A Labor of Love
I have worked hard to create a process that is efficient yet delivers a consistently high standard. From beginning to end, every step is done by hand with love and care. Here it is in a nutshell…
creating a “call sheet” for the dye session > opening the bags and sorting the quantities I need > tying each skein with reusable zip ties > pre-soaking overnight > hand-mixing the dyes > applying the dyes in various methods > making sure dye lots are consistent > hanging the skeins to cool > post-soaking to remove the vinegar smell > rinsing one more time > hanging the skeins to dry > squeezing them gently to speed up drying > re-skeining as needed > hand-braiding every skein > prepping the labels & hand-writing the colorway names > putting the labels on > packaging to ship
Each step takes times, but I find comfort in the familiarity of it. I often listen to music or watch podcasts while I work to help with the tedium that sometimes tries to take over. My favorite part is creating new colorways, where my imagination wakes up and paints pictures in my mind that I transfer to yarn.
Methods to my Madness
Over the years, I have played with various methods of dyeing so that I can offer a broad, ever-growing range of colorways that simply glow. My goal is that every yarn-lover find something that tickles their fancy and inspires a new project or design. While my first love is a kettle-dyed semi-solid, I have begun adding more and more methods to my repertoire. Here are the types of colorways I’ve added to my collection so far…
- SEMI-SOLID: one color tone with variations of light and dark shades to create depth (such as in Indigo: one blue, just places of lighter or darker shades)
- VARIEGATED: one color with variations of tone AND shade to show the multiple facets within a color
- GLAZED: multiple dye baths that create subtle variations between different colors (February Sky is one)
- DIP-DYED: two or more colors in long color repeats (Gooseberries for example)
- TWISTY-DYED: two or more colors in short color repeats (my fave is Peach Orchard)
- HAND-PAINTED: multiple-step process that typically involves dyeing a base color and then painting with one or more dyes (Bonfire Night)
- SPECKLED: flecks of dye in contrasting colors atop previous dye bath(s) dyed with other methods (Red-Tailed Hawk)
Every Color has a Story
A lot of the ideas for my colorways come from the inspiration I find in everyday life: food, flora, fauna, travels, memories, smells, things I hold dear… I grew up close to the Appalachian Mountains, so a lot of my memories and favorite places are in North Georgia and North Carolina, where we went to apple festivals and pumpkin farms, rented a cabin and had bonfire nights, and watched the leaves float along the Blue Ridge Parkway on an autumn wind.
I love yummy things, too, like a cup of cinnamon chai or raspberry tea on a cold day. Or have you ever had a London Fog with lavender in it? My mama’s pecan pie is a favorite at Thanksgiving, and with breakfast I sometimes take apricot jam on my toast like my grandfather did.
And I love the beauty I find in nature, like the new leaves of spring, oceans under a summer sky, golden sunlight in the fall, pale wisps of woodsmoke amongst evergreen boughs. I have my dad to thank for my love of the outdoors and the ocean, often taking me hiking as a kid. My grandfather taught me birdwatching when I was just a wee thing. He gave me a copy of North American Wildlife by the Reader’s Digest, and from that book I learned more about birds than most people ever know. Chickadees, Cardinals (I call them Redbirds), Red-tailed Hawks… even as a grown-up I still have a childlike fascination with those feathered friends.
A good book is a constant companion, as literature has shaped much of who I am and has instilled a love of words and stories in my heart since childhood. I would say that J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings has been the most foundational for me as a writer (you didn’t know I’m a writer too? yep, and I have five NaNoWriMo winners plaques to prove it!). I memorized his poem about Aragorn and remember it even now — “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost…” That influence is also probably why I’m such a wordy person… sorry not sorry? I mean, I’m working on writing down the stories for each colorway to add to the Web site so you can enjoy them!
As I write this and think of the simple things I find in the world around me that make me happy, I confess I feel rather childish at times in my wonder. But perhaps that’s why people often say my colorways glow: they’re inspired by a love of life itself, which is beautiful.
Being a Unicorn
Back in 2011 when a dyer friend was doing my dyeing for me and my brand was just getting started, I wanted a unique presentation no one else in the industry had. I wanted to stand out in a market full of twisted skeins. So I thought about it, and what popped into my head was: braided skeins. My sister figured out how to braid a skein, taught me how to do it, and the rest is history. Braiding takes a lot more time than twisting a skein, but that’s okay. It’s unique, it’s gorgeous, and it’s a lot less prone to coming undone during handling because of where I loop the label. I like to think it makes my skeins like little unicorns going out into the world to make magic happen! And when I tell someone how to find my yarn, all I have to say is “look for the braided skeins.”