A few months ago, the only yarn I owned which was not factory-spun and machine-dyed was a skein of Hipknits hand-dyed cashmere/silk blend, which I got for resubscribing to Yarn Forward - I wrote a post about it called 'The Adventures of the Blue-Green Skein'.
Then I joined the UK RAK group on Ravelry. Not only is it full of very kind and generous people, but many of them are very talented spinners and dyers, too - like Kristina (AKA Wyndwitch), who created the Heather yarn for me. Now I am in the enviable position of having a whole bagful of hand-dyed (and frequently handspun) yarn.
First I received (from Caroline, AKA craftyfox) a raspberry-coloured skein of the Hipknits, which is sill being wound up and untangled. The stuff is like Velcro to wind, but that also means it clings together when knitted or crocheted, to make a wonderfully smooth fabric.
Then, out of the blue, I received this wonderful package from Zoe, AKA woolbird:
Among the goodies is a large skein of the softest yarn I have ever felt, hand-dyed by Zoe in a wonderful range of shades of violet.
This lovely parcel was from Jaana, AKA Muoriska, in Lapland, and was part of a challenge - we had to post a yellow parcel (put your sunglasses on before you click that link!). Among the other lovely things I received was a skein hand-dyed by Jaana, in gorgeous flame colours of orange and yellow.
Next was another total surprise, from Lucy, AKA LucyJ, and included a skein of Blue-Faced Leicester wool from her own flock, commercially spun, but hand-dyed in a fabulous variegated purple called 'Fizzy Grape':
By this time I had also purchased a green/magenta/copper skein of English DK, hand-dyed by my extremely talented friend Otiva, AKA Patricia, of Yummy Yarns UK on Etsy. I can't show you that just now, because it''s being made into an item for this month's RAK Challenge - but a photo will be forthcoming soon! Anyway, she very kindly asked me if I would make something up in one of her handspun, hand-dyed yarns, so that she could show visitors to her shop what the yarn looks like once knitted. I jumped at the chance, and she sent me a skein of 4-ply Shetland wool. I immediately christened it 'Raspberry Ruffles' - it has the pink of the raspberry centre, the brown of the chocolate, and the dark pink (and, originally, green) of the wrappers!
By the way - if you click that link, I am not responsible for any damage that may be done to your credit card. I've used them a lot, and they're a great firm!
I am about two-thirds of the way through the Eliina shawl with it. She also sent me a cake of brown Ecology Shetland, which will be used for the deep lace border:
I don't know what it is about Shetland - it seems to have a liveliness to it that almost knits itself. I think it's magic....
At the same time, Kristina (Wyndwitch), of Flutterby Creations, asked me to road-test a hand-dyed sock yarn for her. It was a hard decision, as she has some amazing Terry Pratchett-inspired colourways, but eventually I settled on 'Paint It Black':
The red actually looks a little orangey here. It's more of a cherry red. The other photo is a little closer:
I really love the way the stripes are forming in this, with the wider 'flashes' of black punctuating the thinner stripes.
I am very lucky in all my talented and generous friends, and I am very happy to have discovered the joys of handspun and hand-dyed yarns!