Ever wondered what’s it like running a yarn dyeing business?
On my new shawl pattern Aureola, I collaborated with Sunshine Yarns to celebrate their 10 year anniversary. On this interview Dani from Sunshine Yarns let’s us in on her typical workday, talks about naming her colorways, her favourite part of her business, and how it all started 10 years ago. Enjoy!
What three words would you use to describe your yarns?
Wow, 3 words is hard! I would say unique, vibrant and cozy :)
How did you get started?
Sunshine Yarns began in 2005 while I was working as an Environmental Scientist doing water quality work. I was happy, but not happy being in consulting and just knew it wasn’t for me. I had not been knitting for very long, but was intrigued by the dyeing process and thought I would give it a try. As fate would have it, I had a knitting blog, and started posting my hand-dyed yarns there. Folks started asking to buy it, and I soon set up a little Etsy shop.
It started as something so little and in my earlier dreams, I never, ever, EVER would have pictured it becoming what it is today! I feel so incredibly thankful.
What’s a typical workday like for you?
I typically get downstairs and going around 9am. Each day for us is pretty different based on our daughter’s schedule (she is in daycare part-time), which I actually love. But, I usually work from 9 until 1pm. During that time I answer emails, get going on dyeing and enter any orders and payments in Quickbooks. Usually I have another hour or two of work in the afternoon and work on getting packages shipped, and continue to dye.
After our daughter’s bedtime, I am up for a few more hours doing more emails, ordering, dyeing and anything else that needs to be wrapped up for the day. It never stops around here!
My husband also works full-time with Sunshine Yarns, and he gets all the yarn rinsed, sorted out, tagged and ready for shipping. He also does all the web stuff I don’t know how to do!
Tell us about your team at Sunshine Yarns.
I wish I had MORE of a team, but as it stands now, its mainly my husband, Scott and I! We have been running this business together since 2008. It works really well most of the time, but I am really needing to hire an office assistant.
Besides the two of us, we always have 1 or 2 part-time people that help us with yarn winding, sorting and gradient making. And, I am always so grateful for my Ravelry moderators, Michael-Lyn, Valerie, Katherine and Lynn, who help in so many ways!
What’s your favorite part of your business?
I love coming up with new colorways… and diving into a new base yarn! Its always so much fun. I would say that it’s probably my favorite part.
But, I also do really love running the business side of Sunshine Yarns too. I enjoy entering orders, dealing with payments, and accounting. It was something I never thought I would enjoy doing, but turns out I do!
How do you come up with the names for the colors?
I love naming yarn colorways. It can sometimes be so easy, and sometimes be challenging, depending on the day!
For some reason, purples are SO hard for me to name.. don’t ask me why! One of my new favorite colors, Weak in the Knees, just popped into my head! I love it when that happens :)
What’s the most popular yarn base and color? And do you have any personal favorites?
Classic Sock is just an amazing workhorse yarn. Its our 100% merino sock yarn base that I’ve just been in love with since we started using it back in 2008. Its our best seller for sure. One of my personal favorites is our Ultraluxe Light. Its a single ply merino/cashmere/silk that is oh, so delicious!!
As for most popular colors… oh goodness! I would say RIGHT NOW, Rusty Nail has been super popular. Also, rich Fall tones like Pumpkin Bread, Custer’s Lookout, Thunder and Weak in the Knees.
Do you have any tips for us on how to make killer color combos?
Oh gosh. I wish I had some better advice! I think its just going with your gut alot of the time, and look at it in natural light. Its looking at a project and thinking about how much contrast you want in colors. For me, I’ve learned over the years that I really love more of a toned down color with a bright pop of color.
You’re based in Boulder, Colorado. What’s the best part of living there and does your surroundings influence your creativity?
I love being here. I actually lived here from ages 10 -18, so its nice to be back. We live just outside of town in the foothills, and I love how peaceful and quiet it is. Yet, we are only 3 minutes from town!
When I pictured a place I wanted to raise children, I saw fields to roam in, wildflowers, trees, mountains, backyard chickens and lots of fresh air. I’m so lucky that we have made that happen. I think everything about where we live inspires me. I think most importantly, its calm and quiet here, and that helps me just relax and get the creativity flowing.
Do you have other creative passions?
Too many! Besides dyeing, and spinning and knitting, I actually got into sewing a few years ago. Its been a fun new outlet and I love the gorgeous selection of fabrics out there! And, I’m always testing my skills with a camera.
I’m game for anything in the creative realm, including interior designing and decorating. I went a little overboard with my daughter’s nursery.
Oh my goodness. These days life is a little crazy for us, as we have a 2 year old little girl :) So, I’ve had challenges with planning ahead.
Alas, it is our 10 year Sunshine anniversary this month, so we will be doing lots of fun things. We will be introducing a few kits, doing some throw-back-Thursdays to showcase some older colorways, releasing a new base yarn, etc. We will be plenty busy until we head to the Caribbean on Thanksgiving Day.
Check out Dani’s exquisite hand dyed yarns on www.sunshineyarns.com.