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This time around we have a bonus episode for you all. This is part of the Tits Out Collective Series of episodes: Discussions with designers and dyers who are taking part in the Collaboration created by Countess Ablaze. There’s links below to give you an insight into why the collective is here.
All patterns and yarn colourways will be available from noon (UK time) on 1st July 2018.
Please show your support, as a donation is made to charity for every skein or pattern purchased.
Babs: Hi there, and welcome to the Mythical Makers Podcast! These are weekly ramblings from myself, Babs Rudlin, Fiery Phoenix, and…
Karen: I’m Karen Moffett, Mama Dragon.
(short musical clip)
Karen: Welcome to the Mythical Makers Podcast bonus episode. Today we’re chatting with Claire Anketell of Giddy Aunt Yarns about the Tits Out Collective.
Babs: Well, the first thing I need to ask you, is how did you come up with the name, “Giddy Aunt Yarns”? ‘Cause I love that name; it’s absolutely brilliant.
Karen: It is.
Claire: (laughing) I wish there was a clever answer for it, ‘cause we do get asked it quite a lot, but um, we kind of liked the term “giddy”, and thought it kind of summed us up as people. We can be quite giddy about things that we’re passionate about. And, my sister is the auntie to my toddler, so we’d come up with the term giddy, and were looking at different animals and things, and then we just liked the phrase “giddy aunt” ‘cause it’s a, it’s a popular term, so we just went with it, and it kind of stuck, and then we built our brand around that, so that’s really it.
Karen: That’s cute.
Babs: It’s a lovely name. I really like the fact that you actually work with your sister, because so often people are working alone for a start, so they don’t have somebody to work with. But to actually be working with your sister, I think is, is awesome.
Babs: Do you both dye, or do you have…that sounds really harsh, doesn’t it? Do you both dye yarn, or do you…
Babs: …have different roles within your, within your brand?
Claire: Um, we both took um, a course on yarn dyeing, and it really just went from there. We um, went on a one-day dyeing course, and were so hooked on it, we talked about dyeing the whole way home. Um, by that Monday I had several kilos of undyed yarn turn up at my house. (Babs and Karen laugh) We never sat down and thought we were gonna start a business, we just got so obsessed with it. So my husband now even knows the names of all the different dye terms and stuff.
Karen: Ha, yep.
Claire: So basically, we both do dyeing, um, when we can. My sister left her full-time job at Christmas. And I dye in spare time.
Karen: Oh, that’s fantastic!
Claire: Sadly, I am still stuck in the land of full-time work, so um, you know, one of us dyes for the time the other one sorta does the bits and pieces around the edge, and I do still dye every now and then whenever I get my hands on it.
Babs: Oh, that’s amazing. That’s awesome.
Karen: That’s cool.
Babs: So, why is it that you got involved with the Tits Out Collective? And I still find, I’m so shy, and I still find it difficult to actually say the name…(everyone laughs)…of this activity. And I quite, actually when I went through and sorted out the donations for the yarn, and the postage for the yarn, I actually had a gentleman who was very confused, because he asked me what the reference would be for it, and I’m sitting there saying, “Yes, it’s Tits Out!” and he goes, “Pardon?” “Yes, the reference is Tits Out.” And he’s like, “Pardon??”
Babs: … “Can you spell that for me, please?” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s T. I….” And he was like, “I thought that’s what you said, but I wasn’t sure!” (all laugh)
Karen: Oh, no! (laughing) How embarrassing!
Babs: And so I was like, She’ll understand what it means, but please, stop questioning me on it, I’m dying of shame now, because this is a really embarrassing thing to say to somebody on the phone at the bank, all right? But um, you know, the people who’ve organized it are very bold and brassy, and this is their response to…
Babs: Very sassy. This is their very typical response. And it’s very classy; it’s not quite what it sounds like. It’s all very tongue in cheek. So yes, so it’s a little bit naughty, and a little bit sassy, and a little bit embarrassing, and I just sort of, I’m not bold enough to be able to just wander around and say “tits out” all the time. (laughs) So, why did you get involved, Claire, in the Tits Out campaign?
Claire: Well, we had actually been involved in the craft industry since 2005, we previously had a jewelry making business. And the thought of being paid a wage for what you do has always been important to us, so we liked the messages coming from the Countess Ablaze. We also were at Willand there at the start of May, and the Countess was about there. So we did get to sort of meet her, and have a look at her yarn and um, just sort of have a chat. We also felt the message sort of from the copying point of view, if it was genuinely copied, obviously nobody likes to think that their work is being copied. And it just, as you said also, you know, it can be quite isolating whenever you’re working on your own, so just the thought of being part of something, you know, as a collective was important to us as well.
Babs: Yes. I mean, that’s one of the reasons that I specifically um, asked for a UKaren: dyer, well, you know, I work with dyers, independent dyers, a lot when I’m designing, but the majority of the dyers that I work with come from Australia, or from America, they’re all over the other side of the planet. Um, and I specifically wanted to work with somebody from the UK, not just because it’s a really tight timeframe to try and turn around a design and to create a new colorway. But um, I wanted to work with somebody local, or, it probably doesn’t feel very local (Claire laughs) But compared to America, it’s very local. (laughs) So that’s why I specifically asked for a UKaren: dyer that was going to be involved with it. Um, how did you come up with the colors that you used? Because I think the original one was a much darker purple, and there’s definitely purple in there, but it’s a paler version. So how did you actually go, did you just create one color and it happened? Or was there some experimentation that went on in the background?
Claire: Um, I think we had about six potential options. Um, none of them would have been quite as dark as the original, because we wanted to make something that was a bit more wearable, but then sometimes we go from sort of anything from sort of bright muted neutral tones right up to neons, and usually we find that neon does sort of add a wee pop to things that you can’t get with other colors, so we just kind of, it was actually Janice [Claire’s sister and business partner] that had done it, because she obviously has a bit more time to work on these things.
Karen: That makes sense.
Claire: I was sitting there working, getting various messenger posts with pictures of things that all looked the same to me, so (all laugh) by the time I got home, there were six different variations, and we just went with the one that we thought was sort of most us.
Claire: And the Countess had obviously given us a list of the dyes she had used, and then obviously it was up to you as a dyer to put your own interpretation onto it, so we just kinda went from there, really.
Babs: And what did you call your, your version of the colorway?
Claire: It’s the “Sisters Are Doing It” version um, ‘cause we wanted something still a wee bit sassy, with a bit of an edge to it, but just to put across the fact that we are sisters. Um, that’s really it!
Karen: Mmmhmm. That’s great.
Babs: I like it. I must admit, when I saw the name I thought, that’s really cool. I think finding a name is possibly, for me, the most daunting part of this process, because all the names have to start with, “If I Wanted Exposure, I’d Get My Tits Out” which is why it’s called the “Tits Out Collective,” and then you put your pattern name on the end, or your colorway on the end. So “Sister’s Doing It” is an awesome name. And I think the one I chose in the end, after lots of to-ing and fro-ing and faffing about was “Picking Up the Gauntlet” because I’ve created um, I’ve reworked an earlier gauntlet design, and I’ve also, so it’s now multi-sized so that small kids can wear it, and large adults can wear it, and also I’ve created little mini bonus patterns for cuffs, which really make me feel like Wonder Woman when I put them on, it’s like [striking a fierce pose] Yes! (everyone laughs)
Karen: You should wear them all the time. Everybody should always feel like Wonder Woman!
Babs: There is that. (laughs) But um, so I was really, really excited to actually get my hands on the yarn, because I’d seen how lovely and squishy and beautiful it looked, and then Claire, I was over the moon when I saw the Instagram post that you put up about how excited you were to see your yarn actually start to be knitted into something. So what does that actually feel like, for a dyer? ‘Cause that’s an element I hadn’t even thought about.
Claire: It’s something you never quite get used to. You sort of, whenever you’re doing shows and things, you kind of can’t help but think that half of the yarn that people buy is gonna go and maybe just end up in a stash somewhere. So it really, I mean I know people probably say it all the time, but it really is such a nice feeling whenever customers share pictures of things being knit up, because you know, we can fire as much color at things as we want, but you never really know what somebody’s gonna do with it whenever they get it home, and some people will show you like a picture of their caked yarn, any they’re ready to start into it, and it always gets kind of exciting, and you feel like you want to follow it and see where it goes after that. It’s, I suppose it’s because it’s a part of you, and it’s a part of what you’re doing, you always like to do a wee bit of follow up with it.
Babs: Yeah, it’s true.
Karen: Yeah, I feel the same way about my designs.
Babs: Yeah, I love to see people who make the designs, or do more than just buy it. I love to see their finished patterns. Um, I supposed this is where revelry, revelry? Ravelry, excels, because you just link everything into projects and just tie them all back so that you can see all the different yarns that people have used, and how they’ve been used in different projects. That’s, I think, one of the things that I’m really, really keen to see, is that all of these projects, all the different colorways, all the different patterns, we’ll be able to actually look through them all and see how different people have interpreted this one call out for the Collective. Um, to see all the different things that people have been able to come up with and, things that people have been able to come up with in about a week and a half.
Claire: That was the biggest thing for us, probably, was just the time frame of it, because if we’re going to invent a new special colorway, we’d have like weeks on end, you know, go backwards and forwards, and see what we think about things, but that literally came about within about a day and a bit.
Babs: Hahaha, it’s true! It’s true. It’s like, can you find a pattern, can you re-knit the pattern, can you tweak the pattern, can you change it, can you do new photography and then re-issue it? And, you know, that’s a huge amount of stuff to, to get your head ‘round. It’s just a massive amount of work to do, whether you’re a designer or a dyer. To get stuff ready.
Babs: In one respect, it’s simpler if you’re a designer who’s taking something that you’ve got to re-brand it and then just do photography. Because a dyer has to make up however many skeins of yarn you’re going to sell. Or however many orders you get in, off the back of it. And then you’re gonna be running around like, like a headless chicken, trying to get everything sorted. Unless, Claire, you and your sister are the most organized, and you can function like a smoothly oiled machine in the background. Is that how it’s gonna go?
Claire: Well, no, we were trying to get ready for Fiber East as well, it’s at the end of the month, in July, in Bedfordshire. So, we are going over for that, so we had all of our sock to get ready for that, but we’ve kind of become accustomed to having to do these things about two o-clock in the morning whenever most sensible people would be asleep, so we just, I mean, we just have been so used to getting stuff done quickly, and at the end of the day, we have whatever stock we have left over from other events, and Fiber East will just happen, and you know we’ll just take whatever we have with us, and this just happened to come up, and we just thought it would be a bit of fun really, to get involved, so that’s why we went for it, and you don’t really often think of the pressure that you put yourself under, to do these things, but I would be sort of quite just kind of, ‘get involved and you know, do what you have to do and think about it later’ sort of a person. So that’s probably why I sign us up for all these things. (Karen laughs)
Babs: It’s fair enough. It’s good. It stretches us, to do things like this. I’ve seen stuff come up, and I’ve thought about it, and then I’ve faffed about, and because I’ve spent too long thinking about it, I’ve missed the boat, so I was so happy to, to find you, and that you were on it, and you were able to get yarn out in enough time for me to knit up two gauntlets, two cuffs, and re-write and re-photograph the pattern to get it ready for next week. And it’s really scary to say next week, because the first is the day before my daughter’s birthday as well, so I have to get this, plus my daughter’s birthday present on the day after this launches, so aaahhh! (laughs) It’s not quite dyeing at two o-clock in the morning, but you know, emotionally it’s up there.
Karen: Maybe, maybe she should get some Wonder Woman bracers.
Claire: That’s probably what we need around here.
Babs: Well, I can certainly design some for you, and um, have a look through my, have a look through my stash, and make some up. I, I’m sure I can do that. That’s no problem at all. Um, so do you actually knit or crochet yourself, Claire?
Claire: Um, crochet is my nemesis. I cannot crochet to save my life. Um, I keep trying, and I have tried various YouTube videos, and various other sources, cannot get my head ‘round it at all, but I have been knitting since I was about, I started knitting when I was about eleven or twelve, as part of the Duke of Edinborough.
Babs: Oh, right, yeah.
Claire: Um, my mum and granny would always have been big into knitting as well, so I kinda just picked it up from them. And then Janice can also crochet and knit as well, so we are both, we only sort of renewed our interest in it within about the last four or five years, maybe?
Claire: But, totally hooked. So, pretty much come home from work and as soon as my son’s in bed, I get set in, maybe only get two or three rows of anything a night, but um, I’ve pretty much missed most of what’s on TV for the last year, because I haven’t been paying attention. (everyone laughs)
Babs: Yeah, that’s kind of normal.
Babs: Excellent. Well, thank you very much, Claire. Ah, thank you for being brave enough to come onto this call, and hopefully it wasn’t too painful or too traumatic for you.
Karen: You did brilliantly.
Claire: (laughs) Thank you so much.
Babs: Oh, you’re very welcome, Claire. And we will catch up again soon, I’m sure.
Claire: All right, take care, thank you!
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Bye for now,
Babs & Karen