Interview: 5 minutes with Penny Jenkins of A Woolly Yarn
“I like to give my readers an overview and honest opinion to help them decide what to buy…”
We sat down with Penny Jenkins, the knitter and journalist behind A Woolly Yar,n to find out what goes into operating a review blog
How did you first realise your passion for knitting?
When I was 13 I had a major operation on my spine and was bed bound for three months. To keep me occupied I knitted a huge, chunky cardigan from Just Seventeen magazine. After I was back on my feet I lost interest in knitting until my late 20s when my friend took me to a knitting night at the V&A Museum in London. There was music, a chance to see the exhibits and lots of needles and yarn handed out to encourage people to take up the craft. I got the bug again and carried on from there.
Can you tell us what inspired you to start writing a blog?
After I had to leave my job as a web editor and writer due to chronic pain and fatigue I decided to keep my skills going and connect with other knitters by starting a blog. I was inspired by other blogs I’d come across including Susan Crawford’s Just Call Me Ruby, Louise Scollay’s Knit British, and Tasha Moss’ By Gum, By Golly. There are already lots of tutorials and techniques on the internet, so I decided to focus on British knitting news and reviews – I like to give my readers an overview and honest opinion to help them decide what to buy.
Your blog focuses on British designers and yarn, why is this important to you?
When I came back to knitting I called anything I used ‘wool’ – I didn’t appreciate the difference between man-made yarn and wool from an animal. Whilst on holiday in Whitby I stumbled across Rowan’s British Sheep Breeds wool (now discontinued) in a yarn shop and loved it. The squish and smell were so different from acrylic or nylon yarn I’d gone for before just because of its lower price. This led to learning about the long-lasting, insulating properties of wool and the travesty that many British fleeces were destroyed because farmers couldn’t get decent prices for them. Knitting shows such as Yarndale introduced me to small-scale British yarn producers who work hard to make a difference to the industry, and brilliant designers who earn a living selling their patterns online. I wanted to champion and support them – we have so much talent in the UK!
Can you tell us a bit about the process of writing a new post? What planning and preparation is involved?
The time it takes to write a post depends on the subject matter. If I’m featuring an exclusive interview with a designer it can take over a month to get their agreement and receive their answers. Other posts are more on the hoof – I subscribe to lots of knitting newsletters and if I hear about an exciting yarn release or time-critical news then I try to let readers know straight away. Good images are important too. I try to source and include them wherever I can and I take some myself too!
What should we be on the lookout for from you in the coming months?
Lots more news and reviews! Winning Knitter of the Year really raised the blog’s profile and I’ve found designers and yarn companies to be really helpful when it comes to keeping me in the loop and providing test samples. If you are a knitting designer or wool producer living in Britain, however small, please get in touch via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/awoollyyarn). I love discovering new talent.
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