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Meet the Maker – Sionnach Yarns

I know that I can’t be the only person who is always interested to see what people do at my favorite companies. I’ve always found it so interesting all of the different hats people wear to make things run smoothly, but I’m also nosey. I love seeing and hearing about people’s jobs, it’s always so fun to see what’s out there! 

This week, we had a chat with one of our yarn dyers, Sophie Fontaine of Sionnach Yarns! Let’s get to know Sophie a little more and her job as a yarn dyer!

Sionnach Yarns is a one woman run yarn dyeing studio created by Sophie Fontaine. Based in the Burren in the Irish countryside, surrounded by a rocky landscape and the sea, of course the nature is her every day inspiration.

Sophie has been knitting for years and far as she can remember women in her family always have been knitting. For themselves, their grandchildren, their husbands. Knitting has been taught from generation to generation. 

How did Sionnach Yarns get started?
I’ve started Sionnach Yarns in 2017 after randomly watching a podcast about natural dyeing. The person mention onion skins dyeing and shown a beautiful orange yarn. I was working in a restaurant at that time so started to ask to my colleagues for their onion skins… Pretty weird! I got hooked straight away. It is crazy to think that I have started in my small flat (where dyeing took over very quickly) and now half of my shed is my dyeing studio!

What does a typical day look like at Sionnach Yarns?
I don’t think I have a typical day with Sionnach Yarns. I have a 2 year old and no childcare so I do all the research/ admin jobs/ yarn twisting/ labelling during the day, when she is ok for me to do it. All the dyeing is made in the evening once she is asleep. 

With warmer days coming soon (hopefully) it is easier because I can take her with me in the shed and can do small prep then longer dyeing session in the evening. 

What is your favourite part of the dying process?
I would say that my favourite part of the dyeing process is when I dip the undyed yarn into the pot of dye. I love to see the dye penetrating the fibre. It is also a stressful moment as with natural dyeing, a small change in your recipe and you end up with a complete different colour!

What is your inspiration for the colours you use?
Landscape around our house is a big inspiration! But it could be anything. 
I have so many saved instagram post / screenshot of things I have seen and thought “oh that would be nice on yarn!” 

Do you have a favourite colourway?
Strangely enough, I love to dye with pink tones even tho I never wear pink! 

I find natural dye very precious, if I need to get red, I am often left with a big pot of dark pink dye. So I use that in many of my recipe. And learned to love it. Dark pink, lighter one, purple if I add a bit of iron… Nothing goes to waste.

What are some of creative ways people have used with your yarns?7

I know some people bought my non superwash yarn for felting. I find it so cool because I am just a knitter I always think people are buying my yarn to knit with and love to see they used it for felting or weaving!

Do you have a favorite knitwear designer?
I can’t find of just one! I really like Albiona McLochlainn, an Irish designer. There is something earthy about her designs. I am planning on knitting her last design “Lastlong Pullover” for my husband.

Then I adore Isabell Kramer. I was so honoured when she designed “Jakers” using on of my base. 

An other one, French this time, is Emilie Luis. I love her technique. I am always wondering “but where am I going now” and if you follow her instructions… It is flowless. Her design are also available in English. There is a lot of other but them are definitely my top 3!

Do you have any goals for Sionnach yarns in the future? 

In a close future, I’d love Sionnach Yarns to be my main source of income. At the moment I still need to work part time and most of the money I do is helping to grow. But I hope to change than before the end of the year. 

Then I am working on planning a small yarn festival in our side of Ireland. Nothing crazy, I want to reunite people around their common love, fibres. 
And hopefully, one day, a proper brick and mortar shop. This was my goal for 2023 but between the prices of everything going up to the roof, how hard it is to find a local in my area then a pregnancy… I leave that for 2024 or 2025!

Thank you so very much to Sophie. You can find her beautiful yarns in store at Baaad Anna’s or online.

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