Interview with 6 and 7 Fiber
When I was growing up, I lived in a suburban Houston house with my mom and dad and my cat I could never name. But I was alive when I was in Narnia. Or Oz. Or traveling Mirkwood with Bilbo. Or the Fire Swamp with Westley and Buttercup.
I've always loved magic and fantasy. The limitless possibilities of what could exist in another world enchanted me and I always wanted to explore every inch of a new fantastic place. Even so, I had no idea when I picked up The Sorcerer’s Stone that the Harry Potter books would eventually sink under my skin to become part of me, but they captured me completely.
Clearly, I'm not the only one. Many, many yarn dyers have used the Harry Potter books for color inspiration and many, many more will, I'm sure, and that's great for us because Harry Potter yarn is magical! (Ha!) I've seen how yarn dyers have interpreted concepts from these books in a variety of ways, but there's something about how Rachel from Six and Seven fiber has translated Harry Potter onto yarn that gets it just right for me.
So, I had to get in touch with Rachel and talk to her about her Harry Potter yarns! But first, I asked how she fell in love with the story:
(I would totally movie marathon with you, Rachel!!! I’ll bring the chocolate frogs.)
One thing I love in her yarns is that they're not all literal interpretations—she uses color to evoke moods and ideas and small details that only a true lover of the story would: "I made my colors based on nuances and feelings, like all of my other colorways."
I looked at some photos, but mostly re-read the books to dive deeply into what I was aiming to convey.
—Rachel of 6 and 7 Fiber
It has been a year since Rachel first introduced her Harry Potter line and I'm so excited to share my chat with her! Today, I'm both celebrating Rachels' HP yarniversary and I'm kicking off my year-long 2019 Tour des Dyers, in which I will be sharing thoughts and inspirations behind some special colorways created by friendly neighborhood indie dyers across the U.S. And I’m starting with a huge post that features a whole set, so get ready for lots of pics!
Rachel offers a collection of ten HP colorways that together form a rainbow. I purchased a set of five minis which included: Luna's Shoes, Tonks' Hair, To the Library, The Burrow, and 9 3/4. They are dyed on her Milo base of 75/25 Merino/Nylon fingering weight. "I got halfway through before I realized I really was doing a rainbow -- and I love how that turned out!" says Rachel. The colorways play (excuse the pun) magically off one another and are perfect for a multi-color pattern—I'm thinking the Changes Shawl by Mina Philipp or Time Trades by Caitlin Hunter. Rachel says the Scrappy Bias Shawl by Emily Clawson turns out especially well using the complete set of HP minis! I ultimately chose Andrea Mowry's Fluorite Socks, because these yarns seem meant for fading. And because socks. I was right: these colors fade into one another like magic! (I did it again!)
It's fun to see people integrate them with other colors and into other projects, too, as heels and toes or brims of hats! Basically, I'm always floored with the creativity of makers in our community -- I love that my role is to create colors, but the designing, deciding, pairing, and working with them will always be very magical and inspiring to me.
The inspiration for the Harry Potter colorways all started with Luna's Shoes. Rachel says Luna is one of her favorite characters, to the point that she even considered auditioning for the movie role! (How cool would that be?)
I admire her dreamy, hopeful way of looking at things, and she's always been the color purple in my mind. In the movies, particularly the last three, it's sort of funny how you can pause most scenes she's in and play a "Let's Spot Luna" game. She's the one wearing purple or pink, and her ethereal blonde hair is just this ironic bright spot in the midst of the darkness.
And while neither Rachel nor I could honestly say that pink is a favorite color, we both love it in Tonks' Hair, because, "come on, how could I make a Tonks colorway without hot pink?"
There's a line where she says her favorite shade of hair is hot pink, so I sort of started with that in mind and built the remaining colors based on how I felt her personality was. Quirky, fun, loyal, clumsy, yet wicked smart.
It's very obvious to me that Rachel has spent considerable time immersing herself in the Harry Potter books. She finds inspiration in little moments of the books, like when Harry, Ron, and Hermione are having a talk about kissing and Hermione calls Ron out for having "the emotional range of a teaspoon." It's one of the funniest lines in the whole series to me—OMG, Hermione, someday I will have the right moment to use that line. (Sadly, I don't have that colorway, but you can go check it out on the 6 and 7 website.)
I’m not sure how often Hermione says, “to the library” but it’s a lot! I love how her solution to every problem starts with knowledge (and ends with action, like the true Gryffindor she is.) The library at Hogwarts is almost a living, breathing character in itself. To a bibliophile, well… it's the stuff of dreams. Who wouldn’t want to explore it? (Especially the Restricted Section!)
I went for colors that were sensible and mature, would hopefully make you almost smell aged, hand-bound books when you worked with it.
And my favorite: The Burrow. I'd adore it even if it wasn't a Harry Potter colorway, but the fact that it so vividly evokes the colors of Mary GrandPre's cover art for The Chamber of Secrets just puts this one over the top for me.
I asked if Rachel was purposefully inspired by the book covers, but she says that it wasn't intentional and she only noticed it once she started photographing the yarns for the website! "I think that was just a magical little coincidence! Maybe they were there in the back of my mind and came out in the creative process?" Maybe so, because it’s not just The Burrow; all of the HP colorways interact with GrandPre’s art beautifully.
The Burrow specifically was meant to feel like a cozy home (with a touch of orange for the hair, of course) because the Weasley house is a dream home for me. Those nooks and crannies, the knitting going in the background, a big farmhouse table that's always welcoming, and just the feel of love make it so special -- and it was Harry's first glance at a loving family and home. I adore that about the Weasleys.
And I adore the orange speckles. 🧡
More's the pity, it seems that these are all the Harry Potter colorways we'll be getting from Six & Seven Fiber. (With the exception of a solo colorway, “Dreaming on a Train,” which I knit into mitts you can see in this post. Rachel also has a beautiful Anne of Green Gables collection you should check out.) "I love the set of ten, and don't want to overdo it. They fit so well together and go with so many of my other colorways, so I think I'll leave them be." She says she's knit up The Burrow for herself and "I'd really love to make a sweater or something larger out of Hogwarts: A History (My favorite. Don't you dare tell the others.)"
And now, here they are all knit up:
These socks are so pretty, I could cry. I've long loved reverse stockinette stitch for the way it tames the extremes of highly variegated yarns by allowing the overlapping of stitches from the purl side to smooth the color transitions. It creates a more subtle blend—I think Andrea Mowry is spot on whenever she chooses this stitch for her fade technique.
The set of yarns flows beautifully into one another. Rachel did a great job of carrying colors over so the yarns would work together. Like J.K. Rowling thinks through every detail in her books, Rachel & Andrea obviously put a lot of thought into both the colorways and the design—I feel like I have a work of art on my feet!
Knitting is symbolic of love and respect throughout the Harry Potter books, as Molly knits for her family and Hermione for the house elves. And socks have a special place: I’ve never quite settled on an interpretation of what Dumbledore means when he tells Harry he wishes someone would give him socks, but the sentiment is significant to me. (If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them in the comments.) And of course, Dobby’s socks mean everything in the world to him. All of that is wrapped up in this project for me.
Quick hit conversation between Rachel and me:
Which is your favorite HP book? Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
(me:) Mine is Order of the Phoenix. I identify with Angtsy!Harry and the political slant.
Favorite HP character? Neville Longbottom (talk about a great character arc!)
(me:) Oh, Neville, yes! I regularly set him as an example for my kids of how to be an awesome human. I think Dumbledore is my personal favorite, or McGonagall. It hurts to choose, though, doesn't it?
Which class at Hogwarts would you be most interested in taking? Herbology
(me:) I'm thinking Defense Against the Dark Arts. With Lupin or Moody, of course.
What would your Patronus be? I've done the test on Pottermore -- again, you're not surprised, right? -- and I'm a field mouse. Haha!
(me:) I got leopard. :)
Which spell do you wish you could do in your real life? Scourgify!
(me:) Exactly what I would choose! I can't tell you how many times I've waved my hand at the kitchen saying 'Scourgify!' I don't understand why it never works. I guess I didn't do so well in Charms...