Working with Ysolda December 09 2016
Just over a year ago, Ysolda Teague, Scottish knitwear designer extraordinaire (as if she needs any introductions) got in touch to see if I wanted to take part as a British dyer for her club.
Sounds like fun, was my answer. So, I thought you'd like to see a bit of the process involved.
We agreed on Ullvärme as the best option - it's 100% Swedish wool and is collected by a company who can't bear to see this beautiful natural material go to waste as a by-product. The wool is gathered from their local farms on the island of Öland and some on the neighbouring mainland and turn it into yarn which can contain a blend of Dorsets, Suffolks, Dalasau and some Friesian milk ewes. Very woolly and perfect for colourwork.
We met up in Edinburgh in Ysolda's studio and I brought along some colour samples - not that they'd be easy to reproduce - but just as a starting point for a conversation.
Ysolda knew that she wanted a colourwork project using two colours and was drawn to a dark purple-brown and a lighter taupe silver - organically, we came to think of it as the Silver Birch yarn combination.
So I ordered in the yarn from my lovely supplier and a whole pallet arrived - eleven sacks of it.
I'd pick out about 120 skeins a day and soak them in the workshop, ready for dyeing.
Each of the paler colour had to be double dyed.
Each of the darker colour had to be triple dyed to build up the richness I wanted.
The dyeing took place back in April and we got some lovely sunny days for drying.
Once the batch of yarn was dry, I counted it out on our dining room table and batched them in tens.
I then transported it over to the studio, ready for winding.
Eliza, my studio assistant, works for me three days a week and I was winding on the other two days and sometimes before and after she left.
It took us both a good three weeks to get to this stage.
It then had to be all labelled and carefully packed in boxes - we ran out of the yarn protector bags usually used when boxing up yarn.
Six big boxes awaiting the courier pick-up.
I'll not tell you about the hairy few hours when we couldn't locate the boxes, involving phone calls to the Edinburgh Royal Mail depot, but it finally turned up and all was well.
This is what each of Ysolda's club members received - one skein of Hornbeam, one skein of Silver Birch.
And these are the beautiful Ornäs mitts and hat that Ysolda created.
We were so excited to see what she would come up with and I love that she was inspired by the textures and shapes of birch trees. The Ornäsbjork is a type of silver birch that’s the national tree of Sweden.
This pattern was designed for the 2016 Ysolda Club and will be exclusive to the club until May 2017, so keep an eye out for that release.
Sign ups for this year’s Ysolda Club are closed but to be the first to find out about future clubs sign up for her newsletter.
(The last two photos courtesy of Ysolda).