In the Dye Studio: Remember to Blink

In last week's installment of In the Dye Studio, I asked for you to weigh-in regarding how you would decide when a color had shifted enough to warrant a new colorway. And all I can say is - whoa! You have very discerning eyes! It was great to read through your comments and to hear about what you would do if faced with this decision.

A couple things to note, if you see a dyed yarn, in the shade you like, let's say a particular red at that moment, bring it home with you! We really don't know if a batch will change for good. And the age-old rule applies, try as hard as you can to get enough yarn for a project. Right? We all know that one. I have to admit, through owning the yarn store, it has been relieving to seeing the different variations from one colorway to the next from all kinds of vendors, even some who are very, very popular. I interpret it as meaning that the issue of reproducibility is one in need of ongoing management for everyone.

Our winner of this week's giveaway - for one skein of Reliquary II in Brick - is Deb S! We'll get in touch and ship this skein out to you.

Unfortunately, though I have had dyeing planned in my schedule. No dyeing has been done in the past week. Instead it has been one big ball of bookkeeping (which is too complicated at the moment to hand off to someone else - almost simplified enough to hand-off), analyzing our income and expenses, and more shop management (round of new hires / training). I hope and think that I am rounding the bend on that front and will be back in the dyeing studio by next week. It's amazing where the time goes.

Adrienne and Chris, my studio assistants have been steadily mordanting new yarn to dye, which is great, and which means that there is lots of yarn there for when I do get to start dyeing. Dyeing requires many small decisions. Even when using a recipe, sometimes the color is not going quite the direction you want it, and you can add more dye or more water, in hopes of it going in the right direction. I find that it I am overly tired or pre-occupied with things that are particularly time-sensitive or demanding, that I don't have the focus necessary to respond as consciously as I would like to when dyeing. So have learned that it is best to focus on things which are calling my name at that very second, then try to split my attention over the two worlds of dyeing and management. While the fact that I can't be in the dye studio makes my frisky, every time I have focused on management of the shop and created more infrastructure for the shop, it has only helped me to dye, uninterrupted for longer periods of time. I try to remember this when I feel like the management of the shop is about to gobble me up.

The dye garden is very alive and beautiful at the moment. Last Spring when Natalie Chanin came to visit, she sponsored a fundraiser at the shop. With those proceeds, we have been able to expand the dyeing garden with the addition of a new, long, raised bed and with pots of dye plants like coreopsis, black-eyed susans, marigolds, and cosmos.

As the flowers wilt, we remove them from the plant. Sometime we dry them. Sometimes we put them in the freezer, in a plastic bag, with their like kind. Here in the Bay Area, it can be cold in July and August, it is this time of year that things really warm up. I think in the new, raised bed we will plant indigo. In our other raised bed, the madder is going crazy. We have the intention of doing a run of dyeing with it in the next month or so. We've done some sampling and have gotten really good reds.

After everything is said and done, a bit of time with nature is always my best medicine. In Minnesota, spending time on the water, the lake and the tiny waves are mesmerizing. As I watch the expanse of water, after only 10 minutes, it is like my mind has been reset to neutral. The leaves of the aspen, trembling in the wind, can have the same effect. Here in Oakland, I have to be a bit more committed to finding time with nature though I've noticed, even the littlest moments count, like deadheading flowers for dyeing. Watering the plants and watching their leaves shimmer in the sun. So with that, I will leave you - and hope that you find a bit of time today in nature.