Posts Tagged ‘green’

27
May

Meet Kettle Yarn Co!

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, photos, yarn

Have you picked up Pom Pom Quarterly’s summer issue yet? I’ve been so pleased with the response to Creamsicle. But I have to give credit where credit is due. Linda’s fantastic yarn really took the design over the top. I can’t stop raving about the color and delicious softness. Which is why I asked her to do a little interview!

Aside from having yummy yarns and gorgeous colorways, Linda is very serious about being environmentally friendly. She recently began dyeing full time and I’m so glad that she’s been able to take that step! Linda was kind enough to share the process and philosophy behind her company Kettle Yarn Co.

kettle yarn co wimbledonWimbledon in Creamsicle colorways Melon Balls and Sherbert

How did you begin dyeing yarn?

My journey into yarn is a somewhat personal one that I haven’t discussed much publicly.

My yarn dyeing adventures started a few years ago during a period of illness. I was a practicing artist at the time and found that preparing canvases was just too much for me so I started knitting so that I could continue to create while conserving energy.  Dyeing my own yarn was a logical melding of the two disciplines!

After over a year’s worth of poking and prodding by medical professionals and my health deteriorating to the point where I could barely get up a small flight of stairs, I learned my illness was largely due to severe fragrance allergies. Kettle Yarn Co. was started in the hopes that one day I’d be able to have a bit more control over my working environment and lessen my exposure to the perfume chemicals that were currently damaging my lungs in the open plan office environment at the university where I worked.

I have been very fortunate. I have left the university and am now not only able to work from home a good portion of the week but am doing a job I truly love and am passionate about. My health has improved exponentially and I feel that I’ve finally found my creative niche!

kettle yarn co dying

left: Wimbledon Sport – SW Merino – Blue Pictsies in the dye pot
right: clear water remaining after dyeing process is complete

One of your goals is to be eco-friendly. How do you make your yarns a little “greener?” 

My partner is an Environmental Project Manager and I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot of free help and advice on how to make my processes as low impact as possible.

I have chosen to use a local dye supplier and the most toxic thing I use in my process is regular household vinegar! I try to ensure that I use up all dyes in the pot when dyeing. I’ve even developed a line of OOAK (one of a kind) yarns – TWIST 100% British Bluefaced Leicester fingering – that helps me to use up every last particle so nothing gets wasted or ends up back in the water table.

islington kettle yarn coIslington colorways

All my yarn blends are chosen to ensure animal welfare and humane wool production. Any Merino I use is Peruvian to ensure that absolutely no mulesing is done to the sheep and many of my blends use 100% British Bluefaced Leicester. It is very important to me to support the British Wool Industry and help to maintain traditional breeds.

I always joke that British Bluefaced Leicester is the Holy Grail of wool blends as the fleece combines three of  the most highly prized qualities for handcrafting:
1.  a softness comparable to Merino wool – delicate enough for the most sensitive skin;
2.  a long staple fibre, making yarn hard wearing, long lasting and extremely low pilling;
3.  the fleece is formed of crimped fibres, creating a natural lustre and elastic bounce.

This gives the yarn a gentle sheen, which reflects light to enhance stitch work and colour while also giving the blend elasticity, warmth and a luxurious drape. Purchased from the British Wool Marketing Board, we only use supersorted 100% British Bluefaced Leicester fleece. ‘Supersorting’ is when the fibre is picked through (cleaned of any unwanted bits!)  twice as much as normal wools are handled and then is examined again before being combed and sent for processing at the spinning mill. This ensures that only the very softest BFL is used for Kettle Yarn Co. blends.

creamsicle cardigan

What’s next for you and Kettle Yarn Co?

I have two UK trade shows coming up in July and am in a yarn dyeing frenzy for the next month in preparation. I am so excited about them both as will have my very own solo both for the first time! Unwind is the first, which takes place July 12th and 13th in the beautiful seaside town of Brighton and Fibre East is at the end of the month July 26th and 27th in Bedfordshire.

I am working on a few new blends to release for the shows and they will be available in August in the shop! So exciting.

Thanks for sharing with us, Linda! So many amazing insights into the knitty gritty (excuse the pun) of yarn dyeing. If you’re in the neighborhood, you should definitely check out the Kettle Yarn Co booth at those upcoming festivals! Luckily for the rest of us, Kettle Yarn Co is available through Etsy. And Linda has put together Creamsicle kits in Sherbert and Melon Balls, just add an issue of Pom Pom Quarterly and needles!

Have you knit with Kettle Yarn Co before? How important is it that your yarn be eco friendly?

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21
Feb

The Un-Knitting Machine

Written by Sarah. Posted in art, design, DIY, knits, life, yarn

Now, I know what you’re thinking. An un-knitting machine is hardly the kind of thing that you should expect to see on a knitting blog. It seems a little counter productive. I, too, have felt the disappointment that is frogging a big piece of knitwear. It’s like watching your life flash before your eyes in reverse. But with a lot more swearing. And hopefully there’s alcohol to ease the pain.

But a few things caught my eye about Imogen Hedges‘ un-knitting machine, and I’ve been meaning to share it with you all for a while now. Wouldn’t the hurt of ripping out a sweater be made a lot easier by doing it painlessly and fast? And aren’t those bike pedals nifty? It looks like it’s about as fun as making the sweater itself.

Imogen Hedges from Rachel Mc Closkey on Vimeo.

What really struck a chord with me, though, is the recycling trend that I’ve seen on the rise on Ravelry. Knitters are salvaging old thrift store finds for their yarn, un-knitting them (if you will) and making brand new things with the yarn. There are some Ravelry groups dedicated to the techniques of upcycling sweaters. Some especially resourceful makers on Twitter and instagram are hand dying the yarn for an even more interesting look!

And the best part is that knitters can score a sweaters’-worth of  nice fibers like cashmere and merino for $4 thanks to their local Goodwill and a little ingenuity.

Besides the price and the thrill of the hunt, this movement is really exciting for me. We knitters are innovative. (I mean, somebody invented a bicycle that unravels sweaters, for goodness sake!) We may not always mean to but making our own clothing helps take back from the industrial cheap fashion behemoth that is so omnipresent these days. We are investing time and love into custom pieces of clothing that will receive proper care and be worn for years. But why not take it a step further? Green DIY conjures up images of sock puppets and toilet paper tube Christmas wreaths but we can make it glamorous. We can take things that we already own (or someone else owned) and we can give new life to them. We can mend and alter our clothing instead of throwing away cash on cookie cutter closets. And we can get a sense of the work that our favorite independent dyers and spinners are doing.

My dad recently gave me one of his old wool sweaters. (It started as a request for a custom sweater since his was ruined and ended with me begging him to donate his moth-hole-ridden jumper for me to experiment with. He may have gotten the better end of the bargain.) I can’t wait to give un-knitting a try. I am ready to make brand new recycled clothes!

And to top it all off, now I can add to my stash (on the DL) when I’m away from the yarn store. And that’s a gift in and of itself.

Have you ever un-knit a sweater? What are your tips?

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