Happy Maker Monday!
This week we are featuring Marnie Milnes of Pickle and Co Fibres. She creates hand spun and dyed yarn that will make any yarn lover swoon! As with many of our makers and creatives Marnie is an experimenter. Many of her dyed creations are the result of these colorful experiments and we must say they made for some beautiful color combinations! You’ll have to see for yourself on her Instagram or Facebook – not to mention how soft and fluffy all the fibres look! Read on to learn more about Pickle and Co Fibres and Marnie’s story
: We’d love to hear a few things about yourself!
: Well hi! I am Marnie and I run a little yarn and fibre business called Pickle and Co Fibres. I am based out of a small beachside suburb called Woody Point, just north of Brisbane (which is the major city in the state Queensland, Australia).
: Give us a little background into how you got involved in the yarn and fibre world!
: It’s a weird little story – in a previous life I was a nurse in the Australian Army and had suffered some injuries that required surgery and with that, considerable time off from work. At the time I was living away from the my family and friends, my partner was away for work purposes, and I began crocheting as a means to keep my mind active and just do something. All my life I had been madly active and busy and suddenly I found myself isolated, unable to be active or occupied and quite unwell! So, I won’t lie, the crocheting became a bit of an obsession and I ended up with a lot of stock, which eventually was sold at a few markets. And as with many people who spend a lot of time working with yarn, your tastes change and I started learning more and getting interested in what made a good quality yarn, which then lead to trying my own dyeing and my own spinning!
: How do you look at a fibre and decide how you want to transform it or dye it?
: I would love to say that I study colour and technique and plan everything, but honestly, much of what I do if often a lucky experiment! I am not artistically or professionally trained, so I have learnt some colour work through experiment. In regards to spinning, it is often the “feel” of the fibre that will indicate what I am going to do with it and, again, lots of experiments!
: For those who don’t know the process, how do you create your gorgeous hand dyed and hand spun yarns?
: There is quite a process for all of it really! The easiest is undoubtedly the millspun yarn (spun at a wool mill), which only requires dyeing. Well, that is not strictly true….. Yarn preparation and dyeing takes time, and includes a whole lot of steps before and after the dyeing occurs! The dyeing itself is planned and I have colour recipes for all of my colourways, which can include immersion, dipping, syringing or speckling – single techniques or multiple, and my colourways always have a minimum of three layers or blending of colour – so it is not a quick process, but I love it so I am not complaining!
The handspun is a more time consuming matter. I have to dye the fibre, which requires a gentle touch, and then blend and spin the fibre. And then I have to wash and set the yarn! The whole process can take a number of days – depending on the weather! If the fibre is raw or unprocessed, then this process becomes even longer as you have to prepare the fleece to get it to a usable state.
: What has your creative journey looked like? — how have you learned and improved your craft over time?
: I think I fell down the rabbit hole that many yarn lovers fall down! You start with a bit of knitting or crochet, then develop a taste of good quality yarn, then start dyeing, then start spinning! As far as learning goes, I am self-taught, everything has been a process of trial and error and many failures! And I still have a really long way to go. Even though I have being doing this for a number of years, I consider myself quite the novice compared to many fibre artists out there. There are many resources and lessons available, especially online, but ultimately you have to find what works for you.
: What are some of the different fibres you work with and what are the differences or challenges with working with the varying ones?
: I work with just about anything that I can get my hands on, but my go-to is usually any kind of Aussie wool – our wool is incredible and buying locally helps me keep my carbon footprint down. I love to mix wool with whatever plant fibre I can get, with my current favourite being hemp. As I have a bit more time on my hands lately, I have been enjoying working with fibre in its raw state (raw fleece), and although really fulfilling and fun, this process takes AGES, especially at this time of year – our wet season.
: We love that you name some of your dyed creations after people/things/places in your life! Do you have a favorite or bestseller? Or a dyed yarn that perfectly exemplifies the person or thing you named it after?
: Oh gosh! As far as best sellers go – I think that Casper and Black Horse have been my best sellers over time. I think my sentimental favourite is June, not surprising as it is named after my Grandma who got me going with craft! As far as a colourway that I think perfectly exemplifies what it is named after is probably the Kathmandu colourway – it is bright, vibrant, colourful and makes me happy, just like that amazing city in Nepal and all my experiences there.
: Did you always plan on turning your love of yarn into a business? What is the most rewarding part about selling your creations?
: Initially I did not have plans to turn my fibre obsession in to a business, but when I started getting really interested in yarn I was actually quite unwell, as mentioned earlier, and needed something to occupy my time. I think it was a combination of factors such as the right timing, the need for something to focus on and the fact that fibre craft is a nurturing, meditative-like and healthy past time. It all came together and was the right path to go down at the time.
I think the most rewarding part of selling my goods is seeing the happiness that customers have when they find just the right yarn that they were looking for. Many of my customers are weavers, and as I am a terrible weaver, I just get the most massive kick when I see what they do with them! There are such clever people out there!
: What’s in the future for Pickle and Co. Fibres? Any new projects or future goals for your brand?
: There are! Loads more colour and lots of experimentation and some massive yarn or fibre for extreme knitting projects. I am also planning to purchase a new spinning wheel, which will allow for me to spin really out there art yarns, and I am pretty darn excited! With this, I am hoping to learn a bunch of new spinning techniques and be able to produce BIG quantities of handspun yarn!
: Do you have any advice for other business owners or creators?
: For sure! It is often the way with craft / art that you can be told that there is a “right” way or a “wrong” way to do things. But honestly, you just have to follow your heart and find the way that is right for you!
See more from Pickle and Co. Fibres