January 19, 2009
I’m back from TNNA (and warm weather in CA) and I’ll post all of the details on Wednesday’s blog! In the meantime, I wanted you to meet Marie of Brooklyn Handspun in today’s Limelight. I’m knitting a sock with her yarn in Aquatic and it’s amazingly soft and wonderful. I wish you all could reach through your monitors and feel this. (Web Guy needs to invent that technology….)
Loopy: Hi Marie! Thanks so much for being in the Limelight today. We love having your yarn here and I know that many of our Loopy customers have had fun adding it to their stashes and projects. How long have you been a knitter, and where did you learn to knit?
Marie: Hi Loopy! My grandmother first taught me to knit when I was 10, although I didn’t really have the patience for how long each row took so needless to say I never went beyond a little square of fabric. In 2003, I went craft supply shopping. I made a lot of wire and beaded jewelry back then, and noticed all the colorful yarn. I wanted it all but I had no idea how to use it so I decided to try my hand at knitting again and taught myself how to knit from a book I was gifted.
Loopy: I re-learned to knit in adulthood from a book, too! I’m glad it “stuck” this time, for both of us. What is your favorite thing to knit, and what is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Marie: Socks of course! I love quick and colorful socks – I don’t have the patience for large knit items and socks are great for knitting on the subway. I have also started to really enjoy crocheting amigurumi. I usually stick to simpler knits since I rarely have time to really concentrate on a difficult pattern, although right now I’m crocheting lots of little flowers for my wedding bouquet using a tiny steel crochet hook and embroidery thread – that has been pretty challenging.
Loopy: That will make such a unique bouquet – and one that you can keep. How did you move from knitting to dyeing?
Marie: I actually went from knitting, to spinning, to dyeing. After knitting for a while I thought: why not make my own yarn? So I bought a drop spindle on ebay and 2 weeks later bought my first wheel – I was hooked. A few months into spinning I got tired of plain white fiber and decided to experiment with some koolaid dyeing. The results were wonderful and that same week I went out and bought 20 colors of acid dyes. I was fully addicted to dyeing fiber and my own handspun when I really got into sock knitting. At that point, 2005, there really weren’t too many indie yarn dyers so I started to dye my own sock yarn and well, the rest is history!
Loopy: It’s nice to know that you were one of the first indie dyers out there. There do seem to be a lot of them at this point. How do you come up with your colorways? And do you have a favorite?
Marie: I take inspiration from wherever I can get it – nature, printed fabrics, even grocery store packaging! I keep a little book with me and whenever I see a great color combo, I take note of it for the next dye session. I can’t say I have a favorite since my colorways are always changing. I am drawn to deep purples and burgundy.
Loopy: The little book idea is a good one. That way you always have ideas to run with when it’s a dyeing day. What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Marie: I love the act of creating, of picking colors and seeing them mingle on a skein of yarn – it’s very satisfying, but I think my favorite part is seeing the items knit by my customers. I get such a thrill knowing our combined efforts will make a beautiful finished object. My not so favorite part is accidentally dyeing my hands wild colors, you should see the looks I get on the subway when I’ve had a little “color explosion.”
Loopy: I would think if you had been dyeing with reds, you might look a little dangerous. Although maybe people give you a wide berth that way! Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
Marie: I consider this to be my second job. I feel I put just as much time and effort into Brooklyn Handspun as I do my day job where I am a paralegal extraordinaire. It’s especially apparent when I’m dyeing all day on the weekends and late into the night. It can be difficult with 2 jobs, but I love what I do so it’s worth the sacrifice of some personal time.
Loopy: It’s probably a good outlet for the right side of your brain, after working in the left side all day long. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Marie: I am the only knitter in my family, although my 9 year old niece has shown some interest. I think I can turn her into a little knitter in no time!
Loopy: Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Marie: I enjoy most things of a crafty nature, such as jewelry making, quilting, sewing, photography – anything that involves creativity and color. I have a weakness for fantasy novels and can spends days on end reading them if given the opportunity. I am also a classically trained singer and when I had time I sang with a small opera company, although now I generally just annoy my cats singing arias around the house.
Loopy: So some of our yarns might’ve been sung to as they were dyeing up? I like that! What would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Marie: Hmm a day off? What’s that? If a day off does exist, then I think I’d sleep in, knit for a few hours in my PJ’s listening to music, bake something sweet and sinful before sitting down with a good book. If, after all that excitement, I still have energy, I’ll order in some dinner, cuddle up on the couch with my partner and our 4 cats, grab a WIP and watch a good movie.
Loopy: Thanks for being in the Limelight today, Marie!