We tend to like small businesses.... a lot! We are one and we know what it takes to make one run: hard work, great energy and a lot of support. It's one of the reasons that we often showcase small yarn companies, independent designers and privately owned companies related to the fiber industry. We also get around a lot and often meet interesting people in our travels. Today's blog will begin a series of features on individual businesses and artists that serve the fiber and "making" communities. All are worth a look. So come along with us, please!
SEVEN SISTERS ARTS
We first met Karen Grover when we were exploring the coastline of Maine. We drove up to Blue Hill, mostly because we wanted to see the area in which E.B. White had lived, and, lo and behold, we were thrilled to discover her studio.. There she sat, in her old and beautifully restored place of business and there we managed to spend 3 hours of bliss. Deciding on color was the largest challenge - so much so that, after departing, we turned around and drove back to buy more.
That trip began an acquaintanceship that is valued. When we would see her at various shows or events, we would always have a good time. So much so, that we decided to share knowing her with you.
Like many of us, Karen had a childhood in which she learned to value handmade things. She started dyeing her own raw fiber to spin over 30 years ago, and she has been dyeing since then. With a degree in Plant & Soil Science and one in Nursing, she brings much of what she learned about science and methodology to her dye studio.
Pursuing her interest in women's health and her earned degree, she worked for 13 years as a delivery room nurse. "I loved witnessing women being empowered, strong and vulnerable at the same time: the raw power, intimacy and emotion of it all. It was really a privilege and an honor to be an integral part of that process,"
After 13 years, a changing medical scene and personal needs gave rise to her exploring the next chapter, and she left medicine to pursue her interests in fiber and dyeing. She and a friend started "String Theory Yarns" and opened a yarn shop. Eight years later, after an amicable dissolution of the partnership, she began her own business, Seven Sister Arts, which was launched in 2015.
Seven Sisters is named after the constellation Pleiades, and many of the yarns have names of stars or other astronomical words. The name was chosen to signify community as well as the heavens. Take a look at some of her yarns.
Just click on the individual box to be transported to the specific yarn that is pictured, as well as the other hues available in that weight. You will also find a description of the yarn content and the yardage and gauge specifications. Likewise for the gradient set pictured on top. Gradients can most often be offered in more than one weight.
Not for the meek of spirt, Maine tends to attract strong souls with a love of the earth and its elements. Karen gets a great deal of her inspiration from the natural colors of the sea and land. "Living on the coast of Maine provides easy access to the rhythms and patterns of nature which continually inspire every facet of my life and work."
Another great interest of the Seven Sisters owner is Shibori Dyeing. Shibori is a Japanese tradition that offers a body of knowledge and techniques to explore pattern, texture, and color on fabric, sometimes all at once, in a way that can be as controlled or as spontaneous as you want it to be.
Karen learned from two exceptional artists and teachers, Ana Lisa Hedstrom and Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada, during several different intensive workshops. She makes these scarves and other special garments on an "as possible" basis, so if you see one you like, you might want to snap it up.
We asked Karen to summarize (if that is possible) her love of the process of dyeing and providing finished products. Here's what she had to say: "In regard to dyeing yarn, my favorite aspect is experimenting with new color combinations. Sometimes they come into fruition with lots of thought and calculations and other times from pure play. I love coming up with themes and naming the colors that incorporate words or ideas from other cultures as well as nature and mythology. My favorite part of the business is actually being on the road at shows around the country, I find enormous pleasure in seeing how other knitters and designers combine colors and textures, it’s fascinating and endless."
We found scores of pictures on her website, as well as the various forms of social media that Seven Sisters employs. We suggest you follow her there at www.sevensistersarts.com, where you can join her mailing list.
Karen will be in Hartford, Ct., at Stitches United on April 27-30,( Booth 502-504). We will also be showcasing her work this fall at Knitty City on September 7, the first Thursday of the month, from 6-8 PM. We hope you can join us. In the meantime, we close with one of the images we found on her Instagram page. It sums up her work and her spirit perfectly.