Meet our Makers - Lilypond Yarns
Lilypond Yarns is a local yarn dyeing business established by two friends; Fiona (on left) and Abby (on right). We love stocking their beautiful yarns in the shop! We've watched their business grow from it's very beginning when they attended a yarn dyeing workshop here at Wool on the Exe less than two years ago. It's amazing what wonderful things can happen when you take a chance and try something new! We've invited them to share their inspiring story here.
Fiona and Abby
We are two friends who have known each other since our daughters met in the same class at primary school. We have both always loved craft and have worked our way through many different types of projects. We learnt knitting at a young age through our mums who are keen knitters themselves. We were always friendly but became much closer when we discovered each other’s passion for yarn craft.
One day Abby noticed a yarn dyeing workshop advertised online at Wool on the Exe. She called Fiona and asked if she would like to give it a go seeing as we both used a lot of yarn and it may be fun to dye our own. Fiona was excited by the idea as she has done a bit of water colour and oil painting in the past and this sounded just the sort of thing she would enjoy!
We went along and just enjoyed it so much! Debbie had all the colours set out and the yarn ready soaked and we were like two kids in a sweet shop! It was like a light bulb moment and we knew we would go home and experiment further. We bought some undyed yarn from Debbie with the intention of trying some dyeing of our own using food colouring.
We started practicing within a week of the workshop and soon had lots of lovely dyed yarn, more than we could knit with. Fiona already had experience of another successful Etsy business and so suggested opening our own shop to sell of some of our creations and so Lilypond Yarns was born!
At the start of the process we add the yarn into the water and slowly heat it
We started slowly expanding our business online and as we both loved the process, after 6 months, we decided why not approach our local yarn shops and see if they would like to stock some of our yarn. So, what started out as a fun hobby suddenly became something more serious!
We are both fibre addicts and are always adding to our own stashes as although we love working with our own yarn, we also love everybody elses! Our favourite things to make are socks, shawls and sweaters.
We dye our yarn in small batches in our homes so growing our business is a bit of a challenge as space is obviously an issue and also time as Abby has another part time job. We like to work as a team as much as possible, although we do have different roles which have evolved naturally as we both have different strengths which makes us a perfect partnership.
Leaving yarn to soak up all the dye and then to cool
When we start dyeing, sometimes we are inspired by the season, for instance in the Spring when all the flowers are coming out and there is a lot of colour around. Sometimes we even just put on loud music, dance around the kitchen and throw some colours in the dye pots! These are usually our best work!
Adding some speckles to this one which is our coral reef colourway
We both have different colour preferences. Fiona is all about the bright colours, purples, pinks and blues whilst Abby loves all the neutrals and muted pallets. Because of this we are able to give a lot of variety as we balance each other out.
We have experimented with a few different bases and find the merino/nylon is the most pleasing to dye. It is also one of our best sellers because it is such a versatile yarn. However, due to our expanding business and more demand from our new yarn stockists, we have recently branched into dyeing different yarn bases. This is going well and we are having a lot of fun!
The finished objects
Our future plans are to secure more business with yarn shops across the UK and we have made a good start with this. Our business means everything to us and we want to share our yarn with as many other fibre addicts as possible! We also have a very exciting build in the process …our own dye studio … which will help us work towards our goal.
We sometimes do mini skeins as well as these give many options for fun projects
Our friendship has gone from strength to strength. We love spending time together and usually end up laughing a lot. We love our little business and enjoy the whole process of choosing colours and bases, watching the colours develop, lovingly packaging up the yarn and sending it out to our customers in the hope it brightens their day.
Ultimately, we are very grateful to Debbie as if it were not for her offering the yarn dyeing workshop and giving us so much support afterwards, we would not be where we are today.