Yarn dyeing workshop

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a yarn dyeing workshop that had been organised by The Irish Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers. The workshop was taught by Yvonne from the Dublin Dye Company and took place in the upstairs studio at the Constant Knitter. Now, I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but when I saw the workshop advertised I just couldn’t resist – colour and texture are such large parts of why I knit.

And I wasn’t disappointed! Yvonne started the workshop by explaining how the dyeing process works. We were using acid dyes. The dyes themselves are activated by using an acid (citric acid or vinegar), water and heat which allows the dye to stick to the fibre.We learned about create resists, by tying the hank of yarn in a knot or twisting it so that the dye doesn’t cover all of the yarn evenly.

Yarn Dyeing processAnd then we were on to the actual dyeing process. This felt quite daunting at first, to be handed a skein of creamy yarn, a bowl with some water and dyes and told to give it a go ourselves. I don’t think I’m alone in say I felt a bit overwhelmed, but I chose some colours I like and just got stuck in. We got to dye two skeins of yarn, a sock yarn (75% merino, 25% nylon) and a Merino DK, which I have to say was surprisingly generous given that the workshop only cost €40.

Kettle dyedThere were two main techniques we tried – kettle dying and hand paining. I tried kettle dying for both of my skeins as I prefer a semi-solid yarn to highly variegated ones. The sock yarn I dyed a shocking pink but added purple to get some variations in the tone. The DK weight I dyed a turquoise colour, adding first yellow, then blue and then black to different parts of the yarn to create a semi-solid colour. My skeins are currently drying in my bathroom so I’ll go into more detail, with photos, in another blog post. We were only using a relatively limited palette of bold colours so the variations that we all came up with were beautiful.

HandpaintingSome of the others in the group tried hand paining their yarn, again with gorgeous results. I really hope the Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers run this workshop again. It was great value and great fun and there’s so much to learn when it comes to dying, I feel like we only scratched the surface. I’ll post photos of my finished yarns later in the week.

Have you ever dyed yarn at home? Do you have any tips for me?

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A tourist’s guide to yarn shops in Dublin

I was doing some reasearch recently on yarn shops in New York and came across this great post written by a New Yorker about the yarn shops in her area. It gave me the idea to write this post as a guide for tourists to yarn shops in Dublin, written by a Dubliner.

When I’m abroad I love to visit local yarn shops and pick myself up a few treats, especially if it’s yarn that I can’t get at home. And who better to give you the low-down on local yarn shops but a local! So, in alphabetical order, here are some of my of my favourite Dublin yarn shops. You can read more about my yarn shopping in New York here.

(Top tip: If you are resident outside the EU you may be able to avail of Tax-Free shopping for tourists. You can ask for a tax refund docket in-store, This Is Knit and Springwools both told me they have them available, and I’m sure other shops will too.)

The Constant Knitter

88 Francis Street, Dublin 8. Phone 087 996 7197

ConstantKnitterThe Constant Knitter has been trading online for as long as I’ve been knitting and much longer, but Rosemary opened her first bricks and mortar shop in January 2012. The shop is located on Francis Street, in the heart of the Antiques Quarter of Dublin. It’s a few minutes walk from St Stephen’s Green so very easy to work into your sight seeing schedule. The Constant Knitter stocks a huge range of yarns, from affordable everyday yarns to the more luxury yarns.

If, like me, you like to buy some souvenir local yarns The Constant Knitter stocks Studio Donegal Soft Merino and Studio Donegal Tweed as well as Cushendale Mohair and Cushendale DK. If you’re looking for a really unique treat Rosemary also stocks Smudge Yarns laceweight merino, which is dyed especially for the shop.

And if you give Rosemary enough notice, groups are welcome to while away the afternoon upstairs in the beautiful, large and bright studio, stitching and drinking tea.

This Is Knit

Powerscourt Townhouse, Dublin 2. Phone (01) 670 9981

ThisIsKnit

I have to admit that this is my favourite yarn shop and the one where I shop most often. This Is Knit is run by a mother and daughter team, Lisa and Jacqui, and all the staff are extremely friendly and very helpful. The shop is located right in the centre of Dublin, just off Grafton Street, the main shopping area on Dublin’s southside. The yarns they stock are on the more expensive side of things, but they stock the most beautiful luxury yarns so I don’t mind paying for them. If you’re looking for a really special treat to bring home with you then this is the shop for you. And they also stock more everyday yarns too that won’t break the budget.

If you’re looking for something Irish to bring home with you This Is Knit stock Studio Donegal Aran Tweed, Soft Donegal and Homespun. And for a really special treat they stock Dublin Dye Company YarnsHedgehog Fibres and my favourite personal Coolree Yarns. All three are Indie dyers from different parts of Ireland.

In terms of non-yarny treats they also stock Lizzy C brooches and keyrings, Carol Feller books and patterns, handmade stitch markers by Maria and locally handmade ceramic buttons.

Springwools

6 Olde Sawmills, Dublin 12. Phone (01) 450 9134

SpringwoolsWhen I was a kid I would go to Springwools with my mum and would spend hours looking at the patterns, yarns and buttons. Hmm, I guess maybe that’s where my love of colours and textures came from, even though I only started knitting again a few years ago. Their shop is in the suburbs, so probably not the easiest to find for tourists, but they have good directions on their website.

I freely admit that I am a complete yarn snob, that’s no secret. And as such I don’t buy much yarn anymore in Springwools, but it’s my mum’s favourite shop. They stock a huge range of baby wools and everyday yarns. In terms of Irish products, they also carry a large range of Studio Donegal yarns – Aran Tweed 50g balls; Soft Donegal hanks and a variety of Donegal Yarns in 1kg and 2kg cones – as well as Cushendale Mohair Boucle. Springwools also told me they’re currently expanding their Irish yarns selection, and will have a really comprehensive selection of Irish brands and Irish-made yarns and products available soon.

Springwools also offers a mail service for tourists and out-of-towners who visit the shop. They will parcel up and mail products bought in-store to your home address, at special low prices.

Winnie’s Wool Wagon and Craft Cafe

3 Woodbine Park, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. Phone (01) 260 3734

WinniesWinnie’s Craft Cafe opened in 2010 and is a gorgeous yarn shop and cafe located on the southside of Dublin, near UCD college. It’s not on the usual tourist routes, but I think the cafe would make a great pit-stop in your sight seeing schedule. They stock a great range of yarns that won’t break the bank and the staff have been really friendly any time I’ve been there. They also stock a range of other craft materials, including beads and buttons.

In terms of Irish yarns Winnie’s stocks Cushendale Boucle, Studio Donegal Aran and Aran Soft and at the time of writing they were awaiting the arrival of Kerry Aran in an array of colours. They try to stock Irish suppliers where possible, both in the shop and the cafe and you can pick some cute Irish gifts like Lizzy C sheep brooches and shawl pins from Kieran Cunningham.

In the cafe they have a range of Irish cake, chocolate and ice cream suppliers who are small businesses themselves, Caryna’s Cakes, Chocolate Garden of Ireland, Tipperary Organic Ice Cream and The Cake and Crumb being just a few.

Other Yarn Shops

There are other yarn shops in Dublin that I have never been to so I’m not in a position to review them, but they might be close to where you’re staying (also in alphabetical order).

If I have forgotten any shops please let me know in the comments so I can add to the list. And for any tourists reading, please let me know if there is anything else you want to know or if you found my guide useful.