An Interview

My Sister Knits recently asked me to answer a few questions. Here are my answers for your perusal.

– How did you find the yarn bases that you work with?
As a knitter, I’ve learned a lot about the many types of yarns available. Each one really has a very specific use and it was important to me to have a variety of yarns to fill each of those uses.
Silken Lace is a gorgeous two ply yarn with an 80/20 blend of merino wool and silk. In lace, a two ply yarn is ideal. It has wonderful drape but enough strength to deal with the abuse of being pulled through several stitches at a time. Silk was a necessity in this yarn for the luxury factor. If a knitter is going to put the hours required in to a gorgeous lace piece, it better call to their fingers to be touched. The lace also adds a magical shimmer that draws the eye and adds a bit of strength to make sure all of their hard work will last for a lifetime. Wool was important in this yarn because, as experience has taught, it makes blocking so much easier. Other fibers don’t have the same flexibility and memory of wool making it hard to get just the right size and shape to the finished piece. The breed was also critical. Merino is such a luscious fiber that one can’t help but love knitting and wearing it.
Simple Sock is a basic workhorse yarn with a surprising drape and hand. The superwash Corriedale (a stronger breed of sheep) means the wool will hold up over time and the nylon adds the strength needed for hard wearing socks or gloves. Despite all that, this yarn is surprisingly soft and lovely to handle.
Rustic Fingering is best for fingering weight lace projects. A two ply yarn will drape better than a three or four ply so 2 ply was chosen. This yarn is also loosely spun, adding to the hand made look that gives gifts (for others and one’s self) something truly special. The yarn is composed completely of Blue Faced Leicester ( BFL), one of my favorite breeds of sheep. BFL has a long fiber making loose spun yarns possible. It’s soft and friendly nature just beg the knitter to dive their fingers in to it. Finally, BFL has a natural luster that makes the yarn look almost like it was blended with silk.
Opulent Fingering exists because we all deserve a little pampering. Merino blended with cashmere make this yarn a pure delight to work with. It has an incredible drape. Projects made from this yarn will wrap themselves around the lucky wearer like heavens arms. To make sure this pampering goes on as long as possible, just a touch of nylon was added for strength.

-What were you doing before you started MJ Yarns? ~and~ What was the inspiration for starting MJ Yarns?
My “grown up job” was as an Ops Manager for a major shipping company. While the pay and benefits were unmatched, I was miserable. It was an environment where nothing was good enough. The work we did was important but I had no passion for it. I could find no joy in processing tens of thousands of packages every night.
I’ve learned that, if a situation isn’t working, change it. I had been knitting for years by this time and found every bit of joy in it that I could hope for. I began to wonder how I could turn this passion in to a career. I talked to several people in the industry, most notably Maggie Casey. She was clear- dye yarn. Life has also taught me to listen to the people who have experience. I listened and MJ Yarns was born.

-What makes your yarn unique?
A while back, I had an experience knitting with a hand dyed yarn that was incredible. Every inch of the yarn was a moment of discovery. The way the colors blended created a rich and inviting yarn. I wanted to recreate that for people. My yarns are made in a labor and time intensive process that layers between 3 and 7 colors to make each bit of yarn complex and interesting. In addition, the short color runs create an overall color feel that becomes ever more complex as the viewer steps closer to investigate.
In addition to color, my yarns are usable and accessible to all knitters. There’s no need to fight my yarns to force them to work for the final product. They’re designed to be practical and oh so heavenly to touch.

-What is your favorite part of your craft?
For me, this is not a job. MJ Yarns is about creating something beautiful that makes me and others happy. Each morning I walk in to my studio to find the ever changing landscape of my drying racks. I’m always struck by the glory of the field of colors stretched out in front of me. As I dye my yarns, I can’t help but enjoy the constantly increasing complexity that appears as each color is added. My life now is surrounded in beauty and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

-How do you name your yarns?
Each colorway has a story. Some names came from suggestions from others. Cerulean Twilight got its name from a friend on Facebook. Other colors start with a name before they are ever made. Fire Dragon was made to fit in with its siblings Green and Purple Dragons. Other colors were named because they brought to mind very specific things. Peasant is one- when this yarn went on the drying rack for the first time, I couldn’t help but see it on the back of a medieval serf. Yarns with proper names (like Katelyn or Mazlyn) were named for specific people who either suggested the color or the yarn brought to mind. Then there are my favorites- the yarns that demand that they receive a specific name. Mice and Men simply wouldn’t let me call it anything else. From the moment I put the first coat of Grey on this yarn, the name Mice and Men was in my head. I spent the entire day that I created that color trying to come up with another name that seemed more fitting or at least made some sense, and most of the next as well. My mind was blank and Mice and Men was born.

-What is on your needles?
I am something of an anomaly in the knitting world. I absolutely refuse to have more that two projects on the needles at any given time. I heard about “startitis” early on in my knitting life and decided that it would never happen to me. That being said, I finished one project last week and another one today. At the moment, I have nothing on the needles! This is, of course, a crisis and tomorrow’s first priority will be some time on Ravelry searching for a perfect pattern. I know where I’ll get the yarn though.

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