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.

A glimpse into knitting designer Kirsten Kapur’s inspiration

Kirsten Kapur is one of those designers who consistently impresses me. I marvel at her use of texture and color, particularly her color combinations. While I’ve knit only three of her more than 250 simple and elegant patterns, I have several more in my favorites. So, when I heard that Kirsten, a fellow New Yorker, had been invited by Paola Vanzo, the owner of mYak, to give a talk on her design inspirations over tea and knitting in the West Village, I RSVPd faster than you could say yarn.

The event took place in the library of the Trace Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes Tibetan culture where Paola is managing director, and which houses an appointment-only pop-up shop for her yarn line. It was through her work in Tibet that Paola came to create mYak in 2011, working with a cooperative of nomads from the Tibetan Plateau to harvest and mill the super soft, Cashmere-like yarn from the underbelly of the baby yaks that they herd. It’s a story that deserves its own blog post.

Kirsten recently collaborated with Paola on two designs using mYak yarn: The Wave Hill brioche cowl, named for the estate and public gardens in Riverdale in the Bronx, and a lacy two-color shawl called Acorns and Arches, crafted with colors created using a natural mushroom dye. The two patterns set the scene for Kirsten’s inspirations, essentially knitted interpretations of the natural world.

Before becoming a knitting pattern designer a decade ago, Kirsten worked as an apparel and textile designer in the garment industry in New York City, where she also lives. While the city may not seem like an immediately obvious place to get natural inspiration, there’s plenty.

“In this city we have some pretty amazing places we can go,” Kirsten said. “We have some fabulous parks, like the New York Botanical Garden, Central Park. I go to these places and find inspiration for color, texture, obviously the shapes of the plants.”

She also uses the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (near me!), Hudson River Park, Rockaway Beach in Queens — particularly in winter — and the aforementioned Wave Hill. After taking photos, Kirsten returns home and starts playing around with the yarn in her healthy stash, drawing on the colors from her images of flowers and leaves, water and animals — even seaweed.

Kirsten then pores over stitch dictionaries and then plays around with charting software, making the patterns work for the look she’s trying to achieve. A lot of her design work also happens once the yarn gets on the needles, with changes made when stitch patterns aren’t working.

While some of Kirsten’s design names are obvious, many are particularly clever. Her Reynard Socks, for example, are named for the fox character in fables, and feature a fox-like lace pattern when viewed upside down. Cladonia, one of Kirsten’s best-known patterns, is named for the lichen on a rock she photographed it on.

The photographs are also what draws me to Kirsten’s patterns, and she recounted what it took to capture this view of A View From the Hill, on Rockaway Beach on a freezing, windy January afternoon.

After Kirsten’s talk, and after we finished up our tea and pastries, there was also the opportunity to shop the mYak pop-up, which had such a beautiful display.

Of course I wore my own Cladonia to the event and Kirsten was nice enough to pose for a photo with me while wearing the sample!

Seeing pink

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I’ve been trying to avoid mentioning politics on Indie Untangled because, no matter which direction you lean in, if you’re looking for a refuge from it these days, it’s very hard to find. I myself am of two minds — I go online looking for distractions, only to wonder why people are posting cat photos when there is SO MUCH going on that it’s impossible to keep up with it all.

Thank you to all the knitters for knitting so many damn #pussyhats !!! #pussyhatproject #womenmarchonwashington #thelittleknittery

A post shared by Kat Coyle /The Little Knittery (@thelittleknittery) on

But, as the owner of a website that supports independent and primarily women-owned fiber businesses, I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the massive act of craftivism that was on display this past weekend. The pink blanketing the photos of the women’s marches that took place around the world on Jan. 21 were the result of the Pussyhat Project, a movement launched by Kat Coyle, the owner of a Los Angeles yarn shop that I happened to visit last year, and which Rob Walker of The New Yorker called a “material-cultural phenomenon that could end up earning a lasting place in the annals of political symbolism.”

Among that sea of color was the work of some talented indie dyers, including Lisa of Vermont-based White Birch Fiber Arts, who I interviewed for a recent article about politics and crafting that appeared in the journal of the Craft Industry Alliance, an organization that brings together hundreds of craft businesses to share strategies and best practices. There was also Denise of Yoshi and Lucy, a new Brooklyn-based dyer who offered her Vibrant colorway at a discount in honor of the march.

Along with being proud to see knitting in the spotlight, I enjoyed the individual expression in this mass movement. Throughout the photos, and the pussyhats I spotted in person in New York City, there was a huge variety, from the standard knit-flat-and-seamed version to those with intricate stitch patterns.

I’m sure you may have an idea of what I think about current events because I’m publishing this post, choosing not to ignore the activism or express my disagreement with it (and I think there are better ways of doing that than calling out the entirety of the women’s movement for “vulgarity, vile and evilness,” as one yarn shop in Tennessee did). But, just as how it’s impossible to go anywhere without coming face to face with what’s going on in the world, it seems that this moment in knitting needs to be taken off the needles and worn proudly.

Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2017: A weekend of color

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For me, this year’s Vogue Knitting Live in New York City was all about color. Yes, I know that knitting in general, and the world of hand-dyed yarn in particular, is already pretty focused on color, but my experience this weekend very much revolved around it. Believe it or not, I didn’t really think about this common theme when I picked my classes — two-color knitting with Amy Detjen on Friday morning, a color theory class with designer Veera Välimäki on Friday afternoon and a dyeing class with Felicia Lo, the owner of SweetGeorgia, on Saturday morning — but it definitely worked.

The classes

Amy’s class was a pretty straightforward technique lesson. Our homework was the start of a basic colorwork hat, moving on to using the second color in class. Amy provided instruction on how to capture longer “floats,” or the long runs between colors, and stressed the importance of keeping an even tension in both your right and left hands. I will need to practice this more, as knitting with my left hand is like learning to knit all over again, but I now feel confident enough to attempt a colorwork pattern.

Veera provided an overview of basic color theory, as well as her insights into mixing both complementary and contrasting colors, especially when using hand-dyed yarns. I enjoyed seeing the examples from her own designs (such as her Stripe Study Shawl, pictured above) and, during our in-class exercise, encouraged one of my classmates to pair her earthy green with a bright yellow and melon color.

Of course, I had to show off one of my favorite FOs, Veera’s Urban, which she was thrilled to see in person, as she’s only seen photos of the projects on Ravelry.

My dyeing class was probably the best one of the weekend. While I’ve had some experience with kettle dyeing and hand painting yarn, Felicia provided some practical information on using the right ratio of dye to fiber weight, as well as techniques to use for creating layered colors. Much of this will be in her newly-published book, Dyeing to Spin & Knit (disclosure: this is an Amazon affiliate link) which I can’t wait to get my hands on. If it’s anything like her in-person class, this book will be indispensable.

We started off the hands-on portion of the class by creating a set of mini skein gradients. As there was limited space and time, we had to split into groups of three and each create one color value (the lightness or darkness) of the gradient. Felicia had already mixed the dye powder and water, so we just had to measure out the right amount for our specific color value.

For the other techniques — low-water emersion dyeing and resist dyeing, in which you twist and untwist the skeins to get a more subtle dispersion of color — we had to choose color by committee, and ended up each make a contribution. Luckily, I was paired with some experienced classmates, including Sharon of Knit Style Yarns. For the low-water emersion skeins, we decided on orangey pink, medium blue, purple and yellow to create what I first dubbed Funfetti cake and which I later decided was very My Little Pony-esque. Our layered color started off with a short dip in light pink dye, followed by a jammy purple, mixed by yours truly, and a lighter violet.

The class definitely inspired me do some more dyeing myself and experiment with the techniques while making my own color choices.

The Marketplace

Of course, no VKL would be complete without a trip or two (or three) to the marketplace.

I spent a fair bit of time in the Backyard Fiberworks booth, as a tiny portion of it had some Indie Untangled merch! I had teamed up with Alice, and Vicki of That Clever Clementine, on some special Indie Untangled kits that were available at the show. The kits were a big hit, and I was also thrilled to see the rest of Alice’s yarn get scooped up — the booth was very popular. She had some wonderful sock yarn mini-skein sets that were perfect for one of Melanie Berg’s designs. I snagged a pinky purply set called Dove in a Plum Tree and a light pink semisolid called Mallow to make On the Spice Market.

Aside from Backyard, I loved taking in the Neighborhood Fiber Co. booth (I’d heard at Rhinebeck that Karida wasn’t going to be at VKL this year, but luckily she ended up changing her mind!). I fell in love with a sample she had of Olga Buraya-Kefelian’s Boko-Boko Cowl, knit with Neighborhood Fiber Co. Studio Sock yarn held together with Chromium, which has steel wool to make the little points stand up. It was such a deviation from the patterns I’m normally drawn to, but it was so sculptural and interesting that I had to make it. I feel like it could be a great stand-in for a statement necklace, with the bonus of keeping me warm.

Speaking of necklaces, I was very impressed by the products at Knitten Jen’s Beads. She had kits to make your own beaded beads (wooden beads covered in beaded stockinette stitch fabric), ready-to-string beads and finished pieces. I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to DIY it or get a ready-made necklace, but I was definitely intrigued.

I also paid a visit to the Yarn Culture booth, which focused on a small collection of indies, and learned that my favorite discovery from last year’s VKL, Crave Yarn, has branched out with a new venture called Brim Collections, featuring gorgeous mill-dyed skeins and coordinating patterns. I am hoping to learn more from Amor of Crave/Brim Collections and will report on it further…

And, I made sure to get my VKL NYC limited stitch markers from Marsha of One Geek to Craft Them All.

Aside from classes and shopping, my weekend was rounded out by many familiar faces (on Saturday, I could barely get to the elevators without seeing someone I knew from my various knitting circles) and spending time with my nearby knitting friends.

Indie Untangled at VKL NYC

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One of my favorite parts of the Indie Untangled trunk show at Woolyn a couple of months ago was getting to spend time with Alice of Backyard Fiberworks. You may know Alice from her creative Instagram Advent promotion, her dreamy American-grown Cormo fingering or her beautiful speckled sock yarns. If you don’t know her work, you should get to know it.

While we were hanging out at the store, we talked about Alice’s booth at Vogue Knitting Live , which takes place this weekend, from January 13-15 at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, and which I was of course planning to attend. Alice generously invited me to have some space in her booth, and that led us to start scheming away on a special IU-themed kit to offer for the occasion.

So, I looped in Vicki of That Clever Clementine, who suggested an Indie Untangled logo version of her popular zipper wristlet bags. As Vicki got to sewing, Alice (who conveniently lives about 20 minutes away from Vicki in Maryland) grabbed a scrap of the logo fabric and created a complementary teal and orange speckled colorway, pairing it with a deep blue for her Ridgeline pattern, a textured fingering-weight cowl.

If you’re coming to VKL this weekend, I hope you’ll stop by the Backyard Fiberworks booth — Booth 326 — and get your hands on a kit. You can also preorder your kits by filling out this form and picking up at the booth.

Along with Alice’s lovely yarn, there will also be some Indie Untangled ceramic shots and Stitch ‘n’ Sip games from the talented folks at JamPDX.

If you’ll be in the marketplace, please stop by the Backyard Fiberworks booth for an Indie Untangled meetup at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. I hope to see you there!

Indie Untangled + Woolyn = one awesomely indie trunk show

iu_woolyn

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.

Woolyn window

Woolyn window 2

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

Woolyn shop

Woolyn br

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.

Woolyn yarn

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.

Woolyn fiber

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.

My afternoon with a yarn ‘detangler’

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Detangling during

I’m sure you already know how wonderfully generous knitters can be. Over the weekend, I experienced a great example of this community’s uniqueness when I desperately called on a Ravelry “detangler” — one of those strange people who actually looks at a spaghetti-like pile with excitement — to help me unravel a mess of Merino sock yarn. My yarn emergency couldn’t have been more timely, with the Wall Street Journal running a feature on Ravelry’s Knot a Problem group this past Monday.

I probably should never have taken the yarn off the swift. Friday night, in my haste to start on a gift with a tight deadline, I rushed through the winding process and after hitting a tangle, decided to loop the hank over my husband’s arms. Then one tangle turned into more, and before I knew it, we finished The Empire Strikes Back with a ball that was a tiny fraction of the size that I needed.

The scary "before" picture.

The scary “before” picture.

As the night went on, I knew I was going to have to get help. I remembered hearing about a group on Ravelry filled with willing yarn detanglers, so I sent a desperate PM to one based in New York City who had recently posted in the group’s thread listing detanglers by location (the WSJ article definitely gave the thread a bit of a boost since I last looked). On Saturday morning, I woke to find a message from Lucy, who lives in Queens and was happily willing to meet up and take a stab at my mess.

So, I hopped on the 7 train and went to meet Lucy at the famous Nan Xiang Dumpling House. Since the wait was fairly lengthy, and standing in line at the front of the restaurant was not ideal for detangling, we walked over to a modern cafe and got some tea. We grabbed a table by some large windows in the back and I handed Lucy the bag.

“Beautiful yarn!” she said (it’s a Duck Duck Wool purple, so of course it is). In a fit of desperation, and because I figured I could at least start my project with what I had managed to wind, I had cut off the ball, so Lucy had to dig a little to find an end and start her work. After a minute or so, she determined it would be best to make an end, so I took out my scissors and she let me decide where to cut.

For the next few hours, as Lucy followed a few different ends through the various tangles, I worked on the start of my gift. Our hands busy, we chatted about all things fiber — the crazy lines at Rhinebeck, how knitting has gotten us to appreciate colors we normally don’t gravitate toward — and also about our families and living in the city. As it got darker and I neared the end of my small ball, Lucy handed me two more large ones. I had enough to finish my project and left Lucy with around 100 yards for her to detangle and use at her leisure.

Success!

Success!

As she worked, I did ask Lucy about why she enjoys detangling so much, and she said it was a bit like knitting — it’s calming, but also challenging, and I can kind of see it. As knitters and also spinners, we take what is basically a mess of yarn (maybe not quite as messy as a big tangle) or fiber and turn it into something neat and orderly: “It looks like an unruly mess, but it is not true,” Lucy wrote to me in a PM. “It somehow knitted together not the way I (or knitters) wanted. So, for me, there’s not much difference between the detangling and knitting process.”

“You know, it’s definitely a different approach from what Alexander the Great did, so I might never be the great king — but detangling is more… respectful,” she continued. “I’m not sure this is the right way put it down, but I feel that way. Raising sheep for wool, shearing, carding or combing, spinning and dying, takes enormous time and effort. I do not want to waste any of it. I unravel a thing, and repurpose it, and make it out something loveable. Like what we did. … It’s joy that all knitters shared — tangling accidentally adds one more detour to knit a more special thing.”

This “Christmas miracle” is just a testament to the fact that, like I always say, Knitters are awesome.

Getting Plucky in Brooklyn

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Plucky 1

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.

Plucky 2

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.

Plucky 3

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.

Plucky 4

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.

Plucky 5

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

Plucky 6

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

Plucky 7

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.

Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2015: The indies

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Pepperberry 1

Vogue Knitting Live always tends to sneak up on me, but it never fails to supply me with a ton of knitting inspiration and remind me why I decided to pick up my first pair of Clover needles several years ago.

I didn’t end up taking any classes this year, like I have in the past. The ones I was particularly interested in (with Amy Herzog and Kate Atherley) sold out pretty quickly, and some others conflicted with plans I had with friends that I see far less often than I should. But, between meeting some new-to-me indie dyers in the marketplace, discovering some special skeins and taking in the fabulous Stephen West & Steven Be fashion show, this year’s VKL — my fourth — was pretty epic, and definitely very indie.

While last year was all about Dragonfly Fibers and Neighborhood Fiber Co., this year I made sure to check out the newest indie additions. One of the first booths I went to was Pepperberry Knits. I had already heard of the company through my friend Stacy, who now lives in Idaho, where Pepperberry is based, and she had introduced me to owner Heidi recently over Facebook (Stacy also just started working for them, which makes me extremely jealous). Heidi, a redhead with a personality to match her brightly-colored yarns, told me about how she once decided to unravel and reknit a vintage Cashmere sweater, which led her to decide to sell Cashmere exclusively.

The Pepperberry booth was so fun to photograph, and not just because the light there was actually pretty good. It was filled with such vibrant colors, and the Cashmere in the samples hanging up just seemed to glow. I particularly liked the Fun Size Bundles that were available to make a few different striped cowls and infinity scarves, like Lucy and Lydia.

Pepperberry 2

Pepperberry 4

Pepperberry 3

JDMS 2

Jill Draper Makes Stuff has been at VKL NYC for the past few years, but I made it a point to visit her booth because I had a sweater quantity of her Hudson (Made in the USA superwash Merino) on my list to make Yelena Dasher’s new West End Girl.

No sooner had I finally decided on a color (a beautiful orange called Spessartine) when I was tempted by something new — Jill’s Rifton gradient skeins. They were dyed up just in time for VKL, and Jill explained that the browns and greys were the natural wool, while the oranges and pinks, or aquas and blues, were added to the fleece before the yarn was plied.

HeidiandLana 1

HeidiandLana 2

The Heidi & Lana booth really impressed me. I went there expecting just to see their pretty snag-free stitch markers, but I loved the kits that this Ohio LYS had on offer, including one for owner Margaret Craig’s Passage, which came with yarn from Spincycle Yarns and handmade fabric buttons for a shawl/scarf that can be worn several different ways.

MollyGirl 1

I also enjoyed meeting Angela of MollyGirl Yarns, a relatively new dyer based in nearby New Jersey who has fun music-themed bases and colorways, like Rolling in the Deep and Pink Bullets, and some unique bases (her limited-edition Meet and Greet was an amazingly soft alpaca/silk/linen blend). She had the help of her boyfriend for her first-ever show, and it was fun to see her excitement at being part of this crazy knitting event.

MollyGirl 2

Black Bunny

In the middle of the Saturday madness, I spoke with Carol of Black Bunny Fibers, who taught the Yarn Substitution Made Easy class on Sunday. Carol told me about the clubs that she’ll be cooking up in the near future.

And I had to snap some pics of the Kismet Fiber Works booth. I became a huge fan of this Virginia-based company when they came to VKL for the first time last year, and stunned me with their baby camel/silk and Merino/silk blends that make their colors extra stunning.

Kismet 1

Kismet 2

Kismet 3

Of course, I admired the colorful knitted teepee and the Seven Wonders of the Yarn World, which Marsha of One Geek to Craft Them All captured perfectly on her blog (I wish I’d taken pictures of the awesome yarn earrings and geeky stitch markers in her booth!), and the refrigerator full of knit produce and cheeses — with the way my stash is getting these days, this would probably be the only way I’d ever have that much stuff in my fridge.

You can see some more of my VKL photos on Instagram.