The indie dyers of New Zealand

It’s been a while since I’ve done any yarn reviews.  And it also occurred to me recently that I haven’t given you a review of New Zealand indie dyers yet!  It seems that in the past couple of years New Zealand has experienced a huge surge in the number of indie dyers making their beautifully dyed yarn (or top) available for sale.

There’s something about New Zealand indie-dyed yarn. It’s somehow extra-super-luscious.   The colours sing.  The yarn is generally commercially spun, extremely good quality wool (including merino), merino/silk, alpaca or possum merino.  It’s bold, it’s adventurous and it’s just the kind of thing to give a knitter (or crocheter!) a head-rush from pure sensory overload.

So today, I thought we could have a drool over the pretty products from some of these talented New Zealanders. I’ve used the Urban Dictionary‘s definition of indie dyer for this exercise: “An independent dyer, i.e. someone who dyes yarn or fiber on a small scale.”

Before we plunge into colour heaven, I thought I’d mention a few points:

  • Some of the indie dyers I’m about to mention are ones I have spoken about before in previous posts, and in this post I can show you examples of their dyeing gorgeousness (some examples of which you see above).
  • Others are new to me in the sense that I haven’t purchased their yarn (yet), and here I’ll just share a link to their lovely, drool-worthy websites where you can see examples of their work.
  • I’m also going to mention Holland Road Yarn Company (HRYC) a fair bit. One reason is simply because this is the only place I have seen these yarns in a retail environment.  The other reason will become apparent as you read on.
  • Except where otherwise mentioned, these dyers use yarn that has been commercially spun in New Zealand (as far as I am aware).
  • I won’t be covering some of the more established brands that also hand-dye, such as Little Wool Company, and Touch Yarns – but you can read about them by accessing their page from the menu bar above if you like.

Starting with:

Red Riding Hood Yarns – Red Riding Hood Yarns is the brainchild of Hannah, who hails from Taranaki, New Zealand.  She dyes small lots of DK-weight, 100% merino superwash yarn, although I’m not sure if she dyes other weights or fibre as well.  I’ve come across her yarns at HRYC, and oh my gosh, the colour is delicious!!  It’s very similar in style to some of the more well-known hand-dye brands that I have seen from overseas.

Curiouser and curiouser – Sabine lives in Tangimoana, a small coastal town in the Manawatu region.  She dyes a huge range of hand-selected top and yarns in various weights and fibres, striving for unique colourings, not repeatability, nor predictability.

Like most of the other indie people mentioned in this post, Sabine also loves doing commissions.  She doesn’t charge extra for doing something special, i.e. the wool is the same price as it would be on the website. I like that her site tells you what she’s dyeing next (lace-weight angora!) and also shows examples of how her yarn knits up.  Alice recently knitted a pair of socks in Sabine’s yarn, and you can see it in her post about it here.

Sabine also sells at specific craft events.  The next ones where she’ll be present are “Spinal Craft” in Palmerston North in September, and at the great craft market at Pataka Museum in Porirua (Greater Wellington) on 8 October.

Maude & Me – If you visit the etsy site I’ve linked to, you won’t see much going on.  But check out this post from Tash of HRYC, and you will see some of the heart-stopping colour that is Wellington-based Tracee’s work.  Maude is Tracee’s cat, and she is a very pretty girl indeed.  Tracee dyes a range of wool top – Merino, Romney and Polwarth are just some of the examples I’ve seen.

She also spins her yarn and sells it in hanks so that people like me who don’t spin can still enjoy her work. Here’s an example of a hank of Polwarth wool that I purchased from her a while ago. It’s so pretty that I haven’t had the heart to knit it yet.  So I look at it and stroke it and think about what I could knit with it, but for now, I’m happy to just have it in my collection:

As well as being stocked by HRYC, you can find Tracee with her yarn and top at craft events around Wellington and the region (you’ll have to contact her to find out where she’ll be next).

You may also remember this photo of Maude & Me’s stall at the Wellington Underground Market’s “Wonders of Wool” day:

I’m rather regretting I didn’t buy more that day!

Wabisabifibres – Matt is another Wellingtonian, and the creator of Wabisabi.  There’s not much happening on his etsy site either at the moment, but he’s another indie dyer whom you can luckily find at HRYC, and if you have a look at the link in the Maude & Me entry above, you’ll also see some of his work.  Matt only sells dyed top, and spinners I know just adore his work.

Knitsch – What can I say here that I haven’t already said?  I love Knitsch 100% merino sock yarn.  It’s gorgeous, and I’m developing a very healthy little collection of some of Tash’s glorious colours because every time I go into HRYC, she’s gone and added more delectable goodness to her range of colourways!  Somehow, one or two little skeins always manage to find their way into a brown paper bag to come home with me…

Although my Knitsch yarn getting knitted a little faster than I’d like, I can take comfort in knowing I can always pop down the road to get more…  I do like how Tash dyes not only multi-colours, but also semi-solids which are more to my taste.  Have a look at her range (this is not my stash, just to clarify!  It’s a picture of the yarn in her shop!):

I’ve knitted socks and mittens in her yarn, including this popular kids fingerless glove pattern, and have plenty more projects lined up for the next few months.  It is completely machine washable, and continues to look fresh even after extended wear.

Creative Outlet – Creative Outlet is a yarn store in Tauranga, Bay of Plenty.  In addition to other yarns, its owner also sells her own hand-dyed, 100% wool yarn in a range of weights. The last time I was in Tauranga, I ducked into the shop, and these 100% NZ wool pretties just had to come home with me:

It hasn’t become anything yet.  I’m still enjoying just having it in my collection.

Fibre Alive.  I have such admiration for James of Joy of Yarn.  He started his own range with super-twisted 100% merino sock yarn, and has recently expanded his hand-dyed offerings to include alpaca sock yarn, and two DK weights – possum merino and 100% merino.  I’m finding the Awesome Alpaca sock yarn particularly droolworthy (check out Jungle and Celebrate), and I can see all sorts of cute things knitted in the Delicious DK 100% merino (Slate..!)  It’s Joy of Yarn’s 3rd birthday this month, and James is offering a 30% discount on all purchases…

Here’s a picture of his yarn from the “Wonders of Wool” focus market I’ve spoken about above:

It’s interesting to me that everyone has their own unique treatment of colour, so that no matter how many yarns from separate indie dyers you see, you will never see the same colourway twice.  James has a very good eye for subtle colour, whether it’s elegant, or pretty, or manly, or contemporary modern.  He’s another one from whom I am finding it easy to collect a large quantity of yarn!  It’s particularly easy to do so as several times a year he makes his scrumptious yarn available at the Wellington Underground Market, as well as various knitting-related events around New Zealand.  However, I’ve also ordered from him online, and found his service extremely efficient and quick.  Someone else in the family was very happy to see a parcel from him as it came with the bonus of a small sweet edible…

You may remember my Knotty or Knice socks in his Fibre Alive yarn:

Happy Go Knitty.  Based in Auckland, the creator of Happy Go Knitty is the sister of the amazing MiA.  Such a crafty, talented family!  I do not personally know their story, but it is obvious there is a strong creative gene in that family!  A selection of Happy Go Knitty yarn is stocked by HRYC.  Check out the link I’ve provided to Happy Go Knitty’s felt site (NZ equivalent of etsy) where you can see some breathtaking work in merino possum and merino yarn.  I particularly love the soft pink/mauve of the last lot on the page.  She’s also another yarnie who attends craft events so that knitters and crocheters can “squish and caress” before purchase.  Have a look at her blog for information about where she’ll next be.

Doe ArnotFlagstaff Alpacas.  Doe Arnot is behind the design of the colour gorgeousness that is Flagstaff Alpacas.  She’s a fibre artist who lives in Oamaru, a small town near Dunedin in the South Island, and she works with Andy of Flagstaff to dye the NZ alpaca yarn he has had commercially spun.  Have a look at the Flagstaff link – the latest range of colours to come out has me all a-flutter!  Windsong and Waterfall look most extremely appealing.  Soon to appear is a new range of yarn in 10ply alpaca/wool mix.  I can’t wait to get my sticky fingers on some of it!!

Here are my socks that I knitted in the alpaca sock blend, using the Stipple colourway. They are so cosy and were my favourite socks ever.  Except that I put them in the washing machine on a hot wash once too many times (naughty me for not following washing instructions) and now they fit my 7-year-old son.  Sigh.

And of course, you’ll remember Annabella, and the Aviator, and the Blue Danube, all done in Flagstaff Alpacas yarn.

More pretty Flagstaff Alpacas yarn:

Stashable.  A reader recently wrote to me and asked if I’d come across this website before. I hadn’t!  Pixie has had an 80% wool, 20% nylon sock yarn spun to her specifications.  This yarn she has dyed into a huge array of colours which are truly “stashable!”  There are colour combinations to suit all tastes and ages, and I certainly will be acquiring something from her soon.  She also has examples of how the yarn looks when knitted, which is very helpful when deciding what to buy!

Stringing a Yarn – Based in Auckland, Jessicah specialises in hand-dyed merino top and merino/silk lace weight yarn.  Her colours are subtle, and beautifully appropriate for shawls and other projects requiring a drapey, fine yarn.  Over at HRYC, Tash shows us more of this yarn in one of her latest posts.

Yarnz – Two sisters, Nanette and Rayne, are behind Yarnz, another Wellington-based online yarn store.  Mostly, they stock imported yarn, but they do also have available a limited range of yarn that they have hand-dyed.

Fibre2go – Wool, silk and alpaca make this girl tick.  She’s an indie dyer who specialises in top for spinning.  I came across her site from a visit to the lovely Alice’s blog.

Vintage Purls.  Last but not least is the estimable Morag, based in Dunedin.  She’s the NZ equivalent of Wollemeise.  Her range includes a 100% pure merino lace weight, and “sock” and “Max” weights in 75% superwash wool, 25% nylon.  Her yarn is snapped up online the minute it is loaded, making it an object of cultish desire.  Fortunately Knitting Pretty, one of the local Wellington yarn stores I frequent stocks her yarn.  Here is a colourway from Vintage Purls that I treated myself to at Christmas (bought from Knitting Pretty):

I’ve washed and worn the socks in this yarn many times now, and both the colour and yarn continue to look as fresh as the day it was knitted.

So much choice!  So many pretty colours!  And so ends our little sojourn in the world of New Zealand indie dyers.  I hope you enjoyed the trip!

21 thoughts on “The indie dyers of New Zealand

  1. Looks like I”ll need to save up for a plane ticket to come touch all the beautiful NZ yarn again. I’m so happy to see such a wonderful range of indie dyers. Thanks for sharing all the information!

  2. My fingers are itching looking at all of that gorgeous wool! I have so many ideas, and plans in my head for projects, but unfortunately my wallet is not really stretching far enough to cover the cost of actually purchasing nice yarn…so I’ll continue looking at this post and dreaming…

  3. Wow, what a wonderful directory you have collated for us here. Thank you! 🙂

  4. Thanks for such a comprehensive list – I will definitely have to give some of these a go – must confess to having a big stash of Jessicah from Spinning A Yarn’s collection – so gorgeous and drapey with irresistible colour ways.

    Isn’t it funny how when you see something super yummy you just have to add it to the stash, even when the stash is already enormous. Every year I make a resolution to only knit from my stash and I always seem to break it many times.

  5. I may keep a permanent link to this particular post, just so I can look at all the yarns and swoon. 🙂 Beautiful!

  6. It must not be as easy as the Ashford McKenzie folks would have you believe then? The Knitworld catalogue has a page about their white yarns and yarn-dying kits. I was quite tempted to have a go (and thus christen the stockpot my mum gave me).

    1. I can’t speak for the Ashford dyes because I haven’t used them, but getting the colour and effect you actually want is generally tricky. Don’t let that stop you from having a go though. That’s how indie dyers are born…!

  7. oh my gosh! i cant belive my name is on the list! thank you so much for including me with the heavy weights in your review! xxx

  8. oh, awesome! what a wonderful list! thanks for including maude and me on it. we appreciate the kind words about our fiber and maude’s looks. 🙂

  9. Thank you so much for including me and my clever sis on the list! I have sent a new lot of Happy-go-knitty hand-dyed cotton to Holland Road Yarn Company today. And very soon Tash will stock my 12ply core spun wool as well! Check it out! 🙂

  10. Thanks so much for including me in this inspiring list of dyers, some of which I knew already and admire greatly. I’ve just finished dyeing some Flagstaff alpaca sock yarn and some other bits and bobs, which I will list on my fb and felt sites soon. I should be used to it by now , but every time I hang up skeins to dry I’m almost surprised by the joy the sight and touch of yarn brings to my life. I’m glad I can share this (otherwise I might burst 🙂

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