Finally in our dyer collaboration series, there was someone who made a yarn dyeing debut with us at Unravel. Mel, aka YogicKnitter showcased her dyeing talents for the first time! The yarns were a huge hit, selling out all but one skein. Not bad for a rookie, eh? So, to round up the Unravel dyer collaborations, here’s Mel to tell us all about what makes her tick in the crafty world.
Firstly, how did you start your dyeing journey?
Like many who experiment with dyeing it all started with the Koolaid not long after joining Ravelry. I looked at a few online tutorials and blog posts by others who were also trying it out for the first time. I then upgraded and on the way back from a trip to Scotland, calling in at Texere yarns and bought some of their undyed cones of yarn and one of their starter dye kits. I was really inspired by self-striping yarn at this time as I had recently started knitting socks.
Two years ago I was lucky enough to go and spend a day with Jeni of Fyberspates dyeing and learning a few techniques. Then it was time to buy some serious dyes. I’ve also bought a few books recommended by friends who dye.
With which bases have you mostly worked?
I work with a range of bases but I do tend to favour the more luxury blends – who doesn’t? I would say pretty much all my bases are purchased from Chester Wool Company. I love alpaca blends and those with a little cashmere. For my dyeing debut at Unravel I actually dyed up a High twist Merino base that contained Stellina sparkle. I love a bit of yarn bling.
Any future plans with this new found love for dyeing?
I definitely want to pursue a few more collaborations with Louise and I do have a few sneaky little ideas up my sleeve for the future which I have mentioned to her. I would love to be able to dye enough to start a little Etsy shop.
Where can people go to find more of your dye work?
At the moment it has been mainly available to my knitting group as test runs to see what they like and dyeing for my own use. Unravel was a big step: dyeing for an unknown audience.
Where does your inspiration come from?
A lot is based on my mood at the time and the colours that I personally like. I do go for a lot of the purple, blue and teals as these are the colours I like the most as well as a current love of silvers and greys. I kind of work with the philosophy that I dye what I like and then if no-one buys it I will still enjoy knitting it up myself. Not necessarily the most commercially viable but at present I would still consider myself a dabbler.
When I dyed the yarn for Louise for Unravel it was with a particular pattern in mind and I took my inspiration from that. Louise had particularly wanted some 150g skeins available for customers to buy to be able to knit Midnight Ocean. I took the sea theme overall and it lead me to the idea of the colours of Sea Urchins, mainly because that allowed me to dye semi-solids and slightly variegated and it did open up a range of colours to play with. I was really pleased with the outcome and it has been lovely to see customers putting up their projects in yarns that I have dyed. One customer actually bought a skein to do a larger Song of the Sea cowl and I was really pleased with the results. As was she.
[Do take a peek at Rachel’s beautiful Song of the Sea, perfect in Mel’s Sea Urchin yarn. Isn’t it a gorgeous combination?!]
You’ve helped knit many samples for Inspiration Knits, do you have any particular favourites?
I think it has to be the Stay Awhile shawl – I have knit 3 already and I am about to start another. I also love Song of the Sea, particularly one that I knit in Faery Wings from Fyberspates. Leave these to Me mitts in Vivacious are also a firm favourite with me.
What’s the best thing about sample knitting for designers?
Funnily enough, when I am really busy with other things someone organises my project for me and tells me what to knit and when it needs to be finished by. I am definitely a process knitter so I love to have several things on the go at a time.
I also love the opportunity to be able to knit with a whole load of luxury yarns that maybe I wouldn’t be able to justify as purchases if they were just for me, and being a fast knitter I get through a lot of projects. At Unravel it was really lovely having knitters admire my skills.
I also really love seeing photographs of my knitting on Louise’s patterns. I have also sample knit for a few books that have been published including for the first Scrumptious Collection Volume 1. I knitted a cape that was in laceweight and involved knitting over 165,000 stitches on 2.75mm needles!
When you’re not knitting, or dyeing, what other hobbies do you have?
I am also a spinner and I love to spin my own yarns for projects. I was lucky enough to take a couple of spinning workshops with both Judith McKenzie McKewen and Janel Laidman at Knit Nation a few years ago.
I also sew but nowhere near as much as the knitting. I have also been known to do the odd bit of cross stitch. I also do a fair amount of baking and have recently taken up making my own jam and marmalade. This year I am also growing my own vegetables for the first time. I also keep chickens and currently have three girls: Casserole, Kebab and Drumstick!
Finally, if I had all the time in the world and an unlimited budget I would knit…?
Oh gosh this is a toughie! Definitely something with Vicuna! Apparently it is more expensive than gold per ounce. I would probably want to do something I could keep really close to my skin, maybe some really decadent mitts at a really fine gauge. If not Vicuna then maybe something with Qiviut?
Keep an eye out for further collaborations between Mel and Inspiration Knits in the future via Twitter (Yogicknitter) and see more of Mel’s lovely knitting on Ravelry where she is also YogicKnitter. You might recognise more than a few projects…..including the brand new sample for Spice Route, which was published yesterday (read more)!
Thanks for taking the time to share with us Mel and congratulations again on your successful debut.