June 2, 2008
Today’s Loopy Limelight features Heather, of “All Things Heather” indie fame! Heather was one of our first indie dyers and remains one that we all love. I have always admired her sense of color combinations, and the names she comes up with that seem to really capture each colorway. Last fall she moved cross-country from NC to CA, so we had a lull in ATH orders for a bit. But now that she’s settled in and set back up, we’re getting her wonderful yarn in regularly again! (Two more big boxes arrived today – woohoo!)
Loopy: Hi Heather! First of all, how long have you been a knitter, and who taught you?
Heather: I really don’t feel like I’ve been knitting that long compared to many folks – on and off for about 10 years, more seriously for the past 5. I taught myself to knit from a book and then after the birth of my first daughter Amelia, I decided to take a class at the LYS. It just clicked and I’ve been a maniac ever since.
Loopy: Well for those who have just begun knitting in the last year or two, ten years makes you a veteran knitter! Do you have a favorite thing that you like to knit?
Heather: My favorite thing to knit is really just anything for myself. Although I’ve been known to knit an occasional gift for my mother or for charity, I’ve found that I like to knit just for me. Knitting is the one thing in my life that is truly all about me. I work hard to guard that and it helps me keep my sanity.
Loopy: What’s the most difficult project you’ve attempted?
Heather: I really can’t think of any project that stood out as particularly difficult but I will say that finishing any knitted projects is a tough one for me. I literally have 15+ WIPs stashed in various parts of my home – 6 sweaters, 3 pairs of socks, 1 vest, 1 shawl, 2 scarves and a rug are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. It’s incredibly difficult for me to finish projects but now that I’ve embraced the fact that I’m a process knitter rather than a product knitter, I sleep better at night.
Loopy: That’s a good way to get rid of the guilt! So what made you look into dyeing your own yarn, and how did you learn to do that?
Heather: The first thing I dyed was a skein of worsted weight silk yarn, dyed with green and blue Kool-Aid in the microwave, no less. Oh, the horror of it! I still have that yarn tucked away in my stash and I keep it as a reminder to when it all began. I am a completely self-taught dyer. I’ve read about 50 books on dyeing and have spent more hours than I like to admit, pouring over information from the internet. It has worked out well for the most part. I’ve had my dozy of mistakes, but trial and error is often the best way to finally get results that work for you. Anything that is truly handcrafted is bound to have some little nuances here and there. If you want it to be “perfect”, buy something commercially made and even then you don’t normally get what you pay for. My colorways are far from mass produced and every once in awhile I get a little over dye here, or a little blip there, but I stand by my work and every skein is unique. I’ve yet to receive any major complaints (knock on wood) but if I did I would be sure to learn from it, correct the problem, and move on.
Loopy: Well I know we’ve only heard the best of things about your yarn, and we’ve had it almost since we opened up! How do you come up with your colorways? And do you have a personal favorite?
Heather: Many dyers get inspiration from nature, fabric, and the world around them. My approach is a bit more simplistic. I normally just wing it. I love color, I love playing with color, I love mixing color, and I love using colors together that you would not normally see. The colors in my home and in my wardrobe tend to be a little more on the earthy and conservative side, so dyeing really allows me to express the other side of my color personality and go a little wild. And what better medium is there than sock yarn? Socks can be as crazy or as conservative as you would like and they allow you to take color risks in your knitting without dominating your time like a handknit sweater or shawl would. So they are a great opportunity to experiment with something out of your norm.
Loopy: That’s so true! Our first Quarterly Challenge here at The Loopy Ewe involved getting people to knit with colors that they were different from what they normally would choose. (And The Loopy Lady used one of YOUR wild colorways as her challenge sock!) Back to dyeing – there are a lot of dyers out there these days, how do you stay fresh and unique in what you do?
Heather: It does seem that dyers are a dime a dozen nowadays, but I think we all have something unique to offer and I try to support all fellow artisans when I can. This is not to say that I didn’t feel a tiny ping of insecurity when I came back from my fall hiatus and found that The Loopy Ewe had picked up about a gazillion new dyers. I was definitely afraid that I was out of a job! I try to stay fresh by staying true to myself and by continuing to put 100% of my effort into each and every skein I create. Some colorways are definitely more inspired than others and all may not be crowd pleasers, but they are all dyed lovingly and with care because this is what I love to do. I’m not here to get rich or make a quick buck. I’m not really looking for that 15 minutes of fame, and I don’t ever go out of my way (or even any way at all, normally) to “tout my wares”. I’m here because I enjoy it and I think slow and steady does win the race. As long as The Loopy here and all you fellow knitters out there continue to support me by using my yarn, I’ll be around for some time. (Goodness, I’m starting to sound like a cheeseball. Next question please!)
Loopy: Well I have to say that we try to pick indie dyers who will bring something unique to The Loopy Ewe, so even though we have a lot of dyers (and we need that many to keep indie yarns arriving every week!), no one will ever take your place. Each of you has a special spot here with us! Now, I know you have other hobbies. Tell us what else you like to do.
Heather: Hobbies – a better question would be what hobbies do I not have! I’ve been known to dabble in quite a few things – scrapbooking, beading, papermaking, candle making, soap making, any sort of toiletry making, sewing, knitting, spinning, dyeing, embroidery, polymer clay, needle felting and more. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I have an entire corner of my tiny house dedicated to these hobbies. Of all those various hobbies, my other real crafting passion besides knitting and dyeing of course, would have to be sewing. I began to sew about the same time I started knitting, and much like knitting, I just kind of took to it. Funny enough, sewing is the exact opposite of knitting for me. It’s my way to do for others and 99% of my projects are either clothing for my children or gifts for someone else. I have yet to actually sew something just for me, but that’s ok. I balance it out with lots of handknit sweaters.
Loopy: That is a lot of hobbies! You had to move all of that from one coast to the other last year. How has that gone?
Heather: Our move … I’d like to just say ugh. Actually, I had my moments but generally everything went fine. My husband deployed the day we got here so thankfully my father was able to fly down from Seattle to help me with the heavy lifting. Moving 13,000 lbs. of household goods into a 12oo sq. ft. house with 2 toddlers and a giant dog, is not a good time. Surprisingly enough, I think one of the most challenging things was just leaving Charleston itself. Although there were many things about the east coast I did not like (namely hurricanes and giant cockroaches), it really did feel like home and it was hard to leave when I was just starting to get into my niche. Southern California is beautiful but incredibly expensive, so I doubt I would ever consider living here for longer than this tour. We are barely able to afford it now! The plus side of all this moving is that I’ve been shown that sometimes less is more and although I’m not living in the house of my dreams, we have made it work and I’ve been thankful to know that my identity and self-worth is not tied up to my square footage.
Loopy: That was move a big undertaking for you and your family. Tell us about your family.
Heather: I am lucky to have a very supportive husband who, thankfully, allows me to do my own thing and only occasionally gives me crap about all the yarn I seem to accumulate. His job in the military has him deployed overseas for much of the year so I’m left at home to tend to my girls – Amelia is 5, Makenna is 3, and Maya is 15 months. I have my hands fully, especially with Maya who happens to be an 85 lb. American Bulldog and is probably 3 times as high maintenance as both my girls combined. We also have a wide variety of plants and fish that somehow manage to survive in all the day to day chaos.
Loopy: I’m glad to know that Maya is a dog. I thought we had somehow missed you having another baby! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Heather: One thing I’d like to add is that I’m pretty excited to be going back to school in the fall. I’ll be working on my Montessori teaching credential. So from now until then, all yarn proceeds will go directly to my outrageously expensive tuition bill! (I know, shameless plug, but I should get at least one in a year!) On a more serious note, I would like to say that it has been an honor to work with The Loopy Ewe and I’m thrilled that you have given so many indie dyers an opportunity to share their love. The loyalty and patronage of this store is just so well deserved and I’m truly grateful to be a part of that.
Loopy: Aww – well thanks! We’re so glad to have you here.