Dyeing away -

by Sarah Lake Upton in , ,

I have been dyeing away, mainly working with the Straw’s Farm Island Sheep fingering weight (with an eye towards Kanoko socks and more importantly, Kanoko yarn kits, see below for one idea) but a few dye lots of DK weight BFL have snuck through, including one of my favorites, Coe’s Naptime.  I think it would make a great Arboreal sweater. (Now listed for sale over at the DK weight BFL page)

DK Weight BFL spun from fleece from Two Sisters Farm, Warren, Maine

DK Weight BFL spun from fleece from Two Sisters Farm, Warren, Maine

With a skein of Silver Birch. Because reasons. 

With a skein of Silver Birch. Because reasons. 

Stay tuned for Kanoko kits, and a whole lot of Straw’s Farm Island Sheep fingering weight in an array of colors.

Potential Kanoko Kit #1 - Zounds those colors are bright! 

Potential Kanoko Kit #1 - Zounds those colors are bright! 

Bousta Beanie Kit

by Sarah Lake Upton in ,

I'm not really a hat knitter normally, but at the good natured prodding of my friend Sarah Hunt (@fibertrek) I finally caved and knit a Bousta Beanie. (For those who, like me, have been living under a rock all summer, Bousta Beanie is a free pattern designed by Gundrun Johnston to promote the 2017 Shetland Wool Week. Apparently everyone is knitting them, and I can see why). As she usually is when it comes to all matters knitting, Sarah is absolutely right and I loved knitting my Bousta Beanie so much that I further caved to Sarah's prodding and put together a kit.

I got so excited about making the kit that I haven't actually finished mine yet - appologies for the lack of blocking, end tucking, or pom pom) .

I got so excited about making the kit that I haven't actually finished mine yet - appologies for the lack of blocking, end tucking, or pom pom) .


The kit contains two, 110 yard skeins of 3-Ply Romney fingering weight, and one, 110 skein each of 3-Ply Straw's Farm Island Sheep fingering weight dyed with natural indigo in a light blue gradient and a more solid dark indigo colorway.





There is, of course, a kit bag.


The product link will go live this evening (Wednesday, September 13) at 5:00 PM.  I'm stuck traveling for my "day job" again next week, though thankfully only for a few days this time.  All orders placed by noon on Friday, September 15 will go out that day.  All order placed after that will have to wait until Friday September 21.

Fibertrek wool scout retreat

by Sarah Lake Upton in ,


In addition to hosting a podcast (FiberTrek, available on iTunes) and facilitating the introduction of designers, crafters, and yarn producers to each other and to knitters at large, my good friend Sarah Hunt puts on lovely, cozy, educational, yarn/knitting retreats in Maine.  In her podcasts and personal knitting she is interested in the relationship of wool, yarn, and knitting to landscape and a sense of place. For the last couple of years she has been bringing these ideas into focus during her Tidal Tours knitting retreats in collaboration with Jodi Clayton of One Lupin Fiber Arts, but even more exciting, this year she is also drawing on her background as a Maine Guide to bring interested knitters into the wilds of Maine.


From August 13-17 Sarah will be hosting the Wool Scout Knitting Retreat at Bradford Camps on Munsungan Lake, in Township 8-Range 10.  The camps may be reached by logging road, but a float plane is the recommended mode of transport.   Mary Jane Mucklestone will be holding classes in Fair Isle knitting (!!!!!!!)  Sarah will be teaching classes in starting fires with flint and steel, and also in working with rare and primitive breed wools,  Jani Estell of Star Croft Fibers will be leading a class in making Viking Chatelaines (an organizer for small tools)  and Igor Sikorsky will be teaching fly fishing and map and compass skills.  And, boat schedule willing, I will be there as well with my indigo pots, introducing interested folks to the magic of dyeing with natural indigo.  I am giddy to be included in such company, and also just really looking forward to getting to be part of the retreat.


For more information, and to register, go to fiber-trek.squarespace.com

October Highlights

by Sarah Lake Upton in ,

So the election happened.  

This morning I find that I need to concentrate on all the positive things that happened in my creative world while I was home.  (On Monday I met the boat in Alameda, California, for our annual shipyard period; currently she is in dry dock).

As I mentioned in a previous post, the gansey yarn spun from the 2016 Coopworth fleeces from Buckwheat Blossom Farm in Wiscasset, Maine was there to great me when I arrived home, and the yarn is lovely.

Many people on the 2016 Coopworth Gansey yarn wait list were entranced by the yarn in its two undyed colors, but I did get to do some very satisfying dyeing:

From left to right; Light Gray (Undyed), North Atlantic (custom blue/green), Nordic Tug Green (custom green) Medium Blue, and Dark Gray/Brown (undyed).

From left to right; Light Gray (Undyed), North Atlantic (custom blue/green), Nordic Tug Green (custom green) Medium Blue, and Dark Gray/Brown (undyed).

I am still working through the wait list, but I ran out of time at home.  If you are still on the wait list and you haven't heard from me to talk about your yarn needs, fear not, I still have 2016 Coopworth Gansey yarn, I am just out of time at home.  I will be back in my yarn room in early January, and will be in touch to discuss individual orders. 


One of the highlights of my time home was getting to vend at the Highlands on the Fly knitting retreat at the New England Outdoor Center near Millinocket, Maine.  I had a lovely time catching up with knitters I met there in years past (I missed last year because of my boat schedule) and meeting new knitters. 

 This year the great Mary Jane Mucklestone spoke about her travels and interest in the Shetland Islands, Ellen Mason of Doc Mason Yarn gave a class in Mason Jar dyeing, and I finally got to meet Michelle Bye of ByeBrook Farm (we've been Instagram acquaintances for a while - she has lovely sheep).  Other venders included Jani Estelle of Starcroft Fiber Mill, Casey ff Port Fiber, and Jodi Clayton of One Lupin Fiber Arts.  Mary Jane brought her knit swatches from her recent books:  150 Scandinavian Motifs and 200 Fair Isle Motifs (link takes you to a page about Mary Jane's books on her website, scroll down a bit for the titles). I have spent many an hour pouring over the photos in those books, so it was actually a bit surreal to see them in person.  The photos do manage to capture the spirit of the swatches, but seeing the swatches in person I found that some motifs and color combinations possessed an extra dimension of energy that just didn't quite come across in the photos, while other samples that were stunning in the book, though still lovely in person, didn't quite draw my eye the same way they had in two dimensions.  It was an interesting reminder that knitting is not a static medium, and that different light, different pairings of swatches, and just getting a change to pick up a piece, can completely change how one feels about the same piece of knitting.  (I was too sidetracked by getting to actually look at them to remember to photograph them for a later blog post - for which I appologize).

(I also felt immense admiration for the photographer - yarn is maddeningly difficult to photograph accurately, or even consistently).


Time was my biggest challenge when I was home.  I lost two of my six weeks of time home to classes necessary to maintain my boat life, and while both were worthwhile, and the fire fighting class was downright fun at times, I resented the intrusion of my boat life into my yarn life.


But I have now officially fought fire (under controlled conditions) wearing my At Sea Gansey (pattern by Beth Brown-Reinsel).  The increased range of motion and ease of wear that make ganseys so lovey to wear when working on a tall ship are equally lovely while moving a fire hose.

And Now for a Bit of Catching Up (or, another round up) - Also, Coopworth Gansey Yarn Update.

by Sarah Lake Upton in ,

FIrstly; because I have been arguing with my newsletter software, for those of you who expressed interest in the 2016 Coopworth Gansey yarn, I am pleased to report that it is back from the mill and sitting in my yarn room waiting for me to come home (which I shall do at the end of September).  I will be sending out individual emails to people on the Coopworth Gansey yarn wait list before I start dyeing to clarify orders and etc, so start thinking about yardage.  Hopefully I will eventually managed to send out a newsletter to folks on the wait list.


I have been back on the Sea Lion for two weeks now, which means it is just about time to write the round-up of what I got up to whilst on my last rotation home.  But first, while my internet remains somewhat limited, I have been doing my best to regularly post to Instagram, where I go by @uptonyarns.  My photos from my time on the boat are generally travel related more than yarn related, but I will admit that I've become a bit addicted to the ease of Instagram, and have taken to using it to showcase that one new dyelot of yarn that I dyed just before I left for the boat that doesn't warrant a whole newsletter (for instance).


While I was home this time I had the good fortune to be invited to vend at the the second session of the Tidal Tours Retreat in Machaisport Maine hosted by Jodi of One Lupine Fiber Arts and Sarah of the FiberTrek podcast.  The retreat was based out of a house with one of the loveliest views I have seen in a while, and I admit that I got a bit sidetracked (and then totally failed to photograph it, because yarn-ish things were also happening). 


I am looking forward to vending at the Highlands on the Fly retreat at the New England Outdoor Center in October. 


After the Tidal Tours Retreat I followed Sarah back up to her lovely cottage on the pond in for a long weekend of catching up and making things.  Sarah mainly sewed, and I took over part of her kitchen and yard to dye indigo. 




She also filmed a segment with me for a further episode of her podcast, but I am much happier behind the camera and I fear I may have rambled unto incoherence.  Hopefully she got something useable, but I may ask for a second try.


From there it was back to Worcester, where it was so hot that even the candle in candle holder above our mantle seemed to give up.




But I braved the warm temperatures and kept my dye pot anyway, dyeing quite a bit of my 3 Ply Cotswold fingering weight (suitable for Sanquhar) for Beth Brown Reinsel. 




I believe that she is turning some of it into kits, so, if you are interested, please get in touch with her.  You will also be able to find her this winter at the Spa yarn retreat in Freeport, Maine.  I hope to have Cotswold back in stock for my own purposes sometime this winter.


And without triggering my superstitions by saying too much, I am very excited about a couple of things happening this fall.  Very excited.  Fingers crossed.


A Very Overdue Craft Roundup

by Sarah Lake Upton in ,

In amongst all the farm visits I actually managed to get a fair bit of crafting done, though as usual I let myself be lazy about blogging. 

First up, I worked up a few more dye lots of my Straws Farm Island Sheep gansey yarn for the Netloft’s Cordova Gansey Project.  For this batch I experimented with larger skeins, and found that I actually quite enjoy working with them.  Anyone interested in this yarn should contact Dotty at the Netloft (and anyone interested in knitting ganseys should check out her site and the Cordova Gansey Project on principle).  

I let myself play with the darker blue end of the spectrum


While my indigo vat was in use anyway I decided to start messing around a bit with shibori.  I’ve only dyed the one piece so far, but I am very pleased with the result.  I will definitely be exploring this a bit more. 

 Next, for Christmas this year we received a generous Amazon gift certificate from a family member and with that in hand we decided to finally buy the sewing machine that we had been eyeing for months.  It arrived somewhere around the middle of my break, when the piles of indigo dyed gansey yarn were taking over every available craft space (and crafting moment) so it sat in its box, abandoned, until I returned home in April, at which point I very bravely opened it up and set to re-learning how to use a sewing machine.  

I have can’t explain why exactly, given that I was a fairly competent user of sewing machines in high school, but for some reason I find myself intimidated by sewing and sewing machines.  It may have something to do with all the beautiful handmade clothes on my Instagram feed: something that I used to do for a lark now comes with Standards, and The Right Way to Do Things, which always piques the interest of my internal, merciless, Editor of All Things Craft.  Once she starts paying attention, seemingly simple tasks become fraught with Great Import and I find myself ripping back rows and rows to address mistakes that only I can see.  My internal editor does make me better at craft generally, but she also kind of sucks the fun out of doing them.  I am working at achieving a balance, wherein I let her know that I appreciate her critical eye, but could she please just shut up sometimes and let me have fun.  We’ll see how that goes…. 

Anyway, I began to reacquaint myself with the sewing arts by tackling Grainline Studio’s Stow Bag.   My internal editor would like to point out a few wonky seams and some less than skillful use of bias tape, but I am overall quite pleased by the results. (I’ve also never sewn with bias tape before, so yay new skill!).  As a project bag the Stow Bag is everything I could want - simple, easy to knit out of, with just enough pockets to hide the fiddly little notions that tend to collect in the bottom of my project bags.  I am planning to make quite a few more when I get home this time, to keep practicing those new skills before I move on to clothing (gulp! maybe even involving fabric that I have dyed!). 


And then, as noted in my last post, I finally made my peace with the slightly rumpled ribbon on the button band of my Epistrophy by Kate Davies, which I then wore quite proudly to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival.

As always my rotation home went waaayy too quickly.  I am already plotting all the crafty things I want to try when I get home in July.  


A Longer Note About Indigo

by Sarah Lake Upton in

My Short Note About Indigo leaves a lot of questions unanswered: what is “crocking”?  how will it affect the finished piece? is there anything one can do to reduce it? why does it happen in the first place? and etc.  This will hopefully answer some of those questions, but I suspect there will be a follow up piece to this piece at some point because I can be a wicked over-explainer. Also because indigo is honestly magic. 

To understand crocking it helps to understand the basics of dyeing with natural indigo. 

To use most natural dyes one basically makes a broth using plants or plant extracts.  The process of dyeing with natural dyes, after scouring and mordanting the yarn, is not actually that much more complicated than the process of making good soup, though it is more time consuming.  (I dye in stock pots and canning pots on my kitchen stove, so the comparisons to cooking may come more easily than they otherwise should).  There are certain variables that need to be kept track of (pH, heat, time, pre-mordants or after-baths) but they are no more complicated that making sure that the soup is seasoned correctly and has enough rosemary.  The yarn will dry a few shades lighter than whatever color it achieves in the dyepot, but like soup making, one can easily “taste” it along the way, and with experience be able to modify it to achieve a desired result.  

Natural indigo is not at all like that. 

Natural indigo is a vat dye, an un-helpful descriptor (can’t vats be used in most dyeing?) that to a dyer means that a complicated chemical reaction must first take place in order to achieve the desired result.  

The colorant in natural indigo, indigotin,  is not water soluble and will not stick to fiber.  To make natural indigo work as a dye, one must first make it change into a slightly different chemical by making the dye bath very alkali and then removing oxygen from the bath.  Doing this will change the dye bath into a form generally referred to as “indigo white” (even through the bath itself is actually a sickly yellow/green when properly reduced).  Once the bath is the proper pH and weird yellow/green color, the fiber may be added and allowed to sit for a short period of time.  When the fiber is removed from the dye and exposed to air it will be that same weird yellow as the dye bath but then as the dye reacts with oxygen and transforms back to indigotin (now stuck to fibers) it magically becomes blue again.  

Photo credit Deb Cunningham - this is the same skein of indigo over the course of about ten seconds as the reduced indigo reacts to the presence of oxygen and turns blue again. 

Photo credit Deb Cunningham - this is the same skein of indigo over the course of about ten seconds as the reduced indigo reacts to the presence of oxygen and turns blue again. 

Depth of color is developed through multiple dips in the indigo vat. 

Sometimes the indigo doesn’t fully adhere to the fiber.  Because indigo isn’t water soluble, washing and rinsing will only convince the most unadhered indigo particles to wash out of the fiber, which leave the particles that are hanging on but just a little.  These are the particles that can break free and stain you hands and needles when the yarn is subjected to the mechanical action of knitting.  But, because these are particles of indigo, not indigo white, they still don’t really want to stick to anything.  I tend to think of indigo particles in this form as being more like chalk dust than dye.  It will stick to your hands and needles and if you are doing color work it may temporarily discolor the other yarns you are working with, but because you haven’t gone through the process of transforming indigotin into indigo white, you are basically dealing with very fine colorful dust.  Once the particles have broken free enough to discolor things, they are usually easily washed away.  The only exception to this is the fine pores of bamboo needles, which tend to trap indigo particles.  

Some of you may have come across photos of natural indigo dyers with very blue hands

Indigo dyes fingernails especially well.

Indigo dyes fingernails especially well.

For instance, this is my hand after a round of indigo dyeing before I found a pair of gloves that I liked.  In this case the indigo in the dyepot is treating the proteins in my skin the same way it treats the proteins in wool, and sticking accordingly.  As noted, this is very different from crocking.  When I knit with crocking yarn I will often get a blue ring around the back of my middle finger where I tension the yarn, and the palms of may hands will become a little blue from where they come in contact with my knitting. 

Some batches of indigo dyed yarn do not crock at all.  Some batches of yarn crock quite a bit.  Sometimes one or two skeins in a dye lot will crock but the others won't.  I do everything I can to reduce crocking, but there is no way for me to eliminate it completely, or predict with batches will and won’t crock.   Generally the mechanical action of knitting knocks the last few clinging particles free, and then with a final soak and rinse during blocking it will be done. 

Color: A mini-rant there-on (and possibly the beginning of a series).

by Sarah Lake Upton in

I am taking advantage of my mornings on the boat to read my favorite natural dying text book, Natural Dyes; Sources, Tradition, Technology, and Science by Dominique Cardon.  As always, reading about the history and chemistry of natural dyes has me pondering how much we take colorful garments for granted today, so much so that we seem to have collectively forgotten that dye stuffs were ever even a consideration or that color itself was valuable.  Most potted history of the middle ages will at least mention how expensive spices were, pepper in particular (and the naming of whole island groups still reflects this) but no one seems to remember that dyestuffs were an equal or greater driver of commerce.  When the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, in addition to requiring an annual supply of gold, the Aztecs were also required to supply large amounts of cochineal (an insect that lives on cactus and creates a very bright red dyed) which was considered second only to ships full of gold in terms of value.   We remember and romanticize the pirates that hunted the Caribbean attacking ships full of gold bound for Europe, but just as often those pirates were after ships full of logwood (which produces a deep purple dye, or black when used with tannin and iron) cut from the forests of Central and South America. 

The need for mordants (mental salts that help the colorants in dye plants “stick” to the dyed fibers, and which greatly affect the color and color-fastness of the finished product) shaped history too.  In her encylopedic textbook on natural dyes, Cardon compares the importance of alum (the most commonly used mordant)  and alum producing areas in fifteenth and sixteenth century Europe to our modern need for oil.  

I majored in archaeology (or as close as I could come - there was no “archaeology” major offered at my school at the time I graduated - it’s a long story) and sat through endless hours about ceramics and flaked stone tools and food procurement/production and post-hole remnants and hearth remains and metal production and etc.  and quite a lot of that is preservation bias (ceramics and stone tools are often all that remain) and quite a lot of that is male European archaeology bias (in which high status tools and weapons and status symbols play a very strong role - in some ways archaeology is still very much stuck in the Victorian era - hopefully that has changed a bit in the last fifteen years) and some of that may very well just have been the interests of the professors who taught the classes, but in all of that, even when the topic was pollen analysis or analysis of residues scraped from inside all that ceramic, no one mentioned dyes, dye plants, or mordants.   Looking at the many photos of the archaeological traces of dye works in Dominique Cardon’s book it makes me want to bang my head against the wall in frustration that I twice got to help excavate at a major Andean temple complex and no one mentioned dye plants or fiber production, even though we know from skeletal remains that when the site was in use there were very, very large llamas living there (though we don’t know what the site residents were doing with those very large llamas).

I have long wanted to include more information on the history and chemistry of the dyes I regularly use on my website.  I may finally be getting around to it.  Stay tuned.

Shop Update!

by Sarah Lake Upton in ,

New yarn posted! 

After several delays due to weather and/or life events, the yarn hand-off between Sam and my mum has finally occurred (in a parking lot in Portsmouth NH near a large mural of a whale, which has become our traditional meeting place for yarn hand-offs). I have two new yarns listed, a 3-Ply Cotswold light fingering weight, designed to replace my 3-Ply Cotswold x Romney fingering weight, and a 3-Ply Romney > Cotswold fingering weight.  

Life on the Sea Lion continues to be lovely and uneventful.  We are in the midst of moving the boat, without guests, up to Baja California where we will have a short spring season. The weather has been perfect and calm (not always a given on these positioning trips - there is a reason we don’t have guests) and the dolphins have been plentiful.  The dolphins are clearly doing their own thing this time of year, which seems to involve lots of very high leaping and splashing, but every now and again a group will take a break from whatever it is they are doing and come ride our bow.  

And, a reader, M., has very kindly identified the moth in my previous blog post. It is a lovely Urania fulgens known more commonly as a swallowtail moth. These day-flying moths live as far south as Bolivia and migrate at seemingly random intervals.  I did a bit of research in our shipboard library (I should have just asked a naturalist, but we work opposite schedules and I always hate to bug them when they are off work) and found a journal article, sadly from 1983, about them.  As of 1983 the best guess as to the random timing of their migrations had to do with the plants they lay their eggs on.  Apparently  they only lay their eggs on one kind of plant, and over the course of successive groups of urania fulgens caterpillars eating its leaves the plant increases the level of toxins in its leaves, until it no longer tastes good/is good for the caterpillars, at which point the moths decamp for someplace where their preferred brood plant isn’t producing quite so much of the toxin. But again, this was published in 1983.  We may now have a more nuanced understanding of their reasons for migration. 


Back to the Day Job, New Yarn will be Listed Soon (thank you for your patience)

by Sarah Lake Upton in , ,

As advertised, I am back in my blue coveralls, at work aboard the Sea Lion.  Returning to the boat requires just as much of a mental shift as returning home does.  I’ve spend the last week pausing every so often to wonder if that thing has always made that sound, and is that rattle new, and does this space normally smell like that?  

Just as I apparently lose the first week home to the couch and my dog, no matter how well I plan or how strong my resolve to do better this time, I lose the last week at home to last minute dyeing/preparing to leave home for six weeks (or eight weeks this time).   This time I lost a whole day during my last week home to a week-earlier-than-I-expected shearing at Buckwheat Blossom Farm, which led to a lovely farm visit and a lot of fleece off to the mill (for my 2015 gansey yarn, and the return of my 3-Ply Coopworth Sport-weight) but also meant that I did not have time to meet up with my mom to give her my new inventory.  So, until my husband can coordinate a trip to Portsmouth,  which will hopefully happen soon, new yarn will remain unlisted.  This is probably a good thing, as the other item on my “to-do” list that I failed to tick off was the whole posting-new-items/newsletter business. I will now be designing a newsletter and posting yarn via the ship’s satellite internet system, which is a bit slow for photos.  I apologize for the delay, and am grateful for your patience. 

To offer a preview: 

I will be offering two yarns, one fingering weight and one slightly lighter fingering weight, both spun from mixed flock of Cotswold and Romney at Liberty Wool Farm in Palermo Maine.  My 3-Ply Cotswold fingering weight yarn is meant to replace the 3-Ply Cotswold x Romney fingering weight yarn of previous years.  I have dyed it two shades of blue, lots of pine green, and a dark gray, as well as leaving a fair amount an undyed natural cream color.  The second yarn is from a group of sheep with slightly more Romney than Cotswold in their lineage (hence the name “Romney > Cotswold” - naming yarns is difficult).  The fleece is a bit shorter and a bit crimpier than the more even Cotswold x Romney fleece, and the resulting yarn has a pleasing smoothness and bounce.  The yarn is spun to a more traditional fingering weight.  These fleeces were mainly mid-brown, and they blended to a dark gray/brown color that I am calling Bark.  Because the undyed yarn is dark, I could only create darker colors when dyeing, but using a darker yarn as my base added quite a bit of depth to the resulting color. I am quite happy with the forest green, dark indigo, deep brown, and oxblood red that the yarn achieved. 

On a slightly more boat related note - while fixing the hinge on the door to the laundry storeroom I noticed this lovely creature keeping one of the stews company.  

And the Dyeing Commences (also, Hello)

by Sarah Lake Upton in

Hello to all of the new folks who read about my yarn in the recent Interweave Knits article!  I had a wonderful two days talking about yarn and dyeing with the author of the article (Selma, who in turn keeps a great blog here) but I must admit that it is a little surreal seeing what otherwise felt like a lovely visit with a fellow fiber enthusiast written up in a major knitting publication. 

To all of you stopping by for the first time, I work with small batches of yarns spun from local fleeces.  My stock is a little low at the moment, due in part to the time of year and also because I just recently came home from working on the boat.  I have some dyeing to catch up on.  I have been home for two weeks now, but as I always do (and always tell myself I won't do this time) I lost a week sitting on the couch catching up on dumb TV and knitting (and cuddling with Nell).

This is Nell.  She wishes the snow would go away and the squirrels would come back. In the meantime she wishes that I would stop bugging her with my camera and go back to rubbing her ears. 

This is Nell.  She wishes the snow would go away and the squirrels would come back. In the meantime she wishes that I would stop bugging her with my camera and go back to rubbing her ears. 

But, this last week I braved the snow (and there has been lots of it) to start working with my new 3-Ply Cotswold fingering weight yarn, which very conveniently returned from the spinning mill a little before I returned from the boat. 


The fleece for this yarn comes from Liberty Wool Farm in Palermo Maine.  This is the same flock that in years past provided a lovely group of fleeces from Cotswold Romney crosses.   Last spring there were fewer fleeces from Cotswold Romney crosses, but a lovely group of pure Cotswold fleeces, so, anyone who has been knitting with my 3-Ply Cotswold x Romney fingering weight, please consider using the pure Cotswold version instead.  Hopefully I will have a new batch dyed up in the next week or two. 

Yarn comes from the mill on cones - therefore the first step of dyeing is skeining, and skeining, and skeining, and then building a fort with all of the piles of skeined yarn. 

Yarn comes from the mill on cones - therefore the first step of dyeing is skeining, and skeining, and skeining, and then building a fort with all of the piles of skeined yarn. 

I am always adding new colors and yarns.  One day I am going to be truly organized and start sending out an email newsletter.  In the meantime, If you would like to be added to my hypothetical email newsletter list, please send me an email at uptonyarns@gmail.com with "newsletter" or similar in the subject line.   I am "uptonyarns" on Instagram, and "puffling" on Ravelry.  Upton Yarns also has a Facebook page, which I am terrible at updating but always resolving to be better about.  I am not terribly consistent in my social media presence, but I am trying to be better about that, and I love hearing about what other people are up to knitting wise. And I love photos!

Happy Knitting,


Yarn! Lots of New Yarn (and now I am back on a boat).

by upton in , ,

My time at home was lovely and cold and way too short.  It was also very productive (on the yarn front, though not on the blogging front…). I returned home to find the fleeces I sent off to the mill in the fall returned to me in the form of lovely yarn on cones.  A storm of dyeing ensued.  Yarn took over every available surface in the house, the bathtub was pressed into service for drip-drying, and a giant drying rack took up the prime space in front of the woodstove (much to Nell’s annoyance).

I experimented with new colors and dyed new lots of older colors (which sometimes resulted in new colors).

Pinks and Reds

Sky Blue, Medium Blue, and Indigo



Above, “Light Butternut”, “Rosewood”, and “70% Cacao”.   70% Cacao is actually a fleece from one of Liberty Wool Farm’s Romney rams (he is or will be responsible for the “Romney” portion of the “Cotswold x Romney” yarn).  I had his fleece spun to the same weight as my other 3-Ply fingering weight yarn.

This is “Aspen”, a lovely, lively green, but not quite the “Cress” that I was aiming for. (Natural Dyeing is not an exact science).


I am back at my “day job” on the boat.  Last night we finished our transit of the Panama Canal and currently we are bound for Isla Iguana for a bit of snorkeling.  As my very slow internet connection allows I will be updating the “yarn” section of this site to reflect the work of the last few weeks.  In the meantime, if you would like to order any yarn, please email me at uptonyarns (at) gmail.com.  My internet connection is sometimes a bit spotty on the boat, but I can usually check it at least once a day.  Yarn is being shipped out in my absence.