Report One: Vienna Wool & Design Festival

My first highlight of the Vienna Wool & Design Festival was that I met up with Nancy Marchant at the airport in Vienna on Friday afternoon. She landed half an hour before Michael and I so, Suncica suggested booking a taxi for the three of us, knowing that we would have a lot of luggage with us. It gave me a wonderful chance to get to know the Queen of Brioche Knitting. The festival had already began by the time we arrived; the first set of workshops started in the afternoon. Several of the stands were set-up, ready for the influx of knitters on Saturday, in the Market Hall  (read: the Ballroom) at the Arc Hotel Wimberger. While I was busy looking down at all the yarns on all the 23 stands, Michael looked up and captured the banners with my design Tau, published in the: Vienna Wool & Design Festival Magazine: wool 2 to go 01. Mail order is open from today.

Suncica, one of the two organisers, had three different stands: The first for her current yarnshop: Wollsalon with the wonderful yarns like: Artyarns, Hedgehog Fibres, Lorna’s Laces, Malabrigo and Shibui. The second for her new brands called Pop-Up Store with: The Uncommon Thread, Biscotti Yarns and Doulton Flock. The third for her new yak yarn: Myak. I must admit seeing all those brands made me craving yarn. I am sure that sound familiar to many of you! I was way too busy talking to knitters I had meet in Vienna in 2015, test knitters from my Ravelry group and friends to take photographs, so most of these are taken by my husband!

Uschi, the other organiser, told me that they early figured out that they needed a photo wall, and where better to place it than on the stage. We took advantage of it and asked Susanne, aka shannara13 on Ravelry, to join us. On the Friday we were all wearing the same bluebell shade of blue and all my designs: Uschi, aka Grinsekatz on Ravelry, is wearing Ronette, Susanne is wearing Irina Pullover, both have made adjustments to the pattern to make them their own and  I am wearing Kori.

I was looking forward to seeing Scottish designer Di Gilpin again. I met her first time at the Rowan Yarns’ stand at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London several years ago, while I was still working for Rowan and she was launching her first book with Rowan yarns. Now, she has her own yarn brand: Lalland Lambswool, sell finished garments and designs both for hand knitters and for haute couture. In the photo above you see Sheila, who trains all their sample knitters and assists Di. Her eye for design and especially intricate cable work stand out, just take a look at her website here: And yes, I have several balls of her yarn to play with now. To be continued.

All the beautiful colours and yarns on the British The Little Grey Sheep stand blew me away. Here I am lost in colours. All you can see of me is the back of my design Helka. I first spoke their shepherdess Susie (you can see her in action in the picture hanging above the mini skeins in the photo below), before I spoke to dyer & manager Emma.

Invited to this festival was also the Polish designer Hanna Maciejewska, aka Hada Knits, who I met up with during the festival. We enjoy each others company a lot! Suncica, aka Sunce5555 on Ravelry, stopped us in our tracks asking for more autographs for the magazines. We obliged, enjoying the lime light for a short period of time.

Hanna’s husband Daniel was walking around with his camera just as Michael was. Another designer who also brought her man was Isabell Kraemer, but due to our workshop schedules I was not able to talk to her until Monday morning when the six of us had a late breakfast. I am very proud of the fact that I did not buy any yarn, but I was given several skeins and balls to play with so I do not feel deprived in any way.

None of my workshops were fully booked and the small groups made them extra enjoyable since it gave us more time to get acquainted! Among the participants I spoke Norwegian to three of them to my surprise; two of them were living in Austria while the third had worked as an au-pair in Norway. The rest of the time, I spoke English and several of the Austrian participants where surprised how quickly they could recall their English vocabulary that not been used for awhile. More photos and stories are coming up next so stay tuned.


Interview with Designer Hanna Maciejewska

knitting in public

Photo by Daniel Maciejewska

I was so lucky to meet the fantastic designer Hanna Maciejewska, aka hada131 on Ravelry, at the Wollness Weekend in the beautiful hills of the Pielach Valley, 1.5 hour outside of Vienna in Austria. Even before we met we exchanged experiences and became good friends. Hanna is taking part in the GAL 2015 and not for the first time, hence I had to ask her more about it. Then she asked to interview me, and I was delighted that she agreed to be interviewed by me too. The following questions are the brilliant ones I first received by designer Janelle Martin, and you can read my responses on her blog. Here is the interview with Hanna:

Who taught you to knit/How did you learn to knit?                                                      It was my grandmother who taught me how to knit.  I don’t remember exactly when it was, but probably when I was 10 or so. In High School, I knit sweaters all the time and most of them were my own creations, but only a few years ago I realized that designing knitwear is truly my biggest passion!

GAL 2015 - photos by Daniel Maciejewska

GAL 2015 – photos by Daniel Maciejewska

How did you get started designing?

I have loved knitting since I was a child! And, I have always been knitting – mostly from my own imagination because I always wanted to have something unique and… I didn’t have too many knitting books 🙂 So I guess, it has always been a little bit of designing…

When I joined Ravelry a few years ago, at first, I posted projects just for fun. After a dear friend, who is a talented hand dyer, created a special yarn for me, I designed “Colors of Kauai” and felt encouraged to publish it. It was so well received that I decided to write down more of my designs – this is how it all started. I was hooked on designing from that point on!

What inspires your designs?

Everything! Most people who create things say this, don’t they? It is all true! The world is full of colors and shapes.

The place I live in influences me a lot, though it is not that obvious when you look at my designs. The serene place in the countryside near Toruń, where I live, my big garden (I am a huge fan of gardening, and whenever the weather permits, I love to sit on the porch and knit) and the forest nearby are quiet places to think about new designs and life in general and to look for sources of inspiration and get new ideas. I also like to walk around the Old Town of Toruń, feeling history and watching people.

The yarn stimulates me a lot, too. Its texture, colour, the possibilities it can bring etc. always amaze me. If a yarn doesn’t “talk” to me, I tend not to work with it.

A huge part of my inspiration originates from online sources. I can spend hours browsing Pinterest, Tumblr and similar sites, checking out current fashion trends and allowing myself to get inspired. It’s easy to get carried away when there is such a multitude of inspirational sources to explore, but there’s a downside to this too! I’m not alone watching these sites; everybody is seeing the same pictures, and however beautiful and inspiring they are, truth is if several people see the same pictures, then those several people might end up getting the same ideas!


A Floral Affair – photo by Daniel Maciejewska

Which comes first – the yarn or the inspiration? 

It could be either. I’ve had it work both ways but most of the time it is the design idea that comes to me first. Then, I try to figure out what yarn would be the best for it and almost always discover that I don’t have it in my stash! LOL

On the other hand, several of my designs – such as Maisie, Aiolos or Fino – have been strictly inspired by the yarn that captured my attention.

What characteristics do you try to incorporate in your designs?

I always try to make them interesting to knit! And of course seamless 🙂

Since I am not the biggest enthusiast of seaming, I prefer to construct my garments and accessories as seamlessly as possible and move on to the next idea.

Also, the fit is very important to me. We all have uniquely shaped bodies, don’t we? Not all women have model-like measurements; therefore, we may want to custom tailor different areas of our knitwear to assure the best possible fit.

I have been quite generously equipped by the bust fairy and as you know, this can be both a blessing and a curse because it requires extra shaping in that section.

I keep this in mind and try to design garments that slim out the top of women’s bodies and balance them with the bottom half. I love open cardigans, deep neck openings and intriguing waist shaping – in short, everything that flatters!

What is your favourite type of item to design? 

I am definitely a sweater designer. I like knitting and designing accessories (mostly hats and shawls) but sweaters I love the most.

There are so many different constructions you can play with! So many ways to do the shaping! Possibilities are endless.


Wien – photo by Daniel Maciejewska

Tell me about designs like “A Floral Affair” and ”Wien”.

Both garments have been designed for a special purpose (if I may say that) and knit with Malabrigo Yarn.

A Floral Affair” was originally published by “Knit Now” Magazine, while “Wien” was created especially for the Wollness Weekend we had a pleasure to attend in September.

A Floral Affair” is an elegant, fitted vest (or a top tank, if you wish) with a center flower motif and very deep, flattering neckline. This is something you would wear to work but also on a date.

Wien”, on the other hand, is the traditional, classic winter sweater, with lots of texture, cables, garter stitch and extra cushy half-cardigan stitch sections. For a modern spin, waist shaping is achieved by the way the pattern on the back is arranged.

What is coming next? What’s in your release queue?

As most of the knitters, I always have a few projects on the needles at the same time.

At the moment, I am all about knitting hats and other winter accessories 🙂

However, I am also working on a collection for one of the great yarn companies and hope to have it ready in January. More exciting collaborations are coming next year! In the meantime, I hope to publish a few designs under my own name, too!

Your desert island yarn? (if you could only knit with one yarn from now on which would it be?)

This is such a tough question. I don’t think I can pick one yarn. I love them all! I want them all!!! 🙂

Wink - photo by Daniel Maciejewska

Wink – photo by Daniel Maciejewska

Which is your most under-appreciated design?

Oh, there are a few of them actually. However, I’m very self-critical, and I always find something that I could have done better.

 What’s the one piece of advice you’d like to share with other knitters?

Keep knitting! Have fun! Look out for opportunities, and never ever let others put you down!

 Any knitting/designing New Year’s resolutions?

Stick to my design schedule as much as possible. Be more organized and focused.

Pompanos Hat - photo by Daniel Maciejewska

Pomponious Hat – photo by Daniel Maciejewska

Thank you so much, Hanna! You can read more about Hanna here: and find all her lovely patterns here:


Vienna Part Two

XT1A5884Our program in Vienna was so packed, just as the Wollness Weekend was, with plenty of knitting related events, in addition to a fashion show and sightseeing. We had 3 knit nights at Steinschalerhof and then a fourth in Vienna, again organized by the Austrian Yarn Club. Did I tell you that I have discovered Bingo? Knitting bingo that is; where all the numbers are replaced by well known pattern names, knit speak or a fun yarn fiber quote. Who wants to shout bingo when we can use knitting terms, right? Above is a photo from the Elke Freytag Fashion Show, we were invited to join curtesy of Teresa Schinwald of the Austrian Yarn Club.  The brilliant photo is taken by my husband! We all loved mingling with well known politicians and other celebrities, as well as watching the fashion show and the possibility to study all the garments.

DSCN0322Designer Hanna Maciejewska, aka Hada Knits, had arranged to meet her test knitter Susanne and she asked me if I wanted to join them. I would be mad not too, since I have enjoyed every minute of Hanna’s company as well as our exchange of experiences. Susanne turned up in the latest pullover she had test knitted for Hanna; Wien. It was beautifully knitted with a perfect fit on her. Hanna was wearing her own design: Endearment, while I was wearing my Gyda. To our joy Susanne took us to the Museum Hundertwasser, where the coffee shop look as charming as the outside did. Below you see a photo of the three of us, so happy to be sharing our knitting experiences.

23466682th_medium 2 cropI was overwhelmed to meet several of my test knitters and seeing so many of my designs at the Wollness Weekend – a total of 8 to my astonishment. Due to our tight program I was not able to photograph them all, but here is Anne Marie, aka anne1981 on Ravelry, wearing her stunning Lattice Back Jacket knitted in Schulana Donegal-Tweed.

XT1A5729On our last day in Vienna, Michael and I went to see the Edvard Munch exhibition at Albertina with Hanna and Daniel, and then to the Leopold to see their Klimt and Schiele collection. The atrium took our breath away with its height, light and scale. Just as most of the buildings in Vienna did…

XT1A5929I am still trying to land after this amazing trip to Vienna and the Wollness Weekend. Thank you Austrian Yarn Club for this opportunity!


Knitting Retreat On The Outskirts Of Vienna

WollnessYes, was the obvious answer I gave to the question, from a good Ravelry friend of mine – who is also one of the founders of Austrian Yarn Club – if I wanted to teach at the Wollness Wochenende, Friday 16. to Sunday 18. October, at Steinschalerhof, on the outskirts of Vienna. It was an offer I could not refuse, in fact, I could barely contain my excitement. I will be teaching two different workshops in English: Professional Finishing and Lace Knitting. Both workshops will be split in two half-day sessions, to make sure everyone is in retreat mode. My husband was more than eager to join me, and is currently planning our program for the extra days in Vienna we have added at the end. The workshops, most of them in German, are still being organized, so I will post a full program when it is ready. More fabulous news followed as I am not the only foreign designer invited, so is Polish Hanna Maciejewska of Hada Knits. I am so excited to meet her, as well as my Austrian Ravelry friends. Booking in not yet open, but if you are interested in attending, do join the Austrian Yarn Club on Ravelry and send an e-mail (to confirming your interest. I am so looking forward to this knitting retreat, and hope to see you there! To be continued.