I've had the opportunity to work on collaborations with several designers. Sometimes the process is simple and a designer picks colors from my line. Other times the collaboration requires new colors to create the finished product. Either way, something magical happens during the collaboration process. Watching the idea take shape, with the medium I had a hand in creating, is extraordinary.
The first time a designer used my yarn was at the suggestion of a yarn shop owner. The owner, Doris of Yarn Store Boutique in Spring, TX, recommended my yarn to Alina Appasova, a knitwear designer also living in Spring, TX. Alina picked two of my colors from Doris' inventory and made an amazing shawl. I was in Texas shortly after this and met Alina and saw the sample. I sat there, nearly dumbstruck, and whispered, "That's my yarn." Alina and I hit it off and have had several collaborations: Caragh, Vector Field, Treats for Ewe, and Caribeño.
Last fall, my yarn, in Alina's pattern, graced the cover of The Nightmare Before Christmas The Official Knitting Guide to Halloween Town and Christmas Town. The process for that collaboration started about 18 months before when Alina was approached to offer a design for the book. She recommended me as a dyer for one of the projects. When I opened the emailed from Tanis Gray, the coordinator of the project, asking if I'd like to participate, I may have screamed...loudly. The neighbors probably heard.
The process for the colors in Sally's Dress Wrap was different from Alina picking colors from my line and combining them. Alina explained her idea, we looked at photos of Sally's dress, I started thinking about how to create the particular colors, and then got to work in the studio. Alina and Tanis okayed the colors. Alina knit the sample. And we waited for months and months. Then, when I'd nearly forgotten about the project, a big glossy book arrives in the mail. I screamed again and did a happy dance! I looked at the pattern page and whispered, "That's my yarn!"
My most recent collaboration was with Tanis Gray on the Dragon Riders Cowl. It all started over the love of the Empyrean Series: Fourth Wing and Iron Flame (so far). I used the dust jacket of Iron Flame as my color inspiration for the yarn bundle. Tanis designed an amazing cowl. When I saw the finished cowl I whispered, "That's my yarn!"
Next week, I'm heading to California for a Dual Trunk Show with designer Marci Marra at Hands on Knitting Center in Redlands. Marci and I have worked on several projects together: Imagine Poncho, Twigs and Roots, Traveler Shawl, Hip to be Square, and other projects for this year. With each of these projects I have whispered, "That's my yarn!"
There is something profoundly beautiful about collaborations. It's like a meeting of the mutual admiration society because we each bring our art to the project, but it's the combination of that art that makes the final piece. I think that's why I always find myself whispering, "That's my yarn!" Sure, the yarn is pretty in a skein, but it's the pattern that gives it life. Being part of that process is beautiful and humbling and exciting.