Who would’ve thought that socks would look so cute with coordinating toes and heels? Angela, creator of Duets from A Swell Yarn Shop. I know that lots and lots of you have had fun with her great color combinations and unique colorways – not only for socks, but mittens, gloves, and even striping sweaters, which is what someone this week said they were using their Duets for. (I can’t wait to see that one.) I know you’ll have fun learning more about Angela and her business today. (And I will give you a full Fiber Festival report on Wednesday – we had a great time!)
Loopy: Hi Angela! Thanks for taking time to be in the Limelight today. How long have you been a knitter and who taught you to knit?
Angela: Hi Loopy! My Grandma taught me when I was 8 years old. I didn’t do much with it then, but my mom was quite the knitter while I was in my pre-teens and I joined in and made some pretty good garments…then came the teen years and the needles were cast aside. In my twenties came my little doggy who shivered constantly. He was in desperate need of a sweater, so I picked up the needles to make him a sweater and I have been knitting constantly ever since! He happens to have quite the extensive wardrobe now, I might add! So technically I have been knitting for 25 years, but that’s give or take a few years!
Loopy: We know just how that “give and take a few years” works. That happened to us, too. What is your favorite item to knit?
Angela: Once I discovered socks weren’t nearly as difficult as the pattern made them sound, I always have a pair of socks on the needles (if not two or three)! Outside of that, I do love my cardigans! Chunky ones, fitted ones, vintage ones, and on and on.
Loopy: Socks – no surprise there since you make such enticing sock yarn combinations. I don’t know how you choose which ones to keep! What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Angela: Shortly after picking up the needles to knit a doggy sweater, I decided to knit a vintage eyelet cardigan. Looking back, I am amazed that I took that on, knitted the entire thing as fast as I did, and didn’t even realize the skill level that I should have had to even attempt it. Goes to show, if you just take a project on step by step, you can do anything!
Loopy: That’s a great story and should encourage a lot of people. How did you go from knitting to dyeing?
Angela: I was knitting with my Stitch n Bitch Group and as the conversation rolled it came up that it would be great if you could get a sock yarn with a different heel and toe yarn all in one. The idea stayed with me for the next 2 years hoping that someone would come up with such a yarn, but no one ever did. I loved the idea so much that I decided to give it a shot! It started off as just a few skeins for friends, then selling out at crafts shows, then yarn shops asking to carry the yarns. I guess lots of other sock knitters wanted coordinating heel and toe yarns for their socks as much as I do
Loopy: It really is a fun look for socks. How do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
Angela: My colorways, as everyone knows, change constantly. This is because I dye the yarn based on what I am inspired by at that moment. It can be anything from a flower I see, to a piece of fabric, to a commercial on TV. The colorways can start with just a name or theme or a favorite color of the day. I never know what color I will be dyeing that day. I have been asked to repeat several favorite colorways and I will give it a whirl, but I have found that if I am not inspired to work with those colors, the batch is a flop. It still amazes me how much inspiration plays a part in creating a good colorway. My absolute favorite colorway will always be Hip Chick…pink, lime green, natural and chocolate brown. All 4 of my all time favorite colors right there in my favorite pair of Duet Socks!
Loopy: We know that you like to constantly change colorways. In fact, we probably have taken more photos of your yarn than any other dyer, since it’s always new and usually limited edition! What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Angela: One of my favorite parts of the job is the commute. I used to commute a total of 2 hours a day in traffic. The walk to my yarn work area each morning is all of 30 seconds and I appreciate that every single day. My VERY favorite part of my job is the amazing customers!!! From the Duet Knitters to the Yarn Shops, they are the nicest people you could ever hope to work with. My e-mail box is full of suggestions, compliments, general conversation and great people. To everyone out there, you are the BEST!!! My not so favorite part is that I have to wear pretty scrungy clothes to dye yarn, so I look pretty cruddy during the day. I even scared the UPS guy when he first started delivering the base yarn because I opened the door with latex gloves on, ratty clothes and no make-up…he about jumped out of his shoes at the sight of me! Thankfully he’s now used to it now.
Loopy: At least you have a good excuse for looking that way when he arrives. You didn’t say, “I’m dyeing”, right? Because you know how that sounds… Tell us about your family.
Angela: My family is my hubby who has hand made all the machinery that makes it possible to get the yarn out in the quantities that I do. Without his skills and creations, no yarn shops would be able to carry the yarn. Then there are all my critters (my babies) which include my doggies, kitties and angora bunnies. They are my very enthusiastic and supportive co-workers. They create the unexpected and much needed breaks I take throughout the day!
Loopy: Uh oh. You have angora bunnies? The Loopy Lady is now on an angora bunny kick. Better not tell her. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Angela: My mother-in-law has jumped on the knitting wagon and grabbed on with both reins. She LOVES the Duet Yarns! She had no interest in knitting because she thought wool was just too scratchy. I told her that yarns have come a long way and to just try a pair of socks with my Duet Sock Yarn….now she stops by just to see if I have any oops yarn she can get her hands on. She is a Duet Yarn Junky now!
Loopy: Lucky for her that she has an “in” with the dyer! Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Angela: This list could go on forever! I spin, sew, and crochet. I design the patterns for the Lucky Lurker Club. I am part of two fabulous knitting groups. I make candles, soap, lotions, and natural household products. I bake doggy biscuits galore. I garden, compost, and create natural and organic foods. I walk. I play Texas Hold ‘em. I spoil all my critters like there is no tomorrow. And on the weekends, my hubby and I sneak off and go camping as much as possible.
Loopy: Well obviously the better question might’ve been “What don’t you do?” That’s quite a list! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Angela: The perfect day off is on the white sandy beach of Mexico with a Mango Daquiri and my knitting!
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
Angela: While knitting and yarn are a major passion in my life, my PURPOSE in life is to do everything I can to help stop puppymills. So many people don’t even realize where the puppies in petstores or on-line sellers come from. They are from puppymills, which means tiny cages in which the dogs live in filth their entire life, doing nothing but making more puppies. They never get to see the outside or even touch grass or feel what it’s like to be petted. They are abused, neglected, starved and tortured. The only thing that can stop puppymills is to simply never ever purchase an animal from a petstore or on-line seller. These sources will insist that they are not from puppymills, but don’t believe them! Adopt from a shelter or visit the breeder’s home. If everyone simply stopped purchasing from petstores or on-line sellers, there would be no puppymills – it’s as simple as that. I encourage you to do your own research and find out more about puppymills too. Please consider giving a critter a second chance at life … adopt from your local shelter!