Monday, 15 December 2014

Cuppa & Cake with Jo & Kate of The Golden Skein

The Golden Skein very recently started sourcing and collating yarns from across the globe for some beautiful yarn clubs.

Currently, their main club is the 'Power of Three'.  An inspiration photo is chosen with related colours created by three different independent dyers.   By the look of the Golden Skein website, we have some rather interesting clubs to look forward to!

I signed up for the 'Power of Three' club for the past two quarters, and received some truly lovely yarn.  During Autumn, the dyers worked on the 'Harvest' inspiration photo (below), and the plan was to dye all colours on the same base so that they could be used as part of one large project if wished.    I've already turned the gold skein above into a pair of magnificent 'Tintern Abbey' socks.  The green and blue are also destined for socks.  Socktober has changed me.

This quarters inspiration was this gorgeous firework filled photo.  One thing which really draws me about TGS collections is that you can receive three TOTALLY different yarns, both in colour and base, depending on how the dyer interprets the photo.

I won't spoil this quarter for you, in case you're still waiting, or considering, but they're all completely different and all very cool!  

I recently had a wee chat with The Golden Skein duo.   Their answers are very wonderful, and I was very moved by Jos story about why 'The Golden Skein' was important to her.  It's a sad story which we can all relate to - why wait to do things / use things / spend things we want to, when we really have no idea what could get in the way of those options in the future?  It's probably a thought which resonates with anyone who has lost a friend or family member or suffered an illness, and really motivated us to make the most of each and every day!

1. Introduce yourself!  Who are the brains behind The Golden Skein?

The Golden Skein is run by Jo Milmine and Kate Ellis. Jo is a part time evil mastermind and full time enabler. With a magpie-like tendency for beautiful yarn, and a poor ability to fight the urge to cast on every pattern in sight, she came up with the idea of The Golden Skein to justify amassing yet more yarn. Voice of the Shinybees knitting and craft comedy podcast, she blogs and has just moved to the north of Scotland, which is an excellent place to live if you love knitwear.

Kate is a law lecturer by day and knitter by night. Her yarn addiction was well and truly fuelled when she took a part-time job at Loop London for a year or so. Kate writes a blog and has published several of her own knitting designs as Kate’s Twirl. Previously the Co-ordinator for P-Hop (Pennies Per Hour of Pleasure), you may also have heard Kate operating as a roving reporter and occasional guest on the iMake Podcast. Kate is aided and abetted by her feline sidekick, Mabel, who, unlike most cats, has a healthy respect for luxury yarns.

2. When did you dream up TGS, and what was your inspiration?

The initial idea for The Golden Skein came from Jo's husband, James, aka Mielie (which means sweetcorn in Afrikaans, long story!) on one of their nightly walks around the area in which they lived in South Africa. He was inspired by the vast selection of wines available in the country, and suggested a wine tasting club, but for yarn, would be quite good fun. Jo took this idea and ran with it, to produce the format you now see in the Power of 3 yarn club. This involves three different hand dyers being sent the same inspiration picture to use to create their colour way. There is no other direction from TGS apart from this, so the dyers are free to work to their own individual style. Not only does this produce some really interesting but related skeins, but it also gives a great illustration of that dyer's personal style. It also means our subscribers are introduced to lots of lovely new dyers and yarn bases. Because everyone needs enabling!

The inspiration for the name and the general ethos of freeing special skeins came from a tragic accident, in which one of Jo's friends was killed, along with 2 others, in a mid-air collision over the Moray Firth. After this, Jo mused in a podcast episode about how we have these special 'golden skeins' that we all keep in our stash. We love them, but we're also a little bit afraid of them. We take them out, pet them, marvel at their wonderous beauty and put them back in the stash, not to see the light of day again for another few months. They are so pretty, we're too scared to use them in case we 'spoil' them. Jo decided that it was time to stop doing this, as if she died into a plane crash tomorrow, she wouldn't be sat up on a cloud somewhere thinking, "I am glad I never knitted that skein." She pledged from that day on to release the golden skeins and replace them with new ones. 

3. What'll be your next club to open, and what can we expect from it?

The next club to open will be the 837 Club, which will be a journey from Land's end to John O Groats via the medium of British hand dyed yarns. We have a few surprises up our sleeves with that one, so we don't want to give too much away at this stage. The release date for that club will be confirmed in December. There is also a potential top secret project in the wings for early next year that we are working on.

4. What's your favourite skein so far?

Jo: Oh this is a hard one! I have found that it varies enormously and I switch from one to another, particularly within each shipment. I think my all time favourite is Mrs Wilmott's Ghost by Yarn Garden, which is a 50% Merino, 50% Silk blend. It was dyed for the Tornado Over London picture in the first quarter. That picture was chosen as a combination of both of us coming together and launching our first proper club. It symbolised Kate living in London, in a high level apartment with a great view across the city, which I enjoyed on my first visit down there to plan how it was all going to work. For me, it was the Tornado, due to the aircraft crash. I never thought I liked grey that much until that club and now I am a full on addict! 

A very close second was the 'Fields of Gold' colour way from the latest club, dyed by Michelle at Hartlam in South Africa. She drew upon the photo we provided as well as the natural beauty surrounding her in the Western Cape to create the colour way. It reminds me of the country I pine so often for, and the depth and tones in the skein are just stunning.

Kate:  Initially I would have said the same as Jo.  Those 2 skeins are just gorgeous.  I am, however, going to go a little left field with this.  There were 2 skeins which I just didn't know what to knit with them.  To be honest, they are skeins which I would not have naturally chosen if it weren't for doing the club. They were Dye for Yarn's Tornado Over London, which I just thought was a bit too dark and fluffy - it's merino with baby camel, and Desert Vista Dyework's Fruits of Summer - I don't really knit socks and lacked the imagination of what else to do with a self stripe.  After a false start with a generic pair of socks, I spotted a project from one of our members and really liked it.  I ended up using both these yarns together to make an Endless Rainbow shawl.  When knitting with the Dye For Yarn, I completely fell in love with it.  It is soooo very soft and the various underlying hues are amazing.  It goes stunningly well with the vibrant colours in the the Desert Vista.  The shawl is delightful, one of my favourite all time knits, which I am wearing to death. One of my favourite things about the club is that it takes me out of my comfort zone and makes me use yarns which are neither blue, nor contain silk...

5. What do you do when you're not picking out gorgeous skeins for us?

By day, Kate works as a senior lecturer in Construction Law, which is a bit of a departure from the yarn fume filled madness you might expect! She's also an avid tea drinker and a tad over in love with her cat.  She also enjoys abandoning said cat so that she can travelling to exotic destinations (we're talking jungles here) as well as frequent trips back to Guernsey. She can often be found enjoying a cocktail or three in the company of the fabulous Charles Evans, also of iMake fame. More than a closet liker of Blue Nun.

Jo is a child and dog wrangler by day, often found performing death defying stunts in the pursuit of Boden/Pedigree Chum ideals of what parenthood and dog ownership is all about. She is also a freelance enabler, working with independent hand dyers and designers, when not enabling folk to The Golden Skein. For fun, apart from knitting, Jo enjoys dog agility and was recently cast as the pantomime cat in Dick Whittington. No, this isn't a euphemism, this actually happened.

The inspiration photos for next year have already been released, and I think I'll have to go for Autumn & Winter again :D

If you want to hear more from Jo & Kate; Jo can be found over here and her podcast makes for happy listening,  Kate can be found on her website, designing new knitting patterns.  

And last but not least!  Last month we had a wonderful giveaway from Saras Texture Craft, followed by a very inspiring guest post about dying your own yarn & not being afraid of the colour!

The lucky winner was SheilaOKeefe, and Sara will be in touch soon about sending some smooshiness your way!  

How is your christmas knitting going?  Have you taken part in or knit anything from the gorgeous Golden Skein yarns?


  1. i finally gave in to subscribed to the q4 power of three club!!! They are three stunning skeins. Ive also subscribed to q1 and 2 in 2015! My will power could only hold out for so long!

    1. Can't wait to see them!! I think I have to sit out for a wee while - too much yarn :o


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