Mental health has always been a part of my life. Formally diagnosed with mental health conditions since I was a teenager, I’ve certainly experienced lots of ups and downs as a result. I’ve done things I can’t explain, recurrently thought things that weren’t helpful and absolutely done things that I have deeply regretted.

But….through the pain and hard work it takes to manage my symptoms, I’ve also come away with an intense appreciation and love for others who share similar struggles. It is because of this that I have been working in some version of mental health care since my 20’s…and that’s been a long time (how long, I won’t say – ha!). Having mental health needs has concurrently allowed for me to have a great deal of compassion and empathy for others in like need. It has sometimes also been my Achilles heel: I care for people so much that when they hurt, I hurt.

It was during a time of great emotional hurt in the summer of 2019 that I realized that I needed a mental break. Desperately. Not a breakdown, but a break. I entered into short-term, outpatient mental health treatment and was able to get some time off of work in order to do it. It was the reset that I exactly needed.

During this timeframe, I often reverted to my love of crochet. While looking up on YouTube how to do a particular stitch, a suggested video on how to dye yarn popped up. The rest is history. I fell in fiber love!

Now, if anyone knows me they know that I can’t do one thing at a time. The same was true once I had the idea to sell my yarn. I just can’t get fulfillment from reaping the financial gain without giving back. And, since I know a thing or two about mental health, it was the perfect avenue to do so! Its been an absolute joy to be able to see the response that has grown so far. From seeing my yarn being sold in my first yarn store (StevenBe in Minneapolis), to being able to sell to others individually, and to even hear people tell me of their own experiences with mental illness, my joy in doing this has tripled, quadrupled, infinity-d (is that a word?). And the best part about this? I get to GIVE BACK and so do you!

My first dyed skein, called “Kermit”, appropriately enough!
Yarn donated to “Knitters and Stitchers” in New Hope, Minnesota.

But why the name, “Alive with Purpose”? I couldn’t legitimately think of another name. While it doesn’t scream yarn, it simply refers to the truth that we and all people with mental health needs are, indeed, Alive with Purpose. It’s inherent, automatic. No one can take that away from you. Believe it. I believe it so much that every skein comes with a label with that message pointing directly at you!

I leave you with this last message: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Your past, present and ongoing support means the world to me.

Q & A

Look at all the pretties…

To which organizations will Alive with Purpose donate a portion of the proceeds in 2020?

Two organizations will be financially supported in 2020:

  1. The New Hope, Minnesota “Knitters and Stitchers” group, which meets multiple times a week, year-round, to make cold weather items for people in need, the majority of which have mental health needs. The K&S group routinely donates to mental health crisis centers in the Twin Cities, Minnesota region.
  2. Sanctus Communities out of St. Cloud, Minnesota. This organization and the family (The Pankratz’s) heads up interpersonal outreach in multiple towns throughout the state. Routinely, they meet with individuals in the White Earth community in Mahnomen County, Minnesota. Efforts to give mental health care, support and encouragement to families, marriages and young adults is given through Sanctus Communities’ work. Mahnomen County currently has Minnesota’s highest depression and suicide rate.

What are Mainstays and Shop Update Items?

Here’s how it works. I’ll have both “mainstays”, yarns that will always stick around and “update” items. The latter items (one or two colorways at most) will be released every few weeks or so and once they are sold out – they’re GONE! I may choose to release those colorways again in the year, I may not. But if you see something with the heading – “UPDATE”, you will know that this item may not always be around.

Are you in stores?

Yep! I’m in stores across the country and am always looking for more opportunities! I’ll also be at a few trade shows this year, including “Stitches Midwest” and a Wool/Sheep Festival in Lake Elmo, MN this coming May.

Can I buy your product in wholesale for my store or event?

Yes! Send me an email if you’re interested and I’ll give you access to the wholesale page where you can see available colorways and receive the pricing and available weights list.

Why is hand-dyed yarn so expensive?

Anyone who dyes yarn does it out of a love for the craft. When you purchase hand-dyed yarn from indie dyers such as myself, you support individuals who put a great deal of love, attention, time and hard work into their product. And it shows in the end result. You are purchasing a one of a kind item. Dare I say it, a piece of malleable, workable, changeable art which is yours to love and create with. Consider it the paint to the artist’s canvas.

What do you even do with the yarn after you dye it, and before it ever gets to me?

Each skein is rinsed thoroughly of excess dye and soaked in a wool wash bath. The purpose of the wool wash is two-fold: 1. To condition and soften it even more than it already is and 2. To add a pleasant, slight aroma. After the wool wash bath, it is again rinsed and hung up to dry. Then its ready to go to its new home!

What are the shipping time frames to receive my order after purchase?

I work hard to get everything shipped out within one to two weeks of ordering.  It is dyed to order, you know, and that takes time. But I promise, it will be worth it in the end.

Will the yarn bleed?

Perhaps, though this is rare and I try to minimize this possibility by giving all the skeins a thorough rinse. But that doesn’t mean color is coming out of your yarn, only that excess dye is being removed.  It is recommended that you soak/hand wash your yarn before use if you’re really concerned about this occurring.

How do you dye the yarn?

Oh boy, more water than you’d care to know (though I do work hard at conserving as much as possible when I can), a helping of citric acid and some colorful acid dyes!  The rest is up to creativity. There’s lots of Youtube videos out there on different processes to do it if you’d like to give it a try!

Would you be willing to do a creator’s mental health check-in class or seminar, with the offering of some yarn?

You are speaking my language – contact me!

I’m wondering if you would like to sponsor an upcoming creator’s event…how do I contact you?

Contact Me

Is there a mental health benefit to creating?

Yes, indeed! While being good at a craft will not give you more inherent purpose than you already have (that can’t be taken away, it’s a permanent fixture of you being you!), there is scientific study which proves the psychological benefits of doing something you are good at.  Whether that’s knitting, crocheting, dyeing yarn, riding a penny farthing (hey, to each their own), these skills contribute to your ability to “build mastery” and find a “flow”, which in turn contributes to building both long and short-term positive emotions. It’s also a helpful mindfulness skill, which can be used to provide healthy distraction away from tough times and thoughts. In summary: It’s all good!

Who is your yarn supplier?

I’ll never tell…