Tag Archives: indiedyer

Interview with Lola of Third Vault Yarns

Lola Johnson is thoroughly lovely – so lovely that people begged me to stock her yarns having met her at a festival (I’m not sure if they even saw her yarn!). Hers are the capable hands which dye the glorious colourways that make up Third Vault Yarns.  She kindly agreed to be interviewed here.

Lola of Third Vault Yarns
Lola of Third Vault Yarns

How do you come to be hand-dying yarns for sale?

I’ve been knitting in earnest since 2012, before then it was mostly just on the odd occasion. When I went back to University after my placement year, I joined the Stitch ‘n’ Bitch society which helped me get back into knitting in a big way. The next year, having decided to give back, I became a committee member. Which is incidentally when I also started teaching, knitting and crafting skills.  Myself and the other committee members were looking to plan a range of workshops and dyeing yarn got the best response when broached. I mean what fibre artist isn’t slightly fascinated with the idea of dyeing their own yarn!?  In any case having had no experience at this point, it was up to me to figure out how! So I watched YouTube videos, read books and played around with yarn and food colouring, achieving passable results. Having a decent idea of the process, I then taught a fellow committee member and we went on to teach a class of eight others. It was a great afternoon accented by cups of tea, biscuits and lots of colour!  This was the start of an addiction to playing with colour and dyeing my own yarn. I even taught my partner how. I ended up dyeing yarn for myself and others on commission, so towards the end of my Masters degree, it just felt like it made sense to me. To do something I loved and to take that leap into sharing my passion for beautiful yarn with others.

Many of your yarns are variegated in different ways, what sort of techniques do you use to get the different effects?

No trade secrets here!  I like to use lots of different techniques to achieve my different colourways, largely the techniques I use will be influenced by the inspiration behind the colourway I am creating. For example I talk a bit more about how I come up with colourways on my blog, specifically Saphira, for which I use a combination of immersion dyeing and resist techniques. Other methods I use are dip dyeing, hand painting and lately I’ve been playing with kettle dyeing.  I like to experiment with lots of techniques to help create my vision for each colourway.

Some Third Vault Yarn colours

Matching variegated yarns with patterns which suit them isn’t always easy.  Have you got any tips?

Generally. That’s something I find hard too, but often when I’m dyeing I have a feel for how a colourway might knit up which is part of the effect I’m going for. When you don’t have that though, I would go with what Bronagh Miskelly mentioned for Tesseract: “Wind before you decide”. This can give you an idea of how the colours might play out in fabric when knit or crocheted as it shows you the length of the colour repeats.  When looking at patterns, look at projects that have already been made [Ravelry helps for this]. How does the texture or some of the features of the pattern play out with other people’s yarn choices (this helps more if you Loki colourwayplay closer attention to projects that use yarn with the same sort of colour distribution as yours. If there aren’t any other projects with variegated yarn, look more closely at the features and techniques used in the pattern, is it a repeating pattern? Is it heavily textured? If it’s cables are the cables simple and chunky or thin and intricate? What kind of stitch does it use? You are more likely to lose the yarn and pattern in heavily textured patterns, thin intricate cables are not as likely to show up whilst simple thin or thick ones won’t be affected as much.  Ultimately it depends on the item you are making, sometimes heavy texture can help to tone down a very variegated yarn, which can make a very pretty hat or accessory, even garment. Sometimes you may want to pair the variegated yarn with another simpler colourway to create a different look.

All of your yarns have a fantasy or sci-fi theme, what gave you that idea?

Well I’m a computer scientist by degree and generally a sci-fi and fantasy fan since my early youth. I think everyone needs a little fantasy in their lives. Theming my yarns
The Magpiethat way is my way of staying unapologetically geeky, also my little nod to the other geeky fibre artists out there that feel one of my colourways resonates with their favourite fandom. In any case despite my theme choices, colour and combinations are accessible to all and regardless of whether someone identifies with the fandom, I love to share my passion for colour with everyone.

 

Can you now watch sci-fi without ogling characters for colours?

Of course not! Why waste the inspiration! In all honesty I see colours everywhere, which I love. Even when I’m reading, if there is a particularly evocative passage I sometimes think of how fabulous a yarn it would make and I envision colour and layout.

Inspired?  We currently have both acid dye starter kits and natural dye kits in stock, along with lots of undyed yarns.  Want to cast on?  We currently have Lola’s Companion 4 ply and Vortex Sock yarn.

Third Vault Yarns rainbow

Half-pi sunshine

When Sparkleduck Spirit miniskeins arrived, they got divebombed by eager knitters, elbowing each other aside to get to them, myself no exception!

image

They cry out to be turned into something lovely and to me a half-pi shawl in the
orange was going to be a ray of sunshine.  I launched right in, knitting up a storm before stopping to think.  Here is what I did (with thanks to the invaluable Holly Chayes), and what I would do if I had stopped to think before satisfying the cast-on itch!

Yarn:  One Sparkleduck Spirit miniskein set (6 x 20g/85m merino/nylon)
Needles: 4mm, 120cm circular needle. 4mm DPNs are optional but very helpful for icord edging.
Gauge: (Postblocking) stocking stitch: 30st x 36r to 10cm
Finished size: 45 x 17” (could have been bigger if I hadn’t wasted some. Not exactly semicircular due to stretching it more sideways whilst blocking.)

Pattern knitted (with icord border)

image

First stitch slipped purlwise on every row.

Changing yarn: when it comes time to end a ball and start a new one, by all
means do so in the middle of a row (either knit a few stitches in a row using
both yarns before dropping the old one, or
 Russian join them together).  I started off changing them just at the edge but ended up wasting a lot of yarn as the shawl grew.  

Using the palest yarn, cast on 7sts.
R1: Sl1, purl to end.
R2: Sl1, K1, [yo, k1] to last 2sts, k2. (10sts)
Stocking stitch 2 rows. Purl the yarnovers through the back of the loop if you want to slightly close up the eyelets (as I did).  Purl them normally if you want big eyelets.  If you want no eyelets, substitute all yo with m1 on the previous row.
R5: Sl1, P1, [yo, p1] to last 2sts, p2. (16sts)
Stocking stitch 4 rows. Knit the yarn overs through the back of the loop if you want to slightly close up the holes (as I did).  Knit them normally if you want big eyelets, or substitute with m1.  
R10: Sl1, K1, [yo, k1] to last 2sts, k2. (28sts)
Stocking stitch 8 rows.
R19: Sl1, P1, [yo, p1] to last 2sts, p2. (52sts)
Stocking stitch 16 rows.
R36: Sl1, K1, [yo, k1] to last 2sts, k2. (100sts)
Stocking stitch 32 rows.
R69: Sl1, P1, [yo, p1] to last 2sts, p2. (196sts)
Stocking stitch 64 rows.
R134: Sl1, K1, [yo, k1] to last 2sts, k2. (388sts)
Stocking stitch until yarn almost runs out, leaving 10g for icord edging.  If you have enough yarn, continue on for 128 rows before the next increase row.  (I stopped at 34 rows after the increase, having knitted just a couple of rows with my last miniskein, but could have done a few more).

To make the shawl even larger – next increase rows will be on purl row 263 (stitch count 772), and knit row 520 (stitch count 1540).

Cast off loosely using the Russian lace cast off (purl two stitches together, move the resulting stitch back onto the left-hand needle, purl two stitches together, continue to end).  Do this on a knit row to make the shawl curl slightly to the front.

The cast off edge after blocking (the points are due to being stretched on blocking pins).

image

Applied spaced-out icord edging to the straight edge – cast on four stitches onto a DPN, pick up stitch from the rightmost corner of the shawl, RS facing (5sts).
[Slide stitches to end of DPN, knit 3, k2togtbl (4st).
Slide stitches to end of DPN, knit 4, pick up & knit next stitch of shawl
(working in towards the centre then out the other side) (5st)] repeat almost to
leftmost corner.

About to finish a pick-up row

image

The icord will need to be bound off, leaving that right until the last stitch
has been picked up and worked into leads an untidy bulge over the edge of the
shawl so start decreasing a couple of rows before:

…slide stitches to end of DPN, knit 3, k2togtbl (4st).
Slide stitches to end of DPN, k2, k2tog, pick up penultimate stitch of shawl (4st)
Slide stitches to end of DPN, k2tog, k2togtbl (2st).
Slide stitches to end of DPN, k2tog, pick up last stitch of shawl (2st)
Cast off.

Wash & block, weave in ends.

Icord edging – RS view

image

Pattern for next time

I’d skip the icord border in favour of a garter stitch border: easier, quicker, neater, lies flat and wastes no yarn: bigger shawl showing more gradient!

Always slip the first stitch, knit the next two. Always knit the last three stitches.

Using the palest yarn, cast on 7sts.
R1: Sl1, k2, p1, k3.
R2: Sl1, k1, [k1, yo] to last 3 sts, k3. (10sts)
Stocking stitch 2 rows. Purl the yarnovers through the back of the loop if you want to slightly close up the eyelets (as I did).  Purl them normally if you want big eyelets.  If you want no eyelets, substitute all yo with m1 on the previous row.
R5: Sl1, k2, [p1, yo] to last 3 sts, k3. (16sts)
Stocking stitch 4 rows. Knit the yarn overs through the back of the loop if you want to slightly close up the holes (as I did).  Knit them normally if you want big eyelets.   If you want no eyelets, substitute all yo with m1 on the previous row.
R10: Sl1, k1, [k1, yo] to last 3 sts, k3. (28sts)
Stocking stitch 8 rows.
R19: Sl1, k2, [p1, yo] to last 3 sts, k3. (52sts)
Stocking stitch 16 rows.
R36: Sl1, k1, [k1, yo] to last 3 sts, k3. (100sts)
Stocking stitch 32 rows.
R69: Sl1, k2, [p1, yo] to last 3 sts, k3. (196sts)
Stocking stitch 64 rows.
R134: Sl1, k1, [k1, yo] to last 3 st, k3. (388sts)
Stocking stitch until yarn almost runs out.  If you have enough yarn, continue on for 128 rows before the next increase row.

To make the shawl even larger – next increase rows will be on purl row 263 (stitch count 772), and knit row 520 (stitch count 1540).

Cast off loosely using the Russian lace cast off (purl two stitches together, put the resulting stitch back onto the left-hand needle, purl two stitches together, continue to end).  Do this on a knit row to make the shawl curl slightly to the front.

Wash and block, weave in ends. Bask in compliments.