Leading the way on a colour palette for a brand new yarn is an awesome task in every sense of the word…daunting and exciting at the same time, a privilege and a responsibility.
After around 12 years of restricting my work to natural dyes, I found myself confronted with with the colour explosion of a set of Pantone chips -whooaa! Any colour you like – this would need some serious application of research, and inspiration sources and stories, mixed together with that ‘feeling’ of what it is you want to convey
So here’s something of the thoughts and observations inspired by this special country – in no particular order – that influenced the final colour choices.
I’ve lived in Wales since 1989 – most of my adult life now, and I love it. It’s home. The wildness of the hills, the softness of the rolling lowlands, the attitude of practicality and the humour that pervades life and history.
And there’s the weather of course. It doesn’t rain all the time you know, but we do have spectacular weather patterns if you care to get up higher and watch the clouds rolling around the valleys. Every shade of grey, and purple and rosy tints lit up by the sun against patches of clear blue.
Historically life was hard; there wouldn’t have been much room for frivolity. The Welsh are descended from the original Britons, forced into the poorer lands of the west by the Romans. The Anglo Saxon Chronicles use ‘Welsh’ and Britons’ to mean the same people.
Old cottages still stand, often adjacent to the ‘newer’ house. These single roomed stone cottages often had a thatched roof, now more often than not replaced with corrugated tin, aged and rusted and as much a part of the vernacular, along with the oxide red paint of doors and window frames.
Discovering the mining history of the Cambrian Mountains was a revelation. With it’s roots in the Bronze Age ad ending in the early 20th century, the mining shaped much of the landscape now grazed by sheep. Minerals of every kind in beautiful colours were found here – even silver and gold. Find out more here http://www.plwm.org.uk
And then add the textile history – the weaving mills and the pandy: a whole other story! There’s often a quirkiness of colour in the doublecloth blankets, an antedote to the grey winters and the bleakness?
So the selected colours would need to reflect all this, bright but not garish, a bit of greyness round the edges but cheery to the heart at the same time. They would need to hold together as a collection or each work alone, and they would need to make the most of the worsted spinning of a soft and lustrous yarn.
Armed with sketchbook, snips and samples and colour chips, it was time for a trip to the dyers. We chatted through the ideas and 2 weeks later a large envelope of little samples – 3 or 4 of each colour – fell on the mat. A little further development to get the warm and the cool grey just right and we had our palette.
Hafan: haven or home. And the name of an old mine yielding a beautiful blue mineral.
Welsh Red: a mix of oxide red and rusty old madder, with a dollop of mystical rowan berry. Not too red, not too rusty – Cottage doors and flannel petticoats.
Mineral Yellow: a deep sort of yellow, not acid or bright. The yellow of the earth and the mines rather than the hedgerows.
Ironstone: warm and cheery orange, not glowing. The slightly rusty orange that colours the local stone.
Slate: that greyish, dusty purple – it’s all in the name.
Shale: the darkest grey, softer than black – the abandoned spoils of the mine darkened by rain.
Arian: in English -silver!
Cegin: kitchen, homeplace; smokey warm, limestone and hooded fireplace.
Now, Knit yourself a story!