I’m all about breathing new life into old things. If it has good bones, the possibilities are endless! Folding baskets might scream “Granny!” but I love what some Etsy sellers are doing to freshen their image, making them prime real estate for WIPs!
I must confess, Apothecary Yarns was my gateway drug into the world of independently hand-dyed yarns, with their wild colorways and catchy names… Which is why I’m super excited about this week’s interview with Sarah and Jennifer, the awesome sisters behind it all!
While they both knit, Jennifer is the mastermind behind the dyeing process, and Sarah is responsible for the business end of things and taking photos of their delicious yarn!
I would really love to meet them for a knit some day because they seem like so much fun! I hope you agree when you hear what they had to say.
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you, please tell us a little about yourself and your hand dyed yarn line, Apothecary Yarns!
We are a small yarn company, run by two sisters dedicated to enhancing knitter’s stash with fun, delicious yarn. Our dyeing headquarters is located in N. Florida and Jennifer is the dye master. I (Sarah) live in S. Florida and I handle the business and photography end of the company – no worries though, Jennifer lets me give plenty of input on the dyeing end AND I get the fun task of picking out the yarn bases!
What makes Apothecary Yarns Unique?
You get two great masterminds for the price of one! Ok, seriously, we are both hopelessly devoted to making yarn we would buy, knit and stash. Everything we put into the shop gets both of our approval – if we don’t like it or wouldn’t want to knit with it, it gets the ax. Also, Jennifer lives in the country near several cool water springs so the water we dye our yarn with is fresh, untreated spring water and we always set our yarns out in the open air – free range yarn!
What inspired you to start dying yarn?
We are both slightly fiber obsessed and we were intrigued by the process of hand dyeing our own yarn. The idea came to us that instead of searching for the perfect color combinations for our projects or waiting on yarn updates, why not create our own colorways on the yarn bases we want.
It seemed the natural progression for us to do business together. We both had the idea to start up our company once we realized how much we loved dyeing yarn. We were so excited and both had so much to offer – there was never any question that we would go into this together.
The best part for us is just how much fun we have together! We both put in 110% towards making this business succeed so the rest is just fun.
The most challenging is living 5 hours apart from each other. All of our business is conducted via phone/Skype/email and snail mail. It has its challenges but the separation also allows us our own creative freedom and gives us our space. Plus it gives us a great excuse to take ‘business trips’ whenever we can
I love how one of you does the dying and the other takes care of business for Apothecary Yarns… But you both knit! Sounds like a great sitch! Please tell us how you fell into the world of fiber:
Sarah: I fell into the world of fiber by chance. I was poking around a bookstore one day and saw Debbie Stoller’s first Stitch N’ Bitch book and flipped through it – I thought it was the coolest thing! I bought it, went to the craft store that day and bought yarn and needles. I wasn’t very successful learning on my own so I signed up for a beginner’s class at my LYS and that was all it took! I was completely hooked.
Jennifer: Well, for me it was gradual process. My mother-in-law was a master at knitting and crochet and she taught me how to crochet. I had a lot of fun crocheting initially, but as my kids got older I stopped crocheting as much – I guess from boredom. Then Sarah started knitting. She came up to visit one Thanksgiving, taught me how to knit, and we sat at the dining room table and knit a tissue cover – that was all it took! It was also Sarah who opened my eyes to the wonderful world of yarn-y goodness…. I had no idea there were so many amazing yarns and different fibers out there.
List some patterns you think Apothecary Yarns would be perfect for:
Some of our yarn is heavily variegated so we think the best patterns are those that can break up the colorway throughout the pattern. We love Cookie A’s Monkey Socks and Erica Lueder’s (Dreams in Fiber) Hermoine’s Everyday Socks. Our yarns look great in shawl patterns also, most recently we’ve seen a Multnomah (by Kate Ray) and Orient Express (by Ashcroft-Hempsall) made and they look fabulous!
Sarah: For me, I’m a very visual person. I love photography and am often inspired by colors and patterns around me. It’s not uncommon for me to call up Jennifer and tell her to check her email for some photo I want her to recreate into a colorway. We also look to our favorite books and movies – fun, kitchy stuff I love silly names but try not to go overboard and name them as I see them. A lot of times Jennifer surprises me with colors she came up with and I let them name themselves, sometimes it takes days but they eventually all get named.
Jennifer: I like to let Sarah come up with the names, I am really more interested in the colorways. I love just pulling something from a photo, book, or even movies and just running with it. I also like to just “wing it” – most of the time those turn out best! I find if I over think it, it doesn’t always turn out as well.
After interviewing several hand dyers, I must admit… I’m tempted to give dying yarn ago! Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement for newbies?
Sarah: This is Jennifer’s area of expertise. My advice? Go for it! I love being inspired by color and seeing it replicated in yarn.
Jennifer: I say go for it! It is the best feeling to see our yarn turn into beautiful pieces. I love to see how the yarn worked up, and patterned. Dyeing yarn for yourself is an extremely rewarding thing to do. And if you have fun doing it, why not create a job out of something that you love?
When at home, please describe where you knit? What is it about the space that makes it yours?
Sarah: I usually plop on my corner of the couch in the family room, put in my earbuds or watch TV and go to town. I have a little table next to my side of the couch that has a small basket of yarn with all my notions in it (hooks, scissors, etc) and that’s usually where my knitting bag sits. I also use my formal living room for when my knitting friends come over – it’s filled with books, comfy couches and lots of light (and no TV or husband distractions are allowed)!
Jennifer: My daughter takes 4 dance classes a week so I am usually knitting in the car! But when I do get a free moment to knit at home, my daughter and I love to knit together in my bedroom. I have a bookcase in my room with all my yarn on it. My daughter and I both have nice big Thirty-One bags that we use as knitting bags – we need our notions to stay portable so keep everything we need in them.
Describe your dream knitting nook:
Sarah: I’d love to be set free at Ikea with no dollar limit! There would be great lighting, comfy chairs and glass front cabinets full of yarn!
Jennifer: For me, it is a room that is ONLY for knitting…. where I can calmly knit without hearing my husband and son playing Modern Warfare on the Xbox in surround sound! You know, just 2 comfy chairs, a cozy fireplace, walls lined with books and yarn. A peaceful place for me and my daughter to knit.
… What about a dream Apothecary Yarns office / headquarters / bat cave?
Sarah: I’d love a headquarters that’s large enough to house both the dye studio and Apothecary Yarns business office. I imagine it full of undyed yarn and large inspiration photos hanging on the wall. Of course there would be big comfy chairs to sit in and never ending baskets of yarn to knit with. I’m thinking there wouldn’t be a whole lot of working going on if we got our wish
Jennifer: I would second Sarah’s thought here. It would be a wonderful place, cozy and intimate – maybe with a little café. I’d love to have a place where you can get a coffee and a muffin and sit and knit with your friends.
Please let us know how we can enhance our stash with your delicious yarn:
The stage is yours! Is there anything you’d like to add?
We have a group on Ravelry called The Apothecary where we post previews for upcoming updates and you can share your projects made with Apothecary Yarn. We also have a Facebook page and Twitter account (althought those aren’t nearly as active as the Ravelry group).
If catching up with the Crawleys once a week is just not enough, check out the Roman Hill’s Etsy shop; Lisa and Amy channel the likes of Mary, Sybil, Matthew, Bates, Anna and yes, even the scheming Thomas & O’Brien! But hurry up, because they’re going like hotcakes!
Big bold print? Check! Fun bright color? Check! Knitterly design? Check! I’m all over this pillow from Maya Muse Textiles!
Her products boast original designs and are screen printed by hand using all-natural materials. I only wish she had more prints and products to choose from! That being said, I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on her Etsy shop.
Laura Jinks is the indie hand dyer behind Gynx Yarns, which seems to have something for every knitter! Her Etsy shop is more like a candy shop, offering a rainbow of colors ranging from semi-solids to high-contrasted variegates but all of her bases are made from eco-friendly materials– something we can all get behind!
This week I had the pleasure of interviewing her and I hope you enjoy what she had to say!
For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you, please tell us a little about yourself! How and when did you learn to dye yarn?
I’ve lived in Texas my whole life. I started knitting in 2005 and have been addicted ever since. I’m currently in Denton, but I will be moving in with my fiance and two cats in Fort Worth at the end of January when we’re married. I just graduated from the University of North Texas with a major in Fiber Arts, which is where I learned several dyeing techniques and fell in love with the process. At home I tried dyeing a few batches of yarn with Kool-Aid one day and enjoyed it, and jumped straight into the professional dyes from there.
Please tell us about Gynx Yarns and what makes it unique?
Gynx Yarns (pronounced like “jinx”) is an independent yarn dyeing company that is solely operated by myself, which I started at the beginning of 2011. Gynx Yarns are made from 100% organic merino wool, because it is important to me that my product comes from ethical sources. I also have a small line of recycled wools that come from unraveled sweaters that are then hand dyed. There are several different colorways, ranging from muted semi-solids to bolder, high-contrast variegateds, so there is something for every taste.
What inspires your colorways and their names?
I draw inspiration from everywhere. A lot of times when I’m creating a new color, I don’t know what inspires me until after I pull it out of the dye pot. I’ll look at the yarn and realize I got the colors from a show I had watched the night before, a painting I had seen recently, something I saw in nature, or was influenced by what was playing on my iPod while I was mixing colors. Normally I’ll name my colors after those things.
While I love heavily-variegated yarns, I really love subtle shifts in color that can be used for complicated patterns like lace and not overwhelm, but still have a lot more movement and personality than commercial, solid yarns. Semi-solids have so much depth when knitted up and have a very natural feel to them that I’m obsessed with.
Which patterns do you think Gynx Yarns would be perfect for:
I’m working on a pair of basic ribbed socks with my Fullmetal colorway and because of the width of the sock and the length of the color repeats, the socks are getting these cool, thick diagonal stripes. Some of my more subtle colorways would be perfect for lacework. I’ve been wanting to steal a skein of Oil Slick from myself to make a shawl.
What is your favorite part of the dying process?
The best part is putting the paintbrush to white yarn or dipping the yarn into a pot and seeing the yarn soak up the colors. I am meticulous about note-keeping so I can repeat colorways, but when I’m creating a new one, I don’t go in with a plan. I work very experimentally, and 99% of the time it is something that I love. Second, I also love seeing the dyed yarn come out of the pot and seeing my work become something tangible!
Play around and experiment! If it turns out badly, you can always overdye. I’ve gotten some really beautiful yarns from mistake batches.
When at home, please describe where you knit and/or dye your fiber. What is it about the space that makes it yours?
Currently, in my tiny studio apartment I mostly knit in my bed in front of my laptop. I do all the dyeing in my tiny kitchen (with food and the like safely put away!). I don’t exactly love my set-up right now, and I am very excited to have my own studio soon.
Describe your dream knitting nook / room:
This is something that’s been on my mind lately because I’m moving and need to plan my room! The top priority for knitting is finding an over-sized, squishy armchair for me to lounge around with my knitting in. For my dyeing, I’ll have a wall full of shelves and cubbie holes to store supplies and yarn to keep them organized. And of course I’ll have a bunch of my fiber undergrad artwork up for decoration!
Please let us know how we can enhance our stash with Gynx Yarns:
Finally, the stage is yours! Is there anything you’d like to add?
Even though I dye for business, for pleasure I still knit and do other forms of crafts. I blog about those things at http://gynx.blogspot.com
Many thanks to Laura for taking the time to do this interview!