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 stash this week: Say goodnight to North Cascades

Today is the last day to get your hands on the debut Knitting Our National Parks colorway from Backyard Fiberworks! Preorders close at midnight Eastern Time tonight.

Krista of Pigeonroof Studios is celebrating more than 10 years in business by updating her shop with Greatest Hits. They include Electric Rose (pictured above), Ricochet, Ghost Orchid and Pansies, dyed on American Sock yarn as well as Polwarth/silk and Superwash Merino spinning fiber. As a fellow Indie Untangled fan, you can get 10% off until July 8th with the code INDIEUNTANGLED. 

The yarn from IU newcomer Old Rusted Chair is much more colorful than its rustic name implies. Dyer Lauren hails from Nashville, and has a great line of semisolids, along with a ton of fun variegated and speckled yarns. She recently added some new sock sets, which include a 100g skein of speckles plus a 20g mini skein of a complementary tonal color. 

SpaceCadet’s SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club, a yarn club devoted to worsted and bulky weight yarns, is now open to new subscribers for a limited time. Subscriptions are either six months or 12 months and include a gift along with the yarn.

What to stash this week: Tour de stash

If you’re a sock knitter, then you may be training for the Tour de Sock, a knitting competition that raises funds for Doctors Without Borders. Sue of Invictus Yarns has dyed up some gorgeous TdS colorways, including a variegated one that’s TDF.

Wild Hair Studio is one of the first vendors on a new marketplace just for fiber and yarn called FiberCrafty, with 15% off in the shop through June 10th.

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!

What to stash this week if you’re not in Edinburgh

The folks over at Siidegarte have made up for you missing out on the Edin Yarn Fest and the Find Your Fade craze. They’ve curated three Find Your Fade kits that include seven 90g skeins of their gorgeous silk-infused yarn. The kits are available on three different bases, using both existing Siidegarte colourways and a few special edition ones. And there’s a discount, this weekend only!

Sheila and Lance of BigFootFibershave stocked their shop full of spring colors (it might be snowing in the Northeast today, but it felt like spring earlier this week!) including Robyn’s Egg, St. Patrick’s Day, and some Rainbow mini and mega mini skein sets.

Because who can resist something called a llamicorn, Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has her fun Pink Fluffy Llamicorns colorway available to pre-order through Sunday, March 19 at 8 p.m. Eastern. Plus, every customer gets a free Pink Fluffy Llamicorn stitch marker!

Socktastic, Lara Smoot’s latest sock pattern, was so addictive that it converted even her most sock-reticent test knitter, the lovely Michelle of Berry Colorful Yarnings. Use coupon code SisterlyLove for 40% off the pattern through March 15th.

Zombies are appropriate for any time of year, not just a certain holiday in October. My Mama Knits’ Zombie-themed yarns are now available on a variety of Superwash bases in varying weights, including DK and sock.

The latest from Stillwater Designs, Salt Pond, is a top-down crescent shawl worked with alternating sections of garter and slip stitch, framed by a simple eyelet border and inspired by the salt pond at Point Judith, RI.

What to stash this week: Spotted in the wild

I am one of the first to spread the word of Etsy and Indie Untangled newcomer BigFootFibers. This true mom and pop operation was recently launched by Sheila and Lance of Tulsa, Oklahoma, after they began dreaming about it last summer. They have both bright and springy, as well as rich and moody, semisolid and variagated colors available on bases like Yeti and Sasquatch Sock.

Ann Tudor has been crafting some seasonally appropriate stitch markers, including these adorable fish, which should help your next project come along swimmingly. To be really on the ball, go with her St. Patrick’s Day and Easter designs. 

Speaking of Easter, if you’re happy that it’s Peeps season, then you’ll really love Lara Smoot’s latest sock pattern.

Introducing Black Wolf Ranch, with Alpaca, Merino, Cormo and BFL yarns made with fiber from the ranch and others throughout Montana.

One Hand in the Dyepots has has added four new colorways to the Etsy shop.

The Yoshi & Lucy shop is stocked with spring-inspired yarns.

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.

Untangling: Lara Smoot

As a designer, Lara Smoot was an “early adopter” of Indie Untangled, and I’ve loved getting word of her latest designs — from her Game of Thrones-inspired shawls to her incredible colorwork socks — on the Marketplace.

For the 2016 Where We Knit yarn club, I paired Lara up with Dami of Magpie Fibers and they came up with a simple, beach-inspired pair of mitts in an icy blue. I’m hoping to cast on soon to help me get through the winter.

I spoke to Lara about her background and how she starts work on some of her more complex pieces:

When and how did you learn to knit?

My grandmother taught me basic knitting when I was in my early teens. She didn’t teach me how to purl and I wanted the scarf that I was knitting to look smooth (stockinette) so I figured out how to knit backwards. I put my needles down after that scarf and didn’t pick knitting up again until about 12 years ago and this time it stuck!

What made you decide to become a designer?

I wanted to create something new and unique and be able to share it with other knitters. My goal is to create patterns with clear and concise directions that produce beautiful results. Knitting should be fun and I try to have that come through in my designs.

What did you do in your “pre-designer” life and how does that influence your design work?

I showed horses for many years and designed and sewed custom riding clothing during that time. Creating custom garments that fit people taught me a lot about sizing and, of course, measuring. Later on, I worked in marketing for a nationally known insurance company and after that I was the director of social media for a yarn company. Working for the yarn company taught me a lot about the yarn industry and gave me so much insight on what goes on behind the scenes.

The Game of Thrones-inspired Fire and Blood.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Oh my gosh, I’m inspired by so many things! Patterns that I see in nature, the beautiful colors in a skein of yarn, music that I’m listening to, my favorite characters in a tv series. All those things inspire me.

You seem to design in a variety of colors. Which are your favorites?

I love bright colors and speckled and variegated yarns to work with. Pinks, purples, blues and green are some of my favorites. I love gray too. It’s the perfect complementary color to go with anything bright.

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

Have a big cup of coffee! All kidding aside, it depends on the project. Sometimes I start with a sketch, sometimes I swatch before I sketch. With my colorwork designs, like Shark Bite and Fright Night, I create the chart first. I have an idea of what I want the piece to look like and keep tweaking the chart until it’s what I envisioned.

The Seacoast Mitts pattern from the 2016 Where We Knit yarn club.

Where is your favorite place to knit?

At home with my pugs in my lap and a good cup of coffee or tea while watching a knitting podcast.

What to stash this week: spooktacular yarn

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Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has seen her dye pots taken over by the Sanderson Sisters of Disney’s Hocus Pocus. The collection includes Black Flame Candle, a self-striping Sanderson Sisters colorway and a special Hocus Pocus kit that contains a third special color, a project bag from Suburban Stitcher and a notions tin filled with goodies.

If you’re in the mood to knit something spooky, Lara Smoot’s Fright Night socks might fit the bill. The vampire-themed colorwork socks, which use Undead Yarn (yes, really) have an introductory price of $3.99 on Ravelry until October 1.

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Lyra, the latest sweater from Laura of Fiber Dreams is inspired by Orpheus’ lyre, said to charm everyone. The sleeves of this simple garment — knit flat from the bottom, with notes if you prefer to knit in the round — are dotted with starry eyelets and accented with eyelet rib.

IU noob Dye is Cast Yarns has several new colorways on their Squish Wish base, a 75/25 Superwash Merino/nylon sock yarn.

What to stash this week: Moving Day sale

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Laura and the crew at Slipped Stitch Studios crew moving to a new, larger space. Throughout this weekend, they’re holding a huge moving sale, offering decent discounts on some of their most popular products.

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Simone’s new design, the Upland Socks, look like the knitting equivalent of wiggling your toes in some thick green grass. Inspired by gnarled branches and twisting roots, the socks feature a cable pattern worked on the front, adding a little interest while not complicating the shaping.

Kettle Yarn Co. had a shop update yesterday, with new hues and lots of restocked colors.