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Spun Sugar Yarns

By on December 22, 2015

Spun Sugar Yarns

Nicholette from Spun Sugar Yarns

Can you tell us about how you got started spinning and dyeing yarn?

When I started spinning, I never thought I’d actually sell my yarn.  I was spinning for myself to make props.  I figured that would be a good way to keep overhead cost down.  It wasn’t until I posted my yarns on a few crochet and prop pages that people started saying I should sell them.  Not feeling very confident, I started joining as many fiber related pages on FB as I could, trying to learn as much as I could.  I still mostly used the yarn to make props with, but I could never keep up with the latest and greatest in the prop world and I slowly started focusing more and more on my yarn than my props.  Over time my yarn started getting more business than my props. At that point, I made the decision that my attention should be on my fiber instead of props.

Where does your color inspiration come from?

Everything! I am always keeping my eye out for colors that I think would be beautiful as a yarn.  It’s amazing what colors can work together that you never thought would before.  A lot of the time I’ll decide if I want to do bright colors, pastels, deep dark colors, or even a theme.  Once I decide I then pay more attention to those types of colors in my daily life. Flowers, paintings, a pillow from the store, it’s all great when you’re looking with an eye for color design. One specific theme I really want to do soon is an Adventure Time collection.  I want to include, obviously, Finn and Jake, but also Princess Bubblegum, BMO, Lady Rainicorn, Ice King, LSP, Marceline, and possibly a few others.  My kids and I are Adventure Time geeks.

Can you walk us through the whole process of producing your gorgeous yarn? What is your favorite step? What part do you least enjoy?

I’ll prep my fiber first by soaking it in vinegar water and then hand paint in an aluminum pan.  This way I’m able to get roughly 8-10 ounces in one pan and can fit two pans in my oven at a time.  Mixing the colors up and prepping takes about 10 or 15 minutes to do. I’d say this would be my least favourite part.  I love picking out the colors and painting, but prepping them in the bottles is a chore for me.

Once I’m done “painting” I will then heat the fiber to set the colors.  Depending on the fiber, I have to be super careful not to move it around too much or it will end up felting, which is bad for spinning!  Once the fiber has had sufficient time to set the colors (around an hour) I then pull it out of the oven and let it cool down.  I think this is the most exciting part of the process!  I have a vision in my mind when I’m creating the colors, and even while painting the fiber, but it can turn out different once it’s done.  Colors can end up being darker, lighter, or even break into other colors while heating, sometimes in a good way and sometimes not so good!  Normally you want to let your fiber cool until it’s completely cold, anywhere from 6 hours to overnight.  If I’m in a rush to get the fiber done so it can dry, then I let it cool down for about 3-5 hours, depending on the fiber.  It then soaks in a bath of clean water to rinse out any excess dyes (which hopefully there are none) and vinegar.  I then spin the excess water out of the fibers in my washing machines spin cycle and lay it out to dry overnight.  Once it’s dry I braid it up for photos to sell or start drafting it to spin! HHM-DSC_0160 HHM-DSC_0162 HHM-DSC_0167

What kind of fibers do you work with?

My favorite fiber base has been super wash merino. But lately I have fallen in love with Targhee.  It creates such a bouncy and squishy yarn that’s perfect for those photography prop blankets.   Polwarth is also a contender for big fluff and bounce in yarn.  If I’m going for something more “fancy” in the fiber realm, anything with silk, alpaca, or cashmere is wonderful.   Another fun base is merino and stellina.  Stellina is sparkle that’s been added to the top and is just a fun fiber to spin for extra special projects.  For those with wool allergies, I enjoy spinning faux cashmere.  It doesn’t work so well for those thick and thin yarns, but it’s like spinning a cloud.  DSC_0023 DSC_0020 DSC_0042 DSC_0178 DSC_0189

Do you crochet or knit? If so, tell us what you love about the craft?

I have been crocheting for 11 years now.  I learned when I was pregnant with my first child. My MIL was crocheting around the edge of a flannel baby blanket and I asked her to teach me.  I wanted to make some for my new baby.  My favourite items to crochet are still baby related (hat’s, etc). But as my kids are now older, they want me to try my hand at some amigurumi.  They look pretty intimidating, but I’ve given it a go a couple of times with relative success. Crochet, for me, is two fold: I get to relax and focus on a project that can be enjoyable but also I know I’m being productive by creating an actual item for use.  As for knitting, I can knit and purl and that’s about it.  I have attempted to make a few knit items, but I can’t ever remember how to tink, so I get frustrated and rip it and put it away.  My next fiber related goal is to learn how to weave.  Nothing super fancy, but an adorable wall handing with my hand dyed and hand spun yarn would be an awesome way to display my craft.

How long have you been working with yarn?

I have been crocheting since I was about 21 years old, but I only crocheted around the edges of baby blankets.  A few years later, in college, I became involved in photography due to a fellow classmate and this started my love for photo props.  I received a crocheted hat in the mail one day and realized that I could make it myself.  So I decided I was going to learn how to crochet a hat.  From that point on a whole new world of crochet opened up that I fell in love with. Before I knew it, I opened up a prop shop and sold many items to photographers.  My love of hand spun yarn came about in 2009, when I found some on Etsy.  It was brand new to me and I wasn’t quite sure what it was from the photo. Hand spun yarn for props was not really a thing at that time.  I remember telling my mom,  “I think I found some awesome yarn, but I’m not really sure.”  I decided to take a chance on something that was so beautiful I couldn’t keep it out of my mind.  After it came in the mail, I spent all my prop making money on hand spun yarn.  It wasn’t until my divorce that I decided I needed to spin yarn myself.  Knowing I could no longer keep up the luxury of buying hand spun yarn, I took a leap of faith that I’d actually learn how to spin yarn for myself and spent $400 on an Ashford Kiwi.

How do you balance your work and home life?

I am extremely blessed in my profession. I work a full time job from home as an office manager, so that helps immensely.  I get to see my kids more than I would if I worked outside the home and my commute is great!

Do you have any other hobbies?

I highly enjoy photography.  I started back in 2007 and haven’t stopped.  Because I do work a full time job, I don’t get out to photograph as much as I’d like.  However, I do currently volunteer for an organization called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep where we do remembrance photography for families at the hospital with babies that have passed or will pass.  I feel it’s a great way to give of myself when I can.

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About Emily Truman

Emily is the Assistant Editor at Happily Hooked Magazine and the owner at Em's Corner. She is a WAHM with 4 kids. She has a passion for crochet and sharing the art with others.

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