Sunday, January 2, 2011

Designer of the Month: Erin Jepson

This month, we're having a change of pace--instead of a pattern designer, I wanted to feature a yarn designer. As lovers of yarn, I think knitters and crocheters owe a lot to those marvelous artists who design and create our medium.

Erin Jepson

First, let me say that the photos in this post don't do Erin's yarns justice. When you see them for real, you want to grab them all up and eat 'em... or maybe knit them... or crochet. Erin is a brilliant young woman who, in addition to having a degree in music performance, rubs elbows with the likes of Yo-Yo Ma and Manheim Steamroller as a matter of, oh, just doing her job at Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Arkansas. That, coupled with living in one of the most beautiful spots in the country, she is a yarn-lover's dream come true. Her color and texture combinations go from darkly brooding to sweetness and light and back again in a matter of a few yards of plied, yummy yarn.

You can buy her yarn to have as your very own, from her Etsy store, Wooly Hands.

Here are some of my favorite yarns by Erin:

Rotten Fruits

Dark Crystal

Night Hike

Erin has kindly answered some interview questions for us, and she did such a great job of it, that I'm going to publish them in two parts. On the second Monday of this month, Part 2 will be posted. Here's the first:

How did you get started designing yarn?
In a nutshell, I basically fell into it. Although, you all are smart enough to know that isn’t entirely true. No one really falls into a hobby like this. It’s not like I was walking through the mall and said, “Oh look, a spinning wheel and sheep.” I’ll expand a bit… knitting with commercially spun yarns started to wear on me and I found myself scouring the Internet for gorgeous, handspun yarns. The LYS near me doesn’t carry a good selection of handspun yarns. What they do have is natural (brown… tan… more brown) or dyed after being spun and I prefer dyed before spinning and yarns with loads of color. provided me with a plethora of shops all dyeing and selling the most tempting and gorgeous yarns I have ever laid eyes on.

It didn’t take many months of buying yarn before the obvious next step presented itself. Why wasn’t I spinning my own yarns? Thankfully I surround myself with tons of supportive people and over the course of a Christmas, I found myself with a drop spindle and some wool. That led to my first spinning wheel 9 months later, then my 2nd and 3rd spinning wheels, a drum carder, boxes upon boxes of dyes. and fleeces upon fleeces of wool. Basically, I don’t do things small. I go all out. Spinning and designing yarns is just another example of that. Ask me about the time I was going to sell Mary Kay cosmetics and thought I would need $4,000 of product to get started. Yeah, I’m that person.

What is your yarn weight preference?
I prefer worsted weight yarns because most of my favorite handspun knitting projects are small, like mittens and hats. Worsted weight is perfect for things like that. However, those who own one of my scarves or neck warmers know I’m also a huge fan of bulky yarns. There is an element of surprise in a neck warmer knit from a super bulky, thread plied yarn. No two rows are the same. Now that I’ve said I prefer worsted and bulky, I’d like to add that I don’t necessarily like those better than the others--they are just what I enjoy spinning and using. If I were to knit up a lacy shawl, I’m sure I’d prefer some laceweight yarn. Ask me this question again in February and I’ll bet that my answer will be different.

What’s your favorite fiber to work with?
When it comes to wool, I adore BFL (Blue Faced Leicester), which will beat out any natural (I’m leaving out super wash wools for this answer) wool in my wool popularity contest. It’s sleek, easy to spin, and has a natural luster that the other wools don’t have. My favorite non-wool fiber is angelina. I have 2 drawers full of the sparkly stuff in plastic and metallic materials. I love the way the sparkle of the angelina plays against the matte finish of wool in a finished yarn.

What is your weapon of choice?
While I did start out with a drop spindle, I quickly moved to a wheel. I’m not an overly patient person, and if takes me more than one day to spin a yarn I’ll lose interest. Spinning wheels allow me the speed to finish a yarn in one sitting but also the flexibility to create some really amazing yarns. I currently use my Lendrum DT to spin most of the yarns I knit with and sell, but I also use a small, single treadle wheel from Heavenly Handspinning that is easy to carry from craft show to craft show.

You can find Part 2 of Erin's interview here.

You can keep up with Erin by visiting her blog,

To participate in Designer of the Month on your blog, just fill in your info in the box below, and your link will be added. If you're a member of Ravelry, you can also post in The Blog Hub group's Designer of the Month thread so we can all read about your featured designer.