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  • March 28, 2024 4 min read

    From classical music to hand-dyed fibres, Colleen Grubb of Cog Yarns has always let creativity lead the way. Based in Regina, SK, she lives with her husband and their pet rabbit, Harriett. She’s a full-time yarn dyer—but it took some unexpected twists to get there!

    Colleen’s first love was music. She began taking violin lessons when she was seven years old, and she trained to be a professional classical violinist.

    Her mother was extremely crafty (she sews, knits, crochets, latch hooks, and cross stitches), but Colleen didn’t learn to knit until her Grade 5 teacher started a knitting club. It was fun, but once the club ended, Colleen lost interest.

    She continued her music lessons, eventually completing a 4-year music degree with a focus in violin performance. But eventually the knitting itch came back. With help from her mom and YouTube, she made her first hat…then a parade of mittens and dishcloths.

    Colleen was hooked.

    Then she discovered hand-dyed yarn at a craft sale—and the rabbit hole got even deeper.

    I didn't know hand-dyed yarn even existed, but I bought a couple skeins with no project in mind. After learning the hard way that skeins need to be carefully wound into a cake (it turned into a giant, tangled mess on the floor), I made my first shawl that I still wear today.

    The hand-dyed yarn opened a whole new world for Colleen, a world she was determined to explore.

    I was absolutely enthralled by the way the variegated colours knit up, and I really wanted to try dyeing something myself to see how it was done. I bought an old soup pot at Value Village, a couple of dyes, and a couple skeins of bare yarn and went to work. It's difficult to describe the feeling when something new just clicks, but I knew after the first skein I dyed that this was something I wanted to pursue.

    She started exploring different dyeing techniques, and “after dyeing more yarn than I could ever use in a lifetime,” she started her business.

    At first Cog Yarns was a part time thing. Colleen was working full time at the University of Regina and using all her spare time, days off, and vacations to dye yarn and attend festivals as a vendor.

    But as the business grew, the time commitment did too.

    Eventually I needed more time to work on my company, so I went down to 4 days a week at my day job and spent a full day of the week scrambling to get everything yarn related done.

    And then…COVID hit. Suddenly Colleen had more time on her hands, and she could focus more energy on her dreams. In 2021, she left her job at the University to become a full-time fibre artist. She’s never looked back.

    My favourite part of working with fiber arts is just the variety of it. My days are always busy, but I'm doing different tasks and projects, so it keeps things fresh and exciting. As a one-woman operation, I’m in charge of everything, from creating projects, dyeing/labelling yarn, marketing, shipping and receiving, and customer service. I'm also a tactile person, so working with my hands and touching soft yarn is therapeutic in many ways. 

    Like so many of the artists in the Darn Yarn family, Colleen has developed a signature aesthetic that unites her creations.

    "My brand is high quality yarn, dyed in mostly low contrast colours, as well as one colour tonals."

     She’s inspired by nature and tends to create subtle colourways with lots of browns, greens, and greys. But she also leaves plenty of room for exploration, incorporating brights, pastels, and more vibrant hues.

    I definitely tend to dye more of cooler colour palettes, meaning blues and purples rather than warmer colours, but I'm working on broadening my comfort zones and experimenting with reds and oranges. 

    While Cog Yarns is her main focus these days, Colleen also makes time for her other passions. She plays violin in a couple of performance groups, and she loves knitting (especially sweaters), weaving, 5-pin bowling, playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends, video games, exercise, and baking.

    On the business side of things, Colleen especially loves connecting with customers, particularly when they visit her booth at yarn festivals and show her their creations.

    There's always a little bit of disconnect when the yarn gets packaged up and goes out the door, so when I get to see the finished project, it really brings it full circle for me. It's very humbling to see my yarn turn into a treasured item of clothing in someone's wardrobe.

    In 2024, she’s focused on expanding her company across Canada, connecting with brick-and-mortar stores as well as online purveyors like Darn Yarn. She’ll also continue to connect with her amazing local community, which has been so supportive from the start.

    I will be doing so by vending at a bunch of yarn festivals and various markets throughout the year. At this point, I have 10 events on my calendar starting in April and ending in December, so I have lots to look forward to! 

    Welcome to the Darn Yarn Family, Colleen! We love your creations and look forward to seeing Cog Yarns grow to new heights!

    Explore our Cog Yarns collection here!

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