Colouring her world

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YVONNE O’HARA

yvonne.ohara@alliedpress.co.nz

 

When Gillian Parkinson, of Teviot, creates her unique knitwear, she does it using food colouring and a roasting pan.

In addition to being a qualified aromatherapist, she is a textile artist, but does not sell what she makes, instead preferring to create garments as a hobby and then give them away.

“I have been knitting for 40-plus years and my grandmother taught me,” Mrs Parkinson said.

She has also taught herself the wool dyeing process, which she uses on yarn she has spun herself.

She experiments with various techniques to create her own dyeing style.

“I absolutely love colour and I wanted to have a go at dyeing, and it grew from there.”

She buys merino and crossbred wools and uses several techniques to dye the yarn.

That includes adding food colouring to the spun fibre in a roasting dish in her kitchen.

She uses white vinegar to set it and then bakes it in an oven.

She also uses icing gels and “I-Dyes for Natural Fabrics”.

Once she has completed the dyeing process, she hand-knits the yarn into garments, creating coats, ponchos and wraps.

She said a simple process such as adding black dye to the yarn could colour her fibre with greens, blues, rose and aubergine shades.

“The vinegar splits up the colours.

“It’s a hit-and-miss process.

“I cannot plan something exactly, as I don’t know how things will come out when I pour the colours in.

“It is just so interesting as I don’t know what’s happening on the bottom [of the pan].”

She is fond of two techniques in particular: fading, in which one colour blends into another, and speckling (adding dots of colour to a dyed background).

Mrs Parkinson said when she and her husband, Lee, moved south from Wellington three years ago, he knew she wanted a spinning wheel, so he bought one for their wood (fifth) anniversary.

“It was something I had never done before, but I took to it like a duck to water.

“I had only been doing it for about a year when I came first twice in the Mt Benger A&P show spinning competitions.”

She does not sell the garments she creates, preferring to give away what she makes.

“It is a labour of love and I like to share,” she said.

“[To sell the garments] I would have to take into account the amount of work involved, and would have to charge a huge price.

“A 250gm cake [ball of yarn] would take about six hours to spin, then probably another two hours to dye, and that is without the knitting.”

Mrs Parkinson is holding a class in dyeing techniques during the Wool On festival later this year.