I met Eling at Stitches East last year. I was just wandering through the aisles, when some amazingly colorful yarn caught my eye. It was so interestingly textured! And colorful! And like nothing I had seen before!
And Eling was a sweetheart! I’ve been a fan ever since!
Eling is both a spinner (making the irresistible handspuns that caught my eye) and a dyer (dyeing yarns with an equally good eye for color combos!). I’ll bet you won’t be able to escape her shop without finding something you’ll like!
Doing reviews of multi-talented people such as Eling is always complicated. Should I try the handspun? Or maybe a delicious batt for spinning? Or a skein of beautiful handdyed yarn? Oh, the choices!
At least for now (maybe I’ll work my way through her entire collection, soon!), I’m knitting with a beautiful skein of RhinoFluff’s handpainted luxe lace weight- a merino and silk blend yarn.
The colorway is called ‘Darkly’, and it’s sorta like the midnight sky got together in a pot with some wine and grape juice and started dancing. It’s stunning!
It’s also working up amazingly! It’s soft and shiny and a dream in my hands. The thing I love most about handpainted yarn is that the colors flow seamlessly into one another as you’re knitting- no weird pooling or obvious spots of color. Just one calm sea of shades of purple… I’m in love!
How long have you been dyeing? How did you get started?
I’ve been spinning for over 7 years now, dyeing for probably almost 6. I started spinning not long after I learned to knit. I had just started to see handspun yarn available, and I wanted to buy it all. I quickly realized I couldn’t afford to buy only handspun yarn, so I thought, “maybe I could try spinning my own yarn too.” It worked, and I was hooked! Not that it stopped me from buying other peoples’ beautiful handspun yarn… and I spun all my yarns, personal and for sale, on a drop spindle until three years ago, when I finally got my first wheel.
What inspired you to turn it into a business?
At some point, I realized that I was never going to be able to knit all the yarn I was spinning. I had started playing around with dyeing wool, and tried out dyeing yarn too. I guess I thought I’d see if anyone wanted to buy the yarn I was spinning & dyeing. I was also making jewelry at the time. I applied for one of the first Renegade Craft Fairs in Brooklyn, and people loved it all. I was hooked.
Haha… that’s a reoccurring theme I’m noticing! Describe your average day.
Typically I split my days between sewing (I run a separate handmade accessories business– migration goods) and fiber. I usually start my day with some sort of caffeine and email, answering questions & prepping orders.
If I’m on a sewing day, I’ll then head to my studio. I also card fiber in that space. I’ll stay there until dinnertime. After dinner, I spin. Happily, spinning is an excellent time for me to catch up on/indulge in TV.
On dyeing days, I go straight to the kitchen & get the dye pans out. I try to block out whole days for one type of work or another, but sadly, it doesn’t always work that way. When my schedule gets busy & deadlines are all on top of one another, I find myself trying to answer email on my phone in the studio, and cramming dyeing into late nights after dinner. I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t have a lot of average days. They all involve email, sewing, and spinning/fiber prep, though.
Sounds busy! What’s your favorite part about your job?
I am color OBSESSED. So I love playing around with color blends, mixing and combining unexpected shades. I have a good library of tried-and-true colorways now, but it’s rare that I come out of a dye session without at least one or two never-seen-before and unable-to-be-repeated colorways.
What are your favorite fibers to use?
I love to spin targhee and blue-faced leicester wool. I just love the sproingy texture of targhee, and the long, soft staple length of BFL. I love dyeing almost all yarns & fibers– partly because they all take dyes so differently! When I’m knitting, I often prefer something soft (like merino) or anything with great texture! I wish I could work with angora rabbit, but I learned the hard way that I’m extremely allergic to it.
Oh no! Not allergic! At least you’re not allergic to wool! What’s your studio space like? Where do you do your heavy-duty work?
I have my main studio space in a big renovated mill building. It’s got great big windows and amazing light, and lots of other artists. I have my rather large space set up into lots of stations– work tables for various projects (mostly for migration goods, my other business), lots of storage drawers for yarn & fiber, a large carding area, and a sofa and chair for spinning & knitting. I also maintain a workspace at home for spinning & knitting (I admit it, it’s in front of the TV!) and all the down & dirty heavy-duty stuff happens in our home kitchen. I heat-set all my yarns & fibers, and I just don’t have the set up for this in my studio. So I have a set of everything — pots, pans, spoons, jars, etc. — for just dyeing that live in the corner of the kitchen. When it comes time for dyeing, I clear everything food-related from all the counters, and set up all the dye stuff. I would LOVE to have a sink & range for just dyeing, but that just may never happen. We’ll see…
Always something to aspire to! What’s your your favorite product that you’ve made?
Gosh, this probably changes by the month as far as handspun yarns go. So many of my handspuns are one-of-a-kind in nature, and I fall in love with a lot of them. But it’s kind of fleeting on my part, because then the next one comes along… I am pretty fond of the fiber-of-the-month club that I used to do. It was a whole set of batts, coordinated roving, and extras, and I really put a lot of time & effort into each installation. I was and am still really proud of those sets. It was a ton of work, and every cycle I said it was going to be the last time I did it– but Then I would see all the finished batts & fibers & goodies all packed up & lined up, and I would trick myself into doing it again…
Are you also a knitter or a crocheter? What do you love to work on? Give a shout out to your favorite project or designer!
I am a decent knitter and a just-beginning, very terrible crocheter. I am the first to admit that my knitting skills progress deteriorated drastically once I started spinning. I’m not a huge fan of knitting from patterns, I tend keep my own knitting simple (hats, cowls, wrist warmers) and make patterns up as I go along. But I do love to putz around on Ravelry and see what amazing things other people are making. I am always inspired by the patterns that Adrian from helloyarn comes up with, and I love knitty.com, and the patterns that Brooklyn Tweed and Quince & Co. have developed to go with their lovely (American millspun) yarn lines!
Tell me the truth… how much yarn (personal stash) to you currently possess? And how often do you snatch yarn off of your production line and keep it for yourself?
I have stopped counting my personal yarn stash. It’s safe to say that there are at least 4 or 5 large rubbermaid bins’ worth in my studio, though. I have honestly slowed my personal purchasing a lot in the last year as my knitting has slowed dramatically. I have also gotten really good at only grabbing a skein or two of my own yarn every few months– probably because I’m having a little bit of trouble keeping up with inventory for my website and shops. Guilt goes a long way with me keeping my hands to myself!
If you could live anywhere, where would you live?
I am sort of a wanderer at heart, but I love New England. I grew up here, and I’m happy to have this as our home base. In my ideal imaginary world, I’d also have homes in Asia (Kyoto would be my pick), the Caribbean (St. John), Europe (maybe Spain…), San Francisco, and the Pacific Northwest. I’m pretty food obsessed as well (we often plan our travel around eating), so most of these places are good eating spots (or close to great food cities). Of course if we’re talking homes with fiber farms, I’d probably have to add a spot in the midwest, plus the UK & Australia to that list…
Grab some RhinoFluff!
Get 15% off any item in RhinoFluff’s Etsy Shop with the code INDIEYARN11 !
Each day this week, I’ll be interviewing a fabulous independent dyer or spinner. Trust me, you won’t want to miss a single day!
On the schedule for tomorrow is Stephanie from Space Cadet Creations. She’s a force to be reckoned with on the twitter circuit, and she’s also a fantastic yarn dyer! Join us!