Episode 79 – John Arbon Textiles

We think Episode 79 is a particularly fun and informative one. Our feature interview guests are John and Juliet Arbon who have a small scale spinning mill in Devon, the U.K. which has been built from restored vintage milling equipment. Over the last three years that I have been interviewing key figures in the hand knitting industry I have repeatedly heard knowledgeable people praise John Arbon for his unique spinning knowledge and ability to design brilliant yarns. Well, in this episode John shares some of his yarn making secrets with us. It’s a really fun interview as both John and Juliet are very down to earth, funny and extremely likable.

We also take you to Baden Baden here in Germany to meet a bespoke shoemaker in our Makers series. We then go to London to meet the talented teacher and designer Natalie Warner in our Knitters of the World segment. We announce the winners of the Martin Storey KAL and we give you the usual update on our own hand knitting projects.

John Arbon Textiles


What makes John Arbon Textiles so special is the depth of knowledge and passion that he brings into his work. He has multiple degrees in Printing, Textiles and Apparel, majoring in knitting and spinning as well as Fashion Textiles. He’s had research grants which have taken him to Guatemala for Back Strap Weaving and to Japan to look at creating bespoke knitwear from body scanning. John really holds a unique body of knowledge which makes him heavily sort after by designers and sheep farmers to make them the perfect yarn.

John has collected and restored old milling equipment and because he feels quite affectionate towards them, they all end up with names and become part of the family.

So much knowledge goes into the process of designing a new yarn. In the interview, John goes through some of the key principles that he follows to help him make the necessary decisions for this process. He also talks about working with other small businesses who either as sheep farmers want him to make yarn out of their fleeces or as designers want him to design a special yarn for their needs.

Patron Discount – John Arbon Textiles

Fruity Knitting Patrons can get a 15 percent discount off everything in the John Arbon Textiles online store. Full details available here, valid until 30 June 2019.

Finding John Arbon Textiles

The brilliant video of the mill was produced by John and Juliet’s nephew, James Hankins. You can find some more of his work in this YouTube playlist:

Natalie Warner – BerylliantKnits

Natalie Warner comes from a long line of handcrafters, both professional and hobbyists. Natalie herself designs for the hand knitting magazine – Knitting and teaches dressmaking and knitting at Morley College London. In the little portrait of her work, Natalie describes what is important to her both when she teaches and when she designs. We can imagine that she is a very patient and encouraging teacher and her students must love her classes.

Finding Natalie Warner

Makers – Vickermann & Stoya Shoemakers

In our Makers series, Mathias Vickermann shows us the art and fine craftsmanship of hand making bespoke shoes from a piece of tanned leather to the final shiny pair, which will last the owner upwards of 25 years. That’s slow fashion!

First the customers feet need to be measured in all directions.

It takes around 35 hours to complete a pair of shoes.

Finally Mathias shows Andrew how to properly care for his favorite pair of Australian made leather boots.

Finding Vickermann & Stoya

Update on Projects

We give you an update on the progress of the following projects. Saint Lunaire-Griquet by Jennifer Beale, Miura Cowl by Olgy Buraya-Kefelian and Bohemian Blooms by Jane Crowfoot.

Martin Storey KAL

The three winners of the Martin Storey KAL receive a 25 GBP coupon for the online shop tribeyarns.com 

  1. Entry no. 11 JulieAPlace
  2. Entry no. 18 georgiecinsum
  3. Entry no. 12 NicaB

We were wearing

Music Credits

7 thoughts on “Episode 79 – John Arbon Textiles”

  1. The music that introduces the shoemaking segment is ravishing! A piano trio? I’d love to know more. Also, after watching Andrea’s tutorial on the Winding Cast-on in Episode 72, I tried it on a swatch (I.e. doing 10 rows or so, folding, and knitting the two together). Guess what? It worked beautifully! I think that would be a nice technique for sleeve cuffs. Thank you for featuring the technique!
    Chuck Roemer

  2. Cheryl O'Donnell

    I just watched the interview with John Arbon and his wife, and I thought your choice of music was absolutely amazing!

    1. Hi Cheryl. That is very nice of you, but we have to say that the (great) footage of the mill was actually done by John and Juliet’s nephew, James Hankins. I haven’t got good contact details, but I will put something in the show notes.

  3. Another great show, loved the shoe maker interview, really interesting. Loved the Devon mill footage and the interview was excellent.

  4. I agree with Ruth–great show and the interview with the shoemaker was very interesting. I was so happy watching the mill at work. Thanks for that. You and Andrea produce such good programs. And I love that you don’t sell anything or have your own line of goods. What you do is fantastic. I look forward to Tuesdays!

  5. The production and style of the mill video was amazing! The sound editing and syncing of the music was impressive and inspiring. I wonder how expensive James’s time is, because I’d love to see more segments like that, understanding that there isn’t time to have most be quite so elaborate. I think you’re both doing an excellent job of elevating the artistry and professionalism of the industry, and I’m glad to hear that you’ve found a viable way to continue your work. Just don’t burn yourselves out. Take care of yourselves. I may just have to bump up my patron subscription. Great work!

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