The Woolly Alliance has been full of Christmas spirit recently, mainly due to our involvement in the Indie Designers Gift-a-long 2014. Aurelie has been very busy behind the scenes too………and I have been hiding. (such is my nature!)
Today I have come out of hiding to share something exciting. As part of the Gift-a-long, I have been lucky enough to interview Maylin of Tri’Coterie Designs. Maylin is first and foremost an indie yarn dyer, but she also enjoys knitting, spinning, crochet, and as her Ravelry profile tells us she is also very good at daydreaming, and spending too much time on the computer! You see….just an ordinary lady loving all the things that we love too.
However, I urge you to read on as Maylin is anything but ordinary! In 2003, Maylin opted out of the rat race, leaving the UK to live life in Couesmes-Vauce, Pays de la Loire, France. A very radical move, and one I suspect many of us dream of but lack the bravery to carry out! Living in a complex of 3 yurts with adjoining huts and sheds Maylin puts her many talents to good use, in particular with yarn and colour…….(I can feel a purchase coming on!!!)
So, now that you know a little of Maylin the dyer, let me tell you something of Maylin the knit designer.
There are very few indie designers who can claim to have produced a design so popular that since its publication over 10,000 projects have been created and displayed through the pages of Ravelry.
But, what do you know folks? Maylin of Tri’Coterie Designs is one of them!
Wingspan has become one of those iconic designs which has been knit, improvised and adapted by crafters worldwide.
I had many questions to ask Maylin, and was rather selfish in my choice. (i.e. thinking only of my own intrigue) Nevertheless, I am sure you will enjoy this small insight into the word of Tri’Coterie Designs, so let me get down to that interview…..
Janice: Wingspan is one of Ravelry’s most popular designs, when the original was on your needles did you have any inclination you had hit on something very special?
Maylin: Not at all! I was in a panic as I was doing a Yarn Club based on Angels. Three of us were doing the designs and I was dyeing the yarn. I had gone through so many ideas – I knew I wanted a wing shape and kept doodling Curves of Pursuit. It must have been working in my subconscious because I woke up in the wee small hours at virtually the deadline. I started cutting out triangles and moving them around. I got the shape I wanted and started knitting straight away. It flew off the needles. I think my main emotion was utter relief
What I really wasn’t expecting was all the beautiful interpretations that people have done – so much better than my original. In particular the German Swing Knitters have some gorgeous examples.
Below are a few of the many beautiful projects inspired by Maylin’s original Wingspan.
Janice: What came first your love of knit or your love of dyeing?
Maylin: Knitting then spinning then dyeing.
Janice: Who was responsible for creating your interest in all things fibre related?
Maylin: My mother was a knitter but it was back in the 50s and very utilitarian knits.
I caught the bug when I saw a stand of Colinette yarn in Convent Garden. The texture and colours mesmerised me. I had to have some. It was my birthday and my brother bought me a sweaters worth. With 10mm needles I knit my first FO – a very lopsided cardigan in Red Parrot yarn which I wore to death. I still have salvaged yarn from that cardigan which I have earmarked for some felted slippers one day.
Janice: Can you describe a typical work day in the dyeing yurt?
Maylin: Unless I am nearing deadlines it doesn’t feel like work. There are so many processes from finding the inspirations, playing with the colours as if they were watercolours in a sketch pad doing the math to work out how it will knit up and the actual dyeing. These are the fun parts. Not so much fun is the prep work, tying skeins, reskeining, knitting panels, unknitting panels, steaming, washing, washing, washing, labelling, parceling etc. A typical day would include all of this. I touch base most days with my co-conspirator, Gabriella Henry, the New Zealand designer of Sweetp Knits. She does nearly all the admin, customer relations, organising Clubs etc. Without her I would be a disorganised mess.
Now I have a purpose-built workshop I often have friends round to do crafty things – dyeing, knitting and nuno felting more recently.
Janice: You describe your inspiration as coming from fantasy themes, such as vampire lore and areas of the paranormal. Could you give us a little more? Are these ideas ‘in your head’, from the pages of books, internet sites….I am intrigued?
Maylin: They are mostly from books, TV and films. This is where I make the embarrassing confession that it all started with Twilight… I had been dyeing for some years before I become enmeshed in the Twilight Fanfiction Community (specifically the Unicorns Unlimited Group on Ravelry.) A few of us started dyeing yarn inspired by characters. As time has moved on this has become more general but I still find it a great starting point for visualising colours. I also like to time colours to coincide with events – like the Hunger Games films or a new season of Game of Thrones. One of my most popular colours is Daenerys, Mother of Dragons from GoT. This is a good example of how the inspiration works. Her colouring (distinctive to her family) is described as silver-haired and violet eyed and the yarn is 2 shades of grey and violet.
Janice: What are your daydreams for 2015?
Maylin: Health has been an issue in 2014 but I am hoping for improvements this year which will enable me to work more. I love to collaborate and have a few designers I will be collaborating with this year both with yarn support and with designs. My head is bursting with design ideas waiting to come out. They still wake me up in the middle of the night!
I also want to do a couple of indigo dyeing workshops with friends and possibly add indigo dyed yarn as a regular thing for sale.
Thank you Maylin for taking the time to answer my questions. I have thoroughly enjoyed my escapade into journalism and would like to leave you with my favourite quirky design from Maylin. Steam Punk Mini Topper is now available as a free download. This felted hat was an exclusive to Tri’Coterie’s Tinker, Knitter, Octopod yarn club…… I think it would suit Wee Black Faced Sheep very well! Perhaps a sophisticated addition to his Leprechaun outfit? What do you think??