Meet the Maker: Cheryl of Hypnotic Yarn

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 Cheryl Ham of Hypnotic Yarn. My first exposure to Cheryl's yarn was a custom vintage Christmas colorway she created for me for a holiday Sockhead Slouch Hat. I knew from the moment I opened the package I wanted to collaborate with her on a design, and the Concentra Cowl is the result. She has such a fun and unique eye for color that I always look forward to seeing what she'll create next.

Without further's Cheryl!


Introduce us to your business!

Hypnotic Yarn was born at the bottom of a rabbit hole that all started when I discovered knitting podcasts were a thing. Prior to that, I had no idea that hand dyed yarn existed. But once I learned of it I couldn't get it out of my head, and I knew I had to try it. I'd always been drawn to color and aesthetics, and my past is filled with many an attempt to find the right outlet for that passion -- from an interior design degree to my first dip into the Etsy waters with handcrafted nail polish -- but it wasn't until I married knitting with my love of color that everything fell into place and I started Hypnotic Yarn mid January 2017.

Over the years, knitting has become an everyday part of my life -- just like that first cup of coffee, I need to feel that yarn sliding through my fingers to get my day started off right! Hypnotic Yarn is an extension of that. There's no better way to elevate your craft than working with the luxury fibers you love in all your favorite colors. It became important to me very early on to do more than just apply color to yarn. My true goal with Hypnotic Yarn is to provide knitters and crocheters a tool they can use to create their own masterpieces, finished objects they will love, wear, and cherish for many, many years.


What's one of your favorite aspects of your business?

There's a lot to love in this biz of mine, for sure! First and foremost, my favorite aspect is seeing what my customers create with their yarn. Their amazing creations are why I do what I do, so any time I see a "hypnotic Knit" pop up in my Facebook or Instagram feed, or when a customer emails me to share something they've just finished, it's lights up my world and fuels my creative spirit. Knowing that I have this connection with another creative out there in the world, that they made something amazing and one of my colorways played a small role... well, it's everything to me.

As far as creating goes, I'm really enjoying my new Mystery Yarn Club. It allows me to flex my color-muscles in new ways, and I absolutely love seeing club members reactions when they get their package each month. It's just so darn fun! I also like that the club is mystery optional. There's a link in the club section of the website that'll take you to a secret page where you can see the upcoming club colorway if you don't want to be surprised. I really enjoy hearing from club members who're determined not to peek vs. those who love that they can see what's coming. All around, the club is a good time and has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the business.


What do you find most challenging about dyeing?

My number one challenge is the time is takes to physically create each colorway. There are many ways to dye yarn and every dyer has their own process. The techniques I use to layer colors can take several hours to produce a single small batch. I work a full time 8 to 5 day job aside from Hypnotic Yarn, so my dye time is limited to early mornings, nights, and weekends, and trust me, I'm busy dyeing during all those times. It's hard knowing that people want certain colorways restocked, and I just don't have the bandwidth to get everything done as quickly as I wish I could. It's something I'm definitely working on though.

When you find yourself in a creative slump, how do you get through it?

I actually have a little trick for kickstarting my creativity. A 'slump' for me usually comes in the form of every color combo I think of I've already dyed and I just can't think up something fresh. So, I take the thought out of it. I close my eyes and dig into my dye jars and pull out two or three or colors without looking. Admittedly, sometimes I think 'Yuck!' but other times, it's inspired some really great combinations. Even I don't use the exact colors I pull out, the process gets me thinking differently about color and how different colors might work together. It's a fun exercise.


What advice would you give to someone who also wants to sell their handmade items?

Austin Kleon says in his book Steal Like An Artist: "All advice is autobiographical." Meaning that any advice given is what the giver would do in your situation. It is advice colored by what that person has experienced in their life and filtered through the lens of how they currently see the world. It is not necessarily what everyone would do, or what you should do. So I'd caution that much well meaning advice may not be relevant to your business, so use only what resonates with you and ignore the rest. There is no one right way of doing something and heck, you don't want to do what everyone else is doing anyway! Forge your own path and create a business that you love for the people that you can best serve and you'll do just fine.

How do you unwind from your work?

Oh geez. Honestly, I don't have a lot of non-fiber time. I do love to read, and am a giant Audible addict, so nine times out of ten it's likely I have a book playing in the background of my life.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

Hmmm, let's see. I was a competitive gymnast for the entirety of my childhood and teenage years. Unfortunately, a fractured vertebrae nearly paralyzed me and landed me in a brace for nearly a year, effectively ending my gymnastics career. In my heyday, I could do a full twisting backflip with the best of them.


If you were a superhero, what would you want your superpower be?

It's so hard to choose just one! It's really a toss up between invisibility and flying. If I'm really forced to choose, ugh, I'd have to go with invisibility -- it's just too tempting.

Lighting round! Share some favorites with us:

Book or show? The Name Of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.

Podcast (knitting or otherwise)? Periscoping Sisters.

Dish or cuisine? Sushi.

Musician? James Taylor.

Fellow maker? My good friend Jess (@jessgasyarncafe) just launched her Etsy shop, where she sells some amazing crocheted items and gorgeous faux-fur pompoms.

And of course…what’s on your needles right now?

I have a serious case of castonitis. I'm pretty sure I have at least 12 (maybe more) project bags with WiPs at the moment. Shawls, Sweaters, Hats, Fingerless Mitts... the better questions might be what's NOT on my needles right not!

Erin here again! Thanks to Cheryl for taking the time to share a little about herself. Take a moment to visit her on your platform of choice: Instagram, Facebook, Ravelry, or the Hypnotic Yarn website. I think you'll be glad you did!

Erin Sigmund