Zen Yarn Garden Interview and Yarn Party

Fickle Knitter Design has been collaborating with Roxanne of Zen Yarn Garden to bring new knitting patterns in luxury yarn to market since 2010 and I’m happy report that it has been a happy and fruitful relationship for the both of us! Roxanne’s sense of color is nuanced and beautiful and her selection of only the highest quality yarn bases makes for a masterful combination. In other words, Roxanne and Neville Yeun create a yarn that is mighty hard to resist for knitters, weavers, and crocheters alike.

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Serenity Silk Single in Tangerine

Like the above Yarn, for example. I am so proud to share that Roxanne has created a special color way based on my obsession with the color orange! This amazing color is called “Tangerine” and is brand new to the Zen Yarn Garden line up. What I love most about Zen Yarn Garden’s yarn is that it appears to be a solid color from a distance but when you examine it close up you discover that it is rich with color and texture. The yarn is a delight to the eyes and the hands.

I’ll be appearing in the Zen Yarn Garden booth at Stitches MidWest on August 9th-12th. I’ll be there signing books and you’ll be able to play in my traveling Trunk Show all weekend. And please stay tuned for more special events featuring Fickle Knitter Design and Zen Yarn Garden in the future!

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How long have you been in the yarn business?

Zen Yarn Garden officially started in late 2005 on Etsy on a part-time basis. Fast forward a couple of years and the business became a full-time endeavour for myself (Roxanne) and within the last year my husband (Neville) has joined me full-time.

What did you do in your previous life before becoming a dyer and do you enjoy being a full time dyer?

Before become a full-time business owner, I worked as an Executive Assistant for various non-profit associations. The longest was 10 years in Edmonton, Alberta prior to moving to Toronto, Ontario to marry Neville. I then worked for 2 years in Toronto as an Executive Assistant and when my husband got transferred to southern Ontario for his work, I decided to work full-time at my yarn business.

Now that Neville has joined me, I have handed over much of the dyeing responsibility to him. He and I create colourways together but the bulk of the workload now is his. He seems to enjoy it and for me, it was a welcome relief. I thoroughly and wholeheartedly enjoy creating colourways and watching the colours express themselves on the yarn but once the volume of yarn that needed to be dyed went up, the labour involved skyrocketed. Neville handles the physicality of the job way better than I do and to this day, I am still thoroughly involved in creating our colourways with him.

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Serenity Silk Single color 301-02

What are the challenges of being a husband/wife business team?

It’s wonderful to work with your husband on a full-time basis but the idiosyncrasies of your relationship can easily creep into the daily running of the business. It never ceases to surprise me that we get along so well doing this but there are still times where we don’t see eye to eye. He is educated as an engineer who loves to have charts and plans and processes. Me? I’m a doer. I was an Executive Assistant who made sure things got done and prior to that I got a degree in Political Science so it was all about ideas. Making lists are good but getting things done is better. I’m sure you ladies understand…LOL! With his help the business is growing and fluorishing so I’m really quite grateful for his support and despite the little challenges we have they are definitely surmountable. We seem to balance each other quite well though as I am the idea person and he is the person who puts the process in place to get things done.

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What made you decide it was time for a change on your retail site?

I’ve been using the same cart interface for about 4 years now and although I love it, it also does not have certain features that are a little more modern. The site did not translate itself well to tablets, iPads or smartphones and now that smartphones, tablets and iPads are everywhere, it is absolutely necessary that we make it an enjoyable shopping experience for our customers by making a change.

How much work goes into the dyeing business?

Oh gosh, it seems endless most days. The upside of a home business is you are at home but the downside is your work is always in front of you. We have the tendency to work late hours into the night and most days we are working 8-10 hours a day. Work never really go away either. I can’t remember the last time my husband and I went on an actual vacation or had a real day off – even on the weekends we are still attending to this, that and the other.

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May we see one of your first dyed skeins?

Oh sure! This skein I remember fondly…I had put the pot on the stove, added in a whole bunch of dye colour, dropped the yarn in and freaked out. Why? The water looked muddy and gray. To my amazement though, after I had taken it out and rinsed the yarn, I had created what would be called a “semi-solid”. In 2005 we didn’t have that term to describe tonal colourways but alas, there I was creating one for the first time!

Are you incorporated?

We are! We decided last year to incorporate our business from a sole proprietorship. Incorporation has meant the business really is ts own entity compared to being “me” when it was a sole proprietorship.

What is your philosophy on collaboration?

Collaboration is part of the heart and soul of our business. Without working with others, our business would not fluorish. Collaborating with others brings in fresh, new ideas and also opens our eyes to different products and services that we can offer. We truly believe that to survive in this business you must create partnerships with other businesses and through that, we all benefit and help each other.

What’s new for Zen Yarn Garden?

We have made a commitment this year to travel to fibre and trade shows as often as we possibly can. The interaction with our customers and others in the business face to face is very valuable to our business and to our customers. We truly enjoy bringing our yarns to the knitters for them to see in person – seeing the delight in their eyes makes our jobs worthwhile!

And in closing, I’d like to say thank you to Michelle for hosting an interview of Zen Yarn Garden on her blog – it is much appreciated! Michelle and I have created a strong working relationship and we have lots of new ideas and products coming in the months to come so watch for them! Fickleknitter and Zen Yarn Garden collaborate well and it’s been our pleasure working with Michelle!

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And now onto the yarn party…come drop by our new Zen Yarn Garden online store to save 10% from May 22nd to May 28th inclusive. All yarns in our “yarn” dropdown category are part of the yarn party and don’t forget to check out our Party Paks under “Specials” for even more savings on yarn trios!

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About Michelle

Knitting Tin Hats since 2004.
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3 Responses to Zen Yarn Garden Interview and Yarn Party

  1. Roxanne says:

    Thanks for the interview Michelle! Great fun :)

  2. Sarah says:

    I so enjoyed reading this interview! I really look up to you both, Michelle and Roxanne! Best wishes for continuing success! And I’m looking forward to purchasing some Zen Yarn Garden yarn, and some Fickleknitter patterns!

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