May 11, 2009
Today we have Mona and Stephanie from Dye Dreams in The Loopy Limelight. I was so happy to find their booth at Stitches East last fall, and quick to talk to them about adding their line here at Loopy Central. I love what they do with semi-solids. I added a couple of my photos, below, that I have done up in their yarns. Their colors are perfect for showing intricate patterns in your socks, hats, scarves, mitts, gloves and shawls. We have two of their lines here right now, Comfy and Dream, and have more coming soon!
Loopy: Hi you two! Thanks for being in the Limelight today. So first tell us, how long have you been knitting and who taught you to knit?
Stephanie: I’ve been knitting for over 40 years – I started at a very young age. My great-aunt Bert taught me how to knit.
Mona: I’ve also been knitting for over 40 years. My Dutch mamma taught me to knit on long double point needles with the right needle held under my arm. My first project was a pair of baby booties knit with fingering weight wool for my 1st grade teacher.
Loopy: It’s always fun to hear about knitters who have had this passed down in their families. Hopefully we are all trying to do that with family members around us. What is your favorite item to knit?
Stephanie: While I love knitting socks and always have a pair on the go, nothing beats the sense of accomplishment that comes from completing a sweater.
Mona: I also always have a pair of socks nearby and really enjoy knitting them because so many different knitting and construction techniques can be used — cast ons and cast offs, heel and toe shaping, textures, lace, cables, beads, multi-color, etc.
Loopy: What is the most challenging thing that you have knit to date?
Stephanie: That’s a hard question – maybe some of my lace projects. I think I need to set myself up with a challenging project.
Mona: The most challenging project I have undertaken is a beautiful lace shawl called Renaissance Shawl by Not Just Plain Jane Knits. The pattern has no charts, just pages and pages of written instructions. I’m nearly finished with the project after working on it on and off for the past couple of years. It will be a pleasure to finally be able to wear it.
Loopy: Wow – you will have to email us a photo of that Renaissance Shawl when you’re done, Mona. We’d love to see it. And Stephanie – how about doing the Second Quarter Loopy Challenge with us? I know where you can get some beautiful semi-solid sock yarn to work with … How did you two go from knitting to dyeing?
Stephanie: Years ago I started dyeing fabric and clothing. The move to yarn and fiber was a natural progression.
Mona: Several years ago, I started spinning with a group that has an annual dye day where they experiment with various dyeing techniques. They generously taught me to dye and I was bitten by the bug. After numerous dye “play dates” that left me feeling invigorated, it was easy to begin to dream of taking this to the next level as a business.
Loopy: I’d say you’ve both been seriously bitten by that dyeing bug! How do you come up with your colorways, and do you have a favorite?
M&S: We are always looking for new color ideas and inspiration. Some of our colorways happen by accident and others are the result of careful planning and trial and error testing. There are times when we are trying to achieve a particular color for a specific purpose. The “discards” from that process sometimes make it into our line of yarns. In the end, though, they are all our favorites.
Loopy: I had fun getting that box of variations on forest/sage green from you awhile back for the kit we were working on. It was hard to choose. (In fact, didn’t I say, “I’ll take this one for this kit, but then can you do these two in the regular line?”) Too many great possibilities! What is your favorite part of your job? And your not-so-favorite part?
Stephanie: My favorite part is attending various fiber events and meeting so many creative, talented people. My least favorite part is ramping up and getting everything ready so that we can attend these events.
Mona: I enjoy the fiber events, too, but it’s really satisfying to get feedback from customers about how much they enjoyed working with our products. I can relate to finding a pattern you enjoy and a yarn that feels nice in your hands in a colorway that works; it’s a joy to knit that project.
Loopy: Do you do this business full-time, or on the side? And is that hard?
M&S: Both of us do this in addition to other full time commitments. It is challenging to juggle everything – our families have been very understanding and supportive.
Loopy: It’s so nice that they support and encourage you, as I would think that it would be difficult to make everything work without that. Does anyone else in your family knit?
Stephanie: All of my children knit, including the boys.
Mona: I come from a family of knitters. In the Dutch school system my parents attended, all young girls were required to learn to knit, crochet and embroider. My mother and her sisters knit first out of necessity and later, out of a love for the craft and they passed this on to their girls. I have two teens, a boy and a girl, and both learned to knit when they were younger although they aren’t active right now. I also taught my husband to knit and he always has a pair of socks on the needles.
Loopy: Oh, that’s great! It’s really fun to share knitting with family members (unless they are the type who might go shopping in your stash. Or maybe even then, too.) Are there other hobbies that you enjoy?
Stephanie: I enjoy spinning and reading although these days most of my books are audio books.
Mona: I enjoy gardening, as well as reading and walking.
Loopy: And what would be your favorite way to spend a day off?
Stephanie: If I were to get a day off, I would spend it knitting and spinning. There’s nothing more relaxing than to have uninterrupted time to make progress on existing projects and to plot out new ones. And I would stay away from the computer as it tends to eat up huge amounts of precious time.
Mona: Me, too, and do it with friends.
Loopy: Anything else you’d like to add?
M&S: Dye Dreams has been a great adventure. Our initial vision was on a much smaller scale than where we are today. We often look at each other and say, “Who would have thought . . ? “.
We’ve been knitting for a long time and never thought we would see such an explosion of knitters and designers. We always knew that knitters were a creative, generous bunch of people. We’ve had the opportunity to meet everyone from traditional knitters to knitters who think outside the box. Some knitters are technique driven, others throw caution to the wind and wing it. Dye Dreams has been everything from exhausting to exhilarating. It’s been a rewarding experience.
Loopy: Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us today!