I realize that in my first interview’s notes I said most of them would be crochet related, well I’ve seen so many interesting people that I wanted to interview, that I just can’t tie myself down like that! But to keep the basic theme going through this one I have a special guest; Marla from Tiny Dino Studios!! She is a knitter, designer, dyer, and spinner with some really lovely yarns in her Etsy shop as well as spinning fiber, my favorite would have to be her Diagon alley fiber (and not just because of the name! :)) And if one of the yarn pictures catches your eye don’t hesitate to click on it, it will take you to the Etsy page so you can get details.
1. How did you get into spinning and dyeing?
Picking up dyeing and spinning was a natural progression of learning to knit. I love color, but never found much satisfaction in painting. When I first learned to knit, I wanted to branch out on my color palette, but found having to make a choice in a yarn shop daunting. It was too much for me. About six months into my knitting life, I ran across an online tutorial for dyeing yarn with Kool-aid, and I knew I had to try it. Producing my own color is so much easier for me than choosing something in a shop. As for spinning, that was all Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. She was posting photos of her spinning on her blog during the Tour de Fleece one year and I signed up for a spinning class at my closest yarn shop that same month. Learning to spin, of course, opened the door to processing and dyeing my own spinning fiber as well.
2. What are some tips that you find useful when dyeing your yarn?
Relax. Experiment. Don’t be too worried about getting just the right shade. Don’t be afraid to over dye. Don’t be afraid of leaving some white on the yarn.
3. How important is it to get just the right shades/tones in your work? Have you ever been going for a particular shade and ended up with something else you liked even better?
I approach dyeing like one great big experiment. I am constantly coming up with shades I didn’t expect. Dino Hide is one that surprised me just recently, and I love it! The key is to remember how it happened, and then attempt to duplicate it, just like you would any science experiment. Getting to know your dyes is also important. I know what dye stocks to mix together now to get six or seven different yellows or pinks or greens or whatever. I am a pretty laid back dyer. If something comes out of the pots that I am not quite satisfied to work with, I dye it again.
4. What kind of fiber do you like to work with most? Why?
For dyeing and knitting, I absolutely love my Protoceratops sock yarn. It’s a 3-ply superwash merino sock weight yarn. It takes color like a dream, is super soft, and makes durable socks and gorgeous shawls/shawlettes.
For spinning, I prefer to work with longer staple length fibers. Blue Face Leicester and Lincoln are fun, but I think Corriedale is probably my favorite. It’s a versatile fiber that takes the dye great and is easy to spin in many different ways. It isn’t always next to skin soft, but boy is it durable. When my future fantasy farm becomes a reality, Corriedales are high on my list of sheep I might raise.
5. You have two original knitting patterns up on Ravelry (they can be found here) Are you interested in designing more?
I am very interested. I am getting together test knitters now to work on shawl pattern. Mittens and mitts hold a special place in my heart and embellishing the basic mitt is one of my favorite hobbies, so I would be on the look out for more patterns coming in the next few months. I also get great joy out of knitting toys, but I don’t think my toy-knitting is quite on par with designing a literal tiny dino toy just yet.
6. When you are thinking about some new color, what inspires you the most? Is it different every time? Could you give us some examples on inspiration for some of your colors?
To be honest, developing new colors usually happens on a whim. I’ll pick up a light-blue bottle of dye, and think, I wonder what will happen if I add this much yellow to it? That is what’s behind my current spate of robin’s egg blues and minty and celery greens. I also go through stages. Last summer I was looking for the perfect shade of yellow. Last winter everything had a little black in the mix. And this spring everything is based on light blue.
7. Do you prefer a drop spindle or a spinning wheel? Do you have a favorite brand?
I almost exclusively spin on a wheel. I do have a couple of drop spindles. One is heavy and generally unwieldy, the other is a lot lighter and spins a very satisfying thin singles, but I spin on it about once every four months… On the other hand, I spin on my Lendrum folding wheel almost daily. It’s quicker than a spindle for one, but really, I find the physical motion of spinning on a wheel more relaxing. I do spin on a Lendrum, and it’s the perfect wheel for me right now, but I would suggest to anyone that they go to their yarn shop and spin on a bunch of different ones to see what’s most comfortable for them.
8. What other interests besides fibre crafts do you have?
I have a degree in creative writing. I mostly work on personal essays and young adult fiction (very slowly, however). It is also my goal to have my own small farm, grow vegetables and raise animals. I am the kind of person who gets excited reading about rotational grazing.
9. You named your business Tiny Dino Studios what’s the story behind that name?
Right now, I live in a very small apartment which is also where I work. Plus, I have a five year-old son who has had a lifelong obsession with dinosaurs. He is a dinosaur encyclopedia! When I was developing my business, my apartment was usually littered with little plastic dinosaurs. Not only was Tiny Dino Studios a physically accurate description of where I do my work, but I also hope it also invokes a spirit of fun and whimsy.
10. Is there anything I haven’t asked you about that you would want to add?
Don’t let fear keep you from trying new things! To me, knitting, spinning and especially dyeing are small ways to remind myself to have no fear in the rest of my life and not waste my time doing something I don’t enjoy.
Thank you so much Marla!!