I’ve discovered that apparently when I decide to write blog posts/emails while I’m all knackered out right after doing a yarn show… well, what I write is pretty darned confusing! The previous blog post in a case in point. So now I’ve had some coffee, let me see if I can clarify.
I talked about two mailing lists in my previous post:
If you want to find out about the upcoming ebook, the Super Secret Thing, and all sorts of SpaceCadet news and shop updates, make sure you’re on the main SpaceCadet Mailing List. Emails go out about twice a week, and they’re full of good things. Click here to sign up.
The second mailing list is members-only for the InterStellar Yarn Alliance. If you joined the Alliance in March, you need to get on the Alliance Mailing List by letting me know it’s ok for me to sign you up. If you’re already a member of the Alliance, go ahead and shoot me a quick email with “PUT ME ON THE ISYA MAILING LIST!” and so I can get you signed up.
And if you’re not a member of the InterStellar Yarn Alliance? The Alliance is currently open for subscriptions, but only for another four days, so come and join us now!
Phew! Ok, I think that’s a bit better. Lesson learnt: I must never blog or email before coffee!
The InterStellar Yarn Alliance parcels are on their way, and I don’t mind admitting I am crazy-excited about this shipment! I had so much fun dyeing it, and I just can’t wait for you guys to receive it.
I’ve been thinking about colour a lot lately — about what draws us to it, about what makes us shy away. And, most interestingly to me, what is it that pulls some knitters and crocheters time and again hand-dyed yarns?
Hand-dyed yarns are very different from the rest of the yarn universe. One thing that struck me at TNNA is that there were only a handful of indie dyers scattered amongst the rows and rows of big yarn companies. And the big yarn companies were very impressive, with their extensive line-up of yarns in every colour imaginable. They sell dependability, repeatability, a yarn you can reach for time and again.
Whereas the magic of hand-dyed yarns lies in something completely different. It’s something about freedom, the pure abandon of colour that might submit to the knitter’s will or might… might just turn wild and uncontrollable. Hand-dyed yarns are about their untamed individuality, their uniqueness… With hand-dyed yarns, you never really know what you’re going to get.
So, as I watched them for a while, the hand-dyers at TNNA, busy chatting with LYS owners, I suddenly saw the dilemma… For the indie dyer who wants to grow her business, there is the temptation to emulate the big yarn companies and to aim to pull those wild hand-dyed colours under control, to create legitimacy in a bigger marketplace by moving her line toward more predictability and controlled results. But I suspect that what initially drew every hand-dyer into her craft was a desire to delve into the colours and go where-ever took took her.
So, being pulled in both directions, which way does an indie dyer go?
I think the answer comes back to the customer — to you. The real question is, why do you buy hand-dyed yarns? Why do you seek out indie-dyers when there are so many wonderful, established yarn brands in your local yarn shop? And I suspect the answer is that you are a very special kind of knitter or crocheter. You are an adventurer. And buying hand-dyed gives you a yarn that is like no other yarn in the world, which acts as a base on which to create your own art — the unique work of your two hands. I think that people who buy hand-dyed yarn do more than just follow a pattern — they see the creation before it is created, they see the colours intertwined, they are drawn to the challenge of taming a yarn that they’re not quite sure will bend to their will.
In short, I think the knitter or crocheter who buys hand-dyed yarns is an artist herself, no less dyer whose yarn she works with.
So tell me, why do you buy hand-dyed yarns? What is it that draws you to them? And do you believe that when you create with them, you are also an artist?
Last week, I asked you guys to give me your questions and tell me what intimidates you about hand-dyed yarns. And I loved the responses — I got some great food for thought, and you guys prompted me to ask a couple of experts to contribute to the ebook and answer some of your questions. Exciting stuff!
And that post has started several really interesting conversations with friends about their approach to hand-dyed yarns. In each of these conversations, there have been some saying they are always trying to avoid pooling, and there are others saying that they just sit back and go where-ever the yarn takes them — treating it as an adventure, a journey to be traveled, whether the yarns pools or not. I have to admit, I loved hearing that because, as a dyer, that’s how my creative process often feels too — a little adventurous, a little out of control. Sometimes I’m in charge and the colours follow my lead, but sometimes… sometimes it’s better to stop controlling and just go where-ever the colour takes me. Sometimes it takes me to some really beautiful places.
The Beauty of Pooling (…no, really!)
And pooling can be the same way too. Yes, absolutely, sometimes pooling can be horrible — just horrible — and I totally get why knitters and crocheters strive to avoid it. But sometimes pooling can take a really exciting turn that gives spectacular — and unexpected — results.
Take this scarf for example, knit by my friend Megan. Now, we’ve all seen pooling that forms diamond patterns before, but I have to say I’ve never seen a more perfect and even example than this. And though this was entirely unintentional, it adds so much to the scarf — gives it a real feeling of fun and adventure. In fact, she liked it so much that when she switched to her second skein of yarn, Megan was really careful to join it in such a way that the argyle-pooling continued uninterrupted all the way to the end of the scarf. Spectacular!
So, ok… being surprised by nice, evenly repeating pooling along a nice, even rectangle is one thing, but when you get patterned pooling on a shaped project like a hat, that is really something. Here’s a one that Megan knit (that woman has some kind of uncanny pooling gift, I tell ya!) for a little girl with brain cancer, and when I saw the pooling, I nearly fell off my chair. Check out the pictures — this is not colourwork, this is the yarn just pooling in a beautiful way. I love the way the stripes work through the colours and then back out again in reverse order, and they stay in that formation right up until they hit the sharpest decreases in the crown. Amazing!
But what if stripes and argyle-diamonds aren’t your thing? Well, check out this shawl by Karrie of KnitPurlGurl.com. Because it’s crocheted instead of knit, the stitches move the colours about in a different way… and it produces small squares of pooled colour that look to me just like tiled mosaic. Honestly, I can’t take my eyes off it! Breathtaking!
C’mere, I want to show you something… Here, over here, through this door. It says, “Department of Rocket Science” and I’ve heard crazy things happen in there… No, don’t worry… it’s ok. Look, I’ll come with you. It’s this door here, see? Come on!…
I love to experiment with colour — it gives me such a rush and it’s why I dye. For me, there is no moment in the whole dyeing process more exciting than when I lift a skein of yarn out of the dyepot and it reveals its colours to me. Darker on the outside, softer on the inside… opening up like a soft spring flower, or glistening like a decadent chocolate. No matter how many skeins I dye, that moment gives me a rush every single time.
It’s through this process of playing with colour that I’ve created all the wonderful colourways that I dye for the shop time and again. But, along the way, that process also produces yarns in colourways that probably won’t be repeated again — yarns that were stepping stones in the development of a new colourway, or yarns where I simply let my muse run free to see what would come out of the dyepot.
And so I have created the Department of Rocket Science. It’s a special place where I can go to experiment with abandon — to mix new colours, to dye with my eyes closed, to play with new fibers and new yarn bases. And it’s place where you can come and discover results of all this wonderful experimentation, and choose one of these very special yarns for your one-of-a-kind project. (And remember that all these experimental yarns will go into this section, regardless of yarn/fiber type, so if you’re searching the shop for a particular yarn type, don’t forget to check the Dept of Rocket Science as well.)
So go ahead… open the door! You never know what you’ll find inside… But it will always be something exciting!
This is the season of twinkling stars on cold, cold nights, of candles that glow cheerfully, and holiday lights on trees inside and out… This is the season of virgin snow glistening in the silver moonlight, of shimmering icicles, of perfect crystalline snowflakes that catch the light in their icy lace. This is the season for Sparkles.
Introducing Lucina, a beautiful fingering yarn that sparkles with all the magic of the season and turns every colourway into something stunning. This is the kind of yarn that catches your eye instantly — that you pick up and don’t want to put down. This is a yarn perfect for the season of Sparkles!
The best light for photography is always natural light, outdoors. And even though it was freezing today, I wanted to be sure to capture the way this yarn shimmers so gorgeously, so I braved the bitter wind and the icy temperatures and took the whole batch of Lucina outside for a photoshoot. And just as my finger froze to the bone and I began cursing the winter, a gentle snow began to fall — big, fat, beautiful flakes that landed softly on everything and then… just stayed there, almost too perfect to be believed.
And so, the sparkles in these photos are the beauty of the yarn, but the snowflakes are courtesy of Mother Nature. And as I was trying so hard to show off my lovely new yarn, didn’t she just go and steal the show?!?