A wonderful adventure –
The G-uld Dyeing Workshop

A couple of weeks ago Maya and I spent the most magical of times in Denmark. Being the first ever stockist of G-uld we were excited to really understand the ethos and process behind this wonderful company. Having admired posts from other attendees of G-uld’s workshops we couldn’t wait, we were really going!

We arrived in Copenhagen and after a day of sight seeing we took a train to Vejle in Jutland. We waited excitedly at the station to be picked up and taken to our home for the next couple of days and met some fellow workshopers also waiting. After a short drive from Vejle we found ourselves entering the Danish countryside. We all chatted away and wondered what the next couple of days had in store for us. The workshop was held at a scout camp in the Vejle Ådal surrounded by beautiful woodlands, open fields and farmland. That evening we got to know each other, drank wine, had a wonderful meal and of course knit! Daniel and Trine are the most amazing cooks and boy did we eat well! On a beautifully decorated table with vases of plants, that we would later learn were perfect dye plants.

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The workshop is taught over three rigorous days where you are taken through the fundamentals of dyeing wool with natural materials. You learn how to treat and prepare yarn, what ratios of dye materials to use and how combinations of these materials can give you a whole range of colours. Also how colours can be altered and darkened with potash and iron.

Day 1

The workshop is hosted by Anne, Anne-Sophie, Trine and Daniel and there were 14 people taking part. We were from all sorts of backgrounds: dyers, yarn shop owners, town planners, designers… All keen to learn something new. After breakfast and plenty of coffee, we all gathered around a large table with circles of naturally dyed colour placed temptingly in the middle. The first day starts with learning about the processes involved and what we would be doing over the next couple of days.

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We then head outside to the dying area to start the first task. We are using a fine wool, like a fine lace weight or embroidery thread to dye on. These skeins arrive from the mill with just one tie, so to prevent a tangly mess we tie up the skeins in four places and also one longer tie for dunking into the dye baths.

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Now the skein is prepped for dyeing. Some get treated with an alum mordant which opens up the fibre and allows the dye to permeate, though some dye stuffs high in tannin do not need the alum process as the high tannin acts in the same way.

On our fist day we dyed with walnut, cochineal and madder and we split into four teams to divide up the labour. A group was in charge of mordanting and the other three groups were in charge of the three dye baths.

g-uld-05The dye baths are huge soupy drums full of dye stuff that the wet alumed skeins were dunked in to. These baths were heated up and the skeins were left to simmer for an hour. This is the walnut dye bath above that gives a mild fawny brown. We dyed four skeins in total for each dye bath. One was kept as the original colour, one went to be over dyed with something else, one went to be over dyed with indigo and the last was for a darkening process in either potash or iron.

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We were all very excited about cochineal and madder. The cochineal dye bath on the left and the madder on the right.

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Here we have a days worth of dyeing from walnut, cochineal and madder. Lighter colours were created by dying a second and third skein after the first dye bath to use as much colour from the bath as possible.

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The afternoon saw half the group go on a foraging walk while the other half maintained the dye baths. We went looking for Oak, St Johns Wort and Mugwort. As you can see we found quite a bit!

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Then we went back to the dye pots to make a fresh batch of dye with our foraged plants. The brewing of fresh materials smelt amazing, like herbal teas. We also got a lot of Oak as well, these were chopped down to help release the most colour. All ready to dye with the next day.

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The day ended with another great meal and a well deserved glass of wine, or two! Plenty of knitting and good company.

Day 2

Refreshed after breakfast we head back to the dye pots. Excited to start creating other shades, we learnt about ways of creating darker tones through the use of potash and iron.

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You can see how the pinky shades have gone richer and more purply through this process. Iron has to be well washed after, unfortunately for the washers it was quite rainy at this point.

On the list to dye with today were the Oak, St Johns Wort and Mugwort that we harvested as well as some dried heather. Heather is an intriguing one, giving a surprising bright yellow. In the afternoon we had the chance to play with indigo!

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Here we have a heather dyed skien coming out of the dye bath. Heather can be used any time of year from its stalk to its flowers. I just love the colour.

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The afternoon gave us what we had all been waiting for, indigo! Indigo is a strange one and starts green, but with reaction to oxygen turns blue. Indigo sits on the surface of the fibre, not like the other dyes, so it can be layered up to create darker and darker blues.

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Here’s a set of indigo dyed skeins. The fun was combining colours. Over dyeing reds and yellows to give purples and greens. A fun part we all enjoyed was getting out the extra water and aligning the yarn after being in the dye bath! Don’t stand in the way!

Day 3

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Our last day saw us visit G-uld HQ and their beautiful shop. Here we wound up all the little mini skeins from the larger ones so we could all take a little bit home. Between us we wound 1035 minis!

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Now the fun begins and we get to put together our circle of colour. We dyed 69 different colours in total from only nine different dye baths.

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And here you have it the circle of colour created over a few days by an amazing bunch of people and taught and nourished by the amazing team at G-uld. Friendships were made and a new appreciation for the skill and knowledge that goes into creating the beautiful range of colours in G-uld’s yarn.

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Interview with Petra Schwarczova from Black Elephant

We are really excited to bring a new range of hand dyed yarn to Knit With Attitude and these mini skeins from Black Elephant are no exception. Find the perfect little pops of colour to add to your projects, or looking for that one colour to bridge a gap in a fade. Then mini skeins are for you! Plus it allows you to sample a few different colours, like being in a sweet shop, you won’t be able to resit just one!

blackelephant01These little minis are 4ply weight, Superwash Merino Singles and dyed by Petra Schwarczova the brains behind Black Elephant. Hand Dyed in Sheffield, South Yorkshire
on 20g skeins we have introduced 20 colours. To get to know this great yarn and the dyer read our interview below.

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Petra Schwarczova – Photograph by Mariola Zoladz

What inspired you to start dyeing?

I came across hand dyed yarn when I went for the first time to a yarn show – Yarndale in Skipton. I fell in love instantly, so I bought a starter pack there and started experimenting at home just for fun.

How did the name Black Elephant come about?
Black Elephant is a combination of my surname Schwarcz – which means Black in German and elephant on the front page of the notebook I got from my mum for writing knitting patterns in. She also used to tell me off in my teenage years for walking like an elephant (loud) 🙂

How does your dyeing process start, do you choose a colour or go for more abstract ideas?

Sometimes I choose a colour to start with, but mostly I am experimenting and combining whatever colour combination catches my attention.

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Merino Singles Mini in Hummingbird

Where does your colour inspiration come from?

All sorts of things. Rock music, architecture, paintings, fashion, nature. I can watch a random film and find inspiration in a single shot. I didn’t use to pay much attention to colour combinations before I started dyeing yarn, but now I see it everywhere, all the time. I can’t turn myself off.

Do you have a favourite colour way?

My favourite colourway is always the latest one I have dyed. When I dye something too many times, it’s just becomes too ordinary. It’s like if I was having my favourite meal every single day. It would not be my favourite meal after a month for sure. 🙂

What appeals to you most fades or contrasts in knitting or yarn?

I like all sorts of colour combinations. It depends what kind of project it is. I love as much strong colour contrasts as subtle fading of more earthy, neutral colours.

How long have you been knitting?

Phew, hard to say, I think I was about 11 years old when my grandma taught me. It took me a long time to get better as I was and still am quite an impatient person, so there were needles flying around and lots of yarn cut off needles as I knitted so tight I couldn’t pull it off. 😀 I used to come back to knitting over years, usually just simple scarves as Christmas presents. But I got fully addicted in 2010 when I started making knitting videos for beginners in my native language as there was nothing to learn from in Slovak language on Youtube then so I thought it might be helpful for some Slovakians back home who do not speak any English. I hope I can get back to it once I have a little bit more time.

What are you currently knitting?

Currently nothing, as I have been in the studio non-stop dyeing lots of yarn. But, I have two WIP – Andrea Mowry’s Nurtured sweater and my own design of a hat from leftover yarns (I will be releasing free pattern on Ravelry for it), which I hope to finish over Christmas.

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photograph – instagram.com/blackelephant.uk

We hope you’ve enjoyed this little read as much as we enjoy finally having Black Elephant here at the shop! We are widening our selection to include 100g hanks in several fibre blends and weights come the new year – so keep your eyes peeled on our site!

Yarn Pairings for Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 26 – Autumn 2018

We are very excited about the mysterious and mystical theme of this Autumn Issue of Pom Pom. Its centred around the Moon, so think otherworldly delights and starry night skies.  This issue is really going to spark your imagination and have you dreaming of outer space and craving long dark nights. The Moon Issue is not going to disappoint, as the weather begins to turn and most of us reach for our needles looking for that warm project, you will find plenty of inspiration here. Some amazing jumpers, hats, mittens and shawls will send you rushing to cast on.

If you are looking for some yarn inspiration then below you will find our yarn pairing suggestions for this issue.

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First up we dive straight into the depths of the moon with the the Moondust Hat and the Moondust Mittens by Melanie Berg. Knit in reversed stocking stitch that is picked out with a snaking twisted stitch that evokes the surface of the moon. It would look amazing in Vivacious 4ply, the twist of this yarn would give great definition to the twisted stitches. For an even more moonlike feel we would recommend the colours Pebble Beach, Dove Stone or Lundy Island.

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Next up is a brioche lovers dream, Luna by Anna Strandberg. A great brioche sweater that is worked top down, allowing you the opportunity to play with colour. Sleeves in a contrasting texture bring together the design, giving it a pleasing form and shape. This pattern calls for a sport weight merino and would look stunning in the Ninapetrina, Tynn Rosy Merino Gradient alternating the colours as you go. For a more subtle two colour version pick your favourite shade from John Arbon’s Knit by Numbers. 

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Artemis by Esther Romo is simple, elegant and striking, all at the same time. It’s wide neck and great use of light and dark, conjure flashes of moonlight on a dark day. Play with contrast with this one. The body is worked with two yarns held together, something fuzzy and something smooth. This gives you a wonderful shimmer, like the hazy moon at night. Choose a combination of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace and Fyberspates Cumulus for the body. Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Gold with its silk blend would give you the perfect glow of light around your neck.

pom-pom-issue-26-01-kwaHecate by Maddie Harvey is the next bewitching pattern. The moon details on this pattern add an intriguingly clever touch. This one has fun with texture combing a wool with a mohair. The glow of light cleverly picked out by the halo of the yarn. A great combo would be Hillesvåg Sølje and Fyberspates Cumulus. The earthy warmness of the Sølje would provide the perfect backdrop for the night sky.

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Next up is Ceridwen by Fiona Alice. This is going to be the go to cosy autumn evening jumper. Its cabled softness is light and warm. Keeping you toasty as the weather begins to change. Made up of honeycomb cables that melt away to the edge, this project is worked in pieces from the bottom up. It calls for a lightweight aran and whats lighter than the oh so soft, oh so warm Du Store Alpakka Hexa.

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This super fun looking project mixes a marled effect with double knitting. Hypatia by Carissa Browning plays with our iconic view of the moon. This circular snood is worked in the round in a cashmere and merino blend. We have chosen two options that would make a great yarn choice. Fyberspates Vivacious Dk, is 100% merino and comes in a range of dreamy shades. Or for that touch of luxury the natural shades of the Afghan Cashmere Sport would make a superbly comfortable and wearable piece.

pom-pom-issue-26-23-kwaEveryone will need these mittens when it comes to cooler evenings and the Sina by Amy Philips are simple but striking. Using a marled effect to highlight moon details in the palm. A full moon is made by holding your hands together. A hardy yarn like Hillesvåg Tinde will give great structure and insulation.

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The stunning cover sweater of Ixchel by Catherine Clark is a head turner. An amazing array of exciting colour work means this is the project where you will never get bored. It’s simple top down construction allows you to really get stuck in to the pattern. Fyberstates Vivacious 4ply would be perfect for this, its undulating colours evoking the inky night sky.

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Sky Map by Emily Foden is one for fine tuning your embroidery skills. Allowing you to go wild creating your dream night sky. Hedgehog Fibres Kidsilk Lace is a great choice for this. The hand dyed colours creating a magical coloured backdrop on which to build your universe.

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The last of these night time creations is Moonbow by Jule Kebelman. Knit in pieces and sewn after blocking. It also includes a fun fridge, reminiscent of moonlight through trees. It is knit in Jule’s own yarn Hey Mama Wolf. In Hey Mama Wolf Schafwolle #03 for the body and Hey Mama Wolf Sockyarn #04 for the fringe. We will also be getting in special mini skeins Jule has dyed for the Moonbow’s fringe, in store only on the 1st September, especially for the Great London Yarn Crawl.

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If you are still in need for some inspiration, the Pom Pom Moon Issue Trunk Show will be in store from 28th August -10 September. So come check out the finished pieces in person.