[If I told you how long it took me to get this post together, you might just buy me a gluten-free cookie. Anyway, it's my pleasure to introduce you to a new feature on the LAB: The Style Council guest posts. These talented folks will be appearing on the LAB from time to time to share their insights and handmade wisdom.
Today's post features Genevieve who will from henceforth be known as The Supplier. I wanted to find someone who make the handmade goods that handmade artisans use to make handmade goods. That sounds funny in print, but it makes sense, trust. So, without further ado...]
Hey y’all! Genevieve here from Kitty’s Curiosity. Brett asked me to pop on over and share a bit of my process with you, and as a creative-for-creatives I couldn’t resist.
So what do I do? I make yarn. Sounds simple, right? But it’s so much more than that. I think of myself as a good middle man: a catalyst, enabling others to make things with their own hands. And it’s extraordinarily rewarding.
There are several ways in which I make yarn, including dyeing and spinning, but the process I wanted to share today is reclaiming. A form of recycling, reclaiming entails taking an unloved finished piece, typically a sweater, and converting it back into yarn – that is, back into potential. I look for gorgeous colors and fibers, and turn them into affordable skeins of lovely “new” yarn.
The hunt for sweaters is exciting and a little terrifying. I never know what’s out there – sometimes it’s nothing. I scour thrift stores and garage sales, looking for just the right pieces. After taking them home, I soak and wash them to start getting rid of any lingering scents. I then hang them to dry for days (sometimes weeks!) in my garden, making sure as few trapped allergens remain as possible. Thankfully Texas is a great place for outdoor laundry.
Next up is the actual unraveling part. If I’ve done my job right, the seams come apart easily with minimal cutting, and I sort the pieces by size to streamline the process. Unraveling sweaters is exactly like unraveling a knitting mistake – find the right end, and pull (but not too hard!).
The strand goes straight onto my ball winder so it doesn’t get hopelessly tangled, a trick I unfortunately had to learn the hard way.
I then make a provisional skein by winding it onto a niddy-noddy (like many of my tools, it’s an improvised version). I tie it it to prevent tangles, and when all the skeins have been made, I soak them in mild soap and water. After this final cleaning is done and the yarn is still damp, I hang each one individually with a light weight attached. This straightens the strands without being so heavy as to take out all the spring. When dry, I re-skein the yarn, with a pull through my line counter along the way to measure its length.
I then carefully re-tie the skein and twist it right up into a hank, tucking the ends together. That’s one of my favorite moments, when it finally feels like I’ve Made Some Yarn! Then I create a little packaging. I love the process of doing graphic design, and spent hours making these tags feel just right.
After making the yarn, it’s time let it shine. I do all my own photography and photo editing, and like the tags I spend a lot of time trying to get them look their best. There’s nothing like being a perfectionist and having to do things yourself to to teach you to work hard and learn new techniques quickly.
I then list each hank for sale – all my yarns are currently in my shop on Etsy. Many of my customers also sell their finished objects through Etsy or similar venues, creating a lovely cycle of making beautiful things for others. As a supplier I have the unique opportunity to see what I make not only creating happiness in my direct customers, but indirectly in others as well. I take a lot of pleasure in seeing how the things I’ve made become the things that others make, and become the things that someone else cherishes.