A glimpse inside the Edinburgh Yarn Festival with Casapinka

I know I’m not the only one who had a hard time looking at Instagram last weekend, when it seemed like the whole knitting world was over in Scotland for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival. But, I figured there was no such thing as too many festival pictures, I asked Bronwyn, AKA the designer Casapinka, to file a report for the Indie Untangled blog. Her post makes me even more determined to plan a trip across the pond next year!—Lisa

I was starving when I arrived in Edinburgh from Boston, after dropping my 10-year-old off with his grandparents in Dublin. I went into the local shop and found some nice, wholesome, Haggis-flavored chips (crisps) that I happily washed down with some Diet Coke. You laugh? You gag? They are really good and you should try them if you go to EYF!

The line outside The Corn Exhange (for those who didn’t pre-purchase tickets, ahem, note to self!) was long. At one point it started to rain and the nice people from EYF thanked us for waiting and handed out very cute tote bags. All the people with pre-printed tickets who zoomed right in didn’t get very cute tote bags so it was totally worth it. Also, the best conversations among strangers are started in yarn festival lines! I had an hour-long talk with an air traffic controller which made my year (I’m an aviation geek.)

When I got in, I made a beeline for Eden Cottage Yarns. The fibers are just so beautiful, with lots of subtle colors that aren’t the norm for me, but still call my name. I did some damage there, for sure, and had a nice conversation with Victoria, the owner. Everywhere you looked in this booth you almost died from Gorgeous Fiber Overwhelm! It got quite crowded as the day went on so if you go to EYF, get there early.

The wool watching at EYF was second to none. Shawls, fair isle coats, lots of Kate Davies jumpers (and the woman herself, of course) was rubbernecking at its best! When the booths got so crowded I couldn’t even go inside, I just sat on the floor, ate some lunch (the food is amazing!) and watched all of the wool finery go by.

Another booth I wanted to visit was the Loop London booth. I ran into the Spincycle Girls (Rachel and Kate) there and we had a chat. I then drooled over all of the hand sewn bags and the Lichen and Lace yarn which I really wanted to squish. I bought a couple of skeins (how could I not?) and they are waiting to become something special.

I was also just dying to see the La Bien Aimee booth. Who can’t love all of those candy- and pastille-colored yarns with their beautiful contrasts? I did, in fact, climb onto the table in my eagerness to get to the singles but no skeins of yarn were hurt in the process. I did a fair amount of damage here as well and plan to give some away in giveaways in my group. Really. I swear!

I think it’s important to note that in the UK and Ireland, a “fry up” is the only way to start one’s day. Even vegetarians can partake: minus the sausage, rashers, haggis, white pudding – well, there is toast, beans and mushrooms! This keeps you going through mad knitters poking you in the butt with their knitting needles as they vie for space in the Brooklyn Tweed line. I live for my morning fry up!

Since I’m on the subject of food, the snacks and meals at The Corn Exchange are great. This is called a Victorian Sandwich. Yes, you read that right. So, technically this could be lunch (a piece of it – I didn’t eat the whole thing, you guys.) So, come to shop for yarn but also come to eat and admire the scenery and make new friends from all over the world!

Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2017: A weekend of color

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For me, this year’s Vogue Knitting Live in New York City was all about color. Yes, I know that knitting in general, and the world of hand-dyed yarn in particular, is already pretty focused on color, but my experience this weekend very much revolved around it. Believe it or not, I didn’t really think about this common theme when I picked my classes — two-color knitting with Amy Detjen on Friday morning, a color theory class with designer Veera Välimäki on Friday afternoon and a dyeing class with Felicia Lo, the owner of SweetGeorgia, on Saturday morning — but it definitely worked.

The classes

Amy’s class was a pretty straightforward technique lesson. Our homework was the start of a basic colorwork hat, moving on to using the second color in class. Amy provided instruction on how to capture longer “floats,” or the long runs between colors, and stressed the importance of keeping an even tension in both your right and left hands. I will need to practice this more, as knitting with my left hand is like learning to knit all over again, but I now feel confident enough to attempt a colorwork pattern.

Veera provided an overview of basic color theory, as well as her insights into mixing both complementary and contrasting colors, especially when using hand-dyed yarns. I enjoyed seeing the examples from her own designs (such as her Stripe Study Shawl, pictured above) and, during our in-class exercise, encouraged one of my classmates to pair her earthy green with a bright yellow and melon color.

Of course, I had to show off one of my favorite FOs, Veera’s Urban, which she was thrilled to see in person, as she’s only seen photos of the projects on Ravelry.

My dyeing class was probably the best one of the weekend. While I’ve had some experience with kettle dyeing and hand painting yarn, Felicia provided some practical information on using the right ratio of dye to fiber weight, as well as techniques to use for creating layered colors. Much of this will be in her newly-published book, Dyeing to Spin & Knit (disclosure: this is an Amazon affiliate link) which I can’t wait to get my hands on. If it’s anything like her in-person class, this book will be indispensable.

We started off the hands-on portion of the class by creating a set of mini skein gradients. As there was limited space and time, we had to split into groups of three and each create one color value (the lightness or darkness) of the gradient. Felicia had already mixed the dye powder and water, so we just had to measure out the right amount for our specific color value.

For the other techniques — low-water emersion dyeing and resist dyeing, in which you twist and untwist the skeins to get a more subtle dispersion of color — we had to choose color by committee, and ended up each make a contribution. Luckily, I was paired with some experienced classmates, including Sharon of Knit Style Yarns. For the low-water emersion skeins, we decided on orangey pink, medium blue, purple and yellow to create what I first dubbed Funfetti cake and which I later decided was very My Little Pony-esque. Our layered color started off with a short dip in light pink dye, followed by a jammy purple, mixed by yours truly, and a lighter violet.

The class definitely inspired me do some more dyeing myself and experiment with the techniques while making my own color choices.

The Marketplace

Of course, no VKL would be complete without a trip or two (or three) to the marketplace.

I spent a fair bit of time in the Backyard Fiberworks booth, as a tiny portion of it had some Indie Untangled merch! I had teamed up with Alice, and Vicki of That Clever Clementine, on some special Indie Untangled kits that were available at the show. The kits were a big hit, and I was also thrilled to see the rest of Alice’s yarn get scooped up — the booth was very popular. She had some wonderful sock yarn mini-skein sets that were perfect for one of Melanie Berg’s designs. I snagged a pinky purply set called Dove in a Plum Tree and a light pink semisolid called Mallow to make On the Spice Market.

Aside from Backyard, I loved taking in the Neighborhood Fiber Co. booth (I’d heard at Rhinebeck that Karida wasn’t going to be at VKL this year, but luckily she ended up changing her mind!). I fell in love with a sample she had of Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s Boko-Boko Cowl, knit with Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sock yarn held together with Chromium, which has steel wool to make the little points stand up. It was such a deviation from the patterns I’m normally drawn to, but it was so sculptural and interesting that I had to make it. I feel like it could be a great stand-in for a statement necklace, with the bonus of keeping me warm.

Speaking of necklaces, I was very impressed by the products at Knitten Jen’s Beads. She had kits to make your own beaded beads (wooden beads covered in beaded stockinette stitch fabric), ready-to-string beads and finished pieces. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to DIY it or get a ready-made necklace, but I was definitely intrigued.

I also paid a visit to the Yarn Culture booth, which focused on a small collection of indies, and learned that my favorite discovery from last year’s VKL, Crave Yarn, has branched out with a new venture called Brim Collections, featuring gorgeous mill-dyed skeins and coordinating patterns. I am hoping to learn more from Amor of Crave/Brim Collections and will report on it further…

And, I made sure to get my VKL NYC limited stitch markers from Marsha of One Geek to Craft Them All.

Aside from classes and shopping, my weekend was rounded out by many familiar faces (on Saturday, I could barely get to the elevators without seeing someone I knew from my various knitting circles) and spending time with my nearby knitting friends.

Indie Untangled + Woolyn = one awesomely indie trunk show

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Last winter, I stumbled on the Instagram page for a new Brooklyn yarn shop focused on indie brands. Creatively named Woolyn after its home borough, it sounded like exactly the kind of place I could see myself spending quite a lot of time (and money). I sent a message to Rachel, the owner, mentioned that I would be interested in doing some cross promotion and waited patiently while she worked to bring her vision to life.

Fast forward a few months later, and Rachel and I began hatching a plan for a great post-Rhinebeck, pre-holidays event: a massive trunk show with several Indie Untangled dyers and artisans over the course of two weekends. Now that Woolyn is officially open and I’ve recovered from Rhinebeck, we can share all the details!

The Woolyn/Indie Untangled Trunk Show Extravaganza will take place on November 19th and 20th and December 3rd and 4th. The shop, at 105 Atlantic Ave., will be open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, and there will be an opening night party on Saturday the 19th with wine, beer and snacks and an opportunity to chat with some of the indies who will be able to come to town for the show.

The fabulous dyers and makers at the event include Backyard Fiberworks, Balwen Woodworks, Dirty Water DyeWorks, Hampton Artistic Yarns, Kim Dyes Yarn, Lakes Yarn and Fiber, Slipped Stitch Studios, Snail Yarn, Spencer Hill, Toil and Trouble and Western Sky Knits. They will be shipping, or bringing in person, a variety of hand-dyed yarns and handmade products that will be perfect for holiday gift knitting, gifts for fellow knitters and crafters — and, of course, projects for yourself.

A limited number of tickets for the opening night party will go on sale at Woolyn.com on November 1.

We hope to see you there!

IU in MD

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Knot House DDW

As most of us knitters do, I started off my trip to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival vowing not to buy that much yarn. In anticipation of a move, and knowing that I only had room for maybe a few skeins in the small set of drawers that houses my stash, I vowed to be good this past weekend. Overall, I was, and I spend most of the time enjoying the company of my friends and making progress on the multiple projects I had cast on in the last month, likely in anticipation of Maryland purchases (there must be an ulterior motive when I become non-monogamous in my knitting).

After a slightly delayed Amtrak ride down through the endlessly soggy weather with my friend Stefanie, we were picked up by Lynn and made sure to hit Fibre Space for the Hazel Knits trunk show. It was nice to finally get to meet Wendee after admiring her gorgeous blues, purples and grays. I was drawn to her Divine Merino/Cashmere/silk base in a luminous blue-tinged gray called Reflection, which I thought would make the perfect Featherweight. Unfortunately, there was only a single skein remaining, so I cursed the Stashing Prevention Gods and vowed to order a sweater quantity online at some point.

Our next stop was The Knot House for the Indie Pop-up, where I anticipated doing most of my damage. Wearing my Nangou in Duck Duck Wool’s incredible Night Bokeh, I of course was drawn to her huge table filled with 80/20 Merino Silk Fingering in lots of speckled yumminess. I was also thrilled to get to see Christine of Skeinny Dipping there, next to her display of fun-named colorways like Wacky Tabacky and Space Pants.

Knot House colors

Knot House Pigeonroof

Knot House Magpie

I also admired the special Knot House Indie Pop-up colorways from Western Sky Knits and Northbound Knitting, spied some mini skeins from Pigeonroof Studios and drooled over Dami of Magpie’s incredible gradient wrap.

Knot House Clay Collage

One of my favorite discoveries at the pop-up was Laura Silberman/Clay By Laura‘s ceramic yarn bowls, mugs (made especially for the pop-up!) and small bowls with knitting-related terms, which I scooped up two of.

Spincycle Yarns, a company I hadn’t been familiar with, had a fun display of hand-dyed, milled handspun.

Knot House haul

My haul was quite restrained, compared to last year’s, and included another of Sandra’s speckled lovelies in 80/20, called After Party, and Christine’s Mericash Fingering in Space Pants (because it’s gorgeous and I can’t resist the SNL/Peter Dinklage reference).

After a night of staying up late, and anticipating the mud after days of rain, the crew staying at Chez That Clever Clementine took our time getting ready and made it to the fairgrounds around noon (so no Jennie the Potter mug this year). My main mission was to get to Jill Draper’s booth to grab an Edradour kit, a shawl by the awesome Thea Coleman designed with Jill’s Mohonk Cormo yarn, which I’ve been admiring forever.

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Once that mission was accomplished, I spent the rest of my time browsing and made sure to take in my friend Anne’s booth for Middlebrook Fiber Works (formerly A Little Teapot), where, aside from her lotion bars, fiber and spun necklaces (dyed that vivid red by Dragonfly Fibers!), she displayed silk scarves that she dyed using materials found on her vast property in rural New Jersey.

And then, my friends and I of course stayed up far too late, knitting, eating, chatting and having such a great time that we forgot about our planned game of Knitters Against Swatches.

Kick off Maryland Sheep and Wool with The Knot House Indie Pop-up

TKH Bag

Last year was my first time at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I enjoyed experiencing a fiber festival other than Rhinebeck, with what felt like a slightly smaller crowd (at least when it came to snagging a Jennie the Potter mug!) and warmer temperatures that were perfect for showing off fingering-weight shawls.

I really loved starting off the weekend with the indie pop-up at The Knot House, a local yarn shop housed in a beautiful historic building in Frederick, Maryland, about a half hour from the fairgrounds. Cathy and Heather, the mother/daughter team who run the shop, will be hosting another event this year!

The mix of dyers at the 2016 pop-up include Indie Untangled artisans Duck Duck Wool, Magpie Fibers and That Clever Clementine, who were there last year, as well as Skeinny Dipping and Pigeonroof Studios. In addition, there will be yarn from O-Wool, YOTH Yarns and Spincycle Yarns, pottery from Clay by Laura and shawl pins and more from Jul Designs. Some of the talented dyers/makers — including Sandra of DDW, Dami of Magpie, Vicki/That Clever Clementine and Christine of Skeinny Dipping — will be there in person.

Of course, what would be an event without coveted show exclusives? Heather says nearly everyone there will have a special item for the event, such as a limited colorway or pattern. There will also be special colorways from some of the indies the shop regularly carries, including Northbound Knitting and Western Sky Knits, as well as the new Aerie base from Shalimar Yarns, which is a Merino, mohair and kid silk blend.

Cathy and Heather have also designed special event bags, shown above, with a limited number available for sale and an entry for a free bag with a skein of featured yarn from EACH DYER.

The line before last year's Friday evening preview.

The line before last year’s Friday evening preview.

The pop-up will take place on Friday, May 6, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, May 7, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, May 8, from noon to 5 p.m. If you’re on Periscope, I’m planning to broadcast from the event on Friday eventing, so be sure to follow me (I’m indieuntangled, natch) to get a taste of the beautiful products on display!

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.

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:

Pendulum Coast web

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.

Partying with the Poms

Kettle Yarn Co. goodies on the table at the Pom Pom Quarterly Christmas party. / Limited edition Shibori-dyed Islington.

Kettle Yarn Co. goodies on the table at the Pom Pom Quarterly Christmas party. / Limited edition Shibori-dyed Islington.

Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to hop a cheap flight across the pond and attend amazing fiber events in the UK like last week’s Pompom Quarterly Christmas party, which is organized by one of my favorite knitting mags. Recently, Ali, the awesome moderator of the Indie Untangled Ravelry group, suggested I could do the next best thing, and have the people I know who are able to attend these events cover them for the blog. So, I asked Linda of Kettle Yarn Co. to write about the party. Reading her recap is really the next best thing to being there — minus the pressure to buy yarn!—Lisa

Last Friday, I prepared some extra special goodies, packed up my heavy suitcase of yarny goodness and boarded the train for the two-hour journey from my sleepy seaside Hastings to the big city for the Pom Pom Quarterly Christmas party. It was held in the shiny new Foyles bookstore on Charing Cross Road, in the bustling heart of the London shopping district, where the Christmas lights were a-sparkle!

There was so much to look forward to this year and so many talented people in one room. The vibe at the party this year was relaxed and warm. I saw so many people catching up and ran into lovely folk I hadn’t seen since last year’s party!

Image © Anna Maltz

Image © Anna Maltz

Naturally the Pom ladies – Meghan, Lydia (above), Amy and Sophie – were all in fine form and the hostesses with the mostest!

The big news of the evening was Pom Pom’s move into publishing with their first book, Take Heart: A Transatlantic Knitting Journey by Fiona Alice, which was just released. It’s a beautifully packaged book of cozy knits, including a new design I’ve been dying to see for months. Called Ketch Harbor, Fiona used my Islington DK in the Icicle colorway for this dreamy shawl that seems to hug your shoulders like angel wings. What a beauty! I kept heading back to Fiona’s table to fondle it and marvel at the shimmering shapes and may have tried to walk away with it. Maybe. Once or twice. ;-P

Images left © Julu Vail

Images left © Julu Vail

Released earlier last week was a bundle of pure joyous fun: Penguin: a Knit Collection, self published by the ever-playful Anna Maltz, aka Sweaterspotter on Instagram. I’ve known Anna for a few years now and her book matches her effervescent personality – it’s full of stunning designs presented with mischievous humour. This animation Anna posted on Instagram pretty well sums it up:

Too. fun. ;-P

I may have picked up a signed copy at the party, despite a firm resolution not to buy anything after a boiler mishap this week. It was seriously difficult to pick a favourite in these designs, but I’ve narrowed it down to two I simply MUST make: the furry Teenguin and cropped Humboldt.

Images © Anna Maltz / Skein of Clara yarn © me

Images © Anna Maltz / Skein of Clara yarn © me

There was even a visit this year from the Yarn Whisperer herself, Clara Parkes, my yarn hero. A skein of lofty Clara Yarn – version 3.0 – may have worked it’s way into my bag, as I just couldn’t resist this skein of the most deliciously fluffy Cormo. Especially as I’d followed along with Clara’s Great White Bale adventure last year! I also managed to squeeze in a quick chat with Clara herself, and only wished I’d had more time to pick this wool maven’s brains. She is just as lovely in real life as I’d hoped, if not more. I did my best not to fangirl all over her. Sorry Clara. ;-P

All in all the most lovely and inspiring Christmas party yet. Can’t wait till next year. xo

Shopping indie in Maryland

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MDSW graphic

I was already pretty excited about experiencing my first Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival when I decided earlier this year that I was going to clear my calendar and make the trip down. I was looking forward to spending a relaxing weekend hosted by Vicki, AKA That Clever Clementine, showing off my newest shawls and sleeveless knit tops, perhaps buying a few skeins. But when Heather first emailed me in February about the indie pop-up she was putting together at The Knot House, her shop in Frederick, MD, I knew my budget would be in trouble. The vendor list was pretty incredible, with several dyers from this site: Duck Duck Wool, French Market Fibers, Lakes Yarn and Fiber, Magpie Fibers and Western Sky Knits, as well as O-Wool and YOTH Yarns.

Leaving Friday morning, I hitched a ride with my friends Lynn and Stefanie and we arrived in Frederick around 4 p.m., an hour before the shop opened for the pop-up preview. Vicki, who was selling her bags and yarn bowls, was already inside setting up and we waited patiently on the sidewalk, happily knitting away on our respective projects and talking yarn with the one woman who made it there before us.

The line got a little longer as we waited, but the crowd was just the right size: big enough to classify this as a fiber Event, but allowing enough space to comfortably shop.

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French Market Fibers was my first stop. As a stay-at-home mom, Margaret has limited time to dye, and her Etsy updates tend to sell out faster than it takes me to decide what I want. Here, I had the luxury of taking everything in and figuring out what I had to have (um, all of it) before claiming two skeins of Gelato in Warehouse Sock and one Midnight on the Moonwalk Uptown Sock.

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I got to see Alicia Plummer’s new cardigan, Thereafter, which uses Lakes Yarn and Fiber’s Lochsa DK, available as a kit in Ami’s Etsy shop.

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I also admired some of Ami’s recent variegated skeins. She had mentioned when I interviewed her last year that she found dyeing them challenging, but you wouldn’t know it from the results.

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I was very excited to finally meet Dami of Magpie Fibers, who posted to Indie Untangled shortly after launching her line at The Knot House in December. I knew from the photos she posted that she had beautiful colors, but seeing them in person was another story. Instead of creating individual colorways, Dami dyes in a gradient, so it was very easy to find colors that complemented one another.

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This is Ysolda Teague’s Hediye shawl, using Dami’s awesomely-named colorway, Rhinestone Cowboy.

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In person, Dami was just as lovely as her yarns — with great hair to match.

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Sandra of Duck Duck Wool was popular, of course. I finally snagged a skein of her Night Bokeh colorway that went so fast at last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show, and admired her newest “accident,” Little Black Knit.

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Vicki also had a ton of beautiful stuff. I could always use a new project bag, but I held off on buying since I’m already collaborating with her on a couple of things…

The Knot House was so inviting, housed in a beautiful historic building with a ton of natural light streaming in through the big front windows. Heather and her mom, Cathy, have created a wonderful business with a drool-worthy selection of indies, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you happen to be nearby (Frederick is also a cute, walkable town with some cool-looking shops).

Then, of course, there was the festival itself. There were definitely some pros and cons. The pros? Since there’s a suggested donation instead of an admission fee, it was easy to stroll in and make a beeline for Jennie the Potter, where the line for limited-edition mugs wasn’t quite as long as it is at Rhinebeck. My friends and I even got to her booth 25 minutes after it opened and were still able to snag some of the last ones.

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Isn’t he cute? (I mean the mug.)

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There was also this sign, which I think everyone took a photo of. Well played.

Night's Watch

The main con was that since MDSW tends to take place on the first warm weekend of spring, knitwear was a little tough to to pull off. My Urban was fine in the morning, but by the afternoon I was quite toasty (next time I’ll wear a T-shirt). I was able to show off my Night’s Watch shawl by the talented Lara Smoot — who I also finally got to meet! — but between the heat and the limited shade, I was fried a lot sooner than I am at Rhinebeck. But, overall, I enjoyed what felt like a more laid-back version of the New York festival. It gave me an opportunity to just relax and enjoy time with friends and not feel too much pressure to add to my stash…

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But I did, of course. Here’s the haul, which aside from the Duck Duck Wool, French Market Fibers, Magpie and Jennie the Potter, includes handspun earrings and a Lotion Baah from Anne of A Little Teapot Designs, who scored a spot in the festival a few weeks ago.

Maryland Sheep and Wool: Indie pop-up at The Knot House

The Knot House

In 2013, mother and daughter team Cathy and Heather opened The Knot House a local yarn shop in historic downtown in Frederick, Maryland, that specializes in hand-dyed yarn. They have created pretty much the kind of LYS I fantasize about running and carry yarn from a number of indies. They also happen to be located less than 30 miles from the Howard County Fairgrounds, home to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and they have some big plans for it this year:

Throughout the weekend, they will be holding an indie dyer pop-up, chock full of Indie Untangled artisans, including Duck Duck Wool, French Market Fibers, Lakes Yarn and Fiber, Magpie Fibers and Western Sky Knits, as well as O-Wool and YOTH Yarns, which I am really excited to check out.

The idea is similar to what prompted me to organize last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show: “So many people come from all over for the MSWF, so we thought we would also showcase some new, popular artists that will not be at the festival,” Heather says.

Basic CMYK

Some of the dyers, such as Sandra Miracle of DDW, Dami Hunter of Magpie (who learned to knit at The Knot House and debuted her line there in December), Jocelyn Tunney of O-Wool and Veronica and Danny of YOTH, will be at shop at various times throughout the weekend. That Saturday also happens to be downtown Frederick’s First Saturday, so the shops will be open late and there will likely be entertainment on the streets. A great way to cap off a day at the fairgrounds!

Over the last few years, I’ve ended up missing the festival for one reason or the other (last year it was because my parents had gotten my husband and I tickets to see the Broadway revival of Cabaret, which was a pretty good reason). This year, however, I put it on my calendar and I’m really excited for my first MDSW. I’m also kind of glad I waited.

The pop-up runs on Friday, May 1, from 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 2, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Perhaps I’ll see you there?