Thursday Green Artist of the Week - Zoe and Stella of Knitz and Bitz

This week, I am so thrilled to feature Knitz and Bitz, a sister team who makes lovely handspun yarn from fleeces they get directly from the farmer.

They offer handspun yarn and other goodies in their misi.co.uk shops Knits and Bitz and Quiltz.

From the Knitz and Bitz shop:

Fleece is sourced from the UK, and when washing we never use harsh chemicals. From START to FINISH your item will be made by us, (with a little help from a sheep)
We also offer handspun hand dyed yarn for you to knit your own items with each batch is dyed in small amounts, so unrepeatable colours which will make your item unique! We spin all fibres, from kid mohair from a farm in Devon to Possum and silk. You will be sure to find a unique blend of wool. Not so adventurous, we also spin just plain sheep fleece. After all sometimes you can't improve the natural fleece, so why try!

I LOVE my craft, and hope that shows through my items. I really can't tell you how many HOURS it takes to make just 1 small bag.

The Interview:

How and when did you get your start in your art/craft?

Me (Zoe) and Stella have been knitting every since we were little. I have knitted every day for 30 years. About 18 years ago Stella worked at a spinning museum and learnt how to spin. She would send me wool, and of course I fell in love with handspun and had to learn too. Because of the job, Stella became an expert in spinning wheels and now has a fantastic collection. She is restoring a wheel at the moment.

We started selling our Handspun about 6 months ago. We were late on the market! But we have so much experience and between us, we have spun everything from Banana fibre to cotton. I don't think there is a sheep that hasn't been spun by one of us. So you will find a yarn to suit everyone.

What specifically do you do that is “green” in your business?

We have a strong sense of eco/green values and I think that’s why we spin our wool. We try to source fleeces direct from farmers. When we get a fleece we hand wash it (no chemicals), hand-card and then spin it. [from Kim: Check out their blog for photos and descriptions of the process.] Our real passion is the beauty of the natural fleece, each breed is a different colour, the shades of creams, browns and greys are just amazing and I personally love the chocolate colour of Shetland. I would love people to see and feel the softness of this yarn, it really is a dream. But we do dye our wool too. We often use natural dyes and hopefully when the nettles are out we will be showing nettle dyeing on the blog.

Why have you decided to use these green practices or make these products?

Both of us are really into History and often wonder, how did the Egyptians spin? You know you can make a drop spindle from a stick and a stone! I think it’s this that drives us to the traditional methods of producing yarn. Apart from that handspun is a joy to use. People are a bit scared. But you should try it. We will always give you the weight, and advice on needles. It will knit to commercial patterns. Most of our products are handspun. I love the mohair handspun beanie. Mohair is so different from commercial brought. It is so soft and a joy.

About the Knitz and Bitz blog:

We are new to the big wide web. But offer years of experience. We are so passionate about our crafts. We recently ran a challenge on the blog, which was really popular we are going to run this again. We hope to offer Advice and Instructions on HOW TO's. Its really on just starting out, but we would welcome people over to start asking!

You can find Zoe and Stella on http://misi.co.uk
At http://www.misi.co.uk/store_info.php?user_id=205
And http://www.misi.co.uk/store_info.php?user_id=320
Blog: http://knitzandbitz.blogspot.com

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beaniebanks/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/26428761@N08/

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