Friday, June 11, 2010

An Interview with...Lindsey Ligett

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 Lindsey Ligett's Waterloo yarns here and they have a Ravelry group here

Where do you find inspiration for your colourways?
Everywhere! I'm always looking for inspiration for colours, whether in nature, travel photographs, or food.
What is your favourite dying technique?
I love to hand paint my colours. Unlike many dyers who steam their hand painted yarns in a microwave or steamer, I set the colour in either a slow cooker or in the oven. I love the convenience of both of these methods--I can leave the yarn cooking while I go about other tasks!
How do you choose the fibers that you work with?
I work with fibers that I find interesting, on the theory that if I enjoy working with them so will my customers. I love to work with Canadian suppliers when possible, but I am still searching for Canadian suppliers of many of the fibers and yarns I sell. One thing I loved about the Knitter's Frolic was the opportunity to meet Canadian farmers who raise their own sheep!
How did you determine what weights of yarn you stock?
I've tried to connect with my customers through Ravelry and Twitter to learn more about what they like to knit with. I've found that most knitters prefer lace or fingering weight yarn when working with hand dyed yarns--probably because of the great value of getting a lot of yardage for the price! I do carry sport and worsted weight yarns for those looking to make other projects as well, though.
How do you come up with names for your yarn?
The names come from as many sources as my inspirations. When I have a large batch of yarns to name, I'll try to pick a theme and think of names associated with that theme. The theme could be something like song titles, a destination, or a season.
Could you give us an idea of how long the process is to dye a batch of yarn and prepare it for sale?
The process of applying the dye usually just takes a few minutes. The yarn then cooks for about an hour, but will spend several hours in the pan until it is cool again and ready to be rinsed. The most time consuming part of the process is drying the yarns and fibers--it depends on the weather, but sometimes takes a few days!
Do you look at other dyers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their yarns?
I love to look at other dyers' work! In fact, I belong to several fiber clubs so I receive hand dyed fibers from other artists every month. What's interesting is how often we come up with similar ideas or themes without discussing it! Of course, even when we're working with similar inspirations the results are usually very different--it's great to see many peoples' interpretation of one idea.
Are you a knitter as well?
I am a knitter, a spinner, and a weaver. There's never enough time for all those great fiber arts hobbies!
Did you do a formal business plan?
I started selling my hand spun & hand dyed yarns as a way to earn a bit of extra money to support my own fiber "habits", so I didn't think of it as a real business at first. I did do some research to make sure I was following all the rules and regulations necessary, but didn't do a plan.
Do you have a mentor?
I don't have a business mentor, but I have lots of dyers I admire, many of whom have been very friendly and happy to share ideas. The dyeing community on Ravelry is also tremendously supportive. Additionally, I have a great supportive local knitting group who are always willing to offer advice and ideas.
What impact has the Internet had on your business?
My business is almost exclusively web-based, and I don't think it could exist without the Internet. Between the networking and advertising opportunities of online communities like Ravelry and the sales platform of sites like Etsy, the fiber world has changed dramatically in the last decade.
How do you maintain your life/work balance?
I try most days to do my dyeing work during "normal business hours," although I will often dye on the weekends as well. I generally don't work in the evening, although I may sometimes spend time on Twitter or Ravelry chatting about fiber related things. Because my work is so inter-connected to my hobbies, it can be hard to draw the line, but it seems to work well most of the time.
How do you deal with criticism?
The fiber community tends to be such a friendly and supportive place that I haven't had to face too much criticism. I'm sure there are people who aren't interested in my yarns and fibers, but I don't generally hear from them--they just choose to shop elsewhere, I guess!
How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?
I think the best answer to this is a big huge belly laugh! I am lucky that I now make a profit from dyeing, but I certainly am nowhere close to being able to support myself doing this. I am fortunate to be in a position where I can take my time growing my business without needing to depend on it for income.
What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in hand dying yarns?
The nice thing about dyeing is that you can start on a small scale without a lot of investment, and with venues like Etsy it is very possible to build a following without needing a physical storefront. However, there is a lot of competition out there and it is not easy to turn this in to a financially viable career. I would say anyone interested in it should give it a try, but you should also be careful about quitting your day job before you're ready!

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