Chronicles of Ancient Darkness
Have you ever read the fictional series called the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness? I read them years ago and fell in love with the story, the characters and the ancient world in which the books are set. I won't spoil the storyline by telling you much but I reread them during lockdown last year and was completely drawn into the pre-historic landscape - the perfect escape from the reality of our world.
Left to right: Salmon, Renn, Red ochre and World Spirit
During lockdown, for me at least, our time spent outside the house was a sanctuary, an escape from the worry and reading these books was the same. I could be carried away to a world where people had a close connection to nature, where there were clans and magic and traditions, where good fought evil and self-faith and strength was tested, as we all get tested at some point in life. The descriptions of nature are so inspiring that I knew I had to create some colourways based on what I'd read. When I started brainstorming ideas, I thought I'd just have a few colours but more and more just kept coming, and I have plenty left that I still have to create! Watch this space!
Deep in the Forest
So I started with two colourways which were two of my first colours, both inspired by the books, which have been long standing favourites in the shop - Wolf Grey Sky and Deep in the Forest. Sometimes there's a magic in dyeing yarn where you just play with the dyes and they take shape in front of you and become a colourway. Deep in the Forest was like that for me. I threw the colours in the pan, expecting a very different result from what came out and as the dyes blended together, I was horrified at first (this was definitely not the result I'd been expecting - dark and muddy) but as the colours set and I rinsed the yarn, I started to see the different tones and layers, like your eyes adjusting to the forest when you step inside from the sunlight. Beautiful, colourful but unexpected. There was no other name that this could be called and so Deep in the Forest it was.
Wolf Grey Sky
Wolf Grey Sky was a slightly different process. I wanted a colourway that was variegated and speckled, subtle but strong at the same time. I used two dyes and in the process of speckling, one of the dyes split a little (as often happens with speckling) and instead of just grey and black, little amber gold flecks appeared in the yarn. Now some dyers don't like it when dyes split as it can give unpredictable and unrepeatable results, but I love it when this happens as each fleck is a little treasure, an extra detail that can mean so much. I named this colourway Wolf Grey Sky as it's a description in the books and it made me think of the stormy skies that come before heavy rainfall, and the amber flecks are the same colour as the eyes of Wolf (one of the characters in the book).
As I already had these two colours in my collection, I decided to follow the earthy, natural tones for the rest of the collection and I started with one of my favourite characters, Renn. Strong, quiet and clever, Renn is an inspiration who loves her bow and arrows, is an excellent hunter and is very knowledgeable of magic. She wears a green slate wrist guard, she often uses red ochre for protection, she has red hair and often feeds salmon to Wolf so the colours for Renn just fell straight into the pan and out she came. This is the kind of colourway that looks simple and delicate on the surface but has strength and power underneath, just like Renn herself. I'm planning a Love Note Sweater by TinCanKnits in this colourway soon, I love it so much.
After Renn, came World Spirit. Described as all powerful, it’s said to take the form of a woman with red willow hair in the winter and a man with the antlers of a stag in the summer. As the stories connect the World Spirit with the character of Torak in the Deep Forest, I used the rich tree colours and a main colour of red ochre as it just seemed right for this colour way. This is another that I plan to use for a Love Note sweater - I just need to find more time to knit!
As well as good characters, the stories also feature a group of evil mages who are fuelled by power over everything else and one of these is Seshru, the Viper Mage. I chose varying shades of green and black to represent Seshru, and just like the character, the colour way is intriguing and deceptively beautiful.
Wolf is my most favourite character of all, with his beautiful amber eyes and I love the sections of the book that are written from his perspective, including phrases like the Bright Beast that bites hot (fire) and the Great Wet (the sea). I couldn't help creating a watery colourway called Great Wet as I love Wolf so much (you can see it below).
Left to right: Great Wet, Bale and Ice Bear
Bale is a character who is very different from Renn and Torak (main characters) - he lives by the sea (literally and figuratively), his whole life is ruled by trying to respect the Sea Mother and what she gives (and takes away) from his people. It felt right that his colour way should have hints of water and coastal colours too including the shore and pebbles.
Ice Bear coordinates nicely with Bale yet it is beautiful on its own - it has delicate speckles of orange and blue and sums up the chilly landscape and furry bears perfectly I think.
After creating the variegated colours, I also wanted to capture some of the plants and nature in my semi solids too. I had quite a collection and I loved comparing them to the real life plants such as Lichen above and Bracken below. You'll see the bundles of mini skeins I created further down - I love hand dyed bundles. Each one has so much potential and I have just as much fun putting them together as I do using them!
Lingonberries, Scarlet Rowan, and Pine Blood
Woodsmoke, Wood mushrooms and Bog Mushrooms
Bracken, Seshru and Darkfur (another Wolf in the stories)
When the shadows turned purple, Smoke frost and Soapwort
Salmon, Renn, Red Ochre and World Spirit
Green slate, Lichen, Frosty Pine and Deep in the Forest
Darkfur, Wolf Grey Sky, Grey Granite, Wolf and Pine blood
Ice Bear, Autumn dusk, Great Wet, Mountain mist and Bale