Our mystery yarn club inspired by the quirks of the natural world
Nature Lovers Club is our monthly yarn club and for me, a fantastic opportunity to push my skills and experiment with techniques that perhaps aren’t practical for our stock shades, being time-consuming or difficult to reproduce. For that reason, the shades produced for the club are generally non-repeatable (although we try to dye a few extra in case subscribers).
January – Red Onion
The inspiration for this shade may be straightforward, but the colour itself has hidden depths. Onion skins are a super dyestuff in themselves (we have a tutorial if you’re interested), but red onion skins behave in an unexpected way, yielding a greenish colour rather than maroon. And, just like an onion, this shade was created of many layers in order to build up deep, complex tones, starting with a base colour of green!
February – Allium
So, technically we’ve used the same theme two months running, which perhaps is cheating, although it’s a different species. Allium is the Latin word for the onion family, including the edible versions, but most commonly describes the ornamental kind. I have planted lots of these in our garden because they’re drought tolerant and provide an ever reliable and striking display of probably my favourite colour.
March – Tulip Field
I had been pondering how to interpret tulips in yarn form for quite some time. The bold stripes of the Dutch fields where many of them are grown is really quite a spectacle, and gives a very different perspective to the the subtle tonal transitions of an individual flower. For all their multitude of different varieties, tulips flowers always occupy the warmer parts of the spectrum, which is one of the things that makes them such a happy sight.
April – Coral Reef
These precious habitats provide such a fun theme and rich source of inspiration, it was hard to narrow it down to just one idea for the club. It was a great opportunity to play with colours that don’t occur frequently in nature.
May – New Rose
A contemporary take on a classical subject, this shade was inspired by a particularly garish bloom spotted on a straggly rosebush in a local yard. I was immediately drawn to the glowing sunset colours and the gradient effect of the petals.
June – Azurite
Azurite is an intense and beautiful blue gemstone formed of a copper compound. Its hue ranges from violet to malachite green (the two often form together). To create this shade, I used a resist technique which was perfect for the effect I wanted. However, it’s hard to reproduce so it’s not something we’d be able to do for our stock colourways.
July – Aeonium
Aeoniums are a family of succulents native to the Canary Islands, with unique varieties evolved to the different conditions of each island. They range in shape and size as well as colour, from teals to pinks and purples, most with a beautiful gradient effect towards the centre of the rosettes (which are leaves rather than flowers).
I made the mistake of buying the specimen below as a tiny cutting not realising that it’s actually a giant! It is rather beautiful though, with an unusual set of colours that look rather striking together.
August – Hazel
This nutty brown has hidden depths of green and burnt orange. Earthy hues are often overlooked by the adventurous knitter, but make a perfect complement to yellows, reds, teals and dark blues. Moreover, the value of a neutral-toned pair of socks or gloves is not to be understated.
September – Heritage Harvest
The tomatoes we are used to seeing in the supermarket are bred for uniformity of size and colour and their ability to store – flavour is pretty low on the list of priorities! For the year-round, dependable supply fruit and vegetables we’ve become accustomed to, we’ve definitely scarified the more interesting and diverse flavours of the seasons. This shade celebrates the weird and wonderful tomatoes of days gone by; the ones that don’t all ripen at the same time, don’t keep for weeks in cold storage and definitely don’t look the same colour all over.
October –Poppy Field
This shade is inspired by the elegant tones of sunlight shining through poppy flowers. Like many of the subjects I choose for this club, the common poppy is a familiar and ordinary sight but has a delicate complexity. I endeavoured to capture the depth of colour of different layers of petals silhouetted against a sunny sky. I think this one works very well in a gradient project with the August and September editions.
November – Inky Mushroom
I love seeing mushrooms growing in the woodland, but ink caps also pop up in all kinds of places this time of year, even cracks in the pavement. They are so called because they dissolve into a dark, dripping mess on releasing their spores. It’s so useful to have earth tones in one’s stash but for some reason dyeing them makes me nervous! With so many vibrant pigment colours at my disposal, it feels unnatural and I really have to fight with my instincts, although I really like to work with neutral yarns and love how this turned out.
December – Valkyrie
The Norse mythology surrounding the Northern Lights is that they are flashes of light reflected by the armour of the Valkyries (female spirit warriors who guided the dead to Valhalla). Having just finished creating a small shade collection based on the colours of the Northern Lights for the Winter Cast-On box, this awe-inspiring theme left me buzzing with more ideas than I could fit in the box. For the club I close a different aesthetic inspired by the mystical Norse maidens’ glistening armour. I always try to create something extra special for December and I’m particularly pleased with ‘Valkyrie’. As each row is knitted a miniature artwork unfurls.
If you like what you see here, Nature Lovers Club is currently open to new members (UK only at present). You can choose from 1 or 2 skeins a month, and subscription length is completely flexible. You can still find a couple of the shades from 2022 in our shop here.
If I had to pick a favourite from 2022, I think it would be the humble, unassuming ‘Hazel’. It has so much hidden complexity. Which is your favourite? Let me know in the comments!