Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Dyers In Their Studios: Sharon of Stitchjones

Welcome to Dyers In Their Studios, a new monthly feature here on ReCrochetions.com, profiling local Hand Dyed Yarn makers, their yarn, their process, and where they draw inspiration.

Along with getting to know these awesome creative women, I get the pleasure of designing with their yarns! Check back tomorrow for details on the first design in my Hooked On Hand Dyed Collection, using Stitchjones' Pai Mei Lace, merino and bamboo lace weight (scroll down for a little preview).

Sharon Spence of Stitchjones
  How long have you been dyeing yarn?  For about six years. 
   How did you get started dyeing?  Intrigued by the whole process of making gorgeous hand dyed yarn, I dyed up a skein of natural colored wool with some packets of Kool-Aid in my microwave.  I became fascinated with the possibilities in “real” (aka acid reactive) dyes for natural fibers, and my color experimentation took off from there with help from guidelines and tips available online.
   What is your professional/education background?   Clerical/admin/customer service
   Any special experience with art or science that influences your dyeing?  My appreciation of Asian art, textiles and crafts has on occasion inspired me to create colors (for example the colors of an apprentice geisha’s kimono, or the celadon blue-green of pottery from the imperial dynasties of China) 
My Yarn
   What makes my yarn special or unique?  Three things:  color, color and color!  ;)  I specialize in bold, intense hues (I use a lot of dye) and high contrast variegated colorways.  Subtlety is in my repertoire as well; it’s just that big color is what my yarn is best known for.
    What is something interesting about my dye process that non-dyers might not know?  The time and care it actually takes to produce a beautifully dyed skein from start to finish, the skill and imagination that goes into creating color on fiber that’s deliberately yet subtly nuanced to enhance stitch work.  
    How do you choose your colors and name your yarns?  We’re a musical household; my husband is the guitarist in a band and our daughter sings.  At the time when I was getting started as a dyer, she loved the “hair metal” bands of the 70s and 80s (such as KISS, Motley Crue, Poison, Cinderella).  It all sounded good to me – I’d missed a lot of that fun music the first time around!  I started doing wild neon combos on sock yarn and giving them musical names.  Music and popular culture still influence my color choices, as well as nature, and naming my yarn bases is a lot of fun.  For example, when I began dyeing merino-bamboo blend sock yarn, I wanted a cool name for it.  It was my daughter who came up with the suggestion “Pai Mei” (meaning “White Eyebrow”, a reference fans of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 2 will recognize).  In fact, the slogan on my original yarn labels “Color Goes To Eleven” is a twist on a line from the hard rock satire movie This Is Spinal Tap. 
    Where do you find inspiration?  From nature, especially forests and gardens.  Pinterest and design-seeds.com are also great resources for colors and palettes. 
Yarnegeddon Sock Club goodies from December 2014 box!
Just the Facts
   How many colorways do you have?  I’ve created hundreds of colorways over the years, and nearly all are repeatable.  I keep adding new ones as well. 
   Do you create seasonal or special order colors?  Absolutely.  I’ve dyed for several sock yarn clubs, and my own club (Yarnageddon by Stitchjones, founded 2012 ;) features colorways influenced by the change of seasons.  I also offer sparkle sock yarn (Glam Sock) in holiday season colors, usually during November and December.
   How many and what types of bases do you use?  At present I carry nine different bases, ranging from laceweight to worsted/Aran weight.  (The current lineup:  Pai Mei Lace, Merino Sock, Goodfoot Nylon Sock, Pai Mei Sock, Glam Sock, Bluefaced Leicester DK, Tribute Merino Superwash DK, Dyepot Worsted, and Merino-Silk Worsted Single.) 
   Where do your yarn bases come from?   A local wholesaler (Ashland Bay) plus two others in the United States (Kraemer Textiles and Wool2Dye4)
   Where can we find your yarns?  Locally:  Yarntastic! Fiber Arts and The Naked SheepKnit Shop in Portland,  NitroKnitters in Beaverton (eta April-May 2014).  In Texas: The Tinsmith’s Wife in Comfort.  Online:  Stitchjones.etsy.com
   What are your favorite colors?  I especially love jewel tones, rich purples, pinks and greens. 
   Favorite fibers?  Merino wool and blends, and alpaca.
    Do you crochet, knit or spin? Which came first?  I learned to knit when I was in my teens.  I’ve taken crochet and spinning lessons, and will occasionally break out my Turkish spindle and some fiber.  I love the look of my knit garments edged in crochet. 
    Anything else you would like to share?  I love seeing all the great projects made in Stitchjones yarn on Ravelry.   I think of undyed yarn as a canvas; my hand dyes are for the needle & hook artist to transform into their own works of art! 

Link Up
Website:  http://stitchjones.com/
Ravelry Groups:  Jonesin’ for Stitchjones and Yarnageddon:Stitchjones Yarn, Fiber & Gift Club
Facebook:  Stitchjones Mosh Pit
Twitter:  stitchjonesyarn

Here's a little teaser of my Forget-Me-Knot Shawl
Come back tomorrow to see it all!

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