Melanie at Go Knit Yourself
Melanie has created some amazing colour ways recently and has been incredibly generous with both her knowledge and yarn support for one of my new patterns, due for release soon!
You may have seen her recent 5 Day Challenge all around yarn colours and dying styles. I seriously suggest visiting her over at www.goknityourself.com.
Go Knit Yourself
As I like to share more info about the folk behind the business of yarn and fabric I thought you would all enjoy learning a little more about this incredibly talented lady.
Q Hi Melanie – lets find out a little more about you. When did first get involved with yarn?
A Hello! My name is Melanie and I’m a wife to 1 and mom to 6. I’ve been knitting for 10 years, and crocheting and dying yarn for 8 years. I started knitting when one of my kids was a baby. Always the rebel, I was crunchy before it was cool. I used prefold cloth diapers and wool diaper covers since wool is so breathable. But they are so expensive! So I taught myself how to knit. I quickly got bored with knitting so I taught myself how to crochet. I still prefer knitting though.
Q What about your dying…when/why did you start?
A I started dyeing yarn about 8 years ago. I drooled over the beautiful hand dyed yarns but couldn’t afford them. So once again, I taught myself how to dye yarn. But dyeing yarn was so much more therapeutic for me than knitting and crocheting was.
Q Why the need for therapy?
A You see, at the time, I was in an extremely abusive marriage. I felt like I had no voice and if I dared to try and express my opinions I was quickly and cruelly silenced. I’m very opinionated by nature but also pretty quiet if I don’t feel empowered to express myself. Dyeing yarn gave me my voice! I was able to express myself however I wanted and people liked it! My then husband didn’t care — he thought it was a granny hobby. But I felt alive and fearless. I eventually got the balls enough to leave after 12 years. I’m fiercely loyal to a fault and I’m a fixer. I thought I could fix him but it took me that long to realize I couldn’t.
Q Oh my… do you have a happy end to this tale?
A Fast forward to today and I’m married to a man who loves me to the ends of the earth and is completely supportive of me. He loves when I speak my mind! I still love to dye yarn though so Go Knit Yourself was born.
Q So why set up Go Knit Yourself?
A Sustainable knitting doesn’t mean you have to settle for boring, drab colors! You can knit with luxurious, sustainable yarns and still express yourself with bright and bold colors. I have spent many hours researching the chemistry of dyeing and am confident that my process is much better on the environment than natural dyes. And when someone asks where you got your cool new knitwear you can tell them it’s a one of a kind masterpiece, made by you!
Q What makes your yarns unique?
A My yarns are like no other! The yarns that are sold in big box stores serve a purpose but did you know they are made with nasty chemicals to make them soft? Formaldehyde is applied with heat, making it trapped in the fiber permanently, and petrochemical polluting dyes, whose production creates nitrous oxide–a greenhouse gas that’s 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide– are used for color. Dye fixatives used in yarns often come from heavy metals and pollute water systems.Commonly used chemicals also include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and dioxin-producing bleach.
So you can see why I set out to create beautifully dyed yarns with a process that has minimal impact on our environment.
Q Can you tell me a little more about the yarns you use?
A One of my suppliers was founded in 2007 by two women who were committed to sustaining the open spaces of Wyoming. After a rich history, many sheep ranches have had to shut down. My supplier sources their premium fiber from local ranchers. The dry climate, clean air, cool summer, and cold winters in Wyoming help to make the wool naturally fine and soft. They only use environmentally friendly cleaners and vegetable based spinning oil. They are committed to building a company that respects nature and sustainability.
My other supplier is a family business that has been producing and selling hand knitting yarns for over 30 years. Their fibers are sourced from reliable material suppliers where they can establish best practice in relation to animal husbandry and the environment, as well as the best rearing and grading practices. No animals are injured to provide their fiber as they only use shorn or material that has shed naturally from the animal. The farms take particular care to ensure that the animals are well kept, that the grading is of the very highest standard, and that the land is sustained in an environmental way. None of the yarns have been sourced from farms that employ the Mulesing system.
Q So do you actually have a history for the yarn journey from animal to the end knitter/crocheter?
A Each skein has an extremely short “trace-back”: Rancher–>Our supplier–>Go Knit Yourself. Not much processing going on here!
You’ll find that my yarn is springy, bouncy, squishy, alive, cottony, and comfortingly soft! It’s a dream to knit with, and I know you’ll love it!
Q So we’ve covered the basics of the yarn – what about the dyes you use?
A I started this business using natural dyes and mordants. The natural dye process is a long + laborious one. There are 3 basic steps: scouring the wool, mordanting the wool and then finally dyeing the wool. Each step requires water (lots of it!) + heat for hours on end (electricity). Plus, there is usually dye left over in the dye pot which gets dumped. The total process takes about 8 hours from scouring to getting it ready for you and I started to wonder just how sustainable my process was. It seemed to me that my footprint was getting large, even though I was using natural dyes.
Q So how do you manage to keep it more environmentally friendly?
A After doing some more research I decided to use low-impact acid dyes. The vendor I have chosen only has 2 colors that contain heavy metals + I am not including those in my palette. The only chemical I’ll be using is citric acid, I will use less water for less time (1/2 an hour compared to 6), and there will be no dye left in the dye pot when the yarn is done. So I’ll just be pouring water down the drain! It’s also much cheaper, which means I’ll be able to pass the cost savings down to you. I’m confident that this process is much better for the environment.
Wow! You can see why I’m so impressed with Melanie. You can go learn more about her processes and amazing products at www.goknityourself.com.
Melanie’s contact info is in the green box at the top of this post, I strongly suggest joining her newsletter as she has so uch great knowledge to share, plus you will get a bonus free colour theory download as a thank you.
I did mention Melanie was a generous soul didn’t I?