Untangling MK Nance

Designer MK Nance first popped on my radar (AKA the Indie Untangled Marketplace) at the end of 2014. Since she tends to design her accessory patterns with indie-dyed yarn, she was a perfect fit for the website and also for the Where We Knit Yarn Club, in which I pair together dyers and designers, who collaborate on an exclusive colorway and one-skein pattern.

For last year’s club, Nance bended the rules slightly and used two half skeins of Three Fates Yarn Terra Sock to create not one, but two patterns with a two-color cable design that has become her trademark. The Crystal Springs cowl and Jenkins hat are now available to purchase. I recently asked Nance to tell me a little bit more about her work and inspiration.

How did you decide to become a designer?

I just did! The first pattern I wrote was because I couldn’t find a pattern that I needed to make and friends’ friends asked me to make it for them so I wrote the pattern up and said I would teach them. Two dyers, Three Fates Yarn and The Periwinkle Sheep, both suggested I just do it.

What did you do before becoming a designer and how does it inform your design work?

The first thing I ever designed was a scarf was my sophomore year of high school, so I had not really done anything at that point. I studied anthropology and middle eastern studies in college. After that I lived in NYC, Cairo, and Portland, Oregon. Many names and motifs are inspired by where I have been or studied.

When and how did you learn to knit?

Mrs. Struk, my first and second grade teacher, kept me in during recess until I learned how to tie my shoes. That didn’t work so she took my mother aside and told her I needed better eye hand coordination, so knitting or crochet would be good to learn. As my mother can’t crochet she taught me how to knit. My shoes are never tied still (I can tie them now) but I have knitting in my purse, car and everywhere.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Honestly, if I knew I would have an easier time coming up with names.

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

If it will be self published, I’ll pull out the yarn and start painting stitches using my graphing program.

If it for a call for a third party publisher, I’ll pull up the mood board and paint stitches.

What are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?

My favorite colors have not changed. I do use color differently, I once loved lace and variegated colorway but now I’ll use busier yarns with a solid with stranding or mosaic.

You recently published your first sweater design in Twist Collective. Do you plan to design more garments?

Absolutely! I am planning on releasing at least three more cardigans this year. I may also have a few pullover ideas bouncing around my head.

Where is your favorite place to knit?

I have two. Farina’s is a little bakery in Portland with great light, food, and the staff/owner are great people. Home is my other favorite place with my dog literally under foot.

Untangling: Jennifer Porter of Porterness Studio

If there’s anything I love to shop for more than hand-dyed yarn, it’s handmade jewelry. Jennifer Porter of Porterness Studio combines the two with her products, which include beautiful necklaces and earrings and equally chic shawl pins and buttons. They’re all made from the 6,000-year-old lost wax casting technique, in which jewelry is made by pouring molten metal into a mold created from a wax model that is later melted away. Jennifer, a fellow knitter, hand crafts her products from the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles. I recently asked her about her process and background as a knitter and crocheter.

How did you get started making and selling jewelry?

My first real foray into the jewelry business actually happen in my childhood. I fondly remember my sister and I, age 11 and 12, making and selling handmade pompom animal pins to friends, family and door to door around the neighborhood. It was wonderful to see the neighborhood adorned with our humble little pins.

However, my official jewelry-making career began in 2007. I started out offering jewelry on Etsy that was inspired by and incorporated beautiful mid century German glass beads. In the early days, I would search high and low for these tiny colorful glass sculptures and once found, I would spend hours combining them into one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry. Little did I know that the spark of intrigue and fascination for these unique beads would lead me to discover the allure of many processes of ancient jewelry-making. Eventually, my curiosity for these early techniques inspired me to enroll in my first lost wax casting course.

I was immediately enthralled with the 6,000-year-old lost wax casting technique and it has maintained its ranks as my favorite and primary method of my design process.

After over a year of intense study, practice, and personal refinement of this ancient process, I created Porterness Studios.

How did you choose the method that you use?

I chose lost wax casting method for not only for its place in ancient art history but because of a personal desire to preserve and showcase what this amazing process can create. While it is not the quickest, or the easiest process to master or utilize, the results are simply amazing and create beautiful heirloom pieces.

You still crochet and knit? What are some of your favorite things to make?

My knitting story is hardly unique, I’m sure, and is standard for most of our fellow knitters and crocheters. My grandmother first taught me how to crochet when I was 10, and I would pick up the hook from time to time.

Fast forward to the day I stumbled upon the magical world of indie dyers. I immediately was reminded of those first few German glass beads that really fueled my journey into lost wax casting. This was one reason why I wanted to design a collection specifically intended to harmonize with heirloom knitted and crocheted garments. If I would have known about hand-dyed yarn when I was 10, I probably would never stopped. Now, I’m finding myself buying yarn just to look at it as a spirit object in my home.

As a relatively new knitter I’m firmly ensconced in hat- and scarf-land but I plan on casting on a poncho very, very soon. Wish me luck.

When did you decide to create shawl pins and buttons?

I have been secretly making shawl pins and buttons as gifts for my mother for quite some time now. She is the prolific knitter and designer in the family, so I must credit her amazing designs for the inspiration to create the Porterness Studios Fiber Age Collection. It was really just a matter of time and encouragement before the yarn bug would bite me too and lead me to create pieces that can harmonize with knitted garments.

What have been your most popular sellers?

The Demi-sec tiny bubble fork and Circular shawl pin.

What inspires your designs?

I draw inspiration from all over but art history, ancient cultures, and Modernist and Mid Century design have all played a significant role in my collections.

As of late, I have been nerding out on all of the mind blowing fiber art garments and hand dyers on Instagram and Ravelry, and they are quickly becoming huge inspiration to create new designs.

How often do you create new designs?

I start my day with a cup of coffee and new design. I’ll wake up to design for 20 minutes or hours depending on the day (or my level of productive procrastination). A design is my morning meditation and mental yoga. A small percentage of those pre-coffee designs make it into production, but it is a daily process.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your handmade business?

Learning how to transmit my passion for my designs and my design process to others has been one of my biggest challenges, and something that I have spent considerable time working on this year. The lost wax casting process is mystical and fascinating and I am absolutely thrilled that so many other people seem to share this excitement and passion once they learn about it, too.

This year I also began learning and integrating 3D modeling into my design process and it has opened up my design potential in ways that previously would have required a team of people, with 20+ years of experience, and thousand of dollars of equipment. This new skill allows me to create work with a small eco footprint by cutting out waste and designing within a small workspace. The versatility of 3D molding opened my design process so I can offer items that are complicated and refined right out of the gate. It’s also really exciting to be at the forefront of a new production process that combines the ancient art of lost wax casting with new and modern design and manufacturing technologies like 3D modeling and printing.

But I am always striving to learn and grow. Since starting Porterness Studio and developing each subsequent collection, I have worked to refine and further develop all of the techniques and processes I utilize both modern and ancient, and this ancient modernism toolbox has manifested itself into every facet and design of Porterness Studio.

Untangling Invictus Yarns

Sue of Invictus Yarns was one of the first dyers I reached out to when I began putting together Indie Untangled four years ago. Since then, she has become one of the most prolific posters, with a beautiful range of products that include her standout gradient and rainbow miniskein sets and expertly dyed variegated colorways.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

It was something that seemed fun to try. A few people asked me to dye skeins for them, too, and before I knew it, I had a shop and had a booth at Lambtown, a local fiber show. I haven’t looked back, and have discovered that I really enjoy my time in the dye pots!

How did you decide on the name Invictus Yarns?

The feelings of strength, courage, and determination that came with with the process were just amazing, and I wanted something that would convey them. As soon as Invictus came into my head, I knew it was the direction I wanted to go.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

I get this question fairly often, and am almost embarrassed to give a truthful answer, but for the most part, I let the skeins hang to dry and let them tell me what they want to be called. Sometimes I’ll have an idea before I dye them, but for the most part, the name comes to me after they’re dyed.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Purple is definitely my favorite color, but I’ve always loved jewel tones. I was never a fan of oranges, but have to admit that it’s become a fave lately.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

It seems like I’m always on the hunt for the perfect red. I don’t think I really realized how many different shades there were before I started dyeing! I think the biggest challenge is often with getting accurate pictures for the shop, especially for reds and greens.


How often do you update your online shop?

It varies, but usually several times a month.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

I still have another job, but have cut it down to just a few hours per week so that I can spend more time on the shop. Dyeing is definitely my main business.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

I think that changes every time I see another project! : D I love seeing the projects on Ravelry and at shows! A Phoenix-Wing shawl that was knit for a booth sample will probably always be one of my faves, tho. It was like wrapping myself in a giant hug when I opened it.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

Hmmm. This may sound really silly, but it’s the first thing that comes to mind: I felt rather awkward when I began doing fiber shows, but learned that it can be a real blast to chat with people. As an introvert, that was a biggie, even if it sounds pretty basic. It also goes along with the whole Invictus strength-courage-determination thing, now that I think about it! It can still be a challenge trying to determine how much to chat and how much to let people just browse without coming across as though you aren’t acknowledging them, if that makes sense.

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Suzanne Nelson of Groovy Hues Fibers

This is the ninth post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3.

Suzanne of Groovy Hues Fibers is a dyer based in my old stomping grounds of Long Island and she is a great example of what I love about my hometown (well, home land mass): friendly, funny and talented. Her colorways are random in the best possible way, inspired by things like movies and snarky phrases, but they are always colorful and Fun.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I think that my story is probably a little boring, because it is a version of the same story you hear from indie dyers over and over again! I taught myself to knit at the ripe old age of 25. It was during a brief time when I lived in southwest Florida, and there wasn’t much of a choice for yarn in general, let alone colors I preferred. This was before the popularity of Facebook crafting groups, but a Google search led me to discover that one could dye bare wool with food-safe coloring. I was hooked.

Then, life got in the way as it is prone to do, and I didn’t dye or knit for a long time. I met my now-husband in 2010, and he is an archaeologist specializing in textiles. He gave me a bunch of his natural dyes, and he taught me to spin. I picked up knitting again, and my first trip to Rhinebeck inspired me to try some acid dyes.

One day in our knitting circle, a woman grabbed a skein from my hands and demanded to know where I’d gotten the yarn. I told her I had dyed it, and she thrust some money in my face and begged me for it. How could I turn that down? I was working five jobs and could barely make ends meet. Several months later, my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I were at a beer, bacon, and bourbon festival held on the same fairgrounds as Rhinebeck, and the food-and-alcohol-induced idea came from Thaddeus that I should try to sell some yarn. I thought he was insane. I still do, but now for different reasons!

Up to that point, I had fully planned on trying to pursue a PhD in Biological Anthropology. He was already almost done with his PhD in Archaeology, and I had only done a little bit of fieldwork with monkeys in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. It was fun, but I did genuinely long for a “normal life.” (Little did I know that being a dyer is anything but normal!) I bought some extra dye and extra yarn, and there it sat. For months. I was petrified that it would fail. Several months later, I mustered the courage to post some extremely terrible photos of my yarn (I hadn’t learned to photograph it yet!) in a few Facebook groups, and people wanted it. Not quite six months after that, I was able to quit the other four jobs and work on Groovy Hues Fibers full-time! I haven’t looked back!

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

I’m weird. There is absolutely no question of this. When you see my colorway names, most of them are pretty fun. I have puns, I have movie quotes, song titles, television show themes, snarky phrases, and much more. Sometimes I have an idea in my head and take the dye to the yarn, but most of the time I dye the yarn and then try to figure out what it says to me. I love food-inspired yarn, because I live to eat. My husband and I plan fiber show vending based upon how good the breweries and restaurants are where we will be selling! I can’t lie — I do have several mundane, boring colorway names. If you see a boring name slapped on my yarn, you know that the yarn was named sometime around 2:30 in the morning the day of a fiber show, as I panicked and tried to get it all done in time!

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

My business name is Groovy Hues Fibers – we embrace the rainbow, and every color under it. I try to give equal attention to the insane, psychedelic brights as I do the earthy, tree-hugging tones. That said, I personally love orange. It’s a happy color. I tend to dye a lot of it, and I’ve been told that I do it in an inoffensive way, whatever that means! Ha! I am not a fan of hunter green — I have my reasons. But I force myself to dye it for those of you who do love it. As I’ve grown as a dyer, I personally have gravitated to making things for myself that are less bright, and more earthy. I noticed this at a few of my latest shows, so now I have to revisit the idea of putting brights out there for everyone else again. Not everything can be selfish dyeing. Or can it???

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that you find is challenging to create?

I think a lot of things are challenging to create. The perfect gold and the perfect green. Many people have ideas of what these colors should be — I know that I have my own set attitude about them. It’s often hard to translate something from my head onto the yarn, because you never know exactly how the fiber and the mixed dyes will marry. Mostly, I do what I want. I work very hard at it, and I put everything into creating a skein that I’d be proud to use. If the colors are giving me trouble, I overdye them and pretend that I fully intended for them to look exactly the way that they did! Sometimes what I thought were my worst dye days turned out to be the biggest sellers I’ve ever created.

How often do you update your online shop?

That’s a really good question! My only answer is, “whenever I can.” Some people can say they’ll update every Saturday night at 8 p.m. I have no such delusions of that kind of organizational skill. I do a lot of fiber and trunk shows, so during the spring and during the fall, I update the shop sporadically as I usually hoard inventory for these events. During the summer and winter, my online customers see a lot more updating from me. There are days I’m so excited by what I’ve dyed, that I update the shop as soon as the yarn is dry and I can take the pictures. I try to never keep the shop entirely bare, because that looks sad to me! The days of less travel are upcoming, so I plan to have far more yarn available for my online Groovies.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

As far as making money goes, dyeing is my only business. But, last year, my dog died suddenly and unexpectedly. To get out of my own head, I took up running. For some crazy reason, I kept on doing it. Most of the time, I feel like that is a job! I’ve been training for several big races. In March 2018, my husband and I will be running the Rock ‘n’ Roll 1/2 Marathon in Washington DC under the Groovy Hues name as St. Jude Heroes — we’ve raised almost $3,000 from customers and friends for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital! This coming weekend, I’ll be completing at 10K in Central Park for the Save The Elephants foundation. On Thanksgiving, we have chosen a Turkey Trot 5K to benefit the Nissequogue River State Park Foundation. I suppose I have settled for a second job in charity! If I were to name a third job, it would be dyeing yarn for my husband. He is the designer for his growing brand, Archaeology Knits Designs. When you see gorgeous designs in my booth, chances are that he is the one who designed it. I’ve designed exactly one thing, and I hated doing it. I’m done now. As long as I keep him knee-deep in yarn, he’s a happy dude.


What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

Honestly? To do mostly what makes ME happy. If I try to chase after every yarn trend to fill whatever the Ravelry pattern du jour is, it will be inconsistent and people will not know what to expect from me. If I do what I love, then chances are, someone else will love it, too. I do speckle yarn. I do make yarn for fades, and doodlers, and whatever everyone else wants to make — but I do it my way.

I’ve also learned to never scoff at any application of the fiber arts. I don’t believe in yarn snobbery. If someone comes into my booth and he/she has only ever worked with acrylic and needs help, I help them. Even if they don’t buy from me. I am all about keeping the fiber arts alive — that’s what’s most important to me.

I’ve also learned that we can never know what people want. I can dye a colorway that I hate, and it will sell out at a show. I can dye something that, on paper, should sell in seconds, and it goes untouched for several shows! Not knowing what to expect keeps it fresh.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned about owning a business is that I absolutely have to make time for myself, or I will begin to resent that which I’ve worked so hard to build. Taking more than a week off to get married and go on a honeymoon was really, really hard for me this year — but I’m so glad I did it. I came back with a refreshed love for what I do.

Lastly, I’ve learned that I can sell all of the yarn in the world online, but it doesn’t make me as happy as when I am vending at even the smallest of shows. Meeting with people and watching them touch my products is the most satisfying feeling in the universe. I love watching people buy things that sing to them. It reinforces that I made the right decision in life! Playing with dye and chatting with fiber crafters is so much better than examining monkey poop in the jungle!

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Kim Kaslow of The Woolen Rabbit

This is the eighth post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3. There are only a few tickets left to the Friday night sneak peek party. Get yours now!

Kim of The Woolen Rabbit was one of the first dyers I discovered when I fell down the indie rabbit hole. In fact, one of my friends organized a trip to her New Hampshire studio several years ago and I’m still kicking myself for not going (something about having too much yarn? I kind of laugh at that now — I did not have too much yarn compared to now). Kim was also one of the first dyers I contacted when I launched Indie Untangled in 2014 and I’m thrilled that she’s participated in my little venture, posting to the marketplace, sending yarn to sell at last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show and, finally, participating in this weekend’s show at Woolyn.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I have been dyeing yarn now for about 15 years. I started off with a bunch of sweet angora rabbits. I would dye their fur with Merino and have it processed into pin drafted roving for spinning. As I ventured further into dyeing, I found that I preferred dyeing yarn, so I moved more in that direction. After seeing a beautiful-in-the-skein yarn I dyed knit up horribly in the finished item because of the pooling, it became my goal to really focus on creating non pooling yarns, which I think I have been able to accomplish for the most part.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

Frequently I look to nature for colorways. The subtle blending of colors in nature are always such an inspiration for me. Coloway names… usually whatever pops into my mind. Years ago I had a color way named Iggy Pop… ha!

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

I love the colors of autumn, so I frequently turn to them when creating — colors such as New England Red, Butterscotch Pudding, Oakmoss, Birch Beer and Enchanted Forest. I don’t think my preferences have changed much as I love muted colors, but I am trying to challenge myself with some of the newer ways of dyeing. Not there yet, but I love new challenges!

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that you find is challenging to create?

There are times when I am focusing on creating a particular color but I just can’t get the exact color I am aiming for no matter how many times I try. But sometimes what I end up with can be an unexpected surprise. Many of my most popular colorways were created this way.

How often do you update your online shop?

My online shop is all dyed to order, so I don’t do massive updates. Years ago when I first discovered the world of hand-dyed yarns and the anticipated updated shops only to be disappointed that the yarns that I wanted sold out faster than I could type, I decided then that I would not do shop updates, but dye to order instead. So far it has worked for me, even though my customers do have to wait seven to 10 days for their yarn, unless I happen to have some from a show on hand. I am so fortunate to have some wonderful customers!

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

Over the years, I have run my business both ways — as my main business and with another job. When I was growing my business up, I was fortunate to be working at home which gave me a lot of freedom to learn the business and create. I left that job to pursue dyeing full time which I did for a number of years. Now, with my children grown and on their own, I went back into the work force part time, so that I would be around people, but I still enjoy the rest of my time creating in my studio.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

Time management and discipline, which is not always easy with an artist’s brain. It’s always my biggest challenge, but so important. One of the very best things are the amazing people I have met along my journey in this amazing field we are so fortunate to be a part of!

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Denise Gronda of Yoshi & Lucy

This is the seventh post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3.

I first met Denise of Yoshi & Lucy at last year’s Indie Untangled @ Woolyn Trunk Show. She was sitting next to me at Rachel’s long back table and introduced herself as an indie dyer who happened to live a few blocks away. What a great neighborhood find! She’s since posted often to the Indie Untangled marketplace and I used one of her hot pink colorways to knit a pussy hat last winter. I’m excited to see more of her yarns in person at Woolyn this weekend. Have you grabbed your tickets for the sneak peek party yet?

Yoshi & Lucy

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I started dyeing yarn because I’m a big fan of hand dyed yarn. I was curious about how to dye yarn so I found some Youtube videos and books. After six months of playing around, I had more yarn than I knew what to do with. I was also hating my current job so I decided to take the plunge and start my own business.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

I do a lot of experimenting and try to come up with colorways I would love to knit. Sometimes I have an idea beforehand but usually I just play around and see what happens. I’ll admit I’m very bad at picking colorway names so I usually take photos of the new yarn and send them to my best friend who is a genius with naming colorways.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

My favorite color is purple and I have probably have too many purple colorways. Of course I try to expand the colors I offer with each update.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that you find is challenging to create?

There is my Rainbow Dash colorway which was the result of an experiment. It is a multiple step colorway and sometimes it doesn’t come out as it should. I do end up selling those as “misfit” skeins. People seems to like them even if it isn’t exactly as I intended.

How often do you update your online shop?

I try to have at least three updates per month.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

Dyeing is my main business and it’s the best job I have ever had.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

I had to learn how to balance the business side and creative side of the business. I need time to create but I also have to do administrative tasks and keep up with my social media accounts so that my business will grow.

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Charisse Dicarlo of Color Craze Fiber

This is the sixth post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3.

As I’m primarily a knitter, Charisse Dicarlo’s work for Color Craze Yarn and Fiber wasn’t on my radar, but when Rachel introduced me to her Etsy shop a few months ago, I immediately added it to my favorites. Charisse not only dyes roving that tempts me to take up spinning, but also creates stunning variegated-speckle mashups using lots of pinks, purples and blues… and plenty of other colors. She lives north of New York City in Valhalla.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I started dying shortly after I started spinning back in 2008. First it was roving for spinning and I realized How will I ever spin all of this roving? and quickly started an Etsy shop. As of early this year I took my dying experience over to the other side known as yarn and kinda fell into an interview with Kristy Glass. Kristy gave me a few roads to go down, and inspired me to start a podcast that I’m so new at. I think I have 10 episodes so far. I had my first trunk show this year in May, posted on the Indie Untangled site, then got an email from you inquiring about the Woolyn trunk show. And here I am today — so exciting!

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

My colorway names? I’ve recently noticed that I name them (for) what they remind me of when it’s out of the pot and dried. Like, my colorway Bronx Life came to life as it reminded me of the park we always went to as a child. It consists of greys and a little bit of red, which resemble the swings and the slides. So, in essence, it’s whatever comes to me as soon as I look at it. It’s a weird process, but it works. Sometimes I let my little one name them — I like to see what a 10-year-old’s mind comes up with. I first started naming them (for) songs that I knew in the electronic age we live in, but it wasn’t making sense to me so I started looking deeply into it and feeling the color.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

My god, yes. I seem to work with a lot of purple I love the way it wicks out and blends so well within each other. But it goes back and forth from time to time. Lately I love the neutrals and the fall colors. My recent project is Leventry by Sarah Jordan [https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/leventry] using my Beach Sand and NYC Snow Day colorways and I love the way the neutrals are working together. They are my new found favorites. They will be at the trunk show.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that you find is challenging to create?

I’ve tackled speckles, I dipped into kettle/tonal. My favorite technique that I do is saturated color all throughout in different colors that complement each other with speckle on top. The only thing I hate that happens when I come up with new colorway is the muddiness that sometimes happens, so I’ll just overdye it and it comes out beautiful most of the time.

How often do you update your online shop?

I try and update every week, but I feel like it’s a little challenging because there are so many dyers out there and if you don’t update you may lose your opportunity. Sometimes I find it’s hard to get noticed being that there are so many of us out there. It takes that one customer that knows someone and then it’s a trickle effect as it did when I did my first trunk show this year. It is a labor of love for sure. You have to nurture the Etsy shop, and social media is key. So updates on Instagram are so important. I still have loyal customers that always come back because they know what they’re getting. I get compliments all the time. I always say to myself as the skeins dry, “I hope this is good enough.” Then you get the person that goes wild over it; at that point I’m like, “Phew!!!”


Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

It seems like it’s become my main baby. I’m just very grateful that I’m able to be here full time for my daughter, and having an absolute supportive man by my side makes it all worth it. I stopped for a little while about six years ago — life happened, if you know what I mean — then met a truly great man that threw me back into it and I found a new love of fiber and a new love of my life, my best friend all over again. Together, from here, he makes the possibilities endless.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

1. CUSTOMER SERVICE. I have 100 percent positive feedback and I always add little trinkets to the order. I always loved getting little extras when I supported fellow Etsy-ens. I’m very good with returns, although I haven’t gotten not one yet. I mail packages out right away, mostly the same day, unless I’m away or it’s after 5 p.m.

2. The fiber/yarn community is so very supportive, warm, and helpful. It’s like a secret society. Especially when you participate in these events, you are so overwhelmed at how many knitters and spinners there are in one place altogether at the same time. My better half looked at me like, “Are you serious?”

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Lauren Bardelline of Old Rusted Chair

This is the fifth post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3. Tickets for the Friday sneak peek party are on sale now!

When Rachel, the owner of Woolyn, and I were coming up with ideas for this year’s Indie Untangled trunk show, we decided to stay local and feature dyers from the Northeast. Lauren Bardelline of Old Rusted Chair is the exception to this, but we figured Nashville was close enough to the Eastern Seaboard to work for our “shop local” theme. Plus, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on Lauren’s bright, fun colorways.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I had been working in an office job and wasn’t in love with that work. For almost a decade I had been knitting, and eventually got into test knitting and learning how to tech edit. I wanted to get deeper into the fiber arts community — I even worked part-time at a local yarn store in Oakland — and decided to try dyeing yarn to see if I was any good at it. It turns out, I was! I had struggled with every other form of art I tried, like painting, drawing, or pottery, but mixing dye and applying it on my favorite fiber just made sense to me.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

Naming colorways can feel stressful sometimes. When I first started dyeing, I was inspired by the music I would listen to while working. Now I have a running list of words and phrases that I enjoy and think would work well as names. Sometimes there’s some banter back and forth between me and my husband until I land on the perfect name.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Purple has been my favorite color for many years, and that hasn’t changed! Because of dyeing, I am now obsessed with mixing purple and orange together.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that you find is challenging to create?

I have a vision of an orange that I’ve been trying to create, and now I have a bag full of orange samples I’ve made throughout my testing. Something on the reddish side, but I haven’t been able to make my vision a reality yet. I’ll know it when I see it!

How often do you update your online shop?

Every two to three weeks.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

Main business. When I first opened up my shop, I was still working full-time in San Francisco. I moved to Nashville in April 2017 and started working on my business, Old Rusted Chair, full time.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

I learned I can’t do it all, and that’s OK! I’m not the best at understanding social media marketing or building a website. Fortunately, there are lots of people in this community who are experts at the things I’m not great at, and they are more than willing to let me pay them for their help!

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Carolyn McKenna of Swift Yarns

This is the fourth post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3. Tickets for the Friday sneak peek party are on sale now!

Carolyn McKenna lives north of me in Queens, NY, but I first met her down in Maryland, where she was doing the 2017 Maryland Sheep & Wool indie pop-up at The Knot House. I have been trying to get her and her yarns on Indie Untangled after learning about Swift Yarns through The Knot House newsletter, but she’s been busy wholesaling to a variety of shops. Well, I am very excited to get to spend a few days with Carolyn and surrounded by her lovely colorways at Woolyn in a couple of weeks!

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I started dyeing yarn because there is almost no hand-dyed yarn in the entire borough of Queens. I had three small kids when I started to really get into my fiber and it was very hard for me to get to any yarn stores. I started to buy some online but I was disappointed in the websites. Many, in my opinion, didn’t portray the yarns very nicely. Necessity is the mother of invention and I needed yarn! So I figured if I can’t get the yarn I want, I will make some.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

New York City is a real inspiration. It’s a colorful city but I can get inspiration from almost anything I see. One of my colorways, Ikat, is inspired from a pillow cover I own. And sometimes I just let the dyes be what they want. I usually start with an idea and then let go. Sometimes when you try to control too much you just end up disappointed. It’s important to have fun.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

I have rediscovered my love of color through dyeing! I was an architect before I started this adventure and we use a lot of natural colors, wood, concrete, stone, etc. A lot of greys and browns. I’m so happy to be using every color now.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that you find is challenging to create?

Purple is the color I go to the least. I personally do not wear purple and I don’t think I look good in purple which is probably why I don’t make it. But I’m starting to get over this.

How often do you update your online shop?

I barely update online. It is a lot of work to update the online shop and I’m so busy between trunk shows and shop orders. When I do stock the shop, I let my email subscribers know about it.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

I still work part-time with my husband’s construction management business. My architecture background is very useful but we are working towards me becoming a full time dyer.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

I’ve learned you can and should do what you love. I have moments of real peace and fulfillment when I dye. I love making people happy. It becomes a full circle. When I make others happy they in turn make me happy. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done for myself in a long time.

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Rebecca Picoult of Fuse Fiber Studio

This is the third post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3. Tickets for the Friday sneak peek party are on sale now!

Most indie dyers start out in their kitchens. After taking a dyeing class with SweetGeorgia’s Felicia Lo at Vogue Knitting Live NYC last year (along with me!), Rebecca Picoult moved into her own studio at the Farmington Valley Arts Center in Connecticut. She named her brand new business Fuse Fiber Studio for the factory where the arts center is housed, which used to manufacture safety fuses for mining.

Rebecca has a range of semisolids and variegated colorways with the requisite speckles and fun names like Honey Butter, Free Dive and All the Speckles. Learn more about Rebecca and her business before meeting her and seeing her yarns next month:

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

It was all kind of a whirlwind really. Although I’ve been a knitter (and yarn hoarder) forever, I never actually planned to become a yarn dyer. In January this year I forced my sister to come with me to Vogue Knitting Live in NYC. Since she doesn’t knit, but is an artist herself, we took all the dyeing classes offered by Felicia Lo. We came home so inspired, that on a whim we went to see if there were any studios available at a nearby community arts center that I have always loved. My sister marched right up and asked for an application for me before I could chicken out. The rest as they say is history… I got the keys to my studio on February 1st, I published my first knitting pattern Exordium on March 19th, and my online shop opened on April 1st. So, I guess you could say that once I put my mind to something — look out!

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

My colorways and names are all based on the things I love most in the world: places I’ve traveled, my favorite books and movies, my favorite things in nature and funny family stories. For me, every color tells a story. My goal as a dyer is for people to find something in my colors that resonates with them and sparks their own happy memories and feelings.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

When I first started dyeing I was so careful and deliberate when mixing colors for fear of turning everything brown. Ironically, as I’ve developed my skills and become more confident I find that my brown dyes are actually my favorite — they make the best speckles. Speckled neutrals are definitely my favorite colors to create right now.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that you find is challenging to create?

The only two times that I have had to throw yarn in the garbage were when I have tried to create a yellow colorway. For some reason, I can’t make the soft buttery yellow I envision into a reality.

How often do you update your online shop?

I try to have a shop update once or twice a month, but wholesale orders, events and trunk shows sometimes get in the way of that. I always announce my shop updates on Instagram and Facebook to let people know they are coming.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

Dyeing is my only business, but I still have a full-time mom job. I think lots of my fellow dyers and designers can relate to that. 🙂

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

Hands down the best thing I’ve learned is that I can start and run a business!Discovering that I have something to offer the world, and the creative community in particular, is extremely satisfying and nourishing for my soul.