I recently chatted with Nic from Toomuc Valley Yarns and here is what we chatted about :)
1. Can you knit or crochet? If so, how old were you when you learnt to knit/crochet and who taught you?
Both are my hobbies! I love them both, but tend to knit more than crochet. My mother taught me to knit when I was around 7 or 8 over 30 years ago. My grandmother helped me too. I taught myself to crochet in 2007 and left it for a few years until 2010 when I used You Tube to help me develop my skills further. I've even used Clare's videos to help me!
2. What got you started with dyeing yarn?
I had joined a crochet group on Facebook in early 2012 and I saw the beautiful hand dyed yarns people were using. I'd never come across them before and I was mystified. I found some indie dyers and promptly purchased some skeins. I loved them so much that I decided to research the process.
3. How long have you been dyeing yarn?
I started "playing" in December 2012 with some Queen's food colouring. I loved the process so much (read: fell head over heels!) that I got really serious a couple of months later in February 2013. I very nervously opened my Facebook page/store in April 2013, and I thought that if no-one liked what I created I could always keep them for myself! That never happened!
4. What was your first dyeing experience like?
I was using food colouring on some of mum's old 50g pure wool balls she had lying around the house. I had the food colouring already so it was really cheap and easy to get started. As I said I fell in love with the process and just knew that I wanted to create and explore more. I was so excited to cast on that first colourway I created!
5. What is your favourite fibre?
My favourite fibre to dye is my Australian Superwash Merino base as it takes up the dye so vibrantly and I love the results. Personally I love to knit with silks and cashmeres for the softness factor, and it's a little bit of luxury for me when I can afford it!
6. What's your favourite yarn weight to dye?
I tend to dye lots of DK/8ply weight as that is my best seller, however I don't really have a favourite weight to dye - I love them all equally!
7. Have you ever tried the kool-aid/food dye method just for kicks?
Yes, when I started out, but used Queen's food colouring. I haven't ever tried kool-aid though.
8. Are there different methods of dyeing to produce different results?
Yes! Lots! Tonals, solids, semi-solids, variegated, kettle, gradient, mono-chromatic, ombre, and self-striping to name a few!
9. What is your favourite?
I actually love all types of dyeing for their own individual uniqueness and beauty. I love using all the different techniques and researching and exploring how they work. I love being able to provide my customers with lots of different options, and it really thrills me to be able to offer a great range. I recently purchased a vintage knitting machine and I am very excited to be able to add gradients and long colour change yarns to my range. These are possibly my new favourite!
10. How long does the process take from start to finish to dye 1 skein of yarn?
From prepping, to soaking, to dyeing, to rinsing, to drying, to reskeining, labelling, photographing, naming each colourway, packing and posting, these processes can take up to 5 days. I do each of these things myself in between school runs, after school activities and other commitments! It is certainly crazy around here, but I love it and wouldn't have it any other way!
11. What is your inspiration?
I love all things art, - something my amazing art teacher fostered in me at high school (and I am still in contact with him and he is very inspiring!), and I find lots of inspiration in art!
Sometimes I use the design seeds website if I am stuck in a dyeing rut. I also take a lot of photos and use these as a constant source on inspiration.
Having said all that - I find my main inspiration is just in playing with colour! I tend to be able to put colours together and they work! Sometimes after putting in a big day at the dyeing studio I find that the dyeing has "happened" all by itself. I go into another dimension.
Another thing I love to do is to get any leftover dye at the end of the day and work out a way to apply it to the yarn. It's always a challenge as I don't want brown yarn all the time! I love the way it pushes and forces me to be creative and I don't waste the dye. It's something I've always done whenever I dye and it's my favourite part of the day as it's rarely the same!
12. Have you ever thought of adding scents to the dyes to make scented yarn?
No, I haven't, but I am very intrigued now! I haven't come across it in my research either. But a gorgeous purple/lilac yarn with lavender sounds divine and my cup of tea! I'm definitely going to look into it!
13. Do you have any tips for those that are interested in starting themselves?
I get asked this a lot and the best thing to do is just start! Have a go! If you have some food colouring stashed away and can get hold of some pure wool, then you are set! There are so many wonderful You Tube videos that are so helpful and even helped me too, in the beginning.
Also, just enjoy the process - have fun! Using food colouring is safe to do with kids, and can be a great school holiday/weekend activity to do together. My daughter often helps me and sometimes I am envious of her creations!
14. Do you have any other hobbies?
Making beautiful coloured yarn is my ultimate hobby and I love that I can have my own business surrounded by what I love. When I am not dyeing, or knitting I love catching up with our families, we love going camping and four-wheel driving and exploring our beautiful country. Our new house has lots of room, so we've been busy setting up new vegetable and herb garden beds - I love cooking what we've grown!
You can fin me on
Facebook :: www.facebook.com/toomucvalleyyarns
Website :: toomucvalleyyarns.com
Instagram :: instagram.com/toomucyarns
Pinterest :: www.pinterest.com/tvyarns
Ravelry :: www.ravelry.com/groups/toomuc-valley-yarns
Facebook Group :: search "Toomuc Valley Yarnites"
Email :: email@example.com