Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dyers in Their Studios - Stacey of Fierce Fibers

Meet Stacey Serafin of Fierce Fibers (formerly known as Thoroughly Thwacked). I am excited to be collaborating with Stacey this month on Kits for my Decadent Bliss Crochet Along, beginning in January. Today is the last day to preorder one of our Kits. Although the pattern and yarn will be available separately come January, you can save by ordering one of our kits now!

I first met Stacey last year at CGFF, although I had heard about her yarns. As I was walking around crocheting a shawl with a project bag hanging from my wrist (as you do), I was excited to find her booth and discover that she was a crocheter! She was crocheting a shawl at the time, though she knits as well, of course.

We ran into her again during the Rose City Yarn Crawl last March, and chose some yarn to play with for a future Ficstitches Yarns Crochet Kit Club. But that Kit won't be coming until early 2018, so I was really excited when we came up with the a Shawl Kit to do together this year.

Now learn more about Stacey...


Decadent Bliss Shawl in Stacey's Gradient Lace
BACKGROUND
·    How long have you been dyeing yarn? Since 2013, after learning how to knit in 2011 & learning how to spin fiber into yarn in 2012.

·      How did you get started dyeing? I got started when a friend of mine who owned a yarn shop was looking for something specific and couldn't find it.  We ended up developing a gradient kit for customers and the reception was quite good.  I enjoyed collaborating and working with people who were creative and it was great to see people make the kit we made and make it their own.

·     What is your background?  Received a B.S. in Physics and B.S. in Mathematics from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Then received a Masters in Nanotechnology in 2005 from the University of Delft in The Netherlands.

·     Do you have any special experience with art or science that influences your dyeing? There is a certain aspect that appeals to someone with a scientific background such as repeatability, planning and experimentation, not to mention all the chemistry behind it.  I've always been a big planner and with my scientific background experimentation and chemistry are big with me.  

     There are parts of dyeing though that I would say are attractive to me for the very reason, that they are the opposite of what I know and am comfortable with.  For example, there is also a big part of dyeing that is creativity.  Not that I'm not creative but the study and appeal of color and certain color combinations is something that fascinates me.  What makes us creative?  What makes us like one color combination and hate another?  Dyeing is a combination of all these factors.  I guess one of my best experiences is keeping my own curiosity from when I was a child!
Fierce Fibers yarns at OFFF. That cake in the middle was destined
to become Laurinda's newest shawl pattern, Decadent Bliss.
YOUR YARN
·       What makes your yarn special or unique?  I would like to think what makes my yarn special is me!  When I started dyeing my brain was riddled with ways to modify the process and try and squeeze more and more color into things. Yarn is my medium of expressing myself and always trying to push the boundaries and give people something different to work with.  For example, early on I learned about pooling and how the dye process can influence it.  So I made up a way to make skeins that didn't pool.  I also exploit pooling in a few of my colorways.  I've tried to come up with ways to use the “difficult” colors to the best of my ability.  

    I've talked to my distributors and tried to understand more about my supply chain.  I'm always talking to customers and finding out what they like as well.  What makes my yarns special is me.  My selection of the best bases I can find, combined with the best techniques, while being sensitive to the supply chain and aware of what my customers want.  Obviously this makes for a high quality product that is packed with color.

    ·     What is something interesting about your dyeing process that non-dyers might not know? I don't just use any single dye technique out there.  In many of my yarns I use multiple techniques because each technique has both good and bad things about it.  I have spent a lot of time working with different fibers to try and understand how each of them behave in the dye pot...because no one likes felted yarn or fiber!  

   Another thing that people may not know is that my cake gradients are all made by me.  Cake gradients first need to be knitted up into what they call a blank which is basically a piece of fabric.  They then need to be dyed, frogged (ripped out) and balled up.  As you can imagine, this is all labor intensive.  Unlike other dyers I do not buy my blanks, I make them myself because I want to be able to give my customers gradients in yarns they don't see anywhere else.   

·      How do you choose your colors and name your yarns? Experimentation is probably the biggest way I choose my colors at the moment, although I'm currently trying to expand my knowledge on color and doing more and more exercises on color planning and color studies.  My yarn names mostly come from how I feel when I hold the yarn.  My colorway names come from every day conversations that I have with people and I hear catch phrases that I think, “that would be a great colorway name” so I write it down and really think about what that would look like.  Also, sometimes a color comes out of the pot and it just looks like something so I go with that.

·       Where do you find inspiration?  Everywhere!  Pinterest, facebook, pictures in my head...
Here is that "Oregon" gradient cake just dyed up. Stacey is one
of the few gradient dyers I've found who takes the extra steps to
get the kinks out of a dyed blank. A must for crocheting with it!
JUST THE FACTS
·    How many colorways do you have? In the 3 years I've been dyeing I've probably made over 200 colorways.  Currently I have about 20 solid colorways I regularly sell.

·     Do you create seasonal or special order colors? Yes, but usually in a strange and quarky way.  For example for Valentine's Day this year I made Dragon's Breath.  It's a deep red tone for all those people who like to enjoy garlic ladened meals on Valentine's.

·    How many and what types of bases do you use? At the moment I have 18 bases but I am reducing that number drastically.  I will be sticking to bases that are more luxurious since that is what I prefer to work with.  I prefer to work with cashmere and silk blends along with a baby alpaca laceweight.

·        Where do your yarn bases come from? All over the world.

·       Where can we find your yarn? LYSs and online? My yarns and fiber can be found currently at Pearl Fiber Arts in Portland, OR as well as online at www.fiercefibers.com.  A small selection is also available at Embraceable Ewe in Hamburg, NY as well as Quilt n' Things Fiber Arts in Montrose, CA.  Also, please check out my events section on my webpage to see me in person at future festivals.
Much of Stacey's yarns come in cones like this so she has more options,
whether she knits it into blanks on a knitting machine or puts it into hanks.
PERSONAL

·     What are your favorite colors?  I love all my children...err...colors equally. Especially red, I love red just as equally as all the rest ;)

·       Favorite fibers? Animal fibers are definitely my loves. 

·      Do you crochet, knit, or spin? What came first? I learned to crochet when I was very young.  My mom had a crochet blanket that we would work on when we would sit on the couch and watch Dynasty together.  I did all sorts of crafty things when I was younger, macrame, boondoggle, beading, friendship bracelets, cross stitch.  It all fell away as I became a teenager and went to college.  After my second son was born I really wanted to learn how to knit so I could make something with my hands.  I took one class and I was off.  I made some fibery friends and learned how to spin a few years after that.  I will also confess to having rescued an antique rug loom that my step-father is currently refurbishing for me.

·       Anything else you would like to share? Pie.  Do you have any pie?  I like pie!

LINK UP
·       Website: Fiercefibers.com
·       Facebook: Facebook.com/fiercefibers
·       Instagram: fiercefibers
·       Crochet Along: Decadent Bliss Crochet Along on Facebook

Thanks Stacey for your great answers and photos! I love learning and sharing more about the yarn dyers I have the honor of working with. I actually had to look up the word Boondoggle, and turns out it's what we called "lanyards" made by braiding plastic strings together, like we used to do at Campfire Camp!
Stacey offered four color choices for our Decadent Yarn CAL Kits:
Oregon, Scorch, Purple Lotus, and Cafe au Lait
Preorder Your CAL Kit Today!

Monday, November 21, 2016

6 Way to Wear Decadent Bliss


My newest pattern, Decadent Bliss is a long crescent shawl which can be worn in endless ways. The beauty of this shape shawl is that is doesn't need a shawl pin to stay put. This collaboration with Fierce Fibers will be be a Crochet Along coming in January, with kits available here for Preorder This Month Only!

Just a few ways Decadent Bliss (or any long crescent shawl) can be worn:
Simple Wrap: Leave one long end of the shawl in front,
and drape the rest around to fall at the back.
The long ends will keep the shawl in place, while the
lovely lace border is shown off across the front.

Over The Shoulders: Wrap around the shoulders
and throw both ends around the back.
Grab and Go: Just throw it over your
shoulders and go!
Gathering: Use a shawl pin, scarf ring,
or tie just it in a knot to secure it a little.

Shrug: Around the shoulders,

tie in back.













 
Elegant Evening: The long crescent is deep enough to keep your arms warm even when showing a little shoulder on an evening out.
Scarf: By far my favorite, as fall turns to winter,
bunch it around your neck 2 or 3 times as a scarf!
The pattern for this gorgeous shawl will be released in January. However, if you Preorder the CAL Kit for the yarn and pattern this month, you will be the first to receive the pattern, as the kits will ship in time for Christmas. Kits will include one 750 yard ball of this delicious baby alpaca and silk gradient lace weight yarn and a printed copy of Laurinda's pattern, with clearly written and tech edited instructions and symbol diagrams.

Get both the yarn and pattern for less than the cost of the yarn! Kit Preorders end in November. Kits ship in December. And the CAL will start in January! Join us and Reserve Your Kit Today! Four beautiful colorways to choose from.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Dyers In Their Studios - Erica of In The Deep Hue Sea

Erica Roberts of In The Deep Hue Sea and her 
About one month ago, I was driving through my neighborhood, and happened to see someone in her garage, holding up a "naked" undyed skein of yarn. I rolled down my window, and asked her if she was dyeing yarn. It turned out she is the dyer behind In The Deep Hue Sea, and she had just moved to my neighborhood from southern California, and we had a couple of mutual friends among other yarn dyers. I love having a yarn dyer in my neighborhood, and getting so see what she's dyeing from day to day as I pass on my way to pick my kids up from school.

When I decided to do my COWLtober patterns this month, I asked her if she had a couple skeins of yarn I could design one more cowl with. She has very colorful multi-colored yarns, so it was a fun challenge to design the "Collision Cowl" which is my final "Mystery Cowl" for Week 5. You'll get it free tonight, if you sign up for my newsletter.

BACKGROUND

How long have you been dyeing yarn? I have been dyeing yarn for about 8 years, in a business setting for about 2. 

How did you get started dyeing? I got started dyeing when my oldest son was little. He was cloth diapered and in the cloth diaper world everyone has their kids in SUPER CUTE knitted and crocheted gear! That is when I decided to learn how to knit. In doing so, I found the wool selection in big box stores were seriously lacking in pretty yarns. I moved on to buying ALL the super awesome indie dyed yarns, and eventually wanted to try it myself! I never looked back after that. I was hooked!
What is your professional/education background? I studied music in college. My job before dyeing full time was as a Sr. Marketing Coordinator. 
Any special experience with art or science that influences your dyeing? I have always had a love for color. I had an online fabric store for a long time and have based numerous colorways on fabric. My love for fabric had a serious impact on my dyeing in the early days and without my background in fabric, I don’t think I would be where I am as a dyer today. 
MY YARN
What makes my yarn special or unique? I think the colors and contrast of our yarn is what makes us stick out from other dyers. We are not afraid of leaving undyed bits in our yarn, and feel it gives our yarn depth. We LOVE super saturated colors and speckles are our favorite thing to dye!
What is something interesting about my dye process that non-dyers might not know? I think something that would shock most non-dyers is the amount of time it actually takes to dye the yarn from start to finish. It is a multiple day process and missing a step could cause a catastrophe!
How do you choose your colors and name your yarns? Choosing colors is always a hard one for me. Sometimes I blindly choose colors and see if I can create something that is pleasing. Sometimes I choose specific colors for an idea I have swirling around in my head. It just depends! As for naming colorways, honestly, a lot of the times I use song lyrics for names of yarn. If I don’t have music playing while dyeing and labeling there is something wrong!
Where do you find inspiration? All over! People, pictures, nature. Inspiration is everywhere, you just need to find it.
 
JUST THE FACTS
How many colorways do you have? Too many to count! I love making small runs and doing experiments. Although the majority of our colorways are repeatable we tend to lean towards the creative end of the spectrum and dye what’s on our brain that day.
Do you create seasonal or special order colors? I do. I LOVE to do customs for this reason, especially photo matching.
How many and what types of bases do you use? Right now we have 15 bases that we dye regularly. We love dyeing custom bases though! If it’s not on our list, we can order something that a customer wants.
Where can we find your yarns? In yarn stores you can find us in: Gather DTLA http://togatherdtla.com/ The Last Bookstore 453 S Spring St. #M1 Los Angeles, CA 90013 Yarn Del Sol http://yarndelsol.com/ 24471 Alicia Parkway #2 Mission Viejo, CA 92691 StevenBe http://stevenbe.com/ 3448 Chicago Ave. Minneapolis, MN 55407
Online you can find us at www.InTheDeepHueSea.com
PERSONAL
What are your favorite colors? Rainbow!!! And grey.
Do you crochet, knit or spin? Which came first? I knit and would love to learn how to crochet! I also have a spinning wheel that really wants me to use it more often!
Anything else you would like to share? Yes! I would like to take a minute to introduce the Indie Dyer Collaborative. http://www.indiedyed.com/ The Indie Dyer Collaborative is an exceptional group of dyers from around the world. Their mission is to create a network of established Indie Dyers with impeccable products and customer service all while supporting each other’s businesses and lifting each other up. It’s a wonderful group of dyers and you all should definitely check it out!

LINK UP 
Just one of the colorful racks of drying yarn I have spied
since Erica moved into my neighborhood.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Fiber Farmer Profile - Karin of White Oaks Alpacas

As our first Fiber Farmers on The Farm Profile, we would like to introduce Karin Finch of White Oaks Alpacas. Her yarn was used in the Capriccia Cowl that was sent in Week 3 of COWLtober. We met Karin at a fiber festival a couple of years ago, and she invited us represent crochet at her annual Sheared Delights Open House event that she does every May.
So many colors, mostly natural from her alpacas.
BACKGROUND
How did you get started raising animals for fiber?
We bought our land first then decided which animals would be the best fit for our lifestyle.
How long has your farm been in operation? 
Bought our first 2 alpacas in 1999 and proceeded to grow from there.
Do you have any special experience with art or science that influenced your choice of animals?
Always loved animals and the country lifestyle wanted to blend the two. No special experience but have enjoyed learning how to care for alpacas and have become a knitter, spinner and fiber artist in the process.
YOUR PRODUCT
What kind of fiber products are made from your animals?
We feature roving and yarns custom made from our alpacas fiber and finished goods ie shawls, gloves, mitts, mittens, scarves, socks made from American alpaca fiber including ours.
What makes your fiber special or unique?
Our alpaca and products are all American produced and I use the best mills I can find, preferably in the Pacific Northwest to do the processing. You can buy a roving or skein of yarn and come meet the alpaca that produced the fiber. We support local businesses, hand spinners, knitters and fiber artists.
What is something interesting about your animals or the sheering process that someone who doesn't raise animals for fiber might not know?
Every part of our operation is ‘hands on with love’. We lay our alpacas down to shear, this reduces the chance of getting hurt. Using soft rope hobbles they are gentle lowered to a matt in our barn and are shorn by rolling from one side to the other. There is always someone at their head to make sure they are comfortable. In this position we can gather the fleece quickly as the shearer shears, check the alpaca from tip to toes, trim toenails and give annual vaccinations. This is not just shearing time it’s our time to evaluate the health of each animal too. In about 30 min they are done with their ‘Spa’ date and back in the pasture until next shearing. We make it as stress free as possible and they get a great new look for Summer.
How do you choose your animals?
We select for the best fiber on a strong healthy alpaca
Do you purchase or breed them for certain characteristics?
While we strive for improved fineness and uniformity of their fiber we also look for great conformation and temperament. Evaluation of each animal is important in the choice of breeding, deciding which male has the characteristics that will improve the female is part of that process. We use our on ranch studs or have bought breedings to off ranch males to complement our females. We started with 2 females and have grown our herd from there.
What is your favorite part about the animals or collecting and processing the fiber?
Watching our alpacas grazing in our pastures on a beautiful day is magical. Each has a personality, they all relate to each other in the herd and when they are enjoying their day they will pronk around the pasture. Pronking is sort of a hop, skip and run all at the same time, only done when happy and to see 40+ alpacas doing it is really something.  I am the happiest when I am working with alpaca fiber in some way.  Be that up to my elbows in skirting fleece to send to the mills for processing.  I love challenging myself to create a new roving on my drum carder either by blend or color, and the pleasure I get spinning or knitting with the fiber from our wonderful alpacas.
© Guy Holtzman
JUST THE FACTS
What breeds of animals do you keep?
We specialize in Huacaya Alpacas. There are two kinds, Huacaya and Suri alpacas. Both are alpacas just look and have different fiber characteristics, Huacaya fluffy, Suri long, silky look.
How did you choose those animals?
Best fit for our lifestyle, they take less area, food and daily care than some other livestock and I didn’t want anything I needed to slaughter.
How many animals do you typically keep at any one time?
We have 74 on the ranch right now. As part of our business plan we board and care for alpacas from 3 other ranches. Our personal herd is about 30. We had 3 cria (babies) born this summer.
When do you sheer the fur/fiber?
We shear in mid to late April each year.  
Why is that time more desireable than any other time of year?
We have a great covered barn so can shear on the early side and have them done before we get any hot weather. Walking around in your heavy winter coat when our temps reach 80 in May is not very comfortable.
How much do you collect on average?
Average is 3-5 pounds of fiber on each alpaca. That can depend on age, density, cleanliness and length of locks.
How do you process it/store it?
Each fleece is taken off the alpaca in 3 bags, #1 for Prime...blanket, #2 for neck fiber, #3 for leg. I skirt each bag of fleece for each alpaca separately, that means that I pull out anything that is debris, dirty or that I don’t want in the finished product. Then I decide what will be the end product, i. e. roving, yarn, etc. and if I will process or send to the mill. Fleeces are put in 33 galleon clear plastic bags and stored on shelves in our shop until I have skirted them. For longer term shelf storage I use heave paper bags and tape shut. Periodic checking for moths is a must.
Where can we find yarns or fiber made from your animals? 
Blizzard Yarn & Fiber, Vancouver, WA
Urban Wolves Fibre Arts, Vancouver, WA
© Guy Holtzman

PERSONAL
What do you enjoy most about working with animals and fiber? 
Interacting with our animals on a daily basis and the opportunity to create with their fiber.
Do you name your animals?
Absolutely! Each has a name and knows it, but they have a cat like personality and don’t always respond. Ps. we also love cats, have 2 house cats and 2 barn cats.
Do you have a favorite among your animals?
2 of our stud males are probably my favorites, Macallan 11 and Maximus. They are our first choice when we want to take alpacas to yarn shops or other events.  Also I am a sucker for the cria, this year we had 3. 2 boys and a girl and they are too cute.
Do you crochet, knit, spin, or dye?
All of the above although I need to take some of Laurinda’s classes on crochet to get better.
Which came first? Your choice to farm for fiber?
Property came first. But the alpacas have led me down the path to being a fiber artist.
Or did your animals lead to your love of farming for fiber? We have 30 acres, always wanted a ‘little’ more room but never thought we would have this much and be ranching.
Anything else you would like to share? You don’t have to have acreage to love alpacas and their amazing fiber. Come share our journey, meet our alpacas.

LINK UP

Facebook: White OakAlpacas

Join COWLtober now, and you will get links to the previous weeks newsletters with the Week 3 pattern featuring White Oaks Alpacas yarn, in your final confirmation email.

Capriccia Cowl

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tutorial - Starting a Mobius Twist (RH)

Any long looped cowl may be called an "Infinity Cowl" these days. But a true infinity cowl is one with a "Mobius Twist" where each round forms a figure eight or infinity symbol, creating a twist in the loop as you work. Learn how expanding each round from the center out will affect your stitch pattern and how to adjust your stitches to look their best on both sides of the work whether working into a chain or foundation single crochets.

Tutorial (Right-Handed):

1. Chain indicated number of stitches. Lay flat so the front of all stitches are facing up without any twists.

2. Rotate end of chain one half turn so back bump is facing you to create a half twist on one end. 

3. Insert hook into top loop of back side of each chain.

4. Join with slip stitch of first chain to form ring with one twist.

5. Work in top loop of each chain once around.

6. To complete Round 1, continue working once more around in unused loops of beginning chain, inserting hook in same hole as first time around but from the other side of the stitch.

7. Each completed round forms a figure 8 or "infinity" symbol. Finish round by joining in first stitch and turning, or work in continuous rounds, depending on the pattern.

Note: When working continuous rounds with a mobius loop, the top half will be all the right sides of the stitches while the bottom half is all wrong sides of the rounds. This looks better with some stitch patterns than others.
COWLtober Week 2: Twist & Spin Cowl
in Spincycle Knit Fast Die Young

Tutorial: Starting a Mobius Twist - LH

Any long looped cowl may be called an "Infinity Cowl" these days. But a true infinity cowl is one with a "Mobius Twist" where each round forms a figure eight or infinity symbol, creating a twist in the loop as you work. Learn how expanding each round from the center out will affect your stitch pattern and how to adjust your stitches to look their best on both sides of the work whether working into a chain or foundation single crochets.
 
Tutorial (Left-Handed):

1. Chain indicated number of stitches. Lay flat so the front of all stitches are facing up without any twists.

2. Rotate end of chain one half turn so back bump is facing you to create a half twist on one end

3. Insert hook into top loop of back side of each chain.
4. Join with slip stitch of first chain to form ring with one twist.

5. Work in top loop of each chain once around.

6. To complete Round 1, continue working once more around in unused loops of beginning chain, inserting hook in same hole as first time around but from the other side of the stitch.

7. Each completed round forms a figure 8 or "infinity" symbol. Finish round by joining in first stitch and turning, or work in continuous rounds, depending on the pattern.

Note: When working continuous rounds with a mobius loop, the top half will be all the right sides of the stitches while the bottom half is all wrong sides of the rounds. This looks better with some stitch patterns than others.
COWLtober Week 2: Twist & Spin Cowl
in Spincycle Knit Fast Die Young