Wha to stash this week: I love Rhinebeck in the fall

I’m thrilled to debut Automne à Rhinebeck, an Indie Untangled exclusive by Paris-based indie dyer La Bien Aimée. Preorders of the yarn, to be picked up at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show on Oct. 20, are now open. You can also purchase Asylum Fibers’ complementary Rhinebeck’s All the Craze and event tote bags, and avoid the frenzy in the Indie Untangled booth.

PLEASE NOTE: I know you’re as crazy about this colorway as I am, but preorders are for pickup at the trunk show only. Any orders that are not picked up at the show, by you or a friend, will be refunded. The yarn will be available for sale via the Indie Untangled website after Rhinebeck. Thank you for understanding!

I love the idea of mystery KALs, but I’m generally hesitant to spend my time knitting a design I’m not sure I’ll like. Casapinka’s Moroccan Magique is the perfect solution to this conundrum! One clue for this rectangular wrap will be released per week over six weeks. The KAL will include prizes, even for those of us who are slow knitters.

With Pointed Sticks is all ready for fall and, after a summer hiatus, Susan has stocked her shop with autumn- and Halloween-inspired hues. Many of the colors are non-repeatables, so grab them while you can.

Rock, paper, scissors, lizard, Spock… project bags and yarn! An epic indie collaboration debuting today includes project bags and accessories from Slipped Stitch Studios, with fabric by Insomniac Designs, along with yarn from Pandia’s Jewels… all inspired by the hit TV show The Big Bang Theory! The sale goes live at 9 a.m. Pacific time.

Melanie of Baad Mom Yarns has changed her shop update schedule to every week, and she has some beautiful autumn colorways in stock. She’s also teaming up with nine other dyers to offer mini-skein kits! Click the pic to learn more.

Bijou Basin Ranch is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love (we can pretend it was all about the love of yarn) with a sale! Get 20% off all in-stock yarns from the Master Color Series with the coupon code FAROUTMAN.

Just in time for Back to School is Lara Smoot’s Easy A shawl.

Untangling Mindy Wilkes

When designer Mindy Wilkes first posted to my site in January of 2016, I was thrilled. I of course knew Mindy from her Holden shawlette, which was one of the first shawls I considered knitting (it’s still in my Ravelry favorites to knit… someday).

I was also thrilled when Mindy agreed to be one of the four designers for the 2017 Where We Knit yarn club. I decided to pair her with Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns, and I knew she would make Victoria’s soft colors sing. Her design for the club, The Magic Hour, is now available for sale. I still have to block mine, but it is the perfect spring/summer shawlette, and would look great in either a subtle color or a bold semisolid yarn. I recently spoke with Mindy about how she became a designer and what inspires her elegant accessories:

Your first design, Holden, was actually recommended to me by an LYS owner when I first started knitting! Can you tell me how the design came about and how it took off?

I designed Holden because I wanted to knit a shawl that was mostly stockinette with a wavy edge at the bottom. I searched Ravelry for almost a year thinking that someone had designed something like what I wanted, but I couldn’t find it. I ran across an online class called “Design Your Own Shawl” that was taught by Stephanie Japel, and Holden was the result of that class. I had no idea the pattern would become as popular as it did and that it would result in me working as a designer. I’m still kind of in shock now, almost seven years later, that the pattern took off like it did.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I taught myself how to knit from Debbie Stoller’s Stitch n’ Bitch book back in 2004. I had an odd work schedule with days off in the middle of the week, and I was looking for something to fill my time during those days and ran across the book one afternoon at a bookstore. I initially passed it by, but the next week I ended up buying the book. I had some old acrylic yarn and needles tucked away on a shelf already so I just started following the instructions in the book. I learned to knit and purl by knitting endless swatches. Swatch after swatch after swatch. I wouldn’t let myself start an actual project until I felt like I had “perfected” everything so I knit garter stitch swatches, stockinette swatches, ribbed swatches, moss stitch swatches, and on and on for several months.

What did you do before becoming a knitwear designer and how does that inform your work?

After graduate school, I worked as a microbiologist in a consumer product testing laboratory for five years. When my son was born, we decided that I would stay at home instead of working at an outside job. I designed Holden when my son was not quite 3 years old. Writing a pattern is a lot like scientific writing. It’s all a form of technical writing, and I use those technical writing skills every time I write a pattern.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

It depends. Inspiration can come from a color or a picture. It can come from a TV show. Sometimes it comes from a stitch pattern in a stitch dictionary; one that I might have passed by a hundred times becomes just right the very next time I see it. Everything I do always has some draws from where I’m from. I’m originally from the Huntington, West Virginia, area, and I’m really inspired by and connected to Appalachia. There’s a very unique culture and tradition of handcrafts in Appalachia, and I’m exploring that more and more in my work.

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

I usually start with the charts. Sometimes it’s as easy as charting the pattern and casting on. More often than not though, I play around with the charts, switching up stitch patterns, altering shaping, until I think it will work. I might jot down a few notes on construction, yarn choices, and colors as I go, but charts almost always come first.

What are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?

My favorite colors for knitting are always changing. When I first started designing, I loved deep jewel tones. I remember a short phase where I was really into dark greens. Right now, I can’t get enough pastels — light pinks, peaches, mint green. I like almost all colors, though. There are a few shades of yellow and orange that aren’t my favorite, but I’ll work with anything as long as it works for the design.

Do you have any plans to design sweaters or other garments, or do you prefer to stick with accessories?

I’m not much of a sweater knitter. I never have been. Accessory knitting has always been my preference so I’ll probably only do accessories. However, there is a sweater quantity of Green Mountain Spinnery Alpaca Elegance sitting next to me on my desk, and there’s a sweater idea that’s been hanging out in my head for a while. So never say never.

Where is your favorite place to knit?

I usually knit in the evening on the couch while I’m watching Netflix. That’s my everyday reality. My favorite place to knit is on the front (or back) porch, with a cup of tea, visiting my family at home. At my mom’s house, I try to knit on the back porch where you can hear the coal trains coming and going. I’d give anything to knit on my Grandma’s front porch in the evening, totally surrounded by the hills.

What to make with Pigeonroof Studios Mountains & Valleys

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I always find it a fun challenge to find the perfect projects for variegated yarns like the Pigeonroof Studios Mountains and Valleys colorway for Knitting Our National Parks. I didn’t have to look too far to find some great options, particularly from designer and frequent IU poster Casapinka.

Here are several options, whether you want to use a single skein or pair it with a semisolid. You can also check out the ever-growing bundle I’ve created on Ravelry.

One color

One and Done by Casapinka

Hitchhiker Beyond by Martina Behm

Bingham Hill Cowl by Daniela Nii

Wave by Kristen Finlay

Strathcona by Jane Richmond

What to make with handspun yarn

I’ve been contemplating a What to make with handspun blog post for a while now, but since I haven’t quite fallen down the spinning rabbit hole yet, I decided to ask Anne of Middle Brook Fiberworks, my fiber and spinning guru, for some suggestions. She ended up sending me a terrific write-up to share with you. Please include your additional suggestions in the comments!

“What can I make with this handspun yarn?” is a question I answer at every show. I can see why: skeins are usually one-of-a-kind, with not a lot of yardage and the texture is often irregular. It’s certainly possible to find sweater quantities of beautifully consistent handspun yarn, but it would be a significant investment. Shawls and other accessories that require less than 400 yards are great for handspun because any irregularities won’t matter — unlike in a sweater or socks, where you don’t really want unfortunately placed lumps of thick slubs. Plus, woolen-spun handspun yarn (spun with a low twist from loose clouds of hand-prepped fiber, rather than a compacted commercial combed top), knits up into a thick fabric that is not only exceptionally warm, but is remarkably lightweight and lofty. My handspun hat knit from woolen-spun CVM under my rain jacket hoodie is integral for my winter farm chores!

Another option is to combine millspun yarn with smaller amounts of handspun yarn as a highlight–for a pop of texture. The Dragonwell Cowl, pictured above, which I designed with Jolene Mosely, has a section of consistent 2-ply yarn, and a small section of highly textured art yarn in a coordinating color. I’ve used handspun yarn for both sections, but millspun yarn would work just as well.

One of my favorite handspun projects is my Handspun Hansel, a handspun version of Gudrun Johnston’s Hansel. The pattern calls for 550 yards of a main color, and less than 100 yards each of four contrasting colors. I made mine with all handspun, but I think it would be terrific with a millspun main color, with handspun contrasting colors.

My next project is going to be Laura Aylor’s Between Oceans. I’ve spun four skeins of aran-weight organic Polwarth in Cirrus for the body, but because I won’t be spinning a fifth skein only to be cut into fringe, I’ll be dyeing a skein of millspun Targhee wool to match.

What to stash this week: Leave your heart in your knitting

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has kits for her gorgeous I Left my Heart in the Highlands Wrap available to preorder until until July 16. Each Highlands Knit Kit includes five skeins of her Aran Tweed yarn, a shawl pin and a copy of the pattern, with a big, smooshy cable. There are two different kits available: The Highlands, which moves in a gradient from gray to dark green and Heather on the Hills, which is various shades of green and pinks.

Stephanie of Three Fates Yarn has many new awesomely-named miniskein color sets available. They include Science Is Real, which you They Might Be Giants Fans may be familiar with, and I Remember California, which goes out to my fellow REM lovers.

Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks has stocked the shop with tons of new yarn and products, including new sock blanks in bold colors and a new “market” section with stitch markers from Katrinkles Knitting Jewelry, project and notions bags, mugs and more. If you’re starting to think about your Rhinebeck sweater (it’s time…) there’s some Brigantia (DK weight Polwarth/silk) and Zalti (100% U.S. grown and processed Targhee), as well a Birte and Verdande (both Superwash Merino, Cashmere and silk) in stock.

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect draped front sweater and Windswept by Melissa Kemmerer looks to be The One. This top-down seamless sweater is knit with fingering-weight yarn and offers the option to customize, with either subtle or wild, speckled stripes.

Add some flowers to your summer with Laura Patterson’s newest shawl design. The lovely Vervain, knit with 525 to 1,825 yards of laceweight yarn, uses two different Estonian flower stitches, one with clusters and another with double yarn overs.

Lara Smoot has released her new sock pattern, Shark Bite II: The Revenge, into the wild.

What to make with North Cascades Night: multicolored shawls

Backyard Fiberworks’ North Cascades Night for the Knitting Our National Parks project looks stunning on its own, but one of the things I love about Alice’s colorways is how well they work together. She often says that Melanie Berg is her brand’s spirit animal, because Melanie’s multicolored designs show off her coordinating skeins beautifully.

So, I asked Alice to give North Cascades Night some friends from her current line of colors and paired them with some of my favorite multi-skein shawls from Melanie, as well as Andrea Mowry and Francoise Danoy. You can order the other colorways on the sportweight Terrain base directly through Backyard Fiberworks. (The skein amounts on a couple of Melanie’s shawls are padded so that you don’t run out of yarn.)

Perhaps, Perhaps by Melanie Berg. From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud & Pollen and Blackberry & Alpine; you will need one skein of each color.

Eifelgold by Melanie Berg. From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud and Hosta; you will need three skeins of the main color and one skein of the contrasting color. (I like either Stormcloud as the main with North Cascades and then North Cascades as the main with Hosta.)

Drachenfels by Melanie Berg. From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Blackberry & Alpine and Stormcloud & Pollen; you will need two skeins of Colors A (the brownish purple in the sample) and C (the red in the sample) and one skein of Color B (the lilac in the sample).

The Girl In Me by Melanie Berg; From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud, Walnut and Hosta; you will need three skeins in the main color and two skeins of the contrasting color. (I like either Stormcloud as the main with North Cascades as the contrast, Walnut as the main with North Cascades as the contrast, or North Cascades as the main and Hosta as the contrast.)

Goldfinch by Andrea Mowry. From left to right, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud & Pollen and Blackberry & Alpine; You will need one skein of each color.

Fields of Lavender by Francoise Danoy. From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud, Hosta and Walnut; you will need two skeins for the main color and one skein for the contrasting color.

What to make with Backyard Fiberworks North Cascades Night

Since getting a glimpse of Alice of Backyard Fiberworks’ North Cascades Night colorway for Knitting Our National Parks, I’ve been obsessively combing Ravelry for the perfect projects. The fact that it’s a sportweight yarn means it works for a variety of patterns, from one-skein hats and mitts to pullovers and cardigans that don’t feel too endless.

I’ve found some ideas from a variety of designers, including those who post to Indie Untangled. Below is just a small list of possibilities. You can also check out the ever-growing bundle I’ve created on Ravelry.

Shawls

Hint of Autumn by Laura Aylor: 2 skeins

Tidepools by Simone Kereit: 3 skeins

Enamored by Laura Aylor: 3 skeins

Pleasant Trip by Laura Aylor: 3 skeins

Little Black Shawl by Laura Aylor: 2 skeins

Marshwood by Lara Smoot: 3 skeins

French Cancan by Mademoiselle C: 2 skeins

Vinegar Hill by Kirsten Kapur: 2-3 skeins

Sweaters

Orne Cardigan by Meiju K-P © Knitscene/Harper Point: 5-9 skeins

Pauroxo by Jennifer Dassau: 4-6 skeins

Silver Girl by Laura Aylor: 4-7 skeins

Sport Aureed by Meiju K-P: 4-8 skeins

Warszawa Soft by Meiju K-P: 5-7 skeins

Grisalia by Meiju K-P: 3-6 skeins

Celia by Mary Annarella: 3-6 skeins

Shifting by Justyna Lorkowska: 4-6 skeins

One-skein projects

Coast Oak Hat by Stephannie Tallent © Yarnbox

More Cowl Bell Please by Mary Annarella

Moutons’ Boutons by LeMou Designs

Rieth by MK Nance

Backflip Mitts by Melanie Berg

Fathom by Veera Välimäki

Portlander Mitts by Shellie Anderson

Have you found some other great ideas? Please share in the comments!

What to knit with a single skein of fingering — other than socks

When the weather (actually) starts getting warmer, you don’t really want to be knitting out of the A/C with a big pile of fabric in your lap. While I’ve certainly worked on a sweater at the beach, it’s not ideal. Neither is traveling and worrying about losing one of those six mini skeins.

I see summer as the perfect time to pick out that single skein of fingering in your stash that you really love and knit up a little something to drape over your shoulders or around your neck when you start wanting to put wool on your skin again.

I’ve long said that shawls, and infinity scarves, are potato chip knitting, because they are easily addictive and tend to cause less consternation than socks — there’s no such thing as Second Shawl Syndrome.

Here are some new designs and a few old favorites for that prized skein.

Shawls

Old Favorites

Janina Kallio has a whole bunch of single-skein shawls, but my favorite has to be Drops of Honey, above, which she designed especially for the 2016 Indie Untangled Where We Knit yarn club. It’s simple enough to be mindless, with just enough interest with the eyelets.

Zilver by Lisa Mutch

Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart

Country Song Shawl by Gabrielle Vézina

What’s new

Little Black Shawl by Laura Aylor

Cubetcha by Casapinka

Abeja Shawl by Kristen Jancuk

Aperture Shawl by Ambah O’Brien

Cowls/Infinity scarves

Shared Rib by Anne Hanson

Another Where We Knit pattern that’s now available to the general public, this is also fairly easy knitting, with a twist (pun intended) from the cables.

Brighton by Veronica Parsons

Spice of Life Cowl by Louise Zass-Bangham

Starshower by Hilary Smith Callis

What’s new

Daylight Savings Cowl by Mary Annarella

Mora Dune by Virginia Sattler-Reimer

Dodging Rain Drops Cowl by Vanessa Ewing

Chehalem Cowl by Kelli Slack

See more of my favorite single-skein shawls and cowls on Ravelry!

Untangling Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits

Unless you’ve been knitting under a rock, you’ve probably at some point this year encountered someone finding their fade. Since Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits released her seven-skein shawl in December, and her So Faded sweater last month, Fade Fever seems to have taken over. Both patterns are the perfect match for hand-dyed yarn, and many a Fade kit can be found from the dyers who post on IU.

I decided to reach out to Andrea and learn more about the woman behind the Fade, as well as her other beautifully styled, casually elegant designs.

What did you do before becoming a knitwear designer and how does that inform your work?

Before designing I was a pastry chef! I actually got my first baking job (which eventually lead me down the path of culinary school) because the owner of the bakery loved that I included knitting under “other skills” on my resume! I have always loved creating and working with my hands, so when I left my job in the kitchen, it felt very organic to begin writing patterns instead of recipes.

How did you decide to become a designer?

I had been knitting for such a long time and always wanted to find a way to make a job of it. Finally, when I had more time to explore designing, thanks to being home with my first born, I thought, “What have I got to lose?” There were things I wanted to knit, and I figured maybe someone else would want to knit them as well! From there, I feel like my dreams have come true!

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned when I was about nine years old thanks to my amazing (and patient) Grandma Ginny! I am so thankful to her that she took the time to sit with me and wanted to share something she loved. It has brought so much joy to my life, and it is all thanks to her!

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

I am most inspired by yarn. For me, the design idea typically comes as I am looking at and swatching with the yarn I want to use!

How did Find Your Fade come about? Did you think it would take off like it did?

Every once in a while I like to do a “creativity experiment” where I just grab the yarn I most want to use out of my stash and I just cast on. I try not to give myself any constraints or expectations. I just knit what feels fun! Find Your Fade was one of my experiments. I had just had my son a few months earlier, and felt like I just need something selfish and indulgent on my needles. I had no idea it would take off! I am so thrilled and honored that knitters have been inspired by it!

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

Swatch! Well, sometimes I sketch first. But then I cake up the yarn and swatch.

What are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?

I am continually drawn to pinks and yellows right now. I really love most colors though, and when I find myself constantly grabbing for the same colors, I try to switch it up. Grey will always be at the top of my list, along with mint and turquoise. And navy. And white. And gold.

You’ve created such a cool, laid-back aesthetic for your business. Did you come to designing with that particular look and feel in mind?

Thank you! I’ve tried to just be myself. I find that when I stick to what I love and what really inspires me and brings me joy, it seems to work. I think when we do that, our best work comes out and people can feel that.

Who are some of your favorite indie dyers?

There are so many amazing indie dyers out there! My absolute favorites include Hedgehog Fibres, Republic of Wool, Qing Fibre, Woolenboon and Peepaloo Fields, just to name a few!

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

I love embroidery, and am a novice sewer. 🙂

What to stash this week: Another shawl in the sweater box

The latest design from Casapinka, called Another Brick In the Shawl is everything I love about shawls: it uses multiple colors and has plenty of mindless stitches and nice non-lace visual interest with mosaics. Bronwyn used a trio set of Yummy 2-ply from Miss Babs, but the color possibilities are endless.

Kayleen, the latest IU newcomer, transitioned over the last year from selling crocheted items to dyeing yarn out of her home in Marblehead, Massachusetts. For her new biz, Littlebean Loves Yarn, the bright speckled colorways, as well as semi-solids and self-striping sock yarn, are inspired by pop culture, with an emphasis on Harry Potter. She generally has shop updates at 1 p.m. on Saturdays, so head on over to see what’s outta the dye pots.

If you missed out on sign-ups for the 2017 Where We Knit Yarn Club, you’re in luck! A couple of spots have opened up, one of which includes the latest collaboration from Eden Cottage Yarns and Mindy Wilkes! Please fill out this form if you’re interested in snagging a spot.

Slipped Stitch Studios has stocked the shop with an awesome selection of craft-themed bags and supplies. The first 10 customers get a glitter ball stitch marker!