Normally my monthly interview & reviews feature industry crochet designers. Today I want to introduce you to someone I met recently. Melanie is the founder of Go Knit Yourself – which makes “sustainable yarns for a cozier world.” While she has done some design work, I decided I wanted to interview her more specifically about her yarns and do a yarn review of her brand.
Side Note: I met Melanie in the The Luminaries Club, which is an online mentor/coaching group run by Lisa Jacobs of Marketing Creativity. Since finding Lisa’s site I have abandoned all other coaching/business development sites and emails. I just love how Lisa writes and she doesn’t do the “one size fits all” – “do it this way and you’ll be a millionaire” approach. If you have a creative business, you might want to check her out.
Melanie has definitely done her homework. She set out to create yarns that are “green” and eco-friendly, and she thought outside the box to do so. She writes, “I set out to create beautifully dyed yarns with a process that has minimal impact on our environment.” She’s created just that. Check out my interview to find out more about her yarns.
Make sure you read to the bottom or my review for the coupon code she has given to my readers.
K (Me): What made you decide to start your own yarn company?
Melanie: I’ve always loved playing with yarn + colors. I remember when I was young winding yarn balls with my mother + watching my dad create his masterpieces with oil paints ala Bob Ross. My dad taught me about color theory, which fascinated me. After I had my first few kids, I decided that I was going to dip my toes in the “hippie” pool + use cloth diapers both for economic and environmental reasons. Then I decided to go full on crunchtastic hippie and use wool diaper covers! Being a DIYer at heart I taught myself how to dye wool yarn and the rest, as they say, is history. So I opened a yarn company because I want my daughters to see that if you want to do something and put all of your heart + soul into it, you will succeed. Plus, I had to account for my ever growing stash to my husband. If I’m bringing in money, he doesn’t seem to care about the mountains of yummy fluffy wool.
K: What makes your yarns different from other dyers/spinners?
Melanie: Our yarns are like no other! The yarns that are sold in big box stores serve a purpose but they are made with nasty chemicals to make them soft. Formaldehyde is applied with heat, making it trapped in the fiber permanently, and petrochemical polluting dyes– whose production creates nitrous oxide– are used for color. Dye fixatives used in yarns often come from heavy metals and pollute water systems. Commonly used chemicals also include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and dioxin-producing bleach.
So you can see why I set out to create beautifully dyed yarns with a process that has minimal impact on our environment. Our supplier sources their premium fiber from local ranchers. The dry climate, clean air, cool summer, and cold winters in Wyoming help to make the wool naturally fine and soft. They only use environmentally friendly cleaners and vegetable based spinning oil. They are committed to building a company that respects nature and sustainability.
Each skein has an extremely short “trace-back”: Rancher–>Our supplier–>Go Knit Yourself. Not much processing going on here! Because our yarns haven’t been over-processed or exposed to harsh detergents, you will very likely find a decent amount of leftover lanolin and “vegetable matter” aka grass. However, you’ll find that our yarn is springy, bouncy, squishy, alive, cottony, and comfortingly soft! It’s a dream to knit with, and we know you’ll love it!
K: Tell us a little bit about your dyeing process…
Melanie: The yarns in our current inventory were dyed with natural dye extracts and an alum mordant. The natural dye process is a long + laborious one. There are 3 basic steps: scouring the wool, mordanting the wool and then finally dyeing the wool. Each step requires water (lots of it!) + heat for hours on end (electricity). Plus, there is usually dye left over in the dye pot which gets dumped. The total process takes about 8 hours from scouring to getting it ready for you.
K: Your site says you use “low impact acid dyes.” Can you tell us a little bit about why these are better than regular dyes?
Melanie: I recently started to wonder just how sustainable my process was. It seemed to me that my footprint was getting large, even though I was using natural dyes. After doing some more research I decided that I am going to move to low-impact acid dyes. The acid is simply the vinegar I use to set the dye. The vendor I have chosen only has 2 colors that contain heavy metals + I do not include those in my palette. The only chemical I’ll be using is white vinegar, I will use less water for less time (1/2 an hour compared to 6), and there will be no dye left in the dye pot when the yarn is done. So I’ll just be pouring vinegar water down the drain
K: Because of the use of special dyes, are there any colors you cannot make?
Melanie: Just the colors that contain heavy metals, which are Chartreuse and Emerald. But I can make colors that are pretty close, using the color theory I learned from my dad.
K: What weight yarns to you offer?
Melanie: Currently I offer Sport and Worsted but I will soon be adding Chunky and Fingering
K: Are all your yarns 100% wool?
K: Do you have dye lots?
K: Do you take custom orders?
Melanie: Not at the moment. I may open up some custom slots in the future though!
Go Knit Yourself
While I normally do a review of the designers pattern, I’m reviewing yarn this month, so I did things a little differently. I created my own pattern from her worsted line of yarns and review the yarn while using it.
My skein/hank was gray, and one of my favorite things about Melanie’s site is it gives you a description of the colorway and the dyes used. So for my colorway (gray) this is what she writes:
This light gray color was first dyed with Chestnut extract and then dipped in an iron bath. Chestnut is native to southern Europe and has a history of being used for tanning leather in Europe and North America. The chestnut dye I use comes from European trees since the American chestnut population has been severely diminished by plant disease since 1905.
Most of the time I’m not a huge fan of 100% wool. At times I find it scratchy and it dries out my hands, so I just usually stay away from it. This wool did none of those things. (Maybe the extra lanolin?) It wasn’t scratchy, and I didn’t have issues with my hands. It was actually a pleasure to work with. I will note this: When I first received the yarn and opened it, it had a smell to it (almost like ammonia). Once I finished the skein and left it out in the open to air out, the smell dissipated. I don’t think this is a problem, I’m just giving an honest review & perspective to give you all sides. Her new dyes may not do this.
Melanie is offering 20% off to my readers (plus it’s always free shipping in the US). Use coupon code AMBASSADOR at checkout.
I’m also offering my Oakley Fringe Cowl pattern free to anyone who purchases a skein of yarn from Go Knit Yourself before May 31, 2o16. You can either email me the receipt, or just send me a msg. I’ll verify with Melanie and send you the pattern free.
For more information about Melanie and her yarns, visit her at the links below:
If you have any questions you’d like me to ask in upcoming interviews, or someone you’d love to see featured, leave a comment and let me know. Make sure you come back next month when I interview Kristin Omdahl!