Meet the Queens of Yarn from Across the Pond on the Next JBW Bus Tour!

Jimmy Beans is excited to announce that Jeni Hewlett from Fyberspates and Rachel Coopey of Coopknits will be joining us from across the pond on our next Biggest Little Bus Tour!  

Fyberspates started as a small hand-dyed yarn company but the demand became too large for Jeni to continue hand-dyeing yarn in her back garden. Fyberspate’s journey to South America led to some of our favorite yarns we see from the brand today.

We were so lucky to have the opportunity to knit (!) pick their thoughts!

1. How did you become interested in the yarn industry?
J :I was at Uni, studying for a masters in Psychology and realised that it wasn't for me. My constant love in life had always been textiles, and I started googling and read some blogs of people who were doing amazing things in the USA, I booked on a weaving course in London to just to meet people and see what was out there, whilst on that course the owner of the shop was dyeing yarn, I couldn't stop thinking about it when I got home, I bought yarn from a charity shop, had a go using silk paints, which I reasoned would work on wool as well, and they did... it very quickly became an obsession. I sold some sock yarn on Ebay, a shop bought some and asked me to sell them yarn....and I never looked back!
R: My grandmother was a knitter, she taught me to knit when I was very small. She used to cast on 20 stitches and after a few rows we would count how many stitches I had managed to gain! I knitted on and off through my teenage years, my mum is also a knitter and she helped me learn new techniques and taught me how to read a pattern. My dad tells me that my great-grandma used to own a wool shop so maybe it's in my blood!
2. What has been your favorite inspiration for your work thus far?
J: My inspiration always comes from mistakes, I am not meticulous or scientific in anything I do, I am always experimenting, some of my best techniques have come from me being absolutely annoyed that I messed something up, and flinging dye on it, or chucking it into another vat of colour, same with designing yarns, in the early days, I really didn't know what I was doing, so we experimented making yarns and learnt a lot of amazing lessons, this led me to my work with my husband, a chief yarn designer of our undyed yarn company.
R: I think it is probably nature, I have used the strong lines and shapes of leaves and flowers many times in my designs. The natural world is also an endless source of colour combination inspiration.
3. Name one UK trend you’d like to see take off in the States and vice versa.
J: Ha! This is a hard one, mainly because they are so closely linked I think, but in the UK, lace is a lot more popular than in the USA, I would love it if the US embraced lace more as I have some lovely lace yarns lol! Vise versa, I love the use of golden yellow, mustards and orange browns. People in the UK are really scared of these colours, but I LOVE them, especially yellow, I have quite a few pairs of yellow shoes, skirts and cardigans, but they took a lot of time and effort to search for! This is always the tricky thing for us, colour likes and dislikes are always so different in different countries, to appeal to all tastes can be tricky sometimes.
R: I think the internet and especially Ravelry means that trends quite often span countries, I think it's lovely that knitters all over the world are often knitting the same pattern at the same time and chatting and sharing pictures. I love knit-a-longs, it’s exciting seeing people choosing their yarns and helping each other out.
4. One knitting skill set you are trying to home in on at the moment?
J: Brioche.. I can knit it, but I can't fix mistakes in it, and that drives me nuts because I still don't deep down understand the construction yet, but I will!
R: I have just tried intarsia for the first time, like most things I don't know why I didn't try it earlier! I think it is being used to create some amazing colour blocked shawls at the moment. I used to be much more of process knitter - I would knit endless swatches trying new techniques and methods. These days I'm much more motivated by the finished product when I do get a chance to do non-work knitting (which isn't very often), I would love to knit a plain stockinette stitch sweater at a really fine gauge but that’s a bit of a time investment!
5. What was it like working with each other to grace the knitting world with such beautiful sock yarn!?
J: I count Rachel as one of my best friends, she is very relaxed and goes with the flow, she also has an amazing style and eye for colour pallets, so when we decided to pitch Rachel her yarn, I knew it would be an enjoyable experience, and it really has been very easy, I love to see the colours and ideas Rachel comes up with, when we get her yarns in, it's as exciting as my getting my own, I love her ability to be herself and not to be influenced by anything else.
R: I love working with Jeni, I think our collaborations work so well because we are very similar, we love to travel together and talking things through with Jeni is the best way to brainstorm a new idea or problem. Creating the sock yarn has been so new and exciting for me but I could not have done it without Jeni's years of experience and yarn creating expertise.

6. Okay, last question, we swear. What is your spirit animal?
J:  A monkey lol!
R: Maybe one of those small dogs which looks like a grumpy old man? One of my favourite things about coming to the US is the time difference and jet lag means I become a morning person, it’s easy to be cheerful and happy first thing when your body thinks it's lunchtime!

Stay tuned for more updates on The Biggest Little Bus Tour!

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