Strickmich! Club 2020: Fyberspates
In this series of blog posts we will introduce the dyers who are providing the yarns for Strickmich! Club 2020.
Strickmich! Club is a subscription for four new knitting patterns by Martina Behm plus matching, exclusively dyed yarn. Sign-ups for the club year of 2020 will start on November 3rd.
Luxurious, colorful, unusual – yarns by Fyberspates are everything a knitter could wish for! The creative mind behind all the beautiful colors is Jeni Hewlett from Chester, UK. When she started out dyeing yarns in 2004, the main obstacle was getting her hands on undyed yarn. “It was extremely difficult, as hand-dyeing was not nearly as popular as it is today”, she said.
At the time, Jeni was amidst a PhD programme in psychology, but she knew she would not find a career in that field fulfilling. “I was looking for something new and creative. And I remembered that I always loved to sew and to knit. My mom had a lot of books about crafting that I loved to browse as a kid,” she said. So it was decided that crafting and textiles was the way to go. “I went to a couple of workshops in London and decided to try yarn dyeing,” Jeni said.
Jeni also managed to find a source for undyed yarn: The man who would later become her husband had yarns made especially for her and her dyeing business. Jeni started selling yarns on ebay and on her own website as “Fyberspates” – “I love that name because it sounds like ‘cyberspace'”, she said. Soon she had enthusiastic customers from all over the world. Nowadays, Jeni and her husband sell undyed yarns to other dyers as well, and they are happy that the scene has become so colorful and diverse. “Every dyer, every designer has a different style, and the quality has become really high – that’s amazing! When I started out, there were only standard yarns available, and the yarn companies were owned by old men who did not really care and did not even know how to knit, it was insane. So I am happy now that I can help out people who really care about wool and yarn!”
A couple of years a go, Jeni started a cooperation with a dyeing workshop in Peru. “I was not able to satisfy demand, and unfortunately employing people did not really work well for me.” So when she develops a new colorway, she dyes it herself in her Chester workplace (close to Liverpool) and travels to Peru to show the dyers how to do it. “They are doing an amazing job, and I am happy about our cooperation as they are a Peruvian-owned company, providing job opportunities with fair pay and good working conditions especially for women,” Jeni says.
Jeni loves to knit sweaters, “but they have to be simple. If they are complicated, I won’t finish them,” she said. Of course she uses her own yarns, “or sometimes those coming from dyers who use our undyed yarns – but then I feel guilty!” Her favorite yarn is “Cumulus”, a luxurious blend of alpaca and silk fiber: “It knits up quickly and is just lovely and squishy.” When dyeing, she prefers other yarn bases: “I like it when a yarn has good texture and takes up the dye well.” Her personal favorites are caramel and spicy yellows, “they look amazing when combined with grey, and they look so happy!” When she dyes yarn, she has a very big palette: you will find deep and dark purple as well as bright teal and greens. “I love to dye in layers to get certain effects,” she said.
We are happy and proud that Jeni has decided to join Strickmich! Club with an exclusive, new colorway – great to have you, Jeni!