Monthly Archives: January 2012

Meet Wooly Wonka Fibers

One of my favorite things about working on Holla Knits is all the new people I’m meeting and working with, including Anne Podlesak, the woman behind the fiber studio Wooly Wonka Fibers. On of the samples in the first collection uses Anne’s beautiful yarn!

So get to know Wooly Wonka Fibers like I have with this fun interview!

1. For those who haven’t heard of Wooly Wonka Fibers before, please give a little background and information about you and your yarn.

I’ve been in business for 5 years (as of March 2012).  I learned to knit from my great-aunt when I was 6, and picked it back up in high school.  I am a self-taught spinner, and added that to my addiction list about 10 or 12 years ago.   I absolutely love trying new color mixes on different yarn bases – it’s rarely the same and definitely not ever boring!  I carry a wide variety of sock and lace weight yarns, and have sponsored a popular Shakespeare themed lace club for the last 4 years through the shop.  I like complex kettle-dyed colors with a lot of different layers in the colorways, although I do also have some hand-painted colorways available as well.

Yarn Storage!

2. Why kind of dyes do you use?

I use professional acid-based dyes.  I like that they can all be fixed with citric acid (or vinegar) and I don’t have to worry about a lot of toxic/heavy-metal mordants.

3. When did you start spinning and dyeing?

I started spinning about 10 or 12 years ago when we lived in New England.  I still have my first wheel – a big Saxony production model that was hand-made for me, but I also have a couple of travel wheels I drag up and down the stairs, or outside to the deck when it’s nice out.

I have a degree in Costume Design, so I learned the basics of dyeing while I was in college for that (we re-dyed a lot of things to give old costumes new life).  I had a weaver friend in New England turn me on to handpainted/hand-dyed yarns – she dyed her own base yarns for her woven items – and that was the start of my fascination with mixing and playing with colors.

Studio Shots

4. Are you a one woman show? How many people are on your team?

Technically yes. I do all my skeining, dyeing, ordering, labelling, shipping, of the shop products on my own.  My husband is pretty good about pitching in when I’ve got large club shipments to go out the door, and I have a few extra-stellar friends who will work for yarn if I need a hand.

5. What inspires your colorways? Their names?

All sorts of things, but I do find I get a lot of inspiration from outdoors-y things.  I have a lot of floral, leaf and tree-themed colorways.  I also find a lot of inspiration in character names in books I’ve recently read, or that are favorite reads of mine.

Yarn Everywhere!

6. Where do you spin and dye? Do you have a home studio or an office?

I have a designated dye studio – it’s built as a bump-out from the garage.  It has a lovely large window where I can look outside to a fenced-in courtyard with lots of birds, and if it’s warm and nice outside, I can leave the garage door open for some extra breezes while I dye (especially nice in the summer with hot dye pots).  I do all my paperwork in my home office, which is separate from my dyeing area.  I worry about large buckets of water and the computer not getting along well.

I generally spin down by the fireplace in the cooler months, but outside on the deck with a view of the mountains is awfully nice in the spring and fall.

7. When you knit and crochet, what projects are you drawn to?

I love almost every type of knitting out there.  Except intarsia.  One large sweater project and I have sworn off it forever.  I particularly gravitate towards lace or colorwork projects, but a quick and easy, large-gauge accessory project when you need a little pick-me-up is awfully fun too.  I have a large collection of shawls and a nicely full, hand-knit sock drawer, but I think a girl can’t ever have too many hand-knit socks.

A huge thank you to Anne for not only contributing to this collection, but for answering all my questions! Be sure to check out Wooly Wonka Fibers shop and follow her on twitter!

Errors in Design

Today’s post is by Lily Ubbelohde of The Owl and the Bee, a friend, knitter, and new knitwear designer tackling her first design for the first Holla Knits collection.

Sometimes errors or mistakes can lead us to new and exciting places we never would have stumbled upon on our own. They can be exciting or unexpected and open up a new avenue. Or sometimes they can just be plain wrong. Figuring out what errors fall can be daunting and not a little confusing.

Lily's Design Sneak Peek!

Sometimes the images in our heads don’t always match up to what we see in front of us. As a new designer figuring out how to get what I see in my mind’s eye match up with what’s in front of me on my needles seems like an overwhelming task. As much as we like to plan, and plot, and all of those steps are important (I’m slowly making peace with my math phobia) some parts you just need to DO.

Beautiful Knitted Hem

That’s how I found myself a few weeks ago eye balling the first section of my Holla knits design thinking to myself “hmmmmmm.” I knew that I could listen to my gut, and remake it, tweaking it and changing it as I went with the information I had learned from the first one I made. I also knew that this could risk putting me under more of a time crunch later on in the design process. I weighed my options for a few hours, rolling it back and forth. Did I push forward with something that I wasn’t quite happy with for the sake of a larger whole or did I start over and incorporate what I had learned before?

Big Hem vs Tiny Hem

Ultimately I decided to remake the section and in reworking it turned out truer to my original design idea. I’m now harnessing how good I feel about finishing something that I’m happy with to push me forward into my next section of this design. Sometimes starting over can feel like admitting defeat or failure but knowing that you’ve corrected something for the right and steered yourself in the right direction is much stronger.

Checking in With Design #2

When we last saw Design #2, it was languishing at about 2 inches knit, and I was complaining about how all that stockinette stitch was making me nuts. That was exactly 2 weeks ago.

LOTS AND LOTS OF ST ST

Since then I’ve knit 2 other unrelated sweaters that were NOT on size 3s, and finished the sparkly body of this puppy. The fabric is beautiful. I’m fully in love with this Knit Picks Stroll Glimmer. Thank god, because without it those miles and miles of St st would have been even S L O W E R.

Tiny Start on the Sleeves!

And now on to the fun part. This sweater is all about the sleeves, and I’m so excited to start working on them! … once I get another skein in the mail. Estimating yardage is not a skill I have acquired yet!