Nurture your creativity.

I want to help you connect with the beauty of millennia-old natural dyeing traditions, so you can create in a way that honors the earth and takes joy in the colors Mother Nature provides.

Hi there!

I'm Ethan, and I'm the dyer and designer behind Refracted Light Fiber Arts. I have been a lover of Beauty and creativity since I was little, and this love has led me to start my own creative business where I help you bring renewal to your life by making beautiful things.

Why did I start Refracted Light Fiber Arts?

I started my business for two reasons.

First, I wanted to provide for my family in a way that allows me to be involved in their daily lives.

Second, I believe I am called to work that is creative and directed towards renewal.

Let me explain...

When my wife, Amanda, and I got married, we had a vision of the life that we wanted to build together. At the core of that vision was establishing a household that is a place of warmth, hospitality, and beauty where we could raise a family in the love of God.

When our first child was born in the fall of 2022, I fell head-over-heels in love and wanted to spend every moment I could with her.

I was teaching at the time and frustrated by how much the demands of my job took time away from being with my family. For some time, I had dreamed of making a living with my passion for the fiber arts, but I finally knew the time had come to stop dreaming and pursue the reality.

So I started Refracted Light Fiber Arts.

Now, I could have started any business, so why a creative one?

Enter, reason the second.

I believe that I am called to work that is creative and directed towards renewal. This calling is rooted in the reality that each and every one of us is created in the image of God and shares in the creative calling that echoes his work in the creation of the universe.

My understanding of this creative calling has been inspired primarily by my reading of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and his idea of sub-creation.

In a nutshell, "sub-creation" is a term that speaks to the idea in Christian theology that humankind is created "in the image" of God. Since God is the Creator, being created in his image means that creativity is baked into our identity.

So I chose to start a creative business because I believe that I am made to create beautiful things—and you are too. I want to help other fiber artists (and those interested in or new to the fiber arts) to find ways to renew the world around them by making beautiful things.

So you want to make your own clothes? Let me help you with that.

Being creative takes time and effort. In today's fast-paced world, many of us struggle to carve out the time needed for intentional making and creativity. And for those of us committed to making the effort, it can be hard to know where to start or what to make. We want to invest our time and energy wisely into making things that will last and add beauty to our lives for months and years to come. And when it comes to the fiber arts, we also usually want to end up with something that will actually be nice to wear.

At Refracted Light Fiber Arts, I'm excited to walk with you on this journey of making things you can be proud of, whether it's a sweater you will wear for years to come or an Afghan that will be passed down for generations. I've been a maker for long enough to know how hard it can be to decide which pattern to knit, what yarn to choose, or whether I want to spend my time knitting, crocheting, quilting.... You get the picture.

That's why I put so much time and effort into making sure my patterns and yarns will be the stuff of your crafting dreams.

The Patterns

All my patterns are written with great care and attention to detail. When you buy a Refracted Light knitting or crochet pattern, you can be confident you will be getting a detailed pattern that walks you step-by-step through the process of creating your dream garment or accessory.

All of my patterns include descriptions of special stitches and techniques used, suggestions for customization, and detailed pattern notes to guide you through the process.

Additionally, all of my patterns have been either tech edited or test knitted (many both), so that you can be confident you're getting a pattern that will provide a smooth crafting experience.

And if you have questions as you're working through one of my patterns, send me an email for detailed and personal pattern support.

The Yarns

My yarns are about as close to nature as it gets. I specialize in untreated yarns, because I love the woolly softness of non-superwash wool, and all my yarns are nylon free.

I then take these soft and woolly yarns and dye them using only the best natural dyes. I have been captivated by the natural dyeing tradition and the colors nature yields, and I know you will be too. The complexity and depth that can be achieved with natural dyes is truly wonderful.

When you purchase my yarns, you can be confident that the beauty of Nature's palette will help your projects sing.

Get to know me.

My fiber arts journey started long before I learned to knit, because making with fiber for me is about more than just the soft, beautiful yarn or the cozy finished projects; it's about living into my calling to be creative.

My deep and abiding love for the Beautiful was nurtured from the beginning by my creative mother, my aesthetically sensitive father, and my upbringing in the heart of the picturesque hills and forests of rural Wisconsin. This love for beauty made me want to create beautiful things, like the quilts my mother made or the flowers I found in the fields and forests. For as long as I can remember, I have loved to create things, but my understanding of the place creativity has in our lives blossomed when I discovered the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and his idea of sub-creation. If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a bit of a Tolkien fanatic. I won't give you my spiel here, but if you haven't already, go read the portion of "Mythopoeia" above to get the gist of what I'm talking about.

Knitting entered the picture when I was in middle school, shortly after I had learned to crochet, and while I enjoyed both crafts, my frustrated first attempts at intarsia and the relative ease (for me) of crochet led me towards making with a hook instead of two needles, and I stuck mostly to crochet until after college.

When I moved to Maryland for grad school, I found a knitting pattern for a vest that I absolutely loved, so I decided just to go for it and make my first knitted garment. While that vest was not perfect, I learned a great deal about knitting and gained a lot of confidence. That was the beginning of the end—my deep dive into the vast and varied world of fiber arts. After completing my first few projects, I started having ideas for knitwear items that I couldn't find patterns to match. Sometimes, these ideas came to me almost as revelations, and my wife will joke about the way I talk about hearing the yarn speak to me, telling me what it wants to become. I dove into learning the design and pattern-writing process, and published my first pattern in the summer of 2018. 

Not long after, as I explored the world of indie-dyed yarn and became acquainted with more and more yarn dyers, I thought how fun it would be to be able to dye the yarn I was knitting with. I was inspired by the variety and complexity of colors that hand-dyeing could achieve, but it would take several years before I would be able to experiment with dyeing my own yarn, mostly due to limitations of space and time. Then, in the summer of 2023, I decided that the time had come, so I bought some yarn, a few burners, and some pots and started experimenting. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to dye with natural dyes. I was drawn to the centuries-long natural dyeing traditions from various cultures around the globe and the magic of transferring color from the world of nature onto textiles.

Now, I find myself in a place the provides the space and time needed to begin the endeavor of turning this passion for natural textiles into a livelihood. I'm so glad you've found my little corner of the internet, and I hope you'll come along for the ride, so we can enjoy the beauty and wonder to be found in the world of fiber arts together.

What's in a name?

Perhaps you're wondering where my business name comes from? The name is taken from a line in a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, my favorite author, whose works have inspired many of my designs. This poem, "Mythopoeia," treats of the creative impulse in the heart of every human—an impulsed placed there by the Creator.

Here's the stanza my name is taken from:

The heart of man is not compound of lies,

but draws some wisdom from the only Wise,

and still recalls him. Though now long estranged,

man is not wholly lost nor wholly changed.

Disgraced he may be, yet is not dethroned,

and keeps the rags of lordship once he owned,

his world-dominion by creative act:

not his to worship the great Artefact,

man, sub-creator, the refracted light

through whom is splintered from a single White

to many hues, and endlessly combined

in living shapes that move from mind to mind.

Though all the crannies of the world we filled

with elves and goblins, though we dared to build

gods and their houses out of dark and light,

and sow the seed of dragons, 'twas our right

(used or misused). The right has not decayed.

We make still by the law in which we're made.

You really should go read the whole thing, because it's wonderful. I'll even give you a link: Mythopoeia.