Every so often I get ahead of the order curve and my mind turns from the every day production, dyeing and shipping to "what next?". Most of the time the "what next" refers to new colors in the works which I focus on twice yearly for spring and fall new color releases. Other times I get to thinking about what gaps we have in our yarn lineup, or what I might have a hankering to work with (and thus create).
Working with a mill and developing a yarn is both challenging and hopefully, if things go a planned, quite wonderful. You begin with a concept of what you think you'd like. For me I start with the weight of the yarn. Do I want to bring in a new lace, sock or bulky yarn? Then I consider the fiber. How important is softness, loft, ply, durability? Is this a yarn to be used for a luxury seasonal accessory or am I filling in a gap in our workhorse wear-every-day yarns? If it's to be a blend, what would I like that to be, and how will it take to our gradient dyeing process? What do I feel I am missing when I look at the shelves of Freia Yarn and want to knit something?
The next link in the chain is finding the right mill for the job. They all have different capabilities, equipment and available time in their production schedules. After determining the right mill (or mills), I take these ideas and try to translate them into words to communicate what end result I'm hoping for. From here it's up to the mill, if I've done a good job of explaining what I want, then within a few weeks if I'm lucky I'll have a couple of samples that fall within the ballpark. As time and money allow, from here we might go back and forth a couple of times, adjusting the yards per pound, the twist, the fiber content and all the while taking a good look at the cost and trying to keep a finger on the pulse of the knitting community and it's wants and desires.
In the grand scheme of things I probably fall in the 'very slow' range of yarn development. I'm careful and deliberate in much of my decision making. I'm definitely not the type to just throw something together - be it colors of a gradient or a type of yarn - to 'see if it sticks'. I rely heavily on instinct, gut feeling but also taking the time to figure out what I want and to get it right. For me, offering the best product is so much more valuable than offering every, or just any, product.
So much of the feedback I get is about the colors we produce, yet yarn is a tactile and visual product - and the package as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Before the world came to a grinding halt I developed a new Super Bulky to fill in our Refined range. It's a lush 3-ply Merino and Silk blend. I feel like I struck yarn gold. This new yarn is plump and soft like no other, buttery through my fingers, but with a loft and warmth to it. It is the embodiment of hygge. I don't often develop new yarns, but knitting this lovely yarn is a reminder of how important it is to consider the whole. I want your experience with my yarn to be more than about color, though of course that is a big part of it, the feel of the yarn through one's fingers and in one's hands is like the spirit of the yarn. That spirit needs to be warm, welcoming and make you want to spend time with it. It must bring joy.
Now that the seasons are hinting at changing it's time to think about heavier yarns and perhaps freshening up that winter hat stash. You can find our Plush Super Bulky at select yarn stores - we don't currently sell it directly. Some stores that stock it are Atelier in San Francisco and Marin, Twisted Yarn Shop in Portland and Fibrespace in Alexandria VA. If they don't have the color you need they can always order it for you. Try it, you won't regret it! It's a little slice of heaven pretty much guaranteed to make your day better.
ABout Tina Whitmore
Yarn Dyer, Designer, Dog Lover, in no particular order.. Founded Knitwhits in 2003, and Freia Fine Handpaints in 2010, introducing gradient yarn to knitting stores worldwide. Getting Hygge with it - warmth, comfort, color, texture, design, nature.