Friday, December 2, 2011

Dyer Moments: Shannon Shaw

When I design knit patterns, my inspiration usually begins with a color.  I like to design textures and patterns that represent, in some way, the color I’m working with.  If a particular dye lot reminds me of fire, or a stormy sea, or a leafy vine, I’ll try to reflect that in the stitch pattern or overall shape.  But where do those beautifully colored yarns originate?  I'm particularly fond of the work of indie-dyers, and so I've created this interview process - Dyer Moments - to expose the people that make the colorways that inspire new design.  

Join me today in getting to know Shannon Shaw!

Describe the first time you dyed. 
"Don't Call Me Nymphadora"
~The first time I dyed, I had a skein of Patons wool & some grape & lime Kool-Aid. I dyed half of it lime green & half purple. I still have it. I haven’t found the perfect pattern for it yet.

How did you begin your business? 
~I started dyeing with Kool-Aid & then graduated to what my friends call “big girl” dyes. I bought Jacquard Acid Dye from Knit Picks & some of their Bare yarn. Once I was comfortable with my chosen dye method, I started building up my inventory before I officially listed my first items in my shop last year. What’s a little ironic is that 10 minutes after I set myself up on my Etsy shop as a seller, I got a call from my regular job that they were closing in 2 months. Needless to say, it was the kick in the pants that I needed to get my inventory built up & open my shop.

What inspired the name of your company? 
~After I found the wondrousness of Harry Potter, I searched online for Harry Potter quilt patterns & found a site on Livejournal. An amazing person had listed free quilt patterns she designed especially for Harry Potter on a Livejournal community, hp_paperpiecing. I joined Livejournal with the username of hermione_jean. On there I met others who adored Harry Potter as much as I did & got me back into crocheting & eventually teaching myself to knit. I learned of Ravelry from them & carried the same username over. It just became who I was known as & I didn’t want to change that familiarity so I kept it when I started my Etsy shop. Plus, who wouldn’t want a company named after the brightest witch of her age.

"Hagrid's Pumpkin Patch"
What inspires your colorways and how do you name them? 
~My favorite fandoms inspire my colorways. I usually come up with my ideas while I’m listening to my audio books or watching movies or my favorite TV series. I always have a notebook with me to jot down the ideas. I’ve got many colorways jotted down that haven’t been dyed yet.

Do you also knit? Crochet? 
~Yes, I knit, crochet & spin.

What is your favorite color and do you have a favorite pattern for showing off your yarn? 
~I love green but if you want to know my favorite colorway I‘ve dyed up so far, it would have to be…all of them. Really, that’s like trying to choose a favorite child. ;) Honestly, I adore anything that has been knit or crocheted with my yarn. It always gives me a thrill when I see something made with my yarn.

What is your favorite fiber/yarn to dye? 
~I love to dye with merino yarn especially superwash because I don’t have to worry too much about felting it.

Is there anything especially cool about your yarns we should know? 
~I don’t know how “cool” this may be but I’ve had a dear friend tell me that she loves my yarn because I put thought behind the colorways & the names of my yarns. There’s always a reasoning to them. They aren’t haphazardly thrown together.

"The Unbreakable Vow"
Describe your background / education. Does it have any influence on your company? 
~I have a B.S.B.A. in Business Management & Accounting. I wouldn’t say it’s had an influence on my company but it has given me the knowledge I’ve needed to run a business. I feel the influences have been from my family. I was taught to sew when I was 8 by my mother & to crochet at the same age by my grandmother. I’ve always dabbled in crafts whether it be sewing to quilting to yarn.

What advise would you give others looking to dye?
~I would say just start dyeing, try all the methods you can & find the one that suits you best. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, sometimes those are the best.

Most importantly, what’s the best way to purchase your yarns? Are you in retail stores or do you have a shop online? Do you offer a yarn club? 
~My yarns are only available in my Etsy store. I’m on my second yarn club which starts in December. I have plans for another one after that & possibly one in worsted weight.

Shannon Shaw - Hermione Jean Creations
To get a better idea of the people behind the product…I ask our dying interviewees these insightful questions developed by Bernard Pivot.

What is your favorite word? 

What is your least favorite word? 
~Ignorant ~ It’s not the word that I dislike but that some people are ignorant.

What is your favorite curse word? 
~I don’t really curse all that much but I do say crap a lot.

"Hogwart's Halloween Feast"
What sound or noise do you love? 

~I love the sounds of water. It’s very soothing.

What sound or noise do you hate? 
~The sounds of town. It’s too much noise, I live in the country.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? 
~I would love to be a costume maker for the theater or movies. I think that would be so much fun.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? 
~Well done!

Please visit Shannon at

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