Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Julia Wardell of Pandia’s Jewels

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This is the first post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3.

Pandia’s Jewels first came to my attention through dyer Julia’s fun collaborations with project bag company Slipped Stitch Studios, including designing original artwork for their Labyrinth Bag of the Month. She has since wowed me with her lovely variegated colorways and subtle speckles, such as those in the Regency Collection, a series of colors inspired by the world of Jane Austen.

Julia lives in Salt Point, N.Y., which is not far from Rhinebeck… or Brooklyn. I can’t wait to see her yarns at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, which takes place the first weekend in December and kicks off with an opening night preview party (early shopping!), with tickets available this Friday.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I had taken a break from crocheting and knitting about eight or nine years ago, and when I decided to pick up the hook and needles again I found myself designing. But there were times when I was unable to find the yarn base and colors that I wanted. It’s hard when you have a vision in your mind to bring it to life the way you want when you can’t find the right materials. So I figured why not, if I am already designing, then how hard would be to take the next step and dye my own yarn? And that’s how I ended up being an indie dyer.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

My inspiration comes from a bunch of different places. There are times when I am inspired by a single color. And then I spend months experimenting with different shades of that color through various dye techniques. Sometimes the colors and names can come from television, movies, books, and even paintings. Right now I am really into watercolor floral paintings and it’s been an interesting process translating one artistic medium into another.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

I love the color purple and I personally tend to hang out in the darker end of the color spectrum. There was a phase a few years back where I went through some neon colors, but that didn’t last long. I have noted that this past year my color palette has been muted with ecru, tan, pink, burgundy, and of course purple. But I will say that as a dyer I have to remind myself that it’s not always about what I like and sometimes I find myself strangely gravitating towards colors outside of my comfort zone.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that you find is challenging to create?

I would love to dye rusty reds and dark blues but for some reason they elude me. But I keep trying and I am determined to figure it out. Don’t be surprised if one day you see my shop filled with these colors because I finally mastered how to dye them.

How often do you update your online shop?

I try to update my shop on a regular basis, usually at the end of the week. But there are times when that update is sprinkled about the week. Let’s be honest, It’s all over the place. I would say the best way to stay updated on what is happening in my shop is to follow me on social media.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

I used to be a substitute teacher, but dyeing has become my full-time job and I love it.

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

It was a lot of trial and error at first. But I think that’s about standard when you are trying to build something from the ground up. One of the things I love the most is the fiber community. It’s one of the most creative, supportive, and loving communities to be a part of. And its given me the opportunity to collaborate and work with some truly inspiring women.

A peek inside Gauge + Tension

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New York City certainly doesn’t lack for local yarn shops (and there will be plenty to keep everyone busy during the NYC Yarn Crawl next weekend), but Michele Wang’s Gauge + Tension, which opened Saturday, fills a special niche. Since it’s only open for three months, it kind of has the feel of a long-term, chic fiber festival, with skeins from indie dyers that you’ll only be able to find there.

Beautiful skeins from Tanis Fiber Arts.

Beautiful skeins from Tanis Fiber Arts.

During the opening day Saturday, I ducked in from the rain and humidity and into what looked like an art gallery, but for yarn. There were white cubbies filled with colorful skeins from dyers like Julie Asselin, Western Sky Knits and Hedgehog Fibres, and samples of Michele’s sweater designs artfully hung on the walls.

Michele's Stonecutter, which I faved as soon as I saw it in Brooklyn Tweed.

Michele’s Stonecutter, which I faved as soon as I saw it in Brooklyn Tweed.


There are some great shop exclusives, including special “Gauge” and “Tension” colorways from Sleep Season, which Meg from Colorado apparently dyes in crock pots!

Sleep Season's Gauge and Tension colorways.

Sleep Season‘s Gauge and Tension colorways.

I met up with Maria of Subway Knits, and we also admired the great Quince & Co. collection, and vowed to return after going over our Ravelry faves and deciding on some sweater patterns. We also bumped into some of the Madelinetosh Stalkers, including Yelena, who might have just bought the shop out of their Q&C Owl.

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Pull up a bench and knit a while.

Pull up a bench and knit a while.

And even though it’s temporary, Michele has created such a welcoming atmosphere that the shop almost feels like it could be a permanent fixture.

If you happen to be traveling to Rhinebeck and are bookending your trip with a weekend in NYC, I highly recommend stopping in. There’s also plenty to see and nom on in the vicinity — brunch at Five Leaves, pierogi at Krolewskie Jadlo and ice cream at Van Leeuwen.

Oh, and don’t think for a second that I made it out of there without some yarn. While there’s no question I’ll be back, my inaugural purchase was a skein of WSK Willow Sport in the Earthen colorway, which I’m thinking will make a fantastic cowl or hat.

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