Today we have Stacy from Tempted Yarns in the Loopy Limelight! Stacy has been one of our indie dyers since last spring and her line has been very popular here. It was especially fun to have her at our first Spring Fling to get to know her in person. (And I wish you all could sit and watch her spin. It’s almost as relaxing as spinning yourself!) Check out the brand new Tempted Cashmere/Merino roving that we just added to the website. It’s amazing.
Loopy: Hi Stacy! Thanks for being in the Limelight today. First things first – how long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Stacy: I began knitting by accident about 6 years ago, shortly after the death of my sweet, amazing, talented and inspiring grandmother. I was feeling a little nostalgic one day while doing my shopping at the local Super Wal-Mart and wandered into the craft section. I had always been very interested in crafts and I love working with my hands and making something. This is a tendency of almost all the women in my family. My Granny had tried and tried to teach me to crochet throughout my childhood but I just never could seem to get past a chain. In fact on a few occasions I think she was about ready to throw the hook at me – I was hopeless. While I was strolling down the craft aisle I reminisced over some of my early memories of her, playing under her current quilt in progress, laying down on newspaper so she could trace me to make me a new play shirt, and playing drums with her knitting needles. (I know I bent a few). I finally got to the yarn and saw a ‘Teach Yourself to Knit’ kit and got to thinking about all of the failed yarn attempts in my youth. But this was not crochet – this was knitting, so maybe I could do it! I bought some good old cheap yarn and the knitting kit and ran home to try. I did fine with the stitches and since no one close to me knit, I started off with a scarf and attached hood for my 5 yr. old daughter. What a disaster. I had absolutely no understanding of gauge or what yarns are appropriate for what project and I swear it might have fit a small giant (and the yarn was way too heavy). Before too long I was introduced to a Yarn Store… OMG I think I walked around with my mouth wide open and drooling. I had no idea there were so many delightful, wonderful, yummy fibers out there. I am from a very small town and if Wal Mart didn’t carry it we didn’t have it. It wasn’t too long before I decided to make a pair of socks. I had made sweaters and scarves but never anything in the round, and I had been totally self taught up to that point. I think I tried for a week to cast on the cuff with no luck at all. Looking back on it I feel kind of stupid but I just couldn’t understand how to join in the round. Finally I broke down and drove the hour it takes to get to the LYS and got help from the kindest woman. I Got It!!! I was off and running.
Loopy: I love that you were inspired by your grandmother. She’d like knowing that you are a knitter and spinner and dyer after all this time! What is your favorite item to knit now?
Stacy: That’s a tough one. I love the first sock of a pair but I seem to have a horrible time with the second one. Right now I have ‘Linear’ by Norah Gaughan, ‘Frost, flowers, and Leaves’ shawl by Eugen Beugler, ‘Casablanca’ by Annie Modesitt , a poncho for my 1 1/2 year old niece and several pairs of socks – 2 by Wendy Johnson and 1 pair by Cookie A, all on the needles. I am not a monogamous knitter but I love them all completely at different times. I am planning my next project continuously. I guess my answer is whatever is in my hands right now.
Loopy: I don’t understand monogamous knitters, anyway. It’s always fun to have lots going on. What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Stacy: Well I would have to say that it was the ‘Little Red Riding Hoody’ from DomiKNITrix. The pattern wasn’t terribly hard or challenging but I decided to spin all the yarn for it, so it became a very challenging project. Considering that I had only been spinning for about a month when I decided to start it, it would have to win as hands-down, the most challenging.
Loopy: It was very fun to watch you spin at our Spring Fling. You make it look so easy! Have you been a spinner for long? And what prompted you to learn?
Stacy: I have been spinning for about 2 1/2 years and I am still constantly learning more and more about it. I had this wild hair about wanting to own sheep and alpaca. One day my little girl and I took a trip to an Alpaca farm just outside of Tulsa. When I saw them I just fell in love – they are so cute and soft. I think we spent about 3 hours there and in that time I learned that they had all this fiber in bags just sitting in a corner of their house. I was eager to get my hands on some of it. I was such a fanatical knitter that it seemed blasphemous to have the fiber and not have a plan for it. I bought a little and as soon as I got home I started researching spinning: where could I find a wheel, were there classes, and above all, how quick could I get one? I am all about instant gratification! I found a spinning guild in Tulsa and also a Louet/Schacht dealer who sold wheels out of her house. I called her and as soon as I could, I set up an appt. to meet and try a wheel. Seriously, I was a woman obsessed. She was kind enough to let me borrow one and try it for awhile. I also bought some dog brushes and did my best to card the alpaca fiber. Looking back, it was dreadful, but boy was I proud of myself! Eventually I made it to a guild meeting and one of the kind ladies there offered to share some of her fiber stash with me. I have no idea what breed of sheep I had but I carded and spun it on the borrowed wheel. I then knitted it into the ‘Hip Hop Coat’ by Ann Bud and gave it to a very good friend. No one told me it was too big of a project or that I needed to practice and hone my skills and I didn’t think there was any reason my first real spinning project couldn’t be a big ol’ coat. Kinda like me rushing into knitting – I just see it and then do it. Honestly I think if I put too much thought into it I would freeze up and never get anything done.
Loopy: That’s probably true about a lot of people – we overthink things and get a bit paralyzed. Much better to just jump in and not be afraid of what you don’t know! How did you go from knitting and spinning to dyeing?
Stacy: You can probably tell that I am kind of a jump-in-with-both-feet kind of person. Once I had started spinning and realized how much control I had over the yarn, dyeing just made sense. I had been in search of the perfect red yarn for a long time (hadn’t heard of Wollmeise yet) and my step daughter had just learned to knit and decided to make her mother-in-law a pair of socks. We discussed what yarn she might want to use and eventually I said she ought to dye it herself, to make a personal gift even more personal. We did, and it was kind of like potato chips. We just couldn’t stop with one!
Loopy: So you started because you needed a good red. Now how do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
Stacy: Colorways….colorways…sometimes it is easy and sometimes it seems so hard. I see everything in potential colorways anymore, whether I am driving to pick up my daughter, watching the sunrise or TV, or shopping. I try to remember and sometimes even make notes of what colors I have seen and how they interact.
Loopy: We know that you have some special helpers with your business. How did you meet your two fun knitting lady friends?
Stacy: Well what can I say about Kaye and Del? They’re otherwise known as ‘the Gray Ladies’, or ‘the Tempted Slaves’ (if you ask them) or ‘my minions’. It sounds like I am in control but that is far from the truth! They have quickly become some of my very best friends. We meet almost every Tuesday and spend the whole day together. When I started spinning I met an extraordinary woman who had owned a knitting and spinning shop for years. She had moved it to her home at this point and although Bette had been legally blind since birth she was an expert when it came to the fiber arts. What an inspiration. She was a part of a local kniting guild that I didn’t even know existed and she asked if I would be interested in coming and if so, would I mind giving her a ride? Spending any time with Bette was like having every knitting and spinning book right there with you. She was a fount of knowledge and I jumped at the opportunity! So I began going to the Guild meetings and picking up Bette and that is where I met Del and Kaye. I was very privileged to be invited to an exclusive meeting at Bette’s house that she called her ‘Cozy Crew’ of which Del and Kaye were a part. It was kind of like being the first kid picked for Red Rover – I was very happy and grateful to be included. Way too soon after I met her, Bette passed away. One of the requests she made of her daughters was that after they had gone through and picked everything that they wanted from her stash/store, that they have her ‘Cozy Crew’ over to take the rest. The ‘Cozy Crew’ met at Bette’s one night and we spent all evening picking through a full yarn store. Del, Kaye and I ended up spending most of that evening together and what was already a great friendship was then set in stone. Even more amazing and shocking was that Bette’s family gave me one of her spinning wheels, a ‘Rio Grande’ wheel. What an honor. As Kaye has told me ‘Bette was our rock’ and I give her a lot of credit for bringing us together before and even after her death. Since then we have spent a lot of time together and when I get a little too serious or stressed out they will get me laughing to the point of tears and remind me why I love to knit, spin and dye. Actually I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have them to lean on. Kaye has been a business woman most of her life and is very handy to have around when I need to make big decisions, and Del is an enabler and encourager extrordinaire. She never lets me get discouraged. Now if I can just get her to break out that Matchless of hers and learn to spin (she has had it for over a year). I don’t think that Tempted would have become what it is now without them and lucky for me they will work for yarn.
Loopy: What a great story! You make a great point as to why it’s so important to have other knitting friends in your life, and it’s very fun that they help with your business. What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Stacy: My favorite part is putting the dye to fiber and seeing what everyone makes from it. I love hearing what has become of the yarns and fibers. Thank goodness for Ravelry! The least favorite is the paperwork and re-skeining. It’s just nowhere near as fun.
Loopy: I think that would be a good question for people to answer in the comments. Do you like seeing yarn skeined or unskeined? Personally, I like it un-skeined. I think the colors look bolder and the dyework is clearer (in how they mix and blend). I like getting an idea of the colors straight from the dyepot. Maybe if more people prefer un-skeined (aka: not re-wound after the dyepot), you could save some time there! Is there anything else you’d like to add today?
Stacy: I would love to let Loopy, Sheri and everyone at The Loopy Ewe know that it is so amazing to get to be a part of the Loopy family. The Loopy Ewe has the most wonderful customers, I have made so many great friends because of the Loopy Ewe, and it is so so much more then just an online yarn store. It is much more like family. Thank you!
Loopy: Awww. 🙂 Well we agree that we do have the most wonderful customers and Loopy friends!!
This week’s Sneak Up has snuck up! Tonight you’ll find: Cherry Tree Hill Select Supersock re-stock, The Sanguine Gryphon Bugga, PolarKnit Fleece yarn, PolarKnit Yarn Dots, Tempted Cashmere Blend Roving, 3 AM Enchantments Knitting Bags (coffee fabric!), ShibuiKnits re-stock, Chewy Spaghetti Laceweight, Dream in Color Don’t Be Blue Classy and a one-time only Dream in Color Classy Flame Season (an oops color that they offered to us – and we love it!). Come check it all out. Later this week, we’ll have more Sock the Vote colorways up for you. The first large order that arrived here was all pre-sold before we could put it up!