Jessie of Yarn Over New York is emblematic of the city that we both call home: colorful, interesting and full of talent. Aside from creating hand-dyed yarn, Jessie has worked as a stage manager for various performances and events, including the circus. That experience lends itself well to dramatic, bold colorways and artistic sock blanks.
You can catch Jessie at our online show in October, with their virtual shopping session taking place on Saturday, October 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern.
Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.
In January 2016, while in Vancouver, BC, a friend from knit group (Kelsey of K-Zip Knits) invited me and another friend to a Yarn Dyeing Party at her house. We tried hand-painting, low-immersion and mason jar dyeing techniques and had a lot of fun. I left that day with four beautiful new skeins of yarn and the seeds were planted for a major lifestyle change. As my yarn hung in the shower to dry, I ordered my own Greener Shades dye starter pack and a handful of bare yarn. I spent the next few months watching tutorials and experimenting in my kitchen. Eventually, I had dyed enough that I needed to clear out some space and I listed a few skeins in a knitting Facebook group. To my surprise, they sold! I decided to take a major leap of faith and contact all the local yarn stores and inquire about a trunk show during the NYC Yarn Crawl. One Brooklyn shop (Slip Stitch Needlectaft) and one Manhattan shop (Annie & Co) both said yes! It was a total dream come true. I used that event to launch my Etsy shop and before I knew it, Yarn Over New York was a real thing! Five years later, I still almost can’t believe it happened.
What inspires your colorways?
Is “everything” too vague an answer? Early on, I used photographs from my travels in Europe, Asia and North America to pick color palettes. Now, I have three main sources for ideas. Food (yum), flowers (pretty) and my dear old City, New York (not yum, maybe pretty).
Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?
Orange is definitely my personal favorite color. I love how it can pair with greens, blues and purples to create really dynamic effects. As I dyer, I’ve learned that not everyone wants to wear sunglasses while knitting/crocheting, so I have a new-found appreciation for subtler shades. I also really love rainbows and, luckily, so do lots of other crafters. I’ll never run out of ways to dye the rainbow.
Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?
Perhaps not a single color, but I’d love to dye self-striping sock yarn. At the moment, I really don’t have the space and equipment to do it properly, so it stays on the bucket list.
What are some of your most popular colorways?
Colorways: Dusk Rainbow (variegated, saturated rainbow with black smudges), Taxis in the Rain (grey and yellow with speckles), Black Opal (dark grey with jewel undertones)
Hand-painted Sock Blanks: NYC Skyline, Watermelon Slices, Fractals
Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?
(Big smile) Yes! I’ve got some super fun things planned. Our show special colorway will be a stunner this year. Sock knitters will definitely want to keep an eye out. It’s not a true self-striping colorway, but it will pool into very gorgeous spirals. I’m in the process of creating some really pretty companion tonal colorways so that shawl and sweater makers can mix and match to their hearts’ delight.
When and how did you learn to knit?
I started to crochet at the age of five when my mom gave me a hook and some yarn for Christmas. Admittedly, I didn’t totally fall in love at that point and ended up making pom poms and simpler yarn-crafted items. As a teen, she taught me again and I started a never-ending parade of crocheted hats, blankets and stuffed toys.
I learned how to knit in my 30s while living in Macau. A fellow circus worker and I traded skills. I taught her to crochet and she taught me to knit. She introduced me to ravelry and the world of fine yarn. It’s safe to say, she created a monster, lol. I started designing knit and crochet patterns and amassed quite a stash during my travels. Thanks, Sharon, I owe you!
I learned to weave when Rachel from Woolyn (Brooklyn yarn store) showed me all her gorgeous work and inspired me to buy a loom. I am still definitely a beginner, but definitely hooked. I love how you can color mix in both directions. So fun.
What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?
I really love when people make things for special occasions. A customer knit her own wedding veil with a custom-dyed gold and white silk lace. Another used an NYC sock blank to knit herself socks that reminded her of home. The beauty of indie-dyed yarn is the emotion and love carries through from my hands to theirs in the most amazing way.
What’s currently on your needles?
All the things. I can never just do one at a time. I’ve got a pair of socks on the go (for me, vanilla), a knitted and a crochet cowl for show samples (“Diurnal Cowl” by me) and a “Born this Way” test knit for Mary W Martin. I recently got a stand for my table loom so it can be ready to go all the time and I plan to make a birthday present for my mom with something pink and lovely. (Mom, if you are reading this, pretend you didn’t see that last part.)