With “a hank of wool and a couple of Kool-Aid® packets”, Lindsay began dyeing yarn back in 2012. Three years later, she’s graduated to environmentally friendly dyes, her own special blend of wool, has custom blended over 100 different colors and continues to dye alongside her husband, Jordan and their toddler, Reece. We were lucky enough to visit Lindsay and Jordan’s business, The Fiber Seed, and get a behind-the-scenes look at what inspires them.
How does the dying process work?
There’s a lot of math and science that goes into the process itself. Once all the dyes are mixed, it takes about 15 minutes a batch, but the time varies. It is mostly an eyeball test; that’s the magic of it. We dye more than one lot at a time so we
have to make sure they absorb dye evenly. I am usually dying anywhere from six to eight hours a day and when I am done it all has to be washed. That usually takes another three to four hours. One thing I have learned is that when you own your own business, your day is never over.
Tell us more about the fibers you use.
Smaller hand dyers don’t always get to work directly with the mills that create the yarns they use. We went with a mill that sources our merino wool from farms across the US, our last batch came from South Carolina. We worked with some of the most knowledgeable fiber people in the US to formulate what we think is a perfect blend of soft and durable. It really puts you on a different level when you get the fiber straight from the mill.
What do you use to make the color so bright?
I use vinegar in all of my dyes to make the color pop, it also keeps the colors bright when washing the finished item made from our yarns. All of the ingredients in the dyes that we use meet the Organic Trade Association’s standards for Organic Fiber Processing, so it is completely safe. We get vibrant colors without the use of heavy metals or harsh chemicals, which is important to us.
Being based in Tampa, Florida you get a unique view of natural colors. What makes being in Florida special?
Our logo, “Milled in Maine, Dyed in Florida,” represents us perfectly. I often like to think that you see different colors in Florida. Buying yarn that is dyed in the sunshine state means that you are going to see less muted tones represented and more sunny, bright colors just because, living here, we’re used to those bright colors and want them to be seen through our yarns. We do have deeper more robust colors available too, so there is something for everyone.
How would you define your style?
My style is a little eclectic. They used to call it being a renaissance person or a jack-of-all-trades. I do, however, have my own way of dyeing that makes my yarn identifiable. When I dye, it is literally like taking a blank canvas and painting it. All those different aspects allow me to create a wide range of colors and colorways. Having whatever inspires me at the moment translate to a hank of yarn is the coolest feeling ever.
What inspires you?
Literally everything! I mean the world in general inspires me. I can be reading a magazine and see a pillow and rip the picture out of the magazine as inspiration. But, sometimes it kind of just hits you… Once I find something that inspires me, I have to figure out how to create it in yarn form and I will keep working at it until I do.
What is it like working on projects together as a couple?
We have the same type A personality, so we often clash. We’ve been married for almost seven years now so we have learned to work together. Sometimes it is hard to make the magic and artist side of things work well with the business and logical side, but we do it!
What are some of the challenges that you run into when dying?
Dyeing is all about math and science. You would never think that there was so much thought that went into it, but I constantly have to think about if there is too much chlorine in the water, or if the temperature is right, etc. It is a blast creating a new color and figuring out how to make it. The challenge is to learn how to consistently reproduce it. It is all about overcoming different variables. The novelty of our yarn is that people want something that is handdyed, an artisan product. This means there has to be a balance between consistency and serendipity.
Any crazy stories?
We work in a small space that has more than one designation. I don’t always dye everyday, so lots of the time I will use my dying space as a staging area for packing orders. One day I was putting together four different orders and all of a sudden one of the dye bottles started leaking and dripping onto the whole order. Unfortunately, I didn’t notice for a good ten minutes, so in addition to having a whole bunch of one-of-a-kind yarns being created, now there is dye all over the blinds and wall.
This isn’t the first time I have had dye all over though. Another time I was pouring my dye into a graduated cylinder and the bottle spontaneously combusted and bright yellow color went everywhere. Moral of the story… lets just say that dye doesn’t come off very easily…
What advice do you have for people interested in dying?
This is NOT a “9 to 5” job. If you want to do it for fun then that’s awesome, but if you want to do it for real as a business, it is a lot of work. The best piece of advice that I could offer is to find out the way you want to dye, your style and stick with it. Don’t do what everyone else does just because it’s easy. Just remember that you have to make a product that you can make consistently and that people will want.
Where can someone get more about The Fiber Seed?
They can visit our website
, and we’re also on Facebook
You need to login