Tag Archives: woollenflower yarn

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!

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

woollenflower yarn at ginger twist!

As some of you may know, I’m really interested in dyeing with plants, especially the ones I find growing around my neighbourhood… Of course, the species at hand changed hugely when we moved to Scotland last year and I’ve had a wonderful time trying plants I’d read about for years in my dye books! I’ve been experimenting for quite a few years but recently I thought that, seeing as I always had a dye pot on the go and mostly just dye small quantities to use in colourwork, blankets and that kind of thing, I could perhaps add a few extra skeins in and offer them up for sale at this year’s Edinburgh Yarn Festival. As at all big events, there was a LOT of yarn on offer (heaven help us knitters!) but I was thrilled that there was some interest in my yarns.

Plant-dyed yarns

Plant-dyed yarns

So I’ve been beavering away dyeing more since then but have stalled on the process of getting them up into my shop… I think it’s mostly that I’m a bit nervous about getting the colours right in my photos and I don’t want to disappoint people! So, when Jess of Ginger Twist Studios asked me to be her featured Yarn of the Month for July, I jumped at the chance- it’s a perfect way for local knitters and tourists to have a look and feel without the issue of colours. My yarns will have a dedicated wee corner in her shop for the whole month and I’ll also take over a couple of sample shawls to show the different qualities of the various base yarns…

Starman in fingering-weight alpaca/ silk/ cashmere dyed with sumac leaves

Starman in fingering-weight alpaca/ silk/ cashmere dyed with sumac leaves

Starman in fingering-weight alpaca/ silk/ cashmere dyed with sumac leaves

Starman in fingering-weight alpaca/ silk/ cashmere dyed with sumac leaves

I’ve been working with three bases; all are fine-gauge (a fingering alpaca/ silk/ cashmere, a light-fingering alpaca/ linen/ silk and a laceweight kid mohair/ silk) and the interesting combinations of fibre pick up the plant dyes in a lovely, soft way. Because of the work that goes into this type of dyeing, I also wanted the end yarn to be special, the kind of yarn you treasure for those one-or-two skein projects. I guess my choices also reflect the fact that I also love both working with lightweight yarns and combining two strands together to make an interesting texture!

Plant-dyed yarns

Plant-dyed yarns

So, if you are in Edinburgh or nearby, I’ll be installing the display early afternoon this Friday (feel free to come by and say hello!) and they’ll remain there until the end of the month… and, if you’re not local but would like to get hold of some, do keep an eye out for shop updates either here or Instagram or, alternatively, you can sign up for the monthly newsletter. Thanks so much to Jess for giving me space in her lovely shop xx