It was during Stitches West of 2016 that we became absolutely smitten with Magpie Fibers. Dami Hunter, the founder and owner, guided us through a part of her booth as we oohed and ahhed over each richly dyed skein. Since then, we have had the pleasure to stock some of her luscious bases. We met again during a visit to Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle last Fall where she graciously offered to feature her gorgeous Swanky DK and Swanky Sock yarns for our Projects of the Month as well as treat our dear followers to a chat on our blog!
How did you get started in dyeing fiber/yarn?
A few years ago I moved to a new town and decided to take a knitting class. The LYS in town had opened the same day I moved in, so it was clearly a sign. I was instantly obsessed, I was in the shop everyday, and did nothing but knit. I have always loved color (I was a decorative painter and color consultant once upon a time) and The Knot House in Frederick, MD has an amazing selection of hand dyed yarn…all those gorgeous skeins on the walls had me aching to try it for myself. With lots of support from the Frederick knitting community I started experimenting with yarn and dyes on my kitchen stove. I had my first trunk show at The Knot House a few months later.
What’s a typical day like at Magpie HQ?
We’ve just moved into a big new space, so we’re still figuring out our new routine. Almost every day includes dyeing, but you might be surprised by all the things that need to happen to the yarn before and after its time in the pot. Most of our time is spend prepping the yarn and finishing the yarn. This is all supported by lots of caffeine and 80’s alternative radio!
Your colors are stunning! What inspires their fun names? Do you have favorites?
My dad is a musician, and my parents home growing up was always full of great music. I knew I wanted fun and unique names for the yarn, so I made up big lists of song titles. Now I get random texts from friends… “I just heard … on the radio, it would be a great color name!” Not all the colors get a song, sometimes its something from pop culture, or just a word I like. We have playlist of all the songs we’ve used for names that we play in the booth at shows. I’ve gotta
say, when Baby Got Back comes on it always puts a smile on my face, especially when people start singing along and dancing!
Right now I’m a little obsessed with the palette of new colors we put out this Fall, especially Velvet Underground.
We love Swanky Sock, which patterns are your favorite or which would you recommend for this gorgeous yarn?
Swanky sock is wonderful for shawls, obviously I think Something Gradient and Embrace the Detours are great, and Casapinka has designed some gorgeous shawls with it, Qunidici and Iasabelita are two of my all time favorites. The What the Fade sample I have is one of my favorite things ever.
Besides all things yarn, what are some of your other passions?
I love to cook and garden and travel is definitely a life long passion. I love all kinds of crafting, and I’m totally obsessed with sour beer!
Knit, crochet, weave or all of the above? What are some of your favorite things to make?
Currently I only know how to knit, but I did purchase a small rigid heddle loom this Fall and can’t wait to learn how to use it. I love to knit hats and sweaters the most. I tend to be a pretty A.D.D. knitter, lots of stockinette has me checking my email every 3 minutes, so I tend toward cables and colors work.
What’s currently on your needles and in your notions bag?
I just finished up a bunch of new hat designs (patterns coming soon) and am about to cast-on a collaboration project with Veronika from YOTH Yarns. My notions bag is really more like 4 or 5 bags. I have a serious weakness for gadgets (don’t look in my kitchen cabinets, the cooking gadget collection is embarrassing) and collect them wherever I go. I’ve ended up with lots of project bags each with a different assortment of stuff in then, its not very organized. The things I make sure I always have with me are the small metal stitch markers you’ll find in the magpie jewelry, the YOTH little black scissors, a couple repair hooks, and bent tip tapestry needles.
It looked like you had quite the busy last year with traveling and participating in various shows. What’s in store for 2018?
2017 was fantastic, it was wonderful to go so many places and see so many people! 2018 will find me doing a lot of travel, but also trying to be home a bit more. We’ve just moved into a new commercial space so we finally have the room we need, its very exciting. I’ll be at Vogue New York in a couple weeks. I will, of course, be at Stitches West, and in my very own booth, but I’ll be right next-door to YOTH so if you’re used to seeing me there you won’t be able to miss us! I’ll be heading back to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival for the release of a collaboration between me, La Bien Aimée and Andrea Mowry, then heading to Paris for a trunk show… WooHoo! Aside from that and Stitches Mid-West, I think I’m mostly on the East Coast for the rest of the year. I’m hoping to have an open house at the new studio the weekend of Maryland Sheep & Wool, so follow the Magpie Instagram feed for info if you’ll be in the area!