This post grew out of the moment when I realized I have over 70 beautiful photos I’ve taken of yarn hand-dyed by Cork-based Hedgehog Fibres but haven’t posted the best of those images in the same place. So, here is a bit about Hedgehog Fibres, why I like them with yummy photos between paragraphs.
My first experience with HF yarn, I didn’t understand the different types of yarn and why some are better for different projects than others. I was new to knitting. What’s wrong with acrylic yarn? Can’t everything be knitted in DK weight? As it turns out every fibre, weight, color way, and texture has its place in creative projects and trying them all is a fun way to learn that.
The shift came nearly three months after I learned my first stitch and had only experienced knitting with acrylic yarn. That was, of course, until I squished my first skein of silk-blend yarn. I was hooked! It is like having only eaten a Hershey bar then trying chocolate truffles fresh from Belgium or some such place. There is no looking back now.
The first time I knit anything with Hedgehog Fibres it was their Merino/Silk worsted weight with which I wanted to knit a Wham Bam Thank You Lamb (shown below). I didn’t measure correctly and it ended up being too small but the knitting itself was dreamy. The soft fibre was sturdy enough to stand up to each stitch but soft enough that my hands enjoyed the process.
It’s not just the fibre and textures that matter though but the color and how it was applied. It took me a while to learn what self-striping meant when it came to variegated yarns. Didn’t they all stripe? Why were stripes bad? The Opalite colorway didn’t pool or stripe. Though it wasn’t an issue for the WBTYL pattern, it makes the sock and lace weights in particular ideal for shawls and a broad range of projects. Even within the same dye lot, variations occur so won’t be exactly like anything else in this world. If you are taking the time to hand knit something special, having it be made with hand-dyed yarn seems like the perfect way to do it right.
For my birthday in 2010, I treated myself to a little HF yarn. I chose a silk/merino lace weight treasure which is soft, delicate, but strong enough for a lifetime of enjoyment. Seductively touchable with a light feel in a sturdy, quality fibre. The Petals colorway is enchanting and reminds me of a branch from a Cherry Blossom tree. Soft buff tan bark with gentle pink petals dancing in a spring breeze. Growing up in DC, I LOVE the Cherry Blossoms. Little known fact is that I was actually Cherry Blossom Princess for my state back in the day. So I will once again feel like a princess while knitting up and wearing the lace shawl made from this decadent yarn in a decidedly feminine colorway.
Of course, it wouldn’t be complete indulgence with just two hanks so I also bought myself a hank of superwash sock yarn in Sour Cherry. Not sure my feet deserve this amazingly soft and beautifully dyed sock yarn. Perhaps I may make gloves instead, we’ll see. Caressingly smooth fibres in a delicious dark cherry colorway. The photo doesn’t do it justice.
The Autumn 2011 launch of Carol Feller’s book, Contemporary Irish Knits, showed the world that independent yarn dyers are alive and well in Ireland. Carol Feller designed the Rathcooney Pattern with Hedgehog Fibres silk/merino in mind and it was knitted in the Winter Thaw (my best guess) colorway (shown below). Contemporary Irish Knits by Carol Feller is available from www.amazon.com (USA) and www.amazon.co.uk (UK/Ireland).
Each colorway evokes a different feeling and there are many times I see one that is not even in the neighborhood of a color I like yet the intricacy and depth of the hue in that skein captures my attention and adoration. The colorways have depth and the names do too. You won’t find names like kisses or sunshine, but honest hues from reality like Lobster, Mozambique, Opalite, Petals (shown above from birthday 2010), Petrol, Pollen, Sour Cherry (shown above with my birthday 2010 haul), and Spell. There is a longer list of some favorites at the end of this post. In addition to having favorite colorways, I have favorite fibres: Silk/Merino Lace, Silk/Merino singles, and Sock yarn. Ones I’ve admired but never knit with are: Pure cashmere lace, Kidsilk Lace, and Merino/Cashmere. I still marvel at how so many variations can be put into one hank of yarn without being muddy or predictable. This is Potion which is a sight to behold (I show it again from another angle below when I brag about my Sock Club membership).
Here are socks my friend Carol knitted with HR sock yarn. See the subtle striping? Not too in-your-face, right? Which means if you use it for a shawl it doesn’t look like you’ve used sock yarn. Which is nice because who’d wear a sock around their shoulders without static cling being the culprit?
Did I tell you? HF also dyes roving for spinners. This is some Wensleydale spun by Suzanne who writes Hook’s Law. Suzi spins, knits, crochets, does physics/maths, and writes a blog about it. If she wasn’t one of the nicest people on Earth, I’d be intimidated by her awesomeness.
My most recent experience with Hedgehog Fibres yarn was this past summer when I was in the HF Sock Club. Three months, six unique exclusive colorways. It was like getting surprise care packages from a crafty friend all summer long. Only two of the colors were not my thing (too purple) but that’s when swaps are fun so I can get a yarn I need in exchange for one I won’t be using. Win-win! Here are my yarns from the Sock Club…
June brought Oileán (Irish for Island) and Potion:
July brought Phoenix and Ondine:
August brought Maleficent and Verdigris:
I have really learned that certain projects demand special fibers – and some luxury fibers create special projects that may have otherwise been rather ordinary. Like baby blankets (like HF’s [free] Undercover pattern which my son LOVES) or baby hats, for instance. This pair of baby hats knit with super soft (and hand washable) HF yarn:
Here are some of the more striking color ways I’ve seen by HF:
Biology is a medley of violet, greens, blue, and natural browns.
Cold Heart bears streaks of teal, blue-greens and subtle bursts of violet.
Graphite is for a chic project that you want to be neutral but not boring in its classic black and charcoal combination. Shown below in a ‘group photo’.
Kelp is deep underwater with its rich warm blues and kisses of green.
Lobster is lustrous coral and pink with a shiny shell when in silk fibre.
Malachite is a shining gem of aqua-green in luminosity of a true gemstone.
Mozambique embodies the fish and art that the coastal African nation is known for. Almost every natural jungle and ocean hue can be found in this colorway.
Opalite shines in any of the silky fibres to look like the opalescent inside of an ocean-dweller’s shell. Shown below in a ‘group photo’.
Petals reminds me of a branch from a Cherry Blossom tree. Soft golden buff bark with gentle pink petals dancing in a spring breeze. Shown below in a ‘group photo’.
Petrol is the shimmering black of oil that would be beautiful in almost any knit.
Pilgrim has shades of the subdued deep blue sea often crossed for the journey offering depth and enough variation to keep things interesting without being busy.
Pollen carries the sunshine and vibrant colors of summer’s blooms. It reminds me of the bright golden sheen that settles on my car’s windshield.
Sea Glass brings in the pale ocean-beaten blues and greens of cherished sea glass shards and nuggets found along the coast with a touch of dark olive green for the dried kelp.
Seagrass – I saw this once and remembered it, but haven’t been able to track it down for this post, so maybe it was a dream.
Sour Cherry is the beautiful deep red of a cherry pie filling or the center of a Linzer cookie. Shown below in a ‘group photo’.
Spell is the color of violets, bursting from the ground. I’m not much for purple, but this colorway has amazing depth.
Sprout carries the bold blues and greens of many of Hedgehog Fibres most popular colorways, but with streaks of gentle lavender and aqua. (Another photo here)
Tupelo reminds me of an Easter basket with colorfully dyed eggs, pastel candies, and delicately painted wood toys in patina green, peaches, and pale greens with golden undertones. (Another photo here)
Disclosure: In accordance with the FTC guidelines for bloggers, I disclose that I personally know the creative power behind Hedgehog Fibres and in 2009 she gave me two skeins of yarn (the two in cakes in the center of the photo above). This was in no way payment or compensation. The words written are completely my own and true to my opinions and beliefs.