What to stash this week at Rhinebeck or Whinebeck

Anne of Middle Brook Fiberworks is debuting her Vintage No. 3 today! The yarn, which is a blend of fleeces from her Shetland flock — natural brown from Roobie and grey from Poppy and Quin — prime alpaca and cultivated silk, will be available at the Indie Untangled trunk show and online at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

Preorders for Carrie Sundra’s SkeinTwister opened this week, and even if you’re not a dyer, you can still join in the fun of the launch. Carrie, who is also a natural dyer through her company Alpenglow Yarn, has collaborated with Brooke of Sincere Sheep and created AlpenSheep. Just for the launch, they’ll both be dyeing Brooke’s Cormo Sport yarn, with beautifully twisted skeins available for sale in multiple colors. If you’re trying to cut down on the yarn buying, especially considering what weekend it is, they also have some fun gear, including rocks glasses, coffee mugs and T-shirts, featuring Pirate Red, the SkeinTwister’s sassy mascot. 

If you’re going to Rhinebeck this weekend, make sure to stop by the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth in Building A to see tons of new colors and a few new bases.

Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios has a whole bunch of goodies for sale, including bags with limited edition Frida Kahlo, cactus and unicorn fabrics. Today, at 9 a.m. Pacific time, she’ll release Hocus Pocus extras, part of a tribute to the awesome Halloween movie. Then on Wednesday, the Slipped Stitch Studios Facebook page will hold a Facebook Live flash sale. And, last but not least, next Friday is the release of the October Bag of the Month, inspired by Pinky and the Brain.

Grab Eyelet of the Tiger, BBR’s new project kit for their newest yarn, Himalayan Summit. The lacy cowl is perfect for variegated colorways, like Old Fashioned Villian by Modeknit Yarn, pictured above.

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has been busy dyeing new tonal and speckled colorways on several of her fingering weight bases that are perfect for your next fade. There are also some OOAK colorways sprinkled in.

If you’re going to Indie Untangled tonight, there will be a limited number of kits with both of Jill Draper’s exclusive colorways for the third installment of Knitting Our National Parks, along with a code to download designer Kirsten Kapur’s Joshua Tree Cowl. Both are inspired by sunset at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. If you can’t make it, the yarn will be available to preorder for a few more weeks (the pattern is for sale on Ravelry).

Pam Sluter’s latest design, the Haygarden shawl, was created in collaboration with Hampden Hills Alpacas. The sample will be on display this weekend at Rhinebeck in Building 39, booth 9.

IU newcomer Big & Bitty Bags has new bucket bags with a drawstring closure.

What to stash this week: Pre-Rhinebeck updates and sales

Stephanie of Asylum Fibers just had her last shop update before the Rhinebeck Trunk Show and it included a variety of bases in both regular and OOAK colorways. If you’re going to Rhinebeck, be sure to check out the latest batch of project bags in new limited-edition fabrics from the Oak Grove Quilter, AKA Stephanie’s mom.

Here are some more photos of Jill Draper’s gorgeous exclusive colorways for the third installment of Knitting Our National Parks and designer Kirsten Kapur’s Joshua Tree Cowl. Both are inspired by sunset at Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. The yarn will be available to preorder for a few more weeks.

Wild Hair Studio is discounting all custom blend and Mulberry silk top by 15% during the month of October.

Color Craze Yarn & Fiber is offering free U.S. shipping through the end of October.

Untangling Valerie Hobbs of laughingstar knits

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I love seeing my favorite indie dyers and designers collaborate on special projects — especially when it’s for something as special as Rhinebeck.

Massachusetts-based designer Valerie Hobbs recently worked with Alice O’Reilly of Backyard Fiberworks on two designs that will be showcased at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show next Friday, Oct. 20. The Winter Creek Vest, pictured on Valerie above, was knit with Backyard Fiberworks Field, a 100% Superwash Merino worsted weight, and her Meadow Cardigan, which will be released Nov. 1, uses Backyard Fiberworks Meadow, a DK weight MCN. Both garments will be on display at the Backyard Fiberworks booth at the show.

When Valerie is not designing patterns, she works as an interior designer and furniture consultant for a large university. I asked her to tell me a little more about her inspirations and herself.

Tell me what inspired the Winter Creek Vest and Meadowbrook Cardigan?

Winter Creek – I was playing with a long scarf and came up with the idea of shaping it around the neck and having the ends drape down the front, and then adding stitches for the armholes and body. The stitch pattern was from a cowl I had designed previously but never published. I made a fleece mock-up to figure out the draping, and the shaping of the armholes and neck.

Meadowbrook – This one started as a sketch. I had an idea for a cardigan with columns of lace that started at different points. I then turned to my stitch dictionaries to find the right lace and ended up modifying a stitch pattern from a Japanese stitch dictionary. When I had the sweater almost completed, the lace and cashmere seemed to call out for a ruffled collar. I checked with my daughter, who has excellent taste, and she agreed it would be the perfect finish!

How does your work as an interior designer inform your knitwear designs?

I work at a university – my interior design work is classic and functional to fit my clients’ needs, and I think my knitwear design is similar.

What made you decide to start designing knitwear?

Like so many designers, I was always modifying patterns, whether they were for knitting or sewing. About seven years ago, I designed a cardigan because I couldn’t find the style I wanted. I got so many requests for the pattern on Ravelry, that I published it, and then a couple of years after that, started designing more seriously. I’ve always been a designer one way or the other, whether in the theater, where I worked in costume design and construction, or as an interior designer, or for my own personal needs. So when I reconnected with knitting after a long break, designing knitwear seemed like a natural choice.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I’ve been knitting for so long I don’t even really remember. I think my grandmother taught me the basics, but mostly I learned from books — it was the pre-Internet era!

The Meadowbrook Cardigan.

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

Usually, I’ll start with a sketch. I’m always scribbling down ideas – I even have a notebook in the car for those times I’m stopped in commuter traffic. When I’m ready to start a new design, I’ll go back through my notebooks to see what inspires me. Sometimes I’ll have a yarn or a stitch pattern in mind as I look at the sketches – and if not, I’ll go through my stitch dictionaries, look through my stash, research options, draw a schematic. And then I swatch!!

What are some of your favorite colors and how has designing changed them?

I like all colors except orange! My favorite is purple – but I’ve been staying away from it because it’s so hard to photograph. I seem to be using a lot of blues most recently.

Have you been to Rhinebeck before? What are some of your favorite things to see there?

Yes, I’ve been traveling there with a group of knitting friends for the last few years. My favorite thing – looking at the sweaters, shawls, and other knitted objects that people are wearing! And of course, all the yarn!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Signature Needle Co.’s Signature Sock Series

This is the eighth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Signature needles have long been a coveted item among knitters, though the company’s offerings have remained pretty standard — until now. The Wisconsin-based Signature Needle Arts — run by knitter Cathryn Bothe, also president of Bothe Associates, which makes custom metal parts such as surgical tool components and mining safety equipment with the same precision as the needles — recently debuted its Signature Sock Series. The new needles come with a tougher cable and no rotation of the needle stalk and cable.

I recently spoke with Cathryn about the new product:

How did the Signature Sock Series come about?

Signature has manufactured our “Convertible” circular needles in sizes from US 3 up for some time. Those needles have the ability to attach various lengths of cables in a given size.

We knew we wanted to be able to provide the many, many customers asking for the smaller US sizes 1 and 2 as well as the 2.5mm size so loved by our Canadian and European customers.

However, having been in the metal manufacturing business for 67 years (see bothe.com) the shop folks knew the challenges of using the Convertible model within the small diameter of the size 1 and 2 needles.

Because we felt like we were setting ourselves up for failure if we asked customers to screw on the tiny internal threads required we decided to make these small sizes “fixed,” that is, they don’t unscrew or rotate.

To differentiate we chose a different name, Signature Sock Series, and changed the color of the cable.

Will they only be available for socks?

These small size needles will be wonderful for any project that calls for US sizes 1 and 2 and 2.5mm. Actually, I have done a scarf using them, but any lace project or anything else would be great with our points.

Why are you only starting with size US 1?

We know that making the US Size 2 would be easier since there is more diameter in the needle shaft with which to work. However, we decided that if we could manufacture the size 1s successfully the size 2s would be easier.

What has been feedback on the needles?

Customers love being able to have our fabulous hand polished points in this small size.

Are they manufactured differently than other Signature needles?

Yes they are. Instead of a rotating, removable cable the cable is affixed permanently into the tiny needle stalk. The color of the cable is different (white) than our regular cable on the Convertible Circulars (black) for easy recognition.

Can you say if there is anything else new on the horizon for Signature?

Whenever I bring up something new I can see the look on the faces of all concerned with the manufacturing. They know that I will be the worst “customer” ever. I will proudly accept that I am demanding and unbending in what I want even when they tell me that something is impossible. I do have a few new product ideas but I can’t really reveal at this time.

Having said that there is a new area that we are giving attention: that is of adaptive products for knitters with physical challenges. As well I have another, to quote Wendy of Wendy Knits, “stealth project” in this same vein.

What to stash this week: Yarn nation

The third installment of Indie Untangled’s Knitting Our National Parks takes us to Joshua Tree National Park, a surreal landscape east of the beaches and palm trees of Los Angeles and San Diego. Jill turned this photo of a sunset framing one of the park’s giant yuccas into not one, but two colorways, and designer Kirsten Kapur created a worsted weight, Western chic cowl using both colors. The yarn will be available to preorder exclusively on Indie Untangled until November 13 or until sold out, whichever comes first, and will be shipped on or before November 22. Kirsten’s Joshua Tree Cowl pattern can be purchased separately on Ravelry.

You’ll get to see Kirsten’s gorgeous cowl in person at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show on Oct. 20 and at Jill’s open house on Oct. 21. There will also be a limited number of Joshua Tree Cowl kits for sale at the Indie Untangled booth at the trunk show.

Another National Parks trip means Vicki of That Clever Clementine is releasing a new limited edition POP Thru The Parks souvenir! Starting today, you can preorder a POPpy zipper bag with fun fabric from Amy Peppler Adams’s Soda Nation Collection, plus a super cute soda bottle zipper pull. The bags are available for preorder for the next two weeks or until the limited edition of 24 items is sold out (which they did the last two times, so pop on over at 9 a.m. Eastern).

William Shakespeare could tell a good yarn, and Miss Babs knows how to dye it. The incomparable Tennessee dyer has once again teamed up with Bijou Basin Ranch to create 11 new hand-dyed colors. Five pairs are named for Shakespearean lovers and one honors the bard himself, all dyed on Tibetan Dream yak/nylon fingering. 

It’s officially Halloween season and dyer Sunshine is celebrating with yarn! All orders over £40 come with 20g sets of mini Sock Yarn Spiders, plus there are plenty of spooky colorways, like Zombie Breath (pictured above) and Frankie on Fire, and goodies, including Day of the Dead skull and zombie stitch markers. 

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner of Mason Dixon Knitting

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner’s Mason Dixon Knitting was one of the first knitting blogs I heard about when I first fell down this rabbit hole several years ago. I’ve been excited to see what started out as a public correspondence between two knitting friends from different parts of the East Coast — before they even met IRL! — turn into a booming business, with daily articles from some of our industry’s stars, a shop full of patterns and exclusive yarns and goodies and an upcoming retreat in Tennessee (which sadly sold out before I could commit to going).

I’ve recently been corresponding with the pair via email and asked them to expand on how their mini knitting empire has evolved:

Tell me how Mason-Dixon Knitting got started. How did you come up with the idea of an ongoing correspondence and how has your website evolved?

We started a blog in 2003, just for kicks. We had been emailing each other constantly up until that point, so it seemed natural to just continue in that style.

Over the years, we developed a vision for a larger website for knitters, one that would be a wide-ranging online magazine and beautiful shop. Our new site launched last October, after a year of development. It has been a huge year for us, and we are so glad to see our idea become reality.

The URL is still MasonDixonKnitting.com, but the richness of content and offerings is completely different from the old blog. We feature the brightest designers, great writers, supersmart teachers, and our Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guide series of pattern books.

We publish new stories every single day, so our readers start their day with a peek at something beautiful, profound, funny, or surprising. We’ve become a daily habit for thousands of knitters, and we treasure that connection.

The most exciting component of the new site is our online shop that features the most exquisite yarns we can find. We add new yarns constantly.

That’s why we are such supporters of Indie Untangled–we want to celebrate independent yarnmakers any way that we can–by telling their stories, collaborating with them to create special editions, and teaching knitters why these yarns are so important.

What would you say are the most important traits that each of you bring to your business?

Curiosity and enthusiasm are continuously bubbling up, and we think that’s the core of Mason-Dixon Knitting.

We never get tired of knitting. No matter how much knitting we do for MDK, or for our series of books (Mason-Dixon Knitting Field Guides), we remain extremely susceptible to casting on the next great thing we see, just for fun. We are endlessly curious about what people in the knitting community are doing, whether they’re designing or making yarn or tending sheep. Important fact in all this: we both type very fast.

Was it strange to start such a partnership without meeting each other (before Ravelry made that kind of thing slightly more “normal” for knitters)?

Starting a blog was such a lark, and so casual, that it didn’t seem like a big deal. At one point Kay got it in her head that this “Ann from Nashville” might actually be the author Ann Patchett (who lives in Nashville).

When we got a book deal in 2004, we made haste to meet in person!

Mason Dixon Knitting Field Guides.

How did each of you get into designing?

We love and respect the work of knitwear designers so much and have only rarely designed sweaters ourselves. There is so much expertise and nuance in a sweater design!

But early on, we wanted to knit open-ended projects like blankets, or fun little palate cleansers like dishcloths or other home items. When we went looking for patterns for those items, we didn’t see exactly what we had in mind, so we invented our own patterns. Kay still occasionally gets a blanket idea stuck in her brain and can’t rest until she knits it and writes it up. It’s a fun puzzle! And even more fun when knitters take an idea we’ve had and run with it. We love going to visit our patterns on Ravelry and seeing what knitters have done with them.

How did you come up with the idea for your Knitting Getaway next June?

In 2015, we went together to Shakerag Workshops, an annual two-week craft workshop in Sewanee, Tennessee, which is a wonderful place not far from Nashville. The entire time, we kept thinking, “We have to make this happen for knitters!” It’s very special to spend time in the company of other knitters, relaxing, learning, knitting, walking, swimming, and then to have delicious meals appear all by themselves: that’s heaven!

The only bummer is that we have such limited space. Fingers crossed that everyone will behave and we can host another Knitting Getaway.

Ann Weaver’s Sommerfeld Shawl.

When and how did you each learn to knit?

Kay learned as a Camp Fire Girl, made one thing (acrylic slippers!) and didn’t think about knitting again until she was in her thirties, when she picked up the needles and remembered how to knit. Ann was starting out on her career in book publishing, and took a night class in knitting. We both got the bug real bad from the start. In the early 2000s, we each found our way to the Rowan website’s chat board, where we met so many amazing knitters and characters, and each other.

Tell me about one of your most memorable FOs.

Kay: It’s not an FO yet, but I’m nearing the finish line on a giant Kaffe Fassett intarsia cardigan that I’m making from a vintage 1980s kit. It is by far the most difficult knitting I’ve attempted. Just weaving in the ends is going to merit a Lifetime Achievement Award. One of Ann’s most memorable projects is a pullover she made out of at least eight different cream-colored yarns that she had collected, in her own pattern of randomly twisting cables. It shouldn’t work at all, but it’s beautiful!

What are you most excited to check out at the Indie Untangled trunk show?

OK, here’s a confession: when we go to Indie Untangled, we are shopping for ourselves, but also for the MDK Shop. We can think of nothing more exciting to offer our readers than the beautiful yarns that hand-dyers are making these days. It’s a golden age of yarn, and we feel very lucky that we get to travel to Rhinebeck and see so many rare yarns in person.

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What to stash this week: Reading yarn

Lola of Third Vault Yarns is encouraging knitting and reading with her new yarn club. A subscription to the sci-fi and fantasy-themed Vaulter’s Book Club comes with themed yarn and a specially designed pattern, along with a UK sweet treat. There will also be book discussion on Ravelry or in The Vault Facebook group. The first edition of the club is inspired by the urban fantasy I Bring the Fire series by C. Gockel.

Elakala, Mindy Wilkes’ new colorwork cowl, is inspired by the Elakala Falls, part of the Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. The two swirling motifs are knit in two colors of fingering weight yarn.

Start your fall knitting with a new hand-dyed palette of fall colors from Bijou Basin Ranch called Autumn Spices. The seven semisolid and two variegated colorways are dyed on BBR’s new Himalayan Summit, a 50/50 blend of yak and Merino.

More a binge watcher than a reader? Melanie of Baad Mom Yarns has launched a yarn club inspired by the TV show Reign.

Pre-Rhinebeck podcast from The Knot House

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Earlier this year, Cathy Baucom and Heather Tinney, the owners of The Knot House, a fabulous LYS in Frederick, Maryland, launched a knitting podcast. They broadcast from their shop, which features yarn from several dyers, including many who post on Indie Untangled. I asked them to do a little preview of the trunk show:

What to stash this week: Buy yarn, help with hurricane relief

Carrie of Alpenglow Yarn, who moved to St. John full time with her mom when she was 3 or 4 years old (her parents had honeymooned there, fell in love and built a home) was 12 when Hurricane Hugo devastate the island. While Carrie recalls the island’s 3,000 residents coming together and helping each other out in the wake of Hugo, with much of the island back to normal in six months, the unprecedented devastation from Irma and Maria, the recent Category 5 storms, means it will likely take much longer to recover. To help out her former neighbors, Carrie has listed the remaining inventory of her naturally-dyed yarn for sale, and will donate $15 from each skein sold to local community foundations that are providing aid and relief to the island.

In happier news, Halloween is less than six weeks away, so it’s possible to whip up a pair of socks in Karen’s new self-striping colorway. In keeping with the Round Table Yarns brand, the color has a medieval connection.

Speaking of Halloween, Slipped Stitch Studios has a new collection of project bags and accessories inspired by the cult classic Disney film Hocus Pocus. There’s also a special yarn colorway from indie dyer Lazer Sheep. The sale launches today at 9 a.m. Pacific Time.

Heather Anderson’s latest pattern is reminiscent of dragons (no, not the kind flying around Westeros), specifically that rascal Puff the Magic Dragon. The Magic Dragon Shawl, which can be knit using fingering, sport or DK, has a dragon skin body that would look fantastic in a gradient.

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels is offering up her Voyage Through Time Outlander-inspired color as a preorder until 8 p.m. tomorrow.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Kitterly

From left to right: Kitterly co-founders Elizabeth Rowen and and Mari Bower.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

I often like to get creative by pairing yarns and patterns, and putting colors together, but sometimes it can be much easier to leave it to the professionals: the dyers, designers and the folks at Kitterly. The Los Angeles company, launched by Elizabeth Rowen and Mari Bower in 2015, works with several indie businesses to put together knitting and crochet kits. Indie Untangled regulars they work with include the designers Casapinka and Anne Hanson and dyers Spun Right Round and The Uncommon Thread.

I spoke to Liz and Mari to learn more about their operation:

How and when did Kitterly get started?

Mari was a customer of Liz’s store in Los Angeles, Knit Culture Studio. We came together in 2015 to combine Mari’s background in digital media, tech and ecommerce, and Liz’s experience in the fiber community as owner of Knit Culture Studio and create Kitterly as you see it today. We launched in January 2015, and we have been building our community of amazing designers, dyers and makers, one kit a time!

How do you decide on which designs to offer kits for?

We like to create a broad mix of styles and skill levels to ensure that we have a perfect selection for our customers to find their next perfect project. We are always coming the Ravelry design charts to find what’s new, but we also find that there is an amazing catalog of perennial favorites to choose from. You will find anything from Andrea Mowry’s latest Fade, to gorgeous classics like Melanie Berg’s Ashburn shawl.

It’s been really fun to find something that may have been designed in a yarn that is just no longer available, and revisit it in a new fiber.

Casapinka Koi Pond Kit

How do you pair up the yarn, including colors, and patterns?

We spend a lot of time researching designs to ensure that we can either offer it in the original yarn (down to the colors if we can), or find the perfect substitute. When we launch a collection with a designer or dyer, there was a considerable amount of time spent on pulling it together to ensure we have the right mix of new, classic and skill level. Once we settle on the collection, we then collectively will select color palettes that we review and even vote on at times. It’s a really fun process, and everyone gets involved!

Can you talk about any new dyers or designers you’re planning to work with?

Yes! We’re super excited to be adding Anthony Casalena, Carol Feller, Miriam Felton, Asa Tricosa, Christopher Salas, Berangere Cailliau/lilofil, Hanna Maciejewska/Hada Knits, Yellow Cosmo, Lesley Anne Robinson/Knit Graffiti and Bristol Ivy to name a “few”!

New dyers coming on board are Stolen Stitches (Carol Feller’s yarn), YarnLove, Hue Loco, Spun Right Round and we hope to begin working with Uschtitia in early 2018.

We’re always on the hunt for new dyers and designers!

ANKESTRICK Walk Along Kit

When and how did both of you learn to knit?

Liz: my grandmother taught me to knit, crochet and sew when I was 7.

Mari: I learned around 10 years ago, when my mother-in-law gave me a cute knitting kit set for Christmas. I taught myself how to crochet when I was around 8, since my mom couldn’t figure out how to show me since I’m left handed.

Do either of you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

Liz: crochet, sewing, quilting, rubber stamping and card making, needlepoint, embroidery. Unfortunately since starting Kitterly I’ve only had time to knit and crochet but I have a fabulous collection of rubber stamps waiting for me!

Mari: I’m a serial crafter! I’ve been sewing since I was a small child, and I love to make pretty much anything! I love to cook and bake, and I can my own jam/pickles every summer. I also design jewelry (wire wrapping, beading, even some silversmithing), and I have been known to do some serious home DIY (I installed my own hardwood floors in a previous house). I’ve even done some welding, thanks to high school metal shop!

Tell me about each of your most memorable FOs.

Liz: My spiderweb lace shawl in Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb — but I’m afraid to wear it. But my two favorites are Andrea Mowry’s FYFHaha and Casapinka’s Sari not Sari!

Mari: My Om Shawl by Andrea Mowry. I fell in love with the pattern and had to make it! It was quite the endeavor, as it’s a rather large piece, but it turned out magnificent. Thankfully Fall weather is coming soon, so I can show it off!