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Behind the Scenes with Explorer Knits - String Theory Yarn Co

Behind the Scenes with Explorer Knits

Ali, the artist behind Explorer Knits + Fibers has sent us hundred of skeins of her Denali Sock (fingering weight) and Rockies (DK weight) yarns - in SWEATER quantities.

These yarns will be at String Theory June 24 - July 15, 2023. 

Ali's colors are inspired by her explorations in nature. And because of her love for the great outdoors and determination to play a role in helping our environment, a portion of every purchase is donated to the National Parks Foundation to help keep our National Parks beautiful! 
It is always fun to get to know the artist who creates the masterpiece, so we asked Ali a few questions.

What is your favorite part about dyeing yarn?
Creating new colorways! Spending time mixing colors to get the *perfect* shade is easily my favorite part of dyeing yarn. The creative energy it takes can be draining, but it's so worth it when you have an end result that you love!

Prophesy Shawl in colors similar to Snail's Pace and Formaggio. Other suggestion: Death Valley National Park and Barrel Aged Sour.

Which is one of your favorite colors and why? 
It's so hard to choose, but if I had to, I would say Death Valley National Park is a current favorite of mine. It's one of six new National Park colorways that was released this year and I am so in love with it!  As far as tonals go, Fir, Balsamico, and Linen are tied for my favorite (plus, they would make the most beautiful colorwork sweater together)!

left to right: fir, balsamico, linen

Which of your colors best reflects your personality? 
I would have to say Crackling Campfire - warm, cozy, and welcoming! 

What is the ugliest color you’ve dyed and why didn’t it work? 
Ugh, my first attempt at Acadia National Park (recreated this year from 2019) was just awful. Too many colors in one skein of yarn that didn't work together, AND it was my most complicated dye method at that point which made it even more frustrating. I'm so glad that I created a new version of it this year! 

What advice do you have about combining colors in, for example, a two-color shawl? 
I personally enjoy tonal + variegated pairings for two-color shawls (or socks), and when I go to choose colors, I try and find a color that I'm most drawn to that's in the variegated colorway and to pick a tonal that matches it. So, Crackling Campfire has a hint of dark green in it and I think Fir would pair wonderfully with it. I like contrast, but colors within the same palette!

crackling campfire and fir

What is your best knitting tip? 
Cast on as many projects as possible at all times (kidding - but that's my biggest problem as a knitter)! 

What are two interesting things about you that aren’t fiber-related? 
Hiking (we live in Colorado and get up to the mountains as often as we can) and reading! Especially with staying home last year, hiking and reading became my two favorite things in addition to knitting - they both bring me such joy and peace.

If you didn’t dye yarn, what would you do? 
I would likely be doing environmental conservation work or wildlife related work! I actually have a masters in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology where I studied Animal Behavior in foxes!

Knit or crochet? 
Knit, knit, knit! But I do wish I knew how to crochet.
Starting a project or finishing a project? 
Starting (guilty...I have at least 15 WIPs right now...)
DPNs or magic loop? 
Always magic loop!
Fix the mistake or live with the mistake? 
Depends how catastrophic it is, but almost always fix the mistake!
Fingering weight or super bulky? 
Fingering weight! Although, I used to sell knit hats and scarves before I started dyeing and the thought of anything besides super bulky terrified me!
Lace or cables? 
Socks or sweaters? 
Both! I love them both!
Netflix or audiobooks (while crafting)? 
Audiobooks for sure! In the last year I've had an audiobook playing in my headphones more often than not. 

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