We are thrilled to have an exclusive here at Nine Rubies. One of our friends, san-mateo-knitter, mom and supporter of the store, Joanne Spetz, has started a small business of hand-dying yarn. You may have seen her vibrant colorways in the bassinet in our window. Her company is called Baywood Yarns, named after her neighborhood in San Mateo. She even has her own blog where you can follow her dyeing adventures. We recently sat down with Joanne to learn more about her inspirations and where she is taking her business from here.
Nine Rubies: How long have you been hand-dying yarn?
Joanne: Since March 2006.
Nine Rubies: What inspired you to get started?
Joanne: I’ve been interested in dying yarn since I started knitting about four years ago. I tried spinning, too, but I didn’t have enough time to dedicate to it. When I was young, my mom would give us cups of colored water to mix up and see what happened to the colors in each cup. Dying yarn reminds me of that. So, the principles of mixing colors (and easily getting brown!) goes way back for me.
Nine Rubies: Can you tell us a little bit about the process you go through?
Joanne: I use protein-based fibers like animal hair and silk and professional-grade acid dyes. That sounds scary but the dyes are activated with vinegar. The technique I use for dying the yarn depends on the end result that I want. If I want a clearly defined stripe, I spread the yarn out and paint it. Other times, I handpaint and then over-dye in a pot to get variegation. Another option is to put the yarn in a pot of vinegar water and pour dye over different sections. Finally, you have to steam it or cook it to set the color.
Nine Rubies: How do you choose your colors?
Joanne: I see colors that appeal to me everywhere. I love to cook, so food inspires me. Of course, in our area, there are flowers and plants with beautiful colors all around, so that is also a great starting point.
Nine Rubies: What has surprised you about the experience so far?
Joanne: That people like it! It’s been great to have Nine Rubies to encourage me to keep going and to try new things. I can’t wait to see everyone’s finished projects.
Nine Rubies: Do you plan on expanding your product line soon?
Joanne: Absolutely. I’ve got a number of new yarns coming soon. I have an Aran-weight silk and merino which is perfect for a Clapotis. It’ll be in approximately 200 yard skeins. I’ve got a bulky mohair boucle (135 yard skeins) which can be knit tightly as a purse or cuff and collar on a sweater. Other new yarns are a silk/wool fingering weight (300-350 yards) and a 100% DK-weight silk (200 yards). Of course, I’ll still have my sock yarn and the sportweight yarn that I started with.
Add comment October 16th, 2006