Yesterday Mel and I had the pleasure of taking a dyeing workshop with Lilith of Old Maiden Aunt Yarns. Lilith’s studio is in West Kilbride, also known as Craft Town Scotland, because of its fantastic local initiative to house and support talented craftspeople in the town’s once-empty shops. Lilith’s studio is one of several great crafty locales in West Kilbride that we discovered yesterday (of which more later).

(if you peer in the window above the cyclist’s handlebars, you will see Mel doing something crafty in a pair of latex gloves)

Lilith’s studio is an incredibly inspirational space. Everywhere you look you see her beautiful yarn


. . . and beautiful things to make with her yarn.


I was very excited. Lilith encouraged us to experiment with the dyes.


Several techniques were attempted, and some mess was made (by me). We then got down to business hand-painting and immersion dyeing a number of mini-skeins. We tested many different colour combinations and yarns composed of a wide range of fibres (merino, alpaca, cashmere, bamboo, silk). While I conservatively stuck to one method, trying (and, it has to be said, largely failing) to get a feel for what different colours might do when mixed together, Mel tried many different techniques and also impressively dyed up some roving (which seemed quite a scary process). We then settled on our yarn / colour combination, and dyed up our finished product. This was thrilling: it felt so irrevocable! Lilith is just fantastic — encouraging, engaging — and I would really recommend her workshop as a great introduction to different practices and processes of dyeing.

I returned to Edinburgh high on dyeing, and very happy indeed with my lovely bag full of damp yarn. The mini-skeins dried out quickly, and I spent much of yesterday evening petting and gazing at them in foolish admiration. Want to see?


Lilith suggested that we come up with names for the colourways we’d invented. I was quite interested in this process, since I completely share Heather’s view of certain yarn-companies’ choice of colourway-names. I am repelled by anything saccharine or prissy, and some of that Jane-Austen associated nonsense almost makes me angry. So I enlisted Tom’s help, and we spent an amusing hour or two naming the colourways of my tester skeins. Tom’s best contributions were “squid”, “council trousers” and “David Icke’s shell suit.” For those of you unfamiliar with his idiosyncratic frame of colour reference (that’s most of you, then) council trousers are bright orange, and you can experience the terrifying wonder of Icke’s shell suit here.


Moving swiftly on, here are my maxi-skeins — three-hundred grams of merino-alpaca 4 ply — which I left overnight to dry. They are a kettle dyed, semi-solid, never to be repeated shade of blue, and I absolutely love them! I have something in mind to do with them, but their colourway is as yet un-named. Do you think I should ask Tom?


While I feel I learned a lot yesterday, and am actually rather pleased with my (completely unpredictable) end results, I know I would need an awful lot more practice to cut any mustard at the colour business that Lilith is so good at. I must also admit that I think dyeing could never be my metier — it seemed to bear some similarities to brewing (or indeed cooking), and I fear my constitutional messiness would act as an impediment to success . . . But I had a wonderful time at Lilith’s and look! I dyed yarn!

You can find out about Lillith’s workshops here, and both she and her yarns will be at UK Ravelry day next saturday! Go and see her!

15 thoughts on “at lilith’s

  1. Oh Please Oh Please, dye more yarn, and you and Tom can think of more funny colorway titles. I love this post, mostly because I absolutely love dying too. I bought a little bitty antique blue enamel pot the other day, about 1qt capacity, from a thrift/antique shop, for $4, so that I can do just tiny little projects. While it’s not being used, it looks so spritely filled with nicknacks from my project room.


  2. It looks like you had so much fun and what great results. Naming a colorway would be a hoot. I love the photo of the lace, the colors in it are wonderful.


  3. Twee yarn line names I don’t mind so much as silly colorway names–I like your choices much more than meaningless names like ‘Peace of Mind’ or ‘Metaphor’. (No slight meant to the yarns with such names, of course.)


  4. fascinating, thank you. i have a friend who moved here, under the aegis of their “artists’ relocation program” — for $1 and a pledge to live and work there you get a fabulous 19th century building.

    before he went i asked my friend if he’d be the only gay person within a 200-mile radius, and he said no, there was a gay bar in some smaller town near paducah.



  5. What are you planning to do with the miniskeins? I have such trouble finding destinations for small quantities of yarn.


  6. Aha! I wondered what was going on in there on a Sunday
    :-) I was out for emergency milk and bacon supplies.

    And I love Council Trousers as a colour. For me though, it would be Railway Trousers for a bright orange. (the beloved is a railwayman) Somehow Council Trousers sounds like municipal grey to me.


  7. What a great experience – that definitely goes on my list of things-to-do-one-day-when-the-kids-are-not-around! And I think Council Trousers is a great name – though I hadn’t imagined it as orange…


  8. I probably shouldn’t admit that I remembered the colour of the shell suit! It sounds like a fabulous day out – we all need a little messiness in our lives.


  9. Pretty pretty colors! :) And that that once-in-a lifetime blue, at least on my monitor, looks exactly like my grandmother’s eyes. She has the most fascinating eyes. Hers have a dark inky ring at the outer edge, a white ring just inside, and then that amazing blue. So I’d probably name it after her, were it mine . . .


  10. I never thought I’d wanted to be reminded of shell suits but funnily enough it makes me miss Scotland!
    Absolutely love the shade of blue you came up with and can’t wait to see what it becomes!


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