I hope this finds you well. After a wet weekend the shop flowers out front are absolutely bursting with flowers. I love to see all color this time of year don’t you? I have to admit to going overboard a couple weekends ago and doing too much in the yard at home, but the payoff is spectacular. Don’t you just love flowers?
Anyway, I digress. I wanted to take some time today to help you get to know Karen Emrey – locally know as Royal Hare for her hand dyed yarn and fiber. She has been teaching fiber classes and offering workshops here at the shop for years. I’m afraid so many of you don’t know her yet though. She has graciously been helping out at the store on Mondays since February; and has given up her Tuesdays to help out in Trudy’s absence. Karen does more than take up space though. She has a wealth of knowledge and she would love to share it with you. I was wondering how Karen got her start in fiber arts the other day so I started peppering her with questions. She has kindly agreed to let me share them with you!
Lesley: Karen, I’ve wondered for a while how you came to have such a broad knowledge in the fiber arts. You knit, Crochet, Spin, Felt, and Dye both yarn and fiber! Where did you learn it all?
Karen: I learned to knit & crochet at young age of course. I got really back into it in high school when we had a needlework class. I knew more than the teacher. But we had a blast and I made my first sweater. I also learned a lot about knitting from my boyfriend’s mother. She was a wonderful woman; too bad her son wasn’t! I knitted & crocheted through college. Five or more years after college I was lucky to take Spinning and Natural Dyeing at Santa Rosa JC from a wonderful and famous woman, Lydia van Gelder. She has taught dyeing to hundreds in Sonoma County as well as nationally and internationally. That started both my interest in spinning and dyeing, using both natural and acid dyes fixed with white vinegar. I’ve been spinning for over 30 years and I haven’t stopped learning. I’ve studied under experts every year since.
Lesley: How do you come up with your colors for your Hand-dyed yarn and fiber?
Karen: I’ve lived in Santa Rosa since 1968. I love this area, from San Francisco through Mendocino County. I use everything around me to inspire my colors. I was also lucky to study color under Deb Menz a popular national and international teacher. I take inspiration from the colors of the simple San Francisco Fog to complicated colors like Goat Rock. I even take pictures of and study some of my inspiration points to get the colors just right. Later, I name my yarn colors after their inspiration.
Karen came up with a special colorway in her Superwash DK yarn just for Yarnitudes. It is red and grey and green for our building and we just love it! Stop by the store to see this and all of Karen’s other vibrant colors. The photo at the top of this email highlight the colorways that follow from left to right: Rockpile in Occidental Orchid and Myacamas Midnight as well as Alexander Valley in Sweetwater Springs, Callistoga Callypso, and Blue Lake Lily.
Lesley: How did you come up with your yarn variety names? They seem unusual.
Karen: Deriving inspiration from the wine growing areas of Sonoma County, I also name each type of yarn after a wine appellation. For example, my high twist sock yarn is named Rockpile. My most popular yarn 100% Superwash Merino DK is called Alexander Valley. I do other types of yarn also but these are the most popular.
Here are several of Karen’s yarn colors that we have here in the shop. Aren’t the colors great? She recently dyed up a custom color for a customer who was visiting all the way from New York.
Lesley: What kinds of crafts do you teach? It seems as if you can start straight from the sheep with the wool and move right into other crafts!
Karen: Yes you can work straight from sheep all the way into workable fiber and yarn. I demonstrate carding and other ways to prepare fiber for spinning. I dye many different kinds of spinning fiber and teach how to use them. I teach beginning spinning on a drop spindle as well as moving from drop spindle to wheel spinning and advanced wheel spinning techniques. I also teach many ways to ply yarn for different effects and uses. I have held workshops dying yarn using natural dyeing techniques and local and homegrown vegetation. Sometimes I also teach acid dyeing which utilizes commercial dyes and vinegar to fix the color. I have classes on wet felting and needle felting techniques where you work from roving and wool instead of yarn. I’ve taught hundreds to take “silk hankie” fiber and turn it into un-spun yarn. For my knitting and crochet classes I teach students how to make my original patterns. Also I raise silkworms and prepare the fiber for use!
Here are some of Karen’s hand-dyed braids, roving, and wool locks. These are great for spinners, felters, and crafters alike. I have even had people come in that plan to use them for art weaving and basket making. How neat!
Wow! You could say Karen really has done it all! You will find her here in the shop at least once a week. She isn’t the new girl; she’s just new to the daily routine of the shop. She will gladly help you with picking out the perfect yarn for a project, or can help you with your latest project boo-boo.
If you haven’t checked out our class list do so now. Karen has a bunch of great classes on spinning, crochet, and felting coming up soon! I wish I had time to take the wet felted scarf class. It looks like so much fun!!!
Please let us know if you would like to take a class so we can reserve your spot. Also double check if there is homework for your class. YOu wouldn’t want to start out behind!
Until next time – happy knitting, crochet, spinning, felting, weaving, dyeing, etc! With so much to do how do we find the time!?