It is with great pleasure that I got to introduce Townhouse Yarns to the U.K. earlier this month at the Yarn in the City Pop-Up Marketplace. You see I have been following Townhouse Yarns since their beginnings and well they have been following me too I suppose. You see Townhouse is the in house yarn from This is Knit in Dublin, Ireland and This is Knit (TIK) was my LYS when I lived in Ireland and well it's a great shop run by great people.
This is Knit is run by mother/daughter team Jacqui and Lisa Sisk and when I first started going into TIK I met Jenny Sisk, who wasn't really supposed to be in the shop. Jenny was the non-knitting sister but had come in to help out on a short-staffed weekend and well, she got the knitting bug and has stayed on. About the time I decided I was going to open A Yarn Story, Jenny had decided she was going to start dyeing yarn. Before I had a business plan written and before I had seen anything of hers come out of a dye pot, I knew I wanted it on my shop shelves.
I snagged a skein of her first batch of Grafton 4-ply (photo above) immediately after it's release for my own personal stash and it was sooo good. She chose a Merino/Cashmere/Nylon base to dye and I chose Menace, a beautiful cool and tonal gray to make some mitts for a friends birthday*. I was in love and so I, off and on, pestered Jenny until she was ready to start dyeing larger batches and send some over to me. So I'm really excited to be carrying both Grafton 4-ply and Camden Tweed in the shop now.
The colors are luminous and fresh and make you want to knit all the things. She has a mix of semi-solids and variegated colourways to choose from. My current favorites are the Camden Tweed in Acid Crush and the Grafton 4-ply in Hocus Pocus.
Grafton 4-ply is a 80% merino/ 10% cashmere/ 10% nylon blend. It's soft and plush and will make anything from some special socks to a baby cardi, shawl or light weight sweater.
Camden Tweed is a 85% Merino/ 15% Donegal Nap blend, fingering weight yarn. It's a lovely, soft and modern tweed. Make a cute cowl or fun shawl to wrap yourself up in.
Jenny took the time to answer some questions for me as well and give us a little insight into her process and her story of becoming an indie yarn dyer.Q: When did you start knitting and who taught you?
A: Unlike most, I didn't have any lessons in school. When my Mum Jacqui and Sister Lisa started This is Knit nearly 10 years ago and the new topic of conversation at the dinner table was wool, needles and patterns, I decided to give it a go. Between the two of them helping me, I managed to finish one leg warmer and a cushion cover. I could knit and purl but couldn't fix my mistakes!
It was 3 years ago when the shop was short-staffed one weekend, I stepped in to help and haven't stopped knitting since.Q: Why did you want to start dyeing your own yarn?
A: A few reasons really, I trained as a hairdresser many years ago now and always wanted to be a creative colour technician. For personal reasons though, I couldn't work in a salon full-time. So I suppose this gave me the opportunity to be creative, just with a different kind of fibre!
I also wanted to have an input to the family business and a way to bring my own stamp to it.Q: What's your colour inspiration?
A: I think my mood controls a lot of what goes into the dye pots. I like the creativity of freeform dyeing.
If I don't work off a to-dye list I can get carried away with just producing new shades!
Q: How do you choose the yarn bases you want to dye?
A: Two ways - Working on the shop floor in TIK, you get customers asking for different fibre contents in a certain weight of yarn so I try to listen to what they are looking for.
I then try different samples, look at how they feel in the skein, how they react to the dyeing process and then how they knit up.
Q: What do you find most challenging about being an indie-dyer?
A: At this point it's juggling being an indie-dyer (from my kitchen) and being a mother of 2. There has been many late night dye sessions once they've gone to bed. I am having a studio built at the moment though so things should get easier soon.
Q. Where does the name Townhouse Yarns come from?
A: This is Knit is located in the Powerscourt Townhouse shopping centre in the centre of Dublin. The building has a rich history and was originally the Dublin residence of Lord Wingfield (the Lord of Powerscourt in Co. Wicklow). One day we had a visitor from the Dublin Georgian Society who told us how the building used to be the holding centre for all the wool that the Wingfield family would export from their Estate. So I thought it was quite fitting for the new venture.
The building is also located in what's called the Creative Quarter of Dublin, which ties in nicely with the names of the yarns Grafton, Chatham, Camden and Trinity - they are all streets or places located in the same area.
Q: What do you love most about what you do?
A: At the risk of over using the word, just having the freedom to create and be creative!
What will you knit with these stunning new yarns?
*I didn't say which Birthday...