Friday, June 4, 2010

An Interview with ... Tanis Lavallée

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry. I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.

You can find Tanis yarns here

Where do you find inspiration for your colourways?
Everywhere! Nature, fashion, interior design. New colourways can be inspired by just about anything I see.
How do you choose the fibers that you work with?
I like to work with hardy, practical fibers that you can get a lot of use out of, like superwash merino. It's such a versatile fiber that you can use for so many different projects, and after you've put all the effort into knitting something with it, you can wear it and enjoy it without worrying too much about it being difficult to take care of. But of course, I also like to work with something a bit more luxurious at times, like my mulberry silk yarn, it's a real treat and though it's not practical for every project sometimes you need to feel pampered!
How did you determine what weights of yarn you stock?
I wanted to have a good balance of yarns that would be appropriate for almost every conceivable use. From socks, to baby clothes, to sweaters and mitts, I want there to be something for everyone. Of course, I can always think of something new to add, and I hope that my collection will always grow and evolve.
How do you come up with names for your yarn?
I usually name my colourways whatever word pops into my head first when I look at a finished skein. Thats why most of my colour names are pretty obvious, red is Poppy, blue is Cobalt, nothing too crazy.
Could you give us an idea of how long the process is to dye a batch of yarn and prepare it for sale?
Each batch of yarn begins by winding yarn off of a cone into a skein, then I soak it, apply the dyes in a couple of steps, set it with heat and then let it hang to dry. It usually takes about 48 to 72 hours from start to finish.
Do you look at other dyers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their yarns?
I love looking at other dyers work. I am confident enough in my vision for my collection and my personal dying style that I am not worried about being influenced by other dyers.
Are you a knitter as well?
I am an avid knitter, if I am sitting down, I am knitting! Its why I started dyeing in the first place.
Did you do a formal business plan?
I didn't do a formal business plan. My business started very small and then grew organically from there.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I'm not sure that I do really maintain a life/work balance. I work from home with my fiancé Chris, so we are almost always talking or thinking about work, even if we are not physically working! Luckily we love our work and we work well together, so its always fun!
How do you deal with criticism?
Its not easy to hear criticism, but I just try to remember that I can't please everybody. As long as I am happy and satisfied that I've done my best to put out a quality product I know that I'll sleep well at night. When criticism is constructive then I welcome it! I'm not too proud to take advice from anyone who offers it! How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself? What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in hand dying yarns?
I think that its important to have a vision. You need to know why you want to create hand dyed yarns and how you want to present them to the world. You also need to remember that there is way more to a career in hand dyes then just actually dyeing. You run a business and dealing with customers, invoices, shipping, accounting, ordering etc. are a huge part of the job.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting these! I really enjoy reading all the interviews.