Hola everyone, I am back from my ‘holiday’. Don’t let the flippant Spanish there throw you off, I’ve not been anywhere and haven’t even had time to knit! In fact I’m still knitting the lace panel for #RewindKAL. Been very busy with other things and Casa Shiny is like a madhouse as usual and that’s taking up much of my headspace. A couple of important points to note before we get down to the good stuff (and it really is good today):
I have closed the Patreon for the podcast. It is quite a clunky platform and I wasn’t getting from it what I had hoped to at the outset in terms of ease of interaction with my lovely Patrons – in fact I am unsure if some messages got through at all. I’ve chatted about the platform with some of you before and I’m going to do a review blog post of my experience with it.
Also a big thank you and a further request with regards to the New Media Europe Awards. We made it into the final 10 for the Audience Appreciation and Best UK Podcast awards, so thank you for that. Obviously we now need to keep voting and not let anyone else get their hands on your award. Voting takes place on Twitter from the 1st to the 10th of June so use the remaining time wisely folks and tell all your friends. You can head over here and choose Shinybees right now if you so please.
The utterly fabulous Countess Ablaze is a hand dyer based in sunny Manchester. As you know, I like to get people on the show that we don’t hear from too often in the yarny community and find out what it is they do and why they do it a little differently. I’d previously asked The Countess for an interview, and she’d politely declined, as she doesn’t do audio or video interviews as they are something she finds hard. However I have eaten Tunnocks Tea Cakes in her studio for long enough now that she was comfortable chatting to me to let me stash a microphone in her premises whilst she took me through the process of dyeing yarn.
It’s not an interview though.
No interviews here.
I’m not going to give too much away here as it really needs to be heard to be fully appreciated but I have picked out some key moments. Oh and if you’d like to dye along you will need a variety of items including some pyrex jugs, a kettle, some school dinner style pots and citric acid.
Countess Ablaze doesn’t always start her creative process with a name, but this time we knew we were paying homage to the one and only Zoolander (see Episode 80 for the depth of my love) with a colourway to be named Orange Mocha Frappuccino. With that in mind we set about choosing our colours. Neon orange, chocolate, neon purple, golden and neon yellow ought to do it.
The Countess is no longer into measuring things, likes a bit of eyeballing, and now conforms to the ‘dyeing is an art rather than a science’ way of thinking. So we had some teaspoons and we just went right on and eyeballed how much dye we thought we’d need. Professionals us two, no ‘neon murder scenes’ here. The yarn has been soaking for 18-24 hrs previously in order that the centre of the yarn gets saturated too. The Countess also likes to layer and build up the colours for fun.
But then comes the mushing, my favourite part. I could mush all day. It’s all about technique. Though I couldn’t compete on the old ‘girly tap of death’ or speckling, whichever term you prefer. That did involve a mask though so it was a little bit Breaking Bad, which is how I like to imagine all my indie dyer friends look as they go about their business.
Little bit of chemical fire chat after that. Best leave that I think.
After all the fun was done I snuck in some cheeky questions. The Countess responded as I knew she would to my first question regarding keeping up with trends. She simply doesn’t. She ignores them and does her own thing; it is too easy to get influenced and you need to keep evolving so you and your customer base don’t get bored. I then asked her how all this started. Someone gave her a hand dyed yarn with scorch marks and she just knew she could do it better. She calls it arrogance; I’ll go with confidence. She had also been through a very tough run in her personal life with three deaths in quick succession when she was in her late twenties and so she made the conscious decision that her thirties would be better. It was a motivation and a therapy. Bad things happen so make good things come of it.
Her recommended books for getting started are Hand Dyeing Yarn and Fleece by Gail Callahan and Spinning and Dyeing Yarn by Ashley Martineau.
If you would like some of our crazy Orange Mocha Frappuccino, the bad news is that the batch we dyed completely sold out to newsletter subscribers in two hours. Fortunately for us, The Countess (despite being in incredibly high demand) has kindly agreed to do a very small number of pre-orders for those of you who missed out.
You can pre-order the yarn here until the limit is reached or 20th June, whichever is earliest. Dispatch will be 1st July.
It is a light 3 Ply 500m/100g, new base not on her website yet Sparkly Blue Faced Baron, a blend of 80% Superwash Bluefaced Leicester and 20% Firestar (Trilobal Nylon). My complementing skein is Black Parade to make the neons POP. She’s also having an update on Thursday evening where the Sparkly Blue Faced Baron will be available on her site in some of her other colour ways including the super-popular ‘Stardust’.
That’s all from me this week. As always, thank you for listening. Feedback is always appreciated, and you can email me or message me via Ravelry or social media. If you enjoyed listening today, please consider leaving an iTunes review, to help others find the podcast too. Happy crafting!