Indie Untangled goes to MDSW

My trip to this year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival started like most other fiber-related trips. I had a particular goal in mind — getting some of Middle Brook Fiber Works Vintage No. 2 — but nothing else in terms of stashing plans. While that kind of non-action plan can be a little dangerous, it can also lead to some pleasant discoveries.

The Knot House

My weekend started, of course, at The Knot House for the MDSW indie pop-up. Cathy and Heather brought together a fabulous group of indies, including a surprise appearance from Lisa of White Birch Fiber Arts.

The selection in the front of the store had a decidedly domestic vibe, with Dami of Magpie showing off her new Solstice, a blend of USA Superwash Merino, domestic cotton and silk, and Julie Asselin, who displayed her new Nomade sock yarn, which also uses USA Merino along with nylon.

I also enjoyed getting to chat briefly with Julie and her husband Jean-François.

I admired the event exclusive colorways, like this one from Skeinny Dipping, which Christine said used seven different colors (as opposed to her Rhinebeck color, which only used two).

I got to see some familiar favorites, including Indie Untangled regulars That Clever Clementine, whose colorful bags were a welcome site as soon as we walked through the door after our six-hour drive through the rain, and Spun Right Round.

I also finally got to see Swift Yarns in person and meet Carol, a dyer who lives not far from me in Queens, NY.

And what would an indie yarn event be without a line? It took me a while to check out, but the conversation with fellow knitters and admiring my haul in the beautiful early evening light that streamed through the windows made it worth the wait.

My totally unplanned purchases included Skeinny Dipping’s Merino Fingering in Hearth Tweed, a color I’d been admiring for a while, and Duck Duck Wool’s Silky Singleton in Don’t Be Ranunculus, Sandra’s flowery pun and show exclusive colorway, and also in Metalware. The fact that there were only two left of these colors might have had something to do with the impulse purchase, and the fact that they went with the hedgehog bag I’d picked up from Vicki right after I walked in certainly helped.

The Festival

I usually think of MDSW as more of a shawl festival, since its steamy spring weather is not ideal for showing off handknits. But, with temperatures in the 50s and a damp chill from the intermittent rain, this year’s festival had perfect sweater weather, so I was happy I finished my You Wear It Well from designer Mary Annarella.

I made sure to check out Jill Draper’s booth to get an advanced look at her collaboration with Kirsten Kapur, the soon-to-be-released Cozy Cottage Orchard Wrap, knit with Jill’s new Olana base, a blend of Cormo, alpaca, Cashmere and angora.

I also hung out with Alice and the crew in the Backyard Fiberworks booth, admiring people’s consistent color choices.

And, of course, I got what I came for. Anne’s new base, a blend of Cormo/Merino, Shetland, alpaca and silk, has her trademark rustic luxury. While it would make an excellent sweater, I’m looking forward to pairing the Cirrus and Bracken colors for Kirsten Kapur’s Abingdon shawl.

A glimpse into knitting designer Kirsten Kapur’s inspiration

Kirsten Kapur is one of those designers who consistently impresses me. I marvel at her use of texture and color, particularly her color combinations. While I’ve knit only three of her more than 250 simple and elegant patterns, I have several more in my favorites. So, when I heard that Kirsten, a fellow New Yorker, had been invited by Paola Vanzo, the owner of mYak, to give a talk on her design inspirations over tea and knitting in the West Village, I RSVPd faster than you could say yarn.

The event took place in the library of the Trace Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes Tibetan culture where Paola is managing director, and which houses an appointment-only pop-up shop for her yarn line. It was through her work in Tibet that Paola came to create mYak in 2011, working with a cooperative of nomads from the Tibetan Plateau to harvest and mill the super soft, Cashmere-like yarn from the underbelly of the baby yaks that they herd. It’s a story that deserves its own blog post.

Kirsten recently collaborated with Paola on two designs using mYak yarn: The Wave Hill brioche cowl, named for the estate and public gardens in Riverdale in the Bronx, and a lacy two-color shawl called Acorns and Arches, crafted with colors created using a natural mushroom dye. The two patterns set the scene for Kirsten’s inspirations, essentially knitted interpretations of the natural world.

Before becoming a knitting pattern designer a decade ago, Kirsten worked as an apparel and textile designer in the garment industry in New York City, where she also lives. While the city may not seem like an immediately obvious place to get natural inspiration, there’s plenty.

“In this city we have some pretty amazing places we can go,” Kirsten said. “We have some fabulous parks, like the New York Botanical Garden, Central Park. I go to these places and find inspiration for color, texture, obviously the shapes of the plants.”

She also uses the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (near me!), Hudson River Park, Rockaway Beach in Queens — particularly in winter — and the aforementioned Wave Hill. After taking photos, Kirsten returns home and starts playing around with the yarn in her healthy stash, drawing on the colors from her images of flowers and leaves, water and animals — even seaweed.

Kirsten then pores over stitch dictionaries and then plays around with charting software, making the patterns work for the look she’s trying to achieve. A lot of her design work also happens once the yarn gets on the needles, with changes made when stitch patterns aren’t working.

While some of Kirsten’s design names are obvious, many are particularly clever. Her Reynard Socks, for example, are named for the fox character in fables, and feature a fox-like lace pattern when viewed upside down. Cladonia, one of Kirsten’s best-known patterns, is named for the lichen on a rock she photographed it on.

The photographs are also what draws me to Kirsten’s patterns, and she recounted what it took to capture this view of A View From the Hill, on Rockaway Beach on a freezing, windy January afternoon.

After Kirsten’s talk, and after we finished up our tea and pastries, there was also the opportunity to shop the mYak pop-up, which had such a beautiful display.

Of course I wore my own Cladonia to the event and Kirsten was nice enough to pose for a photo with me while wearing the sample!

Meet you in Maryland

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t excited for the stashing opportunities coming up at Maryland Sheep and Wool: first, at the indie pop-up at The Knot House next Friday night, where there will be yarn from Indie Untangled faves Duck Duck Wool, Skeinny Dipping, That Clever Clementine, Magpie Fibers, Spun Right Round and Canon Hand Dyes, and later at the festival itself, where Anne of Middle Brook Fiberworks will be debuting her Vintage No. 2 and Alice of Backyard Fiberworks will have a booth for the first time. But one of my favorite parts of the festival is the excuse to spend time with my dear fiber friends and meeting new people in a somewhat less frenzied environment than the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck.

(Don’t get me wrong — I love Rhinebeck. I mean, love it. But as far as fiber festivals go, it’s overwhelming, not to mention the insane amount of prep work that I have to do beforehand. I’m more than happy to head down south with only a small suitcase and some tote bags — yes, bags, plural — instead of a car full of boxes.)

Meeting new people? That’s where you come in. If you’re headed to the aptly-named Friendship, Maryland, next Saturday, stop by the Backyard Fiberworks booth — C4 in the Main Exhibition Hall — at 1 p.m. for an Indie Untangled meetup. I will have goodies on hand and Alice will have some special IU merch, along with her beautiful yarn. I hope to see you there!

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.

YOSS 9

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.