In this day and age of electronic communication, many of the people I "meet" in my industry are thru Instagram and email. This allows us to put forward whatever version of ourselves we choose, in whatever amount we feel comfortable with. Some of us our vague, only giving away a little bit of who we are, and others are an open book, letting it all hang out. Every once in a while, I get to "meet" someone whose true self shines thru in their written word and photographs. I immediately feel like I know them, and we could easily talk for ages over a cup of coffee and our knitting! Tanis, of Tanis Fiber Arts, is one of those people that I would love to take to my favorite bakery for croissants, coffee, and hours of yarn talk! (And maybe a little kid talk, too ;) I love that she runs her independent business with her husband in a studio behind their house. And I certainly connect with juggling your own business and two small children! I'll let Tanis take it away, so you can get to know her a little better, too!
Could you tell us a little bit about what brought you to dyeing yarn?
I started dyeing yarn purely for my own selfish knitting. I studied fine arts in university and knew a little bit about dyeing textiles but learnt mainly from experimenting in the tiny kitchen of my first apartment. I was getting seriously into knitting and didn't have the budget to buy all the gorgeous hand dyed yarns I wanted to be knitting with so I thought that it might be fun to experiment with dyeing some myself. I started with kool-aid and quickly moved on to more professional acid dyes. I opened an Etsy shop and things just kinda went from there. It was a very organic process from enthusiastic knitter to yarn dyeing entrepreneur.
You have a wide range of really gorgeous colorways. Can you tell us what inspires you?
I have a background in watercolour and I think that it translates really well into hand dyed yarn. I love watching the different coloured dyes overlap to create new translucent layers of colour. At the end of the day, I think that's my greatest motivator, I have a very deep, very sincere love of colour! I would say that my biggest inspiration is our palette. As soon as we start mixing dyes and applying them to yarn, magic happens and we never know what direction it's going to take us in. Some of our strongest colourways are the ones that resulted from the most experimental layering of colours. It's something that I still find very exciting and am amazed at the variety that can be achieved by combining the same colours in different ways.
Can you tell us about a few of the the different yarns you carry? Do you have a favorite?
We carry a variety of bases from our classic Blue Label Merino/Nylon sock yarn to our more luxurious Silver Label Mulberry Silk. I love them all for different reasons! It's impossible to pick a favourite, but there are a few yarns that I've developed myself working with mills and obviously those are extra special for me since I was able to tailor them to my exact preferences. I really love our Grey Label Merino/Alpaca Chunky yarn because, well, chunky yarns are awesome! And it takes the dye so beautifully. Literally each stitch can be a different colour. It's such a fun yarn to knit with.
You have a new line called Purewash, that a lot of us are really excited about! Can you tell us about, and what made you decide to add this line?
Our new line of PureWash yarns is, hands down, the most exciting thing we've ever done as a small business. Just over a year ago when I learnt about the impact the super washing process has on the environment, I started looking into alternatives and quickly realized that there weren't any! There are a few large yarn companies that cater to the hand dyer and offer a catalogue of lovely merino's and merino/cashmere blends, but when I went looking for an organic, eco-friendly, washable wool option I came back empty handed. It was initially very frustrating because I had realized that as a knitter, that's what I wanted to be knitting with, which obviously led to the next step being that as a dyer, that's what I wanted to be dying and offering to my customers! I felt so strongly about it that I set out to create it myself. It was a completely new process for me and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It's a dream come true to be able to offer this yarn to our customers. I'm so proud of it!
What advice would you give to people out there wanting to follow their creative dreams?
I truly believe that the best way to be successful in any creative milieu is to be completely authentic. To be the best expression of your own creative vision. If you're producing something that you love and can stand behind 100%, people can tell. You'll find the right audience for you and you will love your work every single day!
Where can we find your yarn?
We are exclusively available online. Our permanent collection of colourways are available on our website at www.tanisfiberarts.com and we do frequent Etsy updates featuring one of a kind colourways and bases: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/tanisfiberarts
What is your spirit animal?
I have no idea... I asked my husband and he said squirrel, so... squirrel? He says it's because I'm small and quick and I'm always running around. I think it must be because I'm cute and perky. ;)
What is your favorite noise?
I was going to say that my favourite noise was the sound of ocean waves lapping against the shore. Or the sound of the rain on a tin roof... but then my baby laughed and that definitely won out. My 13 month old son giggling is pretty much as good as it gets!
Thank you so much for sharing some of your story with us, Tanis! Tanis Fiber Arts is having an update tomorrow - Monday, August 15 at 12pm EST!! Make sure you don't miss it, so you can enhance your stash with some of this amazing yarn!
Tanis and I have teamed up to create a super fun knit kit as a giveaway! She is generously offering a skein of her PureWash Worsted in the Stratus colorway to go with my Chevy hat pattern! (And let me tell you, her new PureWash line is such a delight to work with, and a yarn you can really feel good about having on your needles!!) Check out how amazing that texture is!
To enter to win, leave a comment below telling us what different art mediums in your life influence each other! Don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment so I have a way to contact you if you win! The giveaway will be open until Thursday 8/18/16 at midnight EST!