Welcome to Karen of IlLOOMinated Yarns!

Hollyhock Dye Bath

How long have you been dyeing yarn? Why did you start?

I’ve been dyeing yarn 4-5 years now, not really sure when I started.  Why did I start?  Because it looked like fun.  I liked being able to dream up colorways to make them one of a kind.  Now that I’ve decided to become more business like about it, I really need to come up with repeatable colorways and names.  Or not.  Sometimes one of a kind are good too.  Maybe I can do some of each.

How did your yarn line name come about? I saw you weave as well, and assume the name is linked.

Actually, the name for my weaving business, ilLOOMinating came first.  John (my husband) and I were talking about an unusual name, something that hadn’t been used, and would invoke the spirit of weaving.  He’s the one who actually thought of it.  When it came for a name for dyed yarn business I morphed the ilLOOMinating name into ilLOOMinated yarns.

Different yarn bases after Hollyhock dye bath

Do you come up with your own natural dyes, use specific references, or both?

I normally grow or harvest most of the natural dyes that I use.  One exception we made was to purchase some Brazilwood, as John didn’t have any of that in his stash. He’s a woodworker.  He’s got a big stash of wood.  Puts my yarn to shame, really.  🙂  I have two reference books that I use, Wild Color by Jenny Dean, and The Rainbow Beneath My Feet, by Arleen & Alan Bessette, which deals in natural dyeing with mushrooms.

How do you choose your yarn bases? Are your having any made specifically for you?

Right now I”m trying out different yarn bases to see which I like the best.  I do have some that will make the final cut, my silk sock one for instance, it’s absolutely lovely to work with.  Another base that I like is my glitter base, which has 5% gold stellina mixed in with the yarn.  Right now I have not contacted any mills for specific bases, perhaps if I decide to grow lots bigger I might do that but for now I”m very happy with my supplier.

Lig and Spitty inspecting the yarn

Congrats on getting a vendor slot at Sock Summit! What other festivals or conferences do you go to as a vendor?

Thanks!  I’m so excited to go to Portland this summer, I think I’m finally down off of cloud 9.  I just purchased a domain for ilLOOMinated yarns, and am moving my blog over so that it’s associated more with the yarn rather than with John’s business.  I’ve got a lot of bookwork ahead of me to go, since I”m going to put in a shopping cart too and migrate from Etsy.

The two other festivals I have firm plans to attend this year to sell my yarn are Yarn Over, held April 30th at the Hopkins HS in Hopkins, MN, and Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep & Wool Festival, held Mother’s Day Weekend at the Washington County (MN) fairgrounds.  I am on the waiting list for Michigan  Sheep and Wool festival and do hope I get accepted; I’ve been there as a visitor and I love that festival.

The general thought amongst internet craft gurus is that potential customers want to know about the dyer as a person through things such as personal blogs, Twitter, etc. If a potential customer feels they ‘know’ the person dyeing the yarn, it builds trust in the mind of the customer, and they are more apt to make the first purchase.  What are your thoughts on this?

I tend to agree with that statement, that’s why I’m spiffing up my blog so people can see what I’m creating and how I do it.  In that same line, I have agreed to put on a natural dyeing program at my local library.  I probably won’t get any sales, but I might generate interest in a future purchase.  In my weaver life, I tend to talk with the customer for about 5 – 10 minutes before they make the purchase, as they are getting to know me and how I made the rug that they are considering purchasing.  It’s the same in the farmers markets that I participate in, the customers always like to know where I get the fruit that goes into the particular jelly they are purchasing, how I made it, and so forth.  It’s the personal touch, and more and more as people tend towards perhaps simpler lives and/or the shift to more CSA’s (community support agriculture) or eating more and more locally grown foodstuff — people perhaps wish to view non-food products in the same mode.

Thank you for sponsoring me!

Blog tour stops:
March 5th:  Knit-A-While
March 8th: Lobug Designs
March 9th: Sunset Cat Designs
March 10th: Purls Entwined

Karen is offering a 10% off coupon for anything in her store to one lucky reader.  Visit her store here and leave a comment on this blog post by midnight PST March 15th to be entered into a drawing for the coupon.