Interview | Dublin Dye Company

I love sharing Indie Dyers on the blog and this week I am catching up with Yvonne from the Dublin Dye Company. You have heard me mention one or two things about her over on the podcast but today let’s hear more from the lady behind those skeins:
1. Yvonne, Can you tell us how you got started with the Dublin Dye Company and how that has developed into the Dublin Dye we know today? 

As you mentioned in the podcast Dublin Dye started out with a few people from This is Knit, I don’t think I was even one of the first! But as time moved on (and the shop moved out of Blackrock) I somehow ended up in charge! Physically the ‘studio’ has moved from the shop in Blackrock to a garage in Dun Laoghaire, and then to it’s current home in a shed in my garden. It’s developed very organically, definitely a hobby business which I spend more or less time on as I have it.

2. Can you tell us about some of the designers that you have gotten to work with? 

I’ve loved working with Irish designers over the years, Carol Feller being the most well known and I agree that she’s got a great eye for details. I love the Pavonis pattern from Studio Miranda that you mentioned in the show. And I’ve been totally in love with the Gleninsheen Cowl by Eimear at Playing with Fibre ever since I first saw it. At some stage, I will get around to knitting myself one.


Yvonne McSwiney the face behind those lovely Dublin Dye Company Fibers (Photo credit: L. Sisk)

Yvonne McSwiney the face behind those lovely Dublin Dye Company Fibers (Photo credit: L. Sisk)


3. If there was a designer out there that you haven’t had the fortune to work with yet but would love to, who would that be?  

Oh, that’s a hard one, there are so many good designers out there. I had to browse my Ravelry queue to answer this! I love Lisa Chemery’s childrens stuff and I really admire designers like Kate Davies, Woolly Wormhead, who’ve worked so hard to get where they are. Heidi Atwood-Reeves and Hannah Fettig also show up a huge amount in my queue, so I have to include them!

4. Your days must be hectic so how do you balance being a hand-dyer and working full time?

Dyeing yarn has to fit in around family life, which is why the studio lives in my garden! If I’m home in the evening then I’ll be back and forth between the kitchen and the studio, adding dye to pots in between cooking dinner. Most of my yarns are kettle dyed, and they don’t usually mind much if it takes me 20 minutes to get back to them instead of 5.

5. What are the best bits and the worst bits of your job?

The best bit is playing with colours. I particularly like when someone comes with a photo or idea and asks me to create it in yarn. I think my least favourite part is mixing up the dye stocks, for some reason that always seems like a bit of a chore.
Handdyed socks in pink gradient by dublin dye company

Dublin Dye Co. Swing Sock Gradients

6. We know you love all your bases but what are your favourite yarn bases to dye with and knit with? 

I love the Swing Sock base, it is great to dye as well as to knit. I’ve used it for shawls, socks and sweaters, it works for everything and stands up well to regular use. But I’m a real sucker for anything with silk, and recently knit a shawl with my new Silken 4 ply. It’s wonderful to work with, and the shine of silk adds so much to the colours.

7. Out of all the projects that you have knit, what is your favourite? 

 I think my most well work hand knit (besides all my socks) is my Centrique shawl, it gets pulled out every winter and still looks amazing, Malabrigo lives up to its reputation in this case. Another is Ravi Junior, which I did as a test knit for Carol and my little girl wore it for about 2 years! Finally, I’m currently working on a Pavement sweater for the winter which I can’t wait to get off the needles!

8. How do you deal with working by yourself while dyeing? How do you stay motivated and enthusiastic? 

I don’t spend big blocks of time in the studio, it’s always in and out from the house so it’s not too solitary (my house is rarely quiet!) But sometimes I just am not motivated, and then I do what I need to keep things going filling orders (etsy and wholesale) as they come in, and otherwise take a bit of a break. I spent a lot of time and effort on the business last year…  and wore myself out in the process. So I’ve let it take a bit of a back seat recently, and I’m playing around a bit more with some different things that interest me. New yarns, new colours, and the Irish Dye Junkies market have encouraged and motivated me. That’s also how the mini skeins got started, I wanted to try something a little different.

9.  Aside from yarn do you have any hobbies and do you garden or grow any veg?

My husband is almost entirely in charge of our garden, except for the small edible bit. There are some herbs, rhubarb and strawberries which are my little section, I had blueberries but they didn’t like my soil. Otherwise, I knit of course and sew. And to keep myself from melting into the soft I run and do the occasional Pilates class.

10. What do you see for Dublin Dye’s future? 

I don’t have any sort of 5-year plan for Dublin Dye, It’s going to continue to grow organically and I’ll take opportunities as they arise!
If you would like to catch up with Yvonne you can see her at the K&S Show this weekend at the RDS. Don’t forget that you can still win a Dublin Dye DK skein in petrol, just leave a comment on Episode 2 of the podcast and I’ll announce a winner next Friday at the start of Episode 3! Do you have any questions for Yvonne? Drop a note in the comments and I’ll pass it along.

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