Dye Dreams in The Loopy Limelight

stephandmonaToday we have Mona and Stephanie from Dye Dreams in The Loopy Limelight. I was so happy to find their booth at Stitches East last fall, and quick to talk to them about adding their line here at Loopy Central. I love what they do with semi-solids. I added a couple of my photos, below, that I have done up in their yarns. Their colors are perfect for showing intricate patterns in your socks, hats, scarves, mitts, gloves and shawls. We have two of their lines here right now, Comfy and Dream, and have more coming soon!
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Loopy: Hi you two! Thanks for being in the Limelight today. So first tell us, how long have you been knitting and who taught you to knit?
Stephanie: I’ve been knitting for over 40 years – I started at a very young age.  My great-aunt Bert taught me how to knit.
Mona: I’ve also been knitting for over 40 years.  My Dutch mamma taught me to knit on long double point needles with the right needle held under my arm.  My first project was a pair of baby booties knit with fingering weight wool for my 1st grade teacher.

dsc02481Loopy: It’s always fun to hear about knitters who have had this passed down in their families. Hopefully we are all trying to do that with family members around us. What is your favorite item to knit?
Stephanie: While I love knitting socks and always have a pair on the go, nothing beats the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a sweater.
Mona: I also always have a pair of socks nearby and really enjoy knitting them because so many different knitting and construction techniques can be used — cast ons and cast offs, heel and toe shaping, textures, lace, cables, beads, multi-color, etc.

Loopy: What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Stephanie: That’s a hard question – maybe some of my lace projects.  I think I need to set myself up with a challenging project.
Mona: The most challenging project I have undertaken is a beautiful lace shawl called Renaissance Shawl by Not Just Plain Jane Knits.  The pattern has no charts, just pages and pages of written instructions.  I’m nearly finished with the project after working on it on and off for the past couple of years.  It will be a pleasure to finally be able to wear it.

Loopy: Wow – you will have to email us a photo of that Renaissance Shawl when you’re done, Mona. We’d love to see it.  And Stephanie – how about doing the Second Quarter Loopy Challenge with us? I know where you can get some beautiful semi-solid sock yarn to work with …  🙂  How did you two go from knitting to dyeing?
Stephanie: Years ago I started dyeing fabric and clothing.  The move to yarn and fiber was a natural progression.
Mona: Several years ago, I started spinning with a group that has an annual dye day where they experiment with various dyeing techniques.  They generously taught me to dye and I was bitten by the bug.  After numerous dye “play dates” that left me feeling invigorated, it was easy to begin to dream of taking this to the next level as a business.

11Loopy: I’d say you’ve both been seriously bitten by that dyeing bug! How do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
M&S: We are always looking for new color ideas and inspiration.  Some of our colorways happen by accident and others are the result of careful planning and trial and error testing.  There are times when we are trying to achieve a particular color for a specific purpose.  The “discards” from that process sometimes make it into our line of yarns.  In the end, though, they are all our favorites.

Loopy: I had fun getting that box of variations on forest/sage green from you awhile back for the kit we were working on. It was hard to choose. (In fact, didn’t I say, “I’ll take this one for this kit, but then can you do these two in the regular line?”) Too many great possibilities! What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Stephanie: My favorite part is attending various fiber events and meeting so many creative, talented people.  My least favorite part is ramping up and getting everything  ready so that we can attend these events.
Mona: I enjoy the fiber events, too, but it’s really satisfying to get feedback from customers about how much they enjoyed working with our products.  I can relate to finding a pattern you enjoy and a yarn that feels nice in your hands in a colorway that works; it’s a joy to knit that project.

Loopy: Do you do this business full-time, or on the side?  And is that hard?
M&S: Both of us do this in addition to other full time commitments.   It is challenging to juggle everything – our families have been very understanding and supportive.

Loopy: It’s so nice that they support and encourage you, as I would think that it would be difficult to make everything work without that. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Stephanie: All of my children knit, including the boys.
Mona: I come from a family of knitters.  In the Dutch school system my parents attended, all young girls were required to learn to knit, crochet and embroider.  My mother and her sisters knit first out of necessity and later, out of a love for the craft and they passed this on to their girls.  I have two teens, a boy and a girl, and both learned to knit when they were younger although they aren’t active right now.  I also taught my husband to knit and he always has a pair of socks on the needles.

Loopy: Oh, that’s great! It’s really fun to share knitting with family members (unless they are the type who might go shopping in your stash. Or maybe even then, too.)  Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Stephanie: I enjoy spinning and reading although these days most of my books are audio books.
Mona: I enjoy gardening, as well as reading and walking.

dsc02305Loopy: And what would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Stephanie: If I were to get a day off, I would spend it knitting and spinning.  There’s nothing more relaxing than to have uninterrupted time to make progress on existing projects and to plot out new ones.  And I would stay away from the computer as it tends to eat up huge amounts of precious time.
Mona: Me, too, and do it with friends.

Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
M&S: Dye Dreams has been a great adventure.  Our initial vision was on a much smaller scale than where we are today.   We often look at each other and say, “Who would have thought . . ? “.
We’ve been knitting for a long time and never thought we would see such an explosion of knitters and designers.  We always knew that knitters were a creative, generous bunch of people.  We’ve had the opportunity to meet everyone from traditional knitters to knitters who think outside the box.  Some knitters are technique driven, others throw caution to the wind and wing it.  Dye Dreams has been everything from exhausting to exhilarating.  It’s been a rewarding experience.

Loopy: Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us today!
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Sheri wait’tilyouseewhatIfoundinmybackyardthismorning.PhotoonWednesday…

Namaste in The Loopy Limelight

theloopyewecom2Today’s Limelight features Dawn and Kelly, from Namaste, Inc, a family owned and operated business. I know how much you all love their bags and accessories, because we keep shipping them out and ordering more. (I am such a bag person and I will admit to having a Peacock Laguna, an Eggplant Zuma, and a red Vintage bag from way back when. I love their bags. Seriously, one needs many bags for many projects, right?)

I met Kelly and Dawn at my very first TNNA show, before The Loopy Ewe was even up and running. I happened to walk into the “Sample It” room for retailers and saw that the booth near the doorway was overrun with people. Everyone was grabbing a bag, so I picked one up to look at it and never put it back down! (Good thing, as it was one of the last ones. They sold out of them in less than an hour. Each shop is allowed to purchase one sample and they just flew out of there.) Consequently, we’ve had Namaste bags here since we first opened and it has been fun to watch them expand into different styles and colors along the way. Plus, Kelly and Dawn are two of the nicest people you’d ever want to work with, which is just a great bonus! I know you’ll enjoy learning more about them. (And watch for another big Namaste update here at The Loopy Ewe in about a week.)
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2Loopy: Hi Dawn and Kelly! You know we can’t seem to get enough of your beautiful bags and accessories.  Tell us about your company- how long have you been going, and what made you start it up in the first place?
K & D: WOW!! Thank you so much!  We’ve been up & running for a little over 5 years now…time has really flown by. When we went to our first TNNA show we brought our original glass knitting needles and some homemade accessories that we had sewn ourselves. After learning more about the industry and our audience, we recognized a void in the marketplace for handbags and accessories that were stylish, well-priced, and functional for the knitters & crafters in our industry… so we did our best to fill it.  We’re family owned and operated and have been since the start.  Everybody helps out around here!

Loopy: How do you decide on new styles and new colors?  Are you very involved in that process or do you have designers bring you ideas and you pick?
Kelly: Dawn and I design each product from concept to completion (which can be be a LONG process!). Regarding color selections, Dawn & I choose the general palette, but customer requests are very important to us and play a large part in the color selection process.  Our most recent color addition, Eggplant was actually “voted in” by Ravelry members.  The Ravelry color vote was really fun for us and we hope to do something like that again soon!

Loopy: The Eggplant addition was a great one. It’s hard to keep that color in stock! You have moved from glass needles into mostly bags and accessories at this point.  Any plans to add more fun things in the future?  (We won’t tell…)
K & D: Of course!  We’re constantly brainstorming for new product ideas to add to our line.  We listen to the feedback from the needlearts industry…what kind of products customers would like to see, what products they need, and we respond to their call!  You can look forward to new products for the June show, but if we told you what they were ahead of time……well, you know the rest ;o) !!

1Loopy: Well, it was worth a try. 🙂 What is the best part of your business?  And the not-so-fun part?
K & D:
BEST part(s):
– working with people we love (family)
– getting to bring “the crew” to work each day.  We share Namaste headquarters with our fur &  feather friends :o)!!
– having creative control
-connecting with people all over the US and the world daily through our customers.
-OUR CUSTOMERS!!

NOT-SO-FUN part(s):
-chasing bad payers/ collections
-wearing so many hats you’re not sure which one you’ve got on at any given time

Loopy: Your dogs are cute and they must all get along well to be at the same workplace each day. Tell us what you did before you started up Namaste?
Dawn: Believe it or not, I was a pharmaceutical sales representative.  A HUGE career change for sure, but I’ve never been happier!!
Kelly: Before doing this, I was working as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist. I loved working with the kids and still miss them, but this is a whole new adventure for me!

Loopy: I’m sure those industries miss having you involved, but all of us knitters are sure glad that you made the change. Who are the knitters/crocheters in your family?  And how long have you been knitting?
Dawn: My great-grandma, grandma and mom have crocheted some very beautiful pieces, but unfortunately (and I’m not sure why?!?), this family tradition wasn’t passed along to me. As far as knitting goes, Kelly taught me how to knit about 6 years ago (just before Namaste began).  I wish I had more free time to knit so I could improve and move on to more advanced projects—I’m basically stuck in the basic/easy category as far as projects go. I have been awed by many of the completed projects I have seen worn and displayed at our trade and craft shows.  I could definitely learn a lot from our very talented customers and friends!
Kelly: I’ve been knitting as a basic knitter (with a few dog sweaters mixed in there) for about 6 years.  I used to knit a lot more before starting Namaste!  My mom and sister can knit basic things too, like scarves and hats and my grandmother is a very talented crocheter.

3Loopy: Do you have a favorite thing to knit, when you get the time?
Kelly: Dog sweaters for Lola (because she’s only 2.5 pounds so they knit up fast!), and scarves (hey, it gets chilly in soCal!).
Dawn: Scarves, because I can actually complete them :o), but I would love to find a great dog sweater pattern to give it a go. (That’s not to say that there aren’t any great dog sweater patterns available, just that I haven’t had a chance to look for one. Dog sweater designers, I’m on the search!)

Loopy: With so many different colors and styles of bags in your warehouse, what bag do you use for your own personal knitting projects?  I’m sure you completely test out each one before going into production, so maybe you never use the same one?  (As someone who loves bags, that would be one of my favorite parts of your job…)
K & D: You’re spot on about testing, Sheri!  We’re both using “yet-to-be released” bags right now so we can put their functionality and durability to the test before moving forward with production.  And yes, it’s always fun to try new styles!

Loopy: New styles of bags in the works?? Of course you know that you’d have a lot of volunteers for testing bags if you needed them. 🙂 When you’re not working or knitting/crocheting, are there any other hobbies that you enjoy?
Dawn: Again, I wish there were more time in a day!  Hobbies have been on the back-burner for quite some time now, but I really enjoy making photo books, scrapbooking, horseback riding and enjoying pretty much anything that involves the outdoors & sunshine.
Kelly: I like crafting in general- love making holiday decorations, cooking & baking, gardening, traveling, camping and being active outdoors.

4Loopy: If you had the time, what would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Dawn: With my husband and kids, enjoying a beautiful day at the beach.
Kelly: Making a big breakfast at home, then taking the dogs and bird for a hike with my husband Clint.

Loopy: The bird goes on hikes, too? How funny! Thanks so much for taking the time out to answer our Limelight questions, you two. Anything else you’d like to add?
K & D: We would like to send a HUGE thank you to you, Sheri—it’s truly always a pleasure. We appreciate you and the fabulous Loopy Groupies more than you could ever know!
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Sheri whocanseemoreNamastebagsinherfuture.They’readdictive.

Jennifer in The Loopy Limelight

2Today in the Limelight we have Jennifer from Spirit Trail Fiberworks. I love Jennifer’s intense, beautiful yarn and roving colors.  Getting boxes from her is like opening a gift and there are way too many things that I end up wanting to keep for myself. (Like this colorway – Wheatear.) I hope you’ve had the experience of knitting her yarn or spinning her fiber. I know that we’ve sent a lot of it out!  (And now I want to move to her house in the woods….)

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Loopy: Hi Jennifer!  Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Jennifer: My Mom taught me to knit when I was about 14, so that means I’ve been knitting for, oh, about 15 years, since we’re all 29, right? Ha! Just kidding. I’ve been knitting now for about 31 years, although I did take a bit of a hiatus in the 80’s when I was working in commercial real estate and being young and single, and had no time for much of anything else.

Loopy: A hiatus is ok as long as you come back to it. We’re glad that you did! What is your favorite item to knit?
Jennifer:
That’s a hard one! It really depends on my mood. I enjoy knitting all kinds of things, but tend to move around. If I knit a lace shawl on smaller needles, I find myself interested in knitting something bulkier on larger needles the next time, and vice versa. Lately I’ve been knitting a lot of smaller projects ~ fingerless mitts and hats ~ things that are quick to finish and easy to carry around. I just recently started knitting a Pi Shawl from some handspun yarn, and there just happens to be a basket of yarn next to my bed that is becoming insistently louder for attention ~ some yarn for sweaters and another shawl, all items that I’m designing from scratch.  In general, I really enjoy knitting projects the incorporate cables and/or lace patterns.

inspirationLoopy: You like designing from scratch? What would be the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Jennifer: I wouldn’t say that any knitting technique is overly challenging these days (except maybe 9 stitch nupps!). What I find most challenging these days is actually writing down patterns that I design so that they can be knit again. I have a number of garments that I designed and knitted for myself, and didn’t write anything down as I knit them. This is a pretty easy way for me to knit, as I modify and revise as I go along (I guess I have issues following patterns much the same as I have issues following recipes when I cook). It’s much more challenging for me to actually write down what I’m doing and make myself be organized in that way.  If I had to pick one thing that challenged me more than anything else, it would probably be the Swallowtail Shawl I knitted several years ago, because it was the first time I knitted a triangular lace shawl and the first time I knitted nupps (and they weren’t even very big nupps).

Loopy: I had to look up “nupps”.  Knitted bobbles. Obviously I have never done any of those! So how did you go from knitting to dyeing?
Jennifer: I’ve always been a creative person. My father is an architect and an absolutely wonderful artist, and my mother is an amazing quilter and seamstress as well as knitter. My grandmother was also a very accomplished crocheter, and my great grandmother was a seamstress, too, although I never met her. So, I grew up in really quite a creative household, and was nearly always drawing or painting or working with clay. In college, I majored in ceramics and fine art for a while, and always enjoyed working with color. After the birth of our first child, I quit working in real estate and then started thinking about doing something artistic again, a business I could do from home so I could be with the kids. I was knitting a lot, and started spinning in 2003 at the first Knitter’s Review Retreat. Soon after that, I signed up for a dye workshop with a friend and it was like a light bulb literally went off in my head. I knew this was what I wanted to do, without a doubt. So, I basically just started doing it and things started rolling along. I started dyeing both yarns and fibers, because when I started spinning I spent hours on the internet researching spinning fibers and found there were so many endangered breeds out there that were really interesting. So, I wanted to spin them, too (and of course dye them). It all happened very quickly, and is still evolving and growing and keeping me interested.

Loopy: It’s so nice to know that you come from many generations of people who work with their hands. That’s a great tradition to carry on. It’s also interesting to know that you were one of the very early Indie Dyers, having started your business in early 2003.  So many dyers have come up within the last couple of years.  That is a lot of dyeing and experimenting! How do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
Jennifer: My colorways usually happen in a very organic way and have a lot to do with my mood at the time I’m dyeing. I used to call them “mood ways” because for the first several years, I didn’t write anything down and nothing was really reproducible. I just enjoyed the creativity of it all ~ playing with color, seeing how colors mix and blend, seeing how my mood on any given dye day would translate into a palette on the yarn. I also do a lot of painting and blending directly on the yarn, manipulating color on the canvas of the yarn. Now I do write colorways down since I’m working to do more reproducible colorways for my wholesale clients.  I love dyeing because I use all sorts of colors, those I love personally and those I don’t really like. For instance, I personally don’t like purple at all and tend towards earth tones, but I love to dye with purple.   Really, I love all my colorways because I love color. I guess my favorite colorways tend to be in the earth tones, since these are the colors I like to wear. Raspberry Truffle may be my favorite, but I also like Harvest Moon because I am really into deep, rich oranges these days. And I like Evergreen, and Redwood a lot. Anything with brown, green, deep red, orange … these colors are the ones that speak to me on a personal level.

littlehouseinthewoodsLoopy: My favorite colorway of yours is Turkish Stone. And Antique Tapestry. And Wheatear. (Because I can’t pick just one.) What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Jennifer: The favorite part is sort of hard to pick, because I really love just about every facet of what I do. I really love all of the friends I have met through this business. It has been amazing. I think the commonality of fiber passion creates a bridge between people where ordinarily one might not exist from the very start of a relationship. That shared passion just makes it easier to be open with people, and seems to move relationships from the superficiality of acquaintances to the intimacy of friendship much more quickly. I’ve made some fabulous friends that I just can’t imagine life without, and this has been an incredible gift.  The other thing I like – although I’m not a hugely outgoing person, is having a booth at fiber festivals where I can meet people and talk about yarns and fibers, and knitting and spinning. I love being in that environment, surrounded by other equally fanatic fiber lovers. I get an absolute charge meeting people who enjoy my yarns and colors, and watching people in my booth touching and oohing and ahhing over yarns and fibers. It’s a kick!  I also enjoy obtaining a fleece from a very rare or endangered sheep breed. It’s been amazing to me to get to know some of the farmers around the world who have flocks of rare breed sheep. It is a real labor of love continuing these breeds. Just recently, I’ve obtained fleece from the Arapawa in New Zealand and Hog Island from here in Virginia. The former is a sheep left on Arapawa Island several hundred years ago, possibly by sailors or pirates. They are similar to merino in some respects (and it is generally believed that it was a flock of merino sheep that was left on the island, for a future food source, much the same as sheep left on other islands around the world), but have evolved into a separate breed. It’s very interesting fiber, very rare, and very hard to come by. The latter is one of the breeds which was raised at Mount Vernon and Williamsburg, and is really incredibly rare. I had the fortune to come into contact with the owner of a private flock of Hog Island because the fleece from the sheep at Mount Vernon and Williamsburg are used for historical demonstrations at these sites. So, finding out about different breeds, getting different types of fleece and having the opportunity to help these breeds by selling their fibers and educating spinners about them, even in a small way, is always a thrill for me. Working with color is definitely a favorite, too, of course.

Not so favorite: mixing dyes, which can be pure drudge, especially because some are really disagreeable about getting mixed into a cohesive liquid. I actually use a blender now to mix them together, which speeds the process up immensely. And I mix larger quantities because the dyes I use don’t go bad very quickly, and even in larger quantities are not usually around long enough to go bad.

Loopy: You’re right about the wonderful connections that knitters and spinners seem to make. That’s a benefit to all of us in the fiber community. Tell us about your family and where you live.
Jennifer:
My husband Brett and I have two children. Our son, Jackson, is 11, and our daughter, Caragh, is 9. They are awesome, creative children ~ Jackson is very musical and plays the violin and guitar, and last year developed an immense passion for The Beatles. Caragh is obsessed with horses and rides as much as she can at a local stable.letsleepingdogslieMy husband and I built our house two years ago on my parents’ property in Rappahannock County, Virginia, which is at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains near the Shenandoah National Park. It’s a beautiful, very rural area, and we all really love living out here. We have 9 chickens and a VERY large dog, Phoenix, who is a cross between a Great Pyrenees and an Anatolian Shepherd, and a huge goofball. We built our house in the woods and had to cut down a lot of trees, which we were able to use in the house for flooring, siding, countertops and shelves. Our house is still a work-in-progress, with a lot of the “cosmetic” work like painting and such still to be done, but it’s wonderful and we see woods and trees from every window.  Our house and land really inspire me. I love being here and working here, watching the seasons turn and the light change. It’s really all an inspiration for my yarns and colors, and a wonderful, peaceful place to live.  Eventually, I hope to build a separate studio but at this point I am doing all my work in the laundry room, which we designed large enough to do this. I have a separate top-loading fiber washer in addition to the household washer and dryer, a large, deep sink and lots of shelves for dyes and supplies. It works pretty well, but I have stuff spread all over the house these days as I’ve quickly outgrown this temporary space. My husband is not too crazy about the smell of wet wool, which can be difficult given how much wool is wet around here, between processing the endangered breed fibers and soaking yarns. So, hopefully some year soon there will be a separate studio built where I can work and hold classes and other fiberly activities.   ‘

Loopy: I loved the photos of your house and surroundings. I could move there in an instant. And it sounds like you have plenty of room to build your dye-studio workshop one day, which will be fun! Does anyone else in your family knit?
Jennifer: Both of our kids have knit for several years and are learning to spin now, too. I taught knitting several years ago when they attended a local Waldorf-based school, and taught them both here at home. Caragh has finished a scarf or two, and they both have 5 or 6 projects going right now. (Obviously, they are more process oriented, whereas I am product oriented and really can’t stand having a lot of projects going at once).

Loopy: Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Jennifer: It’s interesting, because knitting used to be a hobby, but in many ways now it’s business. I feel compelled to knit with my own yarns most of the time, to make booth samples and design patterns and things like that.  I try to keep my spinning as a hobby, just for me, and don’t spin yarn to sell. Although I do spin a lot of samples of the fibers I have for sale to show what they’re like spun up. Last year my husband gave me stained glass lessons for Christmas, and I really love it. I’ve made several windows and a new door for my great-grandmother’s china closet, which was broken when we moved.  So, I’d like to keep doing this because it’s so different and not tied to what I do for a profession. (There was a minute there where I started envisioning knitting-inspired stained glass to sell, but  I quickly gave myself a mental head smack to stop it!).

homeLoopy: I remember seeing that stained glass project on your blog last fall.  It looked like a fun project! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Jennifer: If I was alone, I’d spend the day with a cup of tea and my knitting or spinning, and probably the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice. Or a book, because I love to read, too. If my kids and husband were home, going for a walk in the woods either around the house or up in the Park and then grabbing dinner at a local restaurant, maybe going out to see a movie in the evening, would be a great day off.

Loopy: Both versions sound like a nice relaxing day. Anything else you’d like to add?
Jennifer: Thanks for interviewing me! I’ve been reading the interviews on your blog and always enjoy them, and feel honored to be included!
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Sheri whothinksthatadaywithoutanydeliveriesfromUPSorFedExwouldbejustfine.
Stillburiedinyarntobeunpacked.Don’tneedanymoretomorrow.

Marie in The Loopy Limelight

yarnrainbowI’m back from TNNA (and warm weather in CA) and I’ll post all of the details on Wednesday’s blog!  In the meantime, I wanted you to meet Marie of Brooklyn Handspun in today’s Limelight. I’m knitting a sock with her yarn in Aquatic and it’s amazingly soft and wonderful. I wish you all could reach through your monitors and feel this. (Web Guy needs to invent that technology….)
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Loopy: Hi Marie!  Thanks so much for being in the Limelight today. We love having your yarn here and I know that many of our Loopy customers have had fun adding it to their stashes and projects.  How long have you been a knitter, and where did you learn to knit?
Marie: Hi Loopy! My grandmother first taught me to knit when I was 10, although I didn’t really have the patience for how long each row took so needless to say I never went beyond a little square of fabric.  In 2003, I went craft supply shopping. I made a lot of wire and beaded jewelry back then, and noticed all the colorful yarn.  I wanted it all but I had no idea how to use it so I decided to try my hand at knitting again and taught myself how to knit from a book I was gifted.

Loopy: I re-learned to knit in adulthood from a book, too! I’m glad it “stuck” this time, for both of us. What is your favorite thing to knit, and what is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Marie: Socks of course!  I love quick and colorful socks – I don’t have the patience for large knit items and socks are great for knitting on the subway.  I have also started to really enjoy crocheting amigurumi. I usually stick to simpler knits since I rarely have time to really concentrate on a difficult pattern, although right now I’m crocheting lots of little flowers for my wedding bouquet using a tiny steel crochet hook and embroidery thread – that has been pretty challenging.

Loopy: That will make such a unique bouquet – and one that you can keep. How did you move from knitting to dyeing?
Marie: I actually went from knitting, to spinning, to dyeing.  After knitting for a while I thought: why not make my own yarn?  So I bought a drop spindle on ebay and 2 weeks later bought my first wheel – I was hooked.  A few months into spinning I got tired of plain white fiber and decided to experiment with some koolaid dyeing.  The results were wonderful and that same week I went out and bought 20 colors of acid dyes.  I was fully addicted to dyeing fiber and my own handspun when I really got into sock knitting.  At that point, 2005, there really weren’t too many indie yarn dyers so I started to dye my own sock yarn and well, the rest is history!

Loopy: It’s nice to know that you were one of the first indie dyers out there. There do seem to be a lot of them at this point.  How do you come up with your colorways? And do you have a favorite?
Marie: I take inspiration from wherever I can get it – nature, printed fabrics, even grocery store packaging!  I keep a little book with me and whenever I see a great color combo, I take note of it for the next dye session.  I can’t say I have a favorite since my colorways are always changing.  I am drawn to deep purples and burgundy.

Loopy: The little book idea is a good one. That way you always have ideas to run with when it’s a dyeing day. What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Marie: I love the act of creating, of picking colors and seeing them mingle on a skein of yarn – it’s very satisfying, but I think my favorite part is seeing the items knit by my customers.  I get such a thrill knowing our combined efforts will make a beautiful finished object.  My not so favorite part is accidentally dyeing my hands wild colors, you should see the looks I get on the subway when I’ve had a little “color explosion.”

img_0162Loopy: I would think if you had been dyeing with reds, you might look a little dangerous. Although maybe people give you a wide berth that way!  Do you do this business full-time, or on the side?  And is that hard?
Marie: I consider this to be my second job. I feel I put just as much time and effort into Brooklyn Handspun as I do my day job where I am a paralegal extraordinaire.  It’s especially apparent when I’m dyeing all day on the weekends and late into the night.  It can be difficult with 2 jobs, but I love what I do so it’s worth the sacrifice of some personal time.

Loopy: It’s probably a good outlet for the right side of your brain, after working in the left side all day long.  Does anyone else in your family knit?
Marie: I am the only knitter in my family, although my 9 year old niece has shown some interest.  I think I can turn her into a little knitter in no time!

Loopy: Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Marie: I enjoy most things of a crafty nature, such as jewelry making, quilting, sewing, photography – anything that involves creativity and color.  I have a weakness for fantasy novels and can spends days on end reading them if given the opportunity.  I am also a classically trained singer and when I had time I sang with a small opera company, although now I generally just annoy my cats singing arias around the house.

Loopy: So some of our yarns might’ve been sung to as they were dyeing up? I like that!  What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Marie: Hmm a day off?  What’s that? If a day off does exist, then I think I’d sleep in, knit for a few hours in my PJ’s listening to music, bake something sweet and sinful before sitting down with a good book.  If, after all that excitement, I still have energy, I’ll order in some dinner, cuddle up on the couch with my partner and our 4 cats, grab a WIP and watch a good movie.

Loopy: Thanks for being in the Limelight today, Marie!
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Sheri spendingaquietdayhereatLoopycatchinguponthings