Today I've got a special interview with Heather of T&H Fiber Works!
Heather was able to chat with me on April 17th, 2018 in the Club Yumi VIP Lounge. T & H Fiberworks was the featured yarn in April's Club Yumi kit, The Kindly Hosts Shawl. We chat about her dyeing process, her inspiration & how she got into dyeing in the first place. Heather is one of my favorite fiber friends and a fellow nerd who loves combinging color, yarn and all things geeky in her creations.
I hope that you enjoy reading the interview and getting to know the creator behind the Yumi Yarns exclusive It Fell Like Lightening out of a Clear Blue Sky colorway!
"I'm Heather Hertziger and I am an artist and hand dyer in Omaha, NE. I was going to tell you that I love hand dyeing because it's a perfect marriage of art and science. However, that sounds really cheesy and pretentious. I love hand dyeing because it's messy. In my opinion all the best art is messy during the creation process."
YumiYarns: Hello everyone and welcome to the live Q&A with Heather from T & H Fiber Works!
Heather: Hello and I'm happy to be here!
YumiYarns: Thanks so much for making the time to be here with us, I'm sure that you're super busy getting ready for your event this weekend.
Heather: Thank you for having me. Getting ready for shows is always hectic but I am at a good place preparation wise.
YumiYarns: Well that's good to hear. This is your first show of the season, right?
Heather: Yes it is, and it's a new one for me so I don't quite know what to expect. I was invited to attend last year but I already had a show booked for that weekend so couldn't make it. So they were kind enough to ask me to come this year.
YumiYarns: Nice! It's always exciting to be in high demand. ^_^
Since it's a new show for you are you featuring any special yarns or colorways? I know Mantis Shrimp is always a favorite at North Country (and I will always love Dark Elf), I'm curious if the popular colorways change from show to show or if most folks gravitate towards certain ones.
Heather: I have two new yarns that will be making their debut this weekend. One is called Black Dahlia, the other is Unicorn Farts.
YumiYarns: Oh, I remember those from your newsletter now! They were gorgeous!! I think my favorite was Black Dahlia.
You always have fun names for your colorways. Which comes first for you, the colorway name or the color itself?
Heather: That really depends on the color. Sometimes the name comes first, other times the color comes first. In the case of Black Dahlia I decided on a colorway and then the name came after I saw how it turned out. In the case of Unicorn Farts I thought of the name then figured out what a Unicorn Fart would look like.
YumiYarns: That makes sense. Kinda whatever strikes your fancy, huh?
So, what does it look like when you start your dye process? Do you just go in and play with the colrs or do you have a set schedule that you work to?
Heather: A sneak peak for your subscribers. Unicorn Farts, and Black Dahlia:
YumiYarns: Eeeee!! They're so pretty!!
And they would both be excellent for the Knit at Nite MKAL that I'm running in May 2018. ^_^
(Get the pattern for 50% off with any purchase from Heather's shop/booth through May 31, 2018!)
Heather: It is totally what strikes my fancy.
My process is a mix of schedule plus play. This show and my next one are very close together so I decided what I needed for both shows. Made a list of single process, double process, kettle dye, paint, etc and laid out how they could all work together most efficiently. Then I added in gaps for playing because if I didn't then I would get bored and feel like a factory rather than an artist.
YumiYarns: That seems like a really great balance of what you need both for shows and for yourself. It sounds like you have a lot of dyeing techniques that you use, do you have a favorite one?
Heather: My favorite would be graphiti. When I have a stressful day at the office I like to lay skeins flat on my table and use dye to write curse words on the skeins. I find it amusing to read, it helps me unwind, and no one (until now) knows I do it.
YumiYarns: Lol, that's hilarious! Do those end up as one of a kind skeins then or is that actually an integral part of certain colorways?
Heather: Both, there are a number of colors that have graphiti as the main (or only) technique. Other times I will use it if I get a new color and want to see how it behaves and what other colors it plays well with. Those sometimes become new colors in my catalog and other times become one offs.
YumiYarns: That's so interesting, I've always thought of professional dyeing as something where you have to be spot-on exact (well, as close as possible) when you're recreating colorways. The more dyers that I talk with, the more it sounds like you really do have an awesome just playing with dyes and yarn. I can see why it would be relaxing after a hard day at the office.
Kind of switching topics, what drew you to dyeing in the first place?
Heather: What drew me to dyeing was a combination of sibling rivalry and my own need to know every step in the process of any craft I do.
My sister started knitting and I was 'the creative one' in the family so I taught myself to knit so as not to be outdone.
Then, because I like to know every step in the process I started raising angora rabbits and taught myself to spin, dye, and weave.
People really liked the yarn I dyed so I started giving it away and eventually started selling it. Then I started selling it online. That led to doing shows and selling it to yarn stores. Now, I'm at the point where I may end up quitting my full time job and making dyeing my full time job.
BTW, my sister no longer knits. :)
YumiYarns: Haha, as a fellow competitive-crafty-sibling, I can totally appreciate that and I now see one more reason why we get along so well. ^_^
I had no idea about the angora rabbits in your past. Also, plural rabbits!?! I've heard that one is enough to provide enough spinning fiber for pretty much forever. How did you manage more than one?!? Do you still have them?
PS: Are you the older or younger sibling?
Heather: Rabbits are where the H in T&H comes from. At the time I needed a company name I had both the angoras and tortoises so Tortoise and Hare seemed like a natural name.
A rabbit gives a lot of fiber but not a ton at any one time. I was working on raising them for semi-commercial production so at any one time would have 40 or more rabbits. Each rabbit takes about an hour a week to groom otherwise they mat badly and that is painful for the rabbit and wasteful if you want to collect their fiber. I ended up selling off most of my rabbits because the amount of work needed was just to much to allow for me to dye yarn like I wanted to. Then I found I developed a rabbit allergy so now once the last rabbit I have is gone I'm not having any more.
I am the older sister :) It is just the two of us.
YumiYarns: Ah, that makes sense with your name/logo now. (Sorry, sometimes I'm a bit dense.)
And again, holy crap! That is a lot of rabbits!! As someone who currently has no pets because my toddler is enough work, I am super impressed at your level of commitment to them and to your fiber love. It's sad that you're now allergic to them, but at least you had them for a time.
(I totally had you pegged as the oldest, lol. I'm also the oldest. I think needing to keep the younger siblings in their place is an older sibling trait. ^_^)
We're getting close to the end of our time, but I wanted to circle back a bit and congratulate you on your success with your dyeing business. Going full time with what you love is amazing!! I'm sure you have a full list of shows lined up for this year. Would you be able to give us a run-down of where folks can find you?
Heather: This weekend I will be at the Kansas Alliance of Weavers and Spinners. Then I'll be in York, NE for the Mid-Plains Fiber Fair. Then in June is Iowa Sheep and Wool, September is the North Country Fiber Fair, and October is the Nebraska Knit and Crochet Guild retreat.
If anyone is at any of these shows I will pay in yarn if you help me load and/or unload my car :)
YumiYarns: Lots of great shows coming up! Lol, I may be volunteering to help you with loading/unloading. Many of those shows are on my to-attend list as well. ^_^
Heather: You know where to find me :)
YumiYarns: I sure do!
Just in case any of my readers would like to reach you, where can they find you online?
Heather: My website is thfiberworks.com. If they want to keep up to date with my shows and such then they can sign up for my mailing list. I always send out a newsletter before each show so people know where to find me.
Before I let you go, do you have any closing thoughts for folks or anything that you would like to add?
Heather: Oh, I could say so much, you know I like to hear the sound of my own voice :)
But there is one thing I told my dye students when I taught, Life is messy, your crafting should be too!
YumiYarns: I love it and totally agree!!
Thank you so much & I'll be seeing you soon (hopefully, lol). ^_^
Heather: I'm looking forward to it!
I hope that everyone has a great day & Happy Knitting!
Grab your ticket to the Club Yumi VIP Lounge,
Kits mail out the first week of June 2018, but your VIP status starts now.