My very earliest influence was my father, Shyh-Charng Lo. Ever since I was a child, he was a painter and printmaker. Initially I saw him work with strong, vibrant acrylics and move to more subtle and subdued oil paints. He also worked in lithography which involves etching designs into stone to be used for printmaking. His artwork has always been focused on landscapes of sky, mountains, and water and the colours are like washes of colour, layers and layers of colour fields.
As a kid who was very interested in making things, I loved to knit and I sewed my own clothes throughout high school. I did some of my first weaving as a kid with a Fisher Price toy rigid heddle loom. My parents discouraged me from pursuing a creative path because it’s just so challenging in so many ways, but I still ended up creating a career for myself as a graphic designer.
When I started to dye my own yarns in my late 20’s it was very much in response to a desire to play with colour — not for crucial client projects, but simply for my own enjoyment.
Dyeing yarn and fibre is tactile and immediate.
Now that I have young kids and I watch them play, I realize that dyeing yarn is basically “sensory play”. It’s restorative and relaxing. Coupled with my love of yarn and knitting, it just seemed like the right place for me to be.
Now, after learning to weave more than a decade ago, I’m working with hand-dyed yarns in my weaving. It’s all still deeply influenced by the idea of layers of colour fields, broad strokes, and bold graphic design.
fiber as medium
After a while of knitting commercial yarns, I became attracted to the idea of spinning my own yarn. Something about the act of making something from scratch, of my own design, and under my own control… that was very appealing. I was lucky enough to have a knitting and spinning shop in town at the time. I walked in one day and bought a spindle and bag of wool. A week later, I walked back in and bought a spinning wheel. Even though my first few yards of handspun yarn were horribly overtwisted and lumpy, I was hooked.
Soon after, I found that all the wool fibre that I had access to was white or ecru, so I decided to learn to dye the wool so that I would have something fun to spin. It quickly escalated from KoolAid dyeing to acid dyeing at my dining table to dyeing yarn and starting an Etsy shop, all in the span of about six months. I was rampantly dyeing everything I could get my hands on and just couldn’t stop myself. At the time, it felt like my hand-dyed yarn or fibre was my art. It was my finished object. It was very much how I expressed myself. It was my attempt to be “unapologetic” which is ironic, since I’m very stereotypically Canadian and generally very apologetic in most cases.
The Influence of Dyeing
Dyeing is my signature. It’s definitely my way of saying, “I made this”. Even if I knit it or wove it, if I didn’t dye the yarn or fibre, it doesn’t really feel like my work. I just feels like I made something… but it’s not mine.
These days, I’m mostly interested in dyeing colours intentionally for my weaving. I’m interested in the intersection of what hand-dyed yarn can uniquely do and how it works up in handwoven cloth. Things like very striking dip-dyed warps and warp-faced weaving have been especially appealing to me for years now. There’s just nothing like it. The luminescence and depth of colour that you can get through crossing a warp colour and a weft colour is just not possible through any other medium. I find it impossibly mesmerizing.
Felicia juggles her days between her role as founder and creative director for SweetGeorgia Yarns with building the online fibre arts education site, School of SweetGeorgia. When not chasing her toddlers or hunting for tacos, she is dyeing, knitting, spinning, and weaving in her attic craft room. You can find her on Instagram at @felicialowong and @lomeetsloom.
SweetGeorgia Yarns is our hand-dyed yarn company that I founded in 2005 where we create hand-dyed yarn, spinning fibre, and publish multiple collections of knitwear designs throughout the year. We have a core collection of about 80 colourways that are available on every one of our yarns and fibres. There’s about 15 different yarns and 5 spinning fibres that include a blend of fine merino wool, cashmere, silk, mohair, and linen. They are generally all luxurious blends of beautiful natural fibres, spun into yarns that can be used for knitting and weaving. Then twice a year, we produce seasonal limited-edition colourways that reflect colour trends and dyeing techniques. We serve knitters, crocheters, spinners, and weavers with our hand-dyed yarns and fibres.
Then in 2017, I started a new branch of our company and it’s called School of SweetGeorgia. The School, or SOS as we sometimes call it, is an online fibre arts school with video-based courses in dyeing, weaving, spinning, knitting, and colour theory. Our goal with the School is to create a membership-based community to provide education and support to the “multicraftual maker”. The community that we serve here include people who are equally passionate about more than one craft, whether it’s dyeing and knitting, or spinning and weaving, or some combination of the above. Since the beginning, we’ve had in-depth dyeing courses to teach people how to work with acid dyes. Now, we’re excited to be offering more and more weaving content, from frame loom weaving to rigid heddle weaving and soon we’ll be offering workshops on weaving with multishaft looms. The membership has been growing steadily since we launched in September 2018, we’ve been publishing new content on a monthly, if not weekly, basis and the community aspect has come alive since we began.