Felicia Lo’s Spinning Dyed Fibers + giveaway

I love Felicia Lo from Sweet Georgia Yarns! We first met in person many moons ago while I was in Vancouver taking photos for my book Spin to Knit, and we’ve worked together on a number of projects, including my book Alt Fiber (she dyed all the natural fiber yarn samples) and books for Cooperative Press.

Now she’s got a new class called Spinning Dyed Fibers at Craftsy, and you can get a discount on it by using this link.

The class is described in part as follows: “In addition to teaching you different ways to prepare your fiber and preserve your color, Felicia demonstrates useful techniques such as Andean and Navajo plying, spinning from the fold and the on-trend method of fractal spinning. Learn to use color theory to harmoniously match and blend fiber into hues so vibrant and beautiful, the yarn will never see your stash.” Felicia’s hitting the (virtual) road to talk about the class on a blog tour and today she’s all ours, so I wanted to ask her some questions about actually creating the class itself!

What was the most interesting part of actually filming the class, Felicia?

The most interesting thing about filming the class for Craftsy was figuring out how to best use video to demonstrate what I was trying to teach. It’s one thing to be in a classroom, face-to-face with students where they can touch and feel the yarn or fibre and ask questions that will lead my teaching, but it’s a whole other thing to have to get all the content super organized upfront and try to find ways to convey the details through the computer screen. I hope we did a good job of showing students up-close shots of the spinning and the samples, so it could be like they were “right there” looking over my shoulder. That was interesting to me… plus the fact that we filmed in an old burrito factory.

Whoa. Sorry. Got distracted by the words “old burrito factory” for a second there.

With the Craftsy class we needed to keep it pretty focused so that we wouldn’t confuse students or leave them overwhelmed. But there so much more that I’d love to teach on their platform. I’d love to see more spinning, dyeing, and weaving classes offered especially since those kinds of classes and retreats are hard to come by for a lot of interested people… myself included.

How did you learn to dye? What about the process originally appealed to you?

In terms of learning to dye, I taught myself back in early 2005 with some Kool-aid and Corriedale fibre. I remember how all the yarn I spun for weeks smelled like Kool-aid. Right from the start, I was hooked on colour and fibre and spinning. There was something about it that was so perfectly tangible and creative… it was like painting, but I didn’t have to create pictures of anything. Instead, I could create colourways that represented my thoughts and ideas. If I was obsessed with a particular band or song, it would come out in my dyeing. Or if I was entrenched in a mood (good or bad), it would come out too. When I realized I was drawing more positive creative energy from dyeing than my existing graphic design work, I made the switch and focused entirely on making hand-dyeing my business.

So when did you make that decision? What drove it home for you?

I can remember the exact moment when I decided to make dyeing my focus. I vaguely documented it here. Actually, it was during the time I was natural dyeing for your book, Shannon — Alt Fiber. Alongside the yarns I dyed for your book, I dyed a skein of cultivated silk in weld and marigold. It glowed like amber in the morning light and seeing it at that moment, I was overcome with a feeling of pure awe. I’ve never felt anything like that before. I was touched and transformed by seeing light and colour, more than I had ever been by music, art, film or anything. At that moment, I just knew that was it.

Check out Felicia’s class here at Craftsy.com!

Want to know what the fuss was about with those natural dyes? One commenter will win a signed copy of my book Alt Fiber — leave a comment or a question below and we’ll pick a winner!

New patterns!

New-old patterns, rather. You know how I’m always going on about designer rights and -friendliness and all that? Well, Ten Speed, who published my book Alt Fiber, is just fabulous in that regard, as they agreed to allow me and the other designers in the book to republish our patterns as single patterns a certain number of months after the book’s original publication date.

And so, if you peek in the Knitgrrl shop, or on Ravelry, you will see that single patterns of Rose Kilim, Sea Creature and Dutch Girl are now available for sale.

In assembling everything to put these online, I was really amused to read an online review of the book that said it was clear it was hastily put together and brought to market to take advantage of the new interest in “green” yarns. Hardly. I was pitching this book to publishers in late 2004/early 2005 when everyone still thought soy yarn was the weirdest thing they could imagine. When we had to walk uphill, in the snow, five miles wearing pots on our feet instead of boots in order to find yarn with bamboo in it, you see.

Yeah, quickly assembled this book was not. Enjoy the patterns if you haven’t already gotten the book — though I can’t say you should buy the patterns in lieu of the book, because there is so much more in it, including how-to for natural plant dyeing and patterns by some other fabulous designers.

Alt Fiber won an award!

Alt Fiber is the winner of the PETA 6th annual Proggy Award for Most Animal-Friendly Craft Book.

What do you get when you cross a love of animals with a love of knitting? You get Shannon Okey’s new cruelty-free craft book! Packed with fun and unique knitting projects suitable for newbie knitters and pro purlers alike, Alt Fiber focuses on alternative animal- and eco-friendly fibers, including seaweed, hemp, and soy-based yarn (a tofu byproduct). Tailor-made for people who want to knit but don’t want to hurt sheep, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in joining the cruelty-free craft community.

PETA's Sixth Annual Proggy Awards Winner

Buy Alt Fiber: 25 Projects for Knitting Green with Bamboo, Soy, Hemp, and More from Amazon or direct from the publisher here.

CRAFT, page 143

(Digital preview page here)

The always-thoughtful people at CRAFT have sent over a PDF page with their review of Alt Fiber. Here you go:

And speaking of, CRAFT zine editor Natalie is due any day now, so early congrats to her!

(Now I’ve just doomed her to a long labor, you watch. Sorry, Nat. My mom went into labor Friday night when my dad’s band was playing — she was at home, not the club — and they did full congrats, etc on stage when it happened. That was Friday. I was born Monday night, by c-section. Do the math…this is why I am an only child).

Got Sirius? I’m on Martha Stewart Radio Friday

I’ll be on the show Whole Living around 10:40 Eastern Friday morning. Here’s the info page at Sirius; here’s the radio page at MSL; here’s Whole Living site.

The call-in number, if you feel compelled: 866-675-6675. Not sure how long the segment will be, or if they will do any calls, but if so, please do! We’ll be talking about Alt Fiber.

(Also, if anyone is able to record it as an MP3 or the like for me, I’d really appreciate it!)

Alt Fiber project pictures are up!

The ultra-gracious and talented photographer for Alt Fiber, Sasha Gulish, granted permission to use her photos from the book on Ravelry, etc. So, check ’em out on the book page. A few to whet your appetite:

You can buy the book here or at Ten Speed’s site.

The models? Clockwise from top left, my friend Nancy (who works for Chronicle), Jennifer from Hambone and Jennicakes, Natalie from CRAFT magazine and — hmm, don’t know. I think they took that the final shooting day. Could be the stylist, or maybe my editor.

Alt Fiber reviewed on Blogcritics

Check it out! I was one of the original writers on this site, forever ago (or so it seems), so it was cool and a bit of a surprise to see this crop up. Fun.

Her only critique (that some patterns only offer one photo) is based, really, in the realities of book publishing. You only have so many pages to work with! Ever notice how most craft books are 96 or 128 pages? What do these have in common? They’re both divisible by 8 — most modern books are bound in 8-page signatures, and when the editor has done their initial “this is how much it will cost to print this book” estimates, they probably end up sticking to the original pagecount 99% of the time to keep their supervisors happy. In other words, if you end up with one extra page, then you have to have 7 more at that point no matter what, and that’s not always feasible.

Authors often end up having to edit for length if they’re over, or do what we did in How to Knit in the Woods, which is place multiple pages of the Snake in the Woods sweater chart online instead.

Authors (and even editors!) don’t usually have full control over their titles and covers either — that’s all marketing department, all the time. Otherwise How to Knit in the Woods would’ve been named Does A Bear Knit in the Woods? (ha ha)

(FYI on the Fern Tee in Alt Fiber, though — it’s more or less the same front and back, though one side is “scoopier” than the other!)

Pagecount is yet another reason digital publishing appeals to me so much — no worries about binding types, no worries about shipping costs! If there’s something short and sweet that people would want to buy, be it a single pattern or a chapter-length how-to, you can charge for it accordingly and get it out for sale a lot sooner. One more reason I love my Kindle

Today we’re staining the deck. I’d rather be dyeing yarn, personally. I doubt Reduran will take deck stain off my hands half as well as it does dye, though.