Experiment to Passion: An Interview with Hedgehog Fibres
What makes Hedgehog Fibres so special, do you think?
I think there are a few factors. We’ve got a great team of mostly women, many of whom have been through the grinder of corporate jobs, or working for uncaring monoliths. I’ve been one of those people. I’m proud to have stolen women from jobs like that and have been able to create a positive environment with them, where we feel valued and are proud of what we make. And what we make is focused on the three things I was looking for as a consumer:
- colours that pop and reflect how I view myself
- tactilely beautiful materials that I’d want to cover myself in
- consistency in the quality of what I was getting.
The intersection of those three things, made by wonderful people, is Hedgehog Fibres.
How did Hedgehog Fibres start?
I began knitting after I was laid off in 2008 during the global economic crash. I’m someone who always has new projects to entertain myself. It wasn’t unlike Covid, I turned to YouTube to learn more, though there was a curve to it. My first project turned into HUGE socks with aran weight yarn because I knew nothing about gauge. This motivated me even more, I had to know everything!
The more I knitted, the more dissatisfied I was with the yarn available; acrylic yarn, boring colours, scratchy wool. I value my time and I want to enjoy the process of making things as well as the finished item. I need beautiful colours and fibres. I did lots of googling trying to find something better; a lot... I wasn’t feeling any of the colours that were available so I researched the process and began to make my own. I modified over and over, for years, out of my bathtub at home and on my kitchen hob. That’s it! That’s how Hedgehog Fibres began.
What is your favourite part of the dyeing process?
Experimentation 100%! We get to create so many one-of-a-kind Potluck™ colours. It is so much fun! We also dye Custom Colours for our retailers and that’s one fun project after another. We take colour inspiration from all over the place. In Ireland, any walk through a garden is enough to get back into the kitchen and start playing with colours.
What is your inspiration for the colours you use?
I want to keep it fun! I love changing things up. I think Hedgehog Fibres really reflects that attitude as an extension of my personal style. Sometimes I think of a great name and then create a colourway to match (like Teacup) or sometimes I realise there’s something missing in the line and then get completely obsessed with a colour (I had to have this dusty lilac, so we have ‘Purr’). But some colours are definitely happy accidents! Deep End was such a great Potluck™ that we added it to the line.
Do you have a favourite colorway?
Speckles! Speckles forever! I love pink and yellow and I love pastels with a nice delicate speckle running through them…I love strong brights, moody deeps and soft neutrals.. They’re all part of what makes up the Hedgehog Fibres brand. I love the way it looks on a skein and how it knits out in a piece.
Can you tell us a little about how you design your patterns? Do you begin with the yarn or the design idea?
All of the 40+ patterns on our website are free. So I tend to err on the side of accessibility. I know how it is to start knitting and not being sure exactly how to begin. So I do provide free patterns that are fun and can get you started. We’ve also partnered with a lot of great designers for those who have been knitting longer and looking for more complexity. I’ve got a great group of test knitters who make sure everything in the patterns is correct and can be scaled up or down where required.
So I would say I do begin with the design idea. The point of my making the yarn in the first place is that it makes me happy with the process and the outcome, regardless of the design.
What’s next for Hedgehog Fibres?
Our vision is that we make the best yarn in the world. So that will always be our core competency. We’ve recently introduced knitting bags into the line and other accessories. More will be coming so long as I’m happy with the quality and consistency.
I think of the satisfaction I get from working on projects that are just for me. And I think of the fun that I have when I go out and meet my knitting group and the different walks of life we’re all on. If Hedgehog Fibres can have a part in bringing people together, making things with our hands, and sharing time and conversation, I think it’s a worthwhile endeavour and am happy for that to be what’s next.