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.
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.
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.
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.