Surprise! Our fourth dyer is a true superstar in the world of handdyed yarns: Babs Ausherman aka Miss Babs from Mountain City, Tennessee. Do I really have to say it? To me, it’s a dream come true having her yarn in our club! Her colors are everything from intense to glowingly subtle, the combinations daring and harmonic at the same time and her dyeing methods unexpected. “Who I am today as an artist is not who I was 2005 when I began dyeing full-time. I know my tools (dyes) so much better today, but see that I have other directions to go to stretch my artistic skills and knowledge. I’m not done experimenting”, Babs says.
Babs first tried dyeing yarn about 15 years ago: “I had started spinning fiber and I ended up with a bunch of white yarn that now needed to have some color on it. I had a lot of yarn, because I never seem to do anything in a small way! So I started dyeing yarn in my kitchen sink using koolaid, food dyes, cake/icing dyes. Then I took a natural dyeing class near here, and came home and started dyeing in my back yard with pots over fires, using natural ingredients. I used the internet to get information about indigo, and did some indigo dyeing. I ordered some inexpensive rug yarn by the tens of pounds, and started dyeing it. And then I moved onto commercial acid dyes and better yarns. I dove into fiber from there, going to fiber festivals, taking some dye workshops, and it has grown from there!” she says.
At this point in her life, nobody had to teach her how to run a small business anymore: Babs grew up with five siblings (all of them now in creative professions like sculptor, glassblower, fashion pattern maker or potter), had worked as a realtor, run an insurance agency, worked as a director of staff at a hospital and completed an MBA. But textiles and color have always been a big part of her life – she started sewing as a kid: “When I was young, we sewed all our own clothes. I learned to shop for fabric early. I can remember walking past the bolts of fabric with my hand extended to feel the fabric. If it was pleasing, then I would stop to look at the color”, Babs says. “Today, when I shop for clothes, I do much the same thing: First I touch them to see if I like the feel of the fabric, then I look at the color. Yarn is the same way. The feel and the structure of the yarn have to be right, then it can be dyed.”
Babs has been very picky about color all her life: “In clothes, in my home, in projects I am making. I think that finding out how to work with color, and get just the right color, on yarn has been exhilarating for me. It keeps me endlessly intrigued.”
Her favorite colors change with time as her taste evolves and the seasons change. But she still has a couple of favorites: “I love greens and purples together, which is probably why the iris is one of my very favorite flowers. But I often am drawn to oranges and reds for my personal knitting. Right now, Outstanding is probably my favorite variegated colorway, while Echo and Stonewashed are among my favorite monochrome (semi-solid) colors.”
Her favorite yarns? “For dyeing they are Yowza, Yummy 2-ply and Katahdin. My personal favorite yarns for knitting are Caroline, Yummy 2-ply, and Katahdin. I like fingering weights that slip nicely and quietly through my fingers. But I also really like Kunlun which is a DK, and is a blend of merino, cashmere and silk”, Babs says. She loves lace, but often ends up knitting something simple to knit at the end of the day when she is tired. “I have knit a lot of Hitchhikers and Bricklesses in different weight yarns!”
Babs has agreed to dye a new exclusive colorway for Strickmich! Club 2017. I am thrilled and hope you are, too!
Strickmich! Club 2017 consists of four new knitting designs by Martina Behm plus four skeins of especially chosen, exclusively dyed yarns, carefully selected by Martina for her designs that you will surely enjoy knitting with. Sign-ups start in November on a separate webpage, I will announce the exact date in my newsletter which you can subscribe to using the link in the footer of this page.