Monday, January 10, 2011

Erin's Interview, Part 2

The Designer of the Month for January is yarn designer and spinner, Erin Jepson. This is the second part of her interview. You can see the first part here.

What is your favorite color / texture combination?
My favorite color combo is a heartbreaking collection of autumnal oranges, browns, and reds with a hint of teal or turquoise thrown in for good measure. Actually, any surprising combination makes my heart beat faster. I love it when a color shows through just enough to make you fall in love with it but not so much that you grow tired of it. Uniformity isn’t what I’m after in a yarn project--surprise is more like it.

As far as a favorite texture combination, I’m not sure I can put my finger on just one. When I’m plying a yarn against itself, I prefer the clean lines you get from a super wash wool (merino, BFL, and corriedale are my favorite super wash options). However, if I’m spinning up a super bulky yarn to be left as singles or plied with thread, I think more texture is best. I love locks of wool spun into an otherwise smooth yarn. When knit up, those locks of wool are little pockets of love that the spinner has left there for the knitter.

Do you have a type of project that you lean towards for knitted or crocheted examples of your yarn? Do you prefer knit or crochet for your yarn?
Because my yarn has a tendency to have short repeats of colors, I prefer items like hats, mittens, wrist warmers, neck warmers, or scarves to show off the rows of colors. I’ve never used my yarn, or had a customer who has used my yarn, for shawls or sweaters, so I’d be interested to see how that would turn out. I love my yarn no matter how it’s used… knitting, crocheting, weaving, sitting in a bowl to look pretty… it’s all a good ending for my yarn.

Erin's yarn made up in Tied Up and Twisted (free pattern).

How do you conceptualize your designs?
It’s all in my head… for the most part. I often name my yarns based on images from my memory before dyeing up the fiber to spin them with. I’ve found that a catchy name is just as important as a gorgeous yarn. So if I can come up with a winning name and yarn to match, I’ve got a great item to sell or gift. However, I have been known to be inspired by a great picture. One of my best-selling dyed tops was based on a photograph I saw online. While each project comes out different, I’ll always remember that picture as inspiration.

Where do you do your best design work?
I do my best design work in nature. If colors and texture naturally go together in real life, then they work for yarn as well. A walk through the woods or drive through the mountains almost always results in a new yarn creation.

Who or what was your earliest inspiration that started you on your way to being the designer you are today?
You know, there wasn’t a “who” that dropped me into this crazy world of yarn. However, my mom was always so supportive of any creative and crafty endeavor that I embarked on. She was always the one who pushed me to begin selling jewelry on Etsy. Without that experience on Etsy, I might never have found the handspun yarn that led me to the creative outlet I have today. So I suppose it was my mom… and all of the wonderful enablers out in the yarn world spinning up beautiful yarns and dyeing up beautiful fibers to play with.

Do you have any advice for spinners who are new to designing yarn?
Don’t be afraid of fiber. Play with it, spin it up, do crazy things, go wild and have fun. Know that even experienced spinners have frustrating days behind the wheel. While a lot of spinning is touch and feel, I firmly believe that some wheels can have minds of their own and will play games with you. Also, some colors just never look good together unspun, but spun up, they play with each other and dance across your knitting needles so don’t lose hope when you’re gifted a less than beautiful pile of wool. Spin it before you cast it off. And lastly, ugly yarn can always be used to tie up your tomato plants in the summer, and ugly wool still has life as a natural doll or pillow fill. Ask me how I know...

Here are more of my favorite yarns by Erin:

Telltale Heart


Twilight Wakes

You can keep up with Erin by visiting her blog,

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