I was lucky to catch up this week with Victoria Magnus from Eden Cottage Yarns, she managed to squeeze in a quick chat whilst dyeing yarn in readiness for Woolfest 2013.
Do you come from a family of crafters? How old were you when you learnt to knit?
Not particularly! My Grandad was a leather tanner though, so I can't help often wishing that he was here to see what I'm doing now and compare notes! I taught myself to knit in 2006 when I was at university studying architecture. I've always been a bit crafty and creative, but it was really drawing and painting that I focused on. I did have a mini weaving loom as a child, and every so often would make something with it - in fact it was the limitations of that the made me decide I fancied knitting!
Do you spin? Wheel or drop spindle?
Yes, I taught myself to spin a couple of years after learning to knit. I'm a staunch wheel spinner though. I love spinning fine yarns and playing with blending different fleeces to see what I can come up with. I love learning about sheep and fibre. Unfortunately I rarely get time to spin at the moment though.
When did you decide to start dye your own yarn and why? Many of us knew you initially as Wild Fire Fibre, but you changed your name to Eden Cottage Yarns, why was that?
Once I'd learnt to knit it was a bit of slippery slope (I'm sure a lot of knitters know how it goes!) so it was only a matter of time before I had a go at dyeing too. I enjoyed it, and did it as a hobby for a while, as Wild Fire Fibres (name chosen at random), just so the hobby would at least pay for itself. In 2011, my personal circumstances changed quite dramatically, and I moved from Manchester to Cumbria, and decided to change my work life too. Since I live in a cottage in Eden Valley, the name just fell into place. The cottage is actually a 1720s farmhouse, which needed a lot of TLC, so I've done it and the garden up, whilst building up the business.
I love the colours of your yarns, what inspires your colour choices?
I'm inspired by everything, but usually it's flowers, plants, and the countryside around. There's an enormous variety of colours all around us, and I love how they change all the time - both with the seasons and on a daily basis.
You're an indie dyer full-time, so what does a typical day look like for you?
It varies quite a lot, but I usually start around 7:30-8am, when I stoke up the fire, pack orders, and start dyeing. I take about 15 minutes for lunch and half an hour to an hour, depending how busy I am, for tea (I try and get ten minutes in the garden whilst it cooks!). Then I'll work until about 10pm. Then I try and catch up with emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc, and squeeze in a bit of knitting before bed! I do also pop to the Post Office around 4pm.
We often see you at shows, what’s coming up for you?
I'm especially busy right now as Woolfest is only three weeks away. After that I'll be starting to think about dyeing extra yarn ready for Alexandra and Harrogate Knitting and Stitching shows.
We're seeing more of your designs in publications such as Pom Pom, what started you off designing? Does designing start with the yarn or an idea?
I just have a head full of ideas.. and now several sketch books full of ideas! Sometimes it'll start with the yarn - I might accidentally put two colours together and find that I love the combination, or I might see a lace panel that I think would look nice on something else.. it can start in any way really.
Brigantia appeared in issue 3 of PomPom
Who is your favourite knitwear designer?
That's a really tough question! I guess I'd say Cecily Glowick MacDonald, simply because I have the most of hers queued and have really loved what I've made from her so far! But there are loads of talented designers out there (my 16 page queue on Ravelry speaks for me here).
What you be the yarn you couldn't live without if you were stuck on a desert island?
I think it'd have to be BFL Sock or Bowland DK... because it's summer I'll say BFL Sock! It's super-soft, lustrous, fine, wears and washes well, and is just a pleasure to work with and wear in every way. I completely love it!
You can catch up with Eden Cottage Yarns at Woolfest, on 28th and 29th June and at The Knitting and Stitching Shows at Alexandra Palace 10th - 13th October and Harrogate 21st - 24th November.
You can now purchase Victoria's knitting patterns directly through Tangled Yarn, they are offered as PDF downloads. We also stock a range of Eden Cottage Yarns including Titus 4ply, Theseus Lace and Bowland DK. We will be adding BFL Sock to our range in the Autumn.
Buttermere is available to download free and is perfect for trying out a skein of Titus 4ply, the latest ECY to arrive at Tangled Yarn!