Aussi en / Also in Français
This interview was originally published in the December 2015 issue of Happily Hooked Magazine.
On the company’s about page, Chandi – founder of Expression Fiber Arts – says: “Life is too short to waste on people or things you don’t love. If I could pass one thing on to you it would be to instill the courage to live the life of your dreams. I feel this starts with fully and completely falling in love with yourself and knowing you are worthy of all things you desire!”
If this is the philosophy of the person behind this stunning brand of yarn, it’s not surprising to feel constantly so inspired by them. Get to know Chandi in the interview below.
Hi Chandi, tell us a little bit about who you are before we get to talking about those beautiful yarns of yours.
I’m originally from Alaska. My husband and I decided it was time to move to a warmer, sunnier place and literally picked a spot on the map and took off driving. And here we are today in sunny, friendly Charlotte, North Carolina and absolutely loving it.
What had been your relationship to yarn before you launched Expression Fiber Arts ®?
I have crocheted since I was a little girl. I used to make doilies like crazy and still have many of them. I especially loved crocheting pineapple doilies! I am first and foremost a crocheter. It’s easiest and quickest for me and just makes sense to my brain.
I didn’t start knitting until I was 27, and then took up yarn spinning and dyeing soon thereafter. Having learned to knit many years later, I love it just as much but find it a bit more difficult. I imagine it’s similar to learning a second language… it’s never as easy as your primary language. I also love spinning yarn on my Lendrum Saxony spinning wheel.
So we know you love yarn. Are you just generally crafty?
Oh yes. I do or have done virtually any craft you can think of. I’m currently wild about dollhouses and miniature items, as well as pottery.
How did you go from those hobbies to a yarn dyeing business?
In 2011, I was recently divorced and needed to restart my life. I loved the thought of running another business (my previous one was in cosmetics), and knew I wanted to do something in the fiber industry. So I started a yarn dyeing business! It literally just came to me one day, and I knew this was the path to take.
Expression Fiber Arts® is definitely one of those brands where colour is the magic ingredient. What inspires your striking colourways?
Absolutely everything inspires my colorways! Sounds, textures, NATURE! People, babies, stories. Holidays, emotions, animals.
You name it.
Aside from all of those wonderful colours, you also offer varied weights, as well as a lot of different fiber contents. How do you choose your yarn bases?
We have several bases currently and are always striving to add new ones. We’ve got lace weight, sport, sock yarns, other fingering weights, dk weight, worsted weight and more. We use a lot of superwash merino wool, silk and even some cashmere and yak down.
I choose yarn bases according to what the customers want. My job is to deliver happiness via yarn, so whatever I feel a lot of people will love, I test it out and if it sells well, we keep it as a regular base.
How do you dye your yarn?
We do primarily dip dyeing, also called kettle dyeing. This results in beautiful, subtle gradations of color without harsh transitions between shades. It’s also very efficient.
And how did you learn to do it?
I learned through loads of trial and error! I also read any book I could find on the subject and watched very video available.
Have you been able to make Expression Fiber Arts® your full time job? Tell me more about the people behind the name.
Yes, this is my full time job, and my husband quit his job and we now work full time together.
In addition to my husband and me, we currently have 4 amazing dyers and we work with quite a few knit and crochet pattern testers.
What’s it like working with your husband full time?
My favorite part of the adventure is working alongside my husband every day. We are so different and fit together perfectly. I’m whimsical and dreamy, messy and random, always churning out new ideas and wanting to order and offer new things. He’s very practical and logical and ultra-organized, guiding the business and my craziness into a strategic direction.
We work beautifully together and it all just feels ‘right.’
What are your favorite yarns to work with, personally?
My favorite colors are always turquoise and purple blends. I also love neutrals, especially grays. I adore merino / silk blends and those are usually the most popular in my shop as well.
Is there a link between your own favorites & your bestsellers?
Best sellers vary completely and are usually dependent upon the inspiration photo I pair with the yarn. Several of our wild and popular colorways have been: Lavender Ice Cream, Russian Blue, Plush Peacock, Peacock Feather, etc.
What’s been the most important thing you’ve learned since you started your business?
I’ve had many learning experiences in this business! I feel like I learn something new every day. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that there is always more to learn! It can be difficult to know what to focus on, what to try, where to direct your attention… So learning to focus and work consistently and methodically every single day is key.
Where do you hope Expression Fiber Arts ® goes next?
I’m always striving for growth as that is what makes me feel alive. Life truly is in the learning, the expanding, the reaching for more, while being grateful for what you have. It’s glorious!
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Chandi!
Chandi says that the very best way to make sure you get her updates, new product releases, new videos, coupon codes, etc, is to sign up for her e-mail newsletter:
Here are yet more ways to stay in touch with Chandi & Expression Fiber Arts: