How I Created the 2019 Custom Colourway or, How I Spent My Summer
Hello all, I am so honoured (and nervous!) to be asked by the Manitoba Fibre Festival to create the 2019 Custom Colourway. A self striping colourway. Phew, I can totally do that!
The wonderful ladies asked me to give everyone an idea of my design process. I can’t just write CHAOS, so let us begin. Each year’s colourway is based on the Manitoba Fibre Festival Logo. The majestic head of a sheep/ram. I studied this picture for….a…..long…..time. A little too long. I stopped seeing the richness of colours and began to see colours that weren’t even there. But enough about my descent in to colour bewilderment. (I highly suggest investing in colourway cards from some of the acid dye manufacturers. They’re indispensable in trying to find particular shades.)
To create a self striping colourway, all you need is:
–Some way to measure out how long your colour sections should be (warping boards are handy)
–Either a warping mill or two (sometimes 6, depending on the colourway) chairs
–A niddy noddy
–Pots, ladles, measuring instruments, ventilator mask
Oh, and time. Self striping takes time
For this project, I am using my SNUG base. It is an 80% Superwash Merino Wool and 20% Nylon fingering weight yarn. It is honestly my favourite yarn to work with. Long lasting, and has a nice tight spin. Snug in spin, snug in texture!
Now you’re ready to begin! Cake up your skein of yarn. Much more manageable in this form. Measure out your colours. For this colourway, I wanted the sections to be a bit thicker. So I went with 5 yard increments. That way, it could be knit into longer patterns and the crocheters would have more yarn to work with.
Then, it’s time to stretch the yarn. I spent my first few years walking the yarn. I would literally walk between chairs, stretching out the yarn to the proper measurement. It was how I got my steps in! Now I have a warping mill, and my Birkenstocks are thanking me!
Secure with cotton ties.
Time to Dye! (If you have children, feed them first. It won’t matter, they’re always hungry, but at least they can exercise patience?)
For this colourway, I decided on a “dry dye.” I don’t know if that’s an actual term, but it’s what I call it. I usually soak the bare skein in water before dyeing to achieve a more even colour throughout the sections. But with this colourway I wanted to recreate the brush strokes in the painting. Therefore, placing the dry yarn in the pan and/or pot would cause it to soak up deeper colours in some sections and lighter in others. I also speckled some of the colours. Sometimes with mini paint brushes, sometimes with salt shakers. Each colour needs to be dyed separately.
My goal with this colourway is to start at the face of the sheep, then go up into those curly locks. Aren’t they luxurious? I wanted anyone crafting with the colourway to experience the slow crawl up into those locks, peaking with its golden crown/horns, and to then come back through the locks and once again focus on the subtleties of that face.
Dry: Summer heat works wonders on this. In winter, furnaces are fantastic.
Re-skein: You’ve got it coloured! Awesome. Time to put it back in its original form. Stretch out your yarn and get to work!
And there you have it. A crash course on both how to dye self striping (if you care to) and how the 2019 Custom Colourway was created.
Thank you again to the wonderful organizers and amazing volunteers of the Manitoba Fibre Festival. I have loved every festival I have been to, both a customer and a vendor. You really keep our fibre flock thriving.