Featured Crafter: Rachel from The Yellow Hobbit
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’m a fiber artist who knits and spins, and I also dye my own yarn and wool roving.
The name The Yellow Hobbit comes from the fact that I’m a Tolkien fan, and I consider myself to be a hobbit because I’m really short (I’m 4′11″). Being a hobbit is much more fun than just being short. I started going by this nickname my freshman year of college, and it stuck. So I figured that it would be a good name for my store as well.
Where can we find you?
I mainly sell on Etsy. My store is here: http://theyellowhobbit.etsy.com. I have a blog where I’ll often post pictures of things I’ve created: http://knitterofshinythingsknits.blogspot.com/
What first got you interested in your craft?
I’ve always been rather crafty. I used to do a lot of beading, but when I got to college, I made friends with people who knitted in class. Wanting a portable craft that I could also do in class, I asked my mother to teach me how to knit when I went home for winter break. I picked it up quickly, and by the time I got back to school, I was an avid knitter.
The spinning came along my senior year of college. A friend and I had been going to a weekly knitting circle which was held at a local yarn store, and one night a woman was spinning. I asked her if I could try it, and she said sure and handed me the spindle and gave me brief instructions as to what to do. I started spinning with the spindle, and it worked! It also happened to be the week of my birthday, and the friend who was with me at the knitting circle then gave me a drop spindle and roving as a birthday present. I was quickly addicted, and I got a wheel as a graduation present from my parents.
The dyeing came about a few years later. I had a friend who had an alpaca farm, which wasn’t doing too well and she wanted to go out of the business after her husband died. She had previously sent her fleeces to a fiber mill to be processed, but that was really expensive, so she asked if I would be interested in spinning up her fleeces for her. I said yes and set up my Etsy shop for the purpose of selling the yarn that I made. I decided that I should also get into dyeing, so that I could make prettier yarn. And while I was dyeing the yarn I decided to get into dyeing roving as well.
It turns out that dyeing yarn and roving is actually a lot of fun, and I really enjoy doing it.
Please describe your creative process.
I usually dye roving in big batches. Since I’m also a full-time student, I usually only dye things every couple of weeks. I don’t usually plan out in advance what colors I’m going to dye with; lately, the process has been to look at my big desk full of roving, and ask myself “what colors are missing?” I like having a complete rainbow, so I’ll fill it in. Sometimes I get ideas of color combinations that I think are really pretty, and I’ll do those. And every so often I’ll think of a witty name for a roving, and then dye something to match the name. But usually the naming comes after the dyeing.
I spin much more often than I dye. If I’m at home I’ll use my wheel. Conveniently, there is a television in the same room as the wheel, so often I’ll watch something while spinning. When I’m out of the house, I’ll either spin on my drop spindle or knit, depending on what I feel like doing.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I’m a master’s student at the Simmons Graduate School for Library and Information Science, so that takes up a lot of my time. (I’m concentrating in archival management, and am hoping to work in a museum once I graduate.) In terms of fun things, I’m really into gaming (role playing games, strategy games, etc.). I’m a huge nerd, and am into Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’m also in an a cappella group at MIT. I live in a hippie commune with 5 other 20-somethings. Most of us are crafty, and one of my housemates actually has her own jewelry studio in the basement. It’s a fun life.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Spinning is fun and addictive. You get to work with really soft fiber, and create really beautiful yarn. I would highly encourage anyone who is interested to try it.