Untangling: Knit Stars

knitstars

Something very exciting is happening in the knitting world in October — and, believe it or not, I don’t mean Rhinebeck.

About a month ago, someone in my knitting group told me about Knit Stars, an online summit with classes from Stephen West, Hannah Fettig, Rosemary “Romi” Hill, Meghan Fernandes of Pom Pom Quarterly and many other members of the “knitterati.” The idea behind the summit, which runs from October 10 to 21, is to provide access to top-tier instruction without the expense of travel. You’re also able to watch the classes whenever you have time, even after the summit ends.

Along with the videos, Knit Stars includes the ability to snag yarn in exclusive colorways from several indie dyers, including The Uncommon Thread and Julie Asselin, who is also filming a class. It’s a great way to gather with the knitting community if you’re not headed to New York in a couple of weeks, or a nice instructional supplement to the yarn-buying and cider donut-eating you’ll be doing at Rhinebeck. Enrollment in Knit Stars reopens on Friday, so sign up to watch the preview videos beforehand and you’ll get an email with all the info.

I thought Knit Stars was such a cool idea and immediately reached out to the creator, Shelley Brander to learn a little more. Shelley also owns Loops, a bricks-and-mortar and online yarn shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as well as a branding company with her husband.

Tell me how the idea for Knit Stars came about.

My Knit Stars partner, Ashley, approached me at an online marketing conference. She had created the Modern Calligraphy Summit which was a tremendous success in the calligraphy space, and she asked if I’d like to collaborate. I loved the idea of bringing such a new, fresh platform to the yarn world – and enabling people around the world to come together and access the knowledge of the top Knit Stars.

How did you decide which instructors to include?

We considered many factors, including areas of expertise, teaching style, personality, and social media presence. We wanted a blend of the widely known (like Stephen West) and up-and-comers (like Julie and Jeff Asselin). Stephen travels and teaches a lot, but there are so many people who never have access to him. Hannah travels very little by choice, so it’s a really unique opportunity to have her teach in the Summit. Ultimately, I thought of the people I most love to hang out with and learn from at market and other industry events. The people I would invite to the ultimate yarn and cocktail party.

Hannah Fettig shooting a Knit Stars video.

How does the video production work? Do you send crews to film the instructors, do they come to you, or do they create their own videos?

For the free pre-launch videos, we interviewed the instructors via Skype. But for the actual Summit content, we went to them, utilizing a professional video and editing crew. I have a 30-year background in branding and broadcast production, and I wanted this to be the highest possible quality. Our team delivered, big time! The result is beautiful, engaging instructional content, mixed with mini-movies that give you a peek into each Star’s world, lifestyle and inspiration.

What have been the biggest challenges in putting Knit Stars together?

It’s been so much fun, I’ve barely noticed the challenges! It has been a LOT of work but so gratifying to hear everyone’s positive comments. I’d say the biggest challenge has probably been educating people about this platform, because it’s completely new to our industry. It’s hard for people to believe that they could get nine Stars’ full workshops at this price, and we have to explain that they will own the classes forever, and be able to refer to them again and again – which is so critical when it comes to knitting instruction. You can attend an amazing in-person workshop but it’s hard to absorb everything in the moment. You need to be able to go back, pause, rewind… and practice.

Are you planning for this to be an annual event?

Based on the huge response thus far, I would say yes. I also believe that once Knit Stars enrollees see the quality and depth of the content and bonuses, the word is going to spread, and there will be lots of demand for more.

Shelley Brander

Shelley Brander

How do you juggle running Loops while also organizing Knit Stars?

One word: Coffee. No, seriously, I have a tremendous staff (we call them the Loops Troops) and Ashley has been spectacular to work with. She is the one putting the nuts and bolts of the actual Summit together.

Tell me about how you learned to knit.

I was 16 and my family took a car trip from Tulsa to the east coast. We stopped in to see a friend of my mom’s who owned a yarn shop in Charlotte, North Carolina. She put the needles in my hands, and taught me to cast on. From there, I spent the rest of the car trip making a cable sweater (with orangutan arms!). The rest is history.

Do you have a favorite FO?

Whatever I’m designing for LoopsClub is my favorite FO of the moment. I get the most compliments on the coral Andromeda poncho that I made years ago from Knit Collage Stargazer, a 100% silk with cool brass paillettes, so I wore it in the Knit Stars video. We’ve had so many requests for the pattern, we’re bringing the yarn back from the discontinued pile with Amy from Knit Collage, and offering kits on LoopsLove.com to Summit enrollees!

What to stash this week: spooktacular yarn

IU-3

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has seen her dye pots taken over by the Sanderson Sisters of Disney’s Hocus Pocus. The collection includes Black Flame Candle, a self-striping Sanderson Sisters colorway and a special Hocus Pocus kit that contains a third special color, a project bag from Suburban Stitcher and a notions tin filled with goodies.

If you’re in the mood to knit something spooky, Lara Smoot’s Fright Night socks might fit the bill. The vampire-themed colorwork socks, which use Undead Yarn (yes, really) have an introductory price of $3.99 on Ravelry until October 1.

Lyra-4-800sq

Lyra, the latest sweater from Laura of Fiber Dreams is inspired by Orpheus’ lyre, said to charm everyone. The sleeves of this simple garment — knit flat from the bottom, with notes if you prefer to knit in the round — are dotted with starry eyelets and accented with eyelet rib.

IU noob Dye is Cast Yarns has several new colorways on their Squish Wish base, a 75/25 Superwash Merino/nylon sock yarn.

Get to know the yaks, and yarn, of Bijou Basin Ranch

bbr-carl-eileen

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Yaks aren’t the first animals knitters think of when we think about yarn, but Carl and Eileen Koop, the owners of Bijou Basin Ranch, have boosted the long-haired bovid’s reputation among the knitting community. The animals produce a fiber with a softness similar to Cashmere, leading to a yarn that is warmer than wool, perfect for luxurious winter accessories.

Many of BBR’s longtime customers know the Tibetan yaks that Carl and Eileen raise at their ranch in Colorado by name: Napoleon, Doc, Ruby, Jade, Sharzae, and the twins Knit and Purl.

Get to know them a little better in this video:

The Koops have a lot of fun with their family-owned operation, and earlier this year BBR hosted a #memeayak contest on social media, inviting their fans to create memes using photos of the animals. Here are a few of the entries:

bbr-yak-meme-1

bbr-yak-meme-2

bbr-yak-meme-3

The crew at BBR focuses on raising the yaks, and works with a variety of U.S.-based mills to turn the fiber into yarn, much of which is hand dyed by indies all around the country, including Tennessee-based Miss Babs, Minnesota-based ModeKnit and Lost City Knits of Oklahoma. At Rhinebeck and other fall festivals, BBR will be offering new colors from Miss Babs, 10 of which debut this week. Check them out at booths 13 and 14 in Building C!

2016fallmissbabs

Those of you attending the Indie Untangled Trunk Show can enter to win a surprise raffle prize from Carl and Eileen and their adorable creatures.

What to stash this week: Rhinebeck preorders, pirates, clubs and mini skeins

whisp-1

To make shopping at the third annual Rhinebeck Trunk Show easier, some of the vendors have been working with indie designers and are debuting special kits, a few of which will be available to preorder through the Indie Untangled website. The first of these special dyer/designer collaborations is the Whisp cowl. This two-color brioche cowl was designed by Lesley Anne Robinson of Knit Graffiti Designs and uses yarn from Alice of Backyard Fiberworks and Laurie of Feel Good Yarn Company, who will be sharing a booth at the show. You can preorder your kits at a discount to pick up at the trunk show, where they will also be available at a higher price. If you can’t make it, both Alice and Laurie will be selling kits on their own websites after the trunk show. 

blkbrdsq1

Monday be International speak Like a scurvy pirate Day, ‘n ye can celebrate wit’ yarrrn. Just in the hour fer th’ shore leave, Christine ‘o Treasure Goddess Yarn released her Buried Treasure Collection, which be full ‘o awe. th’ collection weapons gradient mini skein sets ‘o luxury sock yarn in th’ colorways Blackbeard’s Revenge ‘n Floats ye Boat, wit’ a knitted shawl pattern ‘n a crocheted scarf pattern released fer th’ sets. lovely booty also includes adorable scurvy pirate sheep stitch markers ‘n needle gauges.

Translation: Monday is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and you can celebrate with yarrrn. Just in time for the holiday, Christine of Treasure Goddess Yarn released her Buried Treasure Collection, which is awesome. The collection features gradient mini skein sets of luxury sock yarn in the colorways Blackbeard’s Revenge and Floats Your Boat, with a knitted shawl pattern and a crocheted scarf pattern released for the sets. Booty also includes adorable pirate sheep stitch markers and needle gauges.

llamicorn-FIRST

What’s better than unicorns or llamas? Llamicorns, of course! Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios will be putting bags with this awesome fabric, along with colorful hand-dyed yarn from Pandia’s Jewels, up for sale today at 9 a.m. Pacific time. Make sure to leap like a llama, because once they’re gone, they’re gone (as if they never existed in the first place…).

ISYA-quote-2-Facebook

Stephanie of SpaceCadet has opened up subscriptions for her out-of-this-world yarn club. Membership in the InterStellar Yarn Alliance gets you a fabulous package delivered every other month with SpaceCadet yarn in an exclusive Yarn Alliance colorway, a collectible gift, the story behind the inspiration for each color, a newsletter with periodic offers only for members and a 15% off coupon every six months. Hurray — sign-ups are only open through Sept. 24.

wheels

If you’re in the New Jersey area this weekend, learn how to spin, and/or pet some adorable sheep. Middle Brook Fiberworks is hosting a beginner fleece-to-fiber spinning workshop tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and an open studio event from 3 to 5 p.m., during which Anne will demo eco-print natural dyeing with botanicals on silk scarves. You can also meet her new pets — a trio of Shetland sheep! If it’s too last minute, several spinning and dyeing classes are scheduled through the winter. 

gremlin-kisses-gypsy

Cedar Hill Farm Company just had a mega shop update that includes new colorways, a selection of self-striping and variegated yarns, kits for socks and mitts and plenty of new project bags. There are also needles and notions to go with your yarn, with a selection of Chiaogoo Red Lace needles and Dr. Who project keepers now available.

image

It’s miniskein mania! Mothy and the Squid is now offering “random” lucky dip mini skein mixes. Each mix includes a set of ten 10g mini skeins with a range of bright colors on either 75/25 Merino/nylon sock yarn or Merino DK. If you just want a really mini treat, smaller sets of five mini skeins in Merino/nylon sock yarn are also available.

Untangling: Pom Pom Quarterly

Pom Pom Quarterly co-founders and editors Lydia Gluck and Meghan Fernandes.

Pom Pom Quarterly co-founders and editors Lydia Gluck and Meghan Fernandes.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Although I run a knitting website, I still do a lot of writing for print, and so I have always appreciated the joy of flipping through a paper publication. When it comes to knitting magazines, Pom Pom Quarterly is by far one of my favorites. It has the feel of a small book and features beautiful patterns (my Waterlily, a design by co-founder and editor Meghan Fernandes, is one of my favorite garments), gorgeous photographs and illustrations and unique articles, such as a recent one on the science behind dyes.

Launched in 2012 by Meghan, an American in London (she has since moved back, and now lives in Austin, Texas) and Brit Lydia Gluck, Pom Pom is available four times a year via subscription and also at more than 250 locally-owned yarn and craft stores around the globe. There’s also a popular Pom Pom blog and podcast. Unfortunately, Meghan and Lydia won’t be able to make it to the Rhinebeck Trunk Show, as they will be busy preparing their display at the NY Sheep & Wool Festival, but I was thrilled when they agreed to be a sponsor. I chatted with them about the magazine and some of their favorite things:

Tell me all about how Pom Pom Quarterly got started.

Meghan + Lydia: We met while working at Loop, the gorgeous knitting shop in London, and found we had a shared love of knitting and craft, and of magazines too! We both felt that there wasn’t a knitting magazine around at the time that really spoke to us, or reflected the way we felt about craft and the plethora of indie dyers that had sprung up around the resurgence of interest in knitting and crochet. We decided to have a go ourselves at creating the publication we felt was missing, and after brainstorming in cafes and pubs the idea for Pom Pom was born. We designed all the patterns and wrote all the articles, friends helped out with modelling, photography and design, and somehow it all came together into a magazine we loved. We were so happy that other people loved it too! Now we are a slightly bigger operation of course, and work with designers, editors and writers and all sorts of brilliant people to make Pom Pom.

Why did you decide to go the print route?

Meghan + Lydia: We decided on print because we both love owning a beautiful magazine as a physical object, and we suspected that other knitters would feel similarly. It makes sense that people who spend time making lovely handcrafted things would appreciate the paper and quality of printing, and the fact that the magazine is printed in the UK. Because the mag is quarterly we think of it as collectible, and we try to make each issue timeless. For that reason we have no off sale date (until they sell out of course!), and we think of our print copies as little treats for knitters and crocheters, an investment that they will return to time and again… Of course we have digital versions available too for those who like wrinkle proof pages!

pom-pom-issue-6-autumn-2013

What would you say are the most important skills that each of you bring to the magazine?

Lydia: Meghan says I have good business sense, and I think she has a real knack for innovation. She is always the one wanting to mix things up and try new things, whereas I tend to get stuck in my ways. Meghan has tended toward the social media side of things, she always knows about what’s going on in the craft world way before I do! I am often happier hanging out with Excel, but we both love to chat and meet new people, which definitely comes in handy for what we do! We’ve both learned so much in the last five years, and I think we can both safely say we feel more confident now as stylists and editors. The one thing we definitely bring is enthusiasm for craft, and a love of print as a medium.

When and how did you each learn to knit?

Lydia: I learned to knit from a book one rainy Welsh summer about 10 years ago. A housemate of mine at university was a knitter, and after seeing her making things I was inspired, and decided that if I was stuck indoors while the weather was bad I might as well learn something new!

Meghan: My boyfriend’s mom taught me to knit when I was a teenager. I got really lucky because she was a great teacher and even bought me a sweater’s worth of yarn for my first project as a birthday present.

Who are some of your favorite indie dyers?

Lydia: Oh there are so many I love! I think Viola is definitely a favourite, and Uncommon Thread, Shilasdair and MadelineTosh… and I have always been a fan of Old Maiden Aunt too. But there really are so many brilliant dyers out there!

Meghan: They are changing all the time, and there are too many to count, but I love The Uncommon Thread, Camellia Fiber Company and Julie Asselin a lot at the moment.

pom-pom-issue-18-autumn-2016

Tell me about one of your most memorable FOs.

Lydia: Hmmm, really memorable ones would probably be disasters like the first jumper I ever made, which did not fit the intended recipient. But memorable successes are the first pattern I ever wrote, my Overbury mitts from the first issue of Pom Pom, and my Quadrillion jumper, which was Meghan’s design, and is still my favourite jumper.

Meghan: My most memorable is probably so because it’s my most worn — my Beatnik sweater by Norah Gaughan. I remember finally getting to grips with cables on that project and having to drop and correct cabled stitches for the first time. It’s so wearable and classic Norah — timeless, clever and so wearable.

Which crafts, in addition to knitting, do you enjoy?

Lydia: I also crochet, and do a little embroidery from time to time, but I’ll have a go at anything! If darkroom photography counts then that is definitely a craft I was very into when I had access to a darkroom! I just loved the magic of seeing the image appear. Without a darkroom on hand I have been experimenting with cyanotypes, which are so easy!

Meghan: In addition to knitting, I love crocheting and calligraphy, and recently I learned to weave which is such a cool way to use the amazing yarns we have access to.

What is your favorite music to knit or craft to?

Lydia: Oh wow, I don’t know if I can pick a favourite. But recently I have been crafting to Emmlylou Harris, Joanna Newsom and Sia. Patty Smith and The Velvet Underground have always been big favourites of mine too. When I tried to do some sewing a few years ago I was really into The Moldy Peaches and Jeffrey Lewis so they always remind me of threading a sewing machine. When I’m drawing I have to listen to something with a beat.

Meghan: Like favourite indie dyers, the music I enjoy knitting to changes all the time too. In the iTunes/Spotify age, I still love listening to the radio — the station KUTX in Austin is a fave, as is the UK-based BBC Radio 6 which I still love to listen to two years after having moved away!

Untangling: Creativebug

The Creativebug team. Left to right: Chelsea Sena, Devlin Mannle, Fernando Santacruz, Jeanne Lewis, Kelly Wilkinson, Matt Novak, Erik Wilson, Ken Bousquet, Ursula Morgan, Stephanie Blake, Courtney Cerruti, Brian Emerick, Julie Roehm, Su Li, Liana Allday.

The Creativebug team. Left to right: Chelsea Sena, Devlin Mannle, Fernando Santacruz, Jeanne Lewis, Kelly Wilkinson, Matt Novak, Erik Wilson, Ken Bousquet, Ursula Morgan, Stephanie Blake, Courtney Cerruti, Brian Emerick, Julie Roehm, Su Li, Liana Allday.

This is the third in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

These days, there is certainly no shortage of resources for receiving knitting instruction online, whether you do a Google search for a certain technique or need to re-learn the basics. But, sometimes you just want to really sink your teeth into a new technique or project, but don’t have the time, or the budget, to take a class with a well-known teacher.

There are a few sites that offer a way to take classes online, but I particularly like Creativebug. Run by CEO Ursula Morgan, Creativebug offers knitting classes from the likes of Marly Bird, Gundrun Johnston, Norah Gaughan and Jill Draper, as well as video instruction on sewing, quilting, jewelry making and paper crafts. The model is particularly unique, as it gives you the opportunity to pay a small monthly fee for access to as many classes as you’d like — which is especially nice if you want to explore crafts that go beyond knitting and crochet.

As I am a Creativebug affiliate (clicking the link above will allow me to receive credit if you decide to become a member), they were one of the first companies I considered as a new sponsor of this year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show. I recently chatted with Ursula about the business:

Tell me about how Creativebug got started.

In short, Creativebug was started with an idea and two cousins. Jeanne Lewis was chatting with an artist friend in New Orleans about an online art class that she had spent $160 to take and it was only available for three weeks. This triggered some thoughts for Jeanne. She thought about how she wouldn’t have three weeks straight to work on a class, so what if she could access a class that was affordable and available to fit within her schedule (even at 3 a.m.) as well as be available for as long as she needed. There were a lot of twists and turns with the initial idea. She eventually brought in her cousin Julie Roehm to help develop the business model, and after many, many long nights and days, www.creativebug.com was born.

How do you feel Creativebug sets itself apart from similar websites?

Creativebug is different for many reasons: we are subscription based versus a pay by class platform. For $4.95 a month you have unlimited access to over 700 classes, and each month you get to add a class of your choice to your Library to keep forever. Our videos are crafted in a documentary style, which we believe creates a more personable way of teaching/learning. We have also created an environment where we are able to offer classes on a plethora of crafts taught by instructors that support each other, and who like promoting and supporting each other’s craft. We are really proud of how unique our site is.

How do you choose your instructors?

We select our instructors very carefully. We think that it’s important to have instructors that are able to articulate the different ways one might approach the craft. While not exclusive, we usually have instructors who have established a name for themselves as an expert in their craft or have had a book published, which is also helpful in determining their teaching style.

Left: Jeanne and the dev team discuss changes to the site. Right: During the meeting, Urusula and Julie check in through a window that opens into Jeanne and Ursula’s office.

Left: Jeanne and the dev team discuss changes to the site. Right: During the meeting, Urusula and Julie check in through a window that opens into Jeanne and Ursula’s office.

What’s the average day like at the Creativebug HQ?

As you can imagine, there isn’t really an “average” day here in Creativebug HQ! Some days you’ll find us shooting in the studio, meeting with our great partners or having a crafternoon. We have Live Shoots every Tuesday and Thursday and we have our Numbers meeting every Monday with our entire team where we all contribute ideas on how to keep our business sustainable. One thing that we have every day is excitement, all while shop dogs Pup Charlie and Ollie run around playing with each other!

What are some of the biggest challenges for a site such as yours?

One of the biggest challenges for our site is consumer recognition. When people come across Creativebug, we want them to know who we are and feel confident subscribing to us. We are a new frontier, being “Netflix” for crafters and DIYers. There’s not really another service out there on a subscription basis that lets you swim in all lanes. So it’s important to us to explain to customers that they have access to hundreds of classes, getting that value proposition across. The other challenges are turning this digital business into a sustainable business, keeping people loyal and growing our subscription numbers.

creativebug-knitting

Have there been employees who have learned a new craft from a Creativebug class?

Tons!! I think that every single one of us has learned a new craft from Creativebug! I have learned how to make a beaded leather tassel necklace with Elke Bergeron that I am obsessed with,
Julie is painting now thanks to Yao Cheng’s watercolor class, Zenaida has picked up drawing, starting with Lisa Congdon’s Basic Line Drawing class, Li learned how to bake a pie with a delicious crust, Devlin learned how to knit twisted rib socks with Edie Eckman.

Is there a particularly unusual craft project that someone at Creativebug has done?

There are a few, but perhaps the most peculiar would be Faith’s Facebook “Bubble Print” live shoot. Who would have imagined that food coloring and dish soap could create such beautiful images to create cards and gift tags!

What to stash this week: Yarn stories

Poisoned-Apple-Teaser-small

If you’re a fan of knights and ladies, or just really cool yarn clubs, then the Poisoned Apple Club from Round Table Yarns is for you. The four-month yarn club follows the Arthurian story of the poisoned apple. Each shipment includes a different yarn base with a special club colorway inspired by that month’s portion of the story. Sign-ups run through Sept. 15.

Severus-Snape-The-Half-Blood-Prince-severus-snape-7557907-1280-800

This month’s Bag of the Month from Slipped Stitch Studios includes bags and accessories handcrafted with limited edition Severus Snape fabric designed in house. Which means that this is the only place you will be able to get it. The products, along with bags and accessories with the Harry Potter “knit” fabric above, will go on sale today at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. 

Polyxena-3

Karen, also the dyer behind Round Table Yarns, has been busy. She’s released the Polyxena Shawl, which also has a story behind it. Based on a character from the story of the Trojan War, Polyxena uses a half-pi construction, showing off gradient yarns, like the Jumbo Sock Garden Party Cake from Art-by-Ana.

Light_PV

Going beyond the yak, the folks at Bijou Basin Ranch have partnered with Colorado’s Jefferson Farms to source Paco-vicuña fleece and fiber. This super luxurious fiber is from an animal that’s a cross between alpacas and vicuñas, and that’s very rare in the U.S. There are yarns in natural colors as well as spinning fiber.

Untangling: Cathy and Heather of The Knot House

3

Knothouse Cathy & Heather

This is the second in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

I first learned about The Knot House in Frederick, Maryland, when Dami of Magpie Fibers began posting to Indie Untangled, and she told me about the amazing yarn shop where she learned to knit and was inspired to start dyeing after seeing yarns from Duck Duck Wool and Western Sky Knits. A yarn store that carried many of my favorite indies? That sounded like a dream come true! In May 2015, I was fortunate enough to get a chance to visit the shop, housed in a beautiful old brick building, when the owners, Cathy Baucom and her daughter, Heather Tinney, organized their first indie pop-up during last year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

Heather gave me the lowdown on her and her mom’s decision to open a store devoted to indie dyers and shared their history as makers:

Tell me about the decision to open The Knot House. Had both of you always wanted to own a yarn shop?

No, actually. When we had talked about opening a yarn shop forever ago, we thought the internet would kill yarn shops. Then indie yarns became popular.

Mom was living in Alabama managing a small business for someone. I was and still am working for Motorola Solutions selling public safety communication systems (think radios for firefighters and cops). Anyway, my husband, Paul, asked me to go with him to look at a building that was for sale. He and his business partner were interested in it. It was a hair salon. The natural light was exceptional that day and when I saw the built in bookcases, my head was flooded with yarn shop ideas. It was November of 2012.

It had been three years since Kristi Johnson, owner of Shalimar Yarns, had closed her shop and committed to dyeing yarn. She was a big influence and is still one of our best supporters. Paul finally grew tired of trying to talk me out of it and agreed to the idea (once the building was purchased) under one condition: my Mom (Cathy) had to move here and run the day-to-day operation. I really think he thought we wouldn’t do it… He being the landlord was a challenge. Let me make it clear that we get no preferential treatment! Mom and I were planning on opening in September of 2013, so when he told me they were taking possession of the building in April and we had to sign a lease in May if we wanted the space, things got testy. At the end of May, Mom pulled up in a Penske Truck with all her belongings and we opened The Knot House the fist weekend of July 2013.

The Knot House

What did you both do before you became yarn shop owners?

Mom managed a pest control company in Auburn, Alabama. I still work for Motorola, so as you can imagine, the shop is a creative sanctuary for me.

Knothouse shelves

Why did you choose the dyers that you carry?

Easy question. We simply wanted to carry the yarns we wanted to knit with.

Knothouse WSK

When and how did you learn to knit?

I love telling this story. It was November and I was not inspired by the local quilt shop and in “make it” mode. One day I walked in to Kristi Johnson’s shop, Eleganza Yarns, and asked if she could teach me to knit. It was November, and she was busy. So, with my “I can do anything” attitude, I bought yarn, needles, and a instruction pamphlet. I was struggling with the cast on and my husband, Paul, said, “do you want me to show you how to do that?” I swear, I never knew he could knit and purl. He said his grandmother taught him. So I caught the bug and told Mom she had to learn too. Mom found a local shop in Auburn, and the owner taught her.

Who are some of your favorite designers?

In no particular order: Alicia Plummer, Joji [Locatelli], Amy Miller, Melanie Berg, Thea [Colman], Isabell Kraemer, Laura Aylor, Casapinka, Lisa Mutch, Heidi Kirrmaier, Lynn Di Christina, MediaPeruana, and Stephen West. I could go on.

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

I used to quilt a lot. Now it has its time and place. Mom used to needlepoint.

Knot House colors

Tell me about each of your most memorable FOs.

For me it must be my Color Affection. I started it before we ever thought about opening The Knot House. I had been to Montreal and found Espace Tricot. We love these girls! Anyway, it was the first time I had ever seen Sweet Georgia yarns, so I picked three skeins. I was making it for Mom and then it turned into one of our first shop samples. LOL.

Mom says her favorites are the selfish knits she does for her great grandchildren. She has done some exquisite baby dresses. However, she does admit that Lisa Mutch’s Asunder Shawl is a great story. We had just gotten in North Bound Knitting’s yarn, and there were these two yellows. Mom is not a fan of yellow. Ever. We thought that would be the color that wouldn’t sell… so she used them. One was a perfect lemon color. Damn if we didn’t order those yellows three or four times. And one day, after the shawl had run its course, a man came in and offered Mom an unmentionable amount of money for it. He was quite charming as I remember because they were quietly talking in the other room while some regulars and I were knitting in the front. Mom doesn’t entertain selling samples usually. Next thing I know, she is wrapping it up in a pretty package, and off he went. All day she said she couldn’t believe she sold that shawl.

What to stash this week: ‘Knitflix’ this

Mazikeen-and-luci-black-indie

This collaboration is the coolest thing to come out of the UK since The Great British Bake Off. Lola of Third Vault Yarns and Emily of Rhapsodye Yarns have teamed up for The Lucifer Project, creating two colorways inspired by characters from the TV show Lucifer, a police procedural based on characters from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman

HereBeDragons

The Purple Dragon colorway of Big Bijou Bliss, a worsted-weight blend of yak and Cormo dyed by MJ Yarns for Bijou Basin Ranch, flew off the shelves (their pun, not mine!). Fortunately, the folks at BBR were able to scare up some more. The company also unveiled a new rewards program that gives you 5 points for every dollar you spend, with rewards that range from free shipping to $50 off your order.

Rhinebeck Tote Image

I’m planning to order the souvenir tote bags for the Rhinebeck Trunk Show next week, so if you’re attending and want to make sure you snag one with this adorable design from illustrator Eloise Narrigan, place your preorder ASAP!

My Mama Knits is having an end of summer sale to make room for new yarn bases and colorways, and is also holding a giveaway on Instagram.

The magic of silver

FGYC 1

This is the first in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show. Since I did an interview with Laurie Gonyea of Feel Good Yarn Company last year, I decided to repost something Laurie wrote about why she decided to put silver in her yarn.

We are often asked why we put silver in our yarns, so today we have a short history and explanation of how silver works.

Silver is a time-tested solution to many of life’s daily concerns. Silver inhibits the growth of a number of bacteria including those that cause odor, has excellent thermal properties, and is nontoxic.

The history of silver for medicinal purposes

Over the past six thousand years, many civilizations have recognized the healing properties of silver – starting with the Macedonian culture which used it to cover wounds. Ancient Romans also used silver nitrate therapeutically. In the Middle Ages, the hermetic and alchemical writings of Paracelsus speak of the virtues of silver as a healing substance. “In fact, ‘born with a silver spoon in his mouth’ is not a reference to wealth, but to health. In the early 18th century, babies who were fed with silver spoons were healthier than those fed with spoons made with other metals, and silver pacifiers found wide use in America because of their beneficial health effects.”

Von Naegeli, the father of modern medicine, discovered in 1893 that the antibacterial effects of silver were primarily due to the silver ion itself. At about the same time, Dr. W. S. Halstead, one of the founding fathers of modern surgery, advocated the use of silver foil dressings for wounds and created the Halstead Silver Foil Bandage. At the same time, Dr. Albert Barns developed a silver colloidal medicine called Argrol. The traditional medicinal uses of silver rapidly disappeared as antibiotics were introduced and the price of the metal itself became more expensive than new treatments. Now, silver is having a renaissance due to concerns about antibiotic-resistance virus strains.

How does silver work?

All bacteria contain a semi-permeable exterior membrane. Along the membrane there are receptors and enzymes that are responsible for the cell’s respiration. Because silver ions have a positive charge, they can easily bind with the negatively charged membrane and causes the protein to unravel. The unraveling of the protein then disables the bacteria’s oxygen metabolizing enzymes. Because the enzymes are altered, the bacterium cell suffocates and dies.

Silver ions are nontoxic to all animal and plant cells because the cells have a thicker, more complex outer membrane. The exterior membrane is not made of peptidoglycan nor does it have a negative charge that attracts silver ions.

How is the silver added to fine silver products?

The silver layer on the yarn fiber/fabric substrate is 99.9% pure and permanently bonded to the surface of the textile in an unique metallizing process that bonds silver on polyamide based materials. Silver is a naturally occurring element, and there are no artificial chemicals that may cause fear of toxicity. Silver fibers are the active ingredient in many FDA approved medical devices. The silver is irreversibly bonded to the polymer yarn and does not wash out. For example, ARGENTEX textiles have been tested for more than 250 washes without reduction in antibacterial effects. In fact, the hotter and wetter the environment, the more effective the silver fibers become. Wash Fine Silver Products clothing/aids according to instructions and the silver layer will continue to work for years to come.

FGYC 2

SilverSpun yarn for pain relief

We’ve received numerous unsolicited testimonials from knitters who have used our SilverSpun yarn. Here is one of them:

I bought two skeins SilverSpun to make some fingerless mitts for my mom. She is 91 and suffers from arthritis in both of her hands, making it harder and harder for her to knit – a lifelong passion. I made her some fingerless mitts and she says her hands feel so much better and that she can knit with them on! She is very excited about them. I wanted to let you know and I will keep you posted on her comments. – NS from N. Carolina

We aren’t aware of any scientific studies that prove that fabric with silver can help with arthritis and carpel tunnel pain, but there is quite a bit of evidence that other forms of silver are helpful in treating joint pain. We’ve heard lots of great stories from our customers on the healing powers of garments made with SilverSpun and we plan on sharing them with you in the weeks to come.

Sources:
Grosse Wundartzney {1536}, W.Pagel, Paracelsus (2d ed. 1982)
www.doulton.ca/silver.html “Silver’s Importance to Health” 5/27/2004
Halstead, W.S., Ligature and suture material: the employment of fine silk in preference to catgut and the advantages of transfixion of tissues and vessels in control of hemorrhage – also an account of the introduction of gloves, gutta-percha tissue and silver foil, JAMA LX, 1119, 1913
Etris, Samuel. “Why Silver Kill Germs and Heals Wounds.” Silver News from The Silver Institute. 20 May 2004
Gupta, Rani., et. al. “Microbial biosorbents: Meeting challenges of heavy metal pollution in aqueous solutions.” Current Science. Vol. 78 (25 April 2000): 967-972