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Made by Mama - Sunshine Yarns

Andrea Sanchez

I am so excited to have on the blog today Dani, the owner and dyer behind Sunshine Yarns! This company is one of my favorite indie dyed companies, with amazing colors, luxurious bases, and they are just overall really sweet! And read to the end because I have something super special for you guys as well!

How did you get started in the yarn industry?

I honestly kind of fell into the yarn industry! I was working in Boston as an Environmental Scientist and started dyeing for fun. A few posts on my blog and folks started asking to buy it. I quickly started an etsy store and there began Sunshine Yarns! We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary last month! It still feels pretty unreal most days. 

When did you begin knitting? Are you involved in any other crafts?

I started knitting in the Fall of 2003 when I was just finishing up grad school. My grad department started a little crafting group and I jumped right in. At first I didn't knit, I just did beading and cross-stitch. But then a friend got me hooked and I started teaching myself online. As far as other crafts, I've dabbled over the years in beading, cross=stitch, embroidery, sewing and spinning.

Since Knittin' Little is all about sharing the fiber love with littles, how do you share your love of yarn with your little one?

I have a two and a half year old little girl named Clara. She was blessed right off the bat with tons of hand knits. I think she has naturally become really interested in it all since she sees us handling yarn, whether down in the office for a few minutes or me doing a little bit of knitting. She really loves to pick out her favorite colors from a big batch I just dyed (her favorite color is yellow), or tell me what I should make with it! I also help her knit, which she loves to do. Oh, and I have made her her Halloween costume the past 2 years and she really likes being involved and gives me input on colors and what she wants it to look like. It's pretty cute. 

That's really sweet! Can you tell us more about where you get your color inspiration from?

Wow... Well, it really comes from everywhere! I have wanderlust, so I get lots of inspiration from our travels. Earlier this year we went to Australia and later this month we are head to the Turks and Caicos. I always come back with a fresh mind and lots of ideas. We also live in the foothills in Boulder, Colorado. We live on a couple acres and have lots of open space around us. Walking outside everyday makes it very easy as well :) Other than that, I love doing seasonal color ways. Starting this Friday, I'll begin our 3rd annual Dark Days mini store updates. Basically, I dye darker, more wintery color ways that remind me of the shorter days ahead. 

You shared with me that you and your husband run Sunshine Yarns full time. What does a typical day in the life look like. How is parenting managed?

Well, everyday for us is pretty different based on what needs to be done. But, Clara goes to a small in-home daycare part-time. So that gives us about half the week free to work. My mom also watches her some, especially if we get a little behind on things. Usually I'm downstairs getting yarn batches going and checking in online around 9. Scott is getting yarn rinsed and getting things ready for sorting and/or winding. We do have 1 or 2 part-time people that help us with some of the sorting/winding, but Scott handles a lot of that. The rest of the day Im usually split between dyeing and emails, ordering supplies and working on entering orders and accounting. Scott is generally doing rinsing, sorting, skeining, shipping, and website work. Overall though, our workday goes from about 9am-midnight. We obviously have a few hours around dinner where we all reconnect (from 4:30 until about 8) and days one of us will have Clara in the afternoon. But overall that is our super messy idea of a day. It certainly isa  long day and we work really, really hard at what we do. 

What have been the best and worst parts of running your own business?

I think the best part is the flexibility. Especially with being a parent! We report to ourselves so if Clara is sick or we are sick, we can just take some time off. The problem is, which is the worst part, is that we report to ourselves! There is no one else to do the work for us with most things, so it is easy to get behind. 

Which Sunshine Yarns base do you think is the best for knitting for children and why? 

Personally, I love our Classic Sock yarn. It's so versatile, soft and it just sings on a US3 (and I love knitting with thinner yarn too). But really any of our yarns are suitable for children's knits. I would say my top 3 favorite are Classic Sock, our Luxury Sport, and Merino Worsted.

You Merino Worsted is pretty fabulous! It made a beautiful hat for the Molloy pattern. What has been your favorite thing you've knit for your daughter. 

I would have to say her Rainbow Bear Blanket. It's a free pattern from Purl Soho. It's actually my first real crochet project too, but I love how it turned out and she loves it so much too :)

Thanks again Dani for coming on and giving us some insight into the yarn dyeing business! Another great Made by Mama interview! It is so wonderful getting a little peek into how makers manage their business and families. You can find Dani in her Ravelry group, or on the Sunshine Yarns blog.

For this Made by Mama feature we are giving away a skein of Sunshine Yarns Ultrualuxe Light in the color Toad, (the same yarn used in my Firefly July sweater). To be entered to win this amazing skein leave a comment below by Sunday at noon EST. You guys, this yarn is so amazing that I actually oooohed out loud the first time I wound it up! You don't want to miss this chance! 

Comments are now closed. The winner is comment #14 Kathy who said:

I just found Sunshine yarns this year and love it so much. Most of my yarn is the Classic Sock which makes wonderful shawls. I need to venture out and order something different - like the merino worsted.

Congrats Kathy! I'll be contacting you shortly for your mailing address!

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