Curious Handmade with Helen Stewart

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Alongside an eclectic yarn range, which includes Hazel Knits, Icelandic Lopi & CoopKnits, we stock a carefully chosen selection of needles and notions. We’ve also recently launched ‘hand dyed by meadowyarn’, our very own in-house, hand-dyed yarn range. Working in our tiny dye studio, nestled in the Suffolk countryside, we are able to indulge our love of colour, producing complex tonal, kettle-dyed shades across a range of weights and bases. With regular updates our collections evolve and grow, inspired by the landscape and people around us.

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I’m off to the rainforest this weekend to take part in a very special knitting retreat. It’s been such a long time since I was able to gather with other knitters in person, so this will be a very special trip. Today on the podcast, I’m chatting about the incredible location for this retreat, the knitting projects I’m going to take along, and in the spirit of relaxation, I’m looking for more book recommendations! Have you got a great read to suggest?

Show Links:

Kitch Kreative on Etsy

O’Rielly’s Rainforest Retreat

Louie and Lola

Rose Hip Island

NNK Yarns

Reconciliation Australia

Hermione Jean Granger Shawl by Tyne Swedish

Cyril Socks by Dani of Little Bobbins

Chanterelle Socks by Dani of Little Bobbins

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Inspector Gamache Series by Louise Penny

The Ruth Galloway Series by Elly Griffiths

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Rewilding Shawl

Show Transcript:

Welcome to the Curious Handmade podcast, you’re listening to episode 312.

Hello, and welcome to the show. Thanks for joining me for a chat today. I’m recording a little bit earlier in the week than I normally do. It’s Tuesday, we had a public holiday here yesterday for the Queen’s birthday, and so we had the day off. I didn’t, but a lot of people had it as a holiday, and it was a day off school for the kids. And I am preparing to go on a retreat this weekend, which is very exciting. And the retreat is The Yarn Retreat at O’Reilley’s, organized by Kylie Kenny of Kitch Kreitive. Kylie has an Etsy shop in the name, Kitch Kreitive, which is spelled K-I-T-C-H K-R-E-A-T-I-V-E, so both ways words are spelled with a Km it’s both ways, on Etsy selling project bags that she makes herself.

So, O’Reilley’s is an amazing location. It’s in Queensland and it’s about three-hours drive from where I live, and it’s on the Gold Coast hinterland. So, it’s up in the mountains and based in Lamington National Park, and it survived the bushfires beginning of this year. Its neighboring venue, the Binna Burra Lodge and Campground, wasn’t so lucky, they had some of their buildings burnt. So, it would be interesting to see how they rainforest and bushland has recovered, and I think Binna Burra has since re-opened and rebuilt as well. O’Reilley’s is an amazing venue. I know it as a campground from my childhood, my parents went to stay there for their honeymoon, and we often went camping there and bush walking when we were young, and I took my husband, Steve, there when we were still dating, we had a couple of nights camping in the campground there. Now, there is still the campground, but there is much more upmarket accommodation with lovely villas, they’re called, and they’re just gorgeous on the website, it looks very nice.

So, I’m very excited to be going there this weekend and I’m really looking forward to hopefully doing some walks in the forest. There are various walks you can do, I’ll have to do some research before I go on various lengths of walks. There is a three-kilometer walk to Python Rock, which has lovely views, that’s one of the shorter ones. So yeah, so I’ll have to see if I can fit in some of these, slightly shorter walks, because I don’t want to be dipping into the knitting time too much, but definitely want to take advantage of some of the lovely rainforest.

And I’m also teaching a workshop about knitting shawls based on a new design I’ve created, especially for the retreat, which is the rain forest canopy shawl. So, I’m looking forward to sharing more details with you about that next week. It’s a surprise at the moment for the retreat attendees, and I’ll be gifting the pattern to the attendees, and I’m excited to share that with them. I have several samples, I have used some yarn from some of the vendors that are going to be at the small marketplace at the retreat.

And unfortunately, due to some of their COVID restrictions, two of the yarn dyers, who were going to be attending, aren’t able to come up from Tasmania, unfortunately. I think their restrictions at the moment would still require two weeks quarantine going into state, if it’s even allowed, I don’t know. I’m not quite up with all their restrictions, but basically it’s had to be contained to attendees from Queensland, so it’s fairly amazing that it’s still able to go ahead, for months now we haven’t been sure whether restrictions would have increased to the point of it not being able to go ahead at all, but luckily it can.

And hopefully next year, we’ll be able to welcome people from all parts of the country, if not the world, who knows. Kylie has already booked the retreat for this time next year, and has very generously invited me to teach again, so I’m thrilled about that and looking forward to that already, and hopefully we’ll get to meet a few more people, but I’m super happy to be meeting some local ish knitters, Queensland is a very big state, I’m not sure how far our field people are traveling from.

I am relatively close by and it’s still a three-hour drive away. So, I’m not sure, it’s a bit closer to Brisbane, which is the main city. And so I imagine quite a few people are coming from Brisbane. I think it’s about an hour and a half drive from Brisbane down to the national park, and I think it’s quite a lovely drive from very distant memories, you kind of wind up the mountain through a series of switchbacks, and I’m a bit nervous about that, but I think it will be fun. Hopefully there’s some substantial guardrails so that I don’t feel too nervous. I’ll be that person driving really, really slowly with a line of cars behind me getting really impatient. So I might, I might go early in the day so I don’t hold up a bunch of retreat attendees.

Anyway, the yarn that I used for my design is by Louie and Lola, who is Karina, and Hannah from Rose Hip Island, and they are both based in Tasmania. And then Lisa from NNK Yarns is, I feel like Queensland art, and is based in Brisbane, so happily I’ll be able to meet her at least. And I’m looking forward to seeing their gorgeous yarn in person. I think Karena and Hannah from Louie and Lola and Rose Hip Island, are both sending up yarn for the marketplace, so we will be able to purchase some and see it in person, even though I can’t meet them in person.

One thing that’s been nice about this retreat is Kylie has included an acknowledgement of country in her communications for the retreat. And she says, “I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I work and live. I pay respect to elders past, present, and emerging.” An acknowledgement of country is something that I have seen since I have been back, I wasn’t really aware of this being done very much if at all, when I was living in Australia, which was actually about 25 years since I’ve been living here full time, there was a brief period where I came back in between travels, but really I’ve been living away for about 25 years. But anyway, so now I see this quite a lot, which is fantastic. An acknowledgement of country as I’m paying respect for the traditional owners and the continuing connection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to country.

And a welcome to country is protocols for welcoming visitors to country, which is part of an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural tradition for thousands of years, and crossing into another groups’ country required a request for permission to enter. And then when permission was granted, the hosting group would welcome the visitors, offering them safe passage and protection of their spiritual beings during the journey. And while visitors were provided with a safe passage that also had to respect the protocols and rules of the land or in a group while on the country.

So I’m just reading from an information sheet from the Reconciliation Australia website, which is And they say, “Today, obviously much has changed, and these protocols have been adopted to contemporary circumstances. However, the essential elements of welcoming visitors and offering safe passage remain in place. A welcome to country occurs at the beginning of a formal event and can take many forms, including seeing dancing, smoking ceremonies, or a speech in traditional language or English. The welcome to country is delivered by traditional owners or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who’ve been given permission from traditional owners to welcome visitors to their country.”

And then with an acknowledgement, an acknowledgement is for anyone to show respect for the traditional owners. And I noticed that at the girls’ school, on the reception desk, there is an Acknowledgement of Country statement, and some of the teachers have in their email signature an Acknowledgement of Country. So, this is a way to recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first Australians and traditional custodians of the land, and I’m always encouraged whenever I see an acknowledgement. I guess part of the reason I bring this up is because, the location, that the retreat is at, is such a special place. It’s a world heritage nature reserve and has just such a rich, natural heritage. It’s been protected for a long time, and it’s really, really beautiful, location, so it makes me think about ancient things and the people that live there.

So next week, I’ll share some more about the retreat and some photos, hopefully I’ll remember to take some good photos of everything and I’ll share all about it with you. Of course, I’m thinking about packing and what projects I’m going to knit during the retreat, that’s obviously something I’m looking forward to a lot as well. And I think at this stage, the main projects that I’m going to work on are the Hermione Jean Granger Shawl by Tyne Swedish, which I didn’t know how close I am to the end, I’m kind of just knitting beyond the pattern at this point, just to make it a bit bigger and use up some more yarn because I’m just really enjoying the simple goddess stitch pattern and it is absolutely perfect retreat knitting, so I’ll work on that a little bit and also my Droplet Capelet by Denise Bayron, and I think that will also be quite simple, relaxing, retreat knitting as well, so it would be nice to make some progress on two personal non-work knitting projects.

And I think the retreat is a good time to do that, so I’m looking forward to that. I might take a sock project, vanilla socks or something else, I’m not sure, I’ve got a few sock WIPs that I should probably have a look at. One of my sock WIPs has been around for a long time, it’s the Cyril Socks by Dani of Little Bobbins, and I was meant to be test knitting them, and I think the reason I put them down so much is because it’s in quite a dark yarn and with my eyesight, and if I’m knitting at night, I drop stitches and struggle to see the stitches very clearly, but if I’m knitting during the day and the light is good, I should probably take them and maybe try to finish those.

Speaking of Dani from Little Bobbins, she has just released a new sock pattern, which is absolutely gorgeous. I’m very taken with this design. It’s the Chantarelle Socks. So these socks are just delightful. They have a ribbed leg across the foot, which is fairly simple and straightforward, except they have a fluffy ruffle around the top of the leg. It’s knit in mohair, silk mohair, and just so whimsical and adorable. I could see you wearing these with short boots, with the little ruffle poking out the top. And they’re just so cute. So, maybe I will cast these on actually. I saw them on Instagram and she just released them this week. So that is the Chantarelle Socks, C-H-A-N-T-A-R-E-L-L-E, because I’m sure I have some mohair leftovers from projects floating around somewhere. So I might just dig that out and see if I could take this on the retreat as well.

I’ve also been doing a little bit of reading in the evenings. I’ve been trying to get into a slightly better bedtime routine, that sounds like I’m about three years old, doesn’t it? But yes, I’ve been trying to give myself a better routine in the evenings, and so I’ve been reading paper books. I’ve quite a huge collection of books I haven’t read, but inevitably I end up buying something new and I have some friends that are now scattered around the world now, and we were all in London as our mum’s group when Sophie was a baby, which is nearly 12 years ago, she’s almost 12, and one of the girls suggested we have a book club as a nice way to keep in touch. And so we are reading The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which is set in the South, in the US.

And it covers kind of a long timeframe of the main character’s life. And I have probably read about a third of it so far, so I can’t really talk about it too much, but I’m enjoying it. It was a little bit slow at the beginning, but I think that’s mostly because I’ve been reading some racy action and detective thriller type novels quite a lot lightly. And so sort of maybe a literary fiction, I’m not sure, I’m not very strong on my genres and what the names are. I’m really getting into it and really growing to be interested in the characters and the story, so would recommend so far, even though I haven’t finished it yet, and that’s The Vanishing Half, and yeah, if people have any other recommendations, when I posted, I think last summer or the summer before, for recommendations for some summer reading, I really got some good recommendations.

I was put on to Louise Penny, who’s written the Inspector Gamache Series, loved that series, just kind of raced through those books. And also the series by Elly Griffiths, the Ruth Galloway Series was also another fantastic series. If you like sort of police thriller, mystery kind of genre, again, I don’t really know what genre it is, but it involves mysteries, and detectives, and people like that, people getting killed, and solving the puzzle. Yeah, so if anyone has any recommendations of series like those, I very, very much enjoyed them, and they were recommendations from my podcast listeners, so hit me up with anything similar. And if anyone has any tips on how to be a good book club participant, I’ve never done that before, never been part of a book club before, and it’s going to be virtual, so we can’t really meet up and drink lots of wine together, which I think is probably the purpose of a lot of book clubs, I’m not sure, maybe coffee, tea. So if anyone is running virtual book clubs at the moment and has any tips, that will be great too.

And just a couple of announcements before I sign off, that Knitvent is coming up very soon and the pre-sales will be opening up. And in the meantime, I have a how to make your own advent ebook, I guess you would call it, it’s a booklet really, available to download from my website. I’ll put the link in the show notes, and for this year’s scrappy project for Knitvent, I used yarn from my lovely sponsor, Meadow Yarn, and dyed up a special advent set, a special set of 24 minis for the design to match the theme or color scheme that I gave her a few little clues about, I didn’t really have to firm an idea, but she took my little mutterings and ran with it and came up with something gorgeous. And so Anj is going to have an update for these sets on her website on the 12th of October, which is coming up super soon.

And I just want to make it very, very clear that she has very few sets. She just has a few sets because she wasn’t able to get the minis from her supplier. Well, she wasn’t able to get very many minis from her supplier due to COVID restrictions. So, I want to give her a big shout out to let you know that she will have some sets, but I also want to just caution you that there won’t be that many available, and that’s just down to things beyond her or my control at the moment, so I hope you can also be understanding about that. But there are a lot of other super talented, lovely, indies who are providing sets of minis and whether they’re advent kits or just sort of small mini sets that you might like to put together your own collection of 24 minis, or make your own, or swap with a friend, there’s lots and lots of alternatives to put together an advent yarn set.

And I hope you enjoy whatever you choose to do. I think it’s really fun to actually make it from scraps of yarn you’ve used in projects because it just brings back all those happy memories of the projects you’ve made. The other little announcement I wanted to make was that I have my Rewilding Shawl on offer this month as a featured pattern to celebrate nature, and getting into nature with the retreat, and getting out into some walks recently with the girls. And you can get 40% off the Rewilding Shawl pattern on Ravelry with the code Rewilding. And so that brings it down to three pounds reduced from its usual price of five pounds. So if you’d like to take advantage of that, you can for the month of October, that’s running throughout the whole month. So on that note, I don’t think I have any other news for you this week. I hope you have a great week and I’ll talk to you again very soon.

Direct download: 061020CH312_A_Rainforest_Knitting_Retreat_and_Reading_List.mp3
Category:Podcast Episodes -- posted at: 12:00am UTC