock Files

As a sock knitting fan I am always keen to hear about other knitters and their sock adventures. I asked Larissa some sock questions …

Magic loop / DPN or tiny circulars?  

I’m a DPN knitter. I should probably give magic loop another go at some point – it would be much better for travelling.

I tried tiny circulars recently, but I was incredibly slow (although continental was faster than English), so I’m sticking with tradition for now. 

Top down or toe up?

Toe up, definitely. For so many reasons: it feels inherently logical to me; I love being able to try on as I go (“look! I have a foot!”), and I love being able to stop whenever I decide the socks are long enough (or when I’m ready for them to be finished!).

Favourite heel?

I don’t feel like I’ve knit enough different types to have a favourite, but definitely one that gives plenty of room.   I’ll have to try the heel in your new Grellow Love socks.

Favourite cast on / cast off for socks?

For toe up, it’s Judy’s Magic Cast On, with a sewn bind off. For cuff down, it’s Old Norwegian / German Twisted Cast On.

Favourite base for sock knitting?

Bluefaced Leicester is the winner here. But then I also love a high twist merino to make them extra cushy.

Yarn Love

The only way to end this glorious interview is with some serious Yarn Love! Larissa has a fantastic eye for colour and I love the deep glorious shades she produces.

Her BFL Supersock base is awesome for socks (amongst other things), the Extra Fine Merino DK is bouncy and just deliciously soft and Tanami, a blend of silk and camel is luxurious yarn at its best!

Here are some of my favourite colourways…

You can find all of these yarns and colourways (and so many more glorious skeins) in Larissa’s Etsy shop or at one of the many shows that Travelknitters attends in the UK.

Click HERE to visit the Travelknitter Etsy Shop

The Travel Trio

Looking for some travel inspired socks to knit with your Travelknitter skeins? If you haven’t already seen The Travel Trio pop over to Ravelry and take a look at this glorious trio of socks. Simply perfect for travel knitting – and any other type of sock knitting too …

Until next time …

Happy knitting,