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Building FGF & Sourcing

Over the last couple of months, it’s become more clear what the future of Fuzzzy Green Fibers will hold. I’ve been having a lot of fun designing knitting patterns and will continue to do so when inspiration strikes. I quite enjoy how art + math = clothes. And rather than retailing yarn that is natural in some way (which was my only previous aspiration), I’ve decided to fill a hole in the yarn community that I personally have needed. I really want indie, hand-dyed yarn that is trendy, colorful and FUN but doesn’t have any trash in it – so I’m doing it myself. Sometimes I want a sock kit that has exciting colors… but I just don’t feel good about spending money on something with dyes, treatments, and fibers I don’t feel great about. There is a place for making concessions, but I don’t make them for things I knit for myself. Or hey maybe I want to do a faded sweater of some kind… but the only kits I can find are superwash, or I would really have to stretch the imagination and color palette accepability to make a cobbled-together fade look halfway decent. I love natural undyed neutral colors that still smell like the sheep it was shorn from, but I also want some neon speckles in my life. Oh and I need to use all of the colorway names stockpiled in my brain, and a neutral gray doesn’t lend itself well to a name like “Good God, Lemon!”

In addition to all of this, I think my “thing” is turning out to be project bags. I haven’t released any of them for sale yet since I’m waiting on labels for them, but I am in LOVE. I love all of the artistic, utility and ethical decisions I’ve made on each one. Hand tie-dyed organic cotton sturdy project bags? You may have to fight me so I don’t keep them all.

I’m super happy with what I’ve decided to do now, what I’ll do next, and my ultimate plans.

However, there’s this annoying little “not good enough” cricket chirping in my ear. I’m not so much concerned about the quality of my work or the aesthetic of certain things – that will all improve & evolve with time, experience, and preference. What my brain is goading me about is my sourcing for every. Little. Thing. Sometimes it feels like I’m not meeting the standards I’ve promised customers, and especially myself. I’m trying to use the least toxic, least environmentally impactful materials and processes I can. Of course it’s not perfect because I don’t live in fairyland. But even now in my research and development phase, my brain won’t let it go that it’s not good enough. Were your labels printed on recycled paper? Is the yarn you bought domestic? Would you feel safe eating your dye? Are your shipping supplies made from plastic rendered from things found in your own living room? NO BRAIN, NONE OF IT IS PERFECT. I guess I just wanted to get off my chest that I am a wee fledgling learning what it even means to sell products to people. As time goes on, I know I’ll source every last item as well as I can (most natural, least toxic, most local, most ethical). For now, my claims are true: no nylon, superwash, or heavy metal-containing dyes in my yarn; organic cotton fabric, US-made zippers & labels, and low-impact dyes for my bags.

I hope my art & enthusiasm will translate well to those interested in my products. I’m consciously planning and strategizing every day on improving all that is possible to improve. And every time I make an improvement that approaches my ideals (even if asymptotically), I’ll announce it with pride so all you other hippy-nonsense nerds like me can high five a tree or whatever.

<3 Larissa

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Dyeing

Ever since I started dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid, I haven’t stopped dyeing. As soon as I saw a color work out, I immediately bought a dye kit. I chose to buy Greener Shades acid dyes. All of their dyes are heavy metal-free, making them less toxic than other brands of acid dyes. If you’ll remember, my concern in environmental responsibility and toxicity when it comes to materials is never the end product – it’s the process used to achieve the end product. Essentially, things end up in the ground & ground water ultimately, and I’d rather it didn’t cause problems, ya dig?

Anyway, my dyeing began with making up some colors to design a hat my husband requested and has grown from there. I’ve decided that there aren’t enough indie-dyed yarns out there that are both nylon and superwash-free. So that’s where I’ll come in! I’m developing colorways at the moment – both semisolids and variegated/speckles. It’s taking a little while since all of my colors need to be custom mixed from the 9 pigments I have to work with. Although Greener Shades does have a little PDF of some shade-mixing ideas.

Additionally, I hope to find the perfect nylon/superwash-free yarn for socks! Something soft enough that you could make and wear a shawl from it, but durable enough to be worn as socks, like nylon blends. It’s proving tricky to find something that both has these qualities and that I can buy at a reasonable price so that I don’t have to sell it at an exorbitant price point.

See below to lovingly gaze on where I am with research & development of colorways on 2 bases so far. Check out the Etsy Shop FuzzzyGreenFibers to see what’s in stock!

I’ll be adding more skeins as I dye them, both in semisolides and variegated/speckles. I’ll also be working on adding more bases.

And keep an eye out for super-awesome project bags, too! These are going to kick assssssssss.

Okay that’s enough, love you, bye
Larissa

Erie: 100% Non-Superwash Merino, 1-Ply, Fingering Weight

Geauga: 70% Non-Superwash Merino/30% Silk, Fingering Weight

Pumpkin
Pewter
Gold
Silver
Mauve
Chartreuse
Liver Chestnut
Tempest
A Girl Has No Name
It from the Pit
Coming Soon: Kelly T
A one-of-a-kind non-repeatable colorway for Nae. Destined to be a pullover designed by me!
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Kool-Aid Yarn

I don’t know what the impetus was for me wanting to dye yarn, but once I got the idea in my head, it happened. I bought some undyed yarn and first wanted to try Kool-Aid as a dye. I wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to buying a whole bunch of yarn dye if the whole process sucked (it didn’t). I’m designing a hat based on the Legend of Zelda video game for my husband and figured I could use those colors to try out some dyeing. From my limited research, it seemed like about 4 packets of Kool-Aid per 100g skein of yarn would do the trick.

I bought the 9 colors of Kool-Aid packets that my grocery store had, dissolved them in some water, and let a piece of yarn soak in them overnight to get an idea of the colors.

I was a bit fooled by my scrap of yarn overnight soak, and expected relatively vibrant colors. So, I attempted 4 solid colors:

  • Yellow – 3 packets of Lemonade and 1/2 of a packet of Orange.
  • Green – 3 packets of Lemonade and 1/2 of a packet of Mixed Berry.
  • Blue – 3 packets of Mixed Berry and 1/2 of a packet of Grape.
  • Red – 1 packet each of Hawaiian Punch, Black Cherry, Cherry, and Orange.

Once I decided which colors I would use & blend, I bought more and got to work. First, the yarn took a bath in some Dr. Bronner’s soap to get any excess oils out of it, and to make sure it was soaked throughout to guide dye-laden water into the fibers.

Yarn was rinsed and added to a pot with enough water to cover it and the 4 packets of Kool-Aid. Brought to a temperature below simmering until the water turned clear. Let cool. Rinse.

I did this process with the other colors. I was lulled into a false sense of vibrancy from doing the red first.

As you can see above, the yellow turned out pale creamsicle orange, and the blue & green turned out very pale.

The red, however, turned out adequately saturated!

I honestly was mostly just curious if this would work, and it did. I had already decided that I wanted to get a small starter pack of heavy metal-free acid dyes once I dyed the first one, so I wasn’t concerned about re-dyeing those pale skeins.

I also bought some extra packets for Scottie to play with. We did 2 experiments:

  1. We used some damp yarn in a casserole dish with some paper towel paint brushes.

Added a bit more water and cooked this covered on the stove until the water was clear. Looks like a mess, but wait for it…
Ta-da! Scottie is an artist.

2. Then we did a speckle experiment. Damp yarn, Kool-Aid powder, a glass of water, and a fork. We wrapped it up in cling wrap and steamed it in a pot for 30-45 min.

Again, looks hella messy…
Obsessed.
Being knit into a hat (in low light).

So obviously, you can get some really cool yarn from Kool-Aid, but it for the most part needs to be kind of a lot of packets.

The skeins below are the first 4 that I tried to dye with Kool-Aid. I re-dyed all but the red one with acid dye.

I think you’ll be seeing a lot more dyeing from me in the future. I am having WAY TOO MUCH FUN OMG.