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Where a dyer touches up her roots.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, which honestly, is a hard phrase just to type for a control freak like myself, I have spent a good deal of time in the barn dyeing as a production dyer.  We’re a small crew anyway and this August, due to vacations and unexpected life interventions, it’s been a bit crazy. Add in that we were all gone for four days for that whole Sock Summit thing and let’s just say we were in need of a whole lot of production work.

For the last couple of years, I have filled in here and there and had weekly stints on the production dyeing end of things. Mostly my job is creative colour witch with chemical problem solver thrown in for good measure. I create the new colour, trouble shoot, and experiment. Debra and Becky are the dyers who follow my recipes and dye the orders. So let’s just say it has been awhile since I was a full time (over 10 hour days) production dyer for more than a three day or so stint.

After I got over my initial, “Holy shit. I’m still recovering from SS11. How in the hell am I going to do this?” reaction and my initial soreness (insert lecture on how hand dyeing is very physical work here), I had the best time and was so happy that just typing it here makes me feel a little weepy.

I’ve known for awhile that the whole running Blue Moon and Knot Hysteria businessy part of life was taking a toll, but I don’t think I realized just how much and to what depth.  I didn’t realize that I’d lost connection with my colour soul or how maybe even just how strong and deep this all runs in me. I joke all the time about there being dye in my veins instead of blood, but after this, I think it’s an apt metaphor for me.

Being thrown head first, raw and naked into a big ol’ cauldron of dye for over a week with almost no other input was some of the best therapy I’ve had in quite awhile.

I laughed until I cried when I’d run across a colourway on the production list that I couldn’t remember the recipe for and then would have to look it up in blue moon’s big book of colourways (there are hundreds and hundreds of them and my brain is really not that big, so please…no judging). I’d think to myself really…those shades…together… what the hell were you thinking (or smoking) with this combo anyway? 

When I came upon one that had over 14 different dye mixes in it, I’d turn and ask Debra if they sometimes hated me. She just smiled, shook her head no while saying, “sometimes maybe just a little bit, at the end of the day when we’re really tired, maybe just a little.” I would hate me.

After pulling the dyes out, mixing them up, and applying them to the yarn, my memories of just what stimulated such chromal craziness would come flooding back. In those moments I’d reconnect with exactly what I was thinking or feeling that inspired me to put those particular hues all together in that exact fashion to get the effect I wanted, which is great because, quite honestly—just between you and me—for awhile there I was starting to wonder about myself.

I reconnected with:

My drive back from the coast that one glorious spring when the plum blossoms were at their peak, the sun was cooperating, which here in the PNW means the light dances (all the water in the air) and it was so stunningly beautiful and varied that I couldn’t stop myself at one colourway, but had to create a whole series.  I do tend towards effusive in expressing myself, especially tonally.

Rooster Rock, which started out as a rare gem and was my very first attempt at over dyeing (The Rare Gem Experiments). It took me over a week to recreate that skein so it mimicked its rare gem counterpart down to each single hue. I do love a challenge, especially one with dyes.

Rooster Rock also started the whole chicken thing, along with a cover from the then current Martha Stewart Halloween magazine (inspiration is indeed everywhere). Hmmm… maybe we add to it this fall with a Halloween Chicken colourway. Frankenhen, maybe? 

And this is how it happens… .

So there I stood at my dye table and as colourway after colourway made their merry way across it; I got to visit with each and everyone one of them, as the long and cherished friends they are, even if some of them were unrecognizable at first. Remembering the inspiration, the precise tonal chemical romance, and my own special (because try as I might, there’s just no way around it, I am me) translation of it all into a colourway, then onto a skein of yarn that I think will knit in a way to represent what I have seen or felt and also be a beautiful knit.

I was not only reminded about specific hues, recipes, and formulas for dyeing, I also got to see just how much of my life and self really that I’ve documented in colour on skeins of yarn. They truly are many hued stories.

I also got the lesson, all the way down to my wooly clad feet, that I need to keep the scales balanced between business woman and colour witch.

Off to contemplate new fall and holiday hues.

Don’t forget to chime in on the colourway change in Stephens post below.

Back to Colour

Everywhere else it may be back-to-school time, but not here.

It’s that time of year again, where one season wanes and another lies in wait. If the leaves are going to change colours, shouldn’t our yarn, too? Not to frighten anyone, but just beyond fall, the holidays are out there, too!

That’s right. Autumnal and holiday colours are what we’re talking about in the dye barn. We have some new colourways for you. You can expect them going up around September 9th.

For returning colourways, this is where we need your help. Are there any fall- or holiday-inspired colours you’d like to see make their comeback? Let us know your favorite colourways that you’d like to see returned to the website. Have a holiday project in mind? Or maybe hoping someone will give you a certain colourway? Tell us what you’d like to see from the BMFA color archives by leaving a comment below.

Of course, we’re going to have to make room for all of these lovelies, so that means saying a temporary “see you later!” to some of our summer bunch. If any of these tickle your fancy, you best get them now. We’ll be taking them down on September 2nd.

Alina Azure Malachite Bumbleberry
Chawton Cottage Clare de Lune Cloudy with a Chance
Cozy, Fierce, Scummy Gir Crabby McCrabby Pants Crabby McHappy Pants
Crazy Lace Agate Dutch Canyon Fairgrounds
Femmebot Flower Power G-Rocks
Henpecked I Love What You’re Wearing Koi Koi
Lagoon Lavender Truffle Little Bunny Foo Foo
Lucky Mango Tango Marbles
Mermaid Mist Mochaberry
Muckity Muck Muddy Bottom Breakdown Orange You Glad
Peaseblossom Pebble Beach Persephone’s Persimmons
Petunia Pink Granite Plankton Ooze
Pride Prism Queen Charlotte
Retroid Rhodonite Rollingstone
Rosemary Rocks Ruby Slippers Sassafras
Scaponia Scum Bubbles Siren Song
Sophie Space Dust Spawn of Braun
Spot Rock One Spring Fling ST-1
ST-2 Thistle Titania
Tweety Bird Walking on the Wild Tide What’s Up Buttercup
Wonderful Goodness Yosemite

Goodbye dearest Joyce

This past week the knitting world lost one of it’s treasures. Joyce Williams contemporary of Meg Swansen, author of Latvian Dreams and friend, passed away around noon on August 4th.

If you never had the pleasure of seeing Joyce’s work, or listening to her talk then I am sorry.  I’ll never forget when I met her. I was vending at Madrona Fiber Arts and went to the bar (where everyone hangs out) to get a bottle of water. There were these two women sitting on one of the sofas chatting it up in some of the most beautiful knits I had ever seen. I couldn’t resist saying hello and complimenting them on their sweaters, the next thing I knew my cell was ringing and Debbi was wondering where the hell I had gotten off to.  As I excused myself, explaining about the booth and all, we realized we have never exchanged names, just had launched right into knit-communion.  So I introduced myself and was making plans to meet with them again when the smaller, fiery eyed one reached out her hand,seized mine and said I am Joyce Williams. Well… you could have knocked me over with a strand the finest lace yarn you can find. Here, for almost an hour I had been sitting and casually chatting with one of the most brilliant knit minds on the planet. I do believe my jaw dropped to my chest. I should’ve known.  It was then I recognized the sweater she was wearing and well worked really hard at not kicking myself all over that bar. She was beyond gracious of course. What got me thoroughly in that moment was the twinkle in her eye when she caught my eye and whispered, it is my favourite piece in the book. I fell hard and fast for Joyce right then and there.

My life was enriched before meeting Joyce Williams in person because I had met her through her phenomenal designs. Meeting Joyce and getting to know and spend the little bit of time with her I have is a blessing I’ll cherish forever.

I love you Joyce, you will be missed!