Hand-dyed York­shire yarns

The Knitter - - Contents -

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.

Cre­ative as­pi­ra­tions

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.

Spe­cial treats

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


They pro­duce a choice of sock yarns, in­clud­ing a Sparkle Sock op­tion

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