So many great questions! Go pour a coffee, this goes on for some time….
How do you choose the colourways? What inspires you? Do you go through colour phases?
We mix all our colours from 6 basic primaries – blue, turquoise, red, cerise, gold, and black. I used to come up with a colourway, Safari for instance, and then mix the colours to suit it. But that was very time consuming, and we wasted a lot of dye. Plus, we got a bit repetitive. So now, the dyeing is much more freestyle. I make about 30 colours from the primaries, then Tony combines those colours, adding to them as necessary, in as many combinations as he wants. We try to keep a balance of colours, so there’s a little something of everything, and also try to have variety of tone, from pastels to deeps, and variety of dye type, solid, semi-solid, variegated.
Most of the colourways are spur of the moment, and Tony is fabulous at that, but we also plan some in advance. We were driving past some cliffs yesterday, and saw heather growing against the rocks, and Tony said to me, ‘Wouldn’t that make a great colourway, that heathery purple, soft grey, and mossy green?’ So he’ll then go on to recreate that when he dyes next. We also try to let at least some of the colourways reflect the season; you’ll notice that as we go into autumn, there’ll be more warm colourways, rusts, golds, browns.
If you had to choose a colourway you’ve made to reflect yourselves, which would it be and why?
From last week’s selection, Tony would be Sorbet, cheerful, bright and sunny. I would be Lustre, thoughtful, serious, sometimes even a little gloomy, but with flashes of optimism breaking through. And I’m always telling Tony to do less yellow/orange colourways and more purple/blues!
How do you name the colourways?
I love words, so this job is one of my easiest. Once the yarn is organised, I just stare at each colourway until the right name pops into my head. If a colourway doesn’t immediately suggest a name, I might use a favourite word (I have a little notebook where I scribble in fun names whenever I think of them). I’d love to use longer quirky names (‘Their eyes met across the room’) but since I’m always pressed for time when writing labels, I try to keep ’em short and snappy!
How is it possible to dye yarn that doesn’t pool? And if I can make it pool, do I get a prize?
Ah, some things will always remain shrouded in secrecy. And no, you don’t get a prize, but nice try!
What is your favorite yarn/thing to knit?
My favourite yarn is Emily. To knit with, that is. To work with, it would be Eva, because it’s so gorgeous to dye. And my favourite thing to knit…. if I had to choose, then I would say socks. My favourite thing I’ve ever knitted was a pair of Fair Isle mittens, which I designed myself. They were so much fun to make.
Do you freestyle knit?
No, I don’t think I’m that clever/confident/creative!
If I substitute 2ply yarn for 4ply yarn in a shawl, how much smaller will it be?
Ummm, I have no idea, sorry!
If you could bring one thing from the city to where you live, what would it be? And where in the world would you most like to go?
A Starbucks. Preferably in a Borders bookshop. And I would love, love, love to visit Canada.
Do you have a book that you read again and again, and if you could only choose two books to take on holiday, what would they be?
Tony’s choice would be Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Almost Everything, and one of Winston Churchill’s History of Britain books. He’s not a big reader, but when he does, he likes to read big! I have so many favourite books that I read over, and over, that I couldn’t list them all. If I had to choose just two for a holiday (oh, the torture of only two books!) I would have Onions in the Stew by Betty Macdonald, and The Flowering Thorn by Margery Sharp.
What are your cats names?
Snickers (he’s a Chocolate Point Burmese) and Jaffa (he’s a Red Asian). They have official pedigree names too, but I can’t remember them.