Friday, April 10, 2015

Indie Dye Friday: Huckleberry Knits

The second Friday of every month is Indie-Dye Friday! Feast your eyes on lovely yarn in gorgeous colorways developed by talented independent yarn dyers. Today's featured dyer is Scarlet Tang of Huckleberry Knits. Her beautiful, bold colorways first attracted my attention at Fiber Fusion Northwest. I'm so excited to have her here today to share a bit about her business.

A bit about Scarlet
I live with my husband and son in Bellingham, WA. We're way up in the northwest corner of the state. People often ask if it's near Seattle, but we're actually closer to Vancouver, BC.

One of the great things about Bellingham is that we're on the coast but we're also really close to the mountains, so there's a huge variety of outdoor activities to do.

How long have you been dyeing fiber? How did you get started?
I've been dyeing since 2006. I used to knit and crochet as a kid, but hadn't done very much as an adult. I picked it up again after I had my baby. The first time I saw hand-dyed yarn, I had to have it. Then I found out that I could actually do it myself, so I tried it and got hooked. I had a hobby business knitting pants for cloth-diapered babies, and added my hand-dyed yarn to my online store. It grew to the point where it was all I could think about, so I quit my job in 2011 and have been dyeing full-time since then.

Where do you get the inspiration for your colorways?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. It can be a photograph in a magazine, a lyric from a song, a favorite book or TV show. At this point in my dyeing career, I've done a lot of the colorways that I naturally gravitate towards, so now it's about me exploring the edges of my color sense, looking for new combinations that grab me and making myself go out of my comfort zone. 

What fibers and dyes do you love to work with?
Blue-Faced Leicester (BFL) has been one if my go-to wools for years. As a knitter (I don't crochet much anymore due to tendinitis problems), I really love how it's soft and lustrous, but is still durable and resistant to pilling. 

And as a dyer, I appreciate that the colors on BFL don't shift much during the heat-setting process. Sometimes you don't know exactly what you're going to get until you pull it out of the dyepot, but with BFL, what you see when you apply the dye is what you get after it's bound to the fiber.
And one thing that I've discovered lately is how good Targhee smells when you're dyeing it. Most hot, wet wool smells like nothing special, but Targhee has a really distinctive fragrance, like meadows full of wildflowers. I love it.

I also love silk blends. Though who doesn't? You get the softness and shine of silk, and if you're dyeing spinning fiber, it's much easier to work with a blend than pure silk, which has a tendency to resist being dyed.
Behind the scenes...
[For my Rock Candy colorway, first] I soak the yarn (in this case, Willow Blue-Faced Leicester/nylon). Next I dye the brown through yellow colors, and heat-set them for about 20 min, long enough so that the dye won't run. Then I apply the green and blue. With most colorways, I dye all the colors at once, but I've had enough problems over the years with either the red or the orange getting mixed with the green (and turning into mud) that I do a two-step process now. It takes extra time, but has saved me some headaches.

A few colorways...

Rock Candy. I originally wanted to call this M&Ms, but I didn't want to get sued.

 Slate. I love grey. It's such a great neutral--not as stark as black, but still hides most of your dye stains when you start splashing it around. This is my new American Dream Worsted yarn, which is a 100% Targhee that's grown, processed, spun and dyed entirely in the US. Not only is it beautiful and fun to work with, but I'm also really glad that I can support Western farmers and the domestic wool industry by offering it.

Beachcombing. This one was inspired by a trip to the East Coast that we took a couple of years ago. We went to Chincoteague Island, on the way from DC to my parents' house in Massachusetts, and this colorway is all about the beach and the salt marshes and gazing out at the Atlantic.

Such splendid colors! Want to see more of Scarlet's lovely fiber? You can catch up with her on her website, Instagram, Ravelry, and Facebook. Thank you for joining us today, Scarlet. 

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