For the last 3 years I’ve been running the Irish Yarn Club with This Is Knit. I had always wanted to do a club and one that featured Irish hand dyers seemed perfect! A lot of my design work tends to be garments so a club with very focused, smaller pieces seemed like a fun project to work on.
When we are putting the clubs together I try to keep a mix at every level; with yarn type, colours dyed and project types. This keeps it interesting for me designing and makes it more likely for knitters to have a project they can fall in love with.
In last year’s club we decided on 3 different yarn weights; lace weight (Hedgehog Fibres ‘Merino Lace‘), fingering weight (Townhouse Yarns ‘Spire Singles‘) and worsted (Donegal Wool Spinning Company dyed by Dublin Dye Company).
Each of these yarn had very different properties that would create very different dye effects. To start with Yvonne from Dublin Dye Company did some experimenting with the Donegal yarn. Hand dyers primarily use superwash yarn, which behaves very well with hand dyeing. When a colour is applied it stays pretty much where it is put which allows them to create semi-solid colours and even speckles. However the Donegal yarn was a woollen spun (very hairy!) yarn and obviously not superwash. This means that when dye is applied it immediately gets sucked up into the fibre and spreads quickly. Due to this a semi-solid to solid colour was the best option. The colour that Yvonne created was a wonderful rich green. The base yarn starts off as a darker colour, closer to a beige brown, and when it was dyed even a small amount created a rich, deep colour. In fact the amount of dye needed was closer to what she would generally use to create a pastel shade on a white yarn base!
As this yarn was a worsted weight with less than 200m I wanted a smaller project. I ended up settling on a cabled hat (Sheephaven) with a folded brim that used the complete skein and created a cosy hat that really showed off the colour. I did get caught with yarn amount though – the medium size used the single skein exactly but several knitters were running a little short. Even a slight difference in either the yardage of the skein or in knitting tension is enough to push it over the edge of a single skein.
The next yarn was the lace yarn with Hedgehog Fibres. Working with Beata I knew that she was creating some fantastic speckled yarn at the moment so that seemed like a great dyeing technique to have in the club. I used pinterest to throw out a few colour ideas to her and let her do her magic :-)
When designing with the laceweight yarn there was a huge amount of yardage, 1200 m! This really opens up the possibilities for different project types. I started experimenting with stitch patterns that enhanced speckled yarn and eventually settled on a drop stitch pattern that showed off the colours and also broke it up a bit.
Not everyone likes doing garment type projects so Kompeito had both the option of a sleeveless vest or just a side-to-side shawl.
The final yarn for last years club was a fingering weight gradient yarn dyed by Townhouse Yarns. I was particularly excited about this yarn as I was also starting on my Knitting With Rainbows book! I put a pinterst board together with some colour ideas.
As you can see we were talking about a big range of colours in the gradient. Because of this I decided to use a slip stitch pattern in the project. Slip stitches are a great way of combining different colours together and work best when there is an obvious difference between each colour. This project comes with 5 little skeins (20g each) of each colour. Before you start knitting you divide each of them in 2 again so you have enough yarn for each of your arm warmers. Proby’s Armwarmers were knit nice and long to take full advantage of the range of colours, I wanted to make sure that as much yarn as possible was used! This project actually ended up in Knitting With Rainbows as it fit right in :-)
So there you have a brief overview of the yarn colour and design process. It’s all about variety and creating the best match of yarn, colour and project.
What kind of projects and yarn will you be hoping for in the 2017 club?