Decades of Yarn is the 2022 yarn club, taking a stroll through the 20th Century trends and fashions, taking inspiration each month and creating a brand new colourway on a variety of bases and in a mini-skein collection and Blanket Club!

Each month I'll be sharing the colours created and progress on the Blanket I'll be designing to go along with the club - feel free to knit along with me and share your progress in our social media pages!

This month, the colourway was taken from the luxury that exudes from the upper class decks of ships such as the ill-fated Titanic. Because if you're going to fantasise about being in the past you might as well make it a fantasy with ever flowing teas, parties and evening gowns - right?

Although somewhat limited in my fashion sense in real life, I can pick a wonderful gown out (a bit like this one, featured in the Met Museum collection) and imagine what it might have been like to be a Lady, albeit a lady with all the freedoms and opinions I have today! This is in part why the 1910's was fascinating to research, there was quite a way to go, lets be honest, but there was the air of change...

Women's suffrage was well underway in many countries, there were a growing number of outspoken ladies who were beginning to shape common thinking and even the fashions began to reflect this. Although the 'ladies' of the day were still caught up in customs and etiquette of dress and social niceties, there seemed to be a relaxation in style. Corsets were eased and began to be phased out, lines of gowns began to take a more natural look and the world was wild open with international influences being shown in the fashions of the day.

Working on personal tastes, I picked out a handful of gowns, re-watched Titanic (obviously!) and devoured pictures and illustrations of the 1st class facilities of the trans-Atlantic ships of the day. Truth be told, I had a great time! And once I got into the studio, the colourway 'Titanic Grandeur' was born.

But - I've hinted at all this during the process of doing it via Instagram, what I've not given any detail on yet is the blanket KAL promised! The plan is each month to release the pattern for a section of a blanket which uses 50g of the monthly colourway and 3x 20g mini-skeins taken from the mini-skein collection. January was a bonus month, as I felt it needed an extra skein to allow for an i-cord cast on.

The key design feature of the January section is the Woven Wave slip-stitch pattern, which adds a heavy texture to

the blanket border, and works perfectly with a fading set of mini's (in fact, you'll soon see a whole range of patterns released in this style!). A really simple pattern repeat, see below for a link to this month's pattern download and a video of me demonstrating the stich (with lots of babbling, it's one of my first videos so I hope you'll forgive the amateur nature of it!).

If you decide to knit along do share your progress and thoughts with us, either here on the blog post or on Instagram via #DecadesofYarnKAL

January Pattern Sheet_a
Download PDF • 300KB

In July 2021 Yarn Unique became a fundraising partner of Mermaids UK!

A truly wonderful charity, there is a bit of a story about why they were chosen as the first charity I wanted to begin a relationship with, and although it starts out pretty negative (the story not the action!) I believe it has become something more important than the original motivation. A tale of some personal introspection, and a long hard look at certain sections of society and a really positive conversation it now allows!

But, I'll start at the beginning and lead you through the same journey I went on...

They say you should never meet your hero's and although I not 'met' mine, nor would I use the term 'hero' so much as an inspirational figure, I spent some time reeling with disappointment, and confusion early in 2021 when I learned that someone I had held on a pedestal for so many reasons holds, and frequently shares, views that indicate they are not the person I thought they were.

The writer of a wonderous collection of stories, an 'inspirational female role model', an all round bloody clever woman who did good with her life... I am referring to J.K. Rowling but those things are now tainted for me by comments and inferences she has made in recent years on gender identity and transgender communities rights to equal treatment.

I have to say, I am late to be adding anything to this discussion, and in doing so I don't want to reignite hurt experienced by the transgender community. This post has been written and re-written many times as I debated personally whether I had the right to comment, whether my opinion was valid and even whether the long-taught rule of keep your personality out of business was the right way to go? I also missed the first hints that anything was wrong!

Back in 2020 / 2021 I have to say I spent much time burying my head deeply in the sand, avoiding ALL news and negative stories as I, like you all, navigated a busy life during a global pandemic. I habitually find that a coping mechanism of mine is to create my own tiny bubble and not engage with anything outside of that! Although it has some positives for me managing my mental health this is one example which has led me to question the wisdom of this as I find myself out of the loop.

As I was in this situation, Because I missed the first questionable posts, and the reactions on social media, and the second and all future ones. So I have to say it was quite a shock when in summer of 2021 I looked backwards through the social media posts and news coverage. It also gave me pause for thought - I typically choose not to be outspoken and bring personal politics into my business and professional environments, something which was drilled into me during Business Studies lessons, but seems less important today in more informal times. And to be honest, whether the cause is disillusionment or greater maturity, I am slightly less noisy about my opinions in my personal circles than I used to be in my outspoken youth (though

it has to be said, I still struggle to quell my 'fixer' and 'organiser' tendencies). But, what damage am I accidentally contributing by passively ignoring and overlooking things - effectively not being loud about my own opinions because I assume that the majority of people believe as I do. Right or wrong, is it forgivable in 2021, and going forwards, to not take action or at least lend a voice?

As a white CIS straight woman, I know I am afforded a privilege around many areas of my life. I consider myself an Ally across the board, because quite simply we are all people and we deserve the same rights and opportunities to be 100% ourselves in a world where all are equal. The murder of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement prompted so many of us look inwardly and interrogate how white privilege and unconscious bias affects our behaviours. For many it was an uncomfortable realisation that we have not made as much progress as assumed towards equality and we just have to do better and be an active part of solutions! For me personally I found myself going through the same thought processes on the JK issue; was I failing to notice discrimination against other communities and in particular LGBTQ+ groups.

When you are not affected by discrimination its sometimes hard to even see it and therefore a bit more effort needs to be taken to be an actual Ally. Sometimes you need the issue pushing in your face. In this case I have taken a long hard look at how I, and Yarn Unique, should respond given that a large section of our yarn designs are inspired by the Wizarding World JK created! We made some choices and set things up, yet it has still taken me many months to complete this blog post, because how do you lend a voice, reject transphobic figures and state you're an Ally without making it a little about yourself? And therein lays my personal discomfort in vocalising my own opinions; being an Ally without virtue signalling. I think if you've read this far you will gather that I am an over-thinker! My biggest take-away from my time reading around the issues and reflecting was the phrase Action > Intent and it stuck with me. What can I/Yarn Unique do which contributes to a better world?

And contact with Mermaids UK was made, a fundraising agreement set-up and each and every purchase of yarn from the Hogsmeade Yarn Shop collection generated a donation of at least £1. This began in July 2021, and allowed us to donate over £250 in it's first 6 months. Now, this isn't a huge sum of money - we're a really small independent business - but, I know that every penny counts and so am choosing to feel good about it! For as long as we sell the collection we will donate to Mermaids UK, whether a purchase is online via our website, Etsy, through our LYS stockists or direct at a Yarn Show.

So why Mermaids UK? In past lives I've worked for, and with, many youth charities and organisations and, steering away from all cliches about the youth being our future, strongly believe that young people do not always get the support they need. Children and Young People who are navigating growing up whilst being gender-diverse are certainly less likely to easily find support and so the work that Mermaids does instantly felt like a great fit! Taken from their website, Mermaids says:

Transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children and teens need support and understanding, as well as the freedom to explore their gender identity. Whatever the outcome, Mermaids is committed to helping families navigate the challenges they may face.

Our support…

  • Reduces isolation and loneliness for transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children, young people and their families.

  • Provides families and young people with the tools they need to negotiate education and health services.

  • Helps young people to cope better with mental and emotional distress, and equips their parents with what they need to offer individual support.

  • Improves the self-esteem and social skills of children and young people.

  • Improves awareness, understanding and practices of teachers, GP’s, CAMHS, Social Services and other professionals.

So, this is how Yarn Unique came to support Mermaids! And aside from the cash donated twice a year one of the outcomes which has cemented this as a good thing (so far - I am not ruling out withdrawing the collection from sale should we get to a point where the 'art' cannot be separated from the 'artist' in good conscience) is the conversations it has prompted...

Largely at Yarn Shows, I have had the pleasure of meeting so many yarn lovers, many of whom have a lasting fondness for the Wizarding World. Some have known about Mermaids and their work, but a number haven't and have asked for more detail. This has become such a great conversation starter, and yes it begins from a negative starter in the transphobic essays and comments made by JK, but it becomes an opportunity to say out loud that her opinions are not mine and that I and Yarn Unique simply believe transgender women ARE women, and so far I've not met one person disagrees! (Well, we've had one aggressive e-mail, but it was neither well researched and laden with bias so it was ignored and put in the delete folder!)

I am realistic enough to know that a cash donation is not the answer, and is actually the 'get-out-of-jail-free card' used by so many big businesses in trying to make right something wrong. But I do hope it's a start! A small (because Yarn Unique is small) cash donation which in turn starts conversations and puts the issue of trans equality out there.

So there it is, the origins story about why Mermaids was chosen as a charity we support, a long-winded essay in its own right so if you have read to the end - well done!

Nobody wants to speak to soon, but life in the U.K. is adjusting into a new phase of managing the Covid-19 pandemic and this means that not only are our retail and hospitality businesses open and re-building but also events can now happen - and whilst huge numbers of the public were excited about things like the Euros and Olympics going ahead with spectators - my excitement is 100% focused on the prospect or REAL and IN-PERSON yarn shows and festivals taking place!

Fellow yarnies, and even those who dabble, are I'm sure relieved this is where we are now - and whether you are embracing it and eagerly booking tickets, or still wary of re-entering the world we can all agree this is such a big step forward.

I am a strange mix between the two camps, but those who know me best would point out to me that I have always shied away from spaces which are too 'people-y' (not a real word I know!) anyway! And this is true, whilst I love to chat and meet like-minded people, I am probably more introverted than my smile indicates. However I will not only be at some of my closest shows in

person, Yarn Unique will be exhibiting - and without any Covid related nerves at all (There will be lots of business and self-confidence related nerves however).

This somewhat bold statement is wholly due to the amazing teams working tirelessly to make their events safe and secure and ever-responsive to the changing rules and regulations. Seeing the efforts behind the scenes has made me feel 100% confident that each of wonderful events Yarn Unique will be at will look after each of their vendors and those who visit.

So, where will Yarn Unique be this Autumn I hear you ask? Well.... let me list the AMAZING shows you can come and visit me at:

28th August: Yorkshire Yarn Fest

11th & 12th September: Perth Festival of Yarn

25th & 26th September: Yarndale

9th & 10th October: Bakewell Wool Gathering

30th October: Yorkshire Yarn Fest

There is much preparation going on behind the scenes at Yarn Unique HQ to get ready for these busy 6 weeks - we can't wait to bring new colourways and yarns to these iconic shows and meet those of you who are ready to step out and squish some yarn (after liberal use of hand sanitiser of course!)

Each of the shows have dedicated teams focused on the Covid-Secure measures, and you'll find more detail on each events website and social media posts. Common things you should expect to see are advance-purchase tickets (click the links above to be taken to ticket information) usually with a time-slot for arrival such as at Yarndale, this is to ensure the capacity of the venue is managed carefully and the flow of people will allow for good social distancing. Careful spacing of stalls and one-way systems to again allow people to maintain levels of distance they feel comfortable with, although (at time of writing) current regulations mean this is not required the organisers have shown such respect and care for visitors. Mask wearing will be mandetory (unless medically exempt) at events such as Perth Festival of Yarn, and strongly encouraged at others. Fewer tickets will be available to ensure events stay safe and compliant. And these are just the measures you will see as a visitor!

So, whether you are joining us at one of these events this year, or looking forward to next years events instead, lets all just marvel at how much we have all learned over the last two years, how dedicated the event organisers are, and how hopeful we can be that life, with some adjustments, can indeed begin to return to a normal we are happy with!