Preparing For Our First Dye Day

My basement dye 'studio'
My basement dye ‘studio’

After testing many colors and working hard to achieve a certain uniformity in color and depth, it’s time to move over to a large dye area for a day of FULL SKEIN dyeing!

My basement work area is pretty nice, it has all that we need (water, electric, microwave, a bit of space & a heater – very important in Minnesota in the Winter)

Plus it’s where my office is (in a separate room with a cat/dog/child proof locking door!)


Yarn arrived just before Thanksgiving, and it’s being skeined up as I write (well, I had to stop rolling skeins to blog, but I’ll begin twirling that swift as soon as I’ve posted this!)

As I’ve worked up colors I knit them because, to my mind, I can’t really tell what a color’s going to do until I see it knit up. Yarn can look remarkable on the skein, but then go a bit dead when knitted if there isn’t the right kind of depth.

I tend to be annoyingly organized so I’ve developed a database to keep track of how much dye I’m using for each swatch and how I’m working it into the yarn. That way when I wander onto a perfect combination, I’m be able to recreate it. Well, that’s the idea.

I’ve been working on dyeing some full sized skeins with mixed results. Some are tremendous, and some have fallen a bit flat (increasing dye amounts appropriately and ‘reading’ yarns in the dyepot to get an idea of their final colors are skills I am developing…)

I really want to be able to achieve a uniformity so we can market our colors as colorways, not just as ‘one-offs.’ Here are a few of my successes – I’m happy with the distribution of the colors and the depth.

I need to take some of the sample yarns to work into design samples so we can create some nice kits, that’s my job this afternoon while I’m waiting at the dentist office (and afterward, when I know I’ll be out of commission for the evening!)

Wednesday Kathleen returns from a week visiting family in Florida, it will be great to see her again! We’ll be packing everything up and heading off to a dye studio for a day of dyeing on Thursday. I’m thinking we’ll do red tones in the morning, blue/green tones in the afternoon, and we’ll see how that pans out! I can’t lie, I’m very nervous.

Even though I’ve had my own business for 12+ years, it’s been a sole proprietorship so I didn’t have to worry about vendors, etc. Because this is a larger undertaking, we’ve moved on to Quick Books so we’ll be investigating the ins and outs of that for keeping track of our expenses, inventory and (hopefully) profits.

So while I wait for my visit to the dentist today, I’ll try inputting our receipts for yarn, dye and supply purchases. I know how to make a day fun, don’t I?

The Day Before The Big Day

I love the Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving SO much!

It’s a day of hopes, of dreams, of non-crazed prep and happy anticipation!

This Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving is even MORE special!

Today I await the first shipment of ModeKnit Yarn! Today I will receive my first two base yarns from which we’ll be dyeing our initial batches. I’m so excited!

I checked the UPS site, and it’s “out for delivery” – yahoo!

Once I get the yarn, I’ll skein off a few sample mini skeins and test my dye formulas and methods. If all works as I hope (and as it has so far with my 100% SW merino sample yarn) I’ll get the rest of the yarn skeined up and ready to dye this Thursday when we’re using a local space for our experimentation!

I’m equal parts excitement, anticipation and fear. Thank heaven turkey and stuffing await me tomorrow!

First Steps

So I promised to blog about our adventure in creating ModeKnit Yarn, and here I am to chat!

I just received word that our first shipment of yarn is on it’s way to us – lovely, pale stuff that we’ll infuse with rich, deep colors! I feel such a responsibility to this yarn (and the sheep from which it grew!)

So far I’ve knit up MANY swatches from several yarn sources to find a few yarns that do what I’d like them to do – knit well, create a beautiful fabric with good drape, take dye nicely, show great stitch definition and show off the colors. Not every yarn is able to tick all those boxes, and I’d rather offer very few yarns at the start than have too many which are unsatisfactory in some way.

Out of over 30 swatches we’ve narrowed it down to 3 yarns; 2 we’re going to start with (a sock weight – yes, it has nylon – and a worsted weight) 

The third yarn is yummy, but we want to get the first two going well before branching off with yarn #3 (and #4, #5, etc.)

Our goal is to create a stable of rich semi-solids, then take these and create companion ‘variety’ blends, mixing some semi solids together into one skein of yarn. We’re hoping the semi-solids and blends will work well together in many different variations.

First Batch of Colors
First Batch of Colors

We’re well on the way, we have 10 good base colors we feel are quite beautiful. We’re basing the colors are gemstone and semi-precious colors (here’s a link to our Pinterest Inspiration Board), which offers a very wide variety of colors to use for inspiration.

We intend to offer the semi-solids & “variety blends” in various pairings as part of the Morse Cowl Kit.  We’re planning on offering the kit in both worsted and sock weight yarn, with matching mitts (also in worsted or sock weight)

Figuring which colors go together is a bit of a personal thing, and I’m the first to admit that my own taste in matching colors may not be yours (or yours, or yours!)

So along this trip we’ll be offering different polls (Which colors do you like? Which ones do you hate? Which pairings make you giddy?) and we’ll use this input to help us create combinations for a wide variety of tastes!


Kathleen Pascuzzi, a good friend with organizational skiills and solid retail experience, is partnering with me.

Today we met with an attorney to draw up a partner agreement, get our LLC on the right track, etc.

I can’t deny this is scary – a little terrifying – but I guess anything in life worthwhile is bound to be a little frightening!

With Kathleen as my partner, though, I feel a bit less scared.


The question I feel is hanging in the air, and which I ask my self, is – why?

1. I feel drawn to do this. I love color, I love fiber, and dyeing yarn fills a part of my soul that nothing else does in the same way.

2. I have a vision of color blends I haven’t seen out and about yet. Maybe they’ll be successful, maybe I’ll discover that I’m color blind.

3. I want to work more productively at home. Since cutting down on my teaching to spend more time at home with Gerry (and during my own fibromyalgia flare ups) there’s been a marked change in our income.

I’m hoping creating ModeKnit Yarns will allow me to use my flexible schedule to work at my own pace when I’m feeling strong (and back off a bit I’m not running at 100%) to augment our finances while staying near home.

4. My patterns already sell a lot of yarn, I’d like some of that to be ModeKnit Yarn!

5. I can offer pretty decent pattern support, and intend to CONTINUE designing – perhaps more than before!

I’m psyched for the next weeks when yarn arrives, MORE test skeins will be worked up, and our initial palette will be solidified. I’ll keep you all up to date every step of our journey!

If I time it right, I’ll have both kids home for Thanksgiving to help me with all that skeining!