We got to chat with Christelle Bagea this month! She’s a dyer and designer of this issue’s Carved Wood socks.
Tell us a bit more about yourself
Hi, I’m Christelle! I’m 42, I live in France in a little town near Paris with my husband and my four children: Ambre, 12, Maxime, 10, Constant, 6 and baby Amélia, 2.
We live in a small house on the border of a forest and enjoy riding our bikes through it! I’ve been in love with knitting for 10 years now, so much that it’s now my day job!
You’re both a dyer and a designer! How did you get into both of these?
It started with design in 2015 and dyeing came later, in 2017. When I love something, I like to explore all the aspects of it so, small steps at a time, that’s what I’ve been doing with knitting and things related to knitting: techniques, designing, yarn dyeing, spinning and lately fiber dyeing.
And which one do you prefer? Do you think of yourself as a Dyer who also Designs? Or, as a Designer who also Dyes?
That’s a tough one. If you’d asked a year ago, I’d have answered without hesitation “a designer who dyes”. Lines are blurrier now that dyeing took the forefront. Lately my design endeavors were mostly aimed at developing my yarn dyeing business, so now I’d rather say that I’m “a dyer who designs”. But honestly? I love both.
What are your favorite things:
I love all colors. It would be very difficult for me to pick just one. Let’s say my least favorite color, the one that comes less often to the dyepots, is true blue.
Fingering weight! I love it because it’s so versatile, you can knit anything from fingering weight yarn. Shawls! Socks! Sweaters! Held double and you have DK!
Types of objects (e.g., shawls, hats, etc.)
I love knitting shawls and socks. Also, since I’ve been dyeing full time, I’ve discovered the joys of sweater knitting and am enjoying it tremendously.
Why do you like to design?
Design is one of the way I use to express my creativity. Each design is very personal and anchored in a multi-faceted universe, that’s fueled by a lot of things: colors, mood, fictional works, music, seasons, holidays… Lately designing has been a wonderful way to support my dyeing adventures and being able to design projects with my own hand dyed yarn sent the creative possibilities skyrocketing!
Why do you like to dye yarn?
I love hand dyed yarn. I’ve been collecting hand dyed treasures for a decade and consider myself the curator of a wonderful collection. Add to the mix that before knitting, I painted a lot… I stopped when I had my first child because it was really not easy to paint while being a new mom. So yarn dyeing is at the natural intersection of my love for yarn and my love for color!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
My color inspiration is deeply rooted in the seasons, and from my favorite things within them. For example, I have a summer colorway called “Cocktail by the pool”. To me, the colors are strongly evocative of an imagined picture of myself in a giant pink flamingo floatie, on a beautiful turquoise pool, with a martini in hand and not a care in sight! Just a mind picture though, I never had the opportunity so far to live that scene. #bucketlist
Culture, especially pop culture, never cease to inspire me as well. Fictional works especially. Last, I’m very visual and love putting moodboards together.
First, I always spent a lot of time thinking about the design. This step is long and not easy because you have to choose from the hundreds of possibilities (thousands? Millions?) that stand in front of you and bit by bit you take your idea from nothingness and give it life in the real world. It’s not straightforward, it’s sometimes painful and sometimes it doesn’t work. But when it does, realizing the design is a mere formality as I’ve made all the creative decisions already.
And what about when you dye yarn?
For yarn, either it’s completely instinctive and unplanned or it is very planned and the colorway is inspired by an illustration that struck a cord, or a picture that I find particularly interesting colorwise. Very often, I improvise and get surprise colorways that become staples in my palette! Lately I’ve been experiencing with bold color associations, playing around the color wheel. The results are awesome! I’m always learning and experimenting and trying new things.
Who are your favorite designers? (both craft and non-craft)
There are a LOT of designers out there that I admire and find incredibly inspiring. It would be difficult to name only a few.
What is your nemesis? The thing that makes you want to run and hide when you think about it.
Forums and group discussions are not my strong suit. I’m introverted and more at ease in more personal discussions on shared interests (but not small talk)
What do you do in addition to being both a designer and dyer? Do you enjoy it or is it just a job?
Dyeing and designing have been my full time job for just over a year now. It’s like a dream come true! No so long ago, I had an office job that I did not enjoy anymore and that got very stressful. I am now working from home, able to take care of my children and be the only one to organize my time. That’s awesome!
What does a typical Christelle-day entail?
The days have been a bit weird lately with the lockdown and the sanitary crisis. The past months, I’ve had to find a new balance and my days look like this: wake up early for a bit of computer work before the kids get up, then breakfast followed by homeschooling/preparing lunch/house chores. I try to inject a bit of work by multi-tasking ninja-style with some skein labelling or other menial job task but it’s hard. Then lunch and clean up (everybody does a bit) and in the afternoon I hit the dyepots while baby Amélia sleeps and the three others kids chill.
My husband works from home several days a week and spends the day in his office (our bedroom). Afternoon time is also dedicated to preparing orders and other tasks such as twisting skeins up. Then it’s time to prepare dinner, shower the kids, have dinner and clean up again. Later it’s time for knitting and if I’m not too tired, some computer time. Days are full and go past so fast! I always feel I have not done enough but writing down all of that tells me that it’s not true.
Other than designing and dyeing, do you have any other creative endeavors?
I love spinning, both on my drop spindles and my spinning wheel. I also do cross stitch and crochet. And when the kids grow up I’ll take up painting again. I’d also like to get better at sewing and learn photography.
Do you have a stash? Or if you buy it you make it up pretty quickly?
I have a ginormous stash, collected with love and passion over10 years from all over the world. I have a difficult time using my stash actually, it’s so pretty and I don’t want it to be gone. Most of it is now souvenir stash.
And has your stash grown given that you both design and dye?
Yes, it has, but in more reasonable proportions than when I did not dye. I almost do not buy yarn anymore. My own hand-dyed yarn, that I use for my projects and designs, is immediately cast on, otherwise it goes in the shop.
Do you have stash that’s to-be-made and stash that’s to-be-dyed?
My personal stash is kept separately from my undyed yarn. Sometimes, I keep dyed skeins to myself to knit samples for my shop or to knit up a new colorway but otherwise, all the yarn I dye goes in the shop.