Today I thought we could take a look at Laura Hogan aka the person behind Ellie & Ada. If you have been following the blog for a while you would have seen lots from Laura as I personally love her work. Laura was the first hand-dyer I ever met and the first skein of hand-dyed yarn I ever used all those years ago and I hold her somewhat responsible for my descent into this yarn business. Laura is also a fantastic teacher, artist and has some amazing print designs and I thought it would be nice to share one of my favourites with all of you. So, sit back and have a scroll through and I will not be held responsible if you end up in her Etsy shop:
Can you tell us how and why you started Ellie and Ada?
Ellie and Ada, at the moment, is a shop on Etsy. I dye yarns and sell them in my Ellie and Ada shop. I also sell yarns in The Constant Knitter and The Trim Wool Shop.
I guess you can say that Ellie and Ada was a slight rebranding. I stopped dyeing yarn for a couple of years and was designing greeting cards and prints. My previous business was called L.Hogan. I never really was satisfied with calling it L.Hogan. I sold hand dyed yarns, hand dyed fibre and handspun yarns under the name L.Hogan. Ellie and Ada is named after my two grandmothers. In naming it after my two grandmothers, I felt it was personal to me. I also wasn’t sure if I was going to dye yarn again so I wanted a name that I could produce whatever product I wanted at whatever time and also I wanted a name that I would not outgrow or would not be dated.
Rosemary from The Constant Knitter rang me and asked me if I would like to dye yarns again. I had wanted to return to dyeing yarns again and said that I would love to. I am grateful this. I now sell yarns and teach knitting at The Constant Knitter.
Can You tell us how you became a textile designer and what inspires your collections?
I originally studied Fine Art Print in Dun Laoghaire. It was great but I never felt that fine art was as good a fit as textiles. After graduating from Dun Laoghaire, I went on to study Textile Print at NCAD.
I love the process of print and perhaps that continues with the yarn, dyeing and knitting. I love producing multiples and always want to see all the different colours and possibilities. I love experimenting and play. This also explains how I don’t get bored of knitting socks and my handspun raglan sweaters. I love to see the repeats of items. Also printing, dyeing and knitting can be technical and like recipes.
The main things that do inspire my print collections would actually be books and quotes and, of course, most of all colour. Typography has always interested me. I also love 1950s design. I love the prints and the furniture of that era. I love the idea colourful twinsets and knitwear after a grey wool rationed war.
Currently, Which is your favourite of your yarns and why?
I do love all the bases that I dye at the moment. I am hoping to expand and dye on other bases soon.
But at the moment, I am obsessed with sock knitting due to the DKC Sock Knitalong and I am really trying hard to focus and finish socks. I keep on casting on new socks because I want to see how things knit up. Basically, I am a knitting magpie. I get distracted and cast on new things. I am knitting a lot with the Merino Nylon Sock Yarn and the Gold Sparkles.
I am really enjoying dyeing semi-solid yarns on the merino singles base. I enjoy dyeing the yarns that I dye for the Sock Club. I would like to dye up more sweater quantities of DK and Aran weight yarn. I have knitted a lot of sweaters using handspun in the past. I would like to knit some more sweaters in hand dyed yarns.
How do you deal with working by yourself while dyeing? How do you stay motivated and enthusiastic?
I have to say I really enjoy working by myself but having a dog is great because it forces me to go outside and get fresh air. Sometimes, ideas come to me when I am walking the dog. I love being outdoors. It is healthy for me to step away from what I am working on and come back with a new perspective after a walk.
I also have an amazing family that I can depend on. My mother helps me out with the photography and various things. My family have always been a great support to me.
I stay motivated by looking at Instagram and sometimes Pinterest. Ravelry is amazing, but I am sure that is not something that I would need to say to your readers and followers. I love looking at pictures of yarns and knitwear. It never gets boring.
The funny, quirky things that help keep me motivated is watching Netflix whilst doing mundane things. It keeps me half distracted from checking my phone and looking up something on Google that I was wondering about say last Thursday. Really cheesy pop music during the boring paperwork works wonders for me. Basically, myself and Katie Perry fill out invoices. She sings and I croan from time to time.
As an accomplished spinner, what is your favourite fibre to work with?
Wool. I love wool. Soft wool to scratchy wool, I love it all. I am happy to spin merino, Blue-faced Leicester and Falkland wool as well.
Aside from the Crafts mentioned, do you have any other hobbies?
As I mentioned before, I love being outdoors. I love going running and cycling. At the moment, I run more than I cycle. I was really into cycling when I was younger. I have been out a few times recently and am hoping to get back into it. I was in a bad crash when I was younger and am forever grateful for wearing a helmet. I can’t recommend them enough. I hope to participate in more running and cycling events this year.
I love food. I love cooking. I love eating. I have some dietary restrictions so it is helpful that I do enjoy cooking.
I love reading. I love my Kindle. I love being able to carry that many books around at one time. I love knitting and reading at the same time. I am hoping to get into listening audiobooks as well as some more podcasts.
I also make face cream and hand cream. It first started out when I realised how sensitive I was to some products. I love learning how to make things and enjoy making them.
Out of all the social media which platform do you think has the more impact on building your brand/following the most?
Without a doubt, Instagram. Instagram suits me the most because it is visual and it suggests people to you based on your interests. Therefore, Ellie and Ada is shared or suggested to other people.
I never had this level of contact with customers before. With Instagram, customers share photos of yarn when it arrives or take photos of what they knitted using my yarns. Our exchanges are enjoyable and have made great friends as a result. I genuinely care if they are happy with the product. The knitting/crocheting/crafting/fibre community is amazing. I do not say this lightly, I am blessed to be amongst such talented and intelligent women and men.
I also interact with customers on Ravelry and Etsy. I am on Facebook and Twitter. I do feel that the Irish Dye Junkies Facebook Market Night has been a great success.
Can you tell how Irish Dye Junkies got started and what’s in store for them in 2017?
The Irish Dye Junkies was created by Fiona Waters. Fiona Waters is the hand dyer behind Green Elephant. She asked Terri Carroll of Fine Fish Yarns, Yvonne McSwiney of Dublin Dye and myself to join her in this endeavour. We have monthly yarn markets with a special theme. It has been wonderful working with these women and I hope we continue to do so. It is fun and a different way of working for me. It is nice to be pushed creatively. I have learnt a lot due to the Irish Dye Junkies. We are very different dyers and I love that I am a part of it.
I am feverishly trying to finish a pair of Monkey socks using yarn that I dyed for our Christmas Market night. The colourway is called Feliz Navidad. It is on the Gold Sparkles Sock Yarn base which is gold stellina, superwash merino and nylon sock yarn. I am hoping that we continue the yarn markets and work on some fun projects together.
Yarn Folk which is a yarn festival in the North is in August. Also, there is Atlantic Knitscape which I have been to twice and hope to go again this year. Atlantic Knitscape has a yarn market and I have been selling my yarns there.
How do you find the business/creative balance between having to produce yarn for the business but yet want to give into your creative side?
I don’t mind the business side too much. I was making necklaces and selling them to classmates as a child. I always wanted to produce a product and sell it. It is all a learning process.
I do crave knitting. If I am working late, I spend at least half an hour before bed knitting. I would like more time to knit. I am hoping to carve out more time for myself to knit.
What is in future for Ellie and Ada?
Hopefully, there will be a continuation of exciting projects. I want to expand my line of yarns. I enjoy working on projects with other people and but also enjoy working by myself. Ellie and Ada is far from where I would like it to be but I am enjoying the work. I want the name to represent great quality, friendly service and beautiful colour.
I suppose I can’t mention all the things that I am hoping to accomplish in 2017. I know one thing for certain, I really want to accomplish my goal of knitting 12 pairs of socks in 2017!
Thank you so much, Laura, for taking the time to answer these questions and I hope that you all enjoyed getting to know the person behind the yarn. If you have any questions for Laura you can pop them below. I will see you all on Friday
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