Our guest today is our very own co-host, Beth Meyer! When she’s not managing our FibreShare website, you can find her spinning and dyeing farm fresh yarn for her business called Ugly Hank. Today is special because it’s Ugly Hank’s 2nd birthday!! To celebrate, we’re showcasing her FibreSpace, and Beth is also having a sale on all items in her Etsy shop. Coupon code: HAPPYBIRTHDAY for 22% off (Expires 4/24 at 12PM) See what she did there? 2nd birthday.. April 22nd.. 22% off.. we thought it was clever 😉
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you ended up in Fiber-Arts.
I learned to knit in high school, and quickly became obsessed. For years I knit freeform accessories, then during art school I taught myself to spin and dye yarn. I didn’t really know what I was doing and wasn’t patient enough to even watch youtube tutorials haha.. I just dove in and made weird stuff for fun.
Then a couple of years ago, my friend convinced me to sell some yarns at her indie art supply shop. I was so nervous because I didn’t really know anything official about yarn. I rarely even followed knitting patterns, and the LYS’s around town made me feel super intimidated. Worsted, DK, ply… the terms always just felt like Greek to me and I was too impatient to learn, so I was a chronic “wing-it” sort of fiber artist. But on April 22, 2014, I finally got brave and launched an Etsy shop! I chose the name “Ugly Hank” partially because it is funny.. and partially because I wanted to warn people that I didn’t really know what I was doing LOL!
Well… my yarns kept selling, and my confidence grew. Once I started an Instagram account, I connected with other awesome fiber folks, realized I could take fiber art as a serious art form, and just ran like hell with it! I learned about weaving and once I found that niche, Ugly Hank really blossomed. I love focusing on yarn for weavers.
Next I met Ashley and Rainie through Instagram, and became a FibreShare co-host.. and well, that took everything to the next level! Now that I’ve found my niche, I’m super proud to be a fiber artist. But, I love that Ugly Hank started with such awkward and humble intentions, and I hope to always keep myself rooted in that innocent pursuit of process-over-product!
Give us a brief history of your workspace/studio and how it has evolved over time.
I don’t really have a studio. I live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with my husband and my dog, and I work from home. The picture above shows my fiber nook where I store all the tools I need to access quickly. Basically I have my WIPs and materials hidden around the apartment, and I have to work really hard to keep the mess at bay. I’m not naturally an organized person. (My Mom would really roll her eyes at that statement, LOL.) In fact, I’ll be really brave and show you an old snapshot I found of how my fiber nook sometimes looks in real life while I’m working during the day:
Gasp! I know, shield your eyes!!! It is hard to live with all the fiber, tools, shipping materials, WIPs, random crap… But I do try my best to get everything tidied up by about 4PM so that my husband can come home to a peaceful environment.
One thing that really helped: I made myself one of those pegboard walls to organize yarns and tools. You can probably spot a few goodies here, like my loom from The Unusual Pear, some String Harvest threads, a few skeins of Fern Fiber that I plan to knit up soon. …there’s always a lot to look at on this wall.
I keep my wheel tucked under this table. It’s a Kromski Sonata. I love that it can fold up and travel! I also have a beautiful wood swift that my parents gave me. They got it from the Woolery, which is my favorite tool source by the way!
The table is really special because my husband made it for me. The base is an old sewing machine of his Grandma’s. He put some kind of finishing spray on it and attached an Ikea table top, and sealed the wood for me. I just adore it!
Sometimes I have other art WIPs stashed under the table, like that drawing in the background. ..And sometimes my little dog stashes herself under the table! It’s her favorite hiding spot.
I also work outside quite a lot. We have a great fenced in back yard, so I process fleeces outside, weave outside, dry fiber out on the clothesline… It is really crucial for Ugly Hank to have an outdoor space. Plus, I love being outside in the sunshine with my little dog Dorothy by my side!
Dorothy is a really good helper. She’s always sniffing the wool, snuggling with the wool, protecting the wool from rogue rabbits in the yard… I don’t know how I could get by without her help.
Can you give us a glimpse into a typical day in your studio?
Well, I’m not a morning person, so first I like to quietly weave or knit. Usually I listen to Netflix in the background and slowly wake up. Right now I’m on a Sons of Anarchy kick, but my very favorite is the Walking Dead. I know.. not exactly the scene you imagine of an indie fiber girl making art, but I like what I like haha. Then, I either spin in my living room, dye in my kitchen, or process wool in the backyard! I love making OOAK yarn because I’m always in control of what I put in the shop and can follow my creative calling each day.
Name a tool you cannot live without and why.
My spinning wheel! I remember there was a time when I wondered if I’d really use a wheel.. I though a drop spindle was enough. Pfft! If you are reading this right now and are on the fence about getting a wheel… DO IT! Post haste! It totally changed my life and caused me to fall madly in love with fiber art. There’s nothing quite like spinning on a wheel!
Also, I have realized over time that all you really need is a fleece, a wheel, and some soap, and you can make amazing yarn. About a year ago, I decided to learn how to process my own wool from fleeces. It was super overwhelming and I felt like I needed tons of tools to do things properly! Well.. I now have all the fancy tools, but often times I still just spin straight from the fleece without doing any prep at all. It’s my favorite way to spin because you connect deeply with the animal who grew the fiber. If you’re wondering what tools you need to jump in, just get a wheel, a fleece, and some Unicorn Power Scour. That’s all you 100% need! You can figure out the rest as you gain experience.
Can you give us a glimpse into your storage situation?
No, because right now it flat out looks like a hoarder closet. I use my laundry room in the back of our apartment for storage, and it is piled with bags of fleece, and dye, and dye pots, and slow cookers for dyeing, and it’s just the worst. Haha don’t judge me. Please.
I do have another sort of storage area for finished yarns, though! My parents live next door and they’ve kindly allowed me to use their spare room as a work area. So finished yarns first go to my peg board wall at home, then I divide them up into baby hanks, then I take them next door and photograph them and list them on Etsy! It just looks like a room with a desk and printer and shelf and bags. Nothing glamorous, but it’s great to have breathing room while listing yarns for sale!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Well, I’d just like to encourage everyone to be proud of what they have to work with! I live in about 450 square feet, and I’m super happy with my job and space. It is a challenge to keep things tidy, but at the end of the day, I’m just glad to be doing what I love. As editor of the FibreShare blog, I’m constantly seeing gorgeous, glamorous fiber spaces! I love seeing how others work and live, but as a young married couple, we’re not in our dream space yet. So if you work from a little apartment like me, then that’s okay! Flaunt what you got, baby!
Visit Ugly Hank here:
Ugly Hank Yarn Gallery: