Hand-dyed Yorkshire yarns
IT’S SAID that two heads are better than one, and for Homespunwonders, a small business selling yarns, patterns and knitting accessories online and at yarns shows, that has certainly proved to be the case.
Heather Kaye and her daughter Katie Collins, both passionate about crafting, teamed up to pool their creativity and sell fair trade yarns, their own hand-dyed yarn range, patterns, and accessories such as knitting cases and yarn buddies.
Heather and Katie live in Sheffield, South Yorkshire - not far from the Yorkshire Dales, the area of outstanding natural beauty which supplies them with never-ending ideas for colour hues. Katie’s creative inspiration comes from folk-art style; she loves playing with colour, and making beautiful creations influenced by nature. Heather learned to knit, courtesy of her great aunt, when she was four years old. As well as knitting, she sews, crochets snuggly blankets, and is in her element using hand-dyed yarns to make shawls.
So how did they go about setting up their own business? “We have always been creative, and enjoyed craft and loved wool,” explains Katie. “We wanted to create a business together, so initially we started selling our handmade textiles on Etsy a few years ago. We loved buying indie yarns, but found there were some colourways we couldn’t find, so we thought we would try dyeing our own - and that’s how our Yorkshire Dale Yarn range was created.”
The Yorkshire Dale hand-dyed range has been on sale for more than two years. There are 24 single colourways to choose from in DK, 4ply, lace or aran weights - there’s also a Sparkle Sock version, which has a strand of silver stellina running through it. All are dyed to order, ensuring that customers receive the same dye lot. With names such as Hair Streak Butterfly (green) and Buttercup (yellow), they evoke the landscapes that inspired their shades.
Then there are six bright, variegated colourways in the range; sock blanks, where you pull the end of the yarn and unravel it as you knit; aran yarn specially dyed in a blue or pink colourway for baby makes; mini skein sets; and Donegal wool with colourful nepps running through it, available in eight colours. Says Katie: “Our colour palette is influenced by nature, so we go from muted cool tones and pastels right through to brights.”
As with other small businesses, customer service is key. “We pride ourselves on our customer service to make their shopping experience a pleasure, and we are always happy to go the extra mile,” Katie says.
One of Homespunwonders’ unique products is the themed yarn boxes which combine hand-dyed yarn with extra knitterly gifts. Katie says: “We are especially proud of our yarn boxes, which not only contain a specially themed yarn, but lots of extra goodies, too, and are lovingly put together and gift-wrapped.”
All the yarn they sell is ethically sourced, coming from either ethical co-operatives or UK farms. Heather and Katie dye their colourways either using a photograph they took in the countryside, or from plants and animals they come across in nature. Other times, says Katie, “we will be experimenting with dyes and something just comes to us which fits. We dye both variegated and solid colours, and speckles always sneak in along the way. We have a dye room where we soak, dye, cook and dry our yarn, and our heated clothes rails are a godsend when we have massive batches to dry!”
Amongst their most popular colourways are Waterways, a sea green, yellow and purple mix, and Aysgarth Falls, a variegated combination of blue and white with speckles of red and brown. Both are dyed on a base of Bluefaced Leicester wool. “Customers love that it is a truly British wool, and whilst it is hardy enough to use for socks, it is also soft and snuggly too.” Heather and Katie have noticed that in 2018 customers have been asking for pink and purple shades in particular, and as ever, speckles are in demand.
Looking to the future, the duo has plans for more seasonal sock boxes, where customers will receive a different sock yarn and mini skeins each season with extra goodies, which may include gifts such as sweets and stitch markers. Plans are also afoot to open a bricks-and-mortar shop to complement their attendances at yarn shows and their online Etsy store - good news for Sheffield residents and yarn lovers visiting the area.
- Find Homespunwonders online at www.homespunwonders.co.uk
They produce a choice of sock yarns, including a Sparkle Sock option