CH 72: with Clara Parkes the Yarn Whisperer

Helen —  May 1, 2015 — 42 Comments

Curious Handmade Podcast with Clara Parkes

Today I have a special guest on the show to wrap up yarn month in a perfect fiber-y package. Clara Parkes is joining me to talk about …yarn! What else?!

Show Sponsors

Meadow Yarn 

Meadow Yarn is an inviting online retailer selling yarn, needles and notions. It’s a small, family business based in rural Suffolk in the UK. Meadow Yarn was born out of a passion for beautiful yarn and knitting accessories and aims to bring you a range of great products. Yarns stocked include madelinetosh, Eden Cottage Yarn, Hazel Knits and many more.


TheFibreCo_Logo CH

This episode is sponsored by The Fibre Company and their newest yarn, Cumbria.

Inspired by England’s stunning northwest region with its deep blue lakes and sheep-grazed fells and valleys, Cumbria is a lustrous blend of brown wool from the masham sheep, fine South American wool and mohair from South Africa. The resulting light brown-grey shade is then over-dyed creating lovely deep saturated colours. Cumbria is a staple yarn, perfect for garments and accessories alike.

Knit Along News

Knitting Pipeline Pebble Beach KAL

Paula at Knitting Pipeline is hosting a KAL of my designs to celebrate the relaunch of Pebble Beach.

Muse Connection 2 KAL – Beginnings

A Playful Day Kate and I are hosting a KAL starting today – join in on the Muse Connection Ravelry Group

Meet My Yarn KAL

Where I challenge you to introduce your favourite yarn to the group here by creating a swatch in by 14 May – the deadline was extended by two weeks.

This KAL is sponsored by Cumbria yarn by The Fibre Company

Clara Parkes, Yarn Whisperer interview

Knitter’s Review

Clara Yarn

Benjamin Hole – Hole and Sons Yarn

Make sure you listen to the episode to hear how to win a precious skein of Clara Yarn Cormo 1.0



42 responses to CH 72: with Clara Parkes the Yarn Whisperer

  1. Hi, I just finished listening to Clara Parkes…she is my hero! Honestly do admire her for following her dreams. My favorite yarn…can’t have just one! I loved Clara yarn cormo 2.0 and i made Adama by Hillary Smith Callis. Right now i have KnitCircus yarn going on 2 projects, one is a pattern by Jaala Spiro (owner of KnitCircus) and the other is Starshower by Hillary Smith Callis. If i were lucky enough to have a skein of Clara Yarn Cormo 1.0—i would definitely have to think hard on what to knit. I might have to squish it for awhile before winding. Thanks for your wonderful podcasts!

  2. nomennescio1840 May 2, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    I love Bluefaced Leicester yarn. I have only tried it for socks, but I see a sweater quantity in my future.

  3. Susan Crosby May 2, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    What a great interview! I love love love listening to Clara talk about yarn and fibers. I have two of her books and two Craftsy classes. I think I’ll listen to this episode a few more times as there’s a lot of good content in it.
    My favorite yarn right now is my hand spun Border Leicester/Karakul cross ( yes I know that sounds weird) which came from a flock of sheep my husband and I raised over 30 years ago. The karakul was for color and most of the hair was bred out by the time this fleece was processed. I have a new appreciation for its toothiness after listening to several podcasters talk about the virtues of sturdy and not so soft wool. I plan to post a photo on the swatch along but haven’t got to it yet. Just had to pause on my busy morning to say a big thanks for this wonderful episode.

  4. Woollymonkey May 2, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Hello, great interview. I love listening to fellow wool obsessives.
    My favourite wool is currently a shetland 2ply with which I am knitting a Flukra hap. It is so crisp, bouncy and sheepy! I also love wensleydale and hebridean.
    My goal is to work through all of the Blacker Yarns stock!
    Thankyou Helen.

  5. Wonderful podcast! I am currently reading The Knitter’s Book of Socks and am excited to knit my very first pair of socks. I have been knitting for decades but have not cast on for socks – yet. My favourite yarn at the moment is Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton which is creating beautiful baby blankets. Thank you both for the inspiration to keep learning and creating.

  6. Lynda Thompson May 2, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    I’m stumped, favourite yarn? I think I love them all! I’ve had quite a passion for malabrigo but with wear I’m now put off by the pilling. I make a lot of socks and you can’t beat regia and opal. But I think my favourite garment is a cowl I made with Rowan Lima – the softest, cosiest yarn ever. Thank you for such a lovely interview, Clara is so amazing and I love to hear her speak about what she loves so much.

  7. I have all of Clara’s book’s and have two signed by her, I’m a lucky girl to have met her.. She is just as sweet as she sounds. I like merino with some cashmere in it to make gift of cowl’s for family and friends. But I will try about anything. It would to so nice to try her beautiful year, because I know she would make it the best she could.

  8. Loved your podcast and interview with Clara and now will start cataloging swatches for the future, never thought of it that way. I was so into socks last year and have Clara’s book. This year I have been doing a lot of shawls. Currently doing one for my Mom with Trendsetter Dune and Cin Cin, a self fringing shawl so pretty and Kate’s Poncho, using Sorbet from Luna Grey Fiber Arts. Always looking or new yarn, love yarn too.

  9. This podcast was my introduction to Clara and her work and I have really enjoyed listening. Her effervescent enthusiasm is very contagious and I have already sourced her yarn book and am going to have a go at spinning to develop some of those skills she talks about. I don’t have a favourite yarn more like favourite brands – my two top would be White Gum Wool and Quince and Co. It was their sustainable and ethical standards that attracted me in the first place and the beautiful yarns keep me coming back. There is so much available in the field of wool/animal fibres but so many plant fibres do not fit my sustainable and ethical criteria and so Quince and Co’s Sparrow organic linen is a standout in my book.

  10. Great interview!!! I love Clara Parks, i allways learn loads with her. I’d love to get my hands on the Cormo yarn, i’ve search and I can’t find it anywhere in Europe, and shipping and customs are prohibitive from the USA. I can’t say I’ve found a favourite as i seldom repeated yarns. I love Malabrigo for their colors but not for their durability. I guess that my favourite so far has been wollmeise, i wasn’t expecting it to hold up to washing so well, and I was pleasantly surprised by the texture of Geilsk fine wool after knitting and washing

  11. My favorite yarn is Hazel Knits Entice MCN or Artisan Sock. It is yarn from an indie dyer in my area and it is outstanding. I am now trying out many farm to needle yarns (Snoqualmie Valley, Great Bay Wool, Imperial Ranch, Peace Fleece, Beaverslide 100% merino, Clara Shetland 1.0, etc.). I’m very excited about them all, but don’t have a favorite from them yet. Currently knitting an Alvy from the Beaverslide. Love the trend of farm yarns and will do my part to support them. Got color swatches from White Gum a few days ago and can’t believe how soft they are. Onward with experimentation… Thank you, Helen, and also Clara for this opportunity!

  12. I’d hope my favourite yarn will always be the one I’ll knit next! 🙂 Great interview with Clara, with interesting as well as funny remarks!

  13. Gosh, asking a favorite yarn is like asking which is your favorite kid! I have really enjoyed some yarns more than others, and loved knitting with Classic Elite Yarn’s Mountain Top Vista yarn in the skirt pattern Knoll. The skirt was destined for that yarn, and I found it both satisfyingly sherry to knit with ( can I say that about a wool/alpaca blend) as well as durable for a skirt.
    I did have a brief love affair with a project this past winter… I knit the most basic of mittens, but he whole process was so delicious because it was knit up with special yarn: a bulky Romney singles spun up from a single flock that resides at a nearby Audubon center. These mittens are great because of the yarn. It is oh so soft and fuzzy and thick and warm. I went and got more. Everyone needs mittens like these!

  14. I loved your conversation with Clara Parks! I just read her Yarn Wisperer, and am currently reading the book of yarn. And I started spinning two years ago, to learn more about yarn 🙂 My favourite yarn at the moment is Mirasol Paqu Pura, a lovely 100% alpaca yarn. It is so slippery soft and it has lovely colors. I would love a skein of Clara’s yarn!

  15. Wow, favorite? I love many, and I really love my breed-specific handspun, but for commercial yarn, what jumps to mind is Harrisville. I love both their Shetland and Highland. Their colorist is a genius, IMO. Look close up at most any of their colors and the complexity and depth are amazing. Right now, I’m knitting a hap shawl designed by Gudrun Johnston out of Harrisville Shetland.
    Oh, and thank you so much for this fantastic interview, Helen and Clara!

  16. Shelley Engdahl May 4, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    I’m new to your podcast Helen and really enjoyed it. Clara Parkes is so much fun to listen to especially when she speaks yarn-ish.

    • Shelley Engdahl May 5, 2015 at 12:12 am

      My favorite yarns are Quince & Co Chickadee, a sport weight 100% wool and Harrisville WATERshed a worsted weight woolen spun yarn. The internets ate the rest of my original comment, sigh.

  17. Well, I’ve just reserved The Knitter’s Book of Yarn at my library, and will probably be joining you in some semi-stalking on instagram and the like… 😉

    I’m at a stage where I’ve invested enough in my stash (both thought and money) that I like just about everything I knit with at the moment. I love Skein Top Draw Sock (superwash and nylon is just so practical, but TDS feels like luxury too), but there’s so much out there that I haven’t tried yet (BFL, Cormo, Polwarth, Shetland… I’m working towards trying everything).

  18. My favorite yarn is hard to narrow down to one. I love merino with cashmere as when I knit with it my hands feel so good and soothed. It makes me feel warm all over. But frankly, I love most all yarn and seem to like the one I am using at the time.

  19. My current favourite is the John Arbons Textiles Exmoor sockyarn. 85% Exmoor Blueface 15% nylon. 400 meters = 100g. I used it for a Northmavine hap by Kate Davies. A little halo and deep colors.

    This episode was really nice. Talk more about yarn, please!

  20. Thank you Helen and Clara,
    I really enjoyd listening to the podcast and must admit that I am not sure what yarn I love most. Right now, my travelling yarn is an icelandic unspun shawl (cherly oberle feather and fan triangle shawl. The yarn feels kind of like brillo but it grows on you and I am almost finished I can’t wait to see how it blocks out). Every time I pick out a bit of straw or twig I think that “wow, this piece of stick is from Iceland!! Clara you did a review on the icelandic unspun as well. The sit down and concentrate project I am working on is Dee O’Keefe Elizabeth shawl with a fingering yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts which is called marine silk and has in combination with the silk and merino the “plant fiber” from sea cell rayon, This yarn was also reviewed by Clara. The shawl
    is for a gift and I keep thinking that perhaps the “healing” properties in the sea cell will be good for me as well as for my friend. The next second, I think I am crazy, but the yarn feels good and is very relaxing to work with, so perhaps there is something to this??? At any rate, it was wonderful to “hear” Clara.
    Thank you for the program. Ricki

  21. Hi Helen! So tough to name a favorite! I like a bunch of 80/10/10 MCNs. On the “more woolen” style, I really like Nashua snowbird. I will unravel it as Clara suggests to see staple length, play with twist, etc. Happy knitting!

  22. Lovely interview….can’t wait to read Clara’s book and learn more about yarn. Thank you for the informative podcasts in April. Thanks too for a chance to win!

  23. One of my favorite yarns to work with is Anzula Cloud. It is soft and squooshy and the perfect weight for shawls and lightweight sweaters. I’ve made Eiregal and Red Rock Canyon shawls by Romi, Annis by Susanna Ic, as well as Featherweight by Hannah Fettig. Lately, I’ve been buying more ‘rustic’ yarns, including the new Shetland from Clara and some lambswool from an upstate NY farm. I am so excited to be learning about different breeds of sheep and the differing properties their fleeces/wool possess.
    Thank you Helen for your marvelous podcasts. I really enjoy listening to you and learning from you as you explore new things.

  24. Thank you for one more episode!

    Choose one? How?! And there are so many I haven’t tried yet!
    The most amazing yarn I’ve knit with must be unspun icelandic. It looks fragile in our hands but it knits beautifully into light and warm garments. I’ve knit some cardigans with it and I only regret that it is so far from reach.

  25. Favorite yarn? That is like trying to choose a pastry in a beautiful bakery! You can’t enjoy them all at once, and sometimes you choose a different one from the last because you want to try something else, or you choose the same one again and again because it is too delicious not to. I definitely think there is a link between baking and knitting.

    One of the reasons I enjoy Clara Parkes is that she finds ways of making knitting meaningful and relevant to so many aspects of life, either as a symbol or a metaphor or an analogy. What an enjoyable and soothing interview! Thank you!

    I love trying different yarns. For now I would have to say that my favorite weight is fingering, and shawls have become my focus. I have loved knitting with Madelinetosh (beautiful hand, rich colorways) and have a weakness for Noro with its ebullient colors. I really admire Quince & Co. for their support of yarn production in the U.S. and their commitment to sustainability. Fyberspates is also a pleasure, and I can’t wait to try The Uncommon Thread’s Heavenly Fingering. I definitely have a weakness for luxurious blends.

  26. I loved this episode! Clara was so fun to listen to, and it felt like we were just all hanging out talking about awesome yarn. Thanks for a great interview, Helen.

    I love lots of yarn, but I’ve really developed a fondness for Quince & Co. The “Drawing Nigh” shawl I recently knitted in their Finch yarn is one of my favorite knits to date.

  27. Linda Swenson May 5, 2015 at 10:55 pm

    Great episode. Thank you Helen and Clara. Like many have already said, so hard to pick one fav. I do love the Sun Valley MCN fingering that I used for my Pebble Beach. So soft and drapey.

  28. My favorite yarn of late is A hundred Ravens Iachos from which I made the Mysteriosa shawl. A beautiful piece. I’m currently knitting your Red Robin Shawl out of another skein of A Hundred Raven.

  29. It depends on what yarn and fibre is right for a design and project but I recently knitted with The Uncommon Thread BFL sock and would love to knit with it more in the future, I’ve also recently tried Quince & co for the first time, there Lark quality and oh gosh that is such a nice yarn. So soft with plenty of body I could smooch that into face all day long. 😀

  30. My favourite yarn is usually whatever I’m working with at the moment (right this moment – Wollmeise Lace for a Viajante – love the colour, the hand and the fabric that is being created).

  31. One of my favorites is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Sock, the elasticity was just right and it was soft and the right weight that made it so comfortable to work with. I made something from Ankestrick and I loved the whole process. I would love to try Clara’s Yarn. I’m a total addict and need to try everything!

  32. So thrilled to have discovered, somewhat belatedly, your podcast. A fabulous episode, I so loved hearing what Clara had to say about wool producing and about Benjamin Hole who raises sheep on the Isle of Purbeck near where I grew up. I live in the north now but love thinking about the sheep grazing across our childhood haunts and no doubt enjoying the views I miss so much now.

  33. Fabulous podcast! Always a treat to hear Clara in conversation and get a dose of inspiration. Favorite yarn is a hard one to answer. Recent favorites are Alice Starmore Hebridean 2 ply for color work; and Dye for Wool merino/baby camel for shawls. Thanks for all that you do and for this fabulous giveaway opportunity.

  34. Thank you so much for the chance to listen to Clara Parkes today! My favorite yarn is the one I’m knitting with! Seriously, I’m starting to work on projects to experiment with different yarns as described in her book,”The Knitter’s Book of Yarn” and have tried singles (Lopi and made Nordic Wind 🙂 from vintage stash) and now starting to work with Quince & Co’s Piper, a gorgeous 50/50 blend of mohair & baby alpaca (love, love, love this). I untwisted some of this to see how the mohair and alpaca feel.. It is a single ply, too. And have a Diagonal Lace Scarf (Churchmouse) on the needles with Quince & Co’s Sparrow, a 100% linen yarn, my first time knitting with linen.
    It’s too hard to choose one favorite, but if I must, then the Lopi and the Nordic Wind are a perfect combination and my favorite. There’s a Lopi sweater in my future for sure. Thanks for your great podcast and for expanding my knitting horizons! I would love to try Clara’s yarn, especially since I was too late and found her supply completely gone! Thanks!

  35. julia rosalinda May 7, 2015 at 2:40 am

    My favourite yarn is a crunchy woolen spun made in Canada, called Briggs and Little. There are different weights of this yarn, and some of the weights have versions blended with nylon for socks or harder wearing garments. It just seems to work perfectly with everything (fair isle, cables, lace, textured stitches). It’s a workhorse yarn, but it softens beautifully, so it can be delicate depending on how you knit it. Plus, it’s a Canadian sourced wool, which I like best of all.

  36. My favorites are squishy merino for hats and mittens, BFL and sturdy homegrown wool for socks (so far!) and Quince and Co Chickadee and Finch for sweaters. I’m looking forward to trying out many more of different breeds as I continue my knitting journey!

  37. Cydnie Houghton May 7, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    I would love to win a precious skein of Clara’s Yarn. It looks so lovely. A yarn I keep returning to (when I’m not sidetracked by beautiful kettle dyed yarns) is Knitspot’s Breakfast Blend Fingering and DK. I’ve knit several Squish Me Hats and Squeeze me Cowls. These patterns and yarns are suited for each other and are so warm! Thank you Helen and Clara for a great interview and for a generous giveaway!

  38. Clara is such a treasure! I love CVM. It was the first raw fleece that I washed and spun so it has a special place in my heart. I haven’t actually knit anything with it yet! I have a part of a CVM fleece from a friend that I am going to spin up and turn into a shawl or a light cardigan soon. Thanks for the wonderful listen.

  39. I just listened to the podcast. Clara is such an inspiration for all things fiber and knitting! My current favorite is Moeke yarns Elena. I learned about this yarn on the Woolful podcast. I instantly decided to order three types of sock yarn that were 100% wool and see how well they would wear in comparison to sock yarns that have nylon in them. I’m almost done with the first sock, so it’s too early to report back. That being said, I’ve knit with some wonderful sock yarns by Highland Handmades, One Twisted Tree, Citarni, Paton’s Kroy, and many others. I’m also enjoying Silk Cloud by Darn Good Yarn-this is a shawl, not socks. I love the story behind her yarn and company too.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. CH 73: Welcome to Shawl Month | Curious Handmade Knitting Patterns - May 8, 2015

    […] Last week on the show with Clara, she offered a skein of her lovely Clara Yarn Cormo 1.0 as a giveaway. The winner is Barbara with this comment: […]

  2. CH 157: Stash Appreciation: My Stash Tells a Story | Curious Handmade Knitting Patterns and Knitting Podcast - January 27, 2017

    […] My interview with Clara Parkes […]

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