My day started off with a nice tour of LL led by Amanda where I asked a million questions. I met about half of the regular LL staff who were more than happy to answer my second million silly questions. A typical day at LL consists of 2 dyers, 3 people who wind, label and organize the yarn, Amanda, Beth and Pearl (who mostly just wanders around looking cute). They dye about 20 different yarns including Roving and Buffalo Gold’s Bison yarn, *See picture to the right* (which is amazing by the way).
There are PVC pipes hanging EVERYWHERE for drying yarn, about 4 Dye Tables, some tables used for labeling and boxes and boxes of natural (un-dyed yarn). While wandering around looking at and touching EVERYTHING I came across the stamps for our Limited Edition colors, past and future. I spotted one very special to me because it was for a color I had tried to design for this past October and then ran out of time. I come to find out that one of my tasks for the day is to work with Amanda to dye that special color. How excited was I?! So it was off to look through the custom color book to try to explain to Amanda my vision. Since I am not very good at explaining things this took a little longer than Amanda probably expected. After we had a rough idea it was off to the dye tables to mix some colors. We tried about 4 different greens before we nailed it, and boy did we nail it!
The other colors were easy and we got dying. The finished product is exactly what I wanted and I would love to tell you what colors it is and the story behind it, but you are just going to have to wait a few months til it comes out…
*Before I went to LL I had no clue of the process of “Hand Dyed” yarn, so I am assuming a lot of you do not either. So here is a quick run down. First you mix the dye (which is a powder) and hot water. Then you pour the dye onto the hanks of yarn and work the dye in. Once you get the yarn dyed you heat it for about 40 minutes. Once out of the heat you place the hanks into a washer and rinse them out. Then they hang to dry for about a day, depending on the humidity in the air. Then the yarn is twisted into hanks, labeled and packed up. Sounds pretty simple, but it is a lot of work.
Feeling pretty accomplished and hungry we went off to get coffee and sandwiches down the alley from LL. Boy oh boy, the food in Chicago…well, I am sure the food in most big cities, AMAZING! We had bagel sandwiches, which were nothing short of incredible.
So after lunch we headed back to LL to meet Beth who had her own mission for me. We were going to work on the February limited edition color, and film it. Now if you have been watching our video reviews on JBW’s website you will notice one key player in the JBW team who does not do videos, yes me! I avoid cameras like the plague, but for Beth, Michael, Amanda and Pearl I would do anything. No, not really, but Michael was so funny while filming and I was so interested in Beth’s lesson that I forgot about the camera. Beth and I dyed sample hanks of 3 different options for Jimmy to chose from. I will give you a little taste by saying this…it is Valentine’s colors this year, much happier than last years. But again, you will just have to wait to see.
Unfortunately there were some camera malfunctions and I don’t think we got any of that, but you will get to see me dying one of the top-secret new LL colors that will be released in January. I have 2 favorites of those…aren’t you sooo excited to see them now! Well, you have to wait till January, and no I do not take bribes!! (Total lie, I like all chocolate covered foods and flowers).
In-between my dying adventures I got to label and bag up yarn and even help fill orders.
I got to put yarn in the Jimmy’s cube, which was very exciting. Next week when I unpack the LL shipment I can say, “I put this in this box!”, and all the little beans will look at me like I am crazy (more so than they already do).
I can’t tell you what my favorite parts were because they were all so good. I learned a lot, got offered a job, and even got to design 2 Limited Edition colors. I really enjoyed learning how it all worked and hanging out with the LL crew who are all so amazing. I wish they were closer so we could get together more, but at least now I have an excuse to get out of town and maybe even a job one day!
PS. I had to share this one last picture I took. It is of our photo of the Limited Edition Color for March '09 "Garden Daze", with the note "I Heart Jimmy March '09". Stephanie (Head Dyer at LL) printed the picture out, wrote the note, and hung it on the wall. I just thought that was real neat.