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Wool Up North

Federica Mudu is the indie dyer behind Wool Up North. This Italian lady now living in Norway has her own colour palette, full of joy and the sun from her beloved country of origin.

I was lucky enough to come across this sweet person some time ago and I enjoy her chats about anything that crosses our minds at a certain moment, from cooking to knitting, of course, always some yarn or knitting is involved!!


How did you start dyeing yarn? I fell madly in love with hand dyed yarn while I was pregnant with my younger about three years ago, I started to look into how it was made and me and my oldest boy (who was about 3 years old at that time) started playing in the kitchen with edible pigments. It was lots of fun, and lots of crazy colours. I experimented a lot with botanical dyes and professional acid pigments after that for about one year before opening my own little Etsy shop.

Do you have a chemical background? Yes, I do. I have a PhD in inorganic chemistry, and a master degree in pharmaceutical chemistry. My background was definitely the main reason why I started experimenting with dyes and yarn. It is like a playground for a chemist!!!

Do you have a profession in real life? Yes, I do, I am responsible for a quality control laboratory in a Company that produces materials for the construction industry.

What are you the most, artist or chemist? Such a difficult question, I am more of a technical person, I love to understand how thing works and find the explanation behind each observable phenomena...I Guess I can be called a Chemical artist maybe? ;)

When I met you, I bought the last skein of a gorgeous tweed (that I have used in 2 of my favourite shawls!) but all of a sudden you made up your mind not to use superwash wool anymore, why so? This is such an important question for me, and I am so glad you asked that. For many years I did not ask myself what was behind the word superwash; even if I was taking such a technical education I somehow just thought that it was a minor process involved, mostly physical since in the labels it of superwash commercial yarn it was written 100 % wool. But as my interest for wool and fibres increased, I felt the need to understand what was behind the process of producing superwash yarn, and as soon as I realized how hard that process is for the environment (enormous amounts of polluting by products are left over in the environment during the production of superwash yarn) and for the wool (that is left without some of the most gorgeous wool properties like waterproofing just to name one) I knew I could not continue with superwash yarn. At the same, I was intimidated by this choice, since is not a common one in the indie dyer community I was afraid that it could make it difficult for me to survive, and most of all I knew it was going to be difficult to find non superwash yarn to dye as most of the biggest retailers of undyed yarn do not have so many non superwash bases available.

Today I can say that this non superwash journey of mine has been amazing. It has forced me to look into smaller producers and to take contact with direct organic farms, and I have met so many amazing people that work with wool thinking of the ecological impact of what they do.

At the same time Wool Up North has grown bigger and bigger, something that tells me that more and more people are conscious about what they knit with and what impact the yarn they use has for the environment.

Which are the fibres you are using now? I know there is one from Italy that is very special for you, tell us about it. I am no good at sticking to a stable yarn portfolio, I love trying new fibres and meeting new people with exciting wool journeys and this often results in new yarn bases available. The Italian yarn is definitely that one closest to my heart at the moment, it comes from a heritage sheep breed called Brogna that lives in the area around Verona (Italy). These sheep were well known for about 800 years ago for the amazing wool they gave, the wool and the yarn has been sold in the marked in Verona (Italy) and in the area around for many, many years.

During the past 50 years the tradition for wool has lost interest and customers, and this sheep breed was very close to extinction. Luckily some very clever people started to care for it and since May 2012 they got together in order to save this important and traditional animal from extinction.

I am so lucky that I get to work with them and buy this pure, not bleached, not treated and organic yarn that I get to dye here in Norway. It is a piece of Italian history and tradition. The fibres are longer than merino, and the yarn is soft in a gorgeous real woolly way!

Which kind of dyes do you use? I use professional dye pigments that react with the yarn with the use of common vinegar, nothing scarier than that as I dye at home!

Do you knit yourself? I knit ALL THE TIME :) I love to knit. I love the slow process of creating and tailoring clothes with a thread and two needles. I love wearing my hand knitted items and I love to watch my kids play around in the hand knit clothes I make for them.

And now, tell us the big news!!  Yay, I am moving from Etsy!

Lately I missed a space where I could talk more about the yarn I choose to dye, where it comes from and what it is suitable for; a space that could be more mine than Etsy. So I set up Here I feel at home and it gives me the possibility to talk about wool, fibers and dyeing and all the cool things.

I also have set up a newsletter, and those who sign up will get a mail the day before each shop update (usually once a month) with a brief description of what is to come! 

I am working on the English version of the blog, which right now is in Norvegian.

(For those intested in learning more about superwash wool, I highly recommend you to go to Federica´s blog and use Google translator or similar to read her last post. It is a very interesting reading!!)

If you want to know more about Federica and her yarns, you can reach her here, but I prevent you, stay tuned for her updates, since she tends to sell quite fast!!

Etsy:  WoolUpNorth (not for long time, however)
New Site: WoolUpNorth 
Instagram: @federicaupnorth

I hope you enjoyed this post as much I did preparing it. If you have any doubts or queries, you can reach me at my Ravelry group: patchwork and cakes by josef or leave a comment below.

See you soon and keep knitting!!



(All the pictures are mine or have been used with the permission of the owner, being all of them under copyright protection. Please, do not reproduce them without the due authorisation.)


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