Five mins with...'A Stash Addict'
Monday, March 25, 2013
Amelia Holmwood meets Danielle Alinia aka ‘A Stash Addict’ who reveals her inspiration, obsession and passion for the art of dying wool
Have you always been interested in crafts?
I have been crafty for as long as I can remember, fortunately I come from a family of crafty people. My Granddad used to machine knit my father and his brothers jumpers when they were growing up, of course back then it was more out of necessity then pleasure. My great nana used to be constantly knitting, I loved listening to the clicking of her needles and have fond memories of snuggling up with her for hours watching her work. My other gran used to crochet the most beautiful blankets and delicate lace doilies. My own mother is very creative, a wonderful painter and seamstress, she has always actively encouraged me to explore and embrace my creative side by making sure I always had opportunities and the resources to draw, paint and create.
I have always loved colour, when I left secondary school I trained to be a make-up artist at the London School of Beauty and then naturally over the years branched into different areas of the beauty industry. I have always been a firm believer that colour is a powerful healer.
When did you learn/who taught you to knit?
My great nana taught me how to work a knit stitch when I was about 6 years old, she would cast on and bind off for me. I used to love spending this quality time with her. When she sadly passed away, my knitting did too. I picked up my needles again about 5 years ago and couldn't believe how much more there was to knitting than a simple garter stitch and of course instantly become hooked!
I taught myself to both knit and crochet through books and online video tutorials. Learning to knit has been rather daunting at times. I have both Dyslexia and Dyscalculia and as a consequence have had huge difficulties visualising and retaining memory of numbers which can make even the simplest task like counting stitches a struggle. Fortunately through blogging I have made a network of really lovely, helpful people who don't mind answering my silly questions when I need help.
Who or what inspired you to dye and sell your own wool?
When I found out I was pregnant in 2009, I decided to stop working because of the long hours and my health. So I had a lot of time to knit and a lot of time to look for yarn and I struggled to find "pretty" colours that I liked that weren't acrylic! So I set about finding a way to dye my own. I bought my first dyeing kit and un-dyed skeins at unravel in 2010 and at first started to dye for myself, learning through trial and error. Blogging about my experiments generated a lot of interest, and I started getting customer requests so decided to open an Etsy shop, and from there launched my own website in November 2012
I never expected to get so much job satisfaction from dyeing fibre. I love making people happy with my colours. I got to take part in Unravel this year which gave me the opportunity to see first-hand the impact my colours have on people, and the feedback was overwhelming. Each and every skein in my shop is personally prepared, dyed, dried and labelled by me, by my own hands so I do feel a personal attachment to them. I love that I get to share my love of fibre and passion for colour with people all over the world. it's knowing that I have helped play a part in keeping a pair of feet warm or placed a huge smile on someones face that allows me to share them with fellow stash addicts instead of keeping them all to myself *hehe* as parting with them can be the hardest part of my job!
Do you have any advice on setting up your own business? How long has it taken you to set up 'A Stash Addict'?
A Stash Addict has organically grown over the last year and a half and I am very lucky that 90% of my customer base are very loyal. They also inspire and encourage me on daily basis which keeps me motivated to come up with more exciting colours. I really appreciate all the feedback they give me and I love seeing all their finished objects!
Honestly the only advice I have really, is don't give up your day job to become an indie dyer if you're looking to get rich! I think a lot of people are under the misconception that we buy the wool for next to nothing, quickly slap some dye and a hefty price tag on it and watch the big bucks roll in! Everything about the process of dyeing and selling yarn is time consuming, especially if like me you paint most individually by hand. I definitely do this job out of passion and I am very lucky that I am in a position to not do it out of financial necessity.
Where do you source your wool from?
I try to source as much fibre from Britain as possible, using local mills and supporting local business where I can. I am a huge fan of Bluefaced Leicester which is a breed unique to the UK. It holds dye beautifully and has a natural luster, if you have not tried it yet I recommend you do as you won't be disappointed it's a lovely fibre to knit with.
Where can people buy your yarn?
You can buy my yarn and fibre from www.astashaddict.co.uk I will also be exhibiting at various fibre festivals and shows throughout the year.
Why do you think hand-dyed yarns are superior to mass-produced yarns?
To me hand dyed yarn is like art, it's an investment as you can take that fibre and turn it into wearable art. Each skein is completely unique, so why settle for the ordinary when you can buy extraordinary? Each fibre artist develops their own dyeing style so the choice is just as wide as mass produced yarns if not more. And with every purchase not only are you supporting local/ small businesses but you're also receiving something handmade and from the heart.
What would you say to a non-knitter to convert them?
I just show them my yarn stash! Hehe..Jokes aside I do have a couple of customers that decided they had to learn to knit because they wanted a skein of my yarn!
When you're not dyeing you're…?
I am mostly doing something active like walking Betty, our little French bulldog. I also love going to the gym or cycling outdoors with my husband and three children. I am training for two charity cycling events this year and I have also discovered a new found love for running. My family and I live a paleo lifestyle so I also do a lot of home cooking which I enjoy and of course most evenings are spent knitting :) and designing new patterns.