Hashtag this: Indie Untangled 2016

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stephenlisa

When the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show started two years ago, a dozen or so vendors took up half of the ballroom at the Best Western in Kingston with small displays. The clicker that I used to count attendees showed 235, and I was thrilled.

Fast forward to last Friday, when at least 700 shoppers, including 125 VIPs — and, yes, the Stephen West, who I think is literally 2 feet taller than me — streamed through the doors of two rooms, with more than two dozen indie dyers and designers, as well as project bag, stitch marker and pottery makers, selling their creations. I couldn’t be happier about how the event has grown, giving these artisans a chance to share their work while also helping my fellow knitters kick off one of the best weekends of the year.

Despite the crowds, people waited on line patiently to come in and, in some cases, check out with armloads of yarn. Like last year, the excitement of the event was captured perfectly on Instagram. Here are some of my favorite posts:

All systems are GO! #IndieUntangled2016 #VoolenvineYarns

A post shared by Kristin (@voolenvine) on

Line for VIP Indie Untangled Trunk Show! Awesome "warm-ups" for the Sheep 🐑 and wool festival.

A post shared by Pam Grushkin Knits (@pamgrushkin) on

All bow to the naming queen, @astralbath 🌈 . . #yhrb2016 #IUtrunkshow2016 #rhinebecktrunkshow #astralbath

A post shared by Amber Marcellino (@ambergale79) on

#indieUntangled #rhinebeck2016

A post shared by Luster Cluck (@clusterluck12) on

@bygumbygolly Look who I found! #yhrb2016 #rhinebecktrunkshow2016

A post shared by MsVicki (@thatcleverclementine) on

All the pretty colors #indieuntangled #latergram #rhinebeck2016 #blissfulknits #knitstagram

A post shared by Nance (@kathynancygirl) on

#booklove #nancydrew inspired yarn by Canon Hand Dyes at the #indieuntangled Trunk Show

A post shared by Chantale Boileau (@chantaletales) on

So excited to have met @westknits! Enjoying #indieuntangled!

A post shared by Mara (@mara_knits_on) on

Finally got to meet the lovely Ce from @theuncommonthread! #indieuntangled #rhinebecktrunkshow #rhinebeck2016

A post shared by Indie Untangled (@indieuntangled) on

Got me some @voolenvine in #angryorchard and #venusflytrap #indieuntangled #rhinebeck2016

A post shared by Babs Donnelly (@totallybabs) on

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:

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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!

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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.

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.

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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: Cathy and Heather of The Knot House

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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.

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.

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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

Save the date: The 3rd annual Rhinebeck Trunk Show is set for Oct. 14!

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Rhinebeck Kickoff artwork final

Since catching up on sleep after last year’s Rhinebeck weekend (which took a few days…) I have been very busy planning for this year’s kickoff event. My goal was to expand it a bit so I could make the shopping area bigger and also allow a few more new vendors to join us. I also decided to collaborate with an illustrator to create a design for the event that could be printed on souvenir tote bags (more on that in a bit). Well, everything has come together, so I am excited to announce that the third annual Rhinebeck Trunk Show will take place Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, from 5 to 8 p.m.! It will again be held at the Best Western Plus in Kingston, N.Y., and we’ve expanded into a third room. (Early shopping will begin at 4 p.m., though tickets sold out shortly after they went on sale last Friday.)

The full list of vendors is on the event page. I am thrilled to welcome several newcomers: Blissful Knits, ClayByLaura, Feel Good Yarn Company, A Hundred Ravens, MollyGirl Yarn, Spun Right Round, Voolenvine Yarns and The Woolen Rabbit. There will also be some newbies in the Indie Untangled booth, which will have a selection of yarn from Dark Harbour Yarn, Oink Pigments and Sincere Sheep, along with patterns from designer Jennifer Dassau, while Featured Sponsor Yarn Culture will be bringing yarn from Rosy Green Wool. Many of the vendors have some kits in the works that they will debut at the show, some of which you will be able to preorder beforehand via Indie Untangled.

Speaking of preorders, you now have the opportunity to purchase souvenir tote bags, screen printed with the illustration on the event page, to pick up at the show (and help support the work that goes into organizing it!). The illustration was created by Eloise Narrigan, a fellow knitter who you may know from her adorable bag designs for Ravelry. I reached out to Eloise a couple of months ago and explained what I was looking for — a collection of Rhinebeck-esque items, such as animals, fall leaves, skeins of yarn and apple cider donuts — and she executed my vision perfectly — and adorably.

So, get your Rhinebeck sweaters, shawls and shopping lists ready!

A very indie, Instagrammy, Rhinebeck

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#indieuntangled

There are a lot of words I could use to describe last week’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show. After catching up on what was probably a week’s worth of sleep, I can come up with only one word: epic. While I’d seen on Ravelry that people were excited, I knew I had planned a successful show when I got to the hotel around 1:30 to set up and there was a small group of people knitting in the corridor by the entrance to the ballroom (don’t worry, I’m already thinking of ways to ease the lines and crowds next year).

My goal was to curate a group of indie dyers and artisans that you wouldn’t get to see while searching through the barns for that perfect skein of Cormo, or waiting on the cider donut or artichoke lines (more on that in my post about the actual festival). Whether it was Sandra of Duck Duck Wool’s beautiful speckles, Margaret of French Market Fibers’ complex colors, Amy of Canon Hand Dyes’ incredible self-striping skeins, Anne of A Little Teapot’s gorgeous fiber charms — I could go on and on — there were a lot of special things on display. I feel so lucky to know, and to be able to work with, such talented people.

I’m looking forward to seeing the shots that Maria of Subway Knits got with her DSLR, but I think the Instagram photos taken by the vendors and attendees sum everything up:

The hostess with the mostest: @indieuntangled. #IUtrunkshow2015 #yhrb2015 #indieuntangled #rhinebecktrunkshow

A post shared by Amber Marcellino (@ambergale79) on

The *what* show?? #yhrb2015 #IUtrunkshow2015 #rhinebecktrunkshow #indieuntangled

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The calm before the storm @indieuntangled #Rhinebecktrunkshow2015 #rhinebeck2015 #yhrb2015

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Yep, it's a party! #IUtrunkshow2015 #yhrb2015 #rhinebecktrunkshow #indieuntangled

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Because it so doesn't. #rhinebeck2015 #indieuntangled #rhinebecktrunkshow #rhinebecktrunkshow2015

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@astralbath, at the apex of her game… #yhrb2015 #IUtrunkshow2015 #rhinebecktrunkshow #astralbath

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The incredible @vividfiberarts booth. #indieuntangled #rhinebeck2015

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Raffle prizes. #rhinebeck2015 #indieuntangled #rhinebecktrunkshow2015 #rhinebecktrunkshow

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ColorPurl at #indieuntangled

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#rhinebecktrunkshow2015 #theuncommonthread ❤

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#rhinebecktrunkshow2015! #yhrb2015

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#indieuntangled haul!!! Thanks Duck Duck Wool and @skeinnydippingyarn! #roadtorhinebeck #Rhinebeck #rhinebeck2015

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Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Patti Odinak of Yarn Culture

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YC TUT

This is the last in a series of interviews with the fabulous sponsors of the 2015 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

When I decided to approach some small businesses about sponsoring this year’s trunk show, Patti Odinak of Yarn Culture was the first person I emailed. Patti opened the store two years ago in Fairport, New York, which is just outside of Rochester and a little under 300 miles from Rhinebeck. Both the store and the online shop, as well as the knitting events that Patti and her husband, Mitch, travel to, have a well-curated selection of indie dyers, including The Uncommon Thread and Eden Cottage Yarns, both from the UK and both part of the Indie Untangled marketplace. It’s the kind of shop I would definitely make my local if I lived nearby.

Not only was Patti willing to do a featured sponsorship, but she also asked if she could have a booth at the show, bringing some TUT and Eden Cottage. I was sold, and loved the idea of having Yarn Culture represent two of my favorite Indie Untangled dyers. It aligns perfectly with what Patti says is the shop’s goal — to partner with these artisans and make their products more widely available to knitters.

Tell me about the decision to open Yarn Culture. Was running a yarn shop a longtime dream of yours?

I didn’t have a dream to own a yarn shop per se, but I knew I wanted to own a shop. I’ve always loved yarn and knitting, so it made sense to see if I could make it as a business.

What did you do before you became a yarn shop owner?

My professional background is in marketing, working for small and large companies for 17 years. In 2000, I co-founded a marketing and communications company that is still operating today. From 2007 to 20011 my husband’s work was based in Europe, so our family enjoyed the ex-pat life for four years. It was a great experience for me and was the perfect setting to rethink how to best combine my skills and passion into a work experience that was very different from what I had been doing.

YC Shop Photo

Why did you choose the dyers that you carry?

We look for dyers, designers and manufacturers who have something that is unique and recognizable — their own design signature. Our goal is to position Yarn Culture as “partners” with these artists to bring their products to yarn and knitting enthusiasts. When a customer visits Yarn Culture – whether in our store, online or at an event — we want them to find yarn that isn’t readily available other places.

Eden Cottage Yarns and The Uncommon Thread are both excellent examples of artists who we love to represent.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned to knit as a young girl in pursuit of a knitting badge in Girl Scouts. We moved a lot when I was a child, so the portability of knitting was perfect for car travel.

Who are some of your favorite designers?

Like most knitters, I have a lot of favorite designers! Those who I’m particularly attracted to right now include Melanie Berg, Amy Herzog, Thea Colman, Lori Versaci, Julie Weisenberger and Joji Locatelli. While each designer has her unique design signature, they all create designs that are fashion relevant and timeless while being achievable by most knitters.

Thea Coleman's London Mitts in The Uncommon Thread.

Thea Coleman’s London Mitts in The Uncommon Thread.

Is there an FO that you’re particularly proud of?

I’m proud of every project I finish, and I finish more now that I’m a shop owner! I like being able to talk to customers about designs from my personal knitting experience. It helps me anticipate when someone might need a new skill or need to be particularly vigilant as they knit along.

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

I have tried weaving and really enjoyed it and I’m planning to learn to crochet in the next year.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned while running your business?

1) Working in a business where I have a real passion is fun! I work as hard or harder than ever, so it I’m glad I love it.

2) There are a lot of really nice and talented people in the fiber arts world. I love the opportunities to meet and work with them.

What does the future hold for Yarn Culture?

We’re still a new business, so we are continuing to focus on finding as many opportunities as we can to get the word out about our shop and the yarns we carry. For the next year or two, that will mean a lot of shows and events like the Indie-Untangled Trunk Show. Thanks for allowing us to be part of your event!

After the trunk show, visit these Indie Untangled vendors at Rhinebeck

melissajeanlogofinal

The New York Sheep & Wool Festival is an amazing, if occasionally overwhelming, experience. Unless I get swept up in the frenzy of trying to snag a Jennie the Potter mug (which depends on who I end up traveling with to the fairgrounds), I enjoy taking in the beautiful foliage, eating cider doughnuts, admiring all the knitwear and spending time with my friends.

Of course, I also do some serious shopping.

While Friday night’s trunk show might put a little dent in your Rhinebeck budget, this will help: four Indie Untangled vendors — Bijou Basin Ranch, Dirty Water DyeWorks, Hampden Hills Alpacas and Melissa Jean Design — are offering 10% off to trunk show attendees (if you score one of the goody bags, you’ll get a 15% off coupon from Bijou Basin). The coupon will either be in your goody bag or in a paper bag, along with your free raffle ticket. Please note: I will be using the RSVPs to give me an idea of how many coupons to print, and they will be available while supplies last. RSVP on the event page and arrive on the early side if you would like to ensure that you get one.

Here’s a little guide to doing some Indie Untangled shopping at the festival:

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Bijou Basin Ranch has incredibly soft Tibetan yak yarns and yak blends, made with fiber from their ranch in Colorado, and I even saw some super luxurious qiviut last year. They have a special line of Outlander-inspired colorways, which would be perfect for the Subway Knits Outlander KAL that starts Oct. 24. You can also get bottles of their Allure fine fabric wash. BBR is also a trunk show sponsor, so you can learn more about them in this recent interview.

Find Bijou Basin in Building C, Booths 13 & 14.

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Dirty Water DyeWorks was one of my favorite discoveries at my first Rhinebeck four years ago — and I actually finally finished a shawl in the two skeins I bought from Stephanie back then! She has luxurious blends, including her popular Bertha MCN, as well as more exotic fibers, including a Polwarth and silk blend.

Dirty Water DyeWorks is also in Building C, in Booth 42.

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Hampden Hills Alpacas is unique in that aside from hand dyeing yarn, they also raise and breed alpacas in Hampden, Massachusetts. Erica has been bringing her hand-dyed and hand-painted alpaca and alpaca/silk blends to Rhinebeck for the last 14 years. Find Hampden Hills in Building 39, Booth 9.

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Melissa Jean makes beautiful ceramic and wood buttons. I adore her button earrings and always make sure to grab a pair when I’m at Rhinebeck. Find her in Building 36, Booth 9.

Here’s a handy Google map of the fairgrounds:

You can see the regular festival map here.

Happy shopping!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Cathryn Bothe of Signature Needle Arts

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This is the fifth in a series of interviews with the fabulous sponsors of the 2015 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

When I first started knitting with hand-dyed yarn a bunch of years ago, I also began hearing about Signature Needles. At $42 for a full set of circulars, they seemed like a decadent choice, though thinking about it, not so decadent when you’re already spending $30-plus on a skein…

The brand has a fantastic origin story: Knitter Cathryn Bothe, who is president of Bothe Associates, a Wisconsin-based, family-owned company that makes custom metal parts — everything from surgical tool components to mining safety equipment — was frustrated with the points of her needles, so she took them into work and had them altered, bringing the “stiletto point” into the fiber world. Founded in 2006, Signature Needle Arts offers convertible circulars, straight needles and double points in sleek aluminum with a choice of points, as well as needle and cable lengths.

Cathryn now runs both companies, and I was thrilled when her independent, woman-owned enterprise agreed to help sponsor this year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show. While there won’t be needles for sale at the show, the company sent me a set of circulars, straight needles and DPNs for people to try out. The goody bags, which you can snag if you’re one of the first 100 trunk show attendees, will have a $10 off coupon from Signature, so perhaps that will push you to try out the Rolls Royce of knitting needles.

Would you say the knitting needles and the other products that Bothe Associates manufactures have any similarities?

When we first started it was extremely annoying to have some of the outside suppliers roll their eyes when we talked to them. I could tell they thought it was just some silly “woman’s project.” Even some of the male machine operators thought it strange we were making something so unlike the industrial parts we have made for 65 years.

Now, of course, it is very different. Those folks working a lot on needles are very committed to making the product and are very proud to be part of the Signature part of the business.

The similarities from some of the other parts we make are in materials, tolerances, quality control — we try and not ever send anything out of the building that is not perfect.

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Have any people at your company been inspired to learn how to knit after you started Signature?

Yes our Financial Manager has learned and excelled in many projects. Others who were already knitters have increased their knitting efforts.

It is also interesting to see how many folks in the office or shop know so much about knitting even though they have never done any. We have so many options and it is great to see folks here who know everything about the product.

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Which is the most popular needle point?

Stiletto is the runaway favorite, but for that small percentage of people who like the others, they can feel like someone is looking out for them, too.

What are some of the biggest challenges in manufacturing knitting needles?

The actual manufacturing was not a challenge. In fact, when we first started and did some measuring of some of the low-cost needles on the market, people here were shocked at the lack of precise measurement.

In our shop we often are asked to measure parts to =/- .0003, which translates to 1/10th of a human hair.

Since knitting is really a series of diameter of stitches and guage is so important when you get a Signature needle that is, for example, 4.00 mm, it really is and you can count on that measurement for your stitches.

The only real challenge is finding a cable that works for all the things we need it to do: be strong, be flexible — but not too flexible.

We have people in the shop who are very committed to making the needles beautiful which is wonderful to see. They, to a person, want our customers to be happy.

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Tell me how you learned to knit.

My grandmother taught me how to crochet, but I taught myself to knit. I always tell people that although I have knit many things over many years I was a completely “solitary” knitter. I never took a class or joined a group and, actually, I still have not. However, the internet has proved invaluable for allowing me to learn new techniques.

What are your favorite projects to knit?

I like to do baby things since I have been through several years when many friends/family have had babies and grandbabies.

I am currently working on my “masterpieces”: we have three grown children and they all share the same birthday–over a 10 year span. I always tell people that I am organized if nothing else. Actually it is sad, but our youngest always had trouble in young years convincing people that he and his brother and sister were all born on the same day of the year — April 6.

This past year, for the first time in many years, we were all together on the birthday. I committed to doing a special afghan for each of them which told the story of their life. The first one has three panels: one shows stitches that reflect the things he loves; the second panel shows things about his work life; and the third shows all the love and good wishes we send to him as he lives far away. I am working steadily on that and when it is finished I have a notebook of stitch patterns for each of the other two.

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Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

While I can crochet, I don’t do much. I am in the enviable position to be able to knit as much as possible and always can say “it’s for work.”

When our son came home from California once he noticed my yarn room in the basement and commented on how much there was. I didn’t even hesitate or make excuses for the vast quantities: “It’s for work” was all I had to say.

I do a lot of gardening. In our previous house I had a 3,000-square-foot vegetable garden with many flowers besides. Now in a smaller space, I have figured out how to have a great many plants and plantings, which I love to do in the short growing season here.

What’s next for Signature Needle Arts? Can you reveal any upcoming plans?

I have lots of ideas for new products. I can’t really say much more right now.