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.

What to stash this week: A knitting bag to dye for

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Sue, the awesome mom of Asylum Fibers’ Stephanie, has sewn up limited edition project bags to celebrate the company’s six month-iversary. The bags are made with fabric in a blood splatter print by Robert Kaufman, reminiscent of the Asylum Fibers logo, which is displayed on the inside pocket. The bags include a unique feature that I haven’t seen on any other project bag for sale — a metal bar encased along the edge of the zipper, which holds the bag open to act as a yarn bowl. Stephanie notes that they’re roomy enough to hold her short-sleeved sweater WIP!

Also, if you live in or near NYC, come check out Stephanie’s yarn in person at the new Brooklyn yarn shop String Thing Studio, which is hosting an Asylum Fibers trunk show today and Saturday.

I need to make some room for a whole bunch of trunk show deliveries, so I’m offering a discount on my remaining stock of The Woolen Rabbit. Use the code YAYRHINEBECK for 20% off Airy single fingering and Silky Biffle BFL/silk sportweight yarn now through Oct. 1. 

There’s still some time to preorder La Bien Aimée’s Automne à Rhinebeck, Asylum Fibers’ Rhinebeck’s All the Craze and Eloise Narrigan-designed tote bags to pick up at the Rhinebeck Trunk Show on Oct. 20, and avoid the frenzy in the Indie Untangled booth.

Seneca Siren, the newest pattern from The Mouse House Fiber Co., is now available to download on Ravelry.

Trunk show auction to benefit ACLU-NY, PPNY & The Trevor Project

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There’s been a lot of talk on social media recently about feeling a desire to give back during these uncertain times. With so many knitters coming together for the Indie Untangled/Woolyn trunk show this weekend, Rachel and I thought it created the perfect opportunity to do just that.

We will be holding a small silent auction this weekend to benefit a few organizations we think do important work. The prize will include some choice skeins from the assortment of goodies that have arrived for the trunk show and two exclusive colorways from the 2016 Indie Untangled Where We Knit yarn club. Donations will be split equally among three organizations — ACLU – NY, Planned Parenthood NYC and The Trevor Project.

The items will be available to view and bid on during the first weekend of the trunk show. If you can’t make it to the shop or you don’t live nearby, you can place bids virtually via the WoolynBklyn Instagram page on Saturday. If you see an item you’d like to bid on, type in the maximum amount you’d be willing to spend and we’ll add you into the list of bids placed at the store. Bids will increase by a minimum of $1 above the previous bid, so you’ll only be committed to the amount of the last highest bid + $1 no matter what your maximum was. Bidding will end 6 p.m. Sunday, November 20th.

Unfortunately, because of the cost of shipping, we won’t be able to ship internationally (unless you’d like to also contribute additional for postage), but we will be happy to send it out items domestically.

If you have any questions, email info@woolyn.com or call the shop at 718-522-5820.

Here’s a peak at some of the prizes:

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Tickets are also still available for the Saturday night party and meet and greet with some of the indies. Looking forward to seeing some of you this weekend!

Untangling: Woolyn

Woolyn storefront

I’ve wanted to do a Q&A with Rachel Maurer, the owner of the new Brooklyn yarn shop Woolyn since I found out about the store last winter. It always fascinates me when someone opens an LYS, as I know it would be a dream come true to be surrounded by yarn and knitters all day.

For now, I’ll just live vicariously through Rachel, and spend tons of time in the shop — which I’ll definitely be doing during the Indie Untangled/Woolyn trunk show extravaganza, taking place the weekends of November 19th and 20th and December 3rd and 4th. We recently added the lovely Michelle of Berry Colorful Yarnings to the lineup, which will include her exclusive Indie colorway in self-striping sock yarn.

Tickets for the Saturday night party, which will include a meet and greet with a few of the dyers and makers, along with snacks and drinks, went on sale today here.

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I know you have an extensive background in the yarn and knitting world, but tell me about what you did before opening Woolyn.

I came to the yarn and fiber world through Fashion Design. After getting my degree in Fashion Design, I worked for years as both a Designer and Technical Designer (which is similar to a tech editor in knit and crochet patterns in that there is a lot of checking over numbers and grading things in different sizes). I worked for a whole range of companies, which gave me a broad spectrum of experience with different facets of the industry. After leaving the industry, I ended up working in the yarn + fiber industry almost accidentally. I started out substitute teaching at a LYS, which turned into teaching on a regular basis and eventually becoming staff. At that point I was already working as a designer, both on self published designs and for other companies. As well as doing pattern editing and writing on the side. Phew! I was busy! After some years at the store, I left to focus on designing and editing full time.

Tell me about the decision to open Woolyn. Had you always wanted to own a yarn shop?

I think it is just about every serious knitter’s (and crocheter’s) dream to open a store, and I was no different. But it was always just a dream. It wasn’t until I learned that the space might be available that I decided to seriously consider the possibility. I sat down and made a whole bunch of lists and wrote a business plan (or three) outlining the type of store I wanted to have. Everything from the yarns I wanted to carry to the way the space would look to what we would do for classes. And I made many, many spreadsheets with my best guess as to what everything would cost and how it would work. Once I had some rough ideas and even rougher numbers, I began contacting vendors and other people in the industry to sound them out and to get a better idea of whether it was doable. At some point during the process, it turned from a completely crazy idea to maybe actually possible to full steam ahead Go!

How did you choose Woolyn’s location? I understand you grew up a few blocks from the store?

I did grow up a few blocks away. It is amazing how much the neighborhood has changed since then. It is really exciting to be part of the renewed vibrancy that is in the area. Especially with Brooklyn Bridge Park, this area is becoming a real destination – for tourists and locals alike. I’ve already had people from all over the world stop by the store!

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How did you decide on the dyers that you carry?

I knew from the first days of planning that I wanted indies and smaller companies to be a huge part of the store. And as local as we could get for as much as we could get. Not just with yarn, but with fiber, and project bags and other accessories as well. It is really important to me not only to support these makers, but I think by doing so we are helping to create a community of crafters that everyone who comes in the door of the shop is a part of.

Who are some of your favorite designers?

There are too many to name! Right now I have the Wild Lilies shawl from Simone Kereit of Owl Cat Designs on the needle as my “at home in the morning with the cat on my lap” project, and the Greta Hat from Tanis Grey from Lux Adorna as my “snatch a few minutes of knitting at the store” project. As well as a couple of my own designs in the works. For better or for worse, all my yarn crafting time and energy for the last year or so has gone into making samples for the store – and I imagine it will be that way for quite some time.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned from my mother and grandmother as a child. Interestingly, my mother and I are both lefties, but because my grandmother was a righty, both my mom and I do all our yarn crafting right handed.

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Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

I crochet and spin. But over the years, I’ve tried just about everything that can be done with string. Weaving, tatting, macramé, needlepoint and embroidery to name a few. And of course, with my degree, I’ve done years and years of pattern making and sewing.

Tell me about one of your most memorable FOs.

Probably my most ambitious project was making a city block [window] for the store I previously worked at. Through a combination of knitting, crochet and needle felting I faithfully recreated all the buildings and put it in a holiday cityscape, complete with dozens of sparkly crocheted snowflakes. I knew I might have gone a little far when I was making the lampposts. It took me over five months of doing very little yarn crafting except for the project, but in retrospect it was a lot of fun! Here’s a link to the project.

Indie Untangled + Woolyn = one awesomely indie trunk show

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

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

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

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

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

We hope to see you there!

A peek inside Woolyn Brooklyn, my new local yarn shop

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Woolyn storefront

In a few weeks, once I make it through our kitchen renovation and packing up or purging 11 years worth of stuff, I will officially become a Brooklynite. Tonight, I got to attend the friends and family celebration for what will become my new local yarn shop. I couldn’t think of a better welcome to my new borough.

I first heard about Woolyn when owner Rachel Maurer came to last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show to scope out indie dyers to carry in a new yarn store. Months later, I came across the shop’s Instagram feed. After getting in touch with Rachel, we ended up meeting to plan some collaborations (which you’ll learn about very soon) and I waited patiently for opening day to arrive.

Woolyn will officially open this Saturday at 11 a.m. and tonight’s preview has made me even more excited.

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After walking through the quaint streets of Brooklyn Heights to Atlantic Avenue, I was greeted by this gorgeously creative window display.

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The shop has a clean, modern look, with excellent natural light and a kitchen in the back that has a wall lined with containers of loose tea. Even the bathroom, decorated with vintage Vogue Knitting covers, has a knitting twist.

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Then, of course, there is the yarn. Rachel and her team did a fantastic job curating a wide variety of indies, including Indie Untangled regulars Invictus Yarns and MollyGirl Yarns, based in California and New Jersey, respectively, and others I love, like JulieSpins, North Light Fibers, Feederbrook Farm and Apple Tree Knits. There were also more large-scale brands, including Anzula, The Fibre Company and Blue Sky Fibers. And I even made some discoveries, of Knitted Wit (there’s a to-die-for Targhee/silk DK at the shop that I have my eye on) and super soft Merino from Mountain Meadow Wool, based in Buffalo, Wyoming.

MollyGirl No Sleep

Of course, there are shop exclusives, including this awesomely named colorway from MollyGirl.

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There’s also a great selection of fiber from the likes of Frabjous Fibers and Sweet Georgia, along with drop spindles and spinning wheels, plus tools for other fiber crafts, including felting kits and mini weaving looms from Purl & Loop (which I think needs to be my next purchase).

Along with the product selection, what I’m most excited about is having a place to proudly call my LYS. At the celebration, I saw many familiar faces from the NYC knitting world. When I first walked in, who should greet me but Lucy, the generous knitter who I met last December when she helped me detangle a skein. She is one of the new Woolyn employees! Later, I chatted with knitters from both my Pints ‘n’ Purls group and a midtown group I frequent, as well as Marsha of One Geek To Craft Them All (who I learned recently moved not far from my new apartment!), Susie of Chiagu and Kristin of Voolenvine. There are talks about gathering there on Tuesday nights, when the shop is open late.

So, if I’m not knitting in my soon-to-be new craft room or on the terrace, you’ll know where you can find me.

Getting Plucky in Brooklyn

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In my 12+ years in NYC, I’ve generally tried to avoid waiting in line for things. This mostly applies to food, since I’m not myself when I’m hangry. I don’t go to Shopsin’s on a Saturday and, for a while, anything with food trucks was a no-go. I knew the Plucky Knitter trunk show at the now-former, tiny Greenpoint location of Gauge + Tension (which is moving to its new location at the Brooklyn Craft Company on Feb. 7!) was going to take a while but, as most fiber-related things are, it was worth the wait, and of course the line was full of beautiful handknits to admire.

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I got there around 10:20 a.m., and probably waited an hour or so to get in, but had a lot of fun meeting and chatting with the knitters I met in line. Sarah and Hayley, along with designer Amy Miller, were the perfect hostesses, supplying us knitters waiting out in a cold, misty rain with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and Baked By Melissa cupcakes. Michele, the mastermind behind G+T and the Plucky trunk show, knit the gorgeous cabled hat above, her new design called Treccia, with the ultra-luxurious pure Cashmere.

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Since the only Plucky yarns I’ve used are Primo Sport and Worsted, as well as Cozy, I enjoyed the opportunity to see the bases I wasn’t as familiar with, including Bello and Scholar, in one place, and how the brilliantly-named colorways, like Dive Bar and Tiny Bubbles, end up looking slightly different on each one.

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The shopping was a bit frenzied which, given how fast Plucky updates sell out, I was expecting. But there was plenty of yarn to go around, including a ton of the special colorways (olive Greenpoint, golden Williamsburg, and Brownstone, a rusty orange that was my fave) and everyone was happy to direct people to the different areas and answer questions. Knitters are awesome like that.

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There were some really fantastic samples, especially of colorwork in the bold and unexpected combinations that Sarah is known for.

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People left with their bags full of color. (Those are the special colorways above.)

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My haul: Bello in French Laundry and Brownstone, which I think I’ll turn into Amy Miller’s Bees to Honey; Scholar in Strawberry wine, which may become boot toppers, but I’m also eyeing some hats; and Primo Sport in Round Table, which is designated for a wurm for my husband. While I’ll probably still be scouring destashes for my red whale — Hayley’s Bleedin’ Armadillo Groom’s Cake, a Plucky Classics club color that I want for both the color and the name — I’m in love with everything I got.

Untangling: Brooklyn pop-up yarn shop Gauge + Tension

Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label, a Gauge + Tension retail exclusive.

Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label, a Gauge + Tension retail exclusive.

Who among us hasn’t fantasized about owning a yarn shop and stocking it full of hand-dyed skeins from some of our favorite indie dyers? Well, designer Michele Wang, she of the beautifully textured Brooklyn Tweed and Quince and Co. knits, has decided to do it, though she’s gone about it in a very unique way. This weekend, she’s opening Gauge + Tension, a pop-up LYS in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

The pop-up concept means that the shop will be open for just three months, on weekends only, except for Oct. 18 and 19, during the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. G+T will specialize in hard-to-find-in-person yarns from a great line-up of dyers, including Tanis Fiber Arts, Western Sky Knits and Hedgehog Fibres, as well as yarns from Quince and Co. and Brooklyn Tweed. There will also be fiber and some patterns for sale.

I think this is such a great idea, and decided to do a Q&A with Michele before going to the opening day on Oct. 4, when I will definitely pop in and take tons of photos.

How did you come up with the idea for a pop-up yarn store and why did you choose this kind of model?

One day my husband forwarded me a site called Storefront and said, “Take a look.” It’s like an Air BnB for retail storefronts. Owners can list their spaces or parts of their spaces by the day or any length of time. And when I took a look at what was in my neighborhood, the space I’ll be renting out was one that jumped out at me. The price and location were perfect.

Not only are rental rates in NYC prohibitively high, but I’m still not sure if I want to be a yarn store owner. This seemed to be the perfect solution. I’ll only be renting on the weekends which keeps the rental costs down, and I can see if this type of business suits me.

G+T Michele

Is this definitely a one-time thing, or are you exploring making this regular, or permanent, at all?

I really don’t know. I’ve always dreamt about having my own store. But, I know it’s hard, all-consuming work and I’m just not sure if it’s for me. I think I’ve learned to take my path day by day. I never know what is going to appeal to me tomorrow.

Western Sky Knits, one of the many indie dyers whose yarns will be available at G+T.

Western Sky Knits, one of the many indie dyers whose yarns will be available at G+T.

Tell me about the kinds of yarns that Gauge + Tension will offer and why you chose the dyers you did.

I wanted to focus on yarns that were hard to find in the NYC area, and I wanted to split up the inventory with hand-dyers and commercially-dyed yarns. It took a long time to figure out which hand-dyers I wanted to go with. I tried to have a nice range of different color palettes and “feels” to the colors. Each dyer has a signature style and my goal was to make sure there was a nice representation of those styles.

Will you be integrating your designs at all, or is this all about the yarn?

I hope to make it all about the yarn, and would like to think the yarn speaks for itself. But people sometimes need to see an example of how the yarn will behave, feel and look once they’re done. I can’t blame them; the yarn in a skein is very different from a finished project. I did design a few hats especially for the store in hopes to promote the yarn, and those patterns will be for sale there. And I’ll also have a few samples of Brooklyn Tweed and Quince designs, which people can download from Ravelry.

Michele Wang's Galeo hat will be one of the designs on display.

Michele Wang’s Galeo hat will be one of the designs on display.

You’ll be participating in this year’s NYC Yarn Crawl. Can you share anything you have planned for the event?

Yes! I have yet to announce it on the blog, but Kristin Lehrer, owner of Voolenvine, will be with us that weekend. She’ll have her latest batch of hand-dyed yarns for sale and will be around for questions and autographs! I’m especially excited to have Kristin in-store because she’s a local. She works out of her apartment right here in Greenpoint! And, I’m especially excited to be able to support a local indie artisan.