Interview by The DIME Store, Photos by Laura Jinks Jimenez
Since it is finally getting a little cooler, DIME sat down to chat with yarn-dyer extraordinaire, Laura Jinks Jimenez, of Gynx yarns to see what goes in to crafting her amazing fibers and goes about creating specific colorways (the beautiful selections colors in her gradients). Jinks' yarn is unlike anything else sold at the DIME Store and always catches your eye. Read on to learn what inspires her and how she goes about connecting with her online community to grow her business.
How did you get into yarn dyeing?
I started knitting back in 2005. I was still in high school and broke, but I had a thirst for nicer yarns than the local big box places stocked. I took to recycling thrift store sweaters I found. I could rarely find exactly what I wanted that way, so I turned to dyeing to get the colors I wanted. When I was at UNT getting my Fiber Arts degree, I started experimenting a lot with dyes and came up with some pretty cool results, and I fell in love with the process.
All of your colorways have fun and quirky names. What inspires their monikers?
My colorway inspiration comes from all over, but I think I’m most well-known for my “nerdy” colorways. A lot of my inspiration comes from anime or video games. Both anime and video games are so colorful that they often put color ideas into my head. It always makes for interesting conversation when people ask about my hard-to-pronounce Japanese names.
A recent project of mine actually has to do with cities in the DFW area. I’m working on a collection of colorways based on every city I’ve lived in, which all happen to be in the DFW region. So far I have two: Denton is “DenTOWN”, for which I drew colors I found in photos of the square, and Dallas’s “The Big D”, which is from Dallas’s nighttime skyline. I still have Mansfield, Arlington, and Fort Worth to go, so be on the lookout for those soon.
colorway always follow the name, or is it sometimes the other way around?
It definitely happens both ways. I work from an inspiration photo a lot, so the name comes pretty easily that way. Other times I wake up and decide I feel like dyeing something with purples and blues, and then I decide later on if it reminds me of something. Sometimes I have zero plan, which is the most liberating, and grab random colors and start playing with no end goal in mind. I will dye off of intuition and add a little bit of this or that until it seems right, which makes for really complex color combinations. Those are often the most difficult to name.
In addition to
yarn dyeing, you've built a little knitting identity for yourself by
talking about your techniques in your Podcast "The Dyer's Notebook," knitting with your own yarns,
and having your yarns featured in yarn clubs. How does all of this add to your
business of dyeing?
I started my podcast, “The Dyer’s Notebook”, a little over a year ago as a way to chronicle my adventures in the fiber world, educate others about dyeing, and also to connect with customers on a more personal level. Through the podcast and social media, I’ve created a network of customers, viewers, and friends that just continues to grow. A lot of people find out about my business through my podcast, and at this point I’d say the majority of my regular customers are viewers of my podcast as well. While I talk about what I’ve been up to with my knitting, spinning, and dyeing, I also give a preview of what’s going up in my [Etsy] shop each week so people can get excited about it and keep checking out my shop regularly.
While I offer my own yarn clubs through my shop, I’ve also started collaborating with other people on clubs and knitting kits. I recently worked with Etsy seller littleskein and knitwear designer Laura Linneman on a sock kit that includes a club-exclusive colorway from me. I love doing collaborations like that because it gets my name out there to people who might not have found me otherwise.
Before Gynx Yarns, you had a handmade Etsy shop. How does having a “supply”
shop differ from running a handmade shop? Or do you see Gynx Yarns as more of a
handmade shop than a supply shop?
When I first started on Etsy in 2009, I was selling finished products, and it wasn’t making me as happy as I thought it would. In 2011 I shifted over to selling hand-dyed yarn. The “handmade” vs. “supply” question is kind of tricky though, because I see my product somewhere in the middle. Yes, yarn is technically a supply to make something else, but I feel that hand-dyed yarn is in a completely different category from commercial yarn. When you buy a hand-dyed skein of yarn, you are buying a piece of art. When you knit with that yarn, you are collaborating with that dye artist on your own project. I lean more towards “handmade” because of the artistry that goes into it.
The main difference between the business I started out with and the business I own now is the community associated with the fiber world. It is easy for me to connect with all of the people just as obsessed with knitting as I am with social media sites such as Ravelry, Twitter, and Facebook. If you think there aren’t that many people out there who knit/crochet or that people don’t get obsessed with it, check out Ravelry. It is a whole site for knitters and crocheters, and there are currently over 3 million users from all over the world. Not only have I found customers, but I’ve made a lot of friends through the fiber world. There really isn’t that kind of a community for people who just like to buy handmade goods.
Do you have any advice for aspiring Etsy sellers?
Treat is as a business from the very beginning. Figure out how to make your business legal, find out what taxes are, how you’re going to handle things like shipping and customer service. Your business will grow and evolve over time, but you have to start as you mean to continue.
Where can we shop your work and find our more about what you do?
You can find my blog and podcast here.
The DIME Store is a shop and artist collective in downtown Denton that features art, craft, and vintage from 40+ local makers. Rachel Aughtry and Shelley Christner act as the "curators and purveyors" of the shop. When they're not at DIME, you'll find them behind their sewing machines or enjoying a margarita at The Greenhouse.