Introducing “Manitoba Sheep Thrill” – 2018 Custom Colourway Yarn

Tammy Ivanco, of Manjusha Fibre Arts, shares her process of designing and dyeing this limited edition yarn. Each year a local dyer creates a colourway for us based on our wonderful ram’s head logo drawn by artist and shepherd Gerry Oliver.

The yarn will be available at our merchandise table at the Festival September 14 & 15.

Tammy has named this colourway “MB Sheep Thrill”. Here’s her story:

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“MB Sheep Thrill – 2018 Custom Colourway Yarn”

“It was very exciting to create the Manitoba Fibre Festival 2018 Custom Colour.  This yearly event is something that I am very happy about – it started small and grew in ways that were hard to imagine even just a few years back.  The crew running the event have done a great job keeping it going and expanding it.  With this in mind, I was also very nervous!  The general direction for the Custom Colour was the Manitoba Fibre Festival Logo.  I had a high resolution copy on my Ipad and I could zoom in and out to think about the selections I would make. 11898634_624971950977739_3527468810237243922_n

The sheep head is rather unique with a lot of colours, so had so many places for inspiration.  I thought I had my general plan very quickly, but in the end, the process was a bit all over the place because of the techniques I had been using, and then the modifications that came when the yarn decided it needed to be something else.   In the beginning the sheep head reminded me of my sheep and the colours I saw were harder, darker, and really based in the grey and black tones.  I did some test skeins on a heavy sock yarn and really liked them, but then when I held and started working with the yarn I was going to use for the Custom Colour, I revised my colour schemes.  The light and beautiful organic merino/nylon fingering weight yarn really called for the softer colours in the logo, with the expression of the darker ones less pronounced.  I have called this yarn base GAIA, which in Greek mythology is the personification of the Earth. Gaia, the goddess, is the mother of all life and was also the giver or gifts. I selected this base for the custom colour to the idea of making clothing from sustainable sources, but also to generally sing the praises of the Earth and the benefits we get.IMG_2327

The colours I selected were from the creamy golden yellows on the sheep horns and face, the rose grey on the face that shifted from pinks to greys, the black and teal curls of the sheep fleece, and finally the teal and orange of the eye.  I also wanted more white to capture some of the light curls of the fleece, and this made so much sense to me as a dyer because white fleece is so prominent and necessary in a dyer’s toolkit.

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The technique I have been rather hooked on lately is based in knots, and maybe a little like the tie dyeing that some people have done.  This technique was used for the “Prairie Storm” yarn that became Heather Bailey’s inspiration for her “Prairie Wheat Shawl” in the Maker’s Challenge, as well as my “Polar Bear” and “At the Leg.” from the MBFF 2018 Mood Boards.  I really like how this technique creates a unique variegated yarn, with less obvious pooling, but that works for a range of patterns.  For the MBFF 2018 Custom Colour, I used a single knot that was in the same location on each skein, with the orientation the same in each dye pan used.  This allowed me to layer a blush pink and grey to give the mottled look of the logo sheep face, and have a bit of transitioning cream gold found in the head.  The fun part was that I could use the knot to have teal blue and black spattered in the white areas remaining with the base yarn colour around them, like the fleece curls.  A small bit of speckling with teals and orange captured some of the subtle teals throughout and the sheep eye. 

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All in all, there were 10 different dye colours used to capture the logo colours I selected.  The yarn will work for shawls and socks, and a range of other items calling for a fingering weight.  It has a mix of colours that allow it to be part of a fade pattern, or just set against a solid from the selection.  I called the MBFF 2018 Custom Colour “MB Sheep Thrill”, and I have been knitting with some of it and I love it.  I hope others find it as fun and great to work with as I have.”

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