An Interview with Lola Johnson of Third Vault Yarns


March of our year long MAL is sponsored by Third Vault Yarns! We had a catchup with dyer, designer and knitting teacher Lola Johnson (they/them) to find out about how they have combined their passion for science fiction and fantasy with their love of yarn.  

Tell us about your knitting journey and how you came to start Third Vault Yarns?

I've knitted from a young age, but never in earnest until my 3rd and Master's year of University, which was also one of the drivers for Third Vault Yarns. During that time I learnt to dye yarn to teach other people and fell in love with it, so much so, when I graduated I decided I wanted to continue and share my yarn with others.

We know your yarns are inspired by your love of fantasy and sci-fi, how do you go about translating this inspiration into skeins?

I take a lot of my inspiration from books, so I will often highlight passages that evoke vivid imagery, whether colour is explicitly described or not. Often it will be my interpretation of the moment and how I visualise it, that will influence both the colours and the style of dyeing I use.

What made you want to take the path of yarn dyeing?

I find colour very evocative. Playing with colour and seeing different colours together brings me joy and elicits a lot of different emotions. A big reason why I do this as more than a hobby is because I want to share those emotions with others and hopefully brighten their day as they get to interact with my yarn.

Do you ever work from specific images when creating colours? If so we’d love to hear about that process!

I tend to use images with my Mystery Study Yarn club, which I'll break down into colour palettes, these get voted on and the winning palette will determine the colours, then the image and theme will influence the dyeing style I use to bring it to life.

What is your most popular colourway to date? And what is your personal favourite?

Death and Morta seem to be firm favourites, and I love them too! My favourites tend to be an expanding list, they don't get replaced just added to. I re fall in love with my colourways everytime I get to work with them or see people choosing them and playing with different combinations. The newest addition to that list is Stars Abound.

You’re also a pattern designer, what is your process for creating designs? Are there any parallels between your dyeing process and your designing process?

Designing tends to be a multi-step process for me. Depending on whether the design is for a specific project or if it develops organically, that determines the direction. For the Board Game knits books, as all the designs were inspired by board games, there was a fair amount of research to pick the games that I both connected with and that sparked inspiration.  Once I have an idea, I sketch out the design, which may go through several iterations before I swatch it. Once that's done, I'll either begin knitting it myself or I will work with one of my wonderful sample knitters, with the latter pattern writing will come first, in the former it will run concurrently. 

What’s on your needles right now?

I've too many WIPs to count, however I'm most often picking up my patchwork style jumper. This is a project, much like my other wips, that i'm winging on the fly after doing some sketching, and minor calculations, it's pretty unlikely to become a pattern. I've recently bound off on a much-hacked version of the Ali Sweater, in my non superwash blue faced Leicester DK yarn, as generally if i'm knitting something it's going to be DK or above, my hands have a preference for thicker yarn!

What does a day at Third Vault Yarns look like typically?

Days will most often start with admin, there's always way more than one would like! Once a couple of things are checked off, then i'll head over to my little studio in Acton to make the magic happen. Dyeing will commence whilst I listen to a fantastic tabletop roleplaying podcast or bop along to some music, sometimes i'll even do it live! Weekly i'll rush back home in the evening to get on camera with some fantastic people and continue making our own tabletop roleplaying game videos/podcast.

What does the future hold for Third Vault Yarns?

Third Vault is a growing umbrella, that encompasses my designs and yarns, but also has a few new additions in the form of games writing and socks. There will possibly be more on offer in the future. This year Third Vault Yarns is having fun creating new colourways and attending a few more in person shows.

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