July 7, 2008
Today we have Khris from Chewy Spaghetti in our Loopy Limelight. The first thing that drew me to Khris’ line was the fun name for her company! But of course it’s her beautiful yarn that took over from there. We’re glad to have her in our indie-dyer line-up, and I know you all are glad we have her, too.
Loopy: Hi Khris! So speaking of that fun name, how did you come up with that for your business?
Khris: When my son was little, he loved the old movie The King and I (the Debra Kerr/Yul Brenner musical, not the animated version). He began repeating lines from it, and one day he told me that I was a “very difficult choomon”. My husband and I laughed and laughed at his proclamation, and his mis-pronounciation of the word “woman”. In fact, my husband thought that it was so funny that he began calling me choomon (because I *can* be a very difficult woman at times LOL). It became a nickname, and I started using it as my user name online. When I started my knitting blog, I wanted to incorporate the user name and also reference knitting or yarn somehow. I had seen a photograph online once, of a bowl of yarn with a fork sticking out of it that had stuck in my mind. I sort of rolled that all together- with the idea that yarn would be really chewy to try and eat, and came up with Chewy Spaghetti.
Loopy: That’s a great story! How long have you been knitting and who taught you to knit?
Khris: I never actually wanted to learn to knit. When my son was about 6 years old he wanted to learn to knit . I didn’t know anyone who could teach him. So, I picked up a kids knitting book from the library, got some yarn and needles, and went to work. After three weeks of spending an hour each day trying to figure out the cast on, I finally figured it out. I spent another week or so mastering garter stitch, and then sat down to show my son. Of course, he was no longer interested in knitting. I showed him anyway, and started him on a scarf. He knit on it in the car some, but he never did finish that scarf. By that time, I saw knitting as a challenge. I was going to figure this out if it killed me. I didn’t enjoy the process, or the end product, but that didn’t matter. I started knitting toy balls for the children. They were a great first project because the kids didn’t care what they looked like, the type of yarn didn’t really matter, and I learned increases and decreases. I spent a whole year knitting nothing but those balls. Eventually, I began adding stitch patterns, cables, and stripes to them. Only after I knit all of those balls did I ever cast on for my first scarf. I moved right on to sweaters, and I knit my first one in a knitting class taught by Joan McGowan Michael. She was a wonderful teacher, but I never did finish that sweater.
Loopy: It’s ok to have an unfinished sweater in your UFO pile. We understand. What is your favorite item to knit?
Khris: My favorite item to knit is socks, of course. They are a very addicting pastime. I think it’s because they are so portable, so quick to knit, and also that you can easily change patterns from the way they’re written. I also love knitting dancewear for my daughter. I’m working on a Hew for her right now. Anything written in a top down fashion is fun knitting to me.
Loopy: We had to go to Ravelry to find out what a Hew was. So it’s a type of shrug. (Here is the Ravelry link, if you’re on Ravelry!) So what is the most challenging thing that you have knit so far?
Khris: My most challenging project to date was probably a Fair Isle vest that I knit a few years back. I had never used that technique before, so it was a learning process.
Loopy: Some of us still haven’t tackled Fair Isle. (ahem) You were reluctant to start knitting but then learned that you loved it. What took you into dyeing yarn?
Khris: When I started knitting socks, I started with self striping sockyarns. They were not that exciting to me, but they were functional. Then, I discovered the beautiful hand dyed yarns that are available. Those were very attractive to me, but the price difference was off-putting. I saw an article online about dying yarns with Kool Aid, so I thought that I’d try it. I’ve always loved color, so I was hooked after the first time. It was a new challenge, and one that I loved.
Loopy: We love some of the color combinations that you have come up with. Where do you get your ideas, and do you have a favorite one?
Khris: I take color inspiration from everything around me. Color is everywhere- and not just in nature. I try to be open to the combinations when I see them. I take a snapshot with my mind’s eye so that I will remember later. My favorite colorways are always changing. Every time I think that one is my favorite, I come up with a new one that I like even better.
Loopy: It’s probably good that your favorite is always the next thing that you come up with! What is your favorite thing about your job? And your least favorite?
Khris: My favorite things about my work are also my least favorite things about my work- the actual dying process, and coming up with new colorways. When I have a large batch of yarn to dye, I get into a zone where my hands are busy with repetitive motion, and my mind can wander. It’s a little bit like mindless knitting in that way. It’s also a wet and dirty job, and my workshop is hot in the summer and cold in the winter. We’re working on making improvements to eliminate that problem. I love playing with color, and coming up with new combinations. But it’s stressful when I feel “blocked”, or can’t get the color to match my idea of what it should be. I guess that dyer’s block is a little like writer’s block.
Loopy: Dyer’s Block would be frustrating! I guess that’s the time to walk away from the workshop and enjoy doing something completely different for awhile. Tell us about your family!
Khris: I’ve been married to The Rusty Knight for 14 years this month. He’s a Geologist (which means that we have lots and lots of rocks around the house and yard), and a wonderful partner and parent. We have two kids, a dog and three cats. The Boy Wonder is 12. He amazes us daily. He has Asperger’s Disorder, which is like mild Autism. When he was little, we didn’t know if he would ever really fit in with his peers. He’s found an amazing group of kids who appreciate his unique personality, and who accept him just the way he is. Princess Stomping Foot is 9. She has found her calling in the world of dance. She fell in love with ballet at an early age, and that love affair is still going strong. She has an amazing amount of perseverance when she sets her mind to something. At the age of three, she gave up all meat except fish. She just made the connection between the animals that she loved and the food that we eat. She remains a vegetarian, even though the rest of the family is not. Sometimes it’s difficult to plan meals, but we are very proud of her for sticking with her decision. The Princess overcame a rough start, spending her first week of life on a heart/lung bypass machine called ECMO. Except for the scar on her neck, you’d never know it now. We’ve chosen to educate the children at home, and I love being able to watch them grow and learn each day.
Loopy: We love the names that you have given your kids in blogland! They sound like great kids. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Khris: My mom is a very crafty lady. She does a little bit of everything- from toll painting, to cake decorating, sewing and quilting, knitting and crochet. It’s funny that I didn’t learn to knit as a child, although I do remember being taught crochet (which I can’t do now). I have taught both of my children to knit. The Boy Wonder did not keep it up, but his sister occasionally pulls her knitting out and works on it. Her first project was a scarf. It took her 4 years to finish it, and she gave it to her father for Christmas. He wears that brightly colored, wobbly scarf very proudly.
Loopy: With all of that beautiful yarn around the house, it would be unusual if it didn’t inspire other people in your household to knit from time to time! Thanks for being in the Limelight today. Anything else you’d like to add before you go?
Khris: I feel really fortunate to have found this little niche in the fiber community. It’s really full of amazing people, wonderful artists, and generous patrons.
Loopy: We agree! (And for those of you waiting on our next batch of Chewy Spaghetti, it ought to be up sometime this week.)