With a distinctive palette of the most elegant shades, from rich jewel tones to soft semi solids, it’s easy to see why we love Eden Cottage Yarns! Loop stocks three different weights – the delicate and airy Theseus Lace, the silky soft Titus 4ply and the lustrous Bowland DK.
We caught up Victoria Magnus, dyer and all round colour whiz, to find out more about Eden Cottage yarns – enjoy!
Can you tell us a little more about your background and how you came to start Eden Cottage Yarns?
I first started knitting in 2006, when I was at University in Dundee. An Architecture student, who really wished she was studying textiles (it was in the same building!), I made a fair isle hot water bottle cover out of black and purple yarn. It just sort of grew from there really, on the knitting front!
As far as dyeing goes, it was something I had experimented with whilst at uni, as there were no yarn shops locally, and it was the time when really jazzy sock yarns were in fashion. I really wanted a plain purple, so I had a go at dyeing it and that was it. I carried on dyeing and selling yarn after uni, throughout a couple of jobs (one at Hobbycraft and one at Purl City Yarns). I had an unexpected change in personal circumstances in 2011, and found myself moving from a modern flat in central Manchester, to a crumbling 1720s cottage in Eden Valley in Cumbria, which belonged to the family and had been empty for years. With no work lined up and only myself to worry about, I thought this was an excellent opportunity to go full time self-employed, and have a go at properly running a business.
I notice that a lot of your colour names tend to have quite earthy or plant based names (Driftwood, Rambling Rose, Autumn) – do you find your inspiration comes from the great outdoors? And if so, does your colour range change with the seasons?
As you can probably tell from the names of the colourways, I am inspired by nature for the most part. I like to create colourways that are simple and understated. This allows the beauty of the shades and yarn to shine through in projects. I just love playing with beautiful colours! I do all my photography outdoors, and it’s something that is very central to the Eden Cottage Yarns ethos. I like to try and fill the garden with colour (although it’s rented so it’s done on a shoestring), as that’s my view whilst I’m dyeing, and I just generally love flowers. So that’s really inspiring.
There is an element of seasonality to the colour palette, particularly for the yarns that I dye for my own website, or for shows, where I have more freedom to explore my creativity. I try to dye a good range of colours year round, but you’re more likely to see new autumnal colours from October to January for instance.
As playing with yarn is your full time job, do you still like to relax with some knitting or is there just a blend between life/work?
As you can imagine, working from home can sometimes be a double-edged sword. I have no commute to contend with, but our house is literally filled with yarn in various stages of production. All of the hand dyeing, drying, labeling and photography happen here, as well as the storage!
I do still enjoy knitting when I can, and now we have sample knitters, I can knit for myself more often! I don’t get to knit during the week, but on weekends I try and make up for it. My knitting is usually work-related, but I do have a gorgeous stash of other yarns too. We’re lucky to have very understanding friends – they come and help with the yarn if I need them, and they don’t bother when I spend time working whilst we’re all watching a film or whatever. So yes, there’s definitely a blend – there can’t not be – but I love knitting whenever I can. It’s the whole reason this company exists.
What qualities do you look for in a base yarn?
First and foremost, it’s got to be a base which is true to its properties as a fibre or fibre blend and the spinning needs to be of excellent quality. All of our base yarns are rigorously tested before they are introduced to the range, to ensure their ability to take and hold colour, as well as their durability are up to the required standard. I try to keep the number of bases relatively small so that I can focus on having a good range of colours, so I’ll usually only take a new base if it ticks a box that the others don’t, or is just completely irresistible.
The commercial yarns are combed, spun and dyed in Italy by a fantastic mill who specialise in luxury fibres and worsted spinning – this ensures a super-soft and smooth yarn, which is hard wearing whilst remaining very fine and drapey.
I am asked this question a lot – and I always say it is like picking a favourite child! If you’re going to push me on it, I would have to say Bowland DK
. My love affair with Bluefaced Leicester is no secret; it’s a fibre with a beautiful lustre and excellent wearing properties and really does make an excellent all-rounder when it comes to yarn. More than anything though, I love how it takes colour. It can be a bit yellowy, but the shine and richness more than makes up for this.
Semele by Åsa Tricosa, in BFL Sock in a really rich green. I have this black and white 3/4 length houndstooth coat, and it’s brilliant for wearing bright colours with. So I now find myself more willing to knit with jewel tones because I know I have at least one thing I can wear them with! I also have a stash-busting scarf (Hetton by Tracey Todhunter) on the needles. It’s super-simple (ideal for when you’re very tired) and uses 200g of DK – just the kind of amount your find yourself stashing then not knowing what to do with.
STOP PRESS! We had a little visit from the Wollmeise Fairy this week delivering some Lace and DK to Loop! Check our Ravelry forum to have a peek at which colours came in.
Everything will be ready and waiting for you in store on Saturday 7th February at 11am and available to purchase over the phone on Sunday 8th December from 11am GMT.
Happy Knitting and Crocheting!