gryphon knit yarn
Yarn is a sensual pleasure. Walking into a yarn shop is like entering a candy store full of the finest chocolates, only the luxuriant textures and vibrant, multihued colors in the yarn shop stimulate creativity rather than appetite. Bins of yarn ignite the knitter’s imagination with visions of scarves, sweaters, hats and other inspired projects. This is an experience I know well, and I have the yarn stash to prove it. As a knitter, I eagerly anticipated visiting The Verdant Gryphon and interviewing its owner, Gryphon Corpus.
The Verdant Gryphon, located in a roomy warehouse in Easton’s Industrial Park, is not a retail yarn shop; instead, it is an independent yarn dyeing company. “We don’t have a regular walk-in business,” Gryphon explained. All the yarn is hand dyed in the warehouse, wound into individual hanks, and sold online.
“It is artisan work,” she said as we walked to the production area where spools of yarn in its natural state sat waiting to be turned into separate skeins and then dyed a multitude of colors. Gryphon has invented these colors; currently, a database stores 265 color recipes.
Two of her four staffers were “cooking the yarn,” the term used for dyeing the skeins in big pots of boiling water with a little acid. Four skeins were processing in each pot where the staffer had adroitly poured the color and now was stirring the boiling yarn to produce a rich color with some variegation. Once the skeins are cooked, they are soaked in a bath of soapy water, which sets the colors and prevents bleeding.
Skeins hung over lines that crisscrossed a portion of the warehouse. After they dry, they are wound into hanks, ready to be sold online. “We keep a rainbow of colors on the web site all the time,” Gryphon said.
The process begins at the mill where Gryphon orders the fiber blends she wants. This involves “lots of back and forth with the mill,” she said. “The mill makes yarn exactly as I want.”
Gryphon is very particular about the fibers that go into the yarn she sells. The Verdant Gryphon is an appropriate name for the company because Gryphon practices sustainability at every step of the process. She deals with North American mills and is especially concerned with the ethical sourcing of her cashmere, the over-farming of which has led to desertification in China. “I know my mill owner,” she said, “and I can have lunch with him.”
The quality of her yarn extends beyond the fiber blends and color process. She does not ship yarn with knots and dye flaws. “We try to check for knots,” she said. “Our yarn, which sells for between $20 and $32 a skein, is too expensive to have flaws. We know our yarn is high quality, so we don’t want customers to end up with the frustration of tangled up yarn. Most of our staff are knitters and know the frustration of faulty yarn.”
The Verdant Gryphon has a huge following on Ravelry, one of the most popular knitting web sites. In fact, some of the Ravelry group will show up at The Verdant Gryphon’s second Open House to be held on Saturday, September 29 from 10 AM to 4 PM at the warehouse at 7923B Industrial Park Road. This is the once-a-year opportunity for knitters to walk into the warehouse and buy yarn. “Any yarn that’s dyed is up for sale,” Gryphon said. Also, customers can get yarn custom-dyed to order. They will have ten colors to select from; the yarn will be dyed on the premises and packed for them to take home where it will finish drying. Besides the finished product, baby alpacas from Outstanding Dreams Farm will be at the warehouse.
“People come from all over,” Gryphon said about the Open House. “Friendships develop, especially on Ravelry, which is a tight-knit group. One lady is coming from Australia; she makes it her vacation.” Some customers will bring food with them for the potluck lunch, and Gryphon is grilling bison burgers. The event ends with dinner at In Japan. Anyone interested in attending the dinner needs to email Gryphon at firstname.lastname@example.org to get on the reservation list. On Sunday, September 30, The Verdant Gryphon will hold knitting and spinning at Rise Up Coffee from 9 AM till noon.
During my visit to The Verdant Gryphon, I wanted to grab an empty container and start filling it. My fingers twitched to knit and purl a skein of her exquisite yarn. I’ll be at the Open House on Saturday, eager to take home some new skeins for my stash.