Skip to content

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.

  1. Tamara Scott #

    Oh Tina!  I’m so glad you got to reconnect with all of those times in your life.  I would love to see you write a book with some of those stories!!  (I know—in your spare time, right?). It would be so fabulous!

    Did you post your pictures from SS?  Any videos?

    Take care.


    November 30, -0001
  2. Sue Johnson #

    Believe me, Tina.  They are cherished friends to us, too.  So glad you enjoyed your return to the dye pot.  It’s like reconnecting with a long lost love.

    November 30, -0001
  3. I love that after all the work of Sock Summit for everybody else, you got to immerse yourself in colourwork again for you.

    Rooster Rock! Such memories!

    November 30, -0001
  4. Hazel Smith #

    Happy dance for you, Tina. I’m so glad you’ve reconnected with your passion for dyeing. I remember at Sock Summit you saying that you’d dyed only 17 days this year. I thought it was such a shame. Now I’m ready to order my sweater yarn-you know the one, you have a tee shirt sample to prove it. I’m going from this post to order on line.

    P.S. I can’t thank you enough for Sock Summit. I hope that I’m finally getting over it and returning to reality.

    Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

    November 30, -0001
  5. Eileen Lawfer #

    I was at Stitches-Midwest yesterday and got to see so many of your colors “live” in The Fold’s booth.  It was a thrill, just like I get every time a new shipment of RSC arrives!  Thanks for all your work to produce this wonderful colors – as my daughter posted on Facebook (I purchased her a skein) “why call yarn green when you can call it Spy-say Guacamolay.”

    November 30, -0001
  6. Val #

    Tina, my favorite sweater is one of your colours.  Every time I put it on someone says “Imagine putting those colours together….they really work tho, I never would have thought of it.”

    I love my sweater, one of the only reasons I look forward to fall is so that I can wear it again.

    Let the colour flow…

    November 30, -0001
  7. Melanie #

    I love the way that color plays with memory – you’ve described it spot-on! I feel very lucky to be just such a visually oriented person who has a visceral reaction to the way that colors play together, harmoniously or otherwise. Thank you for sharing your re-acquaintance with the dyes and the production side of things.

    November 30, -0001
  8. Cheryl Adams #

    What an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable blog. I’ve often wondered where your inspiration comes from and how you get from inspiration to product. I’m glad you got a chance to get back in the thick of things.

    November 30, -0001
  9. Josie McGill #

    Dear Tina, So glad you had a wonderful trip down color lane!  Amazing how hard work at what you love is wonderfully restorative!  I find working hard once in a while in a flower shop does that for me, the colors, the smells, the dirt under my nails….Love ya, Josie

    November 30, -0001
  10. ~margaret aka dragonflysock #

    When I’m looking through all the colorways on the Blue Moon site, I always look to see if you’ve written a little about the inspiration for it (like how Blue Brick Wall came about). I’ve been a sock club member for 3 years, and I’ve always loved the dyer’s notes just as much as the yarn.

    I’ve known since I discovered BMFA that your beautiful and amazing color sense spoke to my secret color soul. I was always so conservative, a “good girl”, but secretly, I dreamed of a vibrant, much more colorful world. Certain colorways almost jump off the page shouting to me-and making me think of the riot of fall leaves here in New England, or the bright colors I remember in my grandmother’s flower garden (or those day-glo colors of the ‘60s!). I’m so glad you were able to immerse yourself in your colorful world of memories for a time. You’re right, we need to find and keep a balance to be truly happy in our lives. We need to work to live, but we need to always be in touch with our creative, playful, and true self.

    November 30, -0001
  11. Arlene #

    Frankenhen . . . yes!

    November 30, -0001
  12. Sarah JS #

    So glad you got some really good color therapy.  I so enjoy reading about how you approach color and live color and are infused with it—I’m not like that at all, but your experiences touch something in me.  So thank you!

    November 30, -0001
  13. pitch55 #

    That was very nice!

    November 30, -0001
  14. Jadzaea #

    I second dragonflysock–I love to see where the inspiration for a color came from.  No matter how silly it is, I’d love to read it (mostly because I’m not that creative and I live vicariously).  Maybe the inspiration for each color can be put onto each colorway’s page?  smile

    And I can’t wait to see “Frankenhen”, or whatever incarnation fall colors come in.

    November 30, -0001
  15. I can’t even imagine diving into the dyepots immediately after Sock Summit. Sounds like it was the best therapy of all. The business side of things just takes over and we forget what made us do it in the first place.

    The Dyer’s Notes that come with Sock Club are the first things I read. Treasure them. And as you well know, I’m a personal fan of your Chickens. Can’t wait to meet Frankenhen, or ZombieCock (OK, laugh) or MummyChick.

    November 30, -0001
  16. I’m sitting here in my just-finished Mossay sweater from Samantha’s pattern Karren.  To read your beautiful post while wearing a soft colorful sweater, hand-dyed by you lovely people, I feel such gratitude.  Thank you so much for all that you do for us knitters.  While reading your memories and inspirations, I felt like I was taken back to the dyer’s notes that I would receive in the sock club packages.  Definitely my favorite part each time.  I stopped my sock club membership so that I could start to knit some sweaters, the next step in my own journey.  It feels like a privilege to be a part of all of this.

    November 30, -0001
  17. Hazel Smith #

    My sweater yarn has shipped!!! “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! she chortled in her joy”. I wonder if it will take as long to get here as my sock kits. Not to worry. I still have to finish my Blunnies.

    Actually, I CAN’T wait. I’m just so anxious to see the colourway in person. Huge thank yous to everyone concerned, but especially to dear, dear Tina.

    Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

    November 30, -0001
  18. tina! i’ve had enough tears this weekend, and now i read this? you’re killing me here. we (knitters) joke about stash yarn so precious we won’t knit with it (like a certain skein of firecracker STR a friend gave me), but i love that feeling of “reorganizing” my stash and looking at all the precious skeins, where and why i have them, and putting them right back in, never to be knit.

    i’m so glad you had the chance to have some color therapy. we the knitters are even luckier because you share your life in color with us.

    don’t you dare burn yourself out.

    we need you!

    November 30, -0001
  19. You introduced me to dyeing and I have not looked back. There is something about color therapy that works for me too. As I’m sitting here typing with stained fingers. Oops I should have put gloves on….

    Great to see you at the SS11

    November 30, -0001
  20. Hazel Smith #

    I see your delete key has gone into overdrive. I wasn’t sure whether you’d bought a purse to assuage the gucci gods, or whether you just got totally p!@##$d off and activated the “delete” key. Have a happy Friday, Tina.

    Cheers and red wine, Hazel.

    November 30, -0001

Comments are closed.