If I had to pin down the 2 questions I get asked the most they would be:
1."How do you do it all?" and
2."What yarn do you use?"
The answer to number 1 is quite simple:: I do not do laundry or vacuum, but the answer to question number 2 takes a bit more explaining.
Finding the right yarn for the Etsy and Folksy shops has been a bit of a challenge. I tried a number of different weights and brands of wool, but really sruggled to source options that met my standards for quality, affordability and colour. Plus, with the amount of handmade goods I produce, heavier weight yarns are a necessity to get through the orders in a timely fashion and the UK is a DK nation.
I tried a ton of yarns...ordering samples of most every commercially available chunky yarn in the UK (ok, that may be an exaggeration, but I did order the samples I was recommended on Facebook). It seemed like everything I tried would hit one target but not others. Cascade 220 has a great range of colours and wears well, but I was unsure of its wearability for newborns and its thinness. Wendy Merino Chunky was lovely and soft, as well as reletively affordable, but the colours are too limited and muted. The same goes for King Cole's equivilant. Texere's chunky wool has beautiful colours and a great twist and bounce to it, but is soooo scratchy, I couldn't see many baldy babies being comfortable.
For a long time I was a bit of a yarn snob of the "I just can't work with acrylic" variety. This lasted until 2 things happened-- number 1: my money ran out and number 2: my children beat the heck out of some lovely and expensive single ply merino, resulting in a sticky felted mess that looked worse when washed. 100& acrylic still gives me the heeby-jeebies, I must admit...its the squeaking on my crochet hook that puts me off. However, I've found that with the wool content high enough, the acrylic element is hardly noticeable.
Ultimately, I have settled on 3 main yarns for my hats: Wendy Mode Chunky and Ice Yarn's Bellone, with a bit of Paton's Shadow Tweed thrown in. All 3 are about 50%wool.
The range of colours in Wendy Mode Chunky is great. They have really expanded this recently and offer a good range of basic colours, as well as some unexpected ones. Another bonus it that it wears really well, there is still a bit of pilling from heavy use (for example on Es slippers), but not nearly as much as many other chunky yarns I tried. It is a very soft yarn, being 50% merino, so I am happy to make items for the newest of babies. Another bonus is that my local store sells the yarn for those last minute dashes.
Another recent discovery is Yarn Paradise/Ice Yarns. They are a huge yarn distributor in Turkey who offer balls of wool at ridiculously low prices. Given this, I find the quality good. I have recently started using their Bellone Chunky/Bulky weight for a few items and I must say I am impressed. It is a single ply chunky with low twist, but it holds up extremely well to wear and tear and blocks up very soft. Their postage is expensive, but it still works out at very good value and they ship faster than many UK suppliers I deal with, with yarn arriving in 2 days.
For the owl hat and the mane of the lion, I use Patons Shadow Tweed. I love this yarn. It is so nice to work with and each ball has such a lovely range of colours. It is single ply as well, and again holds up remarkably well to heavy use. I live in fear of this yarn being discontinued as I feel it really makes both of those designs, adding depth and richness to the Lion's mane and the Owl.
Ok, geekery over. I'm going to do something cool. Like floss or read my new book about knitwear design.