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Visit Ancient Arts Yarns + Dye Studio - 607 Manitou Road SE, Calgary, Alberta

Visit Ancient Arts Yarns + Dye Studio - 607 Manitou Road SE, Calgary, Alberta

Visit Ancient Arts Yarns + Dye Studio - 607 Manitou Road SE, Calgary, Alberta

Visit Ancient Arts Yarns + Dye Studio - 607 Manitou Road SE, Calgary, Alberta

Cavorting With Colour: a Trip Down Memory Lane.

Fall is in the air (and on the ground where I live) and that means this dyer’s heart turns to new colours! Every change of seasons leads to me wanting to capture something about them in yarn. Autumn is my favorite season and always makes me very nostalgic. This year is no exception and several of the new colours we are about to release to the public are perfect examples of that nostalgia.

One of the things that inspires me the most is stories. Colours for me all have a story attached to them. Fall makes me think of my mother (who passed away two years ago) and of how she loved to go out painting and hiking in the fall. Mom was an artist who worked in watercolour and oils, and she loved the autumn for its rich colours, and never failed to try to capture them in watercolour. The last paintings she did were of fall leaves on the trees around her residence (OK and one was of some creepy dolls but I digress). This meant when I sat down to plan out some new colours for the season mom snuck her way into several of them. She always was a feisty woman so I am not surprised in the least!

The first colourway I want to tell you about is called Tea and Biscuits. Tea and Biscuits is based on trips I would do with mom where we would go on outings each autumn and cap them off with a stop at a little tea shop close to her home for a traditional high tea. This shop was one of the classics, with lovely little tables all covered with ivory table clothes, pretty pictures on the walls, and beautiful hand-made gifts one could purchase if the spirit so moved one. Tea was served in fine bone china tea cups with real china tea pots, all decorated with beautiful hand painted flowers (think Royal Dalton here). The desserts themselves were all fresh and included everything from lovely sugar cookies to sticky toffee pudding. Mom loved sweets so this was a treat of the first order! She had two favorites: the cookies and the tiny meringues.

For the colourway I wanted to capture the essence of these outings, so I started with the ivory colour of the table cloths. From there I added the various shades of lilac, lavender, blue, and purple from the tea cups. And last but not least, I put in the cookies! The dye style was also carefully chosen to make me think of those cute little tables with the china and cookies (the biscuits in the colourway name are the British usage as a tribute to the idea of high tea). Since the china is patterned it was clear that making the yarn speckled would make the final product look just like those teas!

Tea and Biscuits just out of the dye pot. I can still taste those cookies! Shown on 100% SW BFL Wool.


The second colourway I want to tell you about is called Alpine Meadows. Every spring and every fall my parents would make a pilgrimage to do a couple of beautiful hikes in the Canadian Rockies. One in particular is spectacular and challenging thanks to its elevation gain, and consists of a six km hike to a place called the Ptarmigan Cirque. Picture a stunning scene in the mountains, with the peaks all around, and grasses and little flowers peeking out of the snow – for there is often snow that high in the mountains. Mom of course loved this place and would often make little paintings of the flowers while Dad took as many photos as he could.

To capture this scene I wanted to leave the yarn white in places for the snow, but it had to have the greens of the little plants and the reds, pinks, and purples of my personal favorites among the little flowers. My parents both loved the Glacier lilies that bloom there in the spring, so I snuck some gold and yellow in there just for for them (even if those are spring flowers), and added just a bit of blue for the waterfall and the creek that rushes through the valley. The result makes me smile as it gets me thinking about those hikes!

Alpine Meadow just out of the dye pot! My legs say they can still feel the climb, but my eyes say let’s do it again! Shown on 80% SW Extra fine merino / 20% Nylon sock yarn.


The last colourway I will show you is also inspired by my mother in a round about way. My mother left me with an enduring love of art, and especially of painting. I am amazed at how my tastes have varied over the years, but one area of interest I developed later in life was an interest in the French Impressionist painters, and following on that abstract art. My mother would laugh and laugh as when I was younger I loathed the stuff and had no idea why anyone would enjoy Degas let alone a picture with no concrete form. I should have realized that any art form that draws so strong an emotion is actually doing its job, but this was something that I have had to learn with time. With age has come appreciation and now I cannot get enough of these works!

Impressionist is a tribute to these works of art, and a love my mother fostered, and begins from a very famous painting, Van Goghs’s Starry Night. Lots of people find inspiration in this painting, but what I myself draw from it for this colourway is the light! Seeing this work in situ in the museum in Paris is amazing. The gallery is lit with natural light, and the cloudy skys of Paris infuse the painting with the most amazing glow. That means plenty of white had to stay in this yarn to represent the experience of watching the light glance off the wonderful texture of this painting. I picked up the colours I most like in the painting, and streaked them on in way that to me feels like it has the energy of the original. There is no black because this interpretation is all about the light!

Impressionist just out of the dye pot. (Ignore the red in the background! Its stage one of Fangs for the Memories, which I will tell you about next time.) Shown on merino nylon sock yarn.

And last but not least, the finished versions of all three colours! I hope you enjoyed their stories. Tea and Biscuits is on the left, Impressionist on the top right, and Alpine Meadow on the bottom right. Now I just have to decide which one to knit first!


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