Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Life of an Item with Cantrix

I am inspired by many things, sometimes it's a photo in a book or on the internet, sometimes a song or even an idea, but really I'm just inspired by color. When I created this colorway I didn't have an actual picture that I went by. Some of the most fun in my "dye lab" (read tiny kitchen) is when I stand with a blank skein of yarn, my dye, and the desire to create something unexpected. I love putting together colors you might not usually think to put together. Often times those are the best combinations! This colorway in particular has some great pastel and bright colors that you might not expect to see with each other but I think what really makes the colorway is the balance of the sable brown.

Every time I dye yarn it starts the same, I take out my tools - bowls, measuring cups, spoons, and whisks as well as all of my 'ingredients' - powdered drink mixes, food coloring, citric acid, and of course yarn. All of this goes on top of my stove, because it's easiest to clean up. The actual dyeing is really quite simple. I just add my ingredients to water, and dip my yarn in it however the design of the colorway requires. As I create a new colorway I keep very detailed notes so that I can recreate it again. Once the yarn has had the dye applied as needed it goes in the microwave. The heat sets the dye. At that point it's mostly done. I let it cool for some time because as it cools down the dye sets further into the yarn. Once it's cooled I rinse it thoroughly, roll it up in a towel, step on it to get the water out, and hang it up to dry. It is usually dry by the following afternoon and ready for pictures.

I don't have a fancy light box or anything for photos, I just use a big roll of white paper in front of a window with nice light. The white paper really simplifies the photo taking and lets the colors of the yarn shine. The white comes in handy though because I can use it to adjust the white balance on my camera and once again when I take the photos to my computer to edit them. Getting the color absolutely correct is difficult but essential when color is your main focus. I use Picasa to edit my photos and I am almost always able to get the color to look right with little adjustment. Then it comes to listing. I have a love hate relationship with listing. It is fun, but time consuming. I try to enjoy the creative aspect of it by having fun with the names of my colorways. I often get my husband in on it (he also has an etsy shop recordtime.etsy.com) and he actually came up with one of my most popular colorways, Mean Mr. Mustard http://www.etsy.com/listing/54365028/mean-
mr-mustard-hand-dyed-merino-silk we are big Beatles fans. Sometimes the names come from my inspiration for the colorway or sometimes the yarn just reminds me of something. My goal with my shop was to create colorways I could duplicate so that I wouldn't have to go through the entire listing process every time I list a new item. That is now the case. I still enjoy doing a one of a kind or new colorway from time to time, but it's really nice when something sells to be able to 'renew sold'!


  1. I'm so glad you shared your process. It just goes to show you that you can do whatever you set your mind to - right in your own kitchen.

    COOL. Lovely colors!!!

    Thanks for sharing. -Rebecca

  2. Yummy colours - thanks for showing us your process!