When the world is ColourSpun!

My “love affair” with yarn was a gradual process, a slow awakening to the sensual delights of a skein of yarn. It started when I  joined the knitting group. You have my endless love and gratitude for leading me to yarn enlightenment, ladies! Seeing the gorgeous stuff that everyone was knitting and crocheting with felt like I had entered into a whole new universe of yarnie existence.

The festival that started it all…

Browsing the websites of the fibre artists was, without doubt, a visual joy. But I had an insatiable desire to touch these yarns in the flesh. As a newbie to natural yarns, nothing beat being able to touch that lusciousness. So I jumped at the chance to go to the Klerksdorp Yarn Festival in 2015 to get yarn for my birthday. I think it was the very first yarn event I went to and I dragged my whole family along…

We’d been to Maropeng and the Sterkfontein caves the previous day and stayed over at the Maropeng Boutique Hotel the previous night. So, having been spoilt for a whole day and treated to a five course dinner and a luxury hotel room for the night, I didn’t need to drag them there kicking and screaming just yet.

Shame! They had no idea what was coming their way. I wanted to take my time and revel in the  yarns, people and vibe, chat with the fibre artists and stall owners, touch and feel the oodles of gorgeous yarns. Thank goodness for the little coffee shop at the festival. If there’s one thing that I can always rely on to redeem me from my family’s desire to hurry up and go, it’s food and cake! It was such a blessing, and their food and cake was divine! They all enjoyed the book stall (I seem to think it was Struik publishers, but I’m not sure). And my girls loved all the awesome handcrafts and demonstrations. 

That festival was a defining moment in my journey with fibre crafts and natural yarns. A whole new world of fibre delight. It was wonderful being surrounded by so much smooshiness. The ColourSpun stall was where I met Dana Biddle, creator of ColourSpun Natural Designer Fabric and Yarn. I was blown away by her variety of colours and textures. She is wildly inspirational in so many ways and has become one of my favourite fibre artists. Here’s Dana and some of her yarn at the Festival…

…getting ready to go…                       …and Dana spinning some of her merino roving there.

…pick a colour, ANY colour!

The rainbow that is Dana…

I’m not going to share Dana’s bio with you because I’ll be writing for days. And I have to be honest about the fact that absolutely nothing I write can fully do this phenomenal artist justice. I’ll just say that she is amazingly talented at absolutely everything she does – dyeing (of course!), designing, knitting, crocheting, quilting, spinning, weaving, fabric art… You name it, she’s done it, and exceptionally well!

She’s currently working on her second Mandela pixilated portrait, using 9920 tiny blocks of fabric in varying shades of grey. Aren’t her Desmond Tutu (right) and her first Mandela (left) pixelation portraits just stunning…

Dana has written a book – A Knitting Adventure with South African Yarn – and she is also very busy with Knitted Knockers SA, which she started in South Africa in 2014. Obviously she’s someone who’s never bored! Knitted Knockers are a special hand-knitted or -crocheted breast prosthesis for women who have undergone mastectomies or other procedures to the breast. Volunteers knit knockers from one of Dana’s kits that come in 6 different flesh colours. You can purchase a kit or become a Knocker Knitter here, or you can request a Knitted Knocker here. There are also many Knitted Knockers stockists throughout SA.

Her passion is contagious and she is such a heart-warming and genuine person to speak with. She shares her considerable knowledge and advice with anyone who asks and is willing to help in any way she can. From winding her skeins into cakes for you (if you don’t have your own yarn winder and swift) to dyeing specific colours you want or need to order. Her knowledge and her enthusiasm for everything she does is boundless. 

ColourSpun Yarns and Dana’s shop at Bryanston Organic Market…

Dana’s yarns and fabrics are all created by hand. They have a richness of colour and vibrant density that seems to imbue them with her own energy, making them truly special. I’ve bought quite a substantial (understatement!) variety of ColourSpun yarns over the last 3 years. Mostly from her shop at the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market. These are just a few of them…

They are all 100% natural fibres – cotton, merino, kid mohair and various blends of merino, kid mohair, alpaca and silk. Her base yarns come in all weights from lace to super chunky. Her kid mohair also comes in a bouclé.

She has a number of stockist across SA (you can find links to them at the bottom of this page) and her website has online shopping. 

Lace weight on the left, Sock weight in the middle and Chunky weight on the right, all in 100% Merino Superwash.                                                                                                 

Aran weight in a blend of 50% Merino, 25% Alpaca, 20% Kid Mohair and 5% Mulberry Silk on the left, 100% Superwash Merino Aran weight in the middle and a single ply Super Chunky weight in 100% Merino Superwash on the right.

My absolute favourites are definitely the ones that are a unique colourway. They look as if Dana had so much fun dyeing them. It makes them even more fun to knit with. And I look forward to going to her shop to see what other once-offs she’s been experimenting with. She also makes OOAK (one of a kind) colourways for her stockists.

She dyes roving as well, which you can felt, spin into your own yarn, or add to your weaving in creative ways.  She dyes quilting fabric and embroidery thread. She has colour wheels and ombre stacks.

At her shop, there are a variety of knitting and weaving tools and beautiful handmade items – toys, socks, fingerless mittens and hats. Some of them are made by Dana’s mom, who helps out at the shop. What a talented and lovely person! It’s clear where Dana gets her creative gifts and her charming and likeable character from. 

Dana puts together various kits in the most fabulous yarn and colour combinations. They include a free pattern for whichever kit you’ve chosen.

When I was at her shop last Thursday, Jo Norris, a friend and client of Dana’s happened to be there to show her the progress she’d made on her “Swoncho” kit. She was kind enough to allow me to take a photo. Isn’t it just divine?!

If you have your own yarn winder and swift, you’ll find that her skeins wind into balls so easily, quickly and smoothly. None of Dana’s skeins have ever required fighting, cursing and gnashing of teeth from me when winding. I have had experiences with some other brands whose skeins took hours of untwisting, unknotting, cussing, tears and almost chucking in the bin. An experience I cannot forget, and I feel grateful every time I avoid experiencing it again!

It has been a blessing to my family to have an automatic go-to for my birthday, Mother’s Day and Christmas gifts. This did take some “training” before it became automatic, and I’m thrilled that they now understand my needs so well. It helps that her shop is at one of our favourite places – the Bryanston Organic & Natural Market. We love spending a Saturday morning there (or Thursday, during school holidays). My girls love browsing the stalls, chatting with shop-keepers and, especially, making candles. I can happily sit with my hubby, chat and knit with a cup of coffee and a delicious piece of cake (I don’t do banting, but there are options for those that do).  A truly feel-good place with an awesome vibe and wonderful food, fresh produce and goods.

Give her shop a visit at the Bryanston Organic Market on a Thursday or Saturday. She’ll be thrilled to meet and help you. And I’m sure you’ll fall in love with her rainbow ColourSpun world, just as I have. 

Dana stocks yarn cakes and some skeins at shops around SA. She also makes some unique colourways for these shops that are not available elsewhere. Her stockists are:

Stitches Yarn & Thread Emporium in Kyalami

The Yarn Tree in Johannesburg

D’Wolhuys in Benoni

Wool & Weave in Hillcrest, KZN

and Big Tree Designs in Cape Town

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