As promised, here is the next featured indie dyer to share with you after the success of our collaboration at Unravel. This time, it’s the turn of Jeni from Fyberspates whose yarn might have found its way home with a few of us working the booth…..
Fyberspates is an independent yarn company specialising in luxury yarns. Jeni has developed 2 distinct yarn ranges: individually hand dyed and wholesale lines such as Vivacious and Scrumptious. With extensive pattern support, international distribution and attendance at international events, Jeni is certainly one of the busiest dyers out there! Here’s an insight into Jeni and Fyberspates:
In your own words, tell us about Fyberspates
Fyberspates specialises in luxury yarns. Some of them are hand dyed in our studio by my mum and I, but we also have commercial ranges which are sold to shops around the world.
We love strong colours and wonderful textures and want to create yarns which make stunning garments and accessories. My aim with Fyberspates is to create a commercial yarn company that stands out and always produces products that make people excited.
How did you grow from a one-woman hand-dye operation to an international wholesaler?
By never having time off haha! That’s actually mostly true!
In all honesty thought, it was massively by trial and error, since scaling up is very different to producing hand dyed yarns. What the mass market will take is not the same as what you can sell as a hand dyer, plus it’s hard to create palettes of colour which will work across different countries. As a result it’s taken a lot of time to figure that stuff out, (and plenty of messing it up!) A little secret: our first commercial yarns actually completely bombed, for so many reasons. We had it in stock for years! We learnt a lot of lessons from this and kept going, and thankfully it’s now working well.
I think not over-thinking things is also key. Once you get busy, you don’t have time to make massively in depth decisions. I go on gut instinct and learn from my mistakes. My most successful commercial range was created by making recipes for the colours in 4 hours under immense pressure; I was completely out of my depth. It was extremely exhilarating though!
Finally, I think the major hurdle is having someone who is good at business partnering with you. Getting the margins right on things is so crucial, and sometimes getting emotional about things can mean you might consider something that isn’t financially viable so having someone else to look at it clinically is crucial. We have a joke that Andy (from the Chester Wool Company, my business partner) always says no to everything first, and then it’s my job to lay down a plan as to how it will work, which in turn really makes me think things through. Financing is also a big part and the money invested in a commercial range, getting it out there and pattern supporting is scarily mind blowing. Thanks to partnering with Chester Wool Company though, we were able to make it happen.
What did you do before you got into dyeing?
I was a postgrad in Psychology, and actually worked as a researcher for 4 years alongside my business until it became financially viable.
What job do you think you’d be doing if it wasn’t this?
Weird answer… but I don’t think I would be doing anything else. I had an epiphany whilst doing psychology that I wanted to work in textiles in a big way. Since then there was just no other option, literally from that moment on it became my goal and I worked steadily towards it.
If I wasn’t running Fyberspates I think I would be working with Andy from Chesterwool company developing yarns… which I kind of already do, but in a bigger way. I was on this path from the moment I realised that it was textiles I wanted to be involved in.
If there were more hours in the day I would….?
Knit more…. And probably get better at sewing and felting. I spending most of my waking life working, so it leaves little time to do knitting. I have so many projects I would like to make.
Oh and actually get better at patisserie and sour dough!
What inspires you as a dyer?
I am not really a process dyer with a theme in mind at the start. I mix up colours, get started and make it up as I go. I am more inspired by different effects of dye on yarn and how they knit up, that’s where I spend most time messing about. Once I have figured out something different, I move on. My mum on the other hand is massively influenced by colours in nature and textures, she will always save ideas in her mind’s eye. This is especially true for the Faery Wings colour palette, which is her speciality.
What’s the most exciting thing about running Fyberspates?
The fact that I get the chance to take massive risks based on my ideas. I am naturally quite a risk taker and I love the thrill of seeing if I can make something work. I get bored extremely quickly and if I wasn’t growing and moving forward as a company I would have to do something else. My job suits me very well as I am quite obsessive and I like to push as hard as I can. I really do live for the targets we aim for, so I have 6 and 12 monthly, 5 yearly and 10 year targets that keep me focused and also allows me to feel excited even when I feel knackered or uninspired. Instead, I imagine reaching the goal point and I am excited to keep going. Normally once the goal is hit I am already well on the way towards the next one lol!
You get to travel a lot for work, which places have you loved the most?
Haha, I love reaching destinations, but I hate the journey. If it’s on a plane, it can ruin my Christmas knowing I have a long haul flight in March, for example!
The best places that I have been are Peru and Italy – they are my absolute favourites. I have to travel to Italy every year and it’s like inspiring my senses: fashion, yarns and food! Peru is amazing because it’s so, so different from the UK that every time we go it’s terrifying and exciting all at once. The trip is normally extremely work-focused on things such as product development in a short time frame, often in different languages of which I speak none! It’s exhilarating to say the least (!) plus the food and scenery are AMAZING and the people are so wonderful.
Can you share any sneak previews/news of what’s coming up next?
Yes! We have just commissioned our first Vivacious collection for our Vivacious yarn line. It’s a range of simple knits as the yarn does a lot of the work. This is due to launch in the Autumn. We are also currently developing 2 new commercial ranges but these can sometimes be a year in the making before we get it right… but it means a trip to Peru is on the cards for this summer!
There are several Inspiration Knits/ Fyberspates patterns now, do you have a particular favourite?
Song of the Sea is my absolute favourite; it works so well in all my yarns, haha! The pattern shows off the colours and textures of the yarn incredibly well.
If you could knit any Inspiration Knits pattern, in any of your yarns, what would you choose and why?
Initially I was going to say Song of the sea. However, Knit Night is actually the most likely because it’s just so good for using those odd skeins of multis we have in the stash which we don’t have a project for. It works like a dream for semisolids or multis- it’s a yarn companies dream pattern! I would definitely knit it in Twizzle or one of the Pure Silk 4plys.
A big thank you to Jeni for taking the time to answer our questions.
Look out for our next yarnie interview with Ling, the talented dyer behind Whimzy.