Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Spotlight on The Seller...Yorkshire To Dye For

'Yorkshire's to dye for' started life as a development of my love of all things crafty and colourful.  Like many sellers here, I learnt to knit and sew as a child with a creative mother and grandmother.  More recently, I decided that I wanted to find beautiful colours with more variety and individuality than were usually available in the shops.  I started dyeing my own wool and natural fibres, using natural dyes and 'professional' synthetic dyes.  Natural dyes offer a range of colours not often seen and usually only available to people who spin and make their own garments and household items.  

From early projects in embroidery (anyone remember drawn thread work?) I went on to create sewn items.  Despite having to make an apron at school (no, they weren't fashionable at that time), I was particularly proud of a denim bag made out of an old mini skirt.  My grandmother was relieved to see the mini skirt recycled; it was very short.   

Eventually I realised that my favourite medium was wool and the relaxing process of knitting.  As a student I made lots of knitted garments and had a perm to go with the Dr Who scarf.    

I returned to knitting and learnt to crochet after giving up teaching full time.  The health benefits of these handcrafts is being more widely researched and there is now interesting evidence of how they relieve depression, reduce anxiety and recently, researcher Yonas Geda, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the Mayo Clinic, completed a study that showed knitting is neuroprotective and may reduce dementia by as much as 50%. 

Here in Fabrication, I have a range of yarns available; Bluefaced Leicester (Aran weight), top quality Australian Merino, both superwash and handwash, and different weights available from 4 ply, sock weight, Double Knit, Aran and Chunky.   I also love the baby alpaca - so soft and hypoallergenic for those who are allergic to wool.  All yarns are sold in 100g skeins.  I also have wool/silk and yak and camel available.... (coming soon!)

People often ask why is the yarn in skeins and not in balls?  Because it is kinder to the yarn. Once made up, the wool will be fixed into the shape you choose.  If the yarn is wound into balls for a long time before you are going to use it it tends to put the yarn under more tension and 'stretch' it a little.  Wind it as you use it and the wool will thank you by giving you years of hardwearing, warm snuggle and protection.

I have two kits currently ready for winter - a chunky cowl that would be suitable for a man, and a Pixie hat in chunky boucl√©.  These are my own designs.   I am also planning a sock weight shawl/scarf as well.

The poncho demonstrates how you can mix different yarns and colours.  The paler greens are dyed with nettle.  The bright colours are synthetic dyes and then the dark green and brown mohair are commercial yarns.  The garment is knitted with a cable band and crocheted border.  I designed it to be worn two ways, short or long sleeves. 

This chunky yarn is dyed with indigo.  It would look beautiful as a scarf, cowl or shawl.  Each skein is 100 yards long.  Did you know that indigo has natural insecticidal properties?  Combined with wool this makes the ideal yarn for socks, and accessories for walking and trekking.  Lots of indigo dyed sock wool available this autumn.  Think midges and Scotland....

I'm also involved with Armley Mills' heritage dyeing project researching and reinterpreting some of Benjamin Gott's recipes.  We hope to put on an exhibition next year, and the BBC came to visit in August for a BBC1 show about Gardens from the Air.  We're not sure how much of our day of filming will appear on the show but you might catch a glimpse of me digging up madder root (gives a pink dye, see the skeins of baby alpaca).

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