Welcome to a sneak peek at our production. All of our hand dyed yarns and hand crafted wood knitting tools and accessories are made at our home based wood shop and dye studio in Nashville, TN. This is a sampling of what is involved in making all of the crafting items that we have for sell here and at fiber festivals.
Sneak Peek : Yarn Dyeing
Let’s start with yarn dyeing. Our yarns are carefully chosen for quality, economy, and versatility. We use fine merino wools and blends that dye and wear well. Your projects will look great for many years to come with proper care. Our dyes are also the best we can get. They mix well into the natural colors we love. They are rated very high for their light fastness and color fastness. We immersion dye our yarns in 32 repeatable colors from our own color mix formulas.
We do large production dye runs a few times a year. Because of our festival schedule, small frequent dye batches don’t work for us. We usually order 500 pounds or so from the mill, and do our dyeing in between the busy seasons.
After making the preliminary dye plans for how much of each base in each color we need (I have Spread Sheets for this), it’s off to the dye studio to weigh out dye powder. Those are then mixed into 1% dye stock solution. Then we use the dye stock to mix our custom colors. When the dyes are ready, we prep the batches of yarn to be dyed for each day into bundles and put them in soak buckets overnight. We can add up to 25 skeins per batch and still allow enough room for the dye bath volume.
On dye days we set up four 120 liter stainless steel stock pots on propane burners. After the skeins are cooked, (there is a minimum temperature they need to reach and then hold them at that temperature for 30 minutes. After removing from the dye bath they get a thorough rinse in clear water. We put them in for a spin before going out to our drying lines.
Now it’s time for sorting, labeling, and storing. Some will be put directly into the trailer storage and the rest will go into overflow inventory storage in our work room/inventory storeroom.
Sneak Peek in Our Wood Shop
After a summary of our yarn dyeing process, let’s take a look at the many hand crafted wood items we make. We have a variety of tools and accessories which are made in different ways. Some, like Yarn Swifts, Sock Keepers, Yarn Boxes, and Shawl and Hair Sticks, are cut, pieced, sanded, etc.. while others are turned on a lathe. Our Nostepinnes, Darning Eggs, and Yarn Bowls are items produced on the lathe.
We source all of our woods locally and use many different domestic hard woods; mainly cherry, walnut, oak and maple. Sometimes we have other species like hackberry, osage orange, etc. We use exotics for certain products like Shawl/Hair Sticks. We buy our lumber rough cut and do our own dimensioning and planing. We typically work from slabs for making turning blanks. We will go first with the Yarn Swifts and other similarly processed tools first.
This was our inaugural product when we opened our company in 2005. We stock our Yarn Swifts in cherry, walnut and oak. We start the process by sorting, rough cutting to length, followed by jointing and planing. Then they are ready to be cut into final lengths before we mark out the joints and drill hole placements. Once the joints are cut and the holes are drilled, it’s time to sand. Lots of sanding. Finally they are taken to the finishing studio. When the finish is cured, they are assembled and bagged for storage in the trailer and storeroom.
We designed our Sock Keepers in 2008. It’s used to hold your double point needle project. We make these when needed from lumber already on hand from other products, mainly yarn swifts. These are cut to size, the channel is routed and the notches are cut and holes drilled for the yarn that is strung on the outside to hold the needles in the Sock Keeper. Then they are ready for finish and labels.
Yarn Boxes are one of our newest designs. We came up with the idea in late 2014, and after a few prototypes, began producing and selling the final design in early 2015. We typically make yarn boxes in walnut, cherry, oak, maple, and mahogany.
There are many steps involved in the production. We need to sort, rough cut to length, joint and plane, and resaw. After resawing it needs planing again. Then it’s time to sort, cut to finished lengths, and mark up sets. Now, there are the finger joints to cut and channels to rout. Sets are sanded on the inside surfaces before assembly and gluing up. The outside is sanded next. Now the tops have to be cut, sanded and hand fit. Last, we install the magnets. Then there is the finishing and buffing before labeling. This is a brief but not extensive summary. This is easily the most labor intensive item we make.
Shawl and Hair Sticks
Our Shawl and Hair Sticks are the most recent accessory in our line. We came up with these in 2020 while we were off the road for 18 months due to the shut downs. We make these in a wide variety of woods. The shape is cut out from the blanks and the rest of the shaping is done by hand sanding. We finish these off with a buffed polish before applying the finish. Then they are packaged and ready for sale. It sounds simple but they are also very labor intensive due to the extensive amount of hand shaping and sanding.
Nostepinnes and Darning Eggs
Now we will move on to the lathe items. I am going to include the Nostepinnes and Darning Eggs in the same section since they are similar as far as production goes. These are turned on a lathe from blanks cut from thicker slab lumber. The blanks are rough turned and then shaped. The sanding is mostly done on the lathe. We apply finishes and then buff before labeling.
Our Yarn Bowls are also turned on the lathe. Due to the challenge on finding stock thick enough for bowl turning from a single piece of lumber, we usually do lengthy laminating steps to get something large enough. This does have some advantages. Firstly it can actually be more stable and less likely to warp over time. It is also visually pleasing and allows you the option of combining woods in a single piece if desired.
So, the gluing up is done in panels, then those are cut and glued again in different configurations. Once the blanks are assembled, they are ready to go to the lathe. We usually process all of the outsides to the finished stage. Then put them back on the lathe and gouge out the insides. We do the sanding on the lathe and then they go to the finishing area. After the finish is dry, we apply the wax and buff on the lathe.
We get asked occasionally why we don’t make the little curly hook with a hole in our Yarn Bowls. The simple answer is that we don’t think they add a necessary element and it is extra steps for little benefit. They work fine as they are and also it means a non-knitter can find uses for them too. Bowls make great places to store stuff like your keys, etc., on your table.
Thanks for joining us on a little tour of our work shops. We hope you enjoyed seeing all the time and care that goes into every thing we sell.