[UPDATE: CONGRATS TO GRACE, OUR WINNER! YOUR YARN HAS BEEN SHIPPED!]
Do you like yarn? And weirdness? Those are two of my favorite things! And when I found them marvelously combined in the gorgeous offerings from DyeForYarn a few years back, I knew I’d lost both my heart and my wallet to these wondrously strange crafters and creators.
With names ranging from the elegant and melancholic (“Rain In A Graveyard“, “Nocturnal Maelstrom“) to the silly (“St. Patrick’s day parade gone awry“) to the absurdly heartbreaking (“Giant clam closing forever“) and the frankly kind of gross (“Cat’s hairball problem“)–you’re almost tempted to spend all your time obsessing over these skeins’ enchanting backstories before you even look at the yarns, themselves! But–you should definitely look at these yarns. Stare long and hard into their subtle shifts and vibrant shades and luminous hues and become totally mesmerized by the outrageous array of options before you!
I’ve long wondered about the humans responsible for creating these silky, squishy, works of art, and was thrilled when, Nicole and Cordula of DyeForYarn agreed to do an interview with Unquiet Things and answer all of my nosy questions! Read further to learn more about the women behind the yarn, and leave a comment for a change to win “Gloomy View”, a gradient set of silk/cashmere lace yarn. ( I chose “Gloomy View” for you guys because I thought it would be appropriate! Right? I know I’m right. More details at the bottom of this post.)
In your former lives you were scientists for biology and molecular medicine at University Erlangen-Nuremberg. Obviously there must be a bit of science with regard to your current work and creating the colors for your yarns, right? (I only vaguely know how science works, haha). But seriously, I’d love to know how your former work in the lab might translate to your current yarn and craft-centric process and practices?
Yes, you’re right. We do benefit from the experience we gathered in different labs. For once we’ve been trained how to organize and optimize workflows. And we’re also trained to work very structured with having everything at hand when we need it. When we try new things like new yarn qualities, dyeing techniques or colors we usually create an experimental series to see how it might work best. Maybe our biggest advantage coming from a lab background, though, was the natural ease in handling chemicals safely. Of course that’s nothing you can’t learn during the process of hand dyeing itself, but it came in handy in the beginning and is still very useful.
THE BIG QUESTION I have been dying to ask for years is how do you come up with these wonderfully strange and unusual names for your yarns? They reference the esoteric and arcane, and the sublimely absurd…and it leads me to believe that between you, you must have incredibly fascinating and diverse interests when it comes to things like art, literature, cinema, music. Can you speak to that?
Basically we’re classic nerds. We love science, comics (in form of Animes), Fantasy and Science fiction literature and movies. We love music, although not the same genres. Nicole for example adores Amanda Fucking Palmer, Cordula loves Muse. These sources as well as our scientific past and the nature around us are a huge well of inspiration. The specific kind of names we use for our yarns originated in the “Dead parrot sketch” by Monty Python. In the sketch John Cleese tries to convince the pet shop owner, that the parrot he just bought
is dead (and was so when he bought it). He uses several synonyms for being dead which is hilarious. I (Nicole) am a HUGE fan of the troupe and thought that particular sketch very fitting for our natural black humor and our brand name DyeForYarn. So we decided to use these synonyms for yarn names: Ex-parrot, Raven being no more, Sloth in procrastinator’s paradise or Violet coming to dust. This led to names like Rotten chestnut cream macaron, Reaper’s kiss or Bat in a dark mood etc.
In that vein, one of my favorite colorways that you create is Very dead Norwegian Blue Parrot! Are there any colorways that seem to be clear customer favorites?
Ha, that’s actually the exact same parrot John Cleese bought in said sketch 😀
Very popular are saturated reds (one of our specialties), deep teals, greens and blues. But also our neutrals (we call them non-colors) and pastels as well as our almost-black shades are very sought-after. What we find very interesting is that over the years one can actually see some preferences between different countries. Germans like very bold, intense colors, Japanese very light pastels, for example.
And what are your favorites?
Cordula: Nocturnal maelstrom (intense dark teal), Fallen Dark Soul (deep dark red), Last Dance (almost black reddish purple)
Nicole: Dead Marshes (muted green-blue), Kingfisher pushing up the daisies (muted teal), Withering Lupin (muted gray-purple) and Rose which must not be named (muted purplish rose)
Do you see any trends in terms of colors that people are interested in? What’s popular now?
We sometimes can make out a correlation between current “in”-colors and what sells well, but
because our customers are from all over the world it’s not a very clear correlation. Currently we sell different shades of turquoise and deep blue plus more yellow than usual.
I have seen people who are not knitters (or crocheters) fall in love with your gorgeous yarns. Do you have any alternative craft ideas, incorporating your yarns, for people who do not wield the needles or hooks?
Definitely weaving! Both of us have an Ashford rigid heddle loom, which is very easy to handle and doesn’t take much space (you can hang it on the wall when not needed, even with the warp attached). The only drawback is that it doesn’t fit in a hand bag like a knitting or crocheting project would. We mostly use our Tussah silk lace and fingering, Merino/Silk fingering and Silk/Cashmere lace for our weaving projects, all suitable for warp and weft.
Nicole just finished several weaving projects with our Silk/Cashmere gradient sets. Her ravelry name is Kalessin, in case you need some weaving inspiration ;D
Is there anything else that you would like people to know about your yarns, or your process, or DyeForYarn/DyeForWool?
It’s important for us that our customers know that, even though knitters/crocheters all over the
world are familiar with our brand, it’s still just the two of us, Cordula and Nicole, who dye all the yarns you see in our two Etsy shops. Two days a week our lovely helper Silvia supports us with skeining and winding the hanks, hand-tagging them etc. and our husbands support us with their particular expertises as well. But basically nothing has changed much since we founded DyeForYarn back in 2011. Doing what you love and are passionate about is the best job you can have and we feel very blessed to be able to do that. DyeForYarn has made our lives so much richer and fuller and we hope to get that feeling transferred into our colors.
And you have no idea, what a great and crazy feeling it is to know, that there are actual, real human beings on all (habitable) continents who create wonderful things with the yarns we dyed.
Thanks for your time, Nicole and Cordula, and for putting your exquisite creations out into the world!
Info from DyeForYarn: “Gloomy View” is a gradient set of silk/cashmere lace yarn. You get a total of 5 Silk/Cashmere Lace skeins (50g each), one of each color, as pictured. All skeins together add up to a total of 1670 yds (1525m), enough for practically any large shawl (or two regular sized shawls, for that matter). Together they give a very muted and dark gradient from bluish green over blue and purple to cacao brown, each color itself being solid to slightly semi solid.