Episode 88: The Wool Kitchen – An Interview with Helen Reed

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A short intro this week as the old croaky voice is threatening a return. This week I am thrilled to bring you the other half of my Best in Show EYF winning double act – Helen from The Wool Kitchen. She is from the wrong side of the Pennines but a good Northener nonetheless and is responsible for my breaking of the ‘no 4 ply purchasing’ self inflicted rule for EYF. Her love of colour gets me every time…


Helen follows the classic pattern of a knitter – her mum taught her all she knows! She was a knitter, mainly of scarves, until her first pregnancy, when she started to knit clothes for the impending arrival. It was during this time that she realised she could read patterns and immediately have the 3D image of what it could be. Her love of bright colours and her interest in how a piece of string can be manipulated into different patterns and paired with other colours is what fuelled her desire to dye. She is a self confessed geek.

Becoming a dyeing business made sense for Helen for a number of reasons. She felt that although she had a lovely life and a perfectly nice job, something was being suppressed. Her friends from Knit Night gave her the push to realise that it was the colour and creativity within her. In order to make it work around childcare etc Helen really needed to make it a business, rather than the progression from hobby to business we often see. Many women will feel familiar with the feeling that Helen had: a sense of a certain amount of loss of her true self after motherhood. Somewhere in there was the woman who loved to be busy and occupied and had creativity in bounds. Starting this business fulfilled all those needs and returned a feeling of balance between ‘old’ and ‘new’ Helen.

As with many working mums, Helen’s days are built around the school run. Between those she will be filling her tubs to soak yarn, putting down plastic sheets in the kitchen, hiding post-it notes from herself then getting down to dyeing what she needs for her collection or a new colourway. One of Helen’s stand out statements for me is that she has had all these colours in her mind for many years. She has sported bright tie-dyed clothes and various hairstyles in a bid to get them out but ultimately the sense of release has come through unleashing them on unsuspecting skeins of yarn. It can also be that Helen has come up with a name but needs to find the perfect blend of colours to fit it, for example ‘Punch Drunk’. Many of her yarn names reflect her personality in their quirkiness or humour.

Punch Drunk copyright The Wool Kitchen

Punch Drunk copyright The Wool Kitchen

Sometimes Helen will break a skein down into four parts and try different things with each part, then slightly change them until it’s right. Ziggy, her best selling colourway, was developed like this. She also enjoys freestyling with her dyeing methods. She is no stranger to pots, glazing, injecting, hand painting or dropping colour from a height. Multi-talented this one.

Given that Helen is more a cup overflowing than glass half full kinda gal finding a low point in her yarny life is difficult. The only potential down for her is self doubt. It is all too easy in this social media led world to make comparisons of ourselves with others and to worry that others may feel we are copying them or in some way too similar. She has, though, come to realise that we all come to the pots as individuals and there will always be an element of difference. And that we are of course a very friendly lot and are far more likely to offer support than anything else. Helen feels that we should all make colleagues of each other, as she has done with Larissa Travelknitter, and be able to openly discuss ideas and look for inspiration in each other. Helen was overwhelmed by how many people at her first show already knew who she was; as always the yarn community is the high point. We also had a good chat about not trying to please everyone and agreed that if everyone liked you you’d probably be a bit bland. Always best to be someone’s shot of whisky than everyone’s cup of tea I say.

Helen quotes Instagram and Ravelry as her go to resources. Instagram for social media and gaining many friends and Ravelry, well that’s for avoidance of boob hammocks – listen for the definition. DO NOT GOOGLE IT!

I don’t often include the desert island skein section in my shownotes, I like to keep some things back, but given that Helen had clearly dedicated so much time to a both ingenious and practical response I thought it only right to include it. Helen would choose ‘Ziggy’ her BFL and Bamboo blend, because it is strong and versatile so could be used for tying rafts together, oh and far more importantly the bamboo has antibacterial properties for washing her pits upon rescue!

Ziggy copyright The Wool Kitchen

Ziggy copyright The Wool Kitchen

In the near future Helen is considering a move to her shed, planning a couple of patterns and considering some autumn colours. You can find her at all those places:

Facebook: The Wool Kitchen                                              Etsy: Thewoolkitchen

Instagram: @thewoolkitchen                                             Ravelry: Thewoolkitchen

Twitter: @TheWoolKitchen                                                Wild and Woolly: online and instore

Fluph: online and instore


Helen has graciously donated a skein of her potentially dignity saving Ziggy colourway in the 80% Superwash BFL and 20% Bamboo mix. It is a riot of colour and all you have to do is head to the Ravelry group and tell me which of her colourways is your favourite. A winner shall be randomly selected after the 22nd April.

Wrap Up

That’s all from me this week. As always, thank you for listening. Feedback is always appreciated, and you can email me or message me via Ravelry or social media. If you enjoyed listening today, please consider leaving an iTunes review, to help others find the podcast too. Happy crafting!

2 comments on “Episode 88: The Wool Kitchen – An Interview with Helen Reed

  1. Thanks really enjoyed that.

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