This weekend, it’s laboratory time! I have an interview with Sarah Hand of One Hand in the Dyepot. Sarah hails from Canada (hey, and I’ve said this before–so many awesome Canadian fiberistas out there!). Like some of the other awesome indie dyers I have featured before (including Jennifer Beamer of Expertly Dyed), Sarah approaches dyeing through chemistry. Her colorways are fun and playful and she is just getting her Etsy shop underway . . . so here’s your chance to support the fledgeling indie community! Enjoy the photos (all courtesy of Sarah) and the interview below. Thanks for stopping by on this fine Saturday 🙂
How did you get into dyeing?
Ever since I started knitting, I have been fascinated by the idea of experiencing all of the steps necessary to take sheep’s wool and turn it into yarn. Before I started dyeing, I dabbled in spinning yarn using a hand spindle and some undyed roving. While my spinning is still a work in progress, I wanted to take it a step further by dyeing my own colourways. I didn’t realize it before I started dyeing, but my Master of Science degree prepared me well to understand the chemistry of what’s going on in the dyepot when the colours are mixed with fiber.
How did you come up with the name of your yarn dyeing business?
When I got married last fall, I took my husband’s surname, which is Hand. When I started selling my dyed yarn, I knew my business needed to incorporate my new last name and the fact that my skeins were “Hand-made” and “Hand-dyed.” It’s a play-on-words that my husband says I over-explain! Haha!
What is your yarn dyeing philosophy?
I take a very analytical approach to dyeing, and I only dye in small batches of just one or two skeins of yarn. My dye studio – also known as my kitchen at other times of the day – is set up like a laboratory, with jars of dyestock, pH strips and thermometers always at the ready. I keep careful notes on everything to do with the dye process in a lab book so that I may be able to reproduce a colourway as closely as possible in the future. This sciency approach to dyeing is balanced out by the creativity that comes with choosing colours. Like most pursuits in life, yarn dyeing exercises both the left and right sides of the brain.
What is your favorite fiber to dye?
So far, I’ve been focused on dyeing merino wool because it’s one of my favourite fibers to use in my knitting projects. Superwash wool is great because I can poke and prod it throughout the dye process without worrying about it felting. For my next challenge, I’d love to try dyeing some more rustic farm wools, along with alpaca and silk.
Where do you find inspiration?
I use Pinterest and design websites to discover interesting colour pallets that I’ve never considered before. As abstract as it sounds, I find my memories to be a great source of inspiration. Even in the dead of the Canadian winter, I can recall memories of the rich colour of the green grass in summer. A long-ago trip to an art gallery could still offer inspiration when I remember the artist’s choice of colours in a particular painting. And, of course, seeing the amazing colourways other dyers create offers limitless inspiration for my own work.
Any advice for new dyers?
Start dyeing using food colouring; it’s inexpensive, easy to find at your local grocery store, and completely non-toxic. I made some very interesting speckled colourways using food colouring when I first started dyeing, and I believe that early success gave me the confidence to start using professional dyes and more advanced techniques.
Where can folks find your shop online?
You can find my shop at http://etsy.com/shop/OneHandintheDyepot. I’m also on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. I often post sneak peaks of new colourways and advanced notice of shop updates on social media, so it’s a great way to see what I’m up to! I’ve also started a blog at https://www.onehandinthedyepot.com, and I’m now on Twitter as well!
What’s NEW on the horizon for your shop?
People can expect to see some more exciting new speckled colourways coming in the future. I’m also toying with the idea of selling some hand-made beaded stitch marker sets in the shop that are colour-coordinated with the yarn.
Thanks so much, Sarah!
I love farm visits and meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a dyer, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above)