Cowgirlblues – Hand Dyed Delights!

Cowgirlblues Lace. Loop, London. www.loopknitlounge.comWe know you love the subtle variation and depth of colour hand dyed yarns give – and so do we! New at Loop are some gorgeous hand dyed beauties from Cowgirlblues. We now have their plump double knitting and the delicate lace weight for your knitting delight. Cowgirlblues has inspired our Spring window display and some new knits too!

Spring Window at Loop with Cowgirlblues. Loop, London. .JPG
Spring Window at Loop with Cowgirlblues
We caught up with owner Bridget Henderson to find our more, plus make sure you read to the end of the post to find out how to enter our Cowgirlblues giveaway! This giveaway is now closed, but we’ll have lots more in the future!

Tell us how Cowgirlblues started and the story behind the name
I worked for many years as a corporate strategy consultant, in South Africa and in Europe, specialising in organisational change, did an MBA in one of the top European business schools, worked at big corporates, travelled extensively, and burnt out completely.  So I took a time-out to find myself again, and started “playing” with craft.  
My strategic consulting brain kept telling me that their had to be a business opportunity given the large pool of fantastic quality local natural resources (merino wool and mohair, South Africa is the worlds’ biggest mohair producer) to which very little value is added locally.  Most of our fibres are exported and processed internationally then sold back if you want to buy knitting wool for example.
So I continued exploring and decided I was going to try and start a business.Cowgirlblues at Loop, London.
The name came next.  I’m a big fan of Tom Robbins, a quirky American author, who wrote a very quirky book called ‘Even Cowgirls Get the Blues’. It was an inspiring re-read, one of the themes is about a return to a stronger connection with nature, and it has some interesting feminist ideas too.  I have struggled with depression since I was a teenager, so “the blues” is an important element of my personal story.  And I saw this photograph of me, taken on a summer holiday on the Wild Coast, and it kind of all came together and “cowgirlblues” it was …

Cowgirlblues- Bridget Henderson. Loop, London.
Photo courtesy of Bridget Henderson
I started working with finished product … scarves, shawls, bags, etc and still do a lot of that.  But at the first Wool Week in South Africa in Johannesburg in 2013 there were a lot of people asking for knitting and crochet yarns.  They liked my colours and so I started experimenting with the yarns.  In early 2014 Michelle from Scaapi approached me about export, and it’s grown from there.
The palate for your yarn is very distinctive,  how did you develop your colour range? And what inspires you regarding choosing colour names?
The colour range is quite interesting, again, I allow it to develop very intuitively.  I play with colour a lot, it’s extremely therapeutic – colours talk to moods, feelings, states, ambitions, dreams, hopes, and I try to capture those things in my colours.  So the colours often emerge.  I don’t like to waste colour at the end of a dyeing day, so will often put not-exhausted dye bath water together and interesting things happen.  Recreating the happy accidents isn’t always easy, but it’s working so far.
Customers also can be very inspiring – they will ask for things I wouldn’t necessarily consider, and that leads to new thoughts and ideas about colour.
The names can be difficult – I try to find names that mean something to me, associations with the particular colours, often natural ones, often food and plants.  Living in Cape Town at the foot of Table Mountain I spent a lot of time walking on the mountain.  Our fynbos floral kingdom is quite spectacular and different seasons yield colour shades, tones and combinations that are very inspiring.
Cowgirlblue DK. Loop, London.

Tell us more about the yarn base you chose. 
My yarn bases are all South African.  I work with several local suppliers and to a degree am driven by what they have available as I’m still a very small customer so haven’t yet been able to develop my own blends, but hopefully that will come.  And I believe in using as much local content as possible, only good quality yarns, and we have plenty of that available so I guess I’m very lucky.
Cynthia at Cowgirlblues winding yarn
Cynthia at Cowgirlblues winding yarn
How does living in South Africa inspire you?
I’m inspired both by living here and by opportunities to travel, which are as much about the travel as they are about giving perspective on SA from a distance.
We have an extraordinary access to wild open spaces here – on the Cape Peninsula I’m surrounded by ocean, mountains, fynbos, the desert is close.  And we’re in a fairly precarious position at the end of a continent, quite buffeted by wild storms, strong winds, harsh sun.  It’s a very real place to live.  You can’t avoid the humbling reality that as humans our position on the earth is fairly tenuous.
I’m inspired by the wildness and intensity of life here and I think that reflects in my colours – they kind of reach out to you and you want to touch the yarns.  Loop Spring Window with Cowgirlblues. Loop, London.

Loop Spring Window with Cowgirlblues Lace. Loop, London.
Loop Spring Window with Cowgirlblues Lace
What’s on your needles at the moment?
I’m currently knitting several things … I always have a bunch of projects on the go.
This one is a crochet project, it will eventually be a blanket, made from Cowgirlblues Lace

Cowgirlblues- Crochet Blanket in Lace. Photo Courtesy of Bridget Henderson. Loop, London.
Photo Courtesy of Bridget Henderson
Thank you Bridget for taking the time to answer our questions.
Another reason we’ve fallen for this yarn – it’s superwash! Of course you won’t be machine washing your lace knits, but the reassurance that a project will survive a cool wash in the machine makes it ideal for baby knits!

Cowgirlblues DK (CW from Top) Rainforest, Spring , Natural. Loop, London.
Cowgirlblues DK (CW from Top) Rainforest, Spring , Natural
Cowgirlblues DK (CW from Top) Fire Lilly, Manarin, Argentine.
Cowgirlblues DK (CW from Top) Fire Lilly, Manarin, Argentine.

We used three balls of the DK to make the 6-12 months size of the adorable Little Boy Blue cardigan. A simple slip stitch rib makes a charming detail on the yoke, perfect for a little boy or a little girl.

Little Boy Blue by Heirloom Stitches, in Cowgirlblues DK 'Lavender'. With Lavender, Jade and Coral. Loop, London.
Little Boy Blue by Heirloom Stitches, in Cowgirlblues DK ‘Lavender’. With Lavender, Jade and Coral.

Just for display, we finished it off with an Acorn and Will brooch, though cute it is not the best idea for a little one! The pattern uses a little button tab to close the cardigan – check out our button blog post if you need some inspiration!

Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, in Cowgirlblues Lace, colours- Silver Fox and Blossom.
Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, in Cowgirlblues Lace, colours- Silver Fox and Blossom.

Also starring in our spring window is the prettiest spring shawl, Ishbel by Ysolda Teague. Loopette Fiona, who knit this sample, used a contrast colour to show off the fine lace and make a striking two colour shawl.

Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, in Cowgirlblues Lace, colours- Silver Fox and Blossom.
Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, in Cowgirlblues Lace, colours- Silver Fox and Blossom.

A two colour Ishbel takes one ball of each colour of the Cowgirlblues lace, with enough to make a second shawl with the colours reversed.

Cowgirlblues Lace (CW from Top) Dusty Rose, Candyfloss, Blossom
Cowgirlblues Lace (CW from Top) Dusty Rose, Candyfloss, Blossom
Cowgirlblues Lace (CW from Top) Sable, Aubergine, Lavender
Cowgirlblues Lace (CW from Top) Sable, Aubergine, Lavender
Cowgirlblues Lace (CW from Top) Airforce, Sea Grass, Guinea Fowl
Cowgirlblues Lace (CW from Top) Airforce, Sea Grass, Guinea Fowl

This competition is now closed! Fancy trying out this new yarn? Well you’re in luck as we are giving one lucky reader the chance to win two balls of the Cowgirlblues Lace, perfect for lacey summer shawls like our Ishbel sample above! To be entered into the competition,  just leave a comment letting us know which shade of Cowgirlblues Lace is your favourite – and if you can’t chose just one, let us know which two you’d use for a bi-coloured knit!

This competition will close at midnight GMT on Wednesday 8th April. The winner will be selected at random and announced on next weeks blog post – Good Luck!

Happy Knitting and Happy Easter!
Happy Easter From Loop! Loop, London.

P.S. Remember we’re closed Easter Sunday – 5th April


141 Comments on “Cowgirlblues – Hand Dyed Delights!

  1. I would definitely need two colours: there is no way I could settle on just one. How about lavender and aubergine?

  2. ooooh! Spring & Guinea Fowl would make a marvellously buoyant combination. What lovely yarns with a fascinating back story.

  3. I love Sable and Aubergine, but if I had to choose one, it would definitely be Sable! Dusty Rose is a close third!

  4. Good Morning
    Here is my choice of color: Airforce! I hope to win! !!!! I’ll come visit you in late April! I just two days in London so as the last time it is essential! vital I come home LOOP !!!!!
    Good day and goodbye

  5. These are exquisite! Can’t wait to try these yarns out. Seagrass is gorgeous! Thanks for the giveaway.

  6. These colours are amazing! I love aubergine, but I think jade and hot cocoa would make something beautiful together too.

  7. Oh, the colours are so so lovely. I couldn’t plump for just one and I can’t stop looking at Lavendar and Airforce. Thank you for the chance to win.

  8. Gorgeous colours, so two favourites: Charcoal and Prickly Pair, or Silver Fox and Airforce (at least based on my computer’s rendering of the colours . . .)

  9. Without a doubt guinea fowl. All the colors are fantastic. Fingers crossed I am the winner so all my knitting friends here in the USA will have a new yarn to lust after.

  10. If I were knitting with two colors, Sable and Lavender; if just one, then Lavender would be my favorite. It’s hard to choose, they’re all gorgeous.

  11. Great interview. My choices would be sable and aubergine for a lovely all year round shawl.
    Thank you!

  12. Been eyeing up these for ages now because the colours are perfect but can’t really afford at the mo. I would come out of my comfort zone and try something crazy like Jade and Lemon

  13. Must I just choose 2?? Lemon and silver fox….but all colors are wonderful.
    Loved the interview

    Happy Sunday and thanx

  14. Beautiful colours! I love sable and guinea fowl together and I can’t resist aubergine for a one colour project because I love purples.

  15. I would choose Mandarin and Aubergine. Enjoyed the interview as I am a transplanted South African. It’s so uplifting to see what people are doing with the natural resources.

  16. Those are so pretty (and the interview was really interesting)! If I had to choose one, I think it would be Coffee Bean.

  17. I love them all but think Rainforest & Sage would make a nice combination. Very interesting interview.

  18. So hard to choose – beautiful palette and a wonderful story. The two-colour Ishbel looks great, and I would choose Airforce and Blossom. Thanks!

  19. these colours are just a delight for the eyes! Jade and silver-fox look delicious. I might have to just take a trip down to Loop tomorrow!

  20. Thankyou for your blogpost about Cowgirl Blues. It was inspirational. I would choose Spring and Lavender. The colours say it all!

  21. Very beautiful colours – airforce is my favourite (just about!). Loved reading Bridget’s story too.

  22. Seagrass is my favourite and my best ;-)
    If I had to choose two colours airforce would be the second.

  23. I love the pinks and the blues so to narrow it down – I would love to combine Dusty rose with Airforce

  24. Only one!!! Well if you insist I’d choose Rainforest. I love greens. I’m always on the outlook for green yarn that has a bluish
    undertone. This one does. That said, the combo of blossom and
    silver fox for Ysolde’s Ishbel is irresistable.

  25. Wow weee… I would have to choose blossom as my fav as it is definitely the sign spring is on its way. Only this morning walking my pooch a saw some lovely blossom on a hedge the same colour it also reminds me of strawberry ice cream yum yum.

  26. wow, that lemon, spring, coral combo in the first photo just sang to me right off the page! gorgeous. got yarn envy now ;)

  27. Hello! So beautiful your story and the yarn colours! Sea grass is jumping out at me as I live by the sea, pair this with Sable please for warm grey coastal colours shawl. Thank you for sharing from South Africa!

  28. Lavender and Aubergine for me, the two shades are just up my street. Its nice to see the face behind the name and the history of the yarn.

  29. Perfect! So choosing is not easy…….but those two purpley ones, aubergine and lavender, are the ones that speak to me most. Just gorgeous…..!

  30. Dusty rose and airforce.
    All are gorgeous though and I can’t wait to try this yarn – hopefully sooner rather than later :)

  31. interesting story- I’ld love to visit S Africa, and see it for myself. Great blanket too-so many beautiful combinations.
    looking out at the garden-lavender and spring would be amazing.
    good luck everyone…

  32. Sable and lavender would be my choice, but on the other had so would just about any of them, beautiful colours.

  33. Beautiful colours. So difficult to choose just two colours, but I would go for Airforce and Sea grass, please!

  34. So many combinations to choose from but for me personally if I had to choose 2 then it would be Caramel and FireLily together yummy or a single colour would be FireLily alone. Such a beautiful colour.

  35. Beautiful colours, but, if .i was lucky I would choose Lavender and Aubergine . Always look forward to reading the bog. thank you. Triciax

  36. For me, Aubergine and Spring. However, all the colours look lovely. Just added this yarn to my “to try” list.

  37. Sable and aubergine are my favourites & would really make a gorgeous addition to my wardrobe when made into a shawl or two!

  38. Prickly pear and Sable would be my two favourites. Like everybody else I couldn’t choose just one of these lovely colours…two was tricky enough

  39. All exquisite but I particularly love the aubergine/lavender combo, having tried and failed to get my daughter to choose those in the shop this week (and having ended up with something I love somewhat less). Gorgeous range.

  40. Seagrass. So beautiful. They are all stunning. Like the gorgeous colours you really find in nature on a warm sunny day. Delicious.

  41. I simply love the look of this yarn and think that the colours are to dye for :0) particularly, Sea glass and Guinea Fowl.

  42. Spring is the one I would choose, I adore greens. Difficult choice as they are all gorgeous, can’t wait to knit the beautiful Ishbel shawl to add to my ever growing collection!

  43. With spring in the air a dual coloured dusty rose and natural colours together makes me think of the fragrance of a perfect rose!

  44. Oh… very hard to choose, since they are all beautiful!!! But I think sable and blossom would make a perfect spring shawl for me!

  45. Possibly too late for the competition due to internet problems but just love the lavender and aubergine – in fact love them all!

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