Do you love hand-dyed yarn? Let’s be honest, if you are a knitter, the answer is most likely a resounding “Yes!” I have shared beautiful yarn with you before and will continue to do so. I love yarn and l like to share what I love. And I especially love hand dyed yarn. My friend Katie – the creative mind behind Unicorn Yarn Co. – just released her new limited edition “Springtime in Paris”. The colorways are just gorgeous. I have some of her yarn here (but not of “Springtime in Paris” sadly) and I can tell you the colors are just as beautiful in real life. In celebration of her new colorways, I got to interview her and pick her brain for you.My friend Katie @ Unicorn Yarn Co. just released her new limited edition "Springtime in Paris". In celebration of her new colorways, I got to interview her and pick her brain for you. Click To Tweet
Tell us a little about yourself, Katie.
I have been a knitter for about 14 years now and I could not imagine my life without it! My absolute favorite item to knit are socks because they are so small and portable, plus they are a great project to try out new techniques on.
I live in Hermiston, Oregon with my best friend and partner and our two guinea pigs. In addition to being a dyer, I am also a substitute teacher, art quilter, and scenic designer.
Tell us a little about how you learned and what you like to knit.
I actually taught myself when I was about 10 years old. My mother had given me a set of needles, a children’s knitting book, and some yarn for Christmas. The following months I was determined to learn, and because of my fearlessness, I have made a ton of mistakes!
SOCKS! Socks are easily my favorite project to make. They are always so appreciated when I have knit them for family. I like to knit them in bright and crazy colors because it’s a little secret you have with yourself. Socks are great for so many reasons; they are super portable, there are a million patterns that you can choose from and learn new technique in each pair, and for a pair they are a relatively inexpensive project (enough yarn for a pair is somewhere between $20-$30) I know there are a lot of people who are afraid to turn a heel, but some techniques are easier than others.
I am also a sucker for lace weight. I’ve knit two sweaters out of lace and I love them! Lace is also perfect for any wrap or scarf for Oregon weather, light and warm, but never stuffy.
Is there any (knitting) technique you haven’t tried yet but always wanted to? Why haven’t you tried it yet?
Steeking! I am so terrified to try it, but I’ve been told by so many knitters that once they did research into it, they felt better about it. So maybe later this year I will do some thorough research and try it out! Otherwise, I have not done much colorwork or stranded knitting and I want to do more of it.
(Nadja’s Note: If you feel like Katie you should check out my post about steeking. It’s not as hard or as scary as you think! I promise!)
Do you knit with your own yarn? And what is your favorite thing you’ve ever knit?
Yes! Most of the projects on my Instagram feed are knit by me, if they aren’t I make sure to give credit to the knitter. As for my favorite project using my own yarn… I think I have to say the Better Than Sex Brioche cowl by The Chesapeake Needle that I knit for my mom. It was a great review of brioche knitting and it made such a luscious cowl that my sister immediately asked for one. I knit it out of Diva Sock, but I think if I knit it again, I would use Lux to get that extra soft feel that single ply merino has.
My favorite project is always the one on the needles! Currently, I am knitting a TwinLeaf shawl out of Concrete and Roses on Super Fine. I love lace to begin with, but this blend of silk and baby alpaca is drool-worthy.
Now onto the meat: How and when did you get the idea to start dying and selling yarn? How did you get started?
Shortly after I graduated college, my amazing partner asked me what I wanted to be when I was a kid (though, I don’t think I will ever grow up!) and I told him I wanted to be two things: a Disney animator or own a yarn store. He asked me why shouldn’t I open a yarn store and I could not stop thinking about that question. It’s a little over a year after that night and I have absolutely no regrets!
Your brand is called Unicorn Yarn Co.: How did you come up with that name? Does it hold special meaning for you?
When I was first starting to think about opening a shop, I drove myself crazy with ideas of names! I fell down the Instagram rabbit hole looking at some of the brilliant names that other dyers came out wondering how I could stand out. How am I one of a kind? How am I the unicorn that I want to be? The answer was in the question for me.
It does hold special value to me because it’s a reminder every day that I get to be a creative and that is a magical experience for me. Every skein that gets washed is unique- you’ll never find another just like it, just like a Unicorn.
Where do you get your inspiration? And how do you come up with new colorways?
I am inspired by so many things! The seed can come from a million different things, travel, a book, the way the sky looks on the way home from work. In general, my design process starts with a Pinterest board. There I collect photos that maybe I took, maybe I found on the site to then look at all together. What I try and go after is a feeling or mood rather than just looking at the colors that I put together.
Your new line is called “Springtime in Paris”. What does Paris in Spring mean to you, what was the prevalent thought, image or emotion you wanted to put into your new colorways?
This was inspired in part from memories that I have from when I lived in France and also inspired by photos I found on Pinterest. Springtime in Paris came straight from my heart as I wanted to mix both the colors I saw and emotions I had while living there with the romantic pastel spring that’s worth dreaming about. Knitting with any of these beautiful colors is like having a mini stay-cation just for you.
What is your favorite colorway of “Springtime in Paris”? Do you have any other favorites?
My favorite is the skein that is in my hands at the moment! Though if I had to choose, I love Concrete. It’s a subtle grey with few green and blue speckles, rather like the weird colorings you often find on a sidewalk, so it is not a boring grey by any means. Also, it looks amazing next to anything I put it beside!
And what is your favorite color? Do you use it often when you dye yarn?
My favorite color is red (my car, my hair, my favorite flannel, my Hydroflask, everything). However, my favorite yarn color is teal and I have no idea why. When I worked at the LYS, I used to buy all of the blue-green yarn because it made me happy when I knit with it. I have dyed a lot of yarn with teal-y blue!
What does a typical workday look like? Could you walk us through your process? Do you have a plan of what to do that particular day or do you just decide what you would like to work on at that moment?
When I’m drinking tea first thing in the morning, I start thinking about my big goals for the day. I made a form for myself to think about my little to-do’s for the day, the big goals, an intention for the day (I usually pick a quote relevant and inspiring to the work I’m doing that day), and an hourly schedule to try and structure my time while breaking up tasks. Some days I stick to it better than others!
Have you ever regretted taking up dying or ever thought of quitting? Or can you think of something that could possibly make you quit?
I do not regret this at all! The only thing that I can think of that would put a damper on dyeing, yarn, knitting, and fiber, in general, would be carpal tunnel or severe arthritis. I make an effort to stretch and warm up before knitting, but also to put my knitting down every 45 minutes and stretch. I’ve also started wearing braces for carpal tunnel when I go to bed because of regular wrist and finger pain.
What would you still like to do or to achieve business-wise? Any dreams or goals for the future?
If I could dream and dream, I would love to host a retreat. The idea of sharing my knowledge with others is so exciting. I would love to convert every single person into a knitter because everyone would do well to slow down in one aspect of their life and appreciate each stitch.
What is the most interesting aspect of dying and selling yarn to you? And what the most rewarding? What keeps you motivated?
My love of yarn. Every day I get to wake up and walk into the studio that is full of bright colors, yarn, and fabric that inspires me to continue creating. I also find fiber profiles incredibly interesting; how different fibers take dye differently, finding the right project for a fiber type for a project, I guess I’m just a fiber nerd!
What is the biggest problem you had to face in your business (if there were any)? What would you tell other aspiring dyers to look out for or keep in mind?
Balance for sure! That is something I am still working on for sure, but finding time for myself. It is really easy to fall into the trap of working all the time, especially since my studio is a step away from my bedroom but it is important to find time for all parts of life. My biggest advice for dyers is work when you are working and rest when you are resting; it’s super easy to overlap because knitting can so easily be done during rest time, so I strongly support selfish knitting.
Is there anything you want to tell our readers?
Make sure that you take care of your hands and wrists! I’m 24 and have pain in my fingers from so many years of constant knitting. So every hour (preferably 45 minutes) put down your project and stretch out your hands and wrists. Taking care of yourself is super important to be able to continue being able to make. I also am a big fan of selfish knitting as a form of self-love and self-care which is also important for so many reasons, so don’t feel bad or guilty about knitting something for yourself more often!
Did you like the interview and would like to read more? What do you think of Katie’s yarn? Is there anything you would like to know about Katie and being a dyer? Please let me know in the comments below?
All photos in this post belong Unicorn Yarn Co.
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