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Meet the Makers: Emily C Gillies

Emily C Gillies is a dyer who works out of her home studio just north of Toronto. She has a background in painting and a degree in fine art. As Emily told us by email, “Dyeing yarn is a bit like mixing paint, except I get to see all the lovely things other people create with the colours I’ve developed, which is incredibly rewarding.”

Emily taught herself to knit from books when she was 12 and has always been a maker. When she was in high school, a friend’s mom introduced her to hand dyed yarn.

“She brought me to Lettuce Knit* for the first time and showed me what the world of hand dyed yarn is all about. During university, I’d pop by to pick up one skein at a time and make precious socks on my subway commute downtown.”

*Lettuce Knit closed its doors several years ago and now Yarn Untangled is the LYS Emily feels most at home in. It’s also the first store that stocked her yarn.  

Emily finds life as a dyer “exhilarating, hard work, and so very fulfilling.” Her love of the work is palpable, both through the words she writes and the beautiful yarns she produces. She started dyeing yarn out of a love of colour, with the intention of turning it into a business, and launched in January of 2020. As you might expect, 2020 brought unexpected changes and challenges, but her hard work is beginning to pay off.

Emily’s work is inspired by anything and everything. She views her yarns as a palette, “a cohesive body of work” where each yarn has its place.

“It’s how my colourways interact as a whole that I am enthralled by, and each skein is like a brushstroke in the painting of my work.

Emily C Gillies

Most importantly, I don’t create colourways just because I like them, I create colourways because I feel like they bring something new and exciting to my overall palette. I try to create something that any knitter, crocheter, or maker can find colours that speak to them and can make them their own.”

This year, Emily plans to collaborate with stores and designers, adding new colours to the palette of her work. Instead of the in-person yarn shows she envisioned when she was planning her business, she is participating in virtual shows. She is also planning new ways of connecting with the maker community online, including free seminars for her email subscribers (you can see her site and sign up for her mailing list here: https://www.emilycgillies.ca/ )

And finally, in 2021 Emily wants “to remember to take time to rest, to remind myself that small progress is still progress, and that living through the times we’re in is a feat in itself.” That’s a goal we could all benefit from.

We’re delighted to feature Emily’s gorgeous palette of colourways in our shop. Welcome to the Darn Yarn family, Emily!

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