The other night I was at Knit Nite, the first one I'd been to in quite some time. I'm usually still in my pajamas dyeing yarn when it starts, so I rarely go.
Yes, I roll out of bed and dye in my pj's. Not every day, but a lot of them. I don't care if my pj's get a little dye on them, they're comfortable and I work at home so most days no one ever sees me besides family and pets.
Anyway, back to knit night. A friend has also been dyeing yarn, and he brought some in to sell to the shop. I asked to look and found myself really examining them. His yarns are all kettle dyed solids, and they are lovely! They look the way hand dyed kettle dyed yarns should.
Now, here's the kicker. Some of my kettle dyed yarns look that way, but I've been told that others look "commercially dyed". Hmm, in my business being told they look commercially dyed is not a complement. Or maybe it is, but not really.
Hand dyed yarns need to look hand dyed. I've found myself thinking about my kettle dyed yarns off and on, but more so after seeing his yarns. If you look in my etsy shop, you'll see some kettle dyed yarns, but most of them are actually hand painted. I personally like multicolored, wild yarns, and that's because I do knit socks from fingering weight yarns with only a rare shawl thrown in there. In my opinion, sock yarn can't ever be too loud or too wild.
Another friend mentioned to me that she can look at yarn and tell who the indie dyer is, but she can't do that with my yarns because I'm still experimenting and looking for my "dye voice" as she put it. Interesting choice of words, but it's true. I do experiment to see what I like to do and what works for me. Obviously I look at other dyers and wonder how did they get the yarn to look like that? Every time I experiment looking for an answer or a certain result gives me more experience, knowledge and ideas about what to do next.
I think any creatively based business will evolve and change as the artist/owner tests herself and her boundaries. The more techniques I learn and try, the more skills I add to my fiber worker arsenal, the better my chances of finding what my fiber voice is.
This is the reason you'll find one of a kind colors and test yarns in my shop pretty regularly. I've been searching for all the yarn bases that I want to use over and over again. I've been struggling with my own personal bias against the color blue. I don't wear it very much, nor do I knit with it much, and I know it's a favorite of many people. That's actually why there's so much blue. I keep working with it, seeking the ways in which I might love it when some days I really want to dye orange and pink instead. I think I'm going to give in to a few more of those orange, pink, brown and green days and see what shakes loose in the creative mode.