Indie yarn and pattern pairings from Yarn Culture

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This is the eighth and final post in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Though there have been many times when I’ve impulse bought beautiful hand-dyed skeins without an idea of what they’ll become, I generally try to shop for yarn with patterns in mind. If you also find it helpful to have suggestions, I asked Patti Odinak, the owner of Yarn Culture in Fairport, N.Y., to send over her favorite patterns for the yarn she’s bringing to the 2016 Indie Untangled Trunk show from two overseas indies: The Uncommon Thread, based in the UK, and Rosy Green Wool of Germany.

I’m also excited to announce that Ce Persiano, the talented dyer behind TUT, will be hopping across the pond and will be at the Yarn Culture booth during the trunk show!

The Uncommon Thread

Yarn: Linum, a fingering-weight blend of 50% baby alpaca, 25% silk and 25% linen

Yarn: Linum, a fingering-weight blend of 50% baby alpaca, 25% silk and 25% linen

Pattern:  Wildheart by Janina Kallio 

Pattern:  Wildheart by Janina Kallio 


 
Yarn: Everyday Sport, a sport-weight 100% Merino

Pattern: Simply by Cheryl Faust 
 
Yarn: Posh Fingering, a fingering-weight blend of 70% Superwash Bluefaced Leicester, 20% Silk and 10% Cashmere

Pattern: Round Cove by Amy Herzog 
 
Yarn: Lush Worsted, a worsted-weight blend of 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere and 10% nylon
 
Pattern: London Mitts by Thea Coleman 

Rosy Green Wool 

Yarn: Cheeky Merino Joy, a fingering-weight 100% organic Merino from Patagonia

Yarn: Cheeky Merino Joy, a fingering-weight 100% organic Merino from Patagonia


 
Patterns:
Drachenfels
Efelgold
Heidschnucke
The Girl in Me
Beethoven Mitts
from fellow German Melanie Berg

Turks and Caicos by Amy Herzog
Vitamin D by Heidi Kirrmaier
 

Yarn: Manx, a fingering-weight blend of organic Merino and Manx Loaghtan wool (Manx Loaghtan is an endangered sheep breed that is originally from the Isle of Man)

Yarn: Manx, a fingering-weight blend of organic Merino and Manx Loaghtan wool (Manx Loaghtan is an endangered sheep breed that is originally from the Isle of Man)

Yarn: Heb, 100% organic Merino and Hebridean

Pattern: Rheinlust by Melanie Berg 

Pattern: Rheinlust by Melanie Berg 

Behind the scenes with Signature Needle Arts

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This is the seventh in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

After doing an interview last year with Cathryn Bothe, the founder of Signature Needle Arts, I thought it would be interesting to go behind the scenes at the Wisconsin factory, which makes both custom metal parts — things like surgical tool components and mining safety equipment — as well as high-end knitting needles. Here’s a little video they made that takes a look at the manufacturing process.

While Signature will not have a booth at the trunk show, they will be offering attendees 10% off any online order over $25 from their website through Oct. 19 (the code will be available at the show).

Rhinebeck indie yarn & sweater pairings from Amy Herzog

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This is the sixth in a series of blog posts with the generous sponsors of the 2016 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

After the interview I did with designer and knitting techie Amy Herzog last year, I decided to ask her to pair yarn from some of the indie dyers at the trunk show with her sweater patterns. I’m looking forward to showing off my Acer cardigan — which I knit to my measurements using Amy’s brilliant CustomFit software and Skeinny Dipping’s Journey Worsted — at the fairgrounds on Saturday!

Knitters, it is so great to be us right now.

When I learned to knit as a kid, I had a really limited set of yarn options. There was department-store acrylic, of course, as well as basic wool in both woolenspun and worsted-spun varieties. If cost was no issue, Lopi was definitely available — and of course there was dishcloth cotton, though you wouldn’t really want to wear a sweater knit from it (ask me how I know). And that was pretty much it.

Contrast that to now: hundreds of varieties of yarn at every price point, fiber blend, and several unusual constructions. The explosion that happened in our community when knitters met the internet has changed our craft in a thousand ways. One of the most important is that individual artisans can now engage with knitters everywhere — and Indie Untangled in particular does a lovely job of making that match.

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I share Lisa’s love of artisan yarn, and can easily get lost playing around with how deeply-complex colors meshed with stitch patterns in a design. But I often hear from knitters that the sheer… specialness of artisanal yarn makes it hard to commit to a sweater project. What if it’s not right? What if we don’t like the result?

So in celebration and anticipation of the third Indie Untangled event at Rhinebeck this year, I thought I’d offer my opinion on some pattern/yarn pairings that are sure to produce sweaters you want to wear all the time — from general recommendations to specific yarn/pattern pairings that I think will be divine.

Designs as blank canvasses

Before I dive into specific matches, though, I want to take a moment to talk about using special yarns in general. In my opinion, if you’re pouring your effort into a yarn that makes your heart flutter, the yarn should be the star of the show. And that means the design should take a back seat to, and support, the beauty of the yarn — rather than competing with it.

This doesn’t have to mean plain stockinette, although sometimes that’s definitely the best way to showcase a spectacular yarn:

Small Point, Bourrasque, and Beacon Hill all use Stockinette to highlight gorgeous yarns. Photo credit for Beacon Hill to Caro Sheridan of Splityarn.

Small Point, Bourrasque, and Beacon Hill all use Stockinette to highlight gorgeous yarns. Photo credit for Beacon Hill to Caro Sheridan of Splityarn.

It can also mean small-scale stitch patterns or design elements that showcase something exquisite about the yarn you’ve chosen. Here are a few sweaters where lace gets translated into a beautiful fuzzy texture by a rustic woolenspun, or a small-scale texture breaks up more substantial color changes:

Caulfield uses a small eyelet-and-slipped stitch tiling pattern to blend colors; Foyle’s Pullover turns lace into texture; Cushing Isle breaks up big color switches with twisted stitches.

Caulfield uses a small eyelet-and-slipped stitch tiling pattern to blend colors; Foyle’s Pullover turns lace into texture; Cushing Isle breaks up big color switches with twisted stitches.

But whether you’re into miles of Stockinette or not, when you’re evaluating a design for your show-stopping yarn, it’s a good idea to stop and check whether your favorite part of the design will be in conflict with, or support, the yarn itself.

Matches made in heaven

The Woolen Rabbit. I’ve worked with Kim’s yarns extensively over the years, and have never had an experience that was less than blissful. I’ve designed several patterns for her yarn, so it’s tough to choose just one — but this fall, I’m in love with cables.

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Partly, this is because I’ve just introduced cabled patterns in CustomFit, my custom-gauge-and-size sweater pattern generator. But I was very excited to make Birch Bark, in particular, one of the first. I originally worked this sweater up in Frolic, and I’m still excited by the way the very graphic cables interact with the subtle color changes of Kim’s yarn. I’ve taken advantage of the re-release to make a long-sleeved version for myself, and this time I’m using WW Kashmir. I think it would work beautifully in a number of colorways — it was hard to choose! My three finalists were Oakmoss, Pussywillow, and Enchanted Forest.

The Uncommon Thread. I was introduced to Posh Fingering when I worked up my Round Cove cardigan, and I’ve hankered for my own ever since I made it. But when thinking about pattern pair-ups for this post, I couldn’t get the thought of a Sunset Drive in the Posh out of my head:

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The Sunset Drive sample in these pictures was actually made for someone else, and I’ve wanted to make my own version with a slightly-dropped neckline. I’m more of a neutrals-wearer, myself, so I think I’d lean into that with Uncommon Thread’s lovely muted shades. You can see all of their colors here; I’m dreaming of Baby Elephant Walk, Squirrel Nutkin, and Olive Leaf in particular.

Rosy Green Wool. Finally, a relative newcomer yarn — at least to me! I recently worked up a new design explicitly for Rosy Green Wool’s Cheeky Merino Joy:

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Tidal Pool is available on Ravelry as a traditional pattern, and will be available via CustomFit later this fall. I was so incredibly impressed with the sophisticated color and diamond-sharp stitch definition of this yarn that I knew I couldn’t do anything other than an updated classic. The textured stitch pattern of Tidal Pool is a direct homage to the loveliness of this yarn.

Should you be looking for another canvas, though, I think it would look equally stunning both in allover textures and on simple, classic silhouettes like my Options KAL pullover, Firth and Coracle.

And with that, I think I’ve gone on about sweaters for quite long enough!

I’d love to keep the conversation going — if you have any special yarn-pattern pairings that you adore, share them with me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram — or see more of my musings on my own site. And whether you’ll be at Rhinebeck or not, have a great fall filled with lovely knitting!

Untangling: Knit Stars

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Something very exciting is happening in the knitting world in October — and, believe it or not, I don’t mean Rhinebeck.

About a month ago, someone in my knitting group told me about Knit Stars, an online summit with classes from Stephen West, Hannah Fettig, Rosemary “Romi” Hill, Meghan Fernandes of Pom Pom Quarterly and many other members of the “knitterati.” The idea behind the summit, which runs from October 10 to 21, is to provide access to top-tier instruction without the expense of travel. You’re also able to watch the classes whenever you have time, even after the summit ends.

Along with the videos, Knit Stars includes the ability to snag yarn in exclusive colorways from several indie dyers, including The Uncommon Thread and Julie Asselin, who is also filming a class. It’s a great way to gather with the knitting community if you’re not headed to New York in a couple of weeks, or a nice instructional supplement to the yarn-buying and cider donut-eating you’ll be doing at Rhinebeck. Enrollment in Knit Stars reopens on Friday, so head here to sign up by Oct. 6.

I thought Knit Stars was such a cool idea and immediately reached out to the creator, Shelley Brander to learn a little more. Shelley also owns Loops, a bricks-and-mortar and online yarn shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma, as well as a branding company with her husband.

Tell me how the idea for Knit Stars came about.

My Knit Stars partner, Ashley, approached me at an online marketing conference. She had created the Modern Calligraphy Summit which was a tremendous success in the calligraphy space, and she asked if I’d like to collaborate. I loved the idea of bringing such a new, fresh platform to the yarn world – and enabling people around the world to come together and access the knowledge of the top Knit Stars.

How did you decide which instructors to include?

We considered many factors, including areas of expertise, teaching style, personality, and social media presence. We wanted a blend of the widely known (like Stephen West) and up-and-comers (like Julie and Jeff Asselin). Stephen travels and teaches a lot, but there are so many people who never have access to him. Hannah travels very little by choice, so it’s a really unique opportunity to have her teach in the Summit. Ultimately, I thought of the people I most love to hang out with and learn from at market and other industry events. The people I would invite to the ultimate yarn and cocktail party.

Hannah Fettig shooting a Knit Stars video.

How does the video production work? Do you send crews to film the instructors, do they come to you, or do they create their own videos?

For the free pre-launch videos, we interviewed the instructors via Skype. But for the actual Summit content, we went to them, utilizing a professional video and editing crew. I have a 30-year background in branding and broadcast production, and I wanted this to be the highest possible quality. Our team delivered, big time! The result is beautiful, engaging instructional content, mixed with mini-movies that give you a peek into each Star’s world, lifestyle and inspiration.

What have been the biggest challenges in putting Knit Stars together?

It’s been so much fun, I’ve barely noticed the challenges! It has been a LOT of work but so gratifying to hear everyone’s positive comments. I’d say the biggest challenge has probably been educating people about this platform, because it’s completely new to our industry. It’s hard for people to believe that they could get nine Stars’ full workshops at this price, and we have to explain that they will own the classes forever, and be able to refer to them again and again – which is so critical when it comes to knitting instruction. You can attend an amazing in-person workshop but it’s hard to absorb everything in the moment. You need to be able to go back, pause, rewind… and practice.

Are you planning for this to be an annual event?

Based on the huge response thus far, I would say yes. I also believe that once Knit Stars enrollees see the quality and depth of the content and bonuses, the word is going to spread, and there will be lots of demand for more.

Shelley Brander

Shelley Brander

How do you juggle running Loops while also organizing Knit Stars?

One word: Coffee. No, seriously, I have a tremendous staff (we call them the Loops Troops) and Ashley has been spectacular to work with. She is the one putting the nuts and bolts of the actual Summit together.

Tell me about how you learned to knit.

I was 16 and my family took a car trip from Tulsa to the east coast. We stopped in to see a friend of my mom’s who owned a yarn shop in Charlotte, North Carolina. She put the needles in my hands, and taught me to cast on. From there, I spent the rest of the car trip making a cable sweater (with orangutan arms!). The rest is history.

Do you have a favorite FO?

Whatever I’m designing for LoopsClub is my favorite FO of the moment. I get the most compliments on the coral Andromeda poncho that I made years ago from Knit Collage Stargazer, a 100% silk with cool brass paillettes, so I wore it in the Knit Stars video. We’ve had so many requests for the pattern, we’re bringing the yarn back from the discontinued pile with Amy from Knit Collage, and offering kits on LoopsLove.com to Summit enrollees!

Get to know the yaks, and yarn, of Bijou Basin Ranch

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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!

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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

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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

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!