Indie dyer Anna Castillo Martinez of Gregoria Fibers reveals how nature inspires her luxury yarns…
Out in her parents’ garden, not far from Barcelona, she can be found creating skeins of yarn, using natural dyes and a playful colour palette.
As one of a growing band of indie dyers, Anna’s luxury yarn really does deserve a squish. Her varied natural colours, and the fact the yarns even smell delicious, makes us want to grab our needles and get knitting straight away.
Anna — who trained as a product designer — has been inspired by her father’s career in the textile industry. Growing up she was always surrounded by knitting machines and wool cones. Her passion for wool intensified after she moved to Germany and began to experiment with natural dyes. When she returned to Spain, she began growing plants to turn into dyes in her parents’ garden and Gregoria Fibers was born.
We caught up with Anna on a break from dyeing to find out how she creates her unique yarn, what keeps her inspired and what’s on her needles right now…
Hi Anna! Where do you do your dyeing?
My dye studio is located at my parents’ place; they live outside the city so they have a little space for me as well as a garden to dry my yarns in. I don’t live with them but their home is the place where I grew up, and their garden makes me feel like the happiest girl in the world. I love to come here every morning and see how the seasons change. My dye studio is at the garage. It’s dark and cold in winter and hot in summer, but it’s a place where I can develop my yarn dyeing processes no matter how messy it gets!
Talk us through your average working day…
My day always starts with a cup of tea. When I get to the studio the first thing that I do is to set up the stove with all my dyeing pots and I soak all the skeins. I love to plan what I’m going to dye the day before and tie the yarns ready. While the dye pots are getting ready I have a little bit of time to answer emails and do all my computer stuff. Then I put on my apron and gloves and the dyeing begins! My mum brings me lunch everyday, which is very sweet of her, and I let my dyes set and cool while I have a beautiful tea in the garden with her. After that it’s time for rinse the skeins and hang them on the line to dry.
What’s on your knitting needles right now?
I’ve had a few days of frustration and insecurity and have unraveled several projects. I actually left my needles to rest for a few days and dedicated myself to weaving instead. Last night I finally felt the need to knit again and I started the No Frills sweater using my own yarn, dyed with lac and cochineal.
What are you currently obsessed with?
I recently started weaving and my dad made me a medium weaving loom a few weeks back. It’s such a meditative activity.
How do you stay inspired?
I’ve always been inspired by other dyers and artists and love tracking them down on Instagram. I find the changing seasons very inspiring too. I change the colourways of my yarns with both the seasons and my mood.
What’s your favourite natural dyeing ingredient?
I love pink. Avocado gives you a beautiful pale colour but I prefer the versatility of Lac, which gives a really gorgeous shade of pink.
What are you currently working on?
I have a few new natural bases that I want to include in the shop very soon, so I’m developing those. I also want to go back to my beginnings and experiment more in solid or semi-solid colours.
What’s the best bit of creative advice you’ve ever been given?
Just try and don’t wait to achieve the perfect colourway. Don’t feel intimidated by natural dyeing. Experiment, take notes and have fun with the easier dyes you have in your fridge.
What’s your top tip for new business owners?
No matter what you decide to do, go about it with love and passion, and keep going no matter what. Even if at first you don’t have many sales, always offer new things in your shop, and make sure you continue creating. But, above all, share it!