I don't know about you but for me sometimes the thing that I want to do the most is the thing that I tell everyone I don't want to do. I imagine that this is a common defense mechanism. I mean really, how can you fail at something if you convince yourself and others that you never actually wanted to do the thing in the first place, right? Such was my journey into dyeing yarn.
I have a deep and long-standing love affair with colour. In high school, mixing paint was one of my favourite parts of art class. You really learn how colour behaves when you have to manipulate it like that, and I became quite good at it. Later as an interior designer, I tried to play with colour as much as I could but of course in that context it's always limited to what the client is trying to achieve, and often the client wasn't trying to achieve anything terribly colourful.
But I had knitting! Naturally I was enamoured with the indie dyers' bold, variegated creations and subtle, tonal treasures. Even solids are more beautiful when dyed by hand. When life lead me into opening Pretty Little Yarns, carrying indie dyed yarns was paramount to my vision of the shop. It was no surprise to me when friends started asking me if I would be dyeing my own line of yarns. I always answered with an exaggerated, "What me? No! No way. It's too messy. I have small kids. I don't have anything else to offer that isn't already out there. The market is so saturated, it wouldn't be worth it," and a million other excuses I had come up with to convince myself that I wasn't interested.
Then, one day that armour began to crack. I had been getting more into hand-spinning, and the beautiful art batts out there had me feeling inspired. I thought to myself, "Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to make those? I think maybe I can, but I won't fall into the dyeing rabbit hole." So, I bought a drum carder and a blending board and I played with making little rolag experiments. I fell in love with the tactile experience of blending the fiber and colour in ways that I felt made each element sing and that was great until I was at Fibre Spirit in Barrie last year. My booth was next to Adele's Locks of Love and Adele asked me if I dyed my yarn. I said I didn't but that I carried several indie dyers' yarns who I admired. I trotted out all my usual reasons and excuses but somehow, she saw through them. She looked at me and so sincerely told me I should just go for it because it's so much fun.
Now that the seed was planted, I allowed myself to consider dyeing as a possibility, and the more I did, the more support I seemed to get. Especially from other indie dyer and fibre friends, who really cheered me on in this whole process. I took my first workshop in natural dyeing at the Knit Cafe last year, and another acid dye workshop with Mad Science Dye and Fiber in the new year and now I'm dyeing every week, and you know what? Everyone was right: it is fun, and I do love it! I hope that you'll love it too when it launches at Hamilton Fibre Market later this month under the name Dye Pretty.
I'm presently dyeing one-of-kind, limited run colours, and already I can see my own style shining through each skein. Every week is an adventure, and I take extensive notes through every dye day because I plan to develop a line of repeatable colourways later this year. So, there you have it, my not-so-secret truth is out. I'm officially an indie dyer and fibre artist.
Stay tuned for the next post with more about my set up, process, and inspiration!