Meet the Maker: Debi of Blue Skin Yarns
Meet the Maker is an ongoing series in which I introduce you to some of my favorite indie makers -- or rather, let them introduce themselves!
Today I'd like you to meet Debi Martin of Blue Skin Yarns. She actually found me and reached out about collaborating -- and boy, am I glad she did! Her bases are exquisite (and I say that as someone sensitive to wool), her colors are richly complex, and she is an incredibly kind and sweet person. We collaborated on the Quillful Cowl and Quillful Wrap as well as the Graceling Collection.
Without further ado...here's Debi!
Introduce us to your business!
My mom taught me to crochet and knit as a child, but in my teen years I set it aside, as many do, and I didn’t really pick it up again until a couple years ago. It was only then that I realized that there was so much more to yarn than the acrylics of my childhood, and then I discovered the wonder of hand-dyed yarn. I was smitten. It took me about two months to decide to try dyeing my own yarn, and a few months after that I opened my shop on Etsy.
My shop is called Blue Skin Yarns after the poem “Masks” by Shel Silverstein, which describes the folly of hiding what makes us who we are; if we hide it, we’ll never recognize the same in those around us. Blue skin has become my life mantra as I learn to accept and even share who I am, so of course I carried it in my yarn dyeing as well. My colors are often connected to stories or poems, though not always.
The yarns I sell are all soft, silky fiber blends, because since discovering that yarn didn’t have to be coarse or scratchy, I never want it to be! My favorite fibers are cashmere and silk, and most of my yarns contain at least one of the two.
What's one of your favorite aspects of your business?
The yarns themselves are probably my favorite part of my business. Each fiber blend has such a special place in my heart because of its own unique qualities, and I love them all. I enjoyed the process of sampling different blends and getting to decide which ones were the ones I wanted to share with the world. They’re all “mine” for different and specific reasons, and they’re all blends that I personally enjoy creating with.
What do you find most challenging about dyeing?
Creating new colorways is probably the most challenging aspect of dyeing. It’s lots of fun, but the trial and error process can be long and frustrating. Some colors just work right from the start, and others take repeated tries, and the flops can pile up quickly. The good news is that even the flops have a welcome place in someone’s stash or in the right project.
When you find yourself in a creative slump, how do you get through it?
I knit! Even when my color-making is in a slump, I always have a knitting project going on, and as I’ve learned what type of projects I enjoy most and will wear most, having a few new patterns in mind always helps keep me excited about yarn, color combinations, and possibilities.
What advice would you give to someone who also wants to sell their handmade items?
Do it! It may take a long time to get established, and you might not be able to depend on much income at first, but if those aren’t problems, then you have nothing to lose. Etsy makes it super simple for new makers to get their creations out there; there’s no reason to not at least give it a try. And you never know what doors will open along the way.
How do you unwind from your work?
My day job is a full-time administration position I work from home, and I also have an eight-year-old daughter, so those two take most of my non-fiber time. In any remaining time, I love to read, follow other yarnies on Instagram, watch a little Netflix, and of course knit.
What’s something most people don’t know about you?
I grew up in a family of six children and was homeschooled. It was a very different childhood from most people I know, and my worldview is a bit unique because of it.
If you were a superhero, what would you want your superpower to be?
I’d be Invisible Girl! Invisibility would come in so handy in so many situations, both for my own benefit and for others’ benefit.
Lighting round! Share some favorites with us:
Book or show? So many! The books I’ve re-read throughout my life are John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Greensleeves, and Kathryn Worth’s They Loved to Laugh.
Podcast (knitting or otherwise)? Invisibilia.
Dish or cuisine? Asian.
Musician? Always changing; right now I love Joshua Hyslop and a couple songs by the Script.
And of course…what’s on your needles right now?
I’ve got two projects on my needles right now: the Tilted Cowl by SweaterFreak Knits (for mindless knitting when I need it) and the Patricia Shrug by Vicky Chan Designs.
*Erin's note: Flattered beyond belief! Thank you, Debi!
Erin here again! Thanks to Debi for taking the time to share a little about herself. If you love ultra-soft bases and complex colors, stop by Blue Skin Yarns on Etsy and spend some time getting to know Debi's yarns. Her greys are particularly exquisite, if you ask me!