Dyer Interview Week: ModeKnit Yarn

It’s Dyer Interview Week! This gives me an opportunity to introduce you to some amazing women dying fun yarn you may not have heard about before. First up is designer extraordinaire Annie Modesitt’s new venture ModeKnit Yarn. I’ll be using Annie’s ModeSock in the Holla Knits Spring/Summer Collection, and it’s super killer!

Mode Knit Yarn ModeSock Lazurite

Mode Knit Yarn ModeSock Lazurite

1. What made you make the jump from designing to dyeing your own yarn?

Let me answer that in three parts:

  1. I’ve ALWAYS loved color, it’s one of the most inspirational aspects of design for me!  When I was in grad school studying set and costume design, I did a lot of dyeing of fabrics and I loved it.
  2. It’s sometimes difficult to find the just the right colors for some of my designs.  Once I find a yarn with the right drape or gauge, it may not have colors I need – and vice versa.  I’m selecting bases for ModeKnit Yarns which I love, and which create the kind of fabric I find most inspirational – and, of course, I tend to love the colors I come up with!
  3. I For a few years now I’ve been trying to find ways to work closer to home with less travel. My husband’s doing pretty well, but pain and exhaustion for him are a constant worry and I’d rather be home than be off teaching for the time being.

Dyeing yarn seems to be a nice marriage of all three reasons.

2. Has dyeing yarn changed your design process at all? Does starting the design process at this level give you more freedom in your designs?

I can’t say it’s changed my design process, generally when I envision a design I’m not thinking of which yarn to use (that’s a whole separate part of the process!)  I’ve always felt pretty free in my designs, I take inspiration from so many different places and my focus seems to be constantly changing.  Recently, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about what designs might work well with the yarns in our line, and what stitch patterns might show off our dyeing process to the best advantage.

3. When did you start dyeing?

I began dyeing on a large scale back in graduate school, at Rutgers University in the early 1990s.  In the early 2000’s I used to offer microwave dyeing classes for knitters, but moved away from that as it was difficult to set up the classes when traveling around the country.  I began dyeing yarn again for my own use about a year ago, and last Summer decided I’d begin to investigate how realistic it would be to buy yarn wholesale and hand dye it for resale.

So Pretty!

So Pretty!

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

ModeKnit Yarn is a partnership between myself and Kathleen Pascuzzi, a good friend and marketing specialist who has almost 20 years in retail management.  Our hope is to sell online and at fiber shows in our first year, then branch out into wholesale production as that seems possible (and if there’s a market for our yarns!)  Having a partner is very good in that it keeps me accountable, it’s important to have someone to bounce ideas off of, and to manage parts of the business I may not be as good at!

5. What inspires your colorways? Their names?

Our first colors are inspired by semi precious gems and minerals. Kathleen’s background is in jewelry, she’s a font of information about different stones and their properties and colors.  I knew I wanted to have an initial line with excellent primary and secondary colors, with a few tertiary colors thrown in for special cases, and gems and minerals provided that inspiration!

In future we’ll be drawing inspiration from many different areas, immediately ahead of us is an evolving line of colors based on popular television shows and movies that we love.  We’re calling the line NO SPOILERS! and the first 8 colorways will be centered around the BBC/Masterpiece production, Sherlock.  It’s been amazing fun to come up with colors which reflect plot points and character development – I LOVE TV, and this gives me a legitimate reason to watch and re-watch my favorite shows!

6. For those of us who are big fans of your designs, do you have any projects on the horizon?

Yes! I have several items which will be appearing in some of the major magazines in 2014 (Interweave, The Knitter, Yarn Magazine) and just as exciting, I’m working on a book with Stackpole Publishers on shrugs, boleros and short pieces.  My designs have been leaning in that direction for a while, so this gives me a chance to work through a lot of ideas I’ve had for small, quick-knit pieces that have a lot of bang!

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