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Friday, 22 April 2016

New Shade Inspiration

After a cheeky sneak peek last month of our 24 new shades, we finally released them this week, and couldn't be more excited about the feedback we've gotten from you!

There's really so many to choose from now, that the possibilities are almost endless, so we decided to give you a round up of our favourite combinations incorporating our fabulous new shades.

Our Naturally Soft Merino has grown by a total of 10 new shades and here are the shades inspiring us right now:

MillaMia greys are so versatile, there are so many of the new shades that can work amazingly with them. Haze Grey (107), Ice (125) and Fuchsia (143) work together so well in this bright mix, especially for a little girl.

Using new shades like the frost-fresh Ice (125) and a periwinkle like Rain (165) with Berry (163) creates an almost autumnal and elegant look. A combination that is sure to work again and again.

We also love the combination of the vibrant Butterscotch (168), bright Scarlet (140) and the gloriously deep Ink Blue (106), which work together to make a bright and playful addition to any child’s wardrobe.

For more serene pastel inspiration, try Cloud Grey (127), Petal (122) and Sky Blue (126). These subtle tones compliment each other so nicely, a more calming and neutral choice but one that is so versatile across MillaMia designs.

Our Naturally Soft Aran range has grown by a staggering 14 shades with Denim (a favourite in our Limited Edition Naturally Soft Merino range) now being part of the core shades! Have a look some of the lovely combinations below:

We love this fresh and colourful combination of Aqua (243), Cloud Grey (227) and Shocking Pink (244). The vibrant pink is sure to be an eye-catcher in any iteration!

The Paradise Orange (245) makes this mix of muted Denim (206) and Mist (225) almost autumnal, but we think the brightness of the orange will fit to any season.

We've always loved some pastel baby tones and Blush (229) makes a beautiful pastel palette when combined with Haze Grey (211) and Stone (202).

We'd really love to hear from you which shades are your favourites, and how you're combining them! Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account.

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

All about colour!

One of the things we know our customers love about Naturally Soft Merino and Naturally Soft Aran ranges are the vibrant colours. Every now and again we like to shake things up a bit by adding new limited edition shades. We love how adding only a few colours to the range can refresh the entire palette and lead to completely new colour combinations in our pattern collections. This season, our stunning new shades Denim, Coral, Lemon Twist and Raisin are providing a whole new range of inspiration for our knitters and we hope they will inspire you also to try some completely new colourways.

We always want the colours we create to really reflect what MillaMia stands for; modern design influenced by our Swedish roots. We’ve gotten some lovely compliments on our shades in the past and so thought we would share the process that goes into creating every single one of our colours.

All of our colours start their journey on the drawing board. Our colour palettes often come from inspirations we have picked up in Sweden - bright shades that remind us of long summer days, or more muted tones reminiscent of cosy winter nights by the fire. Inspiration for a specific colour is often organic - Helena might see a painting she likes, a flower in a bouquet, an accent colour on an item in a magazine. You are never quite sure where she will find the perfect shade of blue, pink or green….. Depending on our inspirations and the tone we want to set with the palette, the first decision that needs to be made is how many colours are going to be added and how many of each colour family, so how many blues, reds, greys, greens etc. will exist in the range. While we like to start our process with a rough framework of the colour families we want to include, this often changes as we get closer to deciding on our final colours.

The Pantone book then plays a crucial part of this process as we literally choose first colour schemes from it, using the colour chips to create shortlists of shades within each colour family - often seeking to match a small fragment or picture Helena has provided as her original inspiration. Then we start playing around with the colour chips to find colours that complement each other well and will work together in our patterns. Even the smallest gradient differences in a shade can determine whether the shade will fit into the range or not, so this step is crucial in making sure we create a coherent range of colours that will bring out our collections in the best possible way.

Only then can the lengthy process of turning these colours into yarn begin. First off, our colour selections are sent to the mill who begin mixing their dyes to match our colour chips as closely as possible. The mill will then test these colours on small portions of our yarn to see how the fibres take on the colour - this is called a lab dip. Lab dips are what we essentially base our final decisions on, as often the original Pantone colour we picked can come out looking completely differently when applied to our fibres. The mill will send the initial lab dips back to us and we will liaise with them closely on any alterations that need to be made to the dye so that the yarn ends up fulfilling our exact specifications. The mill will send new lab dips every time a change needs to be made, and often times we’ll do multiple lab dips before we finally achieve the colour we want. We are perfectionists after all! Once we are happy with the lab-dips, we sign off on them, and off they go into production to create those lovely coloured yarns that inspire our knitters every day.

Speaking of colour inspiration - we’re really excited to share some big news with all of our knitters and followers this month. Both the Naturally Soft Merino and the Naturally Soft Aran ranges are growing, with about 15 shades being added to each range! They have been a long time coming and we really can’t wait to finally share them with you. In the mean-time, enjoy this little sneak peek of what’s coming soon - can you guess their names?

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Sharing the Love

We know we’ve been quite silent on our blog recently, but just in time for Valentine’s day we’re back to share the love with a brief snapshot of what we’ve been up to.

Christmas and the New Year have been quite busy for us over here, as we are still settling into our new home and focusing on our grand long term ambitions for the future of MillaMia. Most importantly though, we’ve been working away at some exciting new projects which we can’t wait to share with you!

First off, we’re very excited to have recently launched our new limited edition shades. Our Naturally Soft Aran is now available in Lemon Twist (401) and Raisin (400) and our Naturally Soft Merino is now also available in Denim (184) and Coral (185). You can buy all four of these exclusively on LoveKnitting, but hurry as we have a feeling these shades will be very popular! Why not surprise your loved one with a Woolentine and knit up a last-minute valentine’s heart in Coral?

Naturally Soft Aran in Lemon Twist
Naturally Soft Aran in Raisin

Naturally Soft Merino in Coral
Naturally Soft Merino in Denim

We’ve also hand picked a few of our favourite patterns and are currently updating them with our new shades so watch this space for news on when these will be live on the site.

There is more news coming soon, so stay tuned to make sure you don’t miss a thing!

Friday, 16 October 2015

Knit, Play, Colour....

Knit Play Colour - with a title like that it is hard not to get sucked in! Especially at MillaMia where we love knitting, we love playing and we especially love colour (as anyone who has seen our yarn will know).  Knit Play Colour is the latest offering from talented Knit designer Louise Zass-Bangham.

Louise designs under the moniker of Inspiration Knits. Just released as a digital book it is also available in print and we are thrilled that two of the many gorgeous designs in the book feature MillaMia yarn.
Knit Play Colour Cover

But more of that later. We thought we'd start this blog by telling you a bit about our relationship with Louise. The fact that we have known her for quite a few years now makes profiling her brilliant new book on our blog all the more exciting. We first met Louise at a trunk show in Twickenham. It was one of the first trunk shows we had done as MillaMia and we did not quite know what to expect. We were therefore thrilled that knitters that loved our early MillaMia patterns actually bothered to turn up and spend half the morning chatting to us. Louise was one of those knitters. She had recently had children and had used many of the MillaMia patterns knitting for them. As you can see from Louise's designs today she clearly loves colour and I remember talking to her on that day about this already then. She was one of the rarer knitters we meet that dared to put together her own colour combinations for her MillaMia projects - and they always looked great. At that trunk show she mentioned that she was thinking of going into designing.
Ice Storm Cowl

Fast forward a few years and lo and behold that is exactly what she did. From the outset we were more than happy to support Louise with yarn - we were flattered that MillaMia Naturally Soft Merino was one of her favourites. Louise quickly took Ravelry by storm - first with her funny April Fools prank (ask her about it if you ever meet her!) and then with the beautiful Ice Storm patterns. (shown in the picture to the left in Naturally Soft Merino Putty Grey)

Now she has taken things one step further. With Knit, Play, Colour Louise has spent a year designing, knitting and playing with yarn. The book features 10 accessories patterns ranging from cowls and shawls to blankets and wraps. For each project, Louise includes the standard pattern, and then gently leads the knitter towards playful options to help them make their project truly unique and one of kind. Each pattern’s ‘Play’ section features swatches and suggestions for a variety of different yarns, as well as how to make changes to suit the comfort level of the knitter.

Our favourites of course are the two featuring MillaMia yarn - this time using our Naturally Soft Aran for the first time.

Shadow Lines
Warm hearted

Warm- hearted is one of those blankets that will clearly become an heirloom for any child (or adult) lucky enough to receive it. Shown here in Latte aran it will be a quicker knit thanks to the Aran weight and the subtle melange of the Latte colour will really enhance the finished result. I also think this would be beautiful in Stone or Dusk.

And Shadow Lines is a stunning oversized scarf that really shows our yarn to its best. It looks so soft - you just want to snuggle yourself up in it.

Shadow Lines
Plus plenty of other beautiful patterns like this Flight of Colour to the right -  shallow triangle scarf, striped in three colours.

Knit Play Colour is available in both print and digitally. The printed book is RRP £16.95, which will include a code to download a free digital copy. Digital only RRP £14.95.

Louise has kindly offered MillaMia Blog Readeres one free digital copy - to win simply tell us via a comment what inspires you to play with colour.

all photos (C) Louise Zass Bangham
posted by Katarina 

Saturday, 19 September 2015

STOCKIST PROFILE - Sew-In of Marple and Didsbury

I first met David, his wife Karen and knitter extraordinaire Penny at the Stitches trade show back in 2011, and by the end of this first meeting I can say I was thoroughly enthralled by them! Not only were they friendly and approachable, but they had a broad and extensive knowledge of the yarn industry
and a passion for bringing the very best of it to their customers.

With 3 shops in the Sew-In stable offering a wide range of knitting, haberdashery and sewing products, Sew-In of Marple, Didsbury and Buxton delivers the most comprehensive service for the textile crafter in South Manchester. I asked David to tell us more about the shops, what they offer and their plans for the future.

1) Please introduce yourself and tell us a bit about Sew-In of Marple and Didsbury.

Karen and I started in Marple 20 years ago this year by buying a branch of an existing yarn, haberdashery, needlecraft and fabric retail group Sew-In (Sew-In was a 6 branch business originally started in Buxton in the 1970s). We then acquired the Didsbury branch in 1997 from the Sew-In group, followed by Buxton in 2006 when the owners finally retired. It was a complete career change for me as I'd spent the previous 14 years in construction management. Buying the first store in Marple was a great opportunity to run our own business based around our cross-stitch hobby.

2) How do you go about choosing brands and products for your shops? There is a vast array of beautiful yarn available now, so what is it about a particular yarn that persuades you to carry it?
We effectively 'inherited’ core yarn brands such as Sirdar, Wendy and Stylecraft when we bought the business which was then and still is a leading regional Sirdar stockist. Gradually we introduced new brands in the middle market such as Rico and King Cole and at the premium level we took Rowan and Millamia which happily filled a gap in the market. The South Manchester Rowan stockist closed so we decided to carry Rowan to enhance our ranges, but we also wanted to include new cutting edge brands so we took on Millamia.

As for product choice, we aim to constantly carry the best from each of our brands. Some seasons this means more of one brand than another while in other seasons the decision might be different depending on the strength of each brand's new season offering. With the brands we've introduced we look for quality (both brand and product), range, design and service. In the case of small brands we want to see ‘personality' - I very much believe that the Supplier/Retailer relationship is and should be a partnership and therefore relationship with each brand's principals is very important.

The Buxton shop

3) What is your favourite MM product and yarn colour?
We've stocked MillaMia since March 2011 (after meeting the MillaMia team at Stitches) and MillaMia Aran since its launch last year. There really is no clear favourite colour as each lends itself to particular people and projects. Of course the high plus point with the brand is the intensity of colour, even the soft shades have strength and aren't wishy-washy!

4) Describe a typical Sew-In customer. What are they likely to be knitting?
Across our 3 branches I don’t think there is such a thing as a typical customer! We have everyone from early teens to ‘end of knitting’ people. As a ‘high street’ business we cater for most knitters needs which means we stock baby, sock, lacy and very thick yarn, from 100% man-made to 100% natural fibre. Knitters will be knitting to suit their needs/desires/the season but there is always baby knitting going on.

The first shop that David acquired in Marple

5) What is the strangest or funniest request you’ve ever had?
We regularly have ‘requests’ that could be called strange or funny. Maybe a case of customers not engaging their brains before asking . . .
‘My friend was wearing a pink cardigan last night, have you got the pattern for it?’
‘You had a pattern in the window when I was here on holiday last summer, can I have a copy?’
Customer approaches the counter with a pattern torn from magazine which clearly states that the yarn is only available as a knit kit from …….. and asks ‘Can I have the yarn to knit this please?’

Inside the old Didsbury shop - a veritable Aladdin's cave of yarny delight!

7) If one of our readers has never been to one of your shops, what is the one thing that you offer that means they should?
Service and technical knowledge, together with a passion for the craft – everyone we employ is an expert knitter, more than one is a designer, one has had a book published, all love to help customers achieve their individual knitting goals.

8) Lastly, what does the future hold for Sew-In?
Well, we have exciting times ahead. After 20 years of growing the business from branches that were already established not only in terms of brands, stock etc. but also position, layout, fixtures and fittings, we have embarked on an adventure with a ‘blank canvas’ - a new branch that have created from scratch. While still continuing to serve a loyal local customer base, we are also striving to create the South Manchester independent wool shop Destination of Choice for a much wider audience. Opened early in August 2015 - our brand new shop in Cheadle village is well worth a visit.

Inside the new Cheadle shop

You can find Sew-In online at, at the Marple, Buxton and Cheadle shops and on Facebook.

Friday, 11 September 2015

An amazing design in Naturally Soft Aran -Zenmon

I can't believe I have not seen this earlier - an amazing pattern from talented knit designer Kirsten Johnstone in Naturally Soft Merino. Max may have shared it last year but I wanted to revisit this. I love so many things about it - its versatility, how it shows off the yarn, how interesting the pattern shaping is - but above all its modernity. I think this is one of the things that really distinguishes Kirsten's designs - she has a really clean, modern, stylish aesthetic and it plays all the way through to her photography.
Zenmon wrap - picture courtesy of Kirsten Johnstone
Super-thrilled that a designer of Kirsten's calibre is using our yarn. Kirsten is an architect based in Melbourne, Australia who uses the mediums of built form and interior space to create refined designs. Luckily for use she also uses yarn, fabric and photography to satisfy her design needs on a smaller scale!
Picture courtesy of Kirsten Johnstone
 The Zenmon pattern can be downloaded from Kirsten's website. It is perfect for a the slightly cooler autumn months too. Take a look at the other patterns while you are there - plenty to get excited about.

Read more about the inspiration behind the pattern on Kirsten's own blog.

Posted by Katarina

Friday, 14 August 2015

Learning more about Tanya - our design assistant

Having been away it has been a while since we blogged. This month we thought it might be nice to get to know some of the creative team who help create the MillaMia designs. Here is an interview with Tanya - our talented design assistant.  
Happy reading! 

An interview with Tanya - MillaMia design assistant: 

1. What made you want to work in the hand knitting business? 

Hand knitting was never my plan - it just sort of happened after I met MillaMia's previous intern , Louisa at the Knitting & Stitching show.  I saw it as a new challenge and thought it would be great to try and master a new skill. I had a bit of prior hand knitting knowledge but I have always admired it as it takes so much more time and skill than machine knitting. 

The Arctic Cushion from winter knitting -
 one of Tanya's favourite MillaMia Knits
2. What have you learnt since you started with MillaMia? I have learnt how to chart fairisle which is a great skill to have as it means I can adapt and design patterns so much quicker now! I have also acquired a feel for what the MillaMia customer might want and how to incorporate knitwear trends from the catwalk into the designs without compromising on wearability. 

3. What bits of the job do you enjoy the most?

I really enjoy coming up with new fabrics and swatching. I also love the design process from sketching to coming up with new and interesting colour ways.

4. What are your long term career aspirations?
I would love to stay within design and definitely within knitwear. It would be great to maybe work for a supplier so that I can design for a variety of brands.

5. What are your favourite 5 knitting patterns to knit? 

Annette Scarf and Elika Wristwarmers
from Finishing Touch
Snow Storm wristwarmers from Winter Knitting

Well if I am choosing from the MillaMia collections for me it would have to be the Elika wrist warmers, Elk cushion, Annette scarf, Snow Storm wrist warmers and Arctic cushion