Interview: Apothecary Yarns

Apothecary Yarns, Wall Street Jumper

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.


How did you decide to go into business together? What’s the best part?… and the most challenging?

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!


What inspires your colorways and their names?

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:

We are currently setting up our shop at www.apothecaryyarns.com but right now you can find us on Etsy at www.etsy.com/apothecaryyarns.

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).

Super big thanks to Sarah and Jennifer for taking the time to do this interview! Sarah is QueSarah and Jennifer is Flachk on Ravelry. Be sure to check out the Apothecary Yarns Etsy shop!

Interview: A Playful Day

Green Triangle Girl of ‘A Playful Day’ Podcast

Behold! Another interview with one of my favorite knitting podcasters, Green Triangle Girl of A Playful Day! Like the name suggests, her show evokes an incredible sense of playfulness. Her voice is charming and always upbeat. I just love her enthusiasm for knitting; each episode leaves you ready to tackle the world with their knitting needles. Did I mention, she’s also a mega foodie? The girl loves to cook and bake– rest assured, you will be inspired not only to keep on knitting, but to get busy with your kitchen.

 

For those who have never heard about A Playful Day Podcast, please tell us a little about it:

A Playful Day is a podcast from the UK about knitting, food and all things practical and playful. It’s hosted by a fairy with a desire for fun, laughter and lust for using words such as ‘tomfoolery’.

Who or what inspired you to pick up the microphone?

I actually didn’t mean to make a podcast! I was taking part in ‘Blog Week’ that was hosted by Eskimimi last year and the last day was a challenge of ‘do something different’. I’ve always had great admiration for podcasters such as Brenda Dayne, The Knitmore Girls and Alana Dakos and thought I might give it a whirl just this once. Before I knew it I was sitting in front of a mic and putting up a fortnightly podcast on iTunes.

How and when did you learn to knit?

It’s kind of a sad story as I only took up knitting after ruining my hips dancing. I tore some pretty major muscles in my hips and was unable to dance and run and do all the sports I’d spent my whole life doing. It was driving me crazy as I’m just not a TV person and at the time I read while I commuted for hours every day so the last thing I wanted to do was read again in my spare time. I was so bored!

I’d commented on how I’d love to learn to crochet those cute little flower corsages to my mum so for my birthday she bought me a hook and a ‘Learn to Knit’ bunny toy as a bit of a joke. I was ill one day and going wild for something to do and picked up the knit kit (I CANNOT crochet, I’m dreadful, truly) and taught myself via the internet. I don’t think I’ve stopped knitting since.

What is your favorite thing about podcasting?
The community, without a doubt. You inherit a crowd of other podcasters who are so supportive and a group of listeners who just leave you in awe. This year has been full of new people to meet, interview, giggle with and I’ve loved it! My Ravelry group for the podcast is my happy place, there’s always something fun going on.

… and the most challenging?
The worst thing is trickier. I am prone to self doubt and get desperately upset if I’ve made a mistake or feel I’ve let someone down. I also am very uncomfortable with my real name being used, I feel like ‘Aplayfulday’ affords me the luxury of being truly playful; I don’t know why but seeing my name out there on the internet makes me cower. I’ve had to be honest and say ‘I don’t like that’ so that I can continue to be a whimsical little fairy instead of thinking ‘Oh Lord I hope my Mum doesn’t read what I said about wanting a bath tub of gin for my birthday’ (which is in March if anyone wants to make this happen by the way).

I love your ‘Munch, Burp, Slurp’ segment, which is all about food! What is one cook book everyone should have on-hand in the kitchen?

Just about anything by Nigel Slater. I love the way he writes about food, describing the flavours that make each ingredient distinctive so that you’re not just following a recipe, you’re learning WHY the hazelnuts are better toasted in one recipe but not in another. He is my food hero, hands down.

What is it about a pattern that inspires you to knit it?

That’s tricky to define. I think there’s 3 things at play: a known pattern style, wanting to bury my face in the end product and great photography. I love it when I get to know a designer and can just trust the quality of the pattern writing and that the end product will look how I wanted, maybe even better. I also love textured, beautifully rendered fabrics that suit a yarn’s characteristics and make me itch to feel it on the needles. As for the photography I do not need it to be artsy but I do need to a) see the knitting and b) be swept away by it. Jared Flood has absolutely nailed this in my humble opinion.

Do you have any favorite ‘go-to’ patterns?

I have a weakness for hats and handwarmers as I just love the instant gratification. I have also knit two Cedar Leaf Shawlettes by Alana Dakos and I can see my mum receiving one for Christmas; the leaves on the border are so pleasing and addictive.

Sherlock Holmes

Who in this world (dead or alive) do you think would benefit from learning to knit?

Knit recipients. If you understood the love that went into it you would never utter words such as ‘I would love this in brown’ or ‘Where did you buy this?’

In terms of someone famous? Can it be fictional? I would love to teach the new Sherlock Holmes to knit. I think he’d get all cross and grumpy and yes, picturing Benedict Cumberbatch knitting makes me very happy. Actually, picturing Benedict Cumberbatch enerally makes me happy any given day of the week. As does saying and typing his name in full, could he be anymore British?!?!

When knitting in public, what is the silliest thing someone ever said to you?

‘Is that Crochet?’ NO!

When at home, where is it that you knit and what is it about the space that makes it yours?

I knit in the corner of my sofa; we have one of those sofas that is an L shape and I have learned since I stopped moving so fast that I’m actually quite dormouse like and like to burrow into corners. I curl up, get the best of the lamps (I hate overhead light) and can gaze out the window and spy on the neighbours.

Please describe your dream knitting nook and / or room.

Can I have the knitting barn? The barn is a magical place where we hide designers we like to knit for us. A knit friend and I once dreamed it up. We’d sit at the bar drinking gin while they churned out sweaters, afghans and all the things we’ve yet to knit and there’d be an endless supply of gin.

For those knitters thinking about starting their own show, what are a few dos and don’ts for podcasting?

Do:

  • Be yourself. No one else is going to
  • Invest in a good mic and acquaint yourself with editing before you get carried away. I didn’t do this and now I cringe at early episodes and the bad sound quality.
  • Engage with your audience, they’ll be your best source of inspiration.


Don’t

  • Be afraid to delay an episode. Better to put up something of quality that rewards your listener’s for waiting than rush out something half baked.
  • Be afraid to experiment with the medium- podcaster’s such as Craftlife have really made audio work for them and I love that commitment.
  • Feel afraid to share decisions about the podcast with your audience, they’ll thank you for it in the long term.

Any exciting plans for A Playful Day podcast, in 2012?

I have lots of exciting new interviews and giveaways planned and guest features. I am hoping to attend more events this year and take recording on the road again as this has been very popular in the past. I also have my pod-i-versary coming up in April so I have lots of fun planned for that too.

The stage is yours… Is there anything you’d like to add?

I am not really a fairy and I love KnitNook unconditionally.

Super big thanks to A Playful Day! She blogs over here, is GreenTriangleGirl on Ravelry, and you can also follow her on Twitter.

Interview: Hoxton Handmade

The Electric Sheep Podcast is one of my favorite knitting podcasts, and I jumped for joy when Hoxton Handmade (the host) agreed to do this interview!

I must admit, whenever I see a new episode of Electric Sheep downloading to my iTunes, a little party goes on in my head. Whether it’s about what’s on her needles, a knitting magazine review, hilarious (sometimes bearded) excerpt from the ‘Feed the Sheep’ thread on Ravelry, commentary on current events or her annual holiday Panto, Hoxton keeps us coming back for more! I really enjoy her wit, imagination, and honesty… She’s fantastic!

If you’ve never heard of the Electric Sheep, I hope this interview encourages you to check it out.
For those who have never heard about the Electric Sheep Podcast, please tell us a little about it:

Electric Sheep is a mostly-knitting British podcast in which I talk about patterns, yarns, and my woolly triumphs and disasters. Every episode starts with an essay on a wide variety of topics, from the handmade to history, from current affairs to crazy stories. I also talk about quirky, entertaining things to be found online, such as award-winning beards, knitting drummers and crimes against crochet. The Sheep himself is a slightly troubling figment of my imagination but that doesn’t seem to stop him drinking all my gin and causing general mayhem with his trebuchet.

Any exciting plans for the show, in 2012?

Obviously, I’ll be covering the London Olympics in some form, and there are several knitterly folk I’m keen to interview. No doubt the Sheep will be up to his usual exploits. Sigh.

Who or what inspired you to pick up the microphone?
I had produced a podcast before, many years ago, featuring various friends of mine, but it wasn’t until I discovered knitting podcasts that I felt I had found my niche. At that time, I wasn’t aware of a knitting podcast hosted by someone British and my age, so I thought there might be a gap that I could fill. And I wanted to be able to talk about cake and knitted beards without someone trying to have me sectioned.

What is your favorite thing about podcasting?… and the most challenging?

My favourite thing is my audience. I’m constantly amazed by the lovely people who have contacted me to share something about how they listen to the podcast or what they’ve taken from it, or who want to show me a video of a surfing alpaca.
The most challenging is just finding the time to podcast!


If possible, please describe the moment you realized, “OMG… I LOVE KNITTING!.. MUST NOT STOP!”

Ha ha, I recognise the feeling but I don’t think it happened in one moment, it sort of crept up on me! But I had one moment last year, knitting Kate Davies’ Neep Heid hat (my first stranded project) when I was so happy and bewitched by the result, that I sat there giggling to myself every other round. I felt I had learnt magic.

I always love when Steeking O’Reilly, Knitpicks McGraw & Co. make a guest appearance. What pray tell, is their next move?

I couldn’t possibly say. Not that I even know who you’re talking about. And I haven’t heard anything at all about a plan to gatecrash the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. Not a thing. Ahem.

What is it about a pattern that inspires you to knit it?

It’s so hard to pin down! I love cables and aran-style texture and cosy woolly knits. I mostly knit for myself, so it has to be something I really want to wear as well as knit. Almost all the garments I knit are seamless. I hate seaming, I’m too impatient.

Do you have any favorite ‘go-to’ patterns?

I think Audrey and Cobblestone are the only garments I’ve made twice, though I’m probably going to make another Owls as mine is looking a little worn. I love Envy Mitts for using up leftover sockyarn and I’ve made several Traveling Woman shawls.

If you could spend a day with any knitwear designer… who would it be? (… and yes, you’d come away with all their tips, tricks and knitterly wisdom!)

Oh that’s tough! As I’m sure any Electric Sheep listener would guess, Brooklyn Tweed! It would be amazing to come away with his technical knitting skills. I’d also love to sit and have a beer with the Yarn Harlot; she cracks me up, has bags of knitting know-how and I think she’s very generous to her audience.

When at home, where is it that you knit and what is it about the space that makes it yours?

I knit on the sofa in the living room most of the time. The spare bedroom is often referred to as ‘the Wool Room’ because my stash and knitting books and supplies are stored in there and have conquered much of the space into woolly submission.

Please describe your dream knitting nook and / or room.

An enormous, squishy armchair. A working fireplace. A good floor lamp and a big window. A bookcase all along one wall for yarn and knitting books. A beautiful cabinet with shallow drawers for needles and notions. An organised filing system for all my PDF print-outs. A china tea set and a well-stocked cake stand. A tech corner for all my podcasting equipment, and to listen to podcasts or watch the West Wing, depending on my knitting mood. A large drawing/writing desk. A drinks cabinet with three kinds of gin and plenty of tonic.
Not much to ask for, right?


Finally, you’ve been podcasting for over 2 years… And I think it’s appropriate to consider you an ‘expert’. Please list a few dos and don’ts of podcasting.

I don’t know about expert but I’ll give it a go! There are no hard and fast rules, but these would be my suggestions:

DO invest in decent equipment; sound quality is a key factor for most listeners.
DO make the most of your location, whether for its knitting, beauty, events, or history.
DO try and engage with your audience online, a lot of listeners like to interact with the show.
DON’T be scared to try something new; it will stop you getting bored and keep the show fresh.
DON’T wing it; you don’t need to write a script, but it’s worth planning the general content.
DON’T try to please everyone. Can’t be done and it’s exhausting to try. Make the show you want to hear.

The stage is yours… Is there anything you’d like to add?

Just to say thank you so much for interviewing me. I love reading Knit Nook and I’m honoured to be on the blog!

OK! OK! The Sheep has been Tweeting at me relentlessly while writing this interview, requesting his very own soap box, a slice of red velvet cake and a bottle of gin. I couldn’t resist. What say you, Sheep!?

Well it’s about time, frankly, I mean who’s the star of this show? The clue’s in the title people. Honestly that Hoxton just blathers on but I’m the one who does all the work. Now, if you come this way I’d like to give you a VIP tour of my new top-secret bunker at the bottom of the garden. That’s the distillery over there, just go easy on the Sheep Dip, it’s potent stuff.  Here we have the bakery, where I’m developing a gin-flavoured Battenburg. Through here is the pigeon loft and trebuchet workshop – please be careful to keep naked flames away from the chicken coop. In that room is my eco-generator, run by hamsters. Unfortunately, so far they’ve only been able to power a small fax machine, but I’ve got them in training and on a low-carb diet, and it won’t be long before they’re running the backlit map of the world, video conferencing and automated trapdoor seating that’s required before you can apply for membership of the Megalomaniac World Domination Society. I also need to rustle up something for their annual bake sale. My application essay is going to be about my plans to bring down the acrylic industry and solve the current financial crisis by moving to the wool standard. Ah, now over here is my prototype jet pack, with patented gin propulsion, you just flick this switch he-
*CRASH! BANG! WALLOP!*
Hoxton - It’s alright. I’ll go and fetch him off the roof. Sigh.

Many thanks again to Hoxton (and the Sheep!) for taking the time to do the interview!  She’s HoxtonHandmade on twitter and Hoxton on Ravelry. She also blogs over at hoxtonhandmade.com

Interview: Cakewalk Yarns

A few months ago, I was browsing Etsy (like I do) and stumbled on Cakewalk Yarns. Dare I say, it was love at first sight? Rosie’s multicolor, speckled colorways may be out of some knitters’ comfort zone, but her palettes for each skein definitely trigger a sweet tooth. (Case in point, I splurged on a yummy skein of Weenie!)

I posted about Cakewalk Yarns before, but couldn’t resist contacting Rosie for an interview– and I’m glad I did! She’s witty, inspiring, in LOVE with color and settles any qualms you might have with outrageous colorways.

She explains, Cakewalk Yarns look “wild” but [once knit] they “tone down quite nicely”. Also, speckles add a “heavily tweeded” effect.

As a thank you, Rosie would like to offer you a coupon code to use in her Etsy shop through January 31st.  Please use the code knitnook15 which is good for 15% off the order!

I hope you enjoy the interview!

 

For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you, please tell us a little about yourself and your hand dyed yarn line, Cakewalk Yarns! 

I’m Rose; Confessed Yarn Snob and owner of Cakewalk Yarns on Etsy.  My background is in a string of soul-sucking jobs that I loathed; so I decided to make a change that would feed my creative side! I opened my Etsy shop almost a year ago from my home here in Michigan.    My goal is to create hand-dyed yarns for people like me who can’t live without color; and maybe convert a few people into speckled yarn lovers. (I actually have another goal… keep reading.)



What makes Cakewalk Yarns unique?

Cakewalk Yarns carries seven lush yarn bases ranging from lace weight to aran. I hand dye a rainbow of variegated & tonal colorways in the traditional manner. But, the ones that really sing to me are my signature speckled yarns.  I have a very unconventional multi-step process to layer on the colors. I absolutely love to experiment with the dyes to create a little skein of art and I think the results are worth it.  They stitch up just beautifully & the results are a bit different from the look of a traditional variegated yarn.
What inspired you to start hand dying yarn?

I love to work with beautiful fibers but I got bored with the traditional colorways out there pretty quickly.  I’m a born do-er.  One thing led to another; and I and started dyeing my own yarns.


In your Etsy profile, you say you received two turkey roasters as wedding gifts, but because you’re a vegetarian, you have no use for them. Instead, you use them to dye yarn…Very cool! How did you decide to turn them into dying tools? Do you still use them? 

My husband is responsible for this.  For whatever reason, he was not on board with turning the kitchen into a dyeing studio (something about the smell of wet wool being unappetizing…I don’t know…).  So, I set up the turkey roaster in the guest room and started dyeing for myself.  The turkey roasters were a good way to start, but they aren’t meant for the kind of volume I’m producing now.


Many of your colorways feature speckles and splatters. What inspired that kind of dye quality / technique?

I absolutely love color!  I can’t get into the Stale Bread colorways that a lot of people go for; it’s just not me.  Having said that, I have a closet-full of traditional space-dyed variegated yarns and I totally get why the ‘Stale Bread Yarn Brigade’ is scared of them.  They don’t always look the way you imagined they would when knit up.  So, I wanted to add another option to variegated colorways.  Knit up, the colors are much more random than most traditional space dyed yarns.  It’s almost a heavily tweeded effect.

The fun thing about my speckled yarns is that the skeins look WILD; but knit up they tone down quite nicely.  You aren’t going to have to endure snarky comments from that little gnat in the cubicle next to you when you wear your new socks to work.  There you have it; that’s my real goal as a dyer.  Silence the gnats and serve as a counter-balance to the Stale Bread.

List some patterns you think Cakewalk Yarns would be perfect for:

This is the big question people ask me about my speckled yarns.  I have seen people knit the Lacy Batkus scarf and Hitchiker shawl – the speckled yarn looks fantastic in anything garter stitch.  But, don’t be afraid to try a stitch pattern.  You can absolutely knit a bold cable or simple lace pattern.  I recently knit two items for myself that I love using the speckled yarns.  I knit a Shaelyn shawl using the Stash fingering yarn and love it!  It’s got a fairly simple lace pattern that looks fantastic in the hand-painted yarn.  Then, because I have a weakness for anything cabled, I knit my new favorite hat Claudia using the Footsie fingering yarn.  It has twisted stitches and lattice cables that look so much fun covered in speckles.  I’ve even seen some Cookie A socks knit using the speckled yarns. Don’t limit yourself; try knitting a swatch in a stitch pattern and see what happens.

What inspires your colourways and their names?

My most popular colorways are inspired by my favorite TV show Arrested Development.  Evidently, I’m not the only one who longs for the return of the Bluths.  The colorway names are all references that amused me.  Die-hard fans will quite often write me requesting more – but honestly I don’t know how well people would react to seeing “Hot Ham Water” in my shop.

Arrested Development aside, I have a new collection that I am in love with right now.  I added an MCN fingering base this fall called Stash.  They are so special and unique that I decided to name each of the colorways after the places we go to enhance our stash. Each is named for a city that hosts annual wool and sheep festivals just for us fiber enthusiasts.

Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement for newbie hand dyers?

Get yourself organized ahead of time. You don’t have to follow anyone’s step-by-step instructions when you are dyeing; but you are going to want to know where the rags are when a yogurt container full of turquoise dye tips over.
And make sure you take copious notes as you go along.  It stinks to fall in love with your hand-dyed yarn but not have enough of it actually create something.

What is it about a knitting pattern that makes you want to cast it on?

I am a recovering process knitter. I am usually attracted by the details of the object and want to try it out myself. Such as cables, I’m a sucker for cables.  I see a fresh cabled project and I am tempted to jump right in. But, I’ve made enough Michelin Man sweaters and too-tight socks by now to know better than to cast on right away.  I usually leave a picture of the project on my idea board; think about how the finished object will actually fit me, and what mods I would need to make for it to be realistic. Sometimes, I wind up just knitting myself a little coffee cozy using the stitch pattern and that’s enough to satisfy the Cable Urge.

When at home, please describe where you knit and/or dye your fiber.  What is it about the space that makes it yours?

Out of necessity, Cakewalk Yarns has moved.   I started out dyeing for myself in what was supposed to be a guest room.  After an incident with the aforementioned turquoise dye, it was suggested that perhaps I might be more comfortable if I set up a studio in the basement.  This is an improvement in terms of functionality; and thanks to the addition of a lovely area rug, we now have our guest room back.

Describe your dream knitting nook / room:

Lighting is my big thing.  My poor, tired eyes have got to have good natural light or a nice bright lamp near me since I usually knit .  And a comfortable chair.  And a TV.  And while we are at it, a nice glass of Barolo.

Please let us know how we can enhance our stash with Cakewalk Yarns:

Easy, add some Stash!  It’s a fingering weight MCN that is dyed in the most unconventional manner of all my yarns. My process for layering the color onto Stash involves four steps; and no two skeins are ever exactly the same. I love it so much; I am planning to add an MCN in worsted weight this winter in the same colorways.

The stage is yours! Is there anything you’d like to add?

Thanks so much for inviting me to share Cakewalk Yarns with the readers.  I strive to make sure that there are always goodies available in my shop when you go yarn-gazing.  I don’t do big weekly updates; instead I add yarn all the time so that there’s plenty to choose from when you have time to shop.   If you missed one that you liked, just send me a note.   And thanks so much for supporting indie dyers – we love you for it!

Big thanks to Rosie for taking the time to do the interview. You can find more Cakewalk yarn over in her Etsy shop. She’s also Cakewalk on Ravelry and blogs over at Cakewalkyarns.blogspot.com.

Interview: Gynx Yarns

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.

Many of your colorways feature semi-solids and multi-tones. What is it about those dye techniques that you love?

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!

Do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement for newbie hand dyers?

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:

Gynx Yarns is currently available through my Etsy shop: http://gynx.etsy.com You can also follow me on Twitter to find out about shop updates: http://twitter.com/gynxyarns


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!