A really happy post today, to introduce you to Maylin – the newest member of the KDD team, who will be working with us and taking over the customer service aspects of Mel’s role in coming months. She’ll also be helping me with the development of our forthcoming creative projects, as well as managing our new test and sample knitting pool. We are all really excited for Maylin to join the KDD team – Welcome, Maylin!
We’ve known Maylin for a while, as an amazing knitter with a passion for all things woolly, and a long-term member of the KDD and Arnall-Culliford Ravelry groups. Around the time that Jen AC and I were publishing the Book of Haps , Maylin kindly contacted BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour with some enthusiastic words about the project, and they in turn got in touch with me. I was subsequently interviewed by Jane Garvey for the programme, alongside a “chain” of contemporary British knitters, including Maylin herself, and friends Felix and Lara. It was an interesting moment. Jane Garvey’s open approach to that series of conversations allowed hand knitting (and a group of creative women who were really passionate about hand knitting) to feature on the BBC in a way that ran counter to the usual (rather predictable) stereotypes, and in my case, my Woman’s Hour interview (and the people who heard it) sparked off a somewhat unlikely chain of events that eventually resulted in my writing Handywoman. I’ve often felt I had Maylin to thank for that.
As well as being a brilliant knitter, Maylin has many interests in common with the rest of the KDD team, including literature, publishing, and walking. Her two feet have taken her all over the UK, to explore a wide range of stunning landscapes, and she especially loves Cumbria, Wales – and Scotland! So it was lovely to celebrate her joining the team with one of our own favourite and familiar strolls between Milarrochy Bay and Balmaha (the West Highland Way landscape which, of course, inspired the pullover which Maylin is wearing.)
Here’s Maylin, to introduce herself . . .
Hello and welcome, Maylin! Can you tell the KDD blog readers a bit about yourself?
I’m a Canadian from Toronto who moved to the UK ten years ago after meeting my partner on a hiking holiday in Scotland. I started my career as an indie bookseller and have worked many years in publishing and in university libraries. Three days after moving to Liverpool, I went to Woolfest in Cockermouth and I was completely blown away by all the sheep breeds and yarns on offer. That was certainly the start of a possibly too large accumulation of stash, but also a fascination with the indie yarn industry which shares a lot of characteristics with small publishers – not least the wonderfully knowledgeable and enthusiastic people involved. I’ve test knit for a lot of different designers and I’m always curious about the creative process, so this really is a dream job.
I know at least part of your heart is in Toronto. What do you miss most about this great city?
Toronto is a vibrant, multi-cultural city and its energy really showcases itself at events like the Toronto Film Festival or the World Cup where the city gets behind every team in an enthusiastic and good-natured way. I miss watching my Toronto Blue Jays on a regular basis and going to the Toronto Islands – the site of many memorable family picnics and outings with friends. The city also has some fabulous indie yarn shops.
. . . and what do you love most about Liverpool, the great city in which you’ve made your home?
Liverpool is a very friendly city, full of history, with its own brand of unique humour. It has very interesting architecture, fabulous art galleries and the most wonderful green spaces. My local park – Calderstones – has a lake, a beautiful Japanese garden, a thousand year-old oak tree, a cafe, an ice cream parlour and an indie bookshop! You can’t ask for more than that.
Please tell us more about your glorious Còinneach, in its beautiful range of soft neutral shades?
This jumper was inspired by a wonderful walking holiday in the Outer Hebrides and the colours seen in the landscape of North Uist, in particular from the top of a hill called Eaval. The trip included a visit to the amazing Uist Wool where I bought the main colour and the dark brown in the yoke. The other two colours are from Alice Starmore’s Hebridean 2ply range. I love it when I can incorporate the visual inspiration of a landscape with wool from the sheep who actually live in it.
As we all know, there are no mistakes in hand-knitting, only “learning experiences” . . . what would you say was the most instructive knitterly “learning experience” you’ve ever had?
Definitely not putting in lifelines, or enough stitch markers when doing a complicated lace pattern. I should know by now that if the numbers/stitches don’t add up, they aren’t going to miraculously resolve themselves in the next row. And yes, that extra yarnover will be noticed!
And of which of your many knitting projects are you perhaps most proud?
I still get lots of compliments on the sweater in my ravatar which was my first fair isle sweater and it was such a confidence boost to finish it. The pattern is Next Year in Lerwick by Tori Seierstad and I had saved my precious Daughter of A Shepherd Hebridean 4ply (from her very first batch) for the main background, knowing the rest of the colours would really pop against it. It took a long time and some frustrated re-knitting, but I was determined to finish it in time for my trip to Shetland in 2017 which I took with seven other knitters met solely through Ravelry. This sweater will always be a reminder of the amazing adventure we had and I truly felt I could knit anything after that.
I enjoy photographing my knitting here at Milarrochy Bay – do you have some favourite spots where you’ve photographed your knitting?
My partner is not like Tom – he groans a lot when I ask him to photograph finished objects while we’re hiking. But I love outdoor photos not just for the natural light and picturesque settings, but to show that wool is such a comfortable and practical fibre to wear on walks, at least in the UK. So my favourite spots are usually at the top of a mountain.
Where in the UK would you love to walk to if you could just pack a bag and set out tomorrow?
If I could have twelve hours of perfect weather and no midges, I’d love to climb the mighty Suilven again and spend at least several hours on the top with my knitting, just surrounded by the most wonderful views of sea and sky and lochs and hills. The further west and north you travel in Scotland, the more magnificent the scenery gets and the whole Assynt coast is just glorious.
And finally, what are you most looking forward to in coming months at KDD?
I am really excited about the theme for your next club because I can already anticipate the gasps of delight coming from your Ravelry group. And knowing how creative they all are, I can’t wait to see how they interpret these designs. There will be a lot of scope for play and individuality — it’s going to be fun!
ha ha, it certainly will be! We’ll be able to say more about this soon!