caterpillargreen giveaway winner

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I received 42 comments (the answer to life the universe and everything) for the caterpillargreen giveaway and the winner is…

Jessica H, who is planning to make Stephen West’s Boneyard Shawl with her prize.

Congrats, Jessica! And thanks to everyone who participated. I really enjoyed getting to know Catherine more and hope you did, too. You might also want to check her out on Instagram, where Catherine’s wit competes with her gorgeous photos.

What to stash this week: Summer combos

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Peggie of ColorPurl has two words for you: Lace gradient. Can you think of a better combination for summer (aside from gin and tonic)? Her Silver Angel Lace is 875 yards of baby alpaca, silk, Cashmere and sparkle. She’s also dyed up single-skein gradients on Cushy, a fingering-weight blend of superwash Merino/nylon.

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In advance of the Swiss Wulle Festival, which will be taking place on the first weekend in October in Zug, Swiss knitwear designer Nadia Crétin-Léchenne has collaborated with silk yarn dyer Siidegarte on a shawl kit. Under the Same Sky is a crescent-shaped shawl that combines lace and garter stitch and features a beautiful knitted-on wave edging. The kits include two skeins of Siidegarte’s Siide-Fideel, a 50/50 silk/Merino fingering-weight blend available in three color combinations, a printed copy of the shawl pattern in English, French or German and a Swiss Wulle Festival project bag. They are available to preorder on the Swiss Wulle site and will ship in mid-July. A KAL begins on Aug. 1, which is Swiss National Day, and There Will Be Prizes.

Glasscapes

If spinning is your favorite summer activity, then why not treat yourself to a new spindle? Called Glasspins, these 11-inch spindles are crafted out of lathe-turned wood and hand-blown glass by a husband and wife team who work out of a geodesic dome in California, and who have a long and colorful history as crafters and artists.

Untangling: caterpillargreen yarns

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When I think of the process of hand dyeing or hand painting skeins of yarn, I usually envision something fairly artistic, or sometimes I picture a mad scientist working in a lab coat. When I heard that Catherine Gamroth of caterpillargreen had used her engineering and computer science background to create a more efficient way of creating self-striping yarn, my mind went to some Rube Goldberg-esque contraption. Turns out, I wasn’t too far off…

Catherine, who’s based in British Columbia, earned her bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, working for several years in the sustainable building design field and for the local water utility. She later returned to school for her master’s in computer science. Catherine started knitting while in graduate school and it immediately displaced all her other hobbies. Her business has taken off since she posted on Indie Untangled a year ago, and the self-striping shawl yarn she released last fall has been wildly popular (and even got a mention from The Yarn Harlot!). Catherine was kind enough to give a glimpse into her intriguing process:

Tell me how you got started dyeing yarn.

So, I was minding my own business one day when I was bitten by a radioactive spider. I thought nothing of it at the time, but woke up the next morning with the ability to shoot colourful yarn right out of my wrists…oh…wait…that’s not right.

What got me started dyeing was the challenge of finding a more efficient way to make self-striping yarn. Anyone who has dyed their own self-striping yarn will tell you that it is a very labour intensive process. The first skein I ever dyed took me what felt like days, mostly spent unwinding and untangling yarn.

So most of my time has been spent developing a dyeing process, rather than learning the techniques and subtleties of the art of hand-dyeing. As a result, I am very much a one-trick pony, but it’s a really neat trick.

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Can you tell me a little bit about your custom dyeing process? How does your engineering and computer science background come into play with dyeing?

Oh, you mean my army of robots? Yeah, they were going to take over the world but I convinced them to focus on yarn domination first.

I kid. Mostly.

We have quite an elaborate set-up for our dyeing – pulleys, motors, valves, etc. – that takes makes our process much more efficient. That’s not a royal we, either. My husband is my co-conspirator in all of this.

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What’s the story behind the name caterpillargreen?

I think I got it from a paint chip while I was trying to think up a user name for Flickr. Great story, right?

What would you say inspires your colorways?

Overall, I would love to create self-striping yarns that don’t scream “novelty” but have some of the depth and elegance that you see in semi-solid hand-dyed yarns.

Is there a colorway that you’ve found is challenging to create, or to get “just right”?

I feel like I am still on the steep part of the learning curve for designing with colours. So far, I have just played around until I find something I like. I’m not sure I’ve achieved “just right” yet, but it is a fun challenge.

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Victoria, BC, appears to have a very vibrant knitting and fiber community. Can you say how that has impacted your business?

I have been blown away by the encouragement and support we have received from our local fiber community. Our first day of business – the first time anyone outside our immediate family had seen our yarn – was at Victoria’s big fiber festival, Fibrations. Not only did people buy our yarn (!) but they came to introduce themselves, to congratulate us, and to welcome us to the local scene. From a business point of view, making those connections and getting our yarn into the hands of prominent knitters, designers and bloggers has been a huge part of our success so far.

Catherine has generously offered a skein in the colourway of the winner’s choice. To enter, comment with a link to the shawl pattern you would like to make with the yarn (Catherine has some great suggestions on her website). You have until the end of the day my time on Sunday, June 28, and then I’ll be picking a winner by random number generator. Good luck!

What to stash this week: Last chance to Untangle

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If the Untangling kit has caught your eye, make sure to order yours before sales close at the end of the day on Sunday!

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King Tut, this wild and crazy colorway from Stitchjones, is a tribute to actor, writer, banjo player and, of course, comedian Steve Martin, who turns 70 in August. Line up for this blend of silver, gold, cinnabar red and lapis blue, which is available on Titanium Sock. (And here’s a little background music for when you’re browsing the Stitchjones Etsy shop.)

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Tronsen, the latest design from Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams, is named after Tronsen Ridge, a ridge in the Cascade mountain range that travels through her new home State of Washington. The cowl is knit flat, with a reversible combination of garter stitch and ribbed cables, and secured with buttons. It uses fingering-weight yarn held double, from a familiar name…

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If you’re planning to make Tronsen, you’re in luck. The sample was knit in ColorPurl Finnegan, a BFL Donegal Tweed sock yarn, and there was plenty of it added in Peggy’s latest shop update. There are also naturals, such as Raspberry dyed with cochineal, and eco-friendly yarns like Lizard Toes, Papaya and Mussels in White Wine.

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Get a step ahead of the season with new fall colorways of Velvet, the super soft alpaca/Merino/nylon blend from Cedar Hill Farm Company. Davy Jones, Burlesque and Badlands are the newest shades of this fingering-weight yarn, perfect for your fall projects.

Kettle Yarn Co June 12 update

Kettle Yarn Co. had a shop update last Friday, adding some more Westminster (baby camel/silk fingering weight) and Islington DK (super wash BFL/silk) in summer brights, as well as some other favorites. There’s still some left, so stock up.

Untangling the Untangling kit

My Untangling 1

I’m not a sock knitter.

I certainly don’t have anything against handknit socks. The one pair I have, which a friend kindly gave me during a purge at Rhinebeck of FOs that she no longer used, are a godsend in the winter. I will probably knit a pair someday, but, for now, I enjoy making things that are more easily show-offable.

Which is why, when I approached Michelle of Berry Colorful Yarnings about a project using her self-striping sock yarn, I knew I wanted something that a non-sock knitter like me would want to make, so her beautiful colors wouldn’t get lost under my boots. Michelle had collaborated with designer Lara Smoot before on the Despicable Socks made with Michelle’s Despicable Me self-striping yarn, so we looped her in and tasked her with designing a lacy infinity scarf using a pattern that showed off the stripes.

“I do love to make self-striping yarns,” Michelle said in a recent Ravelry post explaining her dyeing process. “The idea that I have an infinite set of color combos is the biggest thrill to me. I have made the stripes on my yarns wider then the average stripes so that the knitter is not limited to just socks for their project. I love to knit hats and cowls, and these wide stripes will stripe up very nicely in both types of projects. Some knitters have made smaller shawls and several baby sweaters… Although they rock in socks, too.”

I knew I wanted to offer Michelle’s Indie blue colorway, which she dyed up as part of a giveaway after the site launched last year, and which also sold out at the Indie Untangled booth at last year’s Rhinebeck trunk show. We also decided on two others: Cafe au Lait and Berry Pie.

Berry Pie

Berry Pie

Test knitting commenced after Maryland Sheep & Wool, and I decided to knit mine in Berry Pie, which I’ve had my eye on since spying it in a Facebook post, but I was waiting for project inspiration to strike — which it did, in Lara’s Untangling scarf. The lace pattern was perfect: just complex enough to keep my interest, but easily memorizable, which was great because I took it everywhere. The only snag I ran into was when I unzipped my provisional cast-on, which was a crocheted cast-on where you knit into the back bumps of a crochet chain. I think it would have been easier if I had done Judy’s Magic Cast-on, which leaves the stitches on a needle or stitch holder instead of waste yarn. But, I persevered, and rocked the kitchener stitch (this video is a godsend to help you memorize it).

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I also knew we needed a project bag to tie this all together. So, I of course called on Vicki Moss of That Clever Clementine. Even as a fairly monogamous knitter, I never have enough project bags and I’ve always loved Vicki’s, ever since I got one of her drawstring Belle bags with a beautiful New Orleans map fabric in the coveted Jackson Square shawl kit she collaborated on with Margaret of French Market Fibers and designer Beth Kling. Not to mention the yarn ball bags Vicki created in honor of Indie Untangled. The lined bags are so well made, keep my projects safe and I feel like I make a fashion statement whenever I carry around my knitting.

I knew I wanted a different kind of bag for this kit, so we all scoured fabric websites (honestly, I’m so glad I don’t seriously sew, because I’d be spending a lot of money at Hawthorne Threads) and eventually agreed that the beautiful loop fabric, in complementary colors of grey, white and aqua, would perfectly represent the Untangling theme we had come up with — and as a bonus, it works really well the loop-handled bag.

The cowl in the Indie blue colorway, which is exclusive to the kit.

The cowl in the Indie blue colorway, which is exclusive to the kit.

Orders have been steadily coming in for the kit since they went on sale earlier this week, and you have a chance to snag one of your own until the end of the day Sunday, June 21. I’m so proud of this collaboration, which will be the first of many indie exclusives that I will be enabling you wit–, erm, bringing you through Indie Untangled.

What to stash this week: Natural look

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Cedar Hill Farm Company has a new addition that’s just in time for summer. Calliope is a 100% raw silk fingering weight yarn that’s just as nature intended: it has not been scoured or chemically treated, so it has a linen-like drape. The shiny, kettle-dyed colors include French Lilac above, along with Blue Agave, Cardinal, Cove, Flamingo and Java, with more on the way.

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Sarah’s been walking the backroads of her new hometown on the North Carolina coast with a pair of scissors and a basket to bring you her newest yarns. She’s made some subtle plant dyes with Queen Anne’s Lace and Red Cedar, Yarrow and Rosemary. Sarah has also been working on some new shibori dyed yarns.

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If you want to be one with (brightly-colored) nature, then this is the yarn for you. Tami of Eternity Ranch Knits has partnered with Moon Shine Camo, creator of the popular pink Muddy Girl Camouflage pattern, to create colorways to match. The colors are available in 75/25 Merino/nylon fingering weight and superwash Merino DK.

Kettle Yarn Co June 12 update

You might also want to head on over to the Kettle Yarn Co. website. Linda had an update today that included more Westminster baby camel/silk and Islington DK in summer brights.

What to stash this week: climb every mountain

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The June musical colorway from Eternity Ranch Knits is bound to become one of your favorite things, especially if you’re obsessed with all things Family Von Trapp. This blue/green/white blend is available on 463 yards of Merino/nylon.

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I’m not sure what’s in the water there, but here’s another exciting new indie from Germany. Frida Fuchs is run by sisters Jana and Julia, with yarns inspired by Berlin, where they grew up knitting and painting, and Zurich, Switzerland, where Jana now lives and dyes. Julia runs the business from Berlin and comes up with the colorway names, such as Schlafmohn and Koriander.

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Backyard Fiberworks is a new-ish addition to the indie dyer scene, but Alice perfected her range of colors, inspired by hues found in the backyard (though, of course, she dyes out of her kitchen). They pop on Alice’s selection of bases, which include Merino and MCN and Merino/silk blends. And, as I learned when I met up with her in NYC recently, she has some exciting wooly projects up her sleeve…

Tidal Breeze

The Tidal Breeze skirt from Knit Eco Chic is inspired by receding waves and ripples of sand, a perfect summer knit. It includes a front cable and lace panel and a stockinette body that wraps around the back. It would be a great beach cover-up, but you’ll want to wear it everywhere.

What to make with variegated yarn

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As a sweater knitter, I tend to gravitate toward more semi-solid colors. There are so many amazing variegated skeins from indie dyers, though I’ve often found it hard to figure out what to make with them — you don’t want lace and cables to get lost, but you do want something that breaks up the colors a bit.

Here’s a list of patterns, including some from Indie Untangled designers, that were created with variegated yarns in mind, or that show them off very well. And please comment with your favorites!

Shawls

Above, Hediye by Ysolda Teague, shown here in Magpie Fibers Swanky DK in Rhinestone Cowboy

Loop by Casapinka

Loop by Casapinka

Brickless, Endless Rainbow or almost any shawl by Martina Behm

Night’s Watch by Lara Smoot

Multnomah by Kate Ray

Wave by Kristen Finlay

The Fool by Toby Roxane Barna

The Fool by Toby Roxane Barna

Ingot by Lisa Mutch

Momijigari by Beth Kling

Cowls

Sugarplum by Lara Smoot

Sugarplum by Lara Smoot

Turning Stone by Chrissy Prange

Brighton by Veronica Parsons

Honey Cowl by Antonia Shankland

Hats

Oh Bother hat and cowl by Barbara Benson Designs

Oh Bother hat and cowl by Barbara Benson Designs

Botanic Hat by Stephen West

Sockhead Hat by Kelly McClure

Sweaters

Sun Tea by Laura Aylor

Sun Tea by Laura Aylor

She’s Electric by Ann Weaver

On the Grass by Joji Locatelli

What to stash this week: A summer yarn sale & shawl

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To celebrate the eighth anniversary of Squoosh Fiberarts, the fact that it’s almost summer and an impending move, Erica is putting her entire shop on sale. Yes, you read that right. Through the beginning of June, find great deals on hand-dyed fibers, yarns, rolags, batts and handspun.

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Spring/summer is also the perfect time to knit the Solar Flare Circular Shawl. Fresh off a successful mystery KAL, this non-pi circular shawl is knit in the round until the flame tops, which are worked flat individually. It’s a unique project, with optional beads, that will be sure to dazzle.

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The next Kettle Yarn Co. update will take place today at 5 p.m. GMT. The update will include summery new shades of Westminster baby camel/silk, called Aspen and Ginger, added to all the favorites which are currently in stock.

Travel knitting

Travel knitting

I never used to love long plane or car rides until I started knitting. When I traveled to my brother’s wedding in Australia in 2008, the 20-plus hour journey (which was fortunately broken up over two days after our flight to LA was delayed because of bad weather) seemed interminable — even after watching all of Gone With the Wind and Out of Africa. Going back two years ago, I was kind of amazed at how short it felt. Really. I watched all of Season 1 of Downton Abbey and a knit a decent amount of the Biscuit Shawl for my Ravelry swap partner.

These days, along with obsessively checking the weather at my destination, getting ready to travel means choosing the perfect projects. I’m heading off on a long-awaited trip to Italy to visit my Italian sister. The clothes and toiletries are all packed, but I’m still not exactly sure yet which WIPs are coming with me, aside from the Duane Park Triangle I’ve been working on in Shalimar Breathless, which has miles of mindless garter, one of my favorite kinds of travel knits. I do like to have something a little more complex, so I may start my Hitofude in Astral Bath Spectra. I have also been considering finally winding the Royal Tenenbaums yarn from Canon Hand Dyes and turning it into a simple striping chevron scarf. But, I’ll probably change my mind about that more than I will about which dresses to bring…

Of course, one of the nicest things about travel knitting, aside from taking your mind off “Are we there yet?”, is that whichever project you choose becomes infused with memories of your trip. The Cladonia I recently finished makes me think of Florida, and how the stripes matched the colors of my bathing suit perfectly (completely by accident, as I received both skeins in last year’s Indie Untangled summer swap). I knit much of the top of my Waterlily during the car ride to and from the Astral Bath open house last June. So, which project will I end up associating with vaporetto rides and Gaeta olive oil?

What are your favorite travel knits? Which of your projects do you associate with memorable trips? Comment and let me know.