At the beginning of March, I had the privileged to attend a yarn retreat hosted by Devon Sun Yarns. During this retreat we learned to dye a skein of yarn, and to dye a color gradient yarn. I have never done something like this before, so for me it was really special. I would like to take you along on the retreat, in a photo-heavy blog post.
The Arched House in Lyme Regis
The retreat was in Lyme Regis, a lovely coastal town in the south of the United Kingdom, just on the border between Devon and Dorset. The room I had, had a fabulous view of the English Channel, which feels really special for me because I live far away from the ocean. I don’t know why, but it always feels very special when I am able to see the ocean. The meals were all home cooked by Daisy who owns Devon Sun Yarns, and were presented with care. She went to great lengths to make us feel welcome.
Dying a yarn skein
We learned how to dye a skein of yarn. We could choose between different bases with different compositions and weights. I chose a base consisting of 80% merino and 20% bamboo in a sock weight, which gives me 425m on my 100g skein. The process of dying yarn consists of a number of general steps; the first is soaking the base in citric acid, followed by mixing colors, after which the colors go on the skein, and then setting the colors on the yarn with heat.
I was trying to make a yarn that had my favorite colors. Grey and yellow is my favorite color combination, and I wanted a bit of purple to give it just that bit of extra zing. I let myself be inspired by the colors I had selected for my Our Tribe colorway, after all, I selected those colors for my Our Tribe yarn because they are my favorite. I painted my colors on the blank skein with a brush, just randomly adding color. This labor of love took me about an hour!
After painting like I was back in primary school, the yarn gets wrapped in plastic and popped into the microwave to set. This is not as hard as it sounds, if I can do it, you can do it.
When mixing colors you test the colors on kitchen paper to give an idea of what it will look like on the yarn. Looking at my kitchen paper sample, you can see that the colors really match well with the final result.
Dorset Button Workshop
We were treated to a workshop on how to make a Dorset Button. I had never heard of a Dorset Button, so I was all chuffed to learn something new. The workshop was given by Hester from Bodkin Creates, and as you can see, I am still creating mine, but it should be finished in the near future. When it’s finished it will be a lovely, floral broach.
Dying a color gradient yarn
Dying a gradient yarn is similar to dying a skein, it involves the same basic steps. There is however one big difference, we don’t start with a blank skein, but with a sock-blank. A sock-blank is a knitted piece of fabric that we dye, and when finished it’s unraveled before use.
Again we could choose from different bases, I chose a double-stranded sock weight base. The idea with the double-stranded yarn is that you end up with two identical gradients, perfect for making matching socks for example.
This time I wanted a rainbow, so I mixed 7 shades to make a classic rainbow. I spend about an hour painting the rainbow on the sock-blank and making sure that the colors blend well into each other. I purposely left a part of the yarn white because I want to make socks with this yarn, and use the white yarn for the heel and toe.
My Yarn Creations
I went home with two FABULOUS yarns, even if I say so myself. That’s the beauty of making a yarn yourself, you can make it exactly how you want it.
The rainbow gradient turned out beautiful. I am going to knit a pair of rainbow socks with this, but first I need to learn to knit socks that fit. More on that later.
The merino/bamboo skein is totally different, and just as fabulous. Somehow the photographs don’t do it justice. I don’t know what I am going to make with this at the moment. I want it to be something very special, so will have to think a bit about it.
It will be some time before I do something like this again, but it is definitely something I would like to do again in the future. Just look at that pretty yarn!
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