What to stash this week: A new ewe

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Linda of Kettle Yarn Co. desired a yarn that was sheep-y and rustic, yet soft enough for princess-y skin. So, she helped dream up Baskerville, a blend of 60% Exmoor Blueface, 25% Gotland and 15% silk. This Kettle Yarn Co. exclusive is a worsted-spun 2ply that comes in a 437-yard skeins that Linda indigo dyed in lovely shades that range from a lightly heathered silver to a deep blue.

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Here’s a Valentine’s Day gift for you, inspired by Michelle’s Sangria gradient sock blank — make a purchase in the Berry Colorful Yarnings pop-up on Indie Untangled through Feb. 14 and get one FREE pattern from an IU designer (see the list here). Two or more skeins ship free in the U.S.

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Put a heart on your sleeve, pockets, hat brim, mitten cuffs, or cowl. These Valentine’s-appropriate buttons from Melissa Jean Design include vintage-style polka dot and lacy textured hearts. Indie Untangled readers get free shipping on all orders by using the code INDIE.

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Keya of Cedar Hill Yarn Co. has stocked her shop with two-grommet, zippered project bags that are perfect for toting around your small WIPs, especially multi-skein projects, with the grommets allowing you to keep each yarn cake separate. Fun fabric include the glow-in-the-dark Darth Vader pattern above.

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If you love rainbows, but want something subtle, definitely check out Mothy and the Squid’s Grey Skies Rainbow Brite sock yarn. Available on 75/25 Merino/nylon and 100% Merino sock yarn, it adds a peek of fabulousness. A variety of background colors are available, as are custom colors.

Untangling: Janina Kallio

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I first learned of designer Janina Kallio when I spied one of her ads at the bottom of the French Market Fibers Ravelry group almost a year ago. I contacted her right away about posting to the Marketplace, and then I took advantage of her Buy Two, Get One Free New Year’s sale (it was actually hard to narrow it down to three patterns). I was thrilled when, a few months later, Janina expressed interest in participating in the Indie Untangled yarn club, the first installment of which shipped out this week.

I figured it would be challenging to decide who to pair Janina up with for the club, since her simple, elegant patterns let any hand-dyed yarn shine. I asked the dyers and designers pick the top three people they wanted to work with, and Janina made it easy, expressing interest in partnering with Ami of Lakes Yarn and Fiber. And the rest, as they say, is yarn club history. Their Drops of Honey collaboration, which should be arriving in mailboxes starting today, is stunning, and I can’t wait to knit this shawl. Read on to find out where Janina’s inspiration comes from and what her all-time favorite TV show is — which seeing as she’s from Finland, this New Yorker was quite (happily) surprised by!

When and how did you learn to knit?

Knitting and crocheting is taught in schools here in Finland from a young age, and I’ve been knitting basic socks and scarves with bulky market yarn on and off ever since. But the tipping point for me was discovering Ravelry with its inspiring knitting community and luxury yarns. It literally changed my life. I’ve met amazing people both online and offline, discovered the limitless possibilities of knitting, and left my day job to pursue career as a full-time designer and entrepreneur. And most importantly, I’m definitely never going back to market yarns. :)

What made you decide to become a designer?

I published my first Ravelry pattern in October 2012 just for fun, and then a few others in Summer 2013. The response was so encouraging that I threw all caution to the wind and left my soul sucking day job in September 2013. That was a crazy move, but I haven’t regretted it for a second. I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe that this is really happening. The only thing I miss from my “pre-designer” life is work colleagues as being a solopreneur can be lonely, but fortunately the awesome community of fellow knitters on Ravelry and social media more than make up for it.

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Tell me about what inspires your minimalist designs.

I believe that simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. And with luxury hand-dyed yarns you really don’t need any bells and whistles from the pattern. For me, knitting is meditative, relaxing experience, and the pattern should be simple enough to follow while watching TV or chatting with friends and family. I aim to design Netflix-friendly patterns that are simple yet interesting to knit with drop-dead gorgeous results.

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

Every design starts with a sketch. My sketchbook is full of scribbles and funny looking sketches, and big part of the design process is deciding which ones to follow through with. Next step is calculations and drafting the instructions. But the knitting part is where final design decisions are made, or sometimes the entire design rejected. No matter how thoroughly I plan in advance, sometimes the yarns just have a mind of their own.

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Do you have any plans to design sweaters or other garments, or do you prefer to stick with accessories?

I get requests for garment patterns with my design aesthetics from time to time, and it’s certainly something I’m intrigued to dip my toe at some point.

I see you’re a big fan of Netflix and wine. What are your favorite shows and what’s your favorite red varietal?

With wines, I’m an annoying snob with a soft spot for French and Italian, but when it comes to Netflix, I’m not that picky. Hubby’s always mocking me — lovingly, of course — with all the ridiculous shows I watch while knitting. I guess the better ones would include Suits, White Collar, The Americans, Downton Abbey and House of Cards, but I’ve also been caught watching shows like The Glades and lately (don’t judge!) The O.C.

My favorite show of all time is Seinfeld and if it ever comes to Netflix I’m never leaving the couch.

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Where is your favorite place to knit?

At home on the couch watching Netflix and sipping red wine or sweet tea. :)

What to stash this week: 7 yarny ways to keep warm

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The folks at Bijou Basin Ranch have partnered with Julie Crawford of the Knitted Bliss blog on the Xanadu Snowflake Cowl kit. This colorwork cowl is knit in the round with two skeins of BBR’s Xanadu, made with 100% Mongolian cashmere. The long tube is grafted together to create two. Layers. Of. Cashmere. Plus floats! Along with the yarn and pattern, the kit includes stitch markers by Purrfectly Catchy Designs, a Bijou Basin Ranch project bag and three sample packs of Allure Fine Fabric Wash.

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Nikki of Dark Harbour Yarns has been inspired by the work of English textile designer William Morris and has come up with a yarny version of his beautiful “Strawberry Thief” fabric. The colors, from left to right, are Horace, Deep-Blue Chromis, Old Salt, Salacia and Mary Rose.

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Glitter shouldn’t be limited to fingering-weight yarn. Susan of With Pointed Sticks has debuted Glitter Gel Pen DK (Superwash Merino/nylon/Stellina) for sparkly winter accessories or garments. Grab it in the Tulip Fields and Mixed Berries colorways, with free U.S. shipping on orders over $50.

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Want your bad romance (as long as it’s free)? It could be with this Instagram giveaway from My Mama Knits that runs through Valentine’s Day. Enter to win a set of five 50-gram skeins of hand-dyed yarn selected from this Scottish dyer’s new series, Bad Romance. The winning pack will include at least one gradient and a mix of bases.

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You know you’re craving some rich colors. Well, over the weekend, Linda updated the Kettle Yarn Co. shop with some new hues. They include a warm, nutty brown called Moselle that’s available on the Waltham base (100% British Bluefaced Leicester) and an earthy russet named Copper that’s available in Islington DK (BFL/silk).

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Too much winter for you? Think spring with Michael Harrigan’s Dayflowers and Honeybees Wrap. This rectangular-shaped wrap features a central panel of a dayflower stitch pattern surrounded by mermaid mesh lace and running edges of a honeybee pattern, with a final section of Shetland lace diamonds.

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Go beyond blankets and sweaters for your next baby knit with the Ruffle Bumpkin Diaper Cover (say that three times fast!) from Knit Eco Chic. This seamless design calls for organic cotton, but was test knit in a variety of fibers. It incorporates the self-hemming cast on and comes in 15 sizes.

On the importance of building up a stash, and a mystery KAL

The start of my MKAL shawl with designer Casapinka.

The start of my MKAL shawl with designer Casapinka.

This past weekend, as most of you know, the East Coast got hit with a monster blizzard that sent people lining up outside of grocery stores beforehand and clearing the shelves of bread (well, except for the seven grain baguette, which at least let me feel somewhat virtuous outside of the polenta, mushroom linguine and onion soup I cooked as my husband and I took refuge in our apartment). It was the ideal knitting situation, and I indulged, settling in on the couch to finish Season 2 of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

I also got swept up in the fun of Casapinka’s mystery KAL, Welcome Back Garter, which kicked off last Thursday night. I’ve never done a MKAL before, but as I trust Bronwyn’s taste and wish I could knit pretty much all of her patterns, I decided to jump in. (It’s not too late if you want to participate!)

The shawl calls for three skeins in three different colors, with a suggestion to include one variegated colorway. I raided my stash and dug up some sock yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts that my mom brought back from Nova Scotia a few years ago in colors that I had requested. The yarn didn’t have a specific project attached, but I figured it could be called on if I needed a baby gift or finally started knitting socks. I then pulled out a skein of Roman Hills in the Bates/Downton Abbey-inspired colorway that I was drawn to when I discovered the dyer, Lisa Roman, at a BUST magazine holiday Craftacular ages ago. The combo got the approval of some knitters in the Casapinka Ravelry group, but Bronwyn cautioned me that a more “blendy” variegated colorway might be better. She was right, as the Roman Hills started working up a little stripier than I was hoping for, so I ended up switching to the skein of Rhinebeck Twilight from Sophie’s Toes that I had admired at the trunk show back in October and placed in my stash without a plan. So far, the shawl is looking great and I’m very excited to see what it becomes.

I love the color combinations that Miss Babs offers and I was very tempted to use one of them, but A. Blizzard and B. I really wanted to see what I could put together from my stash.

The experience gave me a revelation of sorts about the importance of acquiring those random skeins just because you’re drawn to them. I might be unique in that I tend to buy yarn for specific patterns I plan to knit (eventually…) because it helps temper my desire to buy All The Yarn. There is a bit of a drawback to that, because you might not have what you want on hand when a pattern comes out, and there’s a blizzard and you have to cast on RIGHT NOW. There’s definitely a balance you need to achieve if you don’t have an endless budget, space, or both. As long as you’re not racking up credit card debt, don’t feel too guilty about those impulse buys — you never know when you might “need” them.

What to stash this week: Silk Sheep and shawls

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Keya of Cedar Hill Farm Company has started off 2016 with a new yarn base, a 50/50 silk/Merino fingering weight called, adorably, Silk Sheep. This medium-twist yarn comes in generous 438-yard skeins and is available in beautiful jewel tones including Lipstick on His Collar and Veridian.

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If you’re going to embark on a mystery KAL that suggests using variegated yarn, the designer Casapinka is who you’d want to lead you. Last night, she kicked off a mystery KAL called Welcome Back Garter. The all-garter shawl calls for three 400-yard skeins of fingering-weight yarn in three colors, including one variegated skein to make it even more fun.

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Wrap yourself in Woodland Lace, the latest shawl design from Michael Harrigan. It’s an asymmetrical shawl that combines narrow stripes and leaf lace patterns for a modern, yet elegant, look. Michael chose colors that evoke the woods in autumn, but it could work with many others.

New indie finds at Vogue Knitting Live NYC

My lone, but lovely, purchase at this year's Vogue Knitting Live in NYC.

My lone, but lovely, purchase at this year’s Vogue Knitting Live in NYC.

At this year’s Vogue Knitting Live in New York City, which took place over the weekend, I spent a lot less time in the marketplace than I have in the past. This was partially because I’ve made a few (ahem) purchases since Rhinebeck and I’m running out of room to put everything, and also because there were a lot of excellent classes. I ended up purchasing a class package for the first time, and took Deborah Jarchow’s Beginning Weaving for Knitters on Friday and Amy Herzog’s two-part Sweater Design Intensive on Saturday.

I learned a lot in all the sessions; the weaving class was very hands on, and I got to try out three different rigid heddle looms — I really liked the Ashford, but the Cricket was nice, too — and create a small sample of woven fabric (which I’m not posting a picture of because I overlooked the fact that I was supposed to bring my own yarn…). I do want to get some more experience before fully taking up another fiber craft, but my mom has been interested in weaving, so it might be something we can explore together. While I thought Amy’s class would incorporate her Custom Fit software more, I learned a ton about sweater construction, the qualities of different fibers and gauge, and enjoyed seeing her model her different designs to provide insight into construction and fit.

Aside from spending a lovely time with my knitting friends, I did browse the marketplace during the Friday night preview, and will of course share my finds.

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At the beginning, I had the nice surprise of running into Bronwyn, AKA Casapinka, who came up from Maryland for the day. Bronwyn was wearing her new design, the Black to the Fuchsia shawl, knit with a Miss Babs gradient set and a single solid skein.

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Appropriately enough, I came across the booth of Seven Sisters Yarn, a new company based in Maine and run by Karen Grover, the founder and former co-owner of String Theory. Karen specializes in gradients, including sets of mini skeins that shift from one color to another, and sets with several shades of one color that range from light to dark. Definitely a possibility for a Black to the Fuchsia…

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A must-visit booth this year was White Barn Farm, which had yarn in the Ulster County Handspinners Guild booth at Rhinebeck last year. My fellow Yarn Hoars had discovered Paula and her Cormo/alpaca/silk blend named, appropriately, Heaven, and had nearly bought her out of it. Paula, a former city girl, now raises sheep up in New Paltz, New York, and while she didn’t have an overwhelming amount of stock, as there’s only so much wool her sheep can provide, what she did have was gorgeous. Aside from the Heaven DK — which I purchased to try out, either on a hat or cowl — Paula also had yarn that was milled to look like handspun. The NY-area Hoars have been talking about taking a field trip to visit Paula, and if we go, I will definitely blog about it.

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One of my favorite finds this year had to be Crave Yarn. Crave has been around for three years, run by Amor (which is an appropriate name because I love her yarn) and based in Santa Fe, one of my favorite cities. I was especially drawn to her greens, which takes a really special dyer, because greens are never at the top of my list. As far as colors that do rank high on the Lisa Color Scale, she also had beautiful grays and berry colors, as well as oranges, blues and mustards… Let’s just say that I would definitely have a hard time narrowing down my favorites. She also had some luxurious bases, including a baby alpaca 1 yak/Mulberry silk fingering blend called Thoreau (which now I’m kicking myself for not buying because it would make a great Shallows). I also liked how the booth was arranged, with complementary colors next to each other — I could totally see the One single-ply Merino fingering in a Color Affection.

All in all, I think this year’s VKL may have been my favorite one yet. It was a perfectly balanced weekend filled with learning, having a fun time with friends I see far less often than I should, and making some great discoveries. If only I had more storage space (or knit faster).

1. I thought it was yak, but Amor hadn’t added an entry for the new base on Ravelry yet when I wrote this post, so I confused it with her other base, Song. Sorry for the mix-up.

What to stash this week: The ultimate project bag

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Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios has just released with she is calling Ultimate Project Bag: the Go Crafty Travel Case is a 10-inch-tall bag that’s filled to the brim with pockets — 58 of them, to be exact — to hold all your needles, cables, hooks, stitch holders, scissors… you name it, it will probably fit in there, along with your latest project. You can also customize the bag with fun zipper pulls and a shoulder strap. The Wonder Woman and Sherlock-themed cases are on sale at a $10 discount for a limited time.

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Yarnageddon 2016 is the perfect name for the Stitchjones yarn club, and the end of the worl— I mean, the end of the sign-up period is today! Sharon is also celebrating the fifth anniversary of her club with a contest: every order placed in her Etsy shop through midnight Pacific time tonight will be entered to win a Yarnageddon membership.

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I hope you’re buttoning up these days! Melissa of Melissa Jean Design is celebrating the recent arrival of winter weather in the Northeast with beautiful snowflake buttons. They’re available in blue, black and grey, along with some lovely wooden buttons made in the USA. Best of all, your purchase will ship free when you use the code INDIE at checkout.

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Whether you want to be Knit Girl, a David Bowie-style hero (::sniff::) or a Marvel one, this pattern from This Mama Knits has everything you need to create the perfect disguise. The seamless circular pattern is worked from the bottom up and includes a choice of four sizes, as well as charts for a lightning bolt or the letter A for extra flare.

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Knit the rainbow: Mothy and the Squid has a bunch of rainbow mini-skein sets currently available in her Etsy shop, in both sock weight and DK. There’s also a set of 10 approximately 10-gram skeins of Merino/nylon sock yarn with one full-sized skein of grey sock yarn (because grey is the perfect accent color).

A soundtrack for knitting

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Ah, mixtapes.

Ah, mixtapes.

Music has always been a big part of my life. The interests section of my AOL profile (remember those?) in the late 1990s was crammed full of bands, and it was a big thing my husband and I bonded over when we first become friends in college. One of our first conversations went something like, “Have you listened to Morrissey?” “Of course! I have this amazing live version of Jack the Ripper on a mixtape.” When we first started dating, he introduced me to The Get Up Kids. Later, I took him to a Decemberists concert after hearing them on WFUV, Fordham University’s amazing radio station, and he was hooked. The only thing I miss about commuting to work is flipping on WFUV each morning to hear their eclectic selection. Of course I can listen online, but a lot of my work day involves making and taking phone calls, which is hard to do with music playing in the background.

While the untimely death of David Bowie this week got me thinking about how important music is to me, I had been meaning to write this post for a while (by the way, one of my knitting friends wrote a nice piece on her recollections of Bowie during her work as a music publicist). Knitting may have surpassed certain bands for what I would call the main “interest” in my life, but there are still ways to combine knitting and music.

A while back, I created a knitting playlist on Spotify. I think it might have been prompted by a conversation started by Ridgely of Astral Bath, who had mentioned something in the Yarn Hoars group on Ravelry about a Rhinebeck playlist. (Incidentally, the Astral Bath Ravelry group has a fantastic music discussion thread.) I dug up every knitting- and yarn-related song I could think of, and also found a band called Yarn, which is actually pretty good, when I searched the music app. Here’s the playlist — it’s a work in progress, so definitely comment on this post with any suggestions. I’ve been meaning to hook up my laptop and play it over the PA system at the Rhinebeck Trunk Show, but kept getting sidetracked. Maybe — especially if I can get more than an hour of music — this will be the year.

What to stash this week: Sweet shawls (and yarn)

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The Baya shawl from Indie Untangled newcomer Mindy Wilkes, definitely intrigued me when Mindy’s post hit my inbox. The design, which appeared on the cover of the Summer 2014 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly and is now available as an individual download, is a crescent-shaped shawl worked from the bottom up, with the lace and cable edge knit in lace weight and the garter stitch body using fingering-weight yarn. You can use two shades or make it monochromatic (Mindy used two pinks from Sweet Georgia).

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Eldwick is a long textured wrap that looks perfect for cool nights — or scrunched as a scarf under your winter coat. It features a reversible interrupted rib stitch pattern in three panels using lace weight yarn (Mitenae used Wollmeise Lace-Garn). The pattern is 25% off on Ravelry through Jan. 13, Australian Western Standard Time (Jan. 12 for most of us), no coupon code required.

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If you’re looking for some lace you can sink your teeth into, Michael Harrigan’s Lace Deco Panel Wrap has a central scroll stitch panel surrounded by English mesh lace panels, with edges of traveling vines of knit lace. It takes about 900 yards of lace weight yarn.

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Mothy and the Squid, another Indie Untangled newcomer, has taken the “Put a bird on it” mantra to a much cooler level. Jillian, a Scotland-based dyer, has a series of self-striping yarns with 20-meter repeats inspired by our feathered friends, including the Violet Backed Starling, pictured above. She also has a range of rainbow yarn, self-striping yarn, sock blanks and other unusual creations.

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Let your sword, AKA your needles, fly in this new club from Round Table Yarns inspired by how Arthur came to be king. Sign-ups run through Jan. 29 for four shipments, each with a skein of yarn and a part of the King Arthur story used as colorway inspiration, links to suggested patterns and a bonus surprise. One of the shipments will include a self-striping colorway exclusive only to club members.

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Unlike Nessie, these Scottish legends have been captured — in yarn form, that is. Glasgow-based dyer This Mama Knits has released a series of five colorways inspired by Scottish myths and legends, including the Loch Ness Monster, Sawney Bean, Kelpie and Burke and Hare. They’re available in a set of five 20g mini skeins and also full 100g skeins in either sock or DK-weight Superwash wool.

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Kick off 2016 with some new kicks (and I don’t mean from Zappos). Lisa The Knitting Artist has added some new color combinations for her hand-dyed and drawn stockinette sneakers, which are now available in two colors. They’re $5 off with the coupon code HI2016 through Jan. 31.

IU on the road: The Yarnover Truck and Slipped Stitch Studios

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If you subscribe to the Indie Untangled newsletter, you may know about my fantasy of taking a yarn-themed cross-country road trip, visiting dyers and artisans along the way and blogging about my experience. Well, this past weekend felt like the next best thing, as I got to visit the famous Yarnover Truck and get a peek inside Slipped Stitch Studios while my husband, Mitch, and I are out in California.

Since we need to be in Los Angeles this Saturday for Mitch’s cousin’s bar mitzvah, we decided to take advantage of the quiet week before New Year’s, flying into San Francisco on Christmas and driving down the California coast. The views, especially from the area around Big Sur, were amazing, and though I didn’t buy any yarn, I took advantage of the scenery for an FO shot:

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This past Saturday, after a too-short day in Santa Barbara, we drove down to Huntington Beach, where the Yarnover Truck was set up outside the home base for Slipped Stitch, which was celebrating its seventh (!) anniversary.

I’ve been wanting to visit the Yarnover Truck ever since Maridee and Barbra launched it in March 2013. It’s a brilliant idea, taking the popular food truck concept and applying it to yarn. Maridee and Barbra travel to knitting events and breweries, and also rent out the truck for private parties. They stock some mainstream brands, such as Blue Sky Alpaca and Spud & Chloe, but mainly focus on indie dyers, with a great collection of yarn from Canada’s Indigodragonfly and Zen Yarn Garden, and Forbidden Woolery, which is based in LA. They also do month-long trunk shows, with wall space dedicated to one indie.

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The space is small, but wonderfully organized by yarn weight and with a number of samples and swatches.

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Some of the dyers have created truck-exclusive colorways. The purple variegated colorway above is Indigodragonfly’s Downton Abbey-inspired It’s all Fun & Games Until Someone Sleeps With Someone Beneath Their Station. I ended up buying a skein of Zen Yarn Garden’s California Love in DK (I figured I’d have more use for the heavier weight then the Californians). 😉

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I was also very excited to meet Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios, who I only knew via email and her posts on the Indie Untangled marketplace. I got to take a tour of her colorful, well-organized studio space, enter — and win! — a raffle and then paw through the baskets of goodies she had out for sale.

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I was tempted by a lot of Laura’s bags, but I decided that I HAD to buy this brilliant Back to the Future-themed pattern wallet. It will be perfect for charted patterns, which are mainly what I print out these days, but I feel like I’ll be using a lot more paper patterns just to be able to use this.

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While I was certainly excited to see the Yarnover Truck and have a Slipped Stitch shopping spree, one of the best parts of this trip was getting to spend time with some of my knitting friends from SoCal — Erica, who was the recipient of the handknit gift that needed the help of a detangler, and Julia, who I only knew from Ravelry discussions, but who was every bit as sweet in person as she is on the forums. We sat outside the truck and knit for a little bit while my husband tried out a local brewery and got a haircut. It was the perfect start to the LA part of our trip and definitely helped fulfill my desire for a yarny road trip.