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Welcome to the brand-new Ancient Arts blog! For our inaugural post, we’d like to share a brief history of Ancient Arts Hand Dyed Yarns with you. Knitting has always been a part of Caroline’s life – in fact, she learned to knit when she was only 4! In addition to her explorations of the fibre arts in knitting, spinning and weaving, Caroline holds masters degrees in sociology and archeology. She is fascinated by the link that the spinning and weaving arts provide to our past and ancient civilizations. This passion for craft and the stories which become a part of each handmade project has fueled the business, which she runs with her husband, Dan, along with Barb Brown, Caroline Dick, a small part-time staff, and several furry friends (more on them in a minute). Ancient Arts Yarns is the result of many years of trying to find superior exotic fibres and knitting yarns in a limited market. Caroline soon discovered that she was not alone: many yarn lovers want something that’s just a little bit different, but don’t want to sacrifice quality, price, or time. Through a careful selection process, Caroline has created a line of hand dyed knitting yarns using only the best quality yarn bases available. You can expect to find merino, BFL, mohair, bamboo, cashmere, silk, and other blended fibre yarns in our lineup. Employing eco-friendly practices through each step of the way is really important to us: each yarn is dyed with low-impact, environmentally-friendly dyes; food grade acid is used as a binder, and we employ best practices to ensure low water usage throughout the dye process. For our superwash yarns, we have also taken steps to ensure that the superwash method is as low-impact as possible. Our wool is sourced only from responsibly-managed flocks; with the exception of our silk, no other fibers are sourced from China. Many of our current yarns are manufactured in North America, and we also have yarns spun in the UK, France, Italy, and South Africa. In each case, we make sure to choose only the best mills who use production philosophies in line with our own. Caroline employs a variety of techniques for applying colour to each yarn, but her main focus is to create beautiful and complex colourways using layers of colour based on the concept watercolour painting; these layers of colour are created using immersion, kettle-dye and dip dye techniques, rather than hand-painting. In addition to tending to the dye pots, Caroline is also in charge of the Feline Quality Control Team: Shasta, Kali and Bird. These three cats are all rescues who reside with us and represent another passion for Ancient Arts: promoting responsible pet ownership and further the cause of animal rescue through the Meow and Woof collections. Each colourway is inspired by a specific cat or dog who has been rescued and is dyed to match the colours of that particular breed (that’s Shasta pictured above posing with our Calico Cat colourway), with a portion of the proceeds benefitting organizations who help stray and abandoned animals. This endeavor was created as a way to continue to promote these causes which are near & dear to Dan and Caroline’s hearts, and we support animal rescue charities directly and try to promote them whenever possible, whether it’s through partnering with LYSes to host an event or simply helping folks connect with their local humane society so that they can get involved. Our other core members of the Ancient Arts Team are Dan, Caroline Dick and Barb Brown. Dan makes sure that day-to-day operations run smoothly; Caroline Dick is our Sales Manager and is the face of wholesale customer service. She works with Dan to make sure our wholesale customers have a go-to person who knows the yarn business inside out (she owns a yarn store herself). Barb Brown is our Design Coordinator who is in charge of developing our pattern support and coordinating yarn support with designers, magazines and other publications. Both Caroline D. and Barb play an active role in the decision-making process for selecting new yarns, and they also provide input on the themes we use for our colour inspirations.
As you might have guessed, each colourway and yarn has a story behind it – and we look forward to sharing those stories with you on this blog!