Postcard From... Lyme Regis


To kick off the 2017 edition of Makers Postcards, I am pleased to share this Postcard from a well known Independent Yarn Dyer whose location is central to her brand. Daisy from Devon Sun Yarns lives in Lyme Regis with her young family - this is what she has to say about how her location influences her creativity. 


All photos (c) Daisy Forster of Devon Sun Yarns

If there’s one thing you can guarantee about being an Indie Yarn dyer, it’s that one of the very first questions people will ask you is ‘where do you get your inspiration from?’ For five years I have happily dyed yarn every colour of the rainbow, and still, I struggle to find a concise and simple answer to this question. So often I hear people talk about how they are inspired by nature, and the things around them, and that is certainly true for me, to a point. I live in the most amazing location on the Devon/Dorset border. Every year, thousands of people come to Lyme Regis to enjoy the amazing scenery and location, and I feel truly blessed to live here, and that my boys get to grow up here. We are surrounded by the ever changing seas, dramatic coast lines, amazing green rolling hills and the slate greys and purple of Dartmoor nearby. There is colour in every corner, and it changes every season – or in fact throughout the day depending on the tide!


It’s certainly true that I do look to the world around me to decide which colours to dye – I cannot imagine dyeing rich browns and sage greens in the high summer, those colours are deeply grounded in Autumn and I feel soothed by that rhythm – the certainly of knowing that each season has its own colour palette. It helps me plan the monthly yarn clubs too, thinking about which colour goes with each season. Hot tropical colours for summer, dark rich colours for Christmas, Icy blues and greys for winter. Flowers and birds play a part too, bright tulip colours always seem to be popular in May and soft Hydrangea pinks and purple in high summer.


But, for me, the colours on the yarn do not just come from the natural elements or the place where I live. Most often these will be a starting point – a bunch of Sweet Williams with speckle colours might make me think about dyeing speckle yarns, but once the first colour is on, it’s the yarn and the dye that lead me to the next colour. A blue tone might seem out of place, easily fixed with another dye in a purple bath; a skein that doesn’t zing calling out for a dash of contrast colour – which is exactly how the Sweet William colourway in the June yarn club ended up with a pop of yellow – it just needed to be there! Because nature is so great at getting the colours right, often the yarn ends up looking very much like the swirling sea, or an autumn hedgerow, but the process is very much a constant flowing relationship between the colours and the yarn and my role is to keep that relationship in balance.


When you work on your own, there is no one around to bounce ideas off, no-one to say ‘another colourway based on the sea? Really? …’ . It’s easy to reach for the same colour again and again. A new crushed raspberry dye resulted in almost everything having raspberry on it in some way – and I think that’s great – how many ways can I stretch this colour to make the end result different? But there’s also a very real risk that things become stagnant. When I am dyeing under pressure or to a strict colourway recipe the enjoyment quickly seeps away. The colour mixing becomes a chore and the stress of getting things ‘right’ removes any element of creativity or inspiration from the dyeing process for me. That’s when it’s time to step away and luckily for me, I am able to indulge my love of yarn dyeing in other ways and share it with people at Yarn Retreats.


It’s so interesting to me to see others go through the process of yarn dyeing too. One of the first things I tell anyone who comes along to a Yarn Retreat to learn how to dye yarn is that we are not going to learn technicalities of yarn dyeing – we are learning the process, feeling our way through the stages being guided by what we are enjoying. Splashing the colours on, or carefully dropping them exactly where they need to be – there’s no right or wrong, it’s just about enjoying the process. I encourage everyone to think of an idea, and use it only as a starting point. Let the inspiration be a process, not a static idea or image. Getting too caught up on creating something from a fixed idea dilutes the enjoyment for me, and I know for others dyeing yarn for the first time, this is where anxiety about being ‘good enough’ creeps in. Is this the right shade, the right amount, the right place to put the dye? With no fixed idea other than to just enjoy the creative process we are free to be inspired by what’s happening at that moment, and use that to guide our making, with no constraint of what is ‘right’.


I learn so much watching the ladies on the yarn retreats – going through this process with them, watching the sheer joy they get seeing the finished yarn they have dyed. When I am back in my studio dyeing yarn, it reminds me to cast off all constraints of perfect colours or fixed colourways and enjoy the process, and I know that is a huge factor in keeping my own enjoyment and passion in my business. Sitting around the table, sharing a cake, showing off our projects and helping others learn new skills, each group of women inspires me in a different way and stays with me long after the last cup of tea has been drunk and the yarn dye has been put away until next time. I often think of these women when I am dyeing yarn, knowing this blue will suit Pam or this is the perfect mustard for Pat. They have inspired me to go away on my own, to try new crafts, to declutter my home, to start saying ‘yes’ more often and live life to the full, and even to start swimming in the sea regularly. Most of all, they inspire me to keep creating, to keep on trying new things and that when it all starts feeling like it’s going wrong, to just enjoy the process, because it always turns out beautiful in the end!

Daisy Forster (pictured left with one of her sons) sells hand-dyed yarn and gifts and also runs Yarn Retreats in Devon. Visit her website Devon Sun Yarns for more details. You can follow Daisy's business and personal accounts on Instagram to see more of her lovely images. There is also a Devon Sun Yarns Facebook page

If you are taking inspiration from your location this summer, share your photos on Instagram using the hashtag #makerspostcards and tag me @craftsfromthecwtch. 

4 comments

  1. What a lovely--and instructive--post! Color-challenged as I am, I must rely on these wonderful people who understand how to blend colors to make the yarns I buy, so it was really interesting to read about Daisy's thought and dye process as she creates her stunning yarns. And the photos are icing on the cake! Thank you so much for introducing Daisy and her work to your blog followers!

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  2. Great post and what a beautiful inspiring place to live! I am just getting ready to try my hand at dyeing my own yarn. I have dyed wool fabric before but not yarn....I'm excited as I used to enjoy dyeing the wool so I can't wait to do some yarn.

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    Replies
    1. Oh great! I'm going to give it a try too (after the summer hols, I think!) - I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with xxx

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