Why I need a Hobby and You Probably do, too


“You Need a Hobby, Honey.”

Last September, my husband and I took a much needed vacation at the Oregon Coast. Four whole days in a sweet little vacation rental only three blocks off the beach. No work, no obligations, no phones. Just glorious rest and relaxation, plus a little hobby time for my husband, who had recently taken up several new hobbies and was excited to get away from work and try them out.

I had packed a cooler with delicious ingredients to make all our favorite meals (and save money!) Upon arrival, I immediately got to work in the kitchen. My husband helped unpack the cooler… then proceeded to go into the living room, lay down on a couch, and READ A BOOK. Ugh! The nerve! Did he not see me slaving away in the kitchen to make our vacation perfect??? Unfortunately, I’m not always the best at healthy communication, so I resorted to some good old passive aggression.

“Can I get you something to drink, honey?” I asked him, seething inside.

“Oh, no thanks, I’m good right now,” He replied, refusing to take the bait.

“Okay, well… Dinner’s going to be a little late. Because it’s just me… In the kitchen… By myself.”

My husband then had the audacity to tackle my passive aggressive comments head on. “Honey,” He began, patiently, “We had a long drive to get here. You’ve been working hard all summer. I’ve been working hard all summer. We’ve got a lot to do when we get back home. But right now? It’s time to relax, that’s why we’re here. If cooking is restful and enjoyable for you, then by all means, do so. But if it’s just repeating a chore that you feel you have to do, please just join me in the living room and relax. We can go out for dinner if you don’t feel like cooking.”

Boring Rest = Restlessness

After sulking a bit, I realized I was being ridiculous and sat down on a sofa chair in the living room. I thumbed through the stack of old magazines on the coffee table. I browsed the epic collection of VHS tapes from the 80s. Then I grabbed a deck of cards and played a game of Solitaire. I pulled out the book I had packed and read a few pages. I played my ukulele. What was my problem? I was antsy. Uncomfortable. Bored, even. Anything but restful.

I sighed dramatically.

“Do you want to walk over to the beach?” I asked my husband, who seemed perfectly content to stay right where he was.

But, instead of being annoyed with my restlessness, he marked his place in the book he was reading and set it down. “Sure. Let’s do that.” We put our shoes and coats on and found our way to the closest beach access. Besides an elderly couple walking their dog further down the beach, we had miles of coastline to ourselves. It was beautiful. We walked silently, hand in hand, for what seemed like hours. We found some sand dollars, my husband skipped a few rocks, and we watched the September sun slowly sink towards the horizon.

Identifying the Problem

It seemed like the sun was just as restless as I was. We had been walking on the beach for hours and the sun was no closer to it’s resting place. “Well, should we head back?” I asked my husband.

“Jill, we’ve only been on the beach for ten minutes. Look at my watch. Look at the sun. We just got here.”

I looked at him sheepishly. Shouldn’t the hours seem like minutes? Not the other way around? Why was I so awful at resting and just enjoying the moment? A lump began to form in my throat, a sign that I was about to get emotional. “I feel like I should be doing something, that something is getting neglected because I’m not doing it. Like I have to work or else everything will fall apart. I don’t know how to rest.”

“We need to find you a hobby, honey. Something you do, not because you have to, but because it’s fun and restful for you. If you can’t figure out how to rest, you’re going to burn out.”

I thought to myself, “I have a hobby. I mean, I am a Tie Dyer! Of course I have hobbies.” But, as if reading my thoughts, my husband interjected, “Tie Dye is not a hobby for you, it’s an income stream.” I smiled at him, dejected. He was right. As much as I love tie dye, it is my work. I needed to find something else. A hobby active enough to keep my hands busy but easy enough to keep my mind at rest. A hobby I could do anywhere and at any time of the year in the Pacific Northwest (i.e. something that can be done while camping in the summer and while indoors for the other ten months.) But most importantly for me, I needed to find a hobby that was enjoyable regardless of whether or not I could turn a profit.

Finding Rest by Finding a Hobby

That long weekend at the coast was a turning point for me. Instead of getting irritable with my husband for resting and relaxing on our vacation, I began to let myself take a break from work too. I took a nap one afternoon when it was too rainy to go outside. I took my time making Ratatouille one evening, enjoying the process rather than checking off a list of tasks. When my husband started washing the dishes after dinner without being nagged or prompted, I joined him by drying and put the dishes away. Not because I felt obligated, but because I was simply enjoying our conversation, enjoying the moment. The chore I most despised was enjoyable that evening. Restful.

I brought stress and anxiety with me to the coast. But somewhere during those four days, the faithful tide came in and washed that stress out to sea. We returned home rested and ready to return to work and tackle whatever challenges we might face.

And yes, I did decide on a hobby. I scoured Google and Pinterest for ideas and settled on giving crochet a try. My husband bought me a set of crochet hooks and a bunch of yarn for Christmas and I was hooked. (Oh gosh, I didn’t even think of that pun until I typed it. CLASSIC!) At first, I got flustered and frustrated watching some bad Youtube tutorials. Counting stitches in the round and trying to do math were not exactly what came to mind when I thought of restful. And I had my share of do overs and scrapped projects I just undid entirely. But soon enough my muscle memory kicked in and I was making all sorts of crochet items and feeling totally rested in the process.

I even started going off script and trying my own crochet designs because following patterns is boring. I never was one to color inside the lines. Or follow a recipe. So, I suppose it makes sense that I don’t follow patterns well.

Protecting the Hobby!

Most recently, I started using cotton yarn to make beanies and cozies that could be dyed. Looking online, I found that this was something unique. The entrepreneur in me said, “You could sell these!” But another voice warned me to not let work takeover this new hobby. How could I keep crochet as an enjoyable, restful hobby and not another task to check off a list? I decided I would only crochet in my down time, and that I would not allow sales to dictate what I create.

I’m still in the early days of learning to maintain hobby status for crochet even though folks are showing increased interest in these hand crocheted and dyed creations. I probably could make custom orders and produce a lot more inventory… but I’m going to make what I enjoy making, whether or not these creations sell. Because profit is not the end game for my hobby. Rest is.

A Bridge between Work and Rest

For those of us who are artists and for those of us who have a strong work ethic instilled in us, it can be hard to learn how to rest in down time. Those who work from home can find it especially hard to clock out. I wrote about work ethic and self care less than a year ago, but it is still something I struggle to learn daily.

I believe finding crochet has been so helpful in my learning to rest because this hobby is the bridge between work and rest. At the end of the work day, my husband and I eat dinner together and then we decompress. Meaning? He reads the news and I crochet. Sometimes we talk about the news or about our work day, and sometimes we just sit in silence. Our phones go on “Do Not Disturb” mode, and I usually leave the dishes from our dinner in the sink until morning.

These evenings of doing “nothing” have become sacred to me. I am more focused, productive, creative, and healthy because of the down time my husband and I share. And my passive aggressive tendencies seem to be waning as I have become a better communicator. We may not always find time to go away for vacation, but we will always find time to rest right where we are. And we are better humans because of it.

And that, my friends, is why I needed a hobby, and why you probably do, too.

Veteran’s Day Thoughts from a Grateful American


Veteran's Day ThoughtsYesterday I had a conversation with my favorite veteran, a friend who goes by the nickname “Doc.” An old salty sailor who never fails to share a story you’ve not yet heard. For instance, I just found out that two of his uncles fought for Germany in World War I. I thought, I’ve known Doc for 15+ years and this is new information to me! I guess I had never asked him about the Great War, and I never knew his mother was German. We were talking about his plans for Veteran’s Day and about what he knew of World War I, as I had read a book recently that took place during the war. Doc was a wealth of information and stories! Though his health isn’t what it used to be, Doc’s mind is as sharp as a razor and his memories always inspire and remind me of my love for America.

Doc served with the United States Navy in World War II. His stories of serving in the Pacific region during the war can make you laugh, cry, or just stare blankly in disbelief. Doc took a liking to me when he first met me because he discovered we had both spent time in the Kingdom of Tonga. He couldn’t wait to show me his photo album from the small island nation! Looking through these old black and whites, I saw Tonga before western civilization had affected the Tongan dress and culture. I saw men in uniform who barely looked old enough to vote or buy cigarettes. And some of them weren’t old enough. Doc, like many others, enlisted early with the eager desire to serve his nation. To fight for freedom and other American ideals, not only for America, but for all her allies.

I don’t know much about WWII history. To be honest, I don’t know much about any of the wars fought before or since. I know what I learned in school and happened to retain. I know what I learned from the backdrops of various historical fiction novels (don’t judge.) But what I do know is this: veterans, like Doc, are a rare breed. They deserve our honor, respect, gratitude, and recognition.

So on a day like today, where we publicly show our honor, respect, and gratitude for all veterans, from those who served in WWII to those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan and all in between, let us put aside our feelings of joy or grief over the current election and focus on something that has always made America great: the men and women who serve in the military to make it so. Yes, there is a time to rejoice and a time to mourn. But today, this day of Armistice, this Veteran’s Day… take time away from the social media wars.

Recognize those who have fought to give us the freedoms we have. Hug a veteran. Thank them for their service. Pay for their coffee or buy them dinner. Attend a Veteran’s Day service in your town. Listen to their stories. Listen to their joys, their grief. Drive a veteran to their doctor’s appointment. Volunteer.
Serve those who have served you.

Recognize. Acknowledge. Remember. Salute.

May we remember those who have served and may we strive to be a nation worth fighting for.

And may God bless America.

Veteran’s Day Special

If you are a veteran or an active member of the military, we would like to give you your choice of this Star Spangled Tie Dye Tee or this Camo Classic Tee as a gift to say thank you for your service on this Veteran’s Day.

Please contact us today (November 11th, 2016) with your proof of service, your choice of Star Spangled or Camo Classic, shirt size (specify men’s or women’s cut), and shipping address. We will hand tie dye your shirt to order and ship it within 5 business days. While supplies last. Offer available only to U.S. veterans or active members of the U.S. military. Some restrictions apply.

Finding Room to Tie Dye in a Tiny Home


My husband and I moved last month. From a small home to a tiny home. Okay, some of you might be thinking house on wheels that we haul from friends’ property to friends’ property… so I should clarify: it’s a small house that is a permanent structure and my husband doesn’t have to duck through doorways. Well, most of them. It’s a matter of perspective. To the average American, our house is a tiny home. To minimalists, it’s probably living large! But while the millennials applaud us for our minimalism, I’ve been racking my brain to see how I will be able to tie dye indoors come winter. Living in the Pacific Northwest, I’m used to doing mostly anything in the rain. What out-of-towners don’t understand is that we PNWers all grew up playing in the rain. We would just bundle up, put some rubber boots on, and head outside. So I have no problem working outside in the winter rains. However, unless I’m going for a rain dye effect, I can’t tie dye in the rain. Therefore, a lot of my tie dye process has to be indoors on rainy days (most days.)

So I’ve come up with a few solutions, which I share with you, in case you decide to tie dye in a tiny home! (A tiny home of your own, that is. Someone might find it odd if they come home to their little tiny home and a stranger is in their house tie dyeing. We at Miss American Dye do not encourage nor condone breaking and entering. Get your own tiny home.)

A kitchen table makes a great tying workspace in a tiny home.

Because dyes are not exactly non-toxic, I strongly recommend that you never use dyes in your eating space. Even if you use natural dyes, your mordants are usually non-edible. So, use your kitchen table to tie up your designs, but leave the dyeing for another space. (Soda ash, on the other hand, though it tastes like soap, is non-toxic in small amounts.)

Use the bathroom for mixing and applying dyes.

If the rain is not going to go away and come again another day, then you won’t want to risk getting your precious dye powders wet. Stay dry by setting up a workspace in your bathroom! Bath chairs make great benches for setting your dyes on. Put away any towels, cloth bath mats, and shower curtains so they aren’t exposed to dye. Though these dyes can bond to porous surfaces if left to set, as long as you wipe up any spills at the end of the day, you won’t leave any stains on your vinyl floor or bathtub. For tile, I’d suggest putting down a drop cloth as grout might soak that color up a little too well.

*Important safety note: You should always work in well-ventilated areas and use a proper respirator when working with dyes. Since we’re talking about a room that usually does not come with a window, use the bathroom’s exhaust fan and crack the nearest windows in other rooms to allow the most ventilation possible.

Take advantage of any dry weather you get!

The safest, and most spacious place to tie dye is usually outdoors. So if you’ve got a break in the rain, bundle up if it’s chilly and take your game outside! Just realize you might look a little silly (or suspicious!) to neighbors who don’t know why you have a hot pink respirator and rubber gloves. A little something I learned upon moving into town. Haha!

Finally, rinse tie dyes outdoors come rain or shine.

When your tie dyes have sat undisturbed for their allotted batch time (I wait 24-48 hours depending on the temperature), you are safe to rinse them outdoors even in the rain. Once they are running mostly clear from rinsing with cold water from the hose, bring them carefully indoors and drop them into a hot cycle in your washing machine. Make sure they are really running clear before taking to a laundromat. They tend to frown upon you dripping dye around other folks’ laundry.

So, what do you think? Can Miss American Dye continue to make professional tie dyes even in this new, small home?

I say BRING. IT. ON.


Oh, hey.

By the way…

Did you know Select Fall Styles are on sale?!

Offer ends November 1st, 2016. Shop Sale items while they are still available!

Hippie Decor is ALL the Rage Right Now


Hippie Decor

I’ve never considered myself a hippie. I’m more of a friend of hippies who has been welcomed into their loving circle because of shared passions. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest and also living in other dense hippie populations like Gold Coast, Australia and South Kona, Hawaii, I couldn’t help but befriend and be influenced by hippies. Something about the way their lifestyle translated to what they wore and how they decorated their homes with their hippie decor grabbed my attention. At first glance, you might think hippies just don’t care about the status quo. But in truth, they do care and they are challenging the status quo by every aspect of their being.

Trending Now…

Recently, I have been noticing some trends in tie dye. For instance, I’ve noticed that folks seem to be looking for the traditional hippie decor and apparel with which tie dye has long been associated. Sure I still sell the modern styles, with their muted tones and monochromes, but many of you don’t want muted. You want hippie decor that is loud and proud! Not one, but ALL the colors!

You don’t simply wear your hippie values for one day and then throw them in the wash. You live them day after day. And so, you’re no longer looking to simply wear tie dye, but to surround yourself with it.

You are looking for hippie decor to put on display.

To make a statement.

To brighten a room or even a wedding venue!

You want tie dye to be a part of your living space, and so you decorate with hippie decor. Tie dye bedding and tapestries to hang are a few of the many custom hippie decor orders I’ve been creating lately.

This trend is not really new, as with any trend or fad. There have been several comebacks of tie dye and hippie decor through the decades, each time with it’s own new twist. Some trends bring back the rainbow spirals of the 60’s, some the browns and oranges of 70’s hippiedom, while other trends bring with them the monochrome indigo designs of Japanese Shibori. But what stands the test of time is this: Those who really live and love the ideals of the hippie lifestyle don’t change their lifestyle with the changing fashion trends. They don’t merely dress like hippies, they are hippies.

Does this sound like you? Do your hippie values translate into how you dress and decorate living spaces? If so, you’ll be happy to know I’m working hard to develop new tie dye hippie decor for all occasions. I’ve shared some examples in this blog post, but one-of-a-kind custom orders are always welcomed! We hand tie and dye each piece so it can perfectly express your one-of-a-kind personality. So, please get in touch! Let me know how I can help you decorate your home or your special events with lasting hippie decor.

I can’t wait!

Can Strong Work Ethic and Self Care Co-exist?


Strong work ethic & Self CareI’ve got a muscle spasm in my neck.

Still.

I’ve had severe pain in my neck for about a month and it refuses to go away. Instead it has spread at times to my back and shoulders. I’ve done ice, I’ve done heat, I’ve gone in for massage therapy, I’ve taken pain relievers and muscle relaxers, and I’ve used Tiger Balm like it’s going out of style. I’ve exercised and done rehabilitation stretches. And while I have found immediate relief with all of these treatments, the pain returns.

In the past, when I’ve had a muscle spasm like this flare up, I’ve gone to see a doctor. On two occasions in recent memory. (Unfortunately, not recent enough to still have some Flexeril left for this round.)  The first question the Doctors always ask is, “Did you do something that caused the initial pain?” And the second is, “Are you currently under a lot of stress?”

“Do you know what caused the initial pain and are you under a lot of stress?”

This time, I know what caused the initial pain. And it’s bumming me out, because the tying part of tie dye (you know, my job) is the cause. And while there are exercises I can do to prevent the injury from reoccurring when I return to tie dye, I can’t get my muscles to return to their normal state currently. Why? Because of the answer to the second question my doctors pose. Stress, as my doctors have explained to me, keeps my muscles in spasm. They react like that because of a perceived threat, and they won’t recover until stress is reduced.

In other words, my muscles can’t recover until I recover.

And because I know the questions and the answers, I’ve not seen a doctor this time around. As much as I’d love some Flexeril to help relax these muscles, I know the real long-term solution is to reduce stress in my life. Easier said than done, right?

Why this Whole “Self-Care” thing is Difficult for Me

You see, I come from a long line of incredibly hard workers. A strong work ethic was instilled in me as far back as I can recall, and I know my family has a lot to do with that. I’ve also worked for employers and with coworkers along the way who have exemplified that same strong work ethic. I think of a family business in Southern California that took me on when I was a naive nineteen year old fresh out of rural Washington. Or a coworker who worked tirelessly to pioneer a nonprofit in Hawai’i that would help people with disabilities experience the beauty of their island.

Having grown up with a strong work ethic, I tend to gravitate towards others who also work hard. I mean, it’s no surprise that my husband is the hardest working man I’ve ever met, and that my closest friends are also very committed, hard workers in all they do. I personally find immense value in a hard day’s work and doing a job well. This is a huge necessity (and asset) as a business owner.

However, the downside to this strong work ethic is that sometimes I don’t know how to rest. In fact, I despise resting… I judge myself as lazy and unproductive whenever I stop to breathe. When I come to the end of a work day and I haven’t accomplished as much as I had originally set out to accomplish, I get pretty down on myself. So instead of resting and getting reenergized so I can be more productive on the morrow, I exhaust myself with guilt over what I should have done. Sometimes I stress eat. Okay, most times I stress eat. I love food, OKAY???

Ain’t Nobody Got Time Fo’ Dat

As you can imagine, I’m a wreck when I’ve got physical impairments keeping me from what I consider a hard day’s work. Guilt is not simply unproductive, but counterproductive as it adds stress and stress prevents (or at least prolongs) healing. And so the cycle goes until I finally take the time to recover. To really rest and recuperate. Not keep trying to get back to tie dyeing because I’ve got work to do. Not just mixing dyes or just tying a couple things. That’s not resting. That’s not reducing stress. That is strain and it will not help!

(Repeat after me: Rest reduces stress! Rest reduces stress!)

I guess I need to figure out how to work stress-reducing activities and preventative care measures like stretches and exercise into my daily schedule. But… I don’t have time to rest. I don’t have time to exercise. I can’t afford to do those things this week – I’m vending at an outdoor market this weekend and need to add 50 items to my inventory! Sigh. Even now I hear that still small Jiminy Cricket voice inside saying, “You can’t afford to not rest and take care of yourself.”

Can a Strong Work Ethic Coexist with Self Care?

YES. Most cultures around the world have at least one day of the week that is a “day off.” Most employers recognize that vacation days actually help employees do their jobs better before and after they return from a vacation. Overtime is a term because governments recognize the dangers of too much work and too little rest. Self care, it would seem, is actually part of a strong work ethic.

So why is it so difficult? Maybe it is the perceived judgment from others. Maybe it is the “keeping up with the Jones’s” nature of social media. Maybe it is the deadlines. Maybe it’s that all of our value is wrapped up in what we do rather than who we are. But as difficult as self care may be, it is apparently crucial to maintaining that strong work ethic we’ve worked so hard to preserve. Therefore, let us throw away any fears of judgment and recognize our humanity. Let us take the time we need to rest, let us throw off the guilt that tends to creep in and steal our joy in resting, and let us work hard when it’s time to work. Finally, let us not only work hard, but also learn to play hard. (Or rest hard, whatever the case may be.)

Tie Dye Techniques for DIY Tie Dye


Tie Dye Techniques - Tying
Friends practicing their tie dye techniques

This week my friends, Crystal and Owen came over to learn how to tie dye. Since I sell my tie dyes for a living, I can sometimes be guarded with my trade secrets. Hey, I’m not the only one!  Few professional dyers want to share their tie dye techniques freely.  Especially when we’ve found our signature styles nobody else seems to make – sharing information can be scary!

Practicing Generosity

Thankfully, Tieson (my amazing husband) has always reminded me to practice generosity not only in my personal life, but in business. Giving helps us look beyond ourselves to how we can help others. In business, Tieson believes giving can only benefit your business. Sure, in the short term, you may lose money or time, which seems counter-intuitive! But all companies that have long-term success practice generosity in some way and those that are stingy and selfish tend to fizzle out.

So, I am working on applying this “generosity principle” with Miss American Dye. For some reason it is much easier for me to give away a completed tie dye shirt than it is to show folks how to make a shirt themselves. DIY tie dye videos and tutorials are ubiquitous, so why should I share my secrets? Because it keeps me from that stingy, selfish thinking that is detrimental to both my business and my personal growth.

Sharing is Caring (And Mutually Beneficial!)

Plus… it’s a ton of fun to tie dye with friends! As I’ve shared in the past, I thrive in collaboration. I love how collective creativity is often exponentially better than that of individual creativity. There are times to get away and be alone. There are times to reach within and inspire oneself. But who am I kidding? Those times aren’t for me!  I need the collective. Even when I am teaching beginners, they inspire me.

Tie Dye Techniques
Crystal applying dye to her tied shirt

What does it look like for the student to inspire the teacher?  For me it was, “Jill, could you show me how to make a turtle?”  I had never tie dyed a turtle before, but I was inspired and together, Crystal and I created something new and different from anything I’ve done before. I loved the challenge of imagining and drawing up how we could achieve the turtle shape. Owen seemed to observe quietly and then pick up the tie dye techniques with ease. Later he joked, “Do you offer apprenticeships?”

The 3 Most Important Tie Dye Techniques

After having Crystal and Owen over I realized that I could take this generosity principle one step further and share what I taught them with you all.  I hope you find it useful, entertaining, and that it inspires you to try tie dye for yourself! Here are the three foundational (therefore most important) tie dye techniques Owen and Crystal learned this week.

Scrunch Fold – Used to make the Marbled Pattern

Hold your hands near the fabric and use your fingers to crumple the fabric towards the center of the design while your palms keep the fabric from buckling.  I find it easier when the fabric is slightly damp. The fabric should look like brains when all scrunched up.

To tie and secure this fold, wrap your artificial sinew around it, loosely at first then gradually pulling it tighter on each wrap.  Keep the sinew against the table to pull it under the fabric without disrupting the folds.

The scrunch is used in part for items like the Rachael Heart, Dancing Waters, and Camo Classic.

Accordion Fold – Used for Lines and Shapes

Draw your line on the fabric with a washable marker.  For symmetrical shapes, first fold the fabric in half on the center line of your shape, then draw half of the shape with the folded side of your fabric being the center of the design.  Now, begin to fold the fabric like an accordion or a paper fan along the drawn line.  The folds should be fairly equal in height and perpendicular to the drawn line.  The goal is to make the line completely straight.

To tie and secure this fold, simply wrap your sinew around it two or three times and pull tight.  If you find your fingers getting sore, wrap your slack line a few times around a wooden spoon and pull the spoon to pull the sinew tight.  If you want a nice, defined line, pull very tight.  If you want the colors to blend and bleed, leave the sinew secure, but loose.

The accordion is used in part for items like the Camo with Ammo, Wonder Baby, and Candy Cane Leggings.

Spiral Fold – Used to make the Classic Swirl Tie Dye Pattern

Many beginners start with the Spiral and it continues to be a favorite tie dye technique to this day.  Here, I offer a couple tips to make it better.

Find and mark the center of your spiral.  Use hemostats (medical forceps/clamps) to pinch the center of your spiral.  (If the fabric is doubled up, as in the case of a tee shirt, be sure you have both layers of fabric clamped.)  Slowly spin the hemostat with your dominant hand while guiding the fabric with your other hand.  You want your pleats to stay low and fairly equal in height.  Once you have spun most of the fabric into a spiral, hold down the center with a flat palm and release the hemostats.

To tie and secure this fold, use rubber bands. Wrap them around so they look like sections of a pie.

The spiral is used in part or whole for items like the Classic Blues, Waves at Sunset, and Rainbow Spiral Baby Bib.

Put ‘Em Together and What Have You Got?

These tie dye techniques may sound simple, but they are the Bibbity to my Bobbity-Boo.  Once you have mastered lines, marbling, and spirals, you can actually put them all together to create some magical designs.  (See what I did there?)  So, here I go… giving all my secrets away.  Well, maybe they aren’t so secretive and maybe there are only three… but I guarantee if you can master these three tie dye techniques, you’ll be on your way to making sweet tie dyes in no time.  If you decide to use these techniques, please share your experience on our Facebook page or share some photos on Instagram of what you made and tag @missamericandye!  And as always, if you’re not into the DIY thing, you know where to find me!

Jill

Celebrate the 4th with American Tie Dye


“Tomorrow will be better as long as America keeps alive the ideals of freedom and a better life.” – Walt Disney, “Our American Culture” radio address broadcast during an intermission of the Metropolitan Opera, 1 March 1941

American Tie DyeWhy the Fourth of July is Awesome

The Fourth of July has always been a favorite holiday for my husband, because of his great love for this nation, our history, and our long-held ideals of liberty and justice for all. It’s been a favorite holiday of mine since childhood, as well. Though, I must admit, for much less noble purposes: I love fireworks, BBQs, and corn-on-the-cob. And, being the extrovert that I have formerly confessed to be, I love a good Independence Day Party complete with my husband’s brand of patriotism, my pyromania and love for all things grilled, and plenty of friends and family!

But as of one year ago, the Fourth of July has held additional significance for me: it is the day Miss American Dye was born! This wasn’t always an easy journey for me, so I feel pretty grateful for (and even a little proud of) this sweet tie dye gig I get to do every day! When I first quit my day job, I had all sorts of people ask me what I had lined up next. When I would say I was planning on starting a business making and selling tie dye I had reactions from the ever patronizing, “Oh, that’s cute,” to the more blunt, “Is there even a market for tie dye?” or “I suppose there’s some hippies that will like it.”  No joke. I heard comments like that. I’m sure they meant well.  Didn’t want me to fail and seemed convinced that I would?  Who knows.  But I also heard enough encouragement from people who actually mattered to me in the opinion department (My aforementioned husband at the top of that short list.) I decided to listen to the voices that mattered and just give it a go. A year later, looking back, I’m so glad I did!

Today Miss American Dye continues to grow

We started out with tie dye shirts, but have added leggings, dresses, hoodies, bags, and more.

We started out with only an online store, but have expanded with local vending and sales.

We started with a fan base made up mostly of family and friends (Thanks, Mom!), but have many fans that have found their way to us apart from any “six degrees of separation” type connection.

And all of this growth, my friends, is cause for CELEBRATION!

Celebrate with an American Tie Dye!

From now until the fourth of July, all of our American Tie Dye will be 20% off in honor of both our birthday and the birth of our great nation. Be sure to order by June 24th if you want to wear your sweet patriotic American tie dye to that neighborhood 4th of July BBQ!

Our American Tie Dye Sale includes: American Tank, USA Tie Dye Tee, Yet Wave Beach Tote, American Shield Tee, American Baby, and Candy Cane Leggings.

American Tank FrontUSA Tie DyeYet Wave Tie Dye Beach ToteAmerican ShieldAmerican Baby Tie Dye BodysuitCandyCaneLeggings-01

And did we mention Free Shipping?

With our anniversary celebration sale, we are introducing free US shipping for all orders over $35!  Pretty exciting, right?  From now on, this sweet deal will be automatically applied at checkout when your the items in your cart add up to $35 or more.

Finally, thank you, dear friends and fans.  Every time one of you posts a photo of someone enjoying one of my hand tied and dyed originals, I am reminded of why I love what I do!  Plus, your sharing helps spread the word to those who might also want a hand tie dyed original of their own!

I hope you have a wonderful Fourth of July – whether you find yourself in the Redwood Forest or the Gulf Stream Waters… or anywhere in between.

 

Tie Dye Shirts and the 1989 Cool Girls


Tie Dye ShirtsIt was the summer of 1989.  I had received a Jacquard tie dye kit for my birthday and my best friend and I had made tie dye shirts together and would wear them everywhere we went.  We had a name for ourselves when we dressed up in our tie dye shirts and flipped our hat bills up:  Cool Girls.  And we had not thusly named ourselves with any hint of irony… we knew we were cool girls.  My friend had a Real Brand skateboard with daisies on the deck and I had a sweet Huffy mountain bike with hand brakes.  We would listen to Richard Marx on the Compact Disc player my friend’s parents had recently bought, and as Richard sang “Angelia” we would wish he were singing to us.  (Side note: I remember my friend once trying to convince me she had magical powers because she didn’t have to rewind the song to replay it. I knew it wasn’t magic, but I was stumped as to the real cause of such wizardry.)

Tie Dye Shirts with Super Powers

Living in the country, I was usually stuck spending most of the summer playing with my brother.  But at least once a week, my parents or my friend’s parents would make the drive so we could play together.  On days when I went to her house, we’d wear our tie dye shirts and clam digger bermuda shorts and cruise the sidewalks (because, unlike me, she lived in town.)  If I was feeling uncool, putting on a tie dye shirt was akin to Clark Kent emerging from the telephone booth as Superman.  Our “outfits” had the super power of coolness.  Cool Girls was the name of the game and we were winning.

That complete confidence I had as a Cool Girl changed over the years.  My best friend went on to be one of the most popular girls in our junior high and high school.  She really was one of the cool girls and I was just a teenager who wished I was cool.  I’ll spare you the sob story, since it’s not much of a page-turner, but I came around eventually.  I learned to stop comparing myself to others and to really love myself in my twenties.  So when my friends were all getting husbands and I was still single at 32, I knew it wasn’t because of my thighs, my personality, or anything else about me.  I loved who I was, and knew that, whether or not someone else loved me, nothing could change the fact that I was awesome.  Somehow, unconsciously, I had returned to my former confidence.  I was a born-again Cool Girl.

Today I make, wear, and sell tie dye shirts that are slightly different from those tie dye kit shirts we made so many years ago.  Okay, they are completely different.  Those shirts faded after the first wash and the designs were pretty basic from what I can recall.  But the feeling I get every time I put on a tie dye I’ve made is still the same:  My stride is a little more confident, my smile a little wider, and my attitude a little more like that of a Cool Girl.

Do you need a boost of super-power-like confidence?  I’m pretty sure my tie dye shirts can’t change your identity.  But perhaps they can remind you of what you already know to be true:  You ARE cool.  Not because of what anyone else thinks, but because you are inherently unique, one-of-a-kind, and awesome.  Kind of like a good tie dye shirt.

Wholesale Tie Dye? No Such Thing.


Wholesale Tie Dye? No Such Thing.

Sorry to break it to you, but if you’re buying wholesale tie dye, then you’re probably not buying individually hand tied and dyed originals.

Dyers have tricks of the trade to get consistency on simple designs and ways to make multiples of these designs, it’s true.  But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen printed tie dye designs.  As in, the fabric is printed with a copy of a tie dye design on it rather than the blank actually being tied and then dyed.

Bulk isn’t always bad.

If you choose to buy bulk, that’s totally your prerogative.  Shoot, I like Costco as much as any other red-blooded American.  I impulsively buy giant jars of jalapeño garlic stuffed olives (Oh, I WILL eat all of those.)  And I always stock up on the big jar of pesto.  Let’s be honest, I can’t MAKE pesto for that cheap!  And I grow my own basil!  I mean, have you SEEN the price of pine nuts?  #WHADDAJOKE #COSTCOfever #iLOVEpesto – Wow, note to self: never blog on an empty stomach.  Thank God, I’ve got a giant jar of jalepeño garlic stuffed olives in the fridge.

*Eats about a hundred olives*

Okay, where was I?  Oh yeah.  Wholesale tie dye shirts that are carbon-copy identical to one another are not tie dye, because no matter how close to the same thing you get with tie dye, it’s never a carbon copy.  The strength at which you pull the sinew (the waxed string we use) affects the width of a line, or absence of a line if you wanted it left loose so colors bleed together.  The dye placement, no matter if you’re using an EYE DROPPER will never be 100% identical.  Before dyeing, is the shirt wet, damp, mostly dry, or bone dry?  Because that’s also going to affect how dye is absorbed by the shirt and in what pattern it spreads.  What I’m trying to get at is that there is a reason you can get “wholesale tie dye” in bulk and the shirts all have the exact same lines, spots of dye, saturation, etc.  That reason is they were printed that way.  There may have been printing dye involved, but there was no tying.  Therefore, NOT tie dye.

How can you tell whether or not your wholesale tie dye shirts are legit or just faux-dye?

Usually, the artist or reseller will have a disclaimer on their website or in their shop saying that no two tie dyes are the same and you agree to the terms that your shirt won’t look exactly like the image shown, blah, blah, blah.  I have that here on Miss American Dye, and my fellow dyers do, too.  We don’t have disclaimers to merely save our behinds, but to also express that what you are getting is completely custom, unique, and hand tie dyed.  And we figure our customers are looking for unique!

Perhaps I’m preaching to the choir.  Perhaps you already love ensuring you buy handmade or know where your food is grown or look for ethically sourced options for the products you buy.  But I thought I’d share (just in case you didn’t know) that the wholesale tie dye printed shirts you can get at the big stores are basically like the Roy-Bans I bought for a dollar in Kuwait.

Cheaper, perhaps, but not fooling anyone.

Tie Dye Apparel from an Extrovert View


Tie Dye Apparel from an Extrovert ViewIn which one extroverted tie dyer muses about the introverted nature of making and selling tie dye apparel online and the beauty of self discovery.

Do you find yourself energized or drained by crowds? Do you prefer large groups and small talk? Or small groups and deep conversations? We humans would do well to consider in which camp we find ourselves. One is not better than the other… But we ARE different, and that’s what makes us beautiful. Of course there are folks who seem to toe the line… But we do tend to lean towards one or the other.  I, for one… am an extrovert.  Which can make selling tie dye apparel online rather complicated!  I have my introverted days, but in my deepest heart of hearts, I crave and thrive off of interaction with others.

I have my most brilliant epiphanies when in conversation or collaboration. And it’s usually not because of what someone else has spoken, but rather my own thoughts that weren’t realized until voiced to another.

When I first learned the word “Synergy” as a 16-year-old struggling to fit in and appear older at community college, I realized this was what I had lacked in my high school experience. All of my learning up until that point had been individual. I took tests by myself, I wrote reports by myself, I studied by myself (Okay, I didn’t really study much at all – couldn’t really focus!) What my high school teachers called cheating, I called collaboration.  And I can’t think of one thing I learned and still retain today from that former education at my public high school. But when given the opportunity to attend community college in its stead, I came alive. Group projects, collaboration, study groups… I excelled. I went from a failing ne’er-do-well high school slacker to a successful college student with a part-time job at the campus coffee shop. All at the ripe, young age of 16.

Now, I’m no super-intelligent genius. But when I was allowed to be the extroverted external processor that I was created to be, my learning improved, my retention of information improved, and ultimately my grades improved.

Fast forward to 2014 when I was sitting in a meeting with co-workers where we needed to make a major decision. This team was a mix of introverts and extroverts (as all good teams are) and the leader of the group suggested we give a couple minutes of silence so we could all think about the decision. I protested, “But I can’t think with my mouth shut!” After we all had a good laugh about our differences, we decided to take a few minutes for the introverts among us to process their thoughts, and then we opened up the discussion so that the other extroverts and I could process ours. Giving space for both the introverts and extroverts to process allowed our team to reach a decision that benefited everyone involved.

As you can imagine, starting Miss American Dye was a bit of a challenge for me.  Sure, selling tie dye apparel sounds like an extroverted occupation.  I mean, just wearing tie dye apparel can be a statement of loud-and-proud extrovertedness.  But, you see… I work from home tying material by myself, dyeing by myself, washing out tie dye by myself, uploading and resizing photos by myself, posting new products to my website… by myself. It requires a lot of focus and self discipline, but I’ve figured some ways to manage that. Social media posts allow me to stay connected online and scheduling interaction with friends has become a necessary and productive part of my work day. Whether it’s walking with the neighbor ladies or having coffee with a friend, conversation always produces better insight for me.  A lot of my ideas for tie dye apparel stem from conversation with friends.

This past weekend, my inner-extrovert came out in all her glory as I interacted with visitors at the Country Life Fair.  I was happy with how many people bought items, but I was more impacted by the conversations I had with those who ventured into my booth. I was able to engage with my customers (and potential customers) in a way I never have online. I was able to hear feedback (like the many requests for more plus sized clothing and children’s tie dye apparel!) But I was also able to process my thoughts on my tie dye process in real time. So, thank you to all of you who came out to visit my booth. And thank you to those who interact with me either online or in person and help shape me into a better dyer, a better business person, and a better human.  I’ve come to love both aspects of selling my tie dye apparel – the introverted world of the interweb and the extroverted world of vending.

Bringing it Home

Finally, I’d just like to say to all of you introverts out there, I don’t understand your need for silence to think. I don’t get you at all. But I celebrate you and recognize that this world needs you. I’m sorry you have felt steamrolled by extroverts like myself. I’m sorry that your voice has not always been heard. I’m sorry people have misjudged you as stand-offish or snobby. I’m sorry for the cat lady or agoraphobic jokes. You take your time. Spend that alone time and get refreshed, collect your thoughts, just be… you are a valued and needed member of society and it does no good (for anyone) trying to be an extrovert if you are not. You have an ability to think and care deeply. You slow down and are the wiser for it. You probably have one or two close friends and they are better people because of your presence in their lives. You bring stability. You are wildly creative. The world needs you to be you. Beautiful, introverted you.

And to my fellow extroverts… I do get you. I know your frustration of being called intimidating. I know the fear of being overwhelming or annoying to those around you… because you’ve been told you are these things. I know the shame when your teacher told you to stop raising your hand and let someone else answer. I know the embarrassment of speaking thoughts out loud that should have never been spoken… and not being able to take those words back. I know your longing for interaction with others and the loneliness you feel when that interaction is lacking. I know the accusations of being shallow. I get you. And guess what? Just like the introverts, the world also needs us extroverts. The world needs us to be who we are and to stop trying to be something we’re not. We have an ability to think and act on our toes. We engage people in conversation, inspire relationship, and create community wherever we go. We say what’s on our mind and wear our heart on our sleeve. So go spend that break talking with your co-workers by the water cooler. Attend that party and don’t feel guilty about the small talk being small. The world needs us to be… us. Beautiful, extroverted you. (And me.)

How Yahtzee upped my Tie Dye Game


How Yahtzee upped my Tie Dye Game
How a game of chance restored my love for taking risks with tie dye

My husband put a Pocket Electronic Yahtzee Game in my stocking for Christmas.  It was something he enjoyed playing as a kid, so he thought I would like it… and he could also steal it and play too.  (Ironically, knowing he liked the electronic version, I put 5 dice and scorecards in HIS stocking.  We had a good laugh.)  Before New Years, he had achieved the high score on MY pocket Yahtzee, at an unattainable, whopping 515 points.  Every time I play MY pocket Yahtzee game (note the emphases) I see HIS high score that I can’t come close to beating…  But I digress.

So what does Yahtzee have to do with Tie Dye?

The thing with Yahtzee is it’s basically a 90/10 chance to strategy ratio.  “COME OOOONNNN, YAHTZEE!!!” Is commonly heard around our house as I hold my breath in hopes of the illusive 50 point roll.  Now before you get all judgy, it’s not like we play this game ALL the time… it’s just 10 minutes here or there when we feel like wasting a little time.

Tie Dye, on the far other end of the spectrum is typically a 10/90 chance to strategy ratio, at least for professional dyers like I’ve become with much effort.  In the early days there were, of course, a lot more finger-crossing “Come on, Yahtzee!” moments in my tie dye.  Honestly, every washout was like that.  A whole lot of wondering and hope…  Not a whole lot of consistency.

As I grew in my skills of folding, tying, and dye application, my results became more predictable and less varied.  But while I was starting to achieve that desired consistency, I was starting to lose that sense of wonder and hope that came with the unknown.  Interestingly enough, Yahtzee changed my attitude towards the chance to strategy ratio.

Yahtzee is still fun for me to play, even though I haven’t been able to beat my husband’s high score.  It’s still full of hope and wonder… I still cry, “WOOHOO, YAHTZAAAAYYYY!!!” Every time I get a Yahtzee.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Perhaps the just-beyond-my-reach nature of my husband’s high score is part of what makes it so much fun.  It’s the thrill of the chase, the roll of the dice, the unknown possibilities if I just give it a go!  The “Maybe THIS game will be the one to beat his high score” reasoning keeps pushing me forward to try again.

Now, perhaps if I’m trying to SELL my tie dyes, I can’t see it like a total game of chance… I do need the consistency I’ve developed.  But the Yahtzee approach works wonders in my favor when I apply it to trying new designs.  I know because of my skills I will have some amount of predictability, but the thrill of the unknown possibilities is what has brought back my childlike wonder and self-cheerleading that were so present in my inaugural dyes.  Yahtzee has brought me back to a place of actually trying to will results.  “Come on, be a good washout!” I say to the crumpled up piece of fabric as I start to unravel the sinew with crossed fingers.  I’ve even stepped out and taken chances in the realm of vending (which I wrote about in my last blog post.)

Yahtzee has brought me back to the heart and soul of tie dye:  hope and wonder.  Hope that something boring and plain can become something beautiful and original.  Wonder as I look at beautiful end results and think, “How did that happen!?”

I guess I’ve always been challenged and inspired by those who choose to take risks and allow Chance to have her heyday every once in a while.  People who understand the simple, yet profound words of Garth Brooks:  “Life is not tried, it is merely survived when you’re standing outside the fire.”

Here’s to all the hope and wonder and reward that comes with rolling the dice.

Country Life Fair


Miss American Dye is going to be one of many vendors at Pomeroy Farm’s Country Life Fair this year!


WHEN:
Saturday April 30th 10am to 4pm
Sunday May 1st 11am to 4pm

WHERE:
Pomeroy Farm
20902 NE Lucia Falls Road
Yacolt, WA 98675
(About an hour north of Portland, Oregon)

DETAILS:
The Country Life Fair (formerly known as the Herb Festival) is an excellent family fun activity for kids and adults of all ages.  Pomeroy farm will be selling herb plants and organic vegetable plants, and a variety of vendors will be selling their wares (That’s where Miss American Dye comes in!)  The farm will have animals out for feeding and petting and Country Life Demonstrators will be around the farm demonstrating various skills and trades.  Another neat treat is the historic log house which will be open for tours from 11am to 4pm both days.
Admission is free, but donations are accepted.

MY JOURNEY:
It’s true!  I’ve finally decided to be a vendor for a local event!  How did I come to this decision after a year of online sales as my only platform?  It all started when I reconnected with two neighbors who, along with their families, run Pomeroy Living History Farm.  Another neighbor invited me to join their walking group and I’ll admit that though I’m half some of those ladies’ age, I struggled to keep up those first few mornings.  We walk up a gravel road with switchbacks.  SWITCHBACKS.  You know, because we’re walking up a MOUNTAIN.  No big deal.  Here’s a photo I snapped this week.

Location of the Country Life Fair - Pomeroy Farm
View of Pomeroy Farm from the neighbor’s hill.

I was just starting Miss American Dye back when I began walking the hill and these ladies were always so encouraging!  It was such a great way to start my morning, and it still is.  We talk about life, they share their baking or canning tips, I talk about the ups and downs of starting a business, we all stop to enjoy the scenery when we need to catch our breath… Or when a deer crosses our path… Sometimes I have tips to share about cooking, but usually it is the other way around.  Anyhow, one day the Pomeroy ladies were talking about the Country Life Fair and they asked if I would be interested in having a booth this year and selling my tie dyes.  I was hesitant.


I said, “Alright, I’m in.” And I guess you could say the rest is history…

You see, the beauty of online sales is that I’m not dependent on a certain demographic or region liking what I create, because I can advertise and sell to people from all over the country.  I was nervous that my little rural area wasn’t the best place for a tie dye business.  (I can hear my husband lovingly chiding, “Quit downplaying your work!”)  Also, it would mean bulking up my inventory, rather than just having blanks ready for dyeing.  What if I couldn’t sell all the things I was dyeing?  Despite my hesitations, for months I couldn’t get the idea out of my head.  I weighed the pros and cons.  I calculated costs.  I recalculated.  I talked to local friends and asked their opinion.  But I also saw a growing interest in tie dye in my local region… It’s crazy, but tie dye is becoming more and more popular!  It’s not just for hippies or skaters anymore.  My deciding factor was when I asked if there would be any other tie dye vendors at the event and found out I would be the only one.  I said, “Alright, I’m in.”  And I guess you could say the rest is history.  Well… history in the making, at least!

MY PITCH TO YOU:
Come to the Country Life Fair!  Visit, shop, pet some farm animals, watch and learn how to tie dye, and who knows what else!  If you’re coming from the city, you’ll LOVE the drive along the river road.  You might even want to check out Lucia, Moulton, or Sunset Falls afterwards.  Or have a bite to eat at the Whistle Stop in Yacolt, Fargher Lakehouse in Fargher Lake, or Nick’s in Amboy.

…Just promise me that you won’t get caught up in the scenic drive so much that you drive half the speed limit or don’t watch the road!