Creating a custom color from concept to test swatch
A lot of work goes into creating a custom yarn or a custom yarn color. Here is the journey we took in creating our latest custom color:
Step 1: Inspiration
Inspiration is one of life’s elusive mysteries. It seems like when you intentionally seek for it, it becomes evasive and difficult to find. Other times it hits you like a cold shower and you step away from the experience saying “Wow! I didn’t expect that!”
At Mountain Meadow Wool we unleash the creative juices on a daily basis as we develop new products or solve problems. When developing a new yarn or color the process can begin at almost any stage and then we work backwards or forwards in the process to fill in the details. On one summer day when discussing current yarns in production and upcoming promotions we were inspired with the idea of creating a new colorway that celebrates our Nation’s Independence Day and pays tribute to the American Flag. And so the process for a new yarn color began with a red, white, and blue theme.
Step 2: Yarn Creation
Customization is our specialty at Mountain Meadow Wool but this can also make the selection of an appropriate base for our new colorway difficult. With dozens of different yarn types/blends/etc to choose from we began brainstorming key features to be included in this latest project. Here were the top elements:
- Needs to be a lightweight yarn for summertime knitting if we are promoting it around the 4th of July
- It should fit well with existing color options
- Because Red, white, and Blue can be very contrasting the yarn type should diffuse the color
Our selection…… drum role please…. our “Green River” yarn base. Green River is named after a town in southwest Wyoming at the edge of the Red Desert (a high elevation desert that fills a large portion of the state). The town is named after the Green River which flows through it bringing a sliver of life to the arid region. Our “Green River” yarn blends the smooth, silky, shine of bamboo with the rugged performance of our Mountain Merino® wool in this 50/50 blend. Spun into a 2-ply Fingering weight yarn it is perfect for light and airy summer knitting projects.
Photo Courtesy of www.cityofgreenriver.org
Aptly chosen for our red, white, and blue colorway is the contrast created by the red rocks that border the deep blue of the river at the end of a long day.
Because bamboo is a cellulose based fiber it doesn’t absorb the dye that we use for our protein based wools. This has the effect of calming the contrast between colors while providing the soft handle and shiny appearance that we are targeting. To top it all off we have several great knitting kits in Green River that would be a good fit for the new colorway.
Step 3: Dyeing Technique
We now have a color theme (red, white, and blue) and we have the yarn selected (“Green River” 50/50 Bamboo Viscose/Mountain Merino® spun into a 2-ply Fingering). Now it is time to hit the dye kitchen for the full use of our Artisan Dyeing!
For this we brought in my sister Kelsey. Now a little family context… when we were little my mom Karen (mill owner and founder) used to have drawing lessons with all of us kids. These were a highlight of our childhood and something we always looked forward to. Needless to say I think the mill has been an outlet for the whole family to put to good use some of our creative thinking. But when it comes to color arrangements Kelsey certainly has a unique eye for it so we gave the key ingredients (red, white, and blue on our Green River 2-ply Fingering) and let her do the rest.
First she began by mixing the pigment, water, vinegar solutions.
Next she experimented with three different application techniques using a variety of pouring, and speckling methods.
Step 4: Final Selection
The three different dye options were then washed/twisted, put on cones, and knit swatches were created. In this way we can evaluate how the color patterning will be presented in its final form. The three arrangements are shown below.
Color 1 (A)
Color 2 (B)
Color 3 (C)
It is always fascinating how the different dye styles and color combinations can create such unique color patterns in the skein, cone, and knit swatches. It was too hard to pick our favorite, so we put it to a vote.
Log on to our Facebook page on Wednesday July 7th to vote (or email us directly with your favorite color choice).
We will then open a limited production run sale on this colorway Thursday July 8th through Saturday July 10th. The yarn will be ready in about 2 weeks. It is possible we will add this color to our stock Green River pallet later this fall but this week’s limited pre-order sale will be your only chance to order this summer.