Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Kitterly

From left to right: Kitterly co-founders Elizabeth Rowen and and Mari Bower.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

I often like to get creative by pairing yarns and patterns, and putting colors together, but sometimes it can be much easier to leave it to the professionals: the dyers, designers and the folks at Kitterly. The Los Angeles company, launched by Elizabeth Rowen and Mari Bower in 2015, works with several indie businesses to put together knitting and crochet kits. Indie Untangled regulars they work with include the designers Casapinka and Anne Hanson and dyers Spun Right Round and The Uncommon Thread.

I spoke to Liz and Mari to learn more about their operation:

How and when did Kitterly get started?

Mari was a customer of Liz’s store in Los Angeles, Knit Culture Studio. We came together in 2015 to combine Mari’s background in digital media, tech and ecommerce, and Liz’s experience in the fiber community as owner of Knit Culture Studio and create Kitterly as you see it today. We launched in January 2015, and we have been building our community of amazing designers, dyers and makers, one kit a time!

How do you decide on which designs to offer kits for?

We like to create a broad mix of styles and skill levels to ensure that we have a perfect selection for our customers to find their next perfect project. We are always coming the Ravelry design charts to find what’s new, but we also find that there is an amazing catalog of perennial favorites to choose from. You will find anything from Andrea Mowry’s latest Fade, to gorgeous classics like Melanie Berg’s Ashburn shawl.

It’s been really fun to find something that may have been designed in a yarn that is just no longer available, and revisit it in a new fiber.

Casapinka Koi Pond Kit

How do you pair up the yarn, including colors, and patterns?

We spend a lot of time researching designs to ensure that we can either offer it in the original yarn (down to the colors if we can), or find the perfect substitute. When we launch a collection with a designer or dyer, there was a considerable amount of time spent on pulling it together to ensure we have the right mix of new, classic and skill level. Once we settle on the collection, we then collectively will select color palettes that we review and even vote on at times. It’s a really fun process, and everyone gets involved!

Can you talk about any new dyers or designers you’re planning to work with?

Yes! We’re super excited to be adding Anthony Casalena, Carol Feller, Miriam Felton, Asa Tricosa, Christopher Salas, Berangere Cailliau/lilofil, Hanna Maciejewska/Hada Knits, Yellow Cosmo, Lesley Anne Robinson/Knit Graffiti and Bristol Ivy to name a “few”!

New dyers coming on board are Stolen Stitches (Carol Feller’s yarn), YarnLove, Hue Loco, Spun Right Round and we hope to begin working with Uschtitia in early 2018.

We’re always on the hunt for new dyers and designers!

ANKESTRICK Walk Along Kit

When and how did both of you learn to knit?

Liz: my grandmother taught me to knit, crochet and sew when I was 7.

Mari: I learned around 10 years ago, when my mother-in-law gave me a cute knitting kit set for Christmas. I taught myself how to crochet when I was around 8, since my mom couldn’t figure out how to show me since I’m left handed.

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

Liz: crochet, sewing, quilting, rubber stamping and card making, needlepoint, embroidery. Unfortunately since starting Kitterly I’ve only had time to knit and crochet but I have a fabulous collection of rubber stamps waiting for me!

Mari: I’m a serial crafter! I’ve been sewing since I was a small child, and I love to make pretty much anything! I love to cook and bake, and I can my own jam/pickles every summer. I also design jewelry (wire wrapping, beading, even some silversmithing), and I have been known to do some serious home DIY (I installed my own hardwood floors in a previous house). I’ve even done some welding, thanks to high school metal shop!

Tell me about each of your most memorable FOs.

Liz: My spiderweb lace shawl in Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb — but I’m afraid to wear it. But my two favorites are Andrea Mowry’s FYFHaha and Casapinka’s Sari not Sari!

Mari: My Om Shawl by Andrea Mowry. I fell in love with the pattern and had to make it! It was quite the endeavor, as it’s a rather large piece, but it turned out magnificent. Thankfully Fall weather is coming soon, so I can show it off!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Knitting Outside the Box with Bristol Ivy

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Pom Pom Quarterly is one of my favorite knitting magazines, if not my very favorite. Aside from publishing four magazines a year, the team there also partners with some very talented designers to publish pattern books. The latest is Bristol Ivy’s Knitting Outside the Box, which just became available to preorder this week. If you’re going to Rhinebeck, you can also preorder it to pick up from the Merritt Bookstore booth.

The book originates from Bristol’s Knitting Outside the Box workshops and provides an insight into her design process as well as 15 garment and accessory patterns using plenty of hand-dyed yarns. I asked Bristol to tell me a bit more about it.

What inspires the designs in Knitting Outside the Box?

The designs in Knitting Outside the Box were all inspired by wanting to push boundaries. With each, I wanted to explore certain techniques and see what that method of manipulating stitches could do to create a garment that made knitters think about knitting in a new way. Whether that was starting from a different direction, combining techniques to get the result I wanted, or asking a simple “what if?” s I wanted to make sure that the way the garments worked would open new doors of exploration and thought. I also wanted to make sure that they did this while maintaining wearability and knitting interest. I hoped the garments would feel like things that I would want to knit, AND want to wear!

What makes this book different from other pattern collections?

I spend a lot of time in the book going into not just the “how” of the knitting patterns, but the “why.” Why have I chosen to use this stitch pattern? Why did I use this increase rate here, and a different one there? I talk through the process of how I use what technique where, and I hope by doing so I give other knitters the license to experiment and play with the structure of their knitting.

Which special techniques did you use and why?

The book is divided into three different sections, one of which explores exercises to help you jump-start your creativity, one of which goes through a series of ways to manipulate your fabric to get the end result that you want, and one that talks you through the design process from start to finish. Within this, I concentrated on three big areas of manipulating your fabric: increases and decreases, short rows, and stitch patterns that can change your gauge. I think each of these has so many possibilities for restructuring how we think about knitted fabric, and I really wanted to highlight them. That way, we can see how even these simple techniques that we know and have used for our entire knitting careers can make something entirely new.

Do you have any tips for knitters who are intimidated by certain techniques?

Just go for it! I think one of the best things about knitting is that it can be undone and you can start again. There’s no risk factor—at the end of the day, if what you tried didn’t work, you still have the same materials you started with, PLUS a wealth of new knowledge on what works and what doesn’t. So there’s no risk at all in trying something new, or trying something that you thought would be intimidating. Give it a go!

Why did you chose the dyers and producers that you did?

I am lucky enough to know some amazingly talented yarn dyers and producers, and it was a definite struggle narrowing down the list to just the ones used in the book! (I have my fingers crossed that someday I’ll write another book just so I can use the yarns I didn’t get to use in this one.) We had a very specific color palette that we were working with, and that dictated a bit whose yarn would work for the book. I also wanted a healthy mix of nationalities represented, since the audience for PomPom is so international. And I also chose yarn that I was just plain excited about working with! I love every garment in this book to bits and a good portion of that is that they’re all knit in AMAZING yarn.

Do you have a favorite pattern from the collection and, if so, why is it your favorite?

It changes daily! The Lillemor Shawl, the Pina Cardigan and the Arbus Pullover are always high on the list, but there’s also the Wislawa Cowl, the Carr Shawl, the Yayoi Pullover, the Mailou Mitts… it took me a long time to put together the list of designs for this book because I wanted to make sure none of them felt like throwaways or filler. I wanted each one to be significant in and of itself, and to feel true and authentic to how I feel about fabric and design. And I also wanted them to feel like something I would want to wear and never take off! My only hope is that other people will feel the same. 🙂

A look at the Bijou Basin Ranch Indie Dyer Series

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

The Bijou Basin Ranch (BBR) Indie Dyer Series is our way of supporting the indie fiber community: we search out the best indie dyers we can find and ask them to put their colors on the best yarn blends around (ours… we’re biased!).

Current dyers in this series include Miss Babs, ModeKnit Yarns, MJ Yarns, Fiber Optic, Lost City Knits and Lattes and Llamas, and they work with these popular BBR bases:

Shangri-La (50/50 Yak/Silk)
Lhasa Wilderness (75/25 Yak/Bamboo)
Tibetan Dream (85/15 Yak/Nylon)
Himalayan Trail (75/25 Yak/Superfine Merino)
Himalayan Summit (50/50 Yak/Superfine Merino) — Coming Soon!

We let each dyer work from their own inspiration to create unique, one-of-a-kind colors on the blend of their choosing, and most select the color names as well. Several of these colors are limited edition, one-of-a-kind creations, but we also have a collection of semi-solid “house colors” which are always available, dyed for us by MJ Yarns on Lhasa Wilderness & Himalayan Trail, pictured above.

This fall, loads of gorgeous new colors from MJ Yarns, Miss Babs, ModeKnit and Fiber Optic will be making their appearance at fiber festivals and in our online store! Here is a sneak peek of the speckle-y goodness from ModeKnit yarn that will be dyed on our popular fingering weight yarn, Tibetan Dream:

Clockwise from top left: Toad Lily, Freckled Iris, Carol Peletier, BBR Signature, and Betty Confetti.

There are more exciting hand-dyed colors on their way to us, all of which will be available in our online store soon, and of course, in the BBR booth at Rhinebeck. See you there!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: One More Row Press

This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Alice O’Reilly, the dyer behind Backyard Fiberworks, and I have an ongoing text conversation, and a few months ago she shared news with me about an exciting project: she and Manhattan-based designer Kathleen Dames were collaborating on a series of books on knitting around the world, starting with my home of New York.

I’ve admired Kathleen’s elegant designs for a while (her Sotherton pullover has been in my favorites ever since I saw a sample a couple of Rhinebecks ago at the Spirit Trail booth) and I’ve long been a fan of Alice’s yarn. They’ve put together an amazing collection of designers for the book and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy when it’s published next year. I recently asked them to tell me more about the project:

How did the idea for I Knit New York come about?

When Kathleen started designing a mini collection for Backyard Fiberworks, she made the mistake of telling Alice that she had always wanted to do a collection inspired by New York City. Alice picked the idea up and spun it around. Then it started to grow. “What if it were bigger? What if there were more designers? What if we did more of them?” So, now we are One More Row Press with plans to visit cities around the globe.

Aside from designs, what will the book include?

We will have profiles of our New York designers, our favorite places in the city to find yarn and notions, and where to knit, plus all the inspiration that New York City has to offer.

Which designers do you have lined up for the book?

Brittney Bailey, Kathleen Dames, Kirsten Kapur, Xandy Peters and Lars Rains, plus an introduction by Kay Gardiner [of Rhinebeck Trunk Show sponsor Mason Dixon Knitting, with all the yarns from Backyard Fiberworks.

Will the designs themselves be inspired by New York City?

Yes! We were inspired by Washington Square, Central Park’s Sheep Meadow, Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the phenomenon of Manhattanhenge and more.

Which other cities or places will you be including in your series?

Our flights of fancy so far have inspired thoughts of Paris, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and more New York. Of course, we are open to suggestions.

Backyard Fiberworks Sock in Walnut.

When and how did both of you learn to knit?

Alice: I don’t remember learning how to knit. I could always knit, just like I could always read.

Kathleen: My maternal grandmother taught me when I was young, but she lived far away, so it wasn’t until 2003 that I relearned with a friend from my publishing days, and we would knit at lunch. From the very beginning I was making changes to patterns to create the knits I wanted, so I was always on track to be a designer (being on the creative side of publishing as an art director helped, too).

What is your most memorable FOs?

Kathleen: An Aran for Frederick from the first issue of Jane Austen Knits (2011) — Inspired by Frederick Wentworth, Anne Elliot’s love interest in Persuasion (my favorite Austen novel), it’s a pullover that tells a story through cable patterns (Ensign’s Braid, Twin Waves, XOXO, Celtic Flourish), and the construction (seamless, in the round, from the bottom up, EZ hybrid yoke) makes it exciting to knit. I call it “knitting Sudoku” because you have to keep all these cables going *while* working the shaping that forms the yoke — it really keeps you on your toes.

Kathleen, where’s your favorite place to knit in New York City?

I can’t just say, “On my couch, with my cat George,” can I? On the subway (when I can get a seat), sitting on a park bench in Morningside or Riverside Parks, at my LYS Knitty City (shout out for their summer knitting lessons in Bryant Park — a fabulous place to knit). But most of the time when I am off my couch, I’m taking in the wonders of New York City because I’m not a native — I’m #tenyearsanewyorker, so I still find everything pretty fabulous: Grand Central Terminal, Patience and Fortitude (the lions guarding the NYPL), the Costume Institute at the Met, the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry. And that’s the tip of the iceberg! I try to share my knitting and New York adventures on social media because I still find it all so exciting — the people, the architecture, the history, the geography. New York is a special place, so Alice and I are very excited to share it with I Knit New York.

Pre-Rhinbeck Untangling: Pam Maher of FiberCrafty

This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

I decided to create Indie Untangled a few years ago after hearing from dyer and maker friends about how it was getting more and more difficult to stand out online. My initial idea was for a handmade marketplace just for yarn and fiber, but I was daunted by what it would take to launch such a site without having any programming skills whatsoever.

Well, Pam Maher had that same initial idea and ended up running with it, working with a developer and launching her site, FiberCrafty, this past May. FiberCrafty is a marketplace specifically for yarn, fiber and knitting-related accessories. Similar to other handmade marketplaces, like Etsy, FiberCrafty lets indie dyers and small farms list products to purchase and, in return for providing a platform, takes a small percentage of sales.

After she launched, I had a nice conversation with Pam about her goals for the site and she agreed to be a sponsor of this year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show. Recently, I asked her about the process of launching FiberCrafty and her background as a knitter:

Tell me about what inspired you to start FiberCrafty?

I was in software sales for about 20 years and didn’t want to continue for the next 20 years. I began trying to figure out a way to have a career in the fiber crafting industry and loved the idea of using my software and sales experience in the fiber community. I noticed that as I shopped indie businesses on existing platforms, I was frustrated because I wasn’t able to shop the way I wanted to, using “fiber” language. Having a platform that spoke our language made sense to me and as I talked to others, it made sense to them also.

Yarn from Luce Knots on FiberCrafty.

What are some of the features that set FiberCrafty apart from other handmade marketplaces?

None of the existing marketplaces are designed for a specific craft. They are all very general and broad in their offerings and some are so bloated it is hard to find what you want. We mirror a lot of the categories and attributes that are on Ravelry so they are familiar and meaningful. If shoppers are looking for something specific, they can use the filters to help narrow down their search.

FiberCrafty is a small business, owned by one person, just like most of the indie business in this industry. Not only can I relate to many other business owners, I am also able to be flexible in site enhancements that we make going forward. My goal is to evolve FiberCrafty based on community feedback.

As a small business owner and fiber crafter, I want other small businesses to succeed, especially in the fiber crafting space. I have tried to make our fee structure extremely fair and sustainable. I don’t have special interests or investors that I have to please.

What have been your biggest challenges in developing the site?

It was a very expensive project and my husband and I have taken a big risk, but one that we believe in. It’s a little scary sometimes! I had to make some very careful assumptions about what would be most helpful to a business owner, and also what would be most helpful to shoppers. I worked with a developer, but there were still a lot of pieces of the site that I had to learn along the way, like payment processing and shipping. Because the site is so complex, tweaking one thing affected something else so we had to be diligent while making decisions and look at the site on the whole, rather than just that one part.

Fiber from Shari Arts on FiberCrafty.

What are some of your favorite yarns or products on the site?

Oh, that isn’t a fair question! There are so many different items! I don’t process fleeces but I have really enjoyed seeing all the farm shops opening and learning about the different fibers and breeds. As a knitter and spinner, I am a sucker for beautifully dyed braids of fiber and yarns. Of course, there are also some really cute bags and stitch markers. It’s not hard to find favorites!

When and how did you learn to knit?

I have always been crafty and started cross stitching when I was very young. I also made jewelry and dabbled in other crafts. At some point, my brother gave me a Coats & Clark booklet that included a “How to knit” section and I found it intriguing. I was about 22 and decided to try it so I went to an LYS, bought two skeins of yarn, needles and a short-sleeve top pattern. I taught myself with the booklet and never looked back. I didn’t have enough money to buy all the yarn so I never finished the top. Thanks to Ravelry I was able to find three more skeins in the same dye lot 20 years later!

Stitch markers from Distracted Knits.

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

I do! I occasionally crochet and also have a Lendrum spinning wheel. I usually default to knitting because it is so portable and flexible in terms of the level of complexity. I also enjoy cooking, sewing (mostly straight lines) and once in a while will attempt a random Pinterest craft project. I would love to learn how to weave but am resisting for now.

What are your favorite projects to knit?

I really love knitting shawls and cowls but I have so many! Hats are fun because they are quick but I also enjoy sweaters. I have never made gloves and am getting ready to make my first pair.

What is your most memorable FO?

I can think of two projects that I especially love. I made four Christmas stockings for my family and think they are so pretty. It is special to get them out every year. They turned out quite large so I struggle a little to fill them! I also crocheted a giraffe for my daughter, which was a fun project. I gave her a color wheel, showed her how to use it and asked her to choose four colors, then I dyed all the yarn for it. It presented a nice challenge and it turned out beautifully.

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

@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 Barbara (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:

bbr-yak-meme-1

bbr-yak-meme-2

bbr-yak-meme-3

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

2016fallmissbabs

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

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.

FGYC 2

SilverSpun yarn for pain relief

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

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

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

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