Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dyers in Their Studios Profile - Lynette of DragynKnyts

This month, I am pleased to introduce Lynette Connors of DragynKnits, the yarn dyer for our second Ficstitches Yarns Crochet Kit Club (on sale all this month!). I believe I first met Lynette when she was working at Wooly Wag Tails Yarns, the closest LYS to my house. I always hoped she would be there when I stopped by the shop, as I knew she was one of the few employees who also crocheted, and was always interested in what I was working on.

Last year, when another great LYS was opening up, she contacted me about teaching crochet classes at Blizzard Yarn and Fibers, in Vancouver. I was glad to start teaching again at a yarn store on this side of the river (rather than going over to Portland where all the other LYSs are), and have continued teaching there. Meanwhile, Lynette has moved on to focus more fully on her dyeing, and we are excited to be a part of that!
Yarn Choices for Ficstitches Yarn Kit #2
·         How long have you been dyeing yarn?
I started dabbling in yarn dyeing about 6 or 7 years ago, just playing with koolaid on cheap yarn. It was just a fun project back then. Now, I’ve been dyeing seriously with acid dyes for about a year. I’ve been seriously selling fiber for about 9 months and yarn for about 5 months.
·         How did you get started dyeing?
When I started spinning and learning how yarn was made, and learning how to process fiber, I also started selling my carded mini art batts at crafts shows along with finished knitted goods. I found that every time people perused my little art batts at an event, their first question was, “Did you dye all the colors yourself?” It seemed like they felt it wasn’t as valuable if I bought pre dyed fiber and blended it. So I started experimenting with dyeing on fiber, and people started buying my braids and batts for spinning. Later I decided to add yarn when non spinners were jealous of the spinners’ pretty braids of top and were asking me to do yarn too.
·         What is your background?
I have an associates degree in pre-school education, but mostly I’ve been a stay at home mom, homeschooling my kids.
However, over the last seven years, I have either worked part time, helped in (for events, covering for absences, etc.), or taught knitting, crochet, rigid heddle weaving and spinning in four yarn shops. In some shops, I either designed, or managed, or both the class programs.
I design simple knitting patterns, both published and self-published for sale. Also I, along with a business partner, published Hooks & Needles Magazine (now Hooks & Needles Patternbook), a knitting and crochet magazine publication, for a year.
·         What makes your yarn special or unique?  
I create color combinations that appeal to me, and I can be a little weird. One of the reasons for dyeing is that I almost never found the colors I really wanted when shopping for yarns. The commercial dyers, and some indie dyers, follow the Pantone colors of the year to a great extent, which meant I was just seeing the same colors all around anytime I was shopping. I also really like to break the color wheel “rules”. Or tweak them a bit.
·         What is something interesting about your dyeing process that non-dyers might not know?
Non dyers might not know that yarns are designed, and that yarn dyeing is both art and science (and math!).
There are reasons that sock yarn is called sock yarn, and it isn’t just because it’s skinny. The type of fiber/s, the number of plies, the amount of twist, these are all conscious choices made by the yarn designer.
As an Indie dyer, I need to understand a yarn’s best, and most common use, and also its characteristics, before I design color combinations and choose dyes and dye methods for it. The same color dye on a high twist merino with nylon is going to look different on a lofty singles yarn made from polwarth wool. And, stripes look great on socks, but the same dye method on heavier yarn would look totally different when making a sweater. Also, making repeatable color ways means mixing dyes using math and science. It’s like a chemistry lab in the dye studio. It’s not just sprinkling dye powder into a pot of simmering yarn. We have to measure, consider pH levels, use chemicals to set or distribute dye, use heat at certain temperatures, etc.
·         How do you choose your colors and name your yarns?
Usually I’ll have an idea forming in my head sparked by some inspiration, and then go search it on Pinterest, or google images, just browsing images. Or sometimes I’ll look up definitions of inspiration words, or look them up in a thesaurus, and just soak up all the information and images. Then I’ll take my colored pencils and play with some random shading to see what sticks, and what goes together.
My yarns are named after some feature, aspect, folklore or fantasy of dragons and dragon lore, particularly Celtic dragons. Color names usually reflect the inspiration for the color or color line.
·         Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration can be found anywhere, and everywhere. Just use all your senses. I find it in nature, but also in music and other art, scents, foods, even on cereal boxes, in room designs, wedding color schemes, flower shop bouquets and even in fancy public restrooms. It can spark from dreams, or emotions, current events, etc.

·         How many colorways do you have?
Right now, about 30 for yarn and 16 or so for fiber, but I haven’t been selling very long. Many more are in planning and testing stages.
·         Do you create seasonal or special order colors?
Yes, I have done some and have plans for more.
·         How many and what types of bases do you use?
Fingering, 100% SW Merino, 2 ply
Sock, 80/20 SW Merino/Nylon, 3 ply, high twist
DK, 100% SW Merino, 3 ply
Worsted, 100% SW Merino, 4 ply
Worsted, 100% Targhee, 3 ply, very springy/lofty
Falkland, combed top
Corriedale Cross, combed top
Masham, combed top, grey base
Shetland, combed top, brown base
Cheviot, combed top
Mohair, locks
Silk, hankies
·         Where can we find your yarn? LYSs and online?
Currently, my yarn and fiber can be found at Pearl Fiber Arts in Portland, OR, Blizzard Yarn and Fiber in Vancouver, WA and Urban Wolves Fiber Arts in Vancouver, WA.
I will be starting to vend at fiber festivals, starting with Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival in The Dalles, OR on November 6-8, 2015, and I’m hoping to add an online storefront to my website before Thanksgiving 2015. I also hope to expand into additional LYS’s in the Pacific Northwest soon.
·         What are your favorite colors?
I don’t think I can pick a favorite color anymore. I love color as a whole, and especially I love putting colors together and seeing how they interact with each other. Every once in a while, I notice that I seem to have a color “mood”. Last year I went through a green mood, and then a burnt orange mood, and right now I seem to be stuck on “peacock” colors.
·         Favorite fibers?
I love Jacob and Shetland wools to spin, Masham to dye and spin, and merino yarn to knit and weave.
·         Do you crochet, knit, or spin? What came first?
Crochet, knit, spin, weave, and they happened in that order. These days, I’d rather spin than anything, if I have time for recreational fiber arts. Most of my knitting and weaving is samples for my yarn, as well as all my knitting pattern design. And of course, I spend the bulk of my fiber arts time dyeing.

·         Website?
·         Ravelry Group? No group yet, Ravelry name: DragynKnyts
·         Facebook?
·         Twitter? DragynKnyts, but I don’t currently attend to twitter. My facebook is set up to auto tweet.
·         Pinterest? I have many inspiration boards on Pinterest, for dyeing color inspiration and for knitting design inspiration, as well as other fiber related boards.

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