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Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Murky Depths Dyeworks

A light-skinned woman wearing a pink and white striped lacy sweater.

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place on October 14, 2022 and online. Tickets are now available!

Along with your local yarn shop, it’s great to support your local indie dyers. Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks is part of the New York community, splitting her time between New York City and upstate New York, not far from where Indie Untangled is held! She’ll be joining us in a few weeks for her third show, bringing a ton of her murky and colorful skeins.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

It was a total accident! As an avid knitter and yarn collector, I had a little Jacquard dye starter kit and some KnitPicks bare yarn sitting around. I thought it would be a fun day to dye some yarn over my winter break up at my country house in 2017. Turns out by the end of that day, I knew I was going to start an indie dyeing business.

Skeins of yarn in blue, red and gold.

What inspires your colorways?

Oh, inspiration can come from anywhere. I literally have colors inspired by the color of a car seen on the highway or an old teal green battleship. As often as not, I just get a visual image of a particular color in my mind and the adventure of unlocking the formula to realize it on yarn commences. Usually it turns out to be a complex shade, requiring many primary colors to get where I want.

Just as importantly, I’m fascinated with what happens when color is layered over color and the surprising results that ensue. The watercolor (transparent) nature of dyes means there are endless possibilities when adding mixed color over mixed color.

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

I like to boast that I have the worst two favorite colors for a dyer, olive green and orange…two of the three slowest selling colors of yarn, along with yellows. While half my wardrobe is made up of these, I’ve developed an unexpected love for all colors aquatic and have unless colorways inspired by bodies of water. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, I did name my company Murky Depths!

Three skeins of a purple, pink, blue variegated yarn with multicolored speckles on top of solid skeins in two different blues and dusty pink.
Holi, Interrupted at the top.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Some of the colors I’ve dyed so many times I have the formulas memorized are Picante, a deeply saturated almost burnt orange and Destroyed, the above mentioned battleship green. Of my multies, some of my murkiest colors are also the most popular, like The Real Casanova, an aubergine brown with warm caramel and raspberry popping through and Holi, Interrupted, a wash of rich pastel tones of rose, amethyst, slate blue and warm honey with pops of speckles in the same tones. I have quite a few colors that I’ve been selling since I started Murky Depths in 2018 and show no sign of slowing down.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

One word answer is tonnage! Honestly, I’m bringing all my favorite colors on my basic bases (plied and singles fingering, Merino and MCN DK, mohair) but it will be the Fall premier for Sanctuary, my non-Superwash merino worsted weight and Nautilus, my BFL aran weight, just in time for sweater weather. I’ll also be bringing a big range of my alpaca boucle laceweight, Maelstrom, and for the first time my newest base, Yakima – a merino, silk and yak singles fingering. I’m brewing up a group of variegated colors on it for the first time, in addition to the solids I offer. And of course I’ll have a special show color on fingering and DK, and maybe even on mohair.

A group of two different multicolored yarns in golds, greens and blues.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned the knit and purl stitches as a youngster but never put them to use. Then, in 2007, when I was already in my 40’s, my sister gave me a 15 minute lesson after an excessive Thanksgiving dinner and I went home and cast on my first sweater. I’ve always been a go big or go home kind of person!

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

Seeing knit or crocheted items made from yarn I’ve dyed never gets old. But right now all I can think about is a sweater soon to be published by a designer named Sharon Hartley, @riverroadknits called Dark Academia. Hopefully I’ll have the designers sample in my booth at the Indie Untangled trunk show and will definitely be offering kits.

What’s currently on your needles?

Orbits by Rachel Isley @unwind_knitwear which I think is breathtakingly beautiful. I’m doing it in my Caspian base, using Delft-a soft porcelain grey base with Copenhagen blue speckles as the main color and a medium slate blue for the colorwork.


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