I was nervous about his order, but felt certain we could make it happen. I ran numbers in my head and Excel and with my dad constantly: can we make it? Can we dye 1,700 skeins for the February yarnbox?
We knew we could do it, but only by changing
a lot just about everything about our tiny operation. I was used to dyeing in the kitchen, like most small scale indie dyers. Problem was, I had already outgrown the kitchen! Also, I hung yarn outside to dry during the summer, but that wasn’t going to work in the coming colder (and wetter) months. I was also going to need help with tying off skeins for dyeing, winding dyed yarn into new skeins, labelling, etc.
Prior to all of this, a REALLY productive day of dyeing resulted in maybe 50 skeins of yarn, but 22-25 was typical.
After all of this, a REALLY productive day of dyeing can result in more than 200 skeins of yarn and a typical, “kick back” day means at least 50 skeins.
The #1 change with the largest ROI (return on investment): investing in a used restaurant range with six burners, modified for propane fuel. This plus a number of electric burners plus the kitchen range made 200 or so skeins a day possible. We set up the “new” range in the new dyeworks (our garage) – the range will easily move into a new commercial space when that time comes.
#2 was a new yarn rack drying system designed and built by dad after scouring the interwebs for ideas. They’re lightweight, using PVC tubes, and hang from the garage rafters. We can hang 200+ skeins at a time right now, but even with our fans and dehumidifier, that’s a LOT of yarn to get dry.
#3 was the new studio/office space using a small building in the back yard. I wish I could say that it’s this nice and neat right now, but the dedicated space for yarn storage and – more important – space to skein yarn, is so crucial!