Monday, 20 February 2012

Studio

TFA Studio - our little backyard workshop

I think that it's time that I share a few shots of the inside of the studio with you all. I know you've been patiently waiting for the big reveal, and I really wanted to show you, but the truth is, it's just not that interesting! The studio is working out extremely well, it's super practical and does everything that we need it to, but it's sparse. It's not a super artistic, inspirational space just yet. It's white, stainless steel,   clean and very bright. The ceilings are vaulted, the windows are large, so the space is flooded with natural light and even though it's a modestly sized studio (it's only 10' x 14') it feels wide open and spacious. 

the studio

Chris does most of the production dyeing for TFA. Together we come up with the colourways, figure out the recipes and then when the orders start pouring in Chris gets to work. All of the colourways are dyed in small batches of 5-10 skeins at a time depending on the fiber content. The Silver Label Mulberry  Silk and the Purple Label Cashmere Sock yarn take the dye differently then the 100% merino yarns, so they require a different application. The process is quite simple and doesn't require anything more potent then plain white vinegar and heat to set the colour. I often wonder what the cashiers at Costco think of us when we roll up to the cash with twenty 5L containers of vinegar. I'm sure that they think we're crazy enthusiastic picklers! 

Chris in action!

Since Chris is a bit of a neat freak he has stapled cardboard to the "backsplash" in order to catch some of the dye splatters. I'm completely against this and can't wait for him to realize that the cardboard is a mistake and the multicoloured dye splatters are what make the space beautiful. I'm sure that he'll come to this conclusion on his own, I'm patiently waiting. 

Oooh, dyeing!

We have two long stretches of stainless steel tables, each with it's own sink. We've divided the space up into a clean side and a dirty side, the dirty side is for dyeing and the clean side is mostly for rinsing. The stainless steel surfaces are awesome. They make the whole clean up process so much easier. Just a quick squeegee into the sink and you're ready to go with the next colourway. 

seabreeze

It's not high-tech and it's not fancy. Chris has started decorating the walls with some pretty random artwork. Eventually I hope that the walls will be covered with art and splashes of colour. I'll share photo's again in the summer when the space is more lived in and we've had a chance to "pretty up" the exterior. Since everything has been frozen for months we haven't done anything to our plain little studio yet. 

We thought long and hard before we decided to take the plunge and invest in our own studio. We knew that we needed a change, we couldn't continue to dye at the pace that we needed to in the laundry room. We have seriously considered renting a space many times, maybe even hiring a few people to help with the production, but in the end we always come back to the fact that we love being a small, family run business. We love working from home and having flexibility. If we rented a space and hired dyers we would suddenly be a much different company. We would have to worry about making enough money to pay the dyers, pay for the space. We would spend much more time "working". The way we're organized now, it rarely feels like work. Don't get me wrong, we're up every morning, Monday to Friday, and we dye and ship hundreds of skeins of yarn every week. But the work is fun and so rewarding. Staying small means that we're always able to work together and that we have the time and energy to devote to dreaming. Sounds whimsical doesn't it? But it's such an important part of staying creative. We need to be able to take an afternoon every once in a while to play with colour, to experiment, to not worry about the orders and just make. 

Dye shelves

I assume that somewhere down the line we'll probably have to take a leap and get bigger. But for now we're really happy with how things are. 

26 comments:

  1. Love this! So great to see how it all comes together and you`re lovely little back yard studio!

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  2. I love your studio, inside and out. I totally agree about the different colour splatters adding to the space - its like layers of creativity building up as you produce and experiment more. I think it's good you're staying small and family run. Its a blessing you can do what you love in the way that's right for you :-)

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  3. What a beautiful space! Really! :D Open and efficient and well-labeled. It looks perfect for what you do. :)

    I'll make a suggestion -- you may have gotten there already, but just in case you haven't. The floor looks like it's concrete, and I'd suggest either some squishy rugs (you can keep them in place with carpet tape) or the rubber standing mats that people at, say, Costco, use when they are standing for long periods of time. Speaking as someone whose job requires a lot of time on her feet (I am a custom seamstress and costumer), you will appreciate some cush when there are long, long hours to be worked to make that big deadline. Your feet and back (or rather Chris's) will thank you.

    Enjoy the new space! I'm jealous! ;D

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  4. Love this post! I have an even greater appreciation for your yarns now after seeing and understanding the process a bit more. One question, though - how do you keep all that yarn from getting tangled? :) Congrats on this new studio!

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  5. Thank you so much for a peek behind the scenes... it gives us a better appreciation of what it takes to make the beautiful TFA yarn! :D

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  6. Thanks for that post! It's nice to see the beginning of all that beautiful yarn. Also I think it was a good choice to stay small - these days when everything seems to get bigger and bigger, it is really really nice to see a small, successful, happy, creative family business. It makes me extra happy to support it, especially when I feel a bit like I know you!

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing your space. I love seeing other people's creative work spaces, but know that it can be kind of a personal thing. I can't wait to see the follow up post to see how you've decorated the studio!

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  8. I love this post! The studio is very interesting to us, with plain white walls or colored and decorated, either way it's so interesting to get a peek at how the yarn is dyed and some of your daily work. You and Chris make a great team, you're so lucky! I would looove to hear more sometime on how you got started doing what you do and how you learned. You're so creative and talented. And, productive! =)

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  9. Thanks for the glimpse at your sweet studio! It looks like the perfect creative space. I love your yarn and feel so happy to support your small business.

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  10. Thank you for allowing us to get a peek inside. I love your studio. Its nice to know that your yarn is well tended to.

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  11. You know that I've been waiting for this post and it was well worth the wait. Please stay small and family-run. As you wrote, that's what makes your lives together so special and that's what keeps TFA the great company that it is.

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  12. Yay - a peek inside! I loved it, thank you so much for the tour... it was a ton of fun!!

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  13. It is great to see where you work, and how it 'gets done'..

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  14. Looks great! I agree with you... a bit of dye splashed on the wall will really add to the space.

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  15. That studio looks like such a fun place, and the way the space is organized it seems both spacious and sort of cozy all at once.

    I also love the dyeing photos - it's neat to see how one of my favourite yarns gets made.

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  16. Thanks for sharing this with us! I love it, and so great to see some of the dying process. I just finished my first project with TFA yellow label and am in LOVE. It is for my daughter and I know know that I MUST knit something for me with this really soon. Your work is lovely and I thank you for sharing your talent with the world!

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  17. I love this backyard space! And what great natural light. I especially love that you shot the photos while it was snowing.

    But Chris, dude, come to your creative senses man! Ditch the cardboard backsplash. :)

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  18. oh goodness! i love that you've kept this the way you dream it to be. and thank you for inviting us into your studio! i love it. so inspiring. and i'm really very happy for you! xo

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  19. love this!! thank you for sharing. I love seeing and knowing where the yarn I use "comes" from!

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  20. This sounds idyllic. I love it! Thanks for sharing some of the process with us.

    I just finished my first project with your wonderful yarn, a cowl in lemongrass, and I love (!!) it. I ordered a bunch more in shadow recently from Eat Sleep Knit to knit up a sweater :) So glad I found you via Rachel's Celebrate Color contest!

    (p.s. if you are interested, the link to the cowl is:
    http://ravel.me/ocd/tic)

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  21. so exciting to see the behind the scenes! the studio looks amazing.

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  22. Thanks for sharing! Your studio looks awesome.

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  23. Wow! So interesting! It is such a mystery to me how yarn is dyed! The results are so stunning! I love your new studio and your philosophy! My belief is that we always know deep inside what's best and when. We just have to be attentive! Enjoy your new studio! PS I can't help thinking about the next shipment of the Year in Color Club!!! ;-)

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  24. your studio is on the verge of awesomeness! once there is some color in there it will be a work of art in itself. I just love color so much, watercolors and mixing and shading have a way of taking a day away from me. congrats on following your heart and dreams, bigger is not always better. as impatient a person as I can be I will gladly wait extra time for beautiful yarn, especially seeing how each and every one is loved and taken great care of. thanks for showing this it really is inspiration.

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  25. I've been catching up on all the unread blog posts that I missed over spring break:) Congratulations on your lovely new studio. I love the space - a perfect place to create!!

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