We got to sit down with Felicia Lo – the founder of SweetGeorgia Yarns! It was wonderful to peek under the curtain of a yarn dyer who’s made it into a business! She employs several others and loves what she’s doing.
Read on to get a bit more info about Felicia, the SweetGeorgia brand, and our sponsor for the yarns used in this issue!
Tell us a bit more about yourself
I’m born and raised in Vancouver, Canada (with a ten-year stint in Toronto, when I was a kid) and now live with my family in a beautiful, quiet neighbourhood of Richmond near the water’s edge. My husband and I have a 6.5 year old son and a 4 year old daughter who are super active… so now in the summer time, that means spending every weekend at a dirt bike park and in the winter time, we’re skiing on Grouse Mountain. In between activities for kids, I’m spending my downtime trying to get better at running, learning about baking sourdough bread, and making waffles.
Are you a knitter or crocheter?
Definitely a knitter. I learned to both knit and crochet in elementary school, knitting captured my heart from the start.
Oh yes. Knitting led me to sewing my own clothes throughout high school and university. After university, I started knitting again and quickly discovered spinning, dyeing, natural dyeing, and weaving. Then when I was pregnant, I became obsessed with quilting and made each of them their own baby quilts. It might seem like each craft is a separate rabbit hole, but I believe all the rabbit holes are connected and making things with yarn is just one continuous journey.
How did you get into dyeing yarn?
When I was in university, my whole world was about competitive ballroom dancing. It was about big huge colourful ballgowns and costumes. The fashion at the time was to dye your dance shoes the same colour as your dress… so dance shoes came in white satin and I learned to use Dylon dye to colour the shoes. It was super fun, but the process was so short, I was always looking forward to the next time I could dye a pair of shoes.
Then when I started learning how to spin wool, all the wool fibre came in an undyed format. It just seemed like a no-brainer that I was going to dye it into some kind of colour. So I started down a path of learning to dye yarn and spinning fibre with KoolAid, then with acid dyes, and then with natural dyes.
When did you start SweetGeorgia?
SweetGeorgia originally started as a knitting blog in 2004 and then it became the name of my Etsy shop and business in 2005.
What are your favorite things:
Colors: all the colours! Everything from jewel tones to muted earth hues, and everything in between.
Yarn weights: everything! From fine lace weight yarn to chunky yarns… everything has a place for me. I don’t enjoy knitting with super fine lace yarns, but I absolutely love weaving with it.
Types of objects (e.g., shawls, hats, etc.): For knitting, I love knitting sweaters and shawls. I rotate between techniques and styles that intrigue me… like stranded colourwork and lace. I’m trying my hand at knitting more handspun socks. For weaving, I love scarfs, shawls, and blankets.
And which one do you prefer?: I’ve been really knitting a lot more garments lately.
Why do you like to dye yarn?
Dyeing yarn by hand creates something that exudes life. It vibrates with a kind of organic energy that feels like it was made by hand. So I just find that dyeing yarn produces something that feels beautiful and vital.
Tell us about your team. What do they do? Are there things that you just can’t imagine NOT doing?
We have the most amazing and wonderful team at SweetGeorgia. Collectively, they hand dye, label, and package the yarns and make the kits. But they also help me with everything from the leading the knitwear design collections to bookkeeping to answering emails to tracking the quality control of each skein to posting the social media content to editing our videos. I can never say enough about how thankful I am to work with this group of people.
I was a graphic designer and web developer before I started SweetGeorgia and that’s one thing that I haven’t been able to let go of. Everything from the look and feel of the website, the colours, our packaging, and typefaces… I have to do those things myself because it’s how I express the character and entity that is SweetGeorgia.
Can We Get SweetGeorgia yarns FROM A LYS? Can people place orders directly?
Absolutely. Since day one, we were selling directly to individuals via Etsy and then our online store. Later, we began also supplying yarn shops and now knitters can find our yarns in their local yarn stores. We really encourage people to go to their LYS first for yarn, even if they need to special order it through the shop. We continue to make our online shop available to people who don’t have a local yarn shop.
How did you and Jody first “meet”?
We met in the early knit blogging days! Feels like a lifetime ago!
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Where we live. We are so lucky to live in a place where we can be surrounded by mountains, water, forest, and trails. Every time I am outside, I’m inspired by the subtle colours in the landscape and water and I think about how to translate that into textiles.
Can you tell us about your inspirations for what you dye?
Food. Over the years, I’ve found dyeing inspiration in things like art or music that I love… but more and more, as time went on, it became so apparent that my love of food comes out in the yarns and the colours we dye. There’s nothing else that captures as many sensations as food… from smell, texture, taste, and colour, it inspires me to make yarn that sparks sensation.
Who are your favorite designers? (both craft and non-craft)
My interest has always been colour and texture in textiles and so for many years, I’ve been following a couple of textile artists and weavers — Ptolemy Mann, Margo Selby, and Angie Parker.
Is there a color that’s your nemesis? The thing that makes you want to run and hide when you think about it.
Black. I used to wear a ton of black as a way to hide and feel secure.
What does a typical Felicia-day entail?
There’s no typical day! But honestly, it revolves around getting the kids up and ready for school, then heading home to write courses or content, film videos in my attic, have meetings with my team in-person or on Zoom, and answering emails. Then picking up kids, having dinner and family time until they go to bed. Sometimes, I’ll work again for a couple hours after the kids sleep or I’ll spend that time knitting or spinning and catching up with my husband at the same time. I try to batch activities, so I’ll schedule all my meetings on certain days or quiet writing time on other days.
Do you have a stash? Or if you buy it you make it up pretty quickly?
Yes. Stash, check. I’ve stashed yarns that I bought in Japan years ago… and beautiful yarns from other hand-dyers, and yarns that I dyed in the past… I always have plans for the yarns, but never enough time to actually execute the plans!
And has your stash grown given that you’re a dyer?
Tremendously. There are too many beautiful skeins that are singles or one-offs that I can’t let go of.
Do you have stash that’s to-be-made and stash that’s to-be-dyed?
All the yarns in my attic are yarns that are dyed and ready to be knit or woven. But we have lots and lots of undyed yarn at the dye studio … and that sometimes feels like stash to-be-dyed.