Year of the Indie Yarn Dyer

We all must lift each other up.

‘Cause no one else is going to do it.

If economic statistics hold true, there isn’t a single person who will read this post who is wealthy in any sort of real sense. In fact, most of you are broke, in debt, and possibly a paycheck away from not being able to pay rent. Or the mortgage. You buy your groceries with a credit card. Sometimes.

Or all the time.

A handful of you are lucky. You’re in the middle. Life is okay. Maybe you’re even retired or actually making ends meet comfortably.

Here’s the deal.

It’s a dog eat dog world out there. And it isn’t getting any better. In fact, the math is straightforward on this issue.

It’s getting worse.

Every day, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

And that probably isn’t going to change anytime soon. You’ll be spending the next decade of your life trying to decide what to pay first: the electricity bill or the yarn bill.

(I say go with the yarn bill…)

Since I am the dictator (Duchess sounds better, actually…) of this very small corner of the world/Internet, I’ve self-declared 2017 the Year of the Indie Dyer.

Across this country, and probably across many others, there are women and families who have turned their kitchens, garages, yards, and who-know-what-else into yarn dying studios.

Because they like yarn.

And color.

They have passion. Talent.

They’ve started fledgling businesses.

To make money.

Because they NEED money. As do we all.

Some of these shops have taken off. It’s working. They are actually selling yarn.

Most of them are fledgling, obscure, and lost in the morass of Etsy and Instagram, waiting to be discovered. Growing slowly, but likely too slowly to pay any bills in the meantime.

We MUST lift each other up. Knitters, let’s support these yarn dyers!

Am I still going to buy yarn from brand labels in my favorite yarn shops and online?

Yes.

They’re great businesses, many of them promoting amazing ethics and choices I support in this ever-globalizing economy.

However…

I am also putting intention behind supporting indie dyers. The very meager bit of economic fuel I inject into the nation’s yarn economy probably won’t make much of a difference.

But all of us together?

Well, together, we’ll make a slightly bigger difference.

So far, I’ve been buying all of my sock yarn from Etsy shops (says the knitter who just cast off a pair of Knit Picks Hawthorne socks earlier today…). I’ve literally gone on Etsy, searched for “sock yarn,” scrolled around a bit and picked a random shop.

Is it hard not to feel the yarn and squish it?

Yes.

Do I hate paying for shipping?

Absolutely.

Was my first skein of yarn soft enough?

Truthfully, no.

It’s been a little hit and miss with the quality, I’ll be honest. And I wish the Etsy shops I’ve browsed have been more upfront about what they are using for a base. It is front China or domestic sheep? Are they buying white yarn from Knit Picks and dying it, or is there something more going on? I do not know.

But I wish I did.

In the end, you know what? They’re socks! My feet are going to be okay.

I’ve also made a point to collaborate with indie yarn dyers** as I develop new patterns this year. I’ve made good connections with several talented dyers so far, and I can’t wait to introduce you to them soon.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Have you discovered a great indie dye shop online that you LOVE? Soft yarn, good colors, and great folks? Please share in the comments!

Year of the Indie Yarn Dyer. We all must lift each other up!

I just stumbled upon this skein of 100% merino fingering* from the Iria Yarn Company. It’s their Great Pumpkin colorway. Who doesn’t need orange socks? I mean, seriously!

Gotta jet, knitters. Etsy browsing is calling my name!

*If you are an indie dyer and would like to collaborate on a project or other such adventure, please be in touch!

**Sock knitters, what’s the scoop on nylon in sock yarn? Do you like it or not? I thought the yarn I was buying wasn’t soft enough because it was a nylon blend…But then I bought a skein of Knit Picks Stroll, which also is a nylon blend and is SOFT. So now I am just confused on nylon and its potential impact on that buttery yarn feeling that I seek.

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26 Comments

  • Reply Lauri January 15, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    It was my understanding that the nylon was for strength, since socks have to do much harder work than most knitted things. Spincycle does beautiful stuff. I’m not sure how indie they are, but I’m in luuuuuuurve with Biscotte’s self-striping sock yarn.

  • Reply Sierra January 15, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I love nylon in my sock yarn, I find that the yarn elasticity is better (my 100% merino seem to stretch out more). Some of my favorite yarn dyers on etsy are Duren Dyeworks and FishKnits both of these dyers come to my local fiber festival in Dixon CA in October and I love to support them.

  • Reply Rene January 15, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    I’ve just starting dyeing my own, I have bought lots of commercial sock yarn in the past and am just starting with the indie dyed yarn (only recently as the postage to Australia is horrendous, I can’t justify a total of almost $60AUD for a pair of socks!) and the Knit Picks Stroll feels as good as any of them! I don’t know that I’ll ever be good enough at it to sell them, but I love dyeing them.

  • Reply Kat with a K January 16, 2017 at 5:12 am

    Great post – however, for durable and long wearing socks – the best yarns (at least that I have found) are from Opal or Regia – these socks last for-ever! That being said – my favorite dyers are Miss Babs and Briar Rose Fibers – I own more yarns from these ladies and I love their color sense and their fiber choices!

  • Reply Melanie January 16, 2017 at 6:14 am

    Stitch Please has great reliable colourways. I’m usually a purist but for socks you need that nylon for the stretch. In fact I don’t like sock yarn that’s too soft, I find I don’t get such good stitch definition for those little cable designs in socks. Also, I haven’t made anything with it yet but Bellatrista has a gorgeous if limited colour palette in amazingly soft ‘alternate’ fibres. I still have to catch up on a couple of pairs of socks that missed the Xmas deadline but can’t wait to make something for myself with soy yarn.

  • Reply Heidi January 16, 2017 at 6:16 am

    I have purchased several skeins of beautifully hand dyed & very soft yarn from bluesavannah on etsy and at the Trailing of the sheep festival in Ketchum, Idaho. She’s a super sweet person and her color blending is amazing!

  • Reply Katie January 16, 2017 at 8:22 am

    I love this idea and totally agree that it’s important for us to support each other in the yarn community. One of my favorite local-to-me dyers is Mandie at Sheepytime Knits. She’s not on etsy but if you Google sheepytime knits you should find her website.

  • Reply LeslieM January 16, 2017 at 8:49 am

    What a great post. There are so many wonderful dyers out there. I love Three Fates Yarn. And not just because she is is in my hometown! Check out her beautiful work on Etsy.

  • Reply Elizabeth L Targ January 16, 2017 at 9:45 am

    I love, love, love indie dyed sock yarn! My favorite dyer of all is SeeJayneKnitYarns on Etsy but I also love StrayCatsSocks, TheCozyKnitterShop and AMarieKnits. All of whom make the most delicious sock yarns! I can’t rave enough about SeeJayneKnitYarns! Her colors are divine and her yarn bases are buttery! Her DK makes the best hats!
    If I’m honest, most of my stash is indie dyed sock yarns! They are perfect for all kinds of small projects. I love using the left overs to make baby hats and booties!

  • Reply itsallaboutpurple January 17, 2017 at 5:26 am

    in the future – maybe i could do this. but right now, i have to see and feel my yarn. i purchase most of my yarn from the farm where i learned to knit. i always try to buy farm yarn!

    the other shop i buy from is a small shop – i feel good supporting her shop as well. i know nothing about sock yarn ;(

  • Reply pumpkin sunrise January 17, 2017 at 9:19 am

    I always knit with 75/25 wool nylon blend so that they last and don’t wear out that much. Trekking is the only brand I use for my husband. He is really hard on socks!!

  • Reply Alina January 18, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Such a wonderful (and fun) post! I can’t really contribute to indie yarn dyers, as I am mostly working with neutral shades and plus I am not a sock knitter. But now I am definitely more conscious of yarn I am getting (not always of course). I also think that big yarn companies are not better or worse than indies, because they provide work places and careers for so many people! And I also want to support that!

  • Reply woolythymes January 19, 2017 at 10:43 am

    you are sooo right…..and i’ve been trying to be more mindful of purchases in general. At the moment, I’m limiting myself to souvenir yarn and just knitting from the stash. we’ll see how long THAT works for me!!

  • Reply Julie Crawford January 19, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Such a wonderful thing to do, to highlight indie dyers!! There are so many brilliant small businesses out there, and I agree- we need to find the ones e love and support them. 🙂

  • Reply APRIL COX January 28, 2017 at 11:41 pm

    My favorite yarn dyer is Gnome Acres (gnomeacres.com). Such wonderful colors.

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