Knitty City is honored to welcome Indie Dyer Backyard Fiberworks this Saturday, December 2nd from 11am-6pm. The woman behind Backyard Fiberworks is Alice O'Reilly who is originally from the West Coast but now resides in Maryland.
We wanted to get a little bit more acquainted with Alice and send her some questions. It is always so interesting in hearing how somebody becomes an Indie Dyer and what inspires them!
Question and Answer with Alice O'Reilly
Where are you from and where is Backyard Fiberworks located?
I am from the West Coast originally, and now live in Maryland right outside DC which is where Backyard Fiberworks is also located.
What crafts are you into besides knitting?
I would love to sew and crochet and weave and draw and paint and and and, but basically I just knit. I am however completely impressed people who are capable in a multi-verse of crafts!
When did you start dying and who taught you?
I think I started about three years ago, but not with any real intention. And I work at the Library, so I checked out some books and started reading. A lot of Instagram scrolling too haha.
How did the idea come about to start your own Indie Dye Business?
I think you eventually reach like this inflection point where you have to actually DO something with all the yarn you dyed! So it was probably survival like the threat of drowning in yarn was getting real!
Where do you get your color inspiration from?
Backyard Fiberworks is a pretty literal name. I am lucky to live in a very woodsy area of metro DC so there's a lot of color in the backyard. I think the whole natural world provides an crazy good (and well coordinated!) palette.
Where do you dye? Do you have a studio?
I dye in my kitchen but I have big dreams of a studio in the garage! I guess those might be middle-sized dreams but it's the next step.
Where do you want to take Backyard Fibreworks? How big do you want to grow?
I rely almost exclusively on intuition to make decisions (I know, doesn't seem too logical) and I think there is a very organic pace to growing. I hope to be able to continue that path, saying yes to amazing opportunities and wonderful, creative, talented people and allowing ideas to come to fruition without forcing anything.
What other projects are you involved in besides dying?
I have been working with Kathleen Dames in a fantastic project called I Knit New York! We are publishing a magazine in January that will debut at VLK that's all about being a knitter in New York. It features 10 NYC-inspired designs by Brittney Bailey, Kathleen Dames, Kirsten Kapur, Xandy Peters, Lars Rains plus where to go, what to do, and knitting in the good old days from Lisa Chamoff, Kathleen Dames, and Kay Gardiner. Our tag line is "Knit Like a Local" and it's all about how to do just that. Next up...I Knit Paris!
Tell us 3 things about yourself that we don't know?
I went to law school.
I went to library school.
I did not go to art school.
What is the most fun of having your own Indie dye business and what is the most challenging part?
Most fun is the color, I can't lie. I love it, I can't get enough of it. The most challenging part is finding enough time to do everything you want to do, but I think that's probably the case with most people. It's my more finite resource.
A lot of us know what an Indie Dyer is. For those who don't yet, can you explain what an Indie Dyer is/does?
I think an Indie Dyer is the luckiest person because you get to make for makers. An indie dyer gets to meet her customers again and again, engage in the lifecycle of making, and really understand how handmade is so much more that just garments or accessories. Being an indie dyer expands your creativity to include the people who work with the products you've made and expands your efforts exponentially.