How did your personal fiber journey begin?
In my early 20’s, a friend of mine taught me the basics of knitting. I learned knit and purl stitches, but purled backwards and didn’t know how to properly hold my yarn, so I dropped the yarn in-between each stitch. It was frustrating and there weren’t any local yarn shops or knit groups around to ask for help. I couldn’t read patterns, so I tried making them up myself. I remember knitting a blanket for my boyfriend and somehow making one end of it so small that it became a pocket for his feet. For years, I never really progressed much past knitting a scarf. When I was pregnant with my second child, another friend offered to teach me knitting in the round so I could make my son a little hat. Something finally clicked and within a couple of months, I’d not only knit a hat and felted booties for the baby, and a crazy fish hat for my husband, but a huge unicorn stuffed animal for my daughter. Around the same time, Ravelry was launched and it was down the rabbit hole from there!
Do you knit, crochet, spin, weave as well as dye yarn?
I do! I knit every day! I learned to crochet last year so I could make a blanket with scraps. I spin, but somewhat infrequently. And I dye using natural dyes and plant prints.
Where do you get your inspiration?
For my dyeing, the inspiration is definitely in the plants! Their shapes, angles, ferning veins…. I want to capture those pictures! It’s also so exciting to see what colors plants will produce. Sometimes, it’s exactly what you think…. a green plant makes a green dye. But sometimes….. Purple flowers make a teal dye or red petals make blue prints!
With my knitting designs, inspiration comes in many ways…. sometimes I see something in a store that I want to recreate in a certain way. Or, I want a specific article of clothing that I can’t find anywhere and can picture exactly how to create it. Once, a pattern even came to me in a dream!
What kind of fiber or special techniques do you use?
My favorite fibers are natural and wooly. I love knowing where yarn has come from and the sheep that has produced it. Yarn has a special feel to it when you can trace it back to the sheep and know the hands that have worked it. For special techniques, I guess that would be eco-printing. I use plant materials (leaves, flowers, etc.) to make prints on fabric using a technique called bundle dyeing. It’s so much fun and opening a bundle is like opening a present. You’re never sure exactly what you’ll get, but it’s always beautiful.
What is your favorite colorway you have dyed so far?
I think my favorite so far would be eucalyptus leaves on an indigo dyed sock blank. The bright orange and aqua blue go so well together. I’d love to see that knit up into a garment!
What fiber projects are you working on this moment? I just finished a sweater using 6 different naturally dyed and eco printing sock blanks. The body is a solid color and the arms are striped. There are blues, green, yellow, purple, white with speckles of red…. it’s lovely! I’m also working on my first color work sock pattern.
Do you have any special events going on in the upcoming months and where can people find out all about you?
I DO! I’ll be teaching a number of eco-printing classes this summer and fall. All of the details can be found on my website Ninjachickens.org. Through my website you can also find my instagram account, where I’m very active, as well as my knitting podcast.
Bonus Question! Do you pick the pattern or the yarn first?
Usually the pattern. But, occasionally, I find a yarn that I know I have to make something out of and get it without knowing what it will become.