February 18, 2008
One of our favorite yarn companies here at The Loopy Ewe is Dream in Color. I have had a great time getting to know Veronica and Nancy, and I know you’ll like knowing more about them and their company, too! (This photo was taken in January, after a day at the beach in Cozumel while they were on a well-deserved vacation! Nice place to be in the middle of a Chicago winter, I’m thinking.) Enjoy Loopy’s interview today:
Loopy: Hi Veronica!
Veronica: Hi Loopy. Thanks for inviting us to talk with you. I will be answering all of the questions for both of us because Nancy is off on a well earned vacation with her husband. Hopefully I don’t misrepresent her too much and hopefully she doesn’t come home too seasick.
Loopy: I’ll let you know if I hear from her about any discrepancies, when she returns! How did you two meet?
Veronica: Nancy and I have known each other for years. We met at a handwork meeting to create crafts to sell to fundraise for a Waldorf School that was still in the dream stage (it went on to become Four Winds Waldorf school and has been around for about 12 years). We worked together at the school for quite awhile: Nancy as the school administrator and me as a handwork/ kindergarten teacher. Waldorf schools are teacher administered. This means that the faculty and staff are in charge of everything. Also, most every major decision has to be made with full consensus. If you can do this within a group of 20 and come out friends I guess you can do anything together.
Loopy: That sounds like it was a good testing ground for you two. What made you decide to open up a yarn shop? (Some of our Loopy customers might not know you had a yarn shop first. Tell us about it.)
Veronica: We both dreamed of doing something that made a difference in the world. I realize that owning a yarn shop will not end world hunger but we hoped to do something that added to the beauty and creativity around us- that counteracted the consumeristic culture. Somehow a yarn shop seemed to fit that perfectly. We wanted to create a community of people that where inspired to create.
Loopy: How did you then decide to make the transition from the yarn shop to the yarn company?
Veronica: Well, this is a funny story. What we really wanted was a subtle hand dyed superwash merino yarn for creating baby garments and blankets. In the first two years of the shop we had no acrylic or blend smooth yarns and very little superwash (although we had lots of fuzzy, fluffy, nubbly…. novelty yarn). All of our smooth yarns were natural fibers. We were determined to help people see that hand washing baby things was not difficult and that acrylic was not good for babies. Instead they helped us to see that they did not want to hand wash much of anything especially baby things. (Sorry it took so long for us to get it) I started to play with a bit of superwash wool that we bought from a traveling salesman hoping to come up with this “subtle hand dyed superwash merino”. Here’s the funny part: When we started selling Dream in Color to other shops we made the promise to all of the shops in our area not to carry it so that we would not compete with them. Our customers then had to go to other local shops or buy it online from places like The Loopy Ewe. We never did end up with a “subtle hand dyed superwash merino” to sell in our shop. We have now closed the shop to focus on Dream in Color so I guess we never will.
Loopy: We’re really glad that you veered off into this direction! What is the best part of your business?
Veronica: Everything! We love every part. I would do this even if I won the lottery tomorrow. I think Nancy likes the challenge of the business end of things: making sure that we are keeping costs down, production up, crossing the “t”s, dotting the “i”s (thank God for Nancy, don’t ya’ll think!). I love walking into the shop and seeing all of the colors- the yarn hanging there drying. I love skeining it up and taking joy in the one skein in the pile that just seems perfect to me. I think we both love the “problem solving” aspects. There are always little puzzles and such that crop up every day to work on. We are both very solution oriented and love to “fix” whatever needs to be ‘fixed” (believe me, that is a good thing, because the list is endless). We also have a great staff and we all have a great time everyday. I love practical jokes (which is a good thing since most of them are directed at me) and Nancy loves to play them – great for staff morale and we have lots of funny stories to tell when we get home.
Loopy: You make yarn dyeing sound fun. What is the most challenging part of your business?
Veronica: Creating Dream in Color from scratch. Neither of us have a manufacturing background. Nancy’s background is education (although she is an awesome business person) and I have degrees in Anthropology and Religious Studies. But like I said before, I don’t think we would be happy if there was no challenge.
Loopy: How did you both learn to knit and how many years have you been at it?
Veronica: I think Nancy has been knitting since she was a little girl. I remember her telling me that she did 4H knitting projects in school. I am going to claim that her mother taught her since her mother is a real mother-type of mother (great cook and such, you know the type, good potato salad and soup, has you over for Thanksgiving- thanks Mom). I learned in Germany on a vacation in 1989 from a young girl who took pity on me. I was going crazy on all of those trains because I could not read. My German is so bad I was afraid I would miss my stop if I did not pay close attention. I must have knit the world’s longest scarf. I swear it was 12 ft long. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that my mom is not a good cook/ good mom type but she is the artistic type not the knitter type)
Loopy: You must’ve gotten your artistic genes from your mom. Do you still get any time to knit these days?
Veronica: Nancy is a sporadic knitter. She is very fast but she runs hot and cold depending on what else she has going on. I always have about 3 projects laying around. I am kind of an OCD knitter and I sort of start frothing at the mouth if I go too many days with no knitting. Fortunately I can knit and watch DVD’s on my laptop before I go to bed at night (yummy). I was just about to do that tonight when I remembered about you. So here I am… visiting with you.
Loopy: I’m glad to hear that you both still do knit! Do you have a favorite pattern or item that you have made?
Veronica: Sorry, I can’t answer that one for Nancy. I really like the sweater that I just finished. It is the Mike/Ike sweater by Black Purl designs. I even learned how to sew in a zipper. I wear it almost everyday. There are many, many patterns that I dream of. Several of them are on Knitty.com.
Loopy: You’re the only company that has a whole aisle devoted just to you at Loopy Central (we call it “Dream in Color Alley”), so we’re definitely glad that you’re into the yarn business! Before the yarn shop and yarn company, what other jobs have you had?
Veronica: Well, like I said before we both worked at Four Wind’s Waldorf school for quite a few years. My last five year there were teaching kindergarten. Before that I had a variety of jobs (everything from receptionist to resident artist/ art shop clerk) in between college and teacher training. Nancy taught math in High School along with other assorted things. We both also did stints as full time stay at home moms (hardest job I ever had!).
Loopy: We know that many readers like to listen to books on tape or watch movies while they knit. Any book or movie recommendations you’d like to share?
Veronica: Gosh, I wish Nancy were here for this one. She is part of a book club and everything. I am sure that she would have tons of good books to recommend. She just read Devil in the White City and I know she liked that a lot. Her favorite movie lately is “Once”. I saw it as well and I agree! It is totally awesome. I have been on a huge Buffy: the Vampire Slayer kick lately. I know, not very high tone of me but I read almost nothing but nonfiction, stuff like Collapse: How societies choose to Fail or Succeed (more interesting that it sounds from the title, I promise) and I need an outlet. Don’t laugh… I am a big Joss Wheaton fan (director of Buffy) and I also loved his series Firefly (browncoats rule).
Loopy: Lots of great suggestions to check out – thank you! What is one thing that people would be surprised to learn about you?
Veronica: Geez, I think I have already let it all hang out. I guess you figured out I have a sense of humor. How about this: My favorite type of music is punk/pop and my favorite band is My Chemical Romance (I think front man Gerard Way is too cute, too young, and I am happily married, but still, too cute). And Nancy is full of surprises. She surprises me every single day (occasionally shocks me as well). I think anyone who knows Nancy would find that to be surprising. She seems so “put one foot in front of the other” but don’t let her fool you. Still waters run deep, don’t ya know!
Loopy: Good to know. It sounds like we need to watch out for both of you! Anything else you’d like to add?
Veronica: We love all of the projects that people create with Dream in Color yarn. You guys are SO amazing. I see all of the cool things that you knit with our yarn and I am floored. I love to lurk on Ravelry and on blogs just to get a peek at all of the great things that I would like to knit with our yarn if I had the time. Thanks for helping decorate the world with beauty and helping to counter all of that consumerism with your “I can do it” spirit. We can change the world one sweater/sock at a time. Yes, we can! Yes, we can!
Loopy: Thanks so much for chatting with us today!
News Flash: We’re going to do a Dream in Color Sweater Knit-A-Long! If you’re on Ravelry, hop on over to the Loopy Groupie board and read all about it. You pick whatever sweater pattern you’d like to knit out of Dream in Color Classy and email me that you want to be a part of the DC-KAL. We’ll put up a Dream in Color Sweater Photo Gallery when the first person completes their sweater from the KAL, and all sweaters from this (posted by June 1st) will be eligible for a Loopy Loot grand prize drawing. I want a Dream in Color sweater out of Cloud Jungle, and I know I will get it if I have some accountability through a KAL. (One other nice thing – just for those who have emailed or messaged me that they are participating AND who put DC-KAL in their order notes, we’ll give you a 20% discount on the Classy that you order for this sweater. This is not a discount code or coupon, so you won’t see the price change when you order. However, we will take the 20% off of your Classy skeins when we process your order and collect the funds. When you get notice that your order has shipped, you can log into your account and see what your total ended up being. This offer is good through 2/29.) I hope you’ll join us!