What to stash this week: Mad for yarn

Get ready — tonight, at 10 p.m. Eastern, is the launch of Asylum Fibers. Stephanie, who organizes one of my knitting groups here in NYC, hand dyes semisolid, variegated, speckled self-striping and ombre colorways. Some will be non-repeatable “Chaos Colorways,” while there will also be zany regulars, with names like Bad Bad Girl, Hydrotherapy, Moody, and The Shower Scene.

Sandpiper Socks, Barbara Benson’s first ever sock pattern, has a very clever construction, using variegated yarn with a contrasting color that allows the complex colors to really sing.

Keya’s new Ripple Socks feature a lacy pattern that happens to be stretchy. These socks also holds their own against the randomness of variegated hand-dyed yarns.

This new diaper cover pattern from Knit Eco Chic is inspired by a knitting-related verse in a sacred song.

Indie Untangled newcomer One Hand in the Dyepot has a science-y approach to her work.

Another IU newbie is actually two — mother-daughter dye team Legacy Fiber Artz, with yarns inspired by television shows, movies and more.

Select yarns in the Dye is Cast Yarns Etsy shop are 20% off.

Elliebelly Dye Works has a new base that’s 65% Superwash Merino, 20% Silk and 15% yak.

IU on the road: Lisbon’s Retrosaria Rosa Pomar


I’m sure it’s no surprise that after learning that I would be visiting Lisbon, Portugal, in early February, I headed to Google to scope out the yarn scene there. Through my research, I learned that the place to go was Retrosaria Rosa Pomar. I checked out the location, bookmarked the site and filed the information away.

After seeing our packed itinerary — which included trips to the Jerónimos Monastery, Pasteis de Belem for the famous custard tarts, the Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Pena Palace — I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it but, after an inaugural tram tour around the city, the group was leaving to check into the hotel and we had some free time before dinner. I realized, with a quick consult of Google Maps, that the tram let us off on Rua do Loreto, right down the street from the shop. (Incidentally, while we were on the tram, one of the women in our group spotted another retrosaria, the Portuguese name for a haberdashery, and of course let me know — I was the knitter on the trip.)

Rosa Pomar opened her namesake shop in a former mannequin factory in 2009. It dovetails nicely with her work researching Portuguese textiles and is beautifully curated, with a mix of fabric, ribbon, notions, tools and, of course, yarn.

Much of the yarn here comes from some of the 14 breeds of Portuguese sheep, developed via collaboration with small factories and breeders associations; some are also handspun in small villages around the country. While some of the yarn felt sheep-y (read: rough for my somewhat princess-y skin) I was particularly drawn to the Beiroa, a DK-weight yarn made from the wool of the Bordaleira Serra da Estrela sheep, with a beautiful marled look and a promise of post-blocking softness, and the Zagal, a soft Portuguese Merino wool that Rosa designed a hat for, with a simple colorwork pattern inspired by a traditional handwoven blanket.

Gorgeous and inspiring colorwork samples filled the shop, and there was also a nice selection of books from some familiar faces, as well as Rosa herself. What also struck me were the yarn tags and ball bands, many of which featured illustrations.

Aside from yarn, I also took home a beautiful handwoven rag pillowcase (the exact one in the photo), made in Portugal out of old clothing. I was bummed that the shop had sold out of the tote bags with an original illustration found on the tag for the shop’s Larada yarn.

While I am so glad I paid this shop a visit — I could have spent all afternoon here — I was bummed that I didn’t get to meet Rosa herself, who is busy managing both the shop and a toddler. For now, I’ll just lose myself, and revisit Lisbon, via her Instagram feed.

Vogue Knitting Live NYC 2017: A weekend of color


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.

Knitting and yarn: There are apps for that


Knitting apps

With the seemingly overnight sensation that is Pokemon Go, and virtually everyone more obsessed than usual with their smartphones, I thought it was an appropriate time to write about the knitting and yarn apps that I love and use fairly regularly (and yes, that is yarn wallpaper on my phone).

Usually when I’m knitting, my phone is by my side, but not (always) because I need it to look at yarn on Instagram or at patterns on Ravelry. I no longer use a physical row counter, and instead use Countmeme, which you can download here from the Apple app store. I’ve tried other row counter apps, but I’ve found Countmeme to be the easiest to use for keeping track of pattern repeats or multiple projects. You can add a seemingly endless number of counters and easily reset and delete them.

This brilliant app by designer Hannah Fettig, which can be purchased for iOS here for $4.99 — less than an extra skein of hand-dyed yarn! — is absolutely indispensable for fiber festivals (and the Rhinebeck Trunk Show). Pick a project, such as an average length sweater, a hat or a scarf, enter the size and the gauge, which you can find on the tag or band, and the app will give you an estimation of the required yardage.


I’m still exploring this app (you can download it for iOS here), but it lets you import pattern PDFs from your computer, Ravelry library and Dropbox and has a sliding bar to track your progress, highlighters and ways to add notes, as well as other tools that can be purchased within the free (!) app. It also has built-in designs. I’ll have to play around with it more and see if it will replace my current method of taking a screenshot of the pattern on my phone. Another friend recently recommended Notability, which lets you make hand-drawn notes, and costs $7.99.

The Plucky Knitter
This app is a must-download for Plucky obsessives, with reminders about upcoming updates and a full library of Sarah’s beautiful colorways, and even more creative names, as well as a list of patterns that use Plucky yarn. I myself am not a regular Plucky collector, but I very much enjoy looking at the fabulous color combinations and color/pattern pairings.

What are some of your favorite knitting or yarn apps? Is there an app (aside from a Ravelry one, of course) that you wish someone would create?

On the importance of building up a stash, and a mystery KAL

The start of my MKAL shawl with designer Casapinka.

The start of my MKAL shawl with designer Casapinka.

This past weekend, as most of you know, the East Coast got hit with a monster blizzard that sent people lining up outside of grocery stores beforehand and clearing the shelves of bread (well, except for the seven grain baguette, which at least let me feel somewhat virtuous outside of the polenta, mushroom linguine and onion soup I cooked as my husband and I took refuge in our apartment). It was the ideal knitting situation, and I indulged, settling in on the couch to finish Season 2 of Gilmore Girls on Netflix.

I also got swept up in the fun of Casapinka’s mystery KAL, Welcome Back Garter, which kicked off last Thursday night. I’ve never done a MKAL before, but as I trust Bronwyn’s taste and wish I could knit pretty much all of her patterns, I decided to jump in. (It’s not too late if you want to participate!)

The shawl calls for three skeins in three different colors, with a suggestion to include one variegated colorway. I raided my stash and dug up some sock yarn from Tanis Fiber Arts that my mom brought back from Nova Scotia a few years ago in colors that I had requested. The yarn didn’t have a specific project attached, but I figured it could be called on if I needed a baby gift or finally started knitting socks. I then pulled out a skein of Roman Hills in the Bates/Downton Abbey-inspired colorway that I was drawn to when I discovered the dyer, Lisa Roman, at a BUST magazine holiday Craftacular ages ago. The combo got the approval of some knitters in the Casapinka Ravelry group, but Bronwyn cautioned me that a more “blendy” variegated colorway might be better. She was right, as the Roman Hills started working up a little stripier than I was hoping for, so I ended up switching to the skein of Rhinebeck Twilight from Sophie’s Toes that I had admired at the trunk show back in October and placed in my stash without a plan. So far, the shawl is looking great and I’m very excited to see what it becomes.

I love the color combinations that Miss Babs offers and I was very tempted to use one of them, but A. Blizzard and B. I really wanted to see what I could put together from my stash.

The experience gave me a revelation of sorts about the importance of acquiring those random skeins just because you’re drawn to them. I might be unique in that I tend to buy yarn for specific patterns I plan to knit (eventually…) because it helps temper my desire to buy All The Yarn. There is a bit of a drawback to that, because you might not have what you want on hand when a pattern comes out, and there’s a blizzard and you have to cast on RIGHT NOW. There’s definitely a balance you need to achieve if you don’t have an endless budget, space, or both. As long as you’re not racking up credit card debt, don’t feel too guilty about those impulse buys — you never know when you might “need” them.

What to stash this week… even if you’re not at Rhinebeck

Fall is a Color form graphic

One more sleep till Rhinebeck — and zero sleeps till tonight’s trunk show! Whether you’re heading to Rhinebeck this weekend or not, there’s a lot to get excited about.

Designer Casapinka has teamed up with two Indie Untangled dyers, Alice of Backyard Fiberworks and Dami of Magpie Fibers, and created six beautiful designs that will debut at tonight’s trunk show. I’m particularly smitten with Fall is a Color, knit with Backyard Fiberworks Sock. Kits will be available at the trunk show and also exclusively on Indie Untangled — order yours today!

Vexillology is the latest pattern from Australian designer Mitenae. Though she’s getting ready for spring Down Under, Mitenae has collaborated with New Zealand indie Dark Harbor Yarn. There are two versions, a shawl and a scarf, featuring a stockinette center panel that uses intarsia to create the color blocks, and a garter two-color notched edge. The pattern is 25% off on Ravelry through Monday.


Just in time for tonight’s trunk show, Anne Hanson has released Mayan Puzzle, an updated version of her beautifully textured Aztec Mazes Pullover. It’s shown here in Bare Naked Wools Ghillie Sport/DK, a 100% Cheviot wool sock yarn, which is light, airy, hard wearing and offers excellent stitch definition. You can also use Bare Naked Wools Confection Sport, which is 100% Corriedale Wool.


Fresh off the publication of her Tartessos shawl in Knitty’s recent Deep Fall issue (which uses the yarn of fellow Indie Untangled dyer Lakes Yarn and Fiber), M K Nance has released her 47th pattern, a colorwork tam called Ripplebrook. Nance set out to design a purely geometric pattern, and realized it looked like the ripples on a brook. The pattern calls for 180 to 275 yards of fingering in two colors.


After Rhinebeck knitting, it’s going to be time to start thinking about… Christmas! Yep. Tami of Eternity Ranch Knits, whose yarns will be at the Indie Untangled booth at tonight’s trunk show, is busy dying colors for winter, including a special Twelve Days of Christmas-themed sets, available with 12 full-sized skeins or minis. Both sets are available to pre-order until Thanksgiving and they will ship the first week of December.


New dyer alert! Longtime knitter and spinner Susan has just launched With Pointed Sticks. She dyes semisolid and variegated colorways on two bases that I know my pen-obsessed friends will love: Ballpoint Sock is a squishy, 80/20 blend of Superwash Merino and nylon, while Rollerball Worsted is a slightly rustic non-superwash Merino. New bases and colorways will arrive soon and Susan also does custom orders.


Knit Eco Chic’s newest pattern is called the Shawl Pin Shawl for its variety of styling options. The pattern comes in two sizes and includes a unique dip, created with short rows, which covers your back without adding bulk to the wings. Show off your favorite shawl pin — perhaps it will be one you buy at Rhinebeck!


If you like your yarn in sale form, head on over to Cedar Hill Farm Company. Aside from new self-striping Rocket Sock Medium colorways and a new custom-designed tote bag, you can enter the code OCTOBER at checkout to save $5 on orders of $30 or more.

What to stash this week: Winners and llamas (and yaks)


As a journalist, I love a good follow-up story. We have one this week: In my recent interview with Carl Koop of Bijou Basin Ranch, he revealed that they were in the process of collaborating with a number of indie dyers on special colorways for their Tibetan yak yarns. Before I knew it, I had a Marketplace post from them announcing a set of seven colorways hand-dyed by Philadelphia-based Lattes & Llamas on Lhasa Wilderness, BBR’s yak and bamboo blend. Aside from jumping on this limited run, you should also enter the contest to win seven skeins of Lhasa Wilderness in your choice of colors.


Here’s some more great synergy between the blog and the Marketplace: A Good Yarn Sarasota — owner Susan Post’s interview was on the blog this week — has opened sign-ups for its new yarn club. The club will feature the latest skeins from the the shop’s Purl Diver Collection, with custom colorways inspired by the deep sea photos taken by Susan’s husband, Murray, and created by six indie yarn companies. Each shipment will include a skein, a pattern and a goodie. Sign-ups run until Oct. 31.


After a successful Kickstarter campaign (which was supported by several Indie Untangled readers) Carrie has started up her little SkeinMinder factory! The SkeinMinder is a device that automates your motorized skein winder, stopping it at the desired yardage. They’re now available to the indie dyeing public. Carrie will also bring orders to Rhinebeck for those who want to save on shipping. If you’re not a dyer, check out the SkeinMinder Hall of Fame or Instagram for some enabling.


Margaret of Seaside Knitting Bags is getting ready for fall and winter with some new bags and new fabrics. Coordinate your knitting to your outfit — that chocolate-hued tote would go nicely with a pair of brown leather boots.


Barb of Spencer Hill has also stocked up for autumn. After a successful Kitter’s Day Out, a fiber festival down in Summerdale, Pennsylvania, she came home inspired, and filled her shop with a bushel full of naturally-dyed skeins.

What to stash this week: You’re going to need a bigger needle


To mark the 40th anniversary of Jaws, Lara Smoot has released a pattern for what have to be the most fantastic socks I have ever seen. Shark Bite is worked flat from the cuff down, and then the cuff and leg portion of the socks are joined at the ankle. The heel, foot and toe are worked in the round. For knitters who are new to colorwork, Lara includes links to tutorials in the pattern and says that this is a great way to get your feet wet. This awesome pattern is $2 off on Ravelry until Sunday, July 5 with the coupon code Amity.


While we Yanks are celebrating independence (indie-pendence?) from Great Britain, Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns will be tempting us with an update. On Sunday, July 5 at 2 p.m. BST, the shop will be stocked with Aisling and Quadratic shawl kits, adorable hand-carved wooden sheep, lambs and penguins made by Japanese artisans and a heap of Titus 4ply, BFL Sock and Oakworth 4ply.


Linda of Kettle Yarn Co. is in love with her Talavera, a simple lace top from the latest issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, and I don’t blame her — it is gorgeous. And she only used one skein of her Westminster, a 50/50 baby camel/silk blend, for this quick knit. The shop has plenty of Westminster in the Gold Rush and Florence colorways, and there’s also an update today at 5 p.m. GMT.


Sign-ups are now open for the next round of the Dirty Water DyeWorks Yarn Knot subscription service. There will be three shipments of fingering-weight yarn in exclusive colorways along with a suggested pattern. One will be two-color project. This year, Stephanie’s added a sweater option, with SQs in a choice of three different bases and weights, including a DK-weight superwash Targhee Wool and silk. The sweater installment will ship in August — perfect timing for Rhinebeck.


Achieve true “knitting zen” with this new design, Michael Harrigan’s interpretation of an Asian landscape painting. The stitch patterns are meant to evoke hilly terrain, flowing water with the hint of a bridge, tree branches and abundant foliage. It’s knit with two colors of laceweight yarn and includes a knit-on edging.


Get the natural look for summer with ColorPurl’s alpaca, linen and silk blend. Peggie created hues for this base with natural materials, including cochineal, which was used for the pink shade above (which reminds me of soft serve ice cream). These yarns would be perfect for your next shawl or even a lightweight tee.

What to stash this week: Natural look


Cedar Hill Farm Company has a new addition that’s just in time for summer. Calliope is a 100% raw silk fingering weight yarn that’s just as nature intended: it has not been scoured or chemically treated, so it has a linen-like drape. The shiny, kettle-dyed colors include French Lilac above, along with Blue Agave, Cardinal, Cove, Flamingo and Java, with more on the way.


Sarah’s been walking the backroads of her new hometown on the North Carolina coast with a pair of scissors and a basket to bring you her newest yarns. She’s made some subtle plant dyes with Queen Anne’s Lace and Red Cedar, Yarrow and Rosemary. Sarah has also been working on some new shibori dyed yarns.


If you want to be one with (brightly-colored) nature, then this is the yarn for you. Tami of Eternity Ranch Knits has partnered with Moon Shine Camo, creator of the popular pink Muddy Girl Camouflage pattern, to create colorways to match. The colors are available in 75/25 Merino/nylon fingering weight and superwash Merino DK.

Kettle Yarn Co June 12 update

You might also want to head on over to the Kettle Yarn Co. website. Linda had an update today that included more Westminster baby camel/silk and Islington DK in summer brights.

What to stash this week: Handmade goodies to swoon over


Brianna of Swoonish, one of the newest Indie Untangled artisans, dyes out of sunny Palm Coast, Florida (a state I am seriously regretting leaving on Monday). She’s offering 15% off her yarn and fiber, which include workhorse superwash Merino and luxurious Merino/silk blends that you’re sure to swoon over. Use code FB15OFF at checkout through March 1.


You’ll have to do a little more than say the name three times to make the Slipped Stitch Studios Bag of the Month appear at your house. The Beetlejuice bags, notions pouches, needle nooks and spindle totes went up for sale on Friday the 13th and will go back to the Netherworld when they sell out.


Isaura means “gentle breeze” in Greek, according to many baby name sites, and it’s the perfect moniker for Fiber Dreams‘ newest sweater pattern. The light, breezy cardigan is knit in pieces from the bottom up with delicate lace and cable stitches, and looks like the ideal cardi to throw on when spring finally arrives.


When she’s not creating needle felted stuffed animals with the hair of her Bergamasco sheepdogs, Jeanine is creating batches of face and body creams and lip balms with organic ingredients. She just launched the Solstice Handcrafted online shop last month, so head over to sooth your winter-ravaged skin.


Here’s an upcoming fiber festival you can participate in without traveling. Sort of. Jo and Kate over at The Golden Skein have partnered with the Edinburgh Yarn Festival for the Linne Foirthe Club, which celebrates the Scottish city’s vibrant fiber community. The inspiration for the club is “Face Over The Forth” by Chris Combe, an photograph of Forth Bridge, which connects Edinburgh with Fife and turns 125 years old this year. Subscribers will get three 100g skeins of fingering weight yarn, each dyed by a different dyer, using the photograph as inspiration for the colorway. Packages will be mailed out by March 12, to arrive just in time for the festival. TGS ships worldwide, so you if you’re not journeying to the festival, you can still feel like you were there (and if you are going on March 14 & 15, it’s an extra souvenir).