Ana Clerc AKA Yarn Carnival

Ana Clerc AKA Yarn Carnival

Matt and Ana doing their best not to laugh…

I first met Ana and Matt, owners of Yarn Carnival, at the Hill Country Weavers retreat in Texas in March. I was drawn in by their colors and then captivated by the stories behind them. Ana brings such a broad range of experience to her artistry. Read on, you’ll see what I mean.
Janet: Which color best represents your personality?
Ana: Raven.  It looks a little somber and simple at first, but then as it moves and you get closer, you see rich, vibrant color underneath.  I think the complexity underlying the simplicity is closest to who I am.

Matt: Barrel Rider, mostly because of the outdoorsy feel and the name being inspired by The Hobbit – one of my favorite books.

Janet: What is the ugliest color you’ve ever dyed?

Ana: We dyed a burnt orange at the request of a shop owner.  It was flat, uninteresting and unflattering – we ultimately ended up overdyeing it to give it depth and personality, while still keeping the warmth of the color.  It turned out afterwards to be Ember, which is one of our favorite colors.

Janet: What did you learn from your background in costuming that informs your color decisions now?
Ana: SO much!  Part of it is the knowledge that these objects don’t exist in a vacuum -they’ll be made into objects, they’ll be worn on a moving body, they’ll be seen in all sorts of lighting conditions.
I have to take all three of those things into consideration when I dye a yarn.  I have to think about the kinds of garments that will be made, and the types of fabrics that will make these garments.
  • Will the dye pool funny?
  • How will this look knitted versus crocheted?
  • Can this do cables, lace, or just knit/purl textures?
  • How will these colors look wrapped around a 3D body: will they look flat, will they add something to the dimensionality of the piece?
  • And finally with the lighting, I have to know that the color will stand up to different lighting conditions and not look great in one (daylight) and wretched in another (flourescent).
Janet: When we met, you introduced me to the study of Textile archeology. Tell me more.
Ana: It is the archeology of cloth and garments, and the tools used to make them.  Until fairly recently, cloth scraps in archeological digs were simply discarded as they were thought to ultimately be unimportant when compared to less fragile and/or less utilitarian objects like jewelry, pottery, weaponry, and so on.
The thought was also that they didn’t have much information to lend to archeological evidence. However, so much can be derived from fabrics: origin of the materials hinting at trade routes and gathering methods, cultural ties of the weaver as evidenced by their weaving style, place in society as determined by the quality of the material of garments and ornamentation.  The other part that is so interesting to me is that so much of this history is the history of women’s work worldwide and for so long it was dismissed as less than important.

Yak Attack

Janet: Any knitting tips to share?

Ana: Enjoy what you are working on; if it is torturing you, it’s not worth doing – sometimes the pattern, the yarn, and the knitter aren’t always in sync and that’s okay.  It’s okay not to like something, rip it out and do something else.   It’s okay to stop and learn a new knitting skill to better execute a pattern. Ultimately you’ll like the project better and have a better time.  My only other tip is to use good lighting.  Nothing beats good lighting for not messing up!

Kinbane by Susanna Ic

Janet: Share some of your favorite designs in Yak Attack.

Ana: We’ve been lucky enough to have several designers create amazing designs in our yarns – some of our favorites are Nsubra by Bristol Ivy, Kinbane by Susanna IC, and Fugue in Mosaic Minor by Kirsten Kapur.

Janet: What do you do when you aren’t working on Yarn Carnival?

Ana: I love to play and program video games and I love to draw. I guess I’m really visual. I also seriously love to cook.

Matt: I collect antique hand tools and I do nature photography, especially macro photography. I also used to work as a blacksmith.

Janet: What do you love about living in Texas?
Ana: My family has been here almost 200 years, so part of it is the connection to the area. The food here is amazing, the people are generally warm and friendly but quirky in their own way (me too!), and there is a richness and diversity and beauty in the land that is unparalleled, in my opinion.  The fiber arts community is richly deep in its talent pool, wide in its scope, expansive in its sheer size and knowledge, and welcoming to people in any needle art/fiber art whether they’ve been doing it for 80 years or just started yesterday.
Matt: I love the natural beauty, the warm people who are willing to share their knowledge on any subject, and the amazing fiber arts community.
Janet: You have such a variety of interests. What would you do if you didn’t dye yarn?
Ana: I’d be a materials scientist – inventing new materials, testing them, destroying them, figuring them out, finding out new things to make and new ways to make them.

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