Marmalade in Frome

November 16, 2012

Frome is a delightful town in Somerset, full of winding streets and surprising shops.  Turn a corner and discover Catherine Hill – vintage clothes, printmaking and ceramics and a yarn shop…of course.

I loved my visit to Marmalade Yarns – from the handknitted OPEN sign on the door to the brimming shelves of unusual yarns.  It was tiny but still able to fit a comfortable couch, patterns books and lots of friendly warmth. On my British Yarn Quest list to look at were Jilly Bean and Shilasdair yarns.  There wasn’t a huge range of Jilly Bean so I will save that particular rummage and selection till I get to Bristol – home of Jilly Bean…but more of that in a later post.

Today’s post is all about Shilasdair.  Like many of the most beautiful British local yarn discoveries this trip, I came upon Shilasdair by accident whilst looking through the blog of fellow knitter and Berwick-upon-Tweed artist Vanessa Cabon.  She had been on holiday to the island of Skye in Scotland and had visited the Shilasdair dye house.  The yarns looked amazing and had an even better story.

In 1972, Eva Lambert established Shilasdair – The Skye Yarn Company on the island with a commitment to produce a range of beautiful yarns in harmony with nature.  To this end, they use traditional methods of dying, a variety of commonly available local plants and select imported dye stuffs such as cochineal, indigo and logwood.  The yarn is a blend of Scottish wool, cashmere, camel and angora. This was exactly the kind of yarn I wanted to see.

I looked in vain in Northumberland for a stockist of the yarn since we were not going to be travelling that far north.  It was wonderful then, to find them in Marmalade Yarns, Frome in all their subtle loveliness.  I bought hanks dyed with Skye Meadowsweet and Tansy, over-dyed with indigo (doesn’t that sound so exciting?).  I am planning a shawl, perhaps Whipporwill which requires a low contrast varigated yarn.