Introducing Sarah, our dye studio helper
When I found out I was pregnant last year, I knew that I would need to take some maternity leave, but I also knew that as our business has been growing quite a lot over the past few years we'd need to bring in an extra set of hands to help while I was off. Even though I'm back to work part-time now, Sarah has been indispensable over the past 6 months and we are so happy that she's continuing to help out on a regular basis! We thought it was about time we introduced her to you, so here she is in her own words.
Unless otherwise stated, all photos credit to: Stéphane Dracopoulos
Hi, I’m Sarah! I’ve been working at the Sweet Paprika studio helping out with everything from dyeing to packing to washing and winding. I started out as an intern, spending part of my 2016 summer learning the ropes and lending a hand. I now work with Sweet Paprika part time during the school year. Like Annie (who wrote about her experiences as a dye studio intern here), I am a theatre design student, which means I am often knee-deep in creative assignments and performance designs, especially during the school year.
Debbie and Elizabeth masterfully work our schedules together and are always respectful and understanding of my work outside of Sweet Paprika - and what more could any artist ask for? Working here has become a constant joy in my week and gives me something to always look forward to.
Since school and my outside design work, though fun, can frequently become stressful and tense, I have found that being able to come into the studio once a week has become a huge benefit to me. Working here has become not just a job, but also a creative getaway. I find the work extremely meditative and calming.
Photo credit: Sarah Mauracher
My absolute favourite part, and it may seem minute (but as an artist it is hard not to find the beauty and inspiration in even the tiniest things!), is pouring the dye into a freshly boiled pot of water. The swirling clouds of colour are mesmerizing and remind me that the result is not just artistic, but the process itself is also artful.
Sweet Paprika is somewhere I cannot only create and marvel in the stunning results of their recipes, but the dye method itself really has almost a pacifying rhythm to it.
Now, apart from the contemplative aspect of the dye process is the chemistry. No, I’m not falling in love with the yarn (though it’s really hard not to, I mean come on have you seen some of those colours? I will never get over that deeply rich Canneberge shade!), I’m talking about actual chemistry- like beakers and measurements and science-y stuff.
So I’m an artist through and through and sciences and maths really aren’t my game, but I’ve got to say, this stuff is fun! Like Annie said, with the gloves and masks and all the pouring and measuring and mixing, it really does make you feel like a mad scientist!
Photo credit: Sarah Mauracher
The last thing I want to mention, and of course you all already know all about this, is the finished product. Man, these things are beautiful! Now, I know you’re all going to hate me for this, but I have to admit that I am not a knitter. I know, I know! Honestly though, seeing all this lovely yarn and all the intricate and adorable patterns that Sweet Paprika produces, it’s really hard not to.
Debbie has graciously lent me some needles to try to get a handle on it and I have got to say, oh man, it is much harder than I expected. Last week I told Debbie that I’m going to give up and maybe try my hand at crocheting instead, but after writing this post I’ve realized, how could I? All the time and patience and care that is put into dying each skein is also what is needed in knitting a piece - even if it’s for yourself. So that’s exactly what I’m going to do, and hopefully, by the time next winter hits, I’ll have my very own hat (and maybe some mittens?!) made by myself - truly from start to finish. Is there anything else more satisfying?
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I thoroughly enjoyed reading Saltwater Mittens when we started carrying it last spring, and was delighted to find out earlier this year that there was a sequel in the works. Saltwater Classics is now here!
Saltwater Classics continues in the style of Saltwater Mittens, and includes several more mitten patterns, but it also includes many patterns for hats, caps and vamps. What are vamps? From what I can gather after reading The Great Vamp Debate, vamps are usually thick short socks that are worn as an extra layer inside boots or as a slipper indoors – with many regional variations of course. All I know for sure is that I definitely need a pair or two!
One of our big goals for Sweet Paprika this year was to source a new line of Canadian wool yarns. We started contacting farms and mills last January, researching options, connecting with farmers, and collecting samples.
Eventually we settled on working with wool from Circle R Livestock, a family farm in southern Ontario. Over the spring we worked out the details to have the wool milled in New Brunswick, and we then spent the summer doing dye tests and creating colour recipes for our new Winfield (worsted) and Sutton (bulky) yarn lines.