The original idea behind Olann and was to promote all things fibre and craft here in Ireland. We launched in 2015, just as the indie dyeing yarn market here was beginning to take off and it’s been our mission to support and highlight all the lovely work being done to put Ireland firmly on the international yarn map.
In this our Harvest Moon Issue Yarn Review, we’ve chosen to focus on what’s new in the woolly world of Ireland and want to give an Olann and nod to some new yarns and some new dyers.
Shade Pictured 8807 Pink
Fibre Content 100% lambswool
Ball Weight/Length 100g = 410 metres/448 yards
Needle Size 2.25mm – 3.25mm
Tension 28 sts to 10cm/4″
My love of Studio Donegal Yarns is no secret, Soft Donegal is one of my top ten favourite yarns of all time, quite possibly even top five. My dream of making a giant patchwork blanket in all the colours will one day become a reality. So it was with complete glee that I opened the package containing the sample skein for us to review.
I should point out that being such a fan of one of its yarn siblings, doesn’t ensure Darnie moves straight to the top of the class without having to sit an exam. Rather it means the bar has been set higher and the questions are harder than usual, to ensure my review isn’t biased.
For those of you that aren’t aware of Studio Donegal (where have you been?) here’s a brief introduction for you. Faced with the mill’s closure in the late 1980’s but determined to keep the tradition of hand weaving alive in Kilcar, Kevin and Wendy Donaghy decided to take over Studio Donegal. Through hard work and perseverance, today Studio Donegal is a small woollen mill on the Wild Atlantic Way with its own carding, spinning, hand weaving and garment making. Tristan, Kevin and Wendy’s son now manages the business which is trading successfully whilst staying true to its core value of hand weaving.
Having introduced some homespun yarns in Irish Wool, Studio Donegal went on to develop a range of hand knitting yarns with a local spinning mill. Whilst extremely popular, they spotted a gap in the market for a ply/fingering weight yarn and have now introduced their Darnie range.
Made from 100% Lambswool, Darnie is a soft, two-ply woollen spun yarn, with the shading and woolly neps that are characteristic of Studio Donegal yarns.
It is a woolly wool, with little or no catch, that could be worn next to the skin of all but the most sensitive souls. It knits up to produce a light springy fabric that blocked easily and held its shape well after washing. Perfect for garments, accessories and homewares, Darnie also crochets well.
Darnie has been released in a colour palette of 14 shades including strong but muted colours, easy neutrals and a lovely ivory Ecru or Báinín as it’s referred to in this neck of the woods. The way Darnie is dyed and spun produces a lovely semi-solid colourway, which is enhanced by the subtle neps that give it an extra dimension.
With a generous 410 metres of yarn per 100g skein, I think I see at least one Darnie cardigan in my future at some stage.
Wool Way Mood
Shade Pictured – Rustic Pottery
Fibre Content 40% Alpaca, 40% Linen, 20% Extrafine Merino
Ball Weight/Length 25g = 51 metres/56 yards
Wool Way Mood is a name new to the Irish fibre scene and it’s also a little different. Specialising in all things spinning, Wool Way Mood offers handspun yarns, fibre and tools. Believing deeply in ethical production, Wool Way Mood tools and yarns are produced with care and respect for the environment.
Having met in 2012 the couple relocated here in Ireland from Italy in 2016 and share a passion to create. Patrizia has been a crafter from as far back as she can remember. At age five she built her own mini theatre, complete with all the puppets, moving on to sewing and crocheting outfits for her Barbie and then for herself. Spinning was an unexpected discovery and after purchasing her first drop spindle and watching YouTube videos it became an obsession.
Mauro has a passion for objects, discovering how they’re made and if they can be improved. Training as an architect, he went onto work as a building and interior designer, works supervisor and structures calculator and his work has featured on www.artchitecture.today. Using his creativity, Mauro enjoys the challenge of making and improving wool and fibre tools.
The beautiful mini skeins of handspun yarns the couple sent us were almost too lovely to wind. Patrizia’s handspun is so beautifully even that I must confess to being slightly jealous of her technique. The yarn has been spun from a blend of Alpaca, Linen and Extrafine Merino, which when knitted produces a lovely soft handled fabric with a fair amount of drape. One of the current collection of mini skeins Patrizia creates, they are available to purchase on the woolwaymood website for €11 each plus shipping. Browsing through the online shop you’ll also discover larger skeins of handspun yarn, the Rolag Collection, plus the ever-expanding collection of handmade tools and equipment.
Shade Pictured Brazilwood
Ball Weight/Length 100g = 400 metres/437 yards
After watching a podcast about natural dyeing Sophie Fontaine, the dyer behind Sionnach Yarns became hooked and began experimenting almost immediately at her home in Ballyvaughan. Fascinated by the colours that can be achieved from plants and kitchen waste, Sophie soon found herself with far too many skeins of beautiful yarn to ever knit herself and decided to open up an Etsy shop.
The sales of yarn fuel Sophie’s desire to further explore her craft and Sophie tells us that there isn’t a day that goes by, where she isn’t thinking about the colours she could obtain from a plant or a different dyeing technique.
Currently, Sionnach Yarns specialise in semi-solid colourways, but work has begun on creating naturally dyed speckles and ombré yarns. The three bases Sophie uses at the moment, 4ply/Fingering, Single and DK all come from Italy and she hopes to be able to introduce a more rustic base from Irish sheep in the future.
The Brazilwood dyed 4ply/fingering weight skein of yarn Sophie sent us as a sample has a lovely warm, caramel hue to it. The yarn has taken up the Brazilwood dye beautifully and the resulting semi-solid shade is very wearable. A standard 75% Merino, 25% Nylon blend yarn base, it could be used successfully for most knitting or crochet projects. It’s soft and springy, but sturdy enough for socks.
Prices for Sionnach Yarns currently start at €17.50 plus shipping from the SionnachYarns Etsy Shop where you’ll discover a rainbow of plant colours. Stay in touch with Sionnach Yarns via Instagram and or Facebook.
Star and Crescent Yarns
Shade Pictured Tangsi Beach
Fibre Content 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon
Ball Weight/Length 100g = 425 metres/465 yards
Needle Size None Specified
Tension None Specified
Indie dyeing newbie Nikita the lady behind the dye pots from Star and Crescent Yarns only started dyeing yarn in July of this year. Acknowledging a need to spend some downtime away from screens after college in the evening, Nikita learnt to knit and became fascinated with the tonal shifts most often seen in hand-dyed yarn. Hooked by the interaction of colours and the way those known to clash can sometimes produce the best effects, Nikita decided to start dyeing her own yarn.
Taking inspiration for her colourways from the world around her, Nikita is currently concentrating specifically on dyeing sock weight yarn but has plans to move into other blends in the near future.
The Tangsi Beach colourway we’ve reviewed here takes its name from the pink sands, Periwinkle skies and turquoise sea of Tangsi Beach in Indonesia. The yarn base is a standard, soft, no-nonsense 4ply/fingering weight Superwash Merino/Nylon blend. It’s lovely and soft for garments and accessories, but sturdy enough for socks.
Based in Drogheda, Co. Louth, Nikita dyes all her yarns to order and is more than happy to create custom colourways. Nikita sells her yarns in StarandCrescentYarns Etsy Shop where her sock yarns currently retail at €20 plus shipping. Find Nikita on Ravelry as StarandCrescent.
Irish Artisan Yarns
Shade Pictured – Horn Head
Fibre Content 75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon
Ball Weight/Length 100g = 400 metres/437 yards
Needle Size 3.25mm
Recommended Tension 28sts to 36 rows
After receiving many requests from knitting and crochet enthusiasts that wanted to make their own collectable pieces, Tara Osborough, an award-winning textile designer launched Irish Artisan Yarns.
Since 2017, Tara has been creating her hand painted and dyed yarns in colourways inspired by the Irish landscape. Highly collectable, only 5 skeins of a colourway are produced at any one time.
Tara very kindly sent us a sample skein of one of her latest colourways Horn Head, in which she has captured the colours of the Peninsula in Donegal on the Wild Atlantic Way of teal, sea green and purple beautifully. When knitted the subtle shifts in colour would add depth and interest to any knitted or crochet project.
Little Stone Cottage
Shade Pictured – A Monkey’s Wedding
Fibre Content 100% Superwash Merino
Ball Weight/Length 100g = 225 metres/246 yards
Tension None Specified
Having been a knitter and crafter ever since she can remember Nicky, the woman behind Little Stone Cottage Yarns is a multicraftual. Fond of knitting, crochet, sewing, decoupage, cross stitch, embroidery and even resin painting, she began knitting seriously after moving from South Africa to Northern Ireland 11 years ago. Once Nicky had discovered hand-dyed yarn, she was hooked and officially a knitter with a capital K.
Nicky first experimented with dyeing yarn about 5 years ago using kool-aid and food colouring. Despite having lots of fun with it she hadn’t considered taking it further until December 2017 when she took the plunge and bought her first batch of acid dyes. Enthralled by everything about dyeing yarn, Nicky opened Little Stone Cottage Yarns in January 2018 and hasn’t looked back since. There are a few repeatable colourways that Nicky dyes but her real passion is creating small batches of one of a kind colours and the creative license that it gives her.
Nicky’s wizardry with her dye pots is very evident in the skein of yarn she sent us to sample. Monkey’sWedding with its grey base and flashes of yellow, turquoise, purple and cerise produces a fabric with a kaleidoscope of colours without being ‘clownish’. The yarn itself is a classic, soft and warm 100% Merino, DK base, perfect for most projects, whether knitting or crochet.
Monkey Puzzle DK 100% Merino, currently sells for £16 plus shipping via the LittleStoneCotageUK Etsy Shop where you can also find handmade stitch markers, key rings and occasionally dpn cosies.
Nicky is hoping to vend at Woollin Dublin next year and at the Yarn Folk Festival of Wool. In the meantime, you can find her as @the_wip_queen on Instagram littlestonecottageyarns on Facebook and the-wip-queen on Ravelry.