Author Archives: julesmoon

dye retreat at garter stitch farm

Hello! I’m currently in the midst of deep preparation for this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival but am just coming up for air to let you know that I’m teaching a 3-day dye intensive at my friend Kat Goldin’s farm in Stirlingshire this summer! I love teaching day-long workshops but there is nothing like being immersed in dyeing over a few days and I’ve been looking for the opportunity to run another longer workshop for a while… it’s always felt to me that that amount of time allows for much more exchange and for participants to get a deeper grasp of the process and their hands really into the doing of it all. The workshop covers all aspects of transferring the colours found in natural dyes onto yarn and fabric- full of practical skill-building and joyful exploration, it should give you the skills and confidence to develop your own dye practice!

We’ll cover all the steps involved in dyeing; exploring the potential of the flora found in our landscape and our pantries and sourcing exotic, traditional dyestuffs; preparing and mordanting fibre; setting up and working with both a dyebath and an indigo vat; overdyeing to create complex colours; keeping records of dye experiments; safe dyeing practice and other tips for dyeing with plants and other natural materials.

Beginning on Friday at 4pm, we’ll settle in, get our bearings around the farm and meet for an evening meal. We’ll also begin the weekend’s dyework by exploring fibre selection and preparation and setting up mordant baths to prepare yarn and fabric for dyeing and some of our dyebaths to help release their colours.

On Saturday, we’ll fire up the dyepots and head out to find and collect local dyeplants around the farm. Over the day, we’ll work with numerous dyebaths made from local and imported raw material to dye a range of colours and, using the first and subsequent baths, a range of shades. We’ll also explore overdyeing and the use of modifying agents to expand our set of beautiful colours. On Saturday evening, we’ll enjoy a campfire feast, hopefully under the stars if the Scottish weather allows…

Sunday begins with indigo! We’ll follow the steps involved in creating an indigo vat and then, while it rests, look into the history of this old and venerated dyestuff and explore shibori methods of folding, clamping, binding and stitching fabric to create patterning. We’ll dip our fibres multiple times to achieve good depth of colour and overdye shades dyed on Saturday to make greens, teals, purples and other complex colours. We’ll end the workshop by collating and labelling our yarn and fabric samples and looking at some helpful dye resources. We’ll then spend the evening relaxing together by the fire, with plenty of opportunity to discuss questions and make plans for summer dyeing… And, after one last farm breakfast on Monday morning, we’ll say goodbye…

If you’re interested, you can find all the details in Kat’s shop– tickets go on sale on today, Monday 18th February at 10am GMT. I hope to see a few of you there!

kleur

At this, the turning of the wheel and the beginning of this new year, I’d really like to wish you all a peaceful and happy 2019! This holiday is often full of joy and new promise but can also make us acutely aware of opportunities we missed this last year or the distance between us and those we love so, wherever you are and however your year has started, I wish you good things. I’d also like to thank you for your interest in and support of my work this past year- I so appreciate it and could not do what I do without it… So thank you!

We saw in the new year at a small village ceilidh (dance with traditional Scottish music!) with some dear friends and there was plenty of laughing, dancing and great cheer! We were very lucky to be included in what were largely family gatherings for both this and Christmas Day and, since this is definitely the time we most feel that distance from our own families, we feel very happy to be building a new community here in this way.

And so the new year begins and I shall mostly spend the next few couple of months preparing for Edinburgh Yarn Festival… I hope to fit in another shop update in that time but, in the meantime, I just wanted to let you know that my dear friend Anna Maltz is releasing a new design tonight, her Kleur shawl, featuring a combination of my Masgot Fine with Garthenor’s Ronas! Kleur (colour in Dutch) is a a joyful celebration of the colours found in both natural dyes and natural sheep shades, all in Anna’s inimitable style!

Kleur by Anna Maltz

Kleur from Anna Maltz

Kleur from Anna Maltz

The shawl starts with a quarter of a circle. A mini-spectrum of seven wedges, shaped using simple short rows: just turning, no wrapping, to help create lines of decorative eyelets between the coloured wedges and make the shawl reversible. They are pictured in a rainbow, naturally dyed on Masgot Fine, from deepest purple using indigo and cochineal to a pink dyed solely with cochineal. The wedges (and the spines that mirror them as the last step of the shawl) use a scant 10g or 15g, depending on the size of shawl: a perfect amount to showcase such a selection of naturally dyed yarns. Next, you knit on in monochrome shades, adding a whole lot more stitches and introduce a mitre. Regular cast offs along one edge make this the triangular half of the shawl, while the change of angle is highlighted by stripes in striking undyed Shetland black and white yarn – Chalk and Chalkboard, organic wool from Uradale farm in Shetland and spun for Garthenor as Ronas. Decreases are worked along one edge, until the tip of the mitre is reached, at which point a third natural shade is added, the beautiful grey, Shale. This unites the triangular and circular sides of the shawl with a simple swathe of pure colour. Finally, the spectrum is revisited with spines.

Kleur from Anna Maltz

I have added just some kits to the shop for the colour wheel part of Kleur in both the small and large size. As well as the rainbow shown in Anna’s sample (which is the large version of the shawl), I’ve made up kits in three other colour ways: red/ blue (dyed with indigo, madder and avocado), pink/ teal (dyed with buckthorn, cochineal, indigo, madder and oak moss) and gold/ purple (dyed with buckthorn, cochineal, indigo, pomegranate and rhubarb). 

Rainbow colourway, dyed with buckthorn, cochineal, indigo and madder

Red/ blue colourway, dyed with avocado, indigo and madder

Gold/ purple colourway, dyed with buckthorn, cochineal, indigo, pomegranate and rhubarb

Pink/ teal colourway, dyed with buckthorn, cochineal, indigo, madder and oakmoss

All are available for both the small and large shawl. Please note that the kit includes yarn for the colourwheel only- you will need to pair it with three shades of Ronas, other shades of Masgot Fine (available in the shop) or other fingering-weight yarn.

I hope you enjoy Kleur! Anna is an incredibly innovative and creative knitter and designer and I find knitting her patterns thoroughly enjoyable and stimulating! She always finds a way to hide  new tricks and techniques in the fun knitting and pushes the design envelope in a way that I think we need in the hand knitting community…

Again, I wish you a joyous and peaceful year ahead and look forward to sharing the year with you!

trunkshow at sunspun

I’m writing this in the dusk of an Australian summer day as Scotto and I begin our annual holiday in Melbourne to see our family and friends… it’s always so lovely to be back among loved ones and in our beautiful landscape and I’ve been reacquainting myself with all the plants that I love here- getting to enjoy the freshness of these early summer mornings is jet lag’s silver lining!

I just wanted to let those readers in Melbourne know about a small trunkshow that Amy of Sunspun and I are holding next Friday November 30th! I’ve brought a small selection of plant-dyed yarns pouches, kits and samples with me and will be hanging out knitting and catching up with my Melbourne community from 3-7pm at Sunspun in Canterbury. Please feel free to pop in for a quick look or an afternoon of knitting with Amy and I- it would be lovely to see you!

And there’ll be some lovely new things coming up in the shop before Christmas- a new design collaboration with my dear friend Anna Maltz that combines a gradient of my Masgot Fine with the natural shades of Garthenor’s Ronas (I’ll be adding kits for the design and a whole range of colours in Masgot Fine) and a small run of pouches embroidered by Lorna Reid of Chookiebirdie. I’ll send out a newsletter closer to the time to confirm the date and details of the update but just wanted to let you know in advance about these! 

Wishing you a lovely weekend…

rauwerk x woollenflower

I’ve been working with a new yarn base recently and I’m thrilled to finally put it out into the world- Woollenflower Rauwerk!

I first met Christine of Rauwerk in 2016, when we had the chance to sit and talk about a project that she was working on- an old family friend had offered her the year’s clip from his flock of Bavarian Merino and she was just about the make the leap into yarn maker and yarn shop owner… it was a big step but I could see that she had a good dose of determination and respect for both the fibre given by the sheep and the need for quality yarns for our knitting community. Based partly in London and partly in her home city of Munich, Christine decided to work with a mill in the nearby Chiemgau region, the mill that spins the yarns used to make the traditional Bavarian trachten, a structured, sturdy knitted jacket characteristic of the region. Christine wanted to create the same soft, durable yarn and I was so excited to see and feel her samples- I really love the airy lightness and bounce of woollen-spun yarns and yet have found it very difficult to source any woollen-spun bases produced here in the UK, as most of the machinery here produces worsted yarn. And so, this summer, I have dyed the first batch of Rauwerk and am thrilled with it!

Woollenflower Rauwerk, dyed with logwood

Three shades of Woollenflower Rauwerk, dyed with logwood

Rauwerk is a 2-ply, woollen-spun yarn that can be knitted more densely as a DK-weight or, on slightly larger needles, as a worsted-weight. It has enough twist to give it good stitch definition and enough airiness to keep it light and squidgy. And the Bavarian Merino produces fibres that are stronger than super-fine Merinos in other parts of the world but still plenty soft for most of us to wear next to our skin. It’s a perfect yarn for garments, displaying colourwork and textured stitches beautifully, as well as accessories, blankets and anything designed to keep you warm…

Three shades of Woollenflower Rauwerk, dyed with avocado

Woollenflower Rauwerk, dyed with madder

I’ve been happily surprised by the depth of colour I’ve been able to achieve on this base as finer, non-superwash Merino don’t often give strong shades- I imagine it’s partly because the fibres are that little bit stronger…

Woollenflower Rauwerk, dyed with pomegranate and rhubarb

Woollenflower Rauwerk, dyed with weld and indigo

As well as dyeing Rauwerk, I’ve also been busy putting together a range of knitted samples in it, an essential part of showing what you can use a yarn for! I could never knit enough samples but am lucky to have several willing friends with whom I’ve been able to find a way to trade skills and resources. And it’s these working relationships that really help foster friendships and a sense of working with others that I miss as a solo dyer!

Jared Flood’s Furrow Cowl, knitted by Maaike

Amy Christoffers’ Savage Heart Cardigan, knitted in Rauwerk dyed with madder

Amy Christoffers’ Savage Heart

Orlane Sucche’s Dubula, knitting in Woollenflower Rauwerk by my friend Emma (also a natural dyer!)

You can find all the vital stats on Rauwerk on Ravelry and preview the shades I’ve dyed in the shop– these will be released tomorrow, Sunday October 21 at 11am Glasgow time as part of a shop update (along with a small number of pouches, embroidered by my lovely friend Lorna of Chookiebirdie). And, if you miss out on a colour that you’d like, please get in touch to organise a custom order!

Hexagon pouch, embroidered by Lorna Reid of Chookiebirdie

Hexagon pouch, embroidered by Lorna Reid of Chookiebirdie

Wee Fox pouch, embroidered by Lorna Reid of Chookiebirdie

pippu shawl

Happy New Year to you! I really hope that 2018 promises to be a good one for you and that you have some lovely plans to look forward to… my year is still taking shape but, after a wonderfully busy 2017, I’m aiming for a good balance of time at home and some adventures further afield this year! In this quiet time of planning and regrouping before the work year starts, I just have a bit of news that I wanted to pass on- a new knitting design in woollenflower yarns!

Pippu Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Pippu Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Pippu Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Ambah O’Brien, who I met at this year’s Craft Sessions after following her work online for years, has used my plant-dyed Kid Mohair/ Silk and Alpaca/ Silk/ Cashmere together for her Pippu Shawl, named for the avocado pips used to dye the shades for her sample, pippu being the Japanese word for pip. Among other things, Ambah is known for designing beautiful shawls that are both wearable and interesting to knit so I was thrilled when she chose to work with my yarns and really interested to see what she came up with. For Pippu, Ambah drew inspiration from a recent trip to Japan, its gentle ripples and lace reminiscent of a Zen garden with its walkways trimmed with mosses; playing with textures and the way the dye material is taken differently by the different fibres, Pippu is a gentle design, perfect for the softest yarns in soothing colours. Knit on the bias, it begins with easy stripes, alternating a fingering-weight with a single strand of laceweight, followed by a simple lace section worked with the laceweight doubled, giving the asymmetrical triangle a floaty finish.

Ambah is releasing the Pippu Shawl on Ravelry tonight, Friday January 5 Glasgow time. I’m always thrilled to see what people make in my yarns and can’t wait to see some more Pippus out there so please do tag me on Instagram and use #pippushawl so that I can keep up with your projects!

Pippu requires 1 skein of Woollenflower Alpaca/ Silk/ Cashmere (400m/ 100gm) and 2 skeins of Woollenflower Kid Mohair/ Silk (420m/ 50gm) and some of each will be available in the shop tonight- that’s Friday January 5 at 9pm. They are now listed for preview if you’d like to have a look! Ambah worked her shawl with both yarns dyed with avocado pips to achieve a subtle variation in colour and I have dyed 5 shades of both yarn bases in the same dyebath to achieve a similar result, however there is also the option of adding more contrast to the stripes by choosing more contrasting shades… 

Buckthorn berries and logwood

Madder

Avocado pips

Indigo and goldenrod

Indigo

Well, that’s it for now but I wish you all a very peaceful January, whether you’re snuggling by the nearest heat source in the northern hemisphere like me or relaxing in the summer heat down south! Either way, may you have time for the things that make you happy…

Pippu Shawl