Have you ever seen “Clown Barf”?
It’s kinda funny! No, really, it is!
Have you ever knit with it? No, it’s not some new fiber developed by the knitting community. Although, it’s creators certainly have the intelligence and background to probably do that!
Well, thanks to Nicole and Cordula, (Kalessin and Haramis17 on Ravelry – follow the links to see some of their great works and designs), you can if you want to! And it’s actually much more pleasant than it sounds. Click on this picture to see how. It’s a merino/silk/cashmere lace weight yarn from DyeForWool.
Clown Barf is one of the many uniquely named colors from the creations of these 2 doctors. Yes, that’s right, doctors, as both ladies have a PhD, Cordula in molecular medicine and Nicole in biology!! Together, these 2 enterprising women have created DyeForYarn, where they come up with hundreds of colorways and dye silk and wool based yarns for sale.
So what takes someone from the worlds of molecular medicine and biology to create astounding colors in a dye lab? Their story is a great one and recently I had the pleasure of asking Cordula and Nicole that very thing!
- How did the 2 of you meet? How long have you been friends?
~ We met back at the university, where Cordula just finished her PhD in molecular medicine and I started my PhD in biology, continuing her research in the same field. We soon became friends long before knitting was a thing in our time off.
- You’re extremely intelligent women as you both hold PhD’s. What got you into dyeing and do you still practice with your PhD’s? ~ When you’re working in a medical science lab, most of the time there’s no reward for what you do. Plus the experiments have to be repeated over and over to create reliable statistics for publications. You can publish once a year, when you’re good and you get a slap on the back for your work when you’re lucky. So in our free time we discovered knitting – especially complicated lace shawls. A very rewarding pastime in addition to creating something that you can actually use.
That led to the need for lace yarns in solid colours, preferably silk. Which there wasn’t much of in Germany at the time. So after a few Etsy orders which we placed in Canada or the US, we thought we’d try dyeing yarn ourselves. It was very much fun – and very rewarding – so we decided to sell them on Etsy.
Ravelry helped a lot with creating our international success, because we showed our FO’s knit in our yarn and people started to notice us. Btw Cordula is Haramis17 and I’m Kalessin on Ravelry (I change my hair colour now and then). Five years ago we quit our day jobs at the university and have been working in our dyeing lab full time since then.
- You have a lot of silk in your yarns. Is this your favourite fiber? If not, what is?
Yes, in fact it is! It’s a very special material, sometimes hard to work with, but always worth the effort.
- How do you come up with the names of your colours? Do you always try to make sure there is some sort of idea as to what the color may look like or do you like to make it amusing?
~ Sometimes we dye a colour and it’s clear to us from the first glance, how it’s going to be called. If the colour resembles a certain plant, for example, the name we choose usually indicates this particular plant dyeing or already being dead. But there are colours where it’s hard to determine which hue it actually is. We call those “non-colours” and they get names like “Misanthrope” or “Depressed thoughts”. But not randomly chosen. We still try to find the most fitting name possible in our eyes.
- How do you get inspiration for your colourways? ~ We get our inspiration from the things surrounding us. Sky, sundowns, nature, architecture etc. Or from interesting things or names we read in books or hear in songs.
- What is your favourite colour (each of you)?
~ Nicole: Dozing by the pond
Cordula: Nocturnal maelstrom
- What is your least favourite colour?
~ Actually we like all colours, because each one has its charm. Before we started dyeing yarn the answer would have been “pink” from both of us. But you start to look at colours differently when you work with them all the time.
- You are both very beautiful women! Do you have a colourway to match your eyes? They’re stunning! ~ We just had a look at our eye colours. Cordula’s are a gradient of Too hard butter cookie, Burning haystack, Rain in a graveyard and Face of Fear. My gradient ranges from Fango and then the same colours as Cordula’s. In fact the colour Set with our bitter tears is very close to both our eye colours.
- In your introduction about yourselves, you mentioned that your desire lead to a need for lighter and lighter yarns. Do you only work with fingering/lace weight yarn? Will this always be the same?
~ At the moment lace and fingering weights are still our favourites, for shawls as well as garments. But we also carry a Silk/Merino DK weight and a super soft pure Merino Sport weight which we started to use for garments as well. So there are definitely options for using heavier weight yarns in the future.
- With the multitude of Indie-dyers on hand, how do you manage to stay on top in this extremely competitive industry?
~ When we started our business back in 2010 there weren’t that many Indie-dyers in Germany. That was one of the reasons we decided to dye our own yarns. We offer mostly solid to slightly semi- solid colours, which are especially great for elegant stoles and cardigans. Colourwise we try to dye every colour there is, from very, very light to almost black, from muted to intense, from pale to saturated. This and the special yarn qualities we carry is our way of trying to stay ahead.
- You’re a great success in Europe. Any chance of seeing you overseas at one of the knitting conventions here?
~ Actually most of our customers live in the US and we also have a few retailers there. If it wasn’t so expensive to travel overseas with 80 to 100kg of yarn, we’d definitely consider it.
Needless to say, there is so much more behind these women and their wonderful creations. Below are a few links that will get you pointed in the right direction to see their wares. I’d definitely recommend a click onto their sites. The names of the colors alone are entertaining enough, but the vivid colors they create are simply astounding. I especially like the fact that the vast majority of their colors are solids, as that is still my preference as it allows a wider flexibility when putting colours together in a creation. I know Joie would agree! 😉
DyeForYarn (German website – use Translate in your browser to see other language versions)
DyeForYarn Etsy (Etsy shop – silk based fibers)
DyeForWool Etsy (Etsy shop – wool based fibers)
As a special treat, Cordula and Nicole have set up a special 10% OFF discount coupon in their Etsy shops for anyone reading this blog post! Click on one of the above links, and when you place your order, use the code DYEFOR10 with your order! But hurry, this will only be valid until Monday July 25th!
I really like the ranges they create in each colour, and being a fan of blues, you can probably pick out some of my favorites. And as for the names, lol. Here are a few of my favourites …
St. Patrick’s Day Parade Gone Awry, Giant Clam Closing Forever, Melting Milk chocolate Truffles, Tweety’s Revenge,
First glimpse of a Supernova, Fury in the Slaughterhouse, and Bat in a Dark Mood.
I could write lots more, but I urge you to check out the site(s) and revel in the delight of colours and fibers you’ll find! Comment below and tell me three of your favourites! If you can pick only 3! 😉