I can’t believe it has already been a month since Unravel! Where does the time go?
As promised, here is the first of a series of interviews featuring the talented dyers who joined forces with Inspiration Knits to make our booth so successful. Each dyer brings something unique and special to their yarns; sharing that with you all seemed essential after they enjoyed so much popularity at Unravel!
First, Asti of Juno Fibre Arts. Asti dyes her yarns from her farm setting in rural Devon. Her Blog and Instagram feed give you an amazing insight into the farm renovations she’s up to in between dyeing and running a family home. All in all, the yarn Asti produces feels like it has a story as a result as there is something very British about the yarn bases she chooses and her colour palette. Here’s her story…..
In your own words, tell us about Juno Fibre Arts
Juno was born in 2009, when I set an Etsy shop having been experimenting and dyeing in my kitchen for some time. I have always needed a creative outlet and have dabbled with sewing, felting and stained glass to name a few things, but dyeing really hit the spot. The combination of working with natural fibres and having control over their colour and potential was addictive.
I started dyeing yarn to sell alongside my day job and as things took off I decided to take the leap and dye full time – that was in 2011 and I’ve not looked back!
Tell us about the way you dye yarns and fibre
Like most dyers I would guess, I’m self-taught and my methods and techniques have come about through trial and error and a LOT of patience. I would say my dyeing style is subtle and muted. I make use of many different methods to get subtley blended colourways, without jarring contrast.
You have a very idyllic set up, for those who don’t know, could you describe where your dye studio is located?
Yes, I am extremely lucky to live in a very beautiful part of Devon. It’s pretty rural around here and we live in the sticks, on a working farm. The farm is not ours but our house is the original farmhouse, so we are surrounded by all the action!
My studio is within the grounds of the house, up the garden path in an old workshop. It’s pretty ‘rustic’ (or ramshackle) but that suits me down to the ground as I often have 4 muddy dogs keeping me company as it gets very warm in there with all the gas burners on!
What did you do before you got into dyeing?
I had been a registered nurse since 1995 and worked initially in a mental health setting, moved into general nursing and ward work, then lastly worked for the out of hours service in the community, where I worked evenings and on calls.
What job do you think you’d be doing if it wasn’t this?
Oooo, thats a hard one! I really can’t imagine doing anything else. Having worked in a structured setting or years, I really appreciate being my own boss, and doing something that I love. I would find it very hard to go back to that. It would have to have a creative element or I’d go mad.
If there were more hours in the day I would….?
Haha! – Hopefully knit and spin more. But I’d probably work more – ‘doing’ is sort of ingrained unfortunately. No one ever sat (or sits) down in my family so it’s second nature now.
Your Instagram feed constantly makes me hungry, what’s your favourite thing to cook or bake?
I LOVE baking. Having lusted after an Aga for years, knowing that it was way out of my reach, I was over the moon to discover that this house came with one! As it’s always on, the temptation to bake can always be indulged.
I love making cakes the best, in fact after writing this, I’m off to make a stem ginger loaf! Trouble is, I end up eating most of it, so I have to not go mad on the cake front.
What inspires you as a dyer?
Sometimes I have an idea for a colourway and will work on it for days to get it right. I do this sometimes for designers or if I need to colour match. I can be very precise when I need to be. However, I prefer to work in a less structured manner and some of my best work comes about when I am working without a plan.
My mood definitely affects the colours in a session. The colours tend to reflect my mood on the day, (read into that what you will)!
I love natural earthy tones, colours that you would see in nature, the brights of flowers and so on. Living here provides a wealth of inspiration.
Do you have any favourite bases or colours to work with?
There are some yarns that are trickier to dye and some colours that are very labour intensive but are worth it because of the way they knit up and the fabric they create. There are others that are just a joy to work with from start to finish – The Alice’s (70% Alpaca, 20% Silk and 10% Cashmere) and the Milly’s (Merino) for instance are just fabulous yarns.
Some yarns just don’t click, with myself or my dyeing method, and I find it hard to get the results I want, so they don’t make it into the permanent range. I’m constantly testing new bases out. I like to provide a nice variety of yarn but am not hung up on having a massive range. Everything in the permanent range is tried, tested and loved!
If really pushed I would say that the gleam of silk really makes colours pop but I have a very soft spot for good old British yarns like straight BFL and the rustic Wren base that I carry that is a 100% Wensleydale.
You produce fibre too, are you a keen spinner?
Yes, I love spinning but unfortunately don’t get round to it so much these days. I love all sorts of spinning, from arty yarns to lace but my default, comfort spinning is supported long draw from the fold, with some nice undyed fibre. I’m no expert and am not too worried about lumps and bumps, just a nice steady rhythm – it’s very relaxing.
Can you share any sneak previews/news of what’s coming up next?
Well I’m really looking forward to going to Unwind in Brighton this July. It’s my first show of a while and I can’t wait to attend!
I’m also working with a couple of designers at the minute, so there are some new patterns using Juno yarn in the not too distant future. On top of that, I’ve been working on getting my website revamped and updated and as always there is new yarn……100% silk anyone??
If you could knit any Inspiration Knits pattern, in any of your yarns, what would you choose and why?
I think it would have to be the ‘Song of the sea’. I absolutely adore the beautiful wave pattern. I think I’d use Alice – maybe in DK for a huge squishy luxurious cowl, which could be wrapped around my neck for extra snuggles.
A big thank you to Asti for taking the time to answer these questions. You can find all of Asti’s yarn and fibre ranges by visiting Juno Fibre Arts website. See all the Juno/ Inspiration Knits samples that went to Unravel on this blog post.
Have you tried Juno Fibre Arts yarns yet? Do tell us…which one is your favourite?
Stay tuned for more yarnie features very soon!