Tag Archives: travel

Zealana in Italia!

The tiny hilltop town of Montisi, Italy welcomes groups of knitters every Fall.  Susan Wolcott, founder of Trips for Knitters www.tripsforknitters.com has been organizing these retreats for the past decade, and Zealana has been a happy sponsor for the past two years.  Most of the knitters go to Montisi to soak up some of the famous Tuscan sun while improving their knitting skills, but they leave feeling a connection to the people in the town as well.  It’s not usually a tourist destination, so the local merchants gear up for the extra business and welcome the knitters back for another year.  The local gift shop stocks up on olive oil shampoo (it always sells out!), and the tiny grocery store even had special bags printed that could be used for knitting.

Photo source: montisifilmfestival.org
Photo credit: Elizabeth Cochran

Kennita Tully has been the teacher and designer for these retreats for several years now, and has made many friends in Montisi.  She wanted to do something special for the locals they work with for the retreat, so in 2015 she started work on the “Montisi Collection”, designing garments for specific individuals around their lifestyle.  She chose five people, interviewed them about their preferences in color and style, looked at other sweaters in their wardrobes and took measurements. Last month at the retreat, she presented the sweaters to their new owners.

Four of the garments were made with Zealana yarns:

Liz Cochran is a British expat who moved to Cortona to paint and is now a successful artist living in Montisi.  She teaches water colour to the knitters on retreat and hosts a historic walking tour of the town on Sunday mornings.  Liz is also an accomplished Blues singer with her own album.  Her elegant vest is knit in Zealana Air Lace in Burgundy.

liz

Massimo is Liz’ partner and the property manager for the villa where we stay Villa Maddalena. He also plays guitar in a rock band on Friday nights.  His pullover is made with Kauri Fingering, in Blue Awa, Red Tuhi, Ashen and Dark Napo.  Zampa is Liz and Massimo’s very talented dog.  Since he goes everywhere with Massimo, he needed a matching sweater!

massimo

Roberto is the owner of a very unique restaurant in Montisi, called “Roberto’s”. He is a master sommelier and a follower of the slow food movement. The food he serves is all about where it comes from and how it affects us, preserving tradition and socialization during meals.  Roberto sources everything he serves from local farms and orchards, teaching the guests about the slow food movement as he serves his delicious meals. Kennita designed his cardigan using Kauri Worsted in Natural, for those cool days when he’s out looking for fresh buffalo mozzarella.

roberto

Kennita’s patterns will be available in December or early January – check www.wildflowerknits.com or Kennita’s store on Ravelry for updates and her other designs.  She has already chosen five more Montisi residents for next year’s designs, when the Montisi Collection will become a book!

 

Photography of the garments by Steve Tully.

Ria + June | Episode #2 Wool

Hi everyone! I’m diving into Principles of Knitting, but straying just a bit from June’s recommendation to work from cover to cover in order. I had fiber on the brain after getting back from the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, so I thought I’d skip ahead to Part 7 Materials, Chapter 27 Fibers (page 539). I quickly realized that WOOL deserved its very own posts, so I’ll be tackling non-wool fibers another day.

Knitters who knit with wool already know that wool is an amazing fiber. In just a few pages, June illuminates WHY. I’d like to stress that this project isn’t intended to replace her book–I’ll only be touching on the highlights, and facts I found especially interesting.

It’s clear that June favors natural fibers, and so do I, but she allows for synthetics when they make sense. It’s interesting to note that technology hasn’t been able to replicate what nature does so well in wool. People avoid working with wool for a lot of reasons, but June manages to counter all of them with sound logic.

Cost is an issue, but she echos Cat Bordhi is urging people to save up for the best materials they can afford–your knitting deserves this, and your purchases encourage future textile production.

Allergies are another roadblock, but June points our that animal fibers are made up of keratin, the same protein that comprises human hair and nails. Its a contentious issue to be sure, but even people suffering from wool irritation tend to fall silent in the face of soft, smooth Merino (the type of wool used in every Zealana yarn).

One of the most interesting facts I read was that Queen Elizabeth I won Merino sheep from the Spanish Armada, which in turn fueled the British wool industry and the expanding empire. That means Zealana wool may have royal lineage!

Another fun fact: fleeces are shorn in one piece and they average about 10 pounds. I was curious and did the math. That equals about 90 50 gram balls of yarn, or about 8-10 adult sweaters. It’s an inexact science of course, as some of the weight will be lost in the scouring process that removes “barnyard,” dander, grasses, seeds, lanolin and whatever else the sheep happens to be hiding in its coat.

Watch the video to learn even more about wool, and to see a bit of footage from my trip to Rhinebeck!

More soon,

CR