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