There is a lot happening in the New Zealand yarn scene; so many indie dyers and pattern designers creating beautiful things. Every so often though you find a couple of people doing things a little bit differently. Vicky and Nicola from Rosewood Wool aren't doing the usual Kiwi merino wool thing. They are in love with Romney wool, after getting a good quantity of locally sourced wool and dyeing it with a mix of natural materials like cochineal, flowers and indigo, as well as traditional dyes.
How did Rosewood Wool begin?
We had the unique opportunity to buy a reasonable amount of Romney lambswool from a couple who bred their own small flock of sheep and had it processed here in New Zealand. They were retiring and we were lucky enough to be able to purchase their remaining wool.
We had bought wool from them over the years and had enjoyed the quality of their pure wool, and were excited at the prospect of being able to dye it ourselves and share it with others. We set about playing with colour. First with natural dyes, and then with traditional wool dyes.
Tell us a bit about Romney Wool.
It’s good honest wool that does as it’s told!
We’re delighted to be part of the resurgence of knitters appreciating pure untreated wool again and designers such as Kate Davies and Ysolda Teague are spearheading this and we are excited to see more people coming onboard to appreciate and see the true value of real wool.
Romney wool wears very well, the fibres bloom and fill after washing and this means your garment keeps you extra warm. Romney wool pills very little and softens with wear.
Have you both always been crafters?
Yes. We have both always dabbled in one form of craft or another and are both self-taught and learn through experimentation, conversations and questioning.
We have raised our children alongside each other and found the nourishment in pursuing and completing creative projects has kept us sane at times.
What is the philosophy behind Rosewood Wool?
Keeping it real.
You have a really lovely colour palette. What's your process for choosing and producing colours?
We are both very observant and know what we like. We see how colour works in nature, and sometimes it works in surprising ways. We only produce colours we find very hard to part with. If we’re unhappy with a colour we over-dye it to get a more complex colour that was more what we were aiming for, and are then happy to sell it.
You sell at markets, online, and I see you've also hosted some knitting events as part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival recently. How important is your local community to your business?
It’s a real pleasure working within our community as we get to see our wool out and about in beautiful shawls, hats and jerseys. We enjoy chatting with people about knitting, and inspiring people to pick up their needles again and delight in seeing their projects come to life. Through Instagram, Ravelry and Facebook however we have also built a rapport with people and enjoy communicating that way too. We have sent wool to Ireland, the Netherlands, the USA and actually the woman who has bought the most wool from us lives in New South Wales!
We do prioritise making time to knit, but yes, sometimes we feel like we should be winding those 30 skeins into cakes; or washing that indigo wool for the 17th time!
Nicola- I am loving knitting myself a top in our 3 ply as I absolutely love knitting in fine wool, and have knitted the last 3 projects in our Aran weight wool.
Vicky- I am knitting a cardi in our Aran weight, and sewing a linen dress; both for myself.
As for favourite materials, it is imperative you use the right material for the purpose. This is essential with all projects. It makes or breaks them. So our favourite materials are the ones at the time that work best for whatever we are making.