What to stash this week, whether you’re at MDSW or not

Following on the heels of her luxuriously rustic Vintage No. 1, Anne of Middle Brook Fiberworks has introduced Vintage No. 2. It’s a blend of hand-selected fleeces, including 40% Cormo and Merino from a sheep named Marshall in New York’s Hudson Valley and 15% alpaca fleece from Angel. There’s also 35% superfine Shetland and 10% cultivated silk. Anne has hand dyed this DK-weight yarn in five deliciously soft and bright colors. 

Speaking of pettable yarn, Siidegarte’s silk/cotton base looks absolutely divine. Called Siide-Gfroit, which is Swiss German for “enjoyable,” it comes in 10 colors inspired by the Pantone Spring 2017 palette and would be perfect for summer projects.

Calling all literature lovers: the Regency Collection from Pandia’s Jewels features yarn inspired by Jane Austen characters and novels. There are three-skein and four-skein kits, while three of the four colors are available individually. The collection is available to preorder until May 14.

Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn is welcoming spring with two new bases. Ruth is a Superwash Merino fingering-weight single that takes on her natural dyes beautifully, while Meg is a non-Superwash organic wool in what Barbara calls a “sporty/DK-ish weight.” Also new are naturally-dyed sock blanks.

Still looking for a Mother’s Day gift, or need to leave some hints? Go Knit Yourself’s Gift of Yarn program is the perfect solution. The way it works is you or your loved one buys the package and then the gift recipient chooses the color and fiber. Conveniently, Melanie is also celebrating Small Business Week with 15% off through tonight at midnight with the coupon code SMALLBIZWEEK.

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.

IU in MD

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Knot House DDW

As most of us knitters do, I started off my trip to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival vowing not to buy that much yarn. In anticipation of a move, and knowing that I only had room for maybe a few skeins in the small set of drawers that houses my stash, I vowed to be good this past weekend. Overall, I was, and I spend most of the time enjoying the company of my friends and making progress on the multiple projects I had cast on in the last month, likely in anticipation of Maryland purchases (there must be an ulterior motive when I become non-monogamous in my knitting).

After a slightly delayed Amtrak ride down through the endlessly soggy weather with my friend Stefanie, we were picked up by Lynn and made sure to hit Fibre Space for the Hazel Knits trunk show. It was nice to finally get to meet Wendee after admiring her gorgeous blues, purples and grays. I was drawn to her Divine Merino/Cashmere/silk base in a luminous blue-tinged gray called Reflection, which I thought would make the perfect Featherweight. Unfortunately, there was only a single skein remaining, so I cursed the Stashing Prevention Gods and vowed to order a sweater quantity online at some point.

Our next stop was The Knot House for the Indie Pop-up, where I anticipated doing most of my damage. Wearing my Nangou in Duck Duck Wool’s incredible Night Bokeh, I of course was drawn to her huge table filled with 80/20 Merino Silk Fingering in lots of speckled yumminess. I was also thrilled to get to see Christine of Skeinny Dipping there, next to her display of fun-named colorways like Wacky Tabacky and Space Pants.

Knot House colors

Knot House Pigeonroof

Knot House Magpie

I also admired the special Knot House Indie Pop-up colorways from Western Sky Knits and Northbound Knitting, spied some mini skeins from Pigeonroof Studios and drooled over Dami of Magpie’s incredible gradient wrap.

Knot House Clay Collage

One of my favorite discoveries at the pop-up was Laura Silberman/Clay By Laura‘s ceramic yarn bowls, mugs (made especially for the pop-up!) and small bowls with knitting-related terms, which I scooped up two of.

Spincycle Yarns, a company I hadn’t been familiar with, had a fun display of hand-dyed, milled handspun.

Knot House haul

My haul was quite restrained, compared to last year’s, and included another of Sandra’s speckled lovelies in 80/20, called After Party, and Christine’s Mericash Fingering in Space Pants (because it’s gorgeous and I can’t resist the SNL/Peter Dinklage reference).

After a night of staying up late, and anticipating the mud after days of rain, the crew staying at Chez That Clever Clementine took our time getting ready and made it to the fairgrounds around noon (so no Jennie the Potter mug this year). My main mission was to get to Jill Draper’s booth to grab an Edradour kit, a shawl by the awesome Thea Coleman designed with Jill’s Mohonk Cormo yarn, which I’ve been admiring forever.

Middle Brook Collage 2

Once that mission was accomplished, I spent the rest of my time browsing and made sure to take in my friend Anne’s booth for Middlebrook Fiber Works (formerly A Little Teapot), where, aside from her lotion bars, fiber and spun necklaces (dyed that vivid red by Dragonfly Fibers!), she displayed silk scarves that she dyed using materials found on her vast property in rural New Jersey.

And then, my friends and I of course stayed up far too late, knitting, eating, chatting and having such a great time that we forgot about our planned game of Knitters Against Swatches.

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!

Shopping indie in Maryland

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MDSW graphic

I was already pretty excited about experiencing my first Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival when I decided earlier this year that I was going to clear my calendar and make the trip down. I was looking forward to spending a relaxing weekend hosted by Vicki, AKA That Clever Clementine, showing off my newest shawls and sleeveless knit tops, perhaps buying a few skeins. But when Heather first emailed me in February about the indie pop-up she was putting together at The Knot House, her shop in Frederick, MD, I knew my budget would be in trouble. The vendor list was pretty incredible, with several dyers from this site: Duck Duck Wool, French Market Fibers, Lakes Yarn and Fiber, Magpie Fibers and Western Sky Knits, as well as O-Wool and YOTH Yarns.

Leaving Friday morning, I hitched a ride with my friends Lynn and Stefanie and we arrived in Frederick around 4 p.m., an hour before the shop opened for the pop-up preview. Vicki, who was selling her bags and yarn bowls, was already inside setting up and we waited patiently on the sidewalk, happily knitting away on our respective projects and talking yarn with the one woman who made it there before us.

The line got a little longer as we waited, but the crowd was just the right size: big enough to classify this as a fiber Event, but allowing enough space to comfortably shop.

MDSW4

French Market Fibers was my first stop. As a stay-at-home mom, Margaret has limited time to dye, and her Etsy updates tend to sell out faster than it takes me to decide what I want. Here, I had the luxury of taking everything in and figuring out what I had to have (um, all of it) before claiming two skeins of Gelato in Warehouse Sock and one Midnight on the Moonwalk Uptown Sock.

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MDSW6

I got to see Alicia Plummer’s new cardigan, Thereafter, which uses Lakes Yarn and Fiber’s Lochsa DK, available as a kit in Ami’s Etsy shop.

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I also admired some of Ami’s recent variegated skeins. She had mentioned when I interviewed her last year that she found dyeing them challenging, but you wouldn’t know it from the results.

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I was very excited to finally meet Dami of Magpie Fibers, who posted to Indie Untangled shortly after launching her line at The Knot House in December. I knew from the photos she posted that she had beautiful colors, but seeing them in person was another story. Instead of creating individual colorways, Dami dyes in a gradient, so it was very easy to find colors that complemented one another.

MDSW3 Ysolda

This is Ysolda Teague’s Hediye shawl, using Dami’s awesomely-named colorway, Rhinestone Cowboy.

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In person, Dami was just as lovely as her yarns — with great hair to match.

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Sandra of Duck Duck Wool was popular, of course. I finally snagged a skein of her Night Bokeh colorway that went so fast at last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show, and admired her newest “accident,” Little Black Knit.

MDSW11

Vicki also had a ton of beautiful stuff. I could always use a new project bag, but I held off on buying since I’m already collaborating with her on a couple of things…

The Knot House was so inviting, housed in a beautiful historic building with a ton of natural light streaming in through the big front windows. Heather and her mom, Cathy, have created a wonderful business with a drool-worthy selection of indies, and it’s definitely worth a visit if you happen to be nearby (Frederick is also a cute, walkable town with some cool-looking shops).

Then, of course, there was the festival itself. There were definitely some pros and cons. The pros? Since there’s a suggested donation instead of an admission fee, it was easy to stroll in and make a beeline for Jennie the Potter, where the line for limited-edition mugs wasn’t quite as long as it is at Rhinebeck. My friends and I even got to her booth 25 minutes after it opened and were still able to snag some of the last ones.

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Isn’t he cute? (I mean the mug.)

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There was also this sign, which I think everyone took a photo of. Well played.

Night's Watch

The main con was that since MDSW tends to take place on the first warm weekend of spring, knitwear was a little tough to to pull off. My Urban was fine in the morning, but by the afternoon I was quite toasty (next time I’ll wear a T-shirt). I was able to show off my Night’s Watch shawl by the talented Lara Smoot — who I also finally got to meet! — but between the heat and the limited shade, I was fried a lot sooner than I am at Rhinebeck. But, overall, I enjoyed what felt like a more laid-back version of the New York festival. It gave me an opportunity to just relax and enjoy time with friends and not feel too much pressure to add to my stash…

MDSW2

But I did, of course. Here’s the haul, which aside from the Duck Duck Wool, French Market Fibers, Magpie and Jennie the Potter, includes handspun earrings and a Lotion Baah from Anne of A Little Teapot Designs, who scored a spot in the festival a few weeks ago.

Maryland Sheep and Wool: Indie pop-up at The Knot House

The Knot House

In 2013, mother and daughter team Cathy and Heather opened The Knot House a local yarn shop in historic downtown in Frederick, Maryland, that specializes in hand-dyed yarn. They have created pretty much the kind of LYS I fantasize about running and carry yarn from a number of indies. They also happen to be located less than 30 miles from the Howard County Fairgrounds, home to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and they have some big plans for it this year:

Throughout the weekend, they will be holding an indie dyer pop-up, chock full of Indie Untangled artisans, including Duck Duck Wool, French Market Fibers, Lakes Yarn and Fiber, Magpie Fibers and Western Sky Knits, as well as O-Wool and YOTH Yarns, which I am really excited to check out.

The idea is similar to what prompted me to organize last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show: “So many people come from all over for the MSWF, so we thought we would also showcase some new, popular artists that will not be at the festival,” Heather says.

Basic CMYK

Some of the dyers, such as Sandra Miracle of DDW, Dami Hunter of Magpie (who learned to knit at The Knot House and debuted her line there in December), Jocelyn Tunney of O-Wool and Veronica and Danny of YOTH, will be at shop at various times throughout the weekend. That Saturday also happens to be downtown Frederick’s First Saturday, so the shops will be open late and there will likely be entertainment on the streets. A great way to cap off a day at the fairgrounds!

Over the last few years, I’ve ended up missing the festival for one reason or the other (last year it was because my parents had gotten my husband and I tickets to see the Broadway revival of Cabaret, which was a pretty good reason). This year, however, I put it on my calendar and I’m really excited for my first MDSW. I’m also kind of glad I waited.

The pop-up runs on Friday, May 1, from 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, May 2, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, May 3, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Perhaps I’ll see you there?