Thursday, March 3, 2016

Mountain Colors Yarn Makes Mountainy Colored Yarn

Awesome Colors!  Blodgett Canyon in the Bitterroot Range
The Mountain Colors Yarn company is located near colorful mountains, in the  Bitterroot Valley of Montana between the Bitterroot Range and the Sapphire Mountains.  Owners Diana McKay & Leslie Taylor are very proud of the fact that their yarn colors are inspired (and often named after) the colors of the mountains around them.

But Diana and Leslie weren't the first to enjoy the beauty of the area.  In September 1805 the Lewis and Clark Expedition followed the Bitterroot River and camped in an area they called Traveler's Rest, then returned to the area on the return journey in July of 1806.  Today Traveler's Rest looks pretty much the same as it did during Lewis and Clark's visit, and the area has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  In 2002 archaeological research uncovered latrines with traces of mercury and fire hearths, making the site the only place with archaeological proof of the explorers' camp.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
Squeamish Side Note:  So what's the big deal about finding latrines with mercury?  Mercury is an extremely rare chemical and not naturally found in the area.  Lewis and Clark took with them a medical kit that included 600 of Dr. Rush's Bilious Pills. The pills were a cure-all of sorts, and often used as a laxative.  The pills were 50% mercury, and while mercury is a toxic chemical it was in a form that was not easily absorbed by the body.  The result was that most of the mercury . . . ahem . . . passed through the body.  So a latrine with mercury is proof that the latrines were used by explorers who took Dr. Rush's pills, which told the archaeologists that it truly was Lewis and Clark's camp and not a Native American camp.

How did we get down that path?  Back to Mountain Colors Yarn ...

Diana McKay & Leslie Taylor
It was 186 years later (in 1992) that Diana and Leslie started Mountain Colors Yarns.  They were knitters and dyers with new babies (they met in a Lamaze class while both pregnant) and were looking for fun jobs that would allow them the flexibility to spend time with growing families.  They taught a dye workshop together, and when class participants were eager to buy their dyed samples the light bulbs went off in their heads, and the idea for Mountain Colors Yarn was born.

Their first dye kitchen was literally a kitchen, the ivory colored sink in Diana's home (yup, the sink was permanently stained and had to be replaced).  The business grew and in 1994 they moved out of the kitchen and into an old creamery building, then in 2004 moved again to their current location.  They now offer their yarns in over 100 different colorways - and every single one is hand-dyed in their mountain-hugging location. 

Spring Eclipse
Do you like to read while you knit fabulously colored yarn?  "Not My Daughter" by Barbara Delinsky is the story of three high school girls and their mothers.  The mothers are three best friends who are hand-dyers, and the novel includes a number of descriptions of the three mothers dying their yarns.  The author asked Diana and Leslie if they would produce a special color for the book, and they did - Spring Eclipse, a pink and purple blend.  The special color makes an appearance in the book and is available today as a special order color. 

Spring Eclipse, along with all of Mountain Color's yarns, patterns, and kits are on sale at FiberWild! at 20% off until March 31st. 

Happy Knitting . . . . Scout

1 comment:

Syd T. said...

Have loved Mountain Color's yarns for years, nice to see the faces of the women who create these beautiful colors!

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