Dye One, Purl Two: An Interview With Felicia Lo of SweetGeorgia Yarn

 
Guys, this interview is PACKED with information from one of my favorite indie dyers, Felicia Lo. She’s multi- craftual, managing to fit in dyeing, spinning, knitting, weaving, and quilting while managing a business team, brick and mortar store, and a website/blog. Amazing, right? 

Let’s get into this awesome interview!

How did you first get started dyeing yarns?
I’ve been knitting since I was a kid, but it was learning to spin my own yarns in my 20’s that motivated me to learn how to dye in the first place. All the wool fiber that I had access to at that time was plain, undyed white or cream and I craved color, so I had to learn how to do it myself! After learning how to dye spinning fiber, I started playing with color on yarn as well. 
Ready to learn how to dye your own yarns? Read my exclusive interview with Felicia Lo of Sweet Georgia Yarn!
 
What are your favorite tools?
Oh, there are so many and it depends on what I’m doing… if I’m dyeing, I love my fine kitchen scales, my green nitrile gloves, my linen apron from Maiwa Dye Supply… if I’m knitting, I’m still enamored with my Signature and Addi Sock Rocket circular needles. When I’m spinning, I’m torn between my love of my Schacht Matchless wheel and my Lendrum Saxony wheel. And when I’m weaving, my hands-down have-to-have tool is the Schacht End-Delivery Shuttle.
 
How do you organize your supplies and WIP’s?
I try so hard to keep everything organized, but it’s always a losing battle. Since I do many different fiber arts at the same time, it sometimes feels like there is an overwhelming mountain of supplies, stash, tools, and WIPs! I try to keep the different fiber arts separated into different plastic storage containers — for example, little containers for circular knitting needles, double pointed needles, regular straights, spinning tools, weaving tools, and then large containers for spinning fiber stash and yarn. I separate the fiber into non-superwash, superwash, and silks. Then I separate the yarn by weight into lace, sock, DK, worsted, and chunky. This doesn’t even include the quilting fabric stash and tools… that requires a whole other method of organization by color!
 
What does your average day as an indie dyer look like?
My days are full and varied! With two kids at home and a team of 16 people that I lead for SweetGeorgia, my work life and home life are blended together in a very active way… like trying to squeeze 60 hrs of work into about 20 hrs of quiet time on top of taking care of the household and raising an 18-month old and nearly 4 year old. There aren’t really “average” days because depending on the season I might be doing mostly writing (like the last two years when I was full-on writing my book “Dyeing to Knit & Spin” for Interweave Press ), or photography and marketing, or in the dye studio creating new colourways, or designing new product ideas. These days, because I am focused on building educational content around the fiber arts, I’m doing a ton of writing, planning, filming, and video editing for a series of online dyeing courses that I’m planning to launch later this fall. Every day is different and exciting that way!
 
Sacia’s Note: Her book is amazing. I just got it and it is bursting with information about dyeing and using the things you dye.
 
Do you prefer knitting, crocheting, spinning etc?
Ohhh, I think the reason I have so many fiber arts projects underway is that I love all the different fiber arts. I’m often torn between knitting, spinning, and weaving during the evenings when I hang out with my husband. I think the craft that I prefer is always the one that is most convenient at the time, given the circumstances… so I knit in the car while my husband drives or at the park with the kids. I’ll only spin if the kids are asleep, and I’ll only get to weave if everybody is out of the house!
 
What’s your favorite place to craft?
Mmmm, my favorite place to craft would be my attic. Since moving to our house four years ago, I’ve been slowly getting the attic set up as my dedicated craft room. I am beyond lucky to have access to this space. It’s a big room with wood floors, log cabin-style wood ceilings and walls, with west-facing windows which bring in beautiful light and warmth in the afternoons and evenings. I hold my two big floor looms, a sewing machine, cutting tables, spinning wheels, and my entire yarn stash all in that room. When I’m left alone in the room, it’s like all time and space fade away and I slip easily into a creative flow that is totally rejuvenating.
 
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently finishing up knitting my “Starting Point” wrap that was part of the Joji Locatelli Mystery Wrap Knit-along from earlier this summer. There’s a bunch of Panda fiber that I’m spinning up just for fun. I have a set of cotton kitchen towels on my rigid heddle loom as part of Liz Gipson’s Yarnworker Weave-along. And I am also tying on another baby wrap (even though my youngest doesn’t get wrapped anymore) on the Louet Spring loom and a set of scarves on the Schacht Baby Wolf loom. Oh, and my son has requested that I knit him a purple and red scarf as soon as possible… because of course, everyone knows how important it is to wear wool scarves in August! 🙂
 
What are your favorite aspects of running an indie yarn business?
Running a business, and an indie yarn business specifically, is awesome because I value independence and creative freedom above all else. I love the feeling of creating something from nothing and the freedom to design every part of this business exactly they way I like… from the product and the colourways to the structure of our team and our working hours. Running my own business allowed me the ability to create this mixed, blended work/family/craft life that I wouldn’t be able to get if I had been working in a different job or environment.
 
Any tips for someone looking to get started running an indie yarn business?
Ahh, that’s a big question! I have so many tips I can think of, but maybe this is top of mind… My tip is that an indie yarn business is a business and should be treated as a business and not as an extension of a hobby.  This includes everything from pricing your products, not just so that they cover the costs of the materials, but also so that they cover the cost of your own direct labor as well as a margin of profit. In saying that, one of my big tips is to get a good accountant ideally before you get started with your business. In unromantic terms, an indie yarn business is a manufacturing business that carries the complexity of inventory, both finished goods as well as raw materials and works-in-progress. It makes for more complicated accounting and bookkeeping. Coupled with selling via different channels like Etsy, your own web shop, wholesale, craft shows, and more, it can be tricky to manage all that data accurately. So, I would suggest finding a good accountant early on in your business journey!
 
Where can we find you?
You can find me on Instagram at @sweetgeorgia for SweetGeorgia content and @felicialowong for my personal fiber arts projects. I blog as much as I can and I host a weekly podcast called The SweetGeorgia show. I’ve also started a Patreon campaign for the development of my School of SweetGeorgia online craft school project that you can find at http://patreon.com/sweetgeorgia. And of course, our website for all things SweetGeorgia is at http://sweetgeorgiayarns.com.
 
I just loved this interview, and I hope you did, too! Make sure to check out SweetGeorgia and Felicia’s Craftsy class (I took it, and it was awesome!). Let me know in the comments who you’d like to see me interview next!

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