I've been knitting with Happy-go-Knitty yarn for a while now. I love the vibrant colours, the self-striping socks I get from using it, and Helene, the lovely lady behind it all, is amazing.
I first met her at the Devonport Craft Market a couple of years ago and since then I've become a regular customer. I even had breakfast at her house once when I interviewed her for Entangled Magazine.
As well as dyeing sock and lace yarn, she also knits hats, earphone covers and cuffs that she sells too.
How did Happy-go-Knitty begin? Have you always knitted?
My nana taught me how to knit when I was 11 years old and I have knitted ever since. About 5 years ago I started to knit a lot more and I'm now a self-confessed knit-a-holic...
Where does the yarn-dyeing magic happen?
All the yarn dyeing is done in my kitchen. It makes the whole house smell of dyes and wet wool but I have a very patient family! We are house hunting at the moment and space for a dye studio is very high on our priority list!
What are your favourite yarns and tools to use?
I'm very proud of all my yarn, they are very high quality. My favourite is probably the merino/silk lace weight – it's so amazingly soft! But the BFL (Bluefaced Leicester) sock yarn is a big favourite too, it's such a great yarn for socks. I don't have any favourite tools for dyeing. All my dyeing is done in a very unscientific way and straight from the heart in a very playful way. I have colours that I repeat but a lot of my yarn are one-offs. In the summer holidays my dear hubby built me the 'Love Spinnamajing' No, it's nothing dirty, it's two very useful spinning 'thingies' that help wind the yarn into the very long skeins needed for my self-striping yarn. It was made with much love, hence the name.
Where do you source your yarn bases from?
All merino and merino blends are from New Zealand. The BFL is from England, unfortunately we don't breed BFL sheep here. The cotton is from Sweden – it's a cotton with a high twist that is spun specifically for the Scandinavian market.
You dye a lot of sock yarns - are you a sock knitter?
Eeeerrmm – no... I can never find the time to take on the challenge... I'm too busy making bead knitted cuffs, kid's beanies, knitted earphones and all the other goodies you can find in the Happy-go-knitty range!
You've just announced that you're going to be teaching a bead knitting class at Handmade 2013 - is teaching a new direction for you?
I have never taught before and I'm very excited about my two classes at HandMade 2013. It might be that I decide to do it again but it would probably be the odd and more specialised class, like bead knttting.
You also have another knitting life as yarn bomber - can you tell us a bit about this and your current installation in Devonport?
My alter ego, Knitty Graffity, started yarn bombing 4 years ago. However I prefer to call it woolly tagging – it sounds much nicer! I did it on my own for a couple of years but then I decided to do something big for the Rugby World Cup in September 2011 and the idea for ‘The Woolly Walk Along’ was born. I invited people from all over the world and it ended up being an 80 m long installation along the Devonport Wharf. After that I was approached by The Devonport Arts Festival, they wondered if I would like to do an installation for the Festival in November 20102. I took on the challenge and organised ‘Woollypoles in Devonport’. Once again people contributed and we covered 24 poles along the Victoria Rd in Devonport. All the knitted artwork is still there, faded and with bits and pieces missing, but still looking great after 5 months!
Find Happy-go-Knitty here:
Facebook : www.facebook.com/Happygoknitty
On Felt: http://felt.co.nz/shop/happygoknitty