We are just one week away from the latest Indie Untangled virtual show and I’m so excited about it — there are so many new vendors I’m looking forward to meeting and shopping with. Have you checked out our list of dyers, podcasters and designers who are part of this event?
Haven’t purchased your ticket yet? You’re in luck, since we’re have having a 72-hour flash sale on Indie Untangled Spotlight admission tickets. Save 25% off by using this special link to register by Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.
Need a last-minute gift for the special crafter in your life? bring them to Indie Spotlight! The two of you can hang out in lounge, attend virtual shopping sessions and play bingo and trivia together.
Giulia and Stefania of Lanivendole are opening sign-ups on Sunday for their latest yarn club, which is inspired by the enchanted woods and the paintings of Gustav Klimt. Each club box will include 200g of their A Stormy Blend – Perla, a blend of Italian Wool and alpaca in a colorway hand-dyed exclusively for the club, and two accessories from Italian makers.
Preorders are open for Queen City Yarn’s Home Alone-themed Advent calendar that will leave you screaming like Kevin McAllister with aftershave. Boxes include 24 92-yard mini skeins and on full skein, along with three patterns.
Mother/daughter team Holly and Erin of Stitch Stuff Yarn have new spring colors on fingering-weight 100% Superwash Merino wool. You can also learn more about the Stuff family (yes, that’s really their name!) in their intro post.
This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.
I first met Jill of the yarn company Jilly & Kiddles at a Brooklyn yarn event (remember those?) a couple of years ago, and she is just as fun and approachable as the name of her company would suggest. In fact, Jill received a slew of nominations for the Spotlight show from some of her loyal customers, and their words say it all:
“Jill is an amazing dyer – her yarn is absolutely amazing and should be shared. I belong to her Sock of the Season group where her gorgeous colors never disappoint. I also purchased her 2020 Advent which was extraordinary!!” –Eileen
“I would like to see Jilly & Kiddles in the spotlight. Jilly’s yarn is amazing to work with. The colors and color combinations she creates are exquisite! She works hard to create fun collaborations with other makers. Her newsletters are like receiving emails from your favorite friend. She manages to make each of her customers feel special.” –Christine
“I have made a few colorwork sweaters recently and of all of the main color yarn I enjoyed working with and the final project of Jilly and Kiddles yarn. The yarn is lush and springy and the dyer is helpful, answering questions quickly and thoroughly.” –Susan
If you’re up for some fun on the Saturday of Spotlight, and want the chance to win some of Jill’s beautiful yarn, sign up for our virtual trivia game, which Jilly & Kiddles is sponsoring. She’ll also be hosting an informative session in the Spotlight lounge on Saturday on yarn substitution.
Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.
Around five or six years ago I started to become pretty obsessed with hand-dyed yarn. I loved the bright colors and creative combinations I was seeing, but found when I knit them up, they weren’t what I expected. It was difficult to find indie yarn that created the finished objects I desired. If you’ve ever adored a skein of yarn, but not the fabric it creates, you know exactly what I mean.
I began looking for colorful yarn that created more of a muted, soft overall color. I wanted the varied colors of hand-dyed, but in something that was really wearable for me and fit into my own style and wardrobe. Along the way, I found a couple of larger companies making the look I wanted, but not many. I wondered if I could do this myself and be able to get exactly what I wanted. I’d taken a yarn dyeing workshop with an indie dyer many years ago at a retreat and loved it. Maybe this is something I could learn?
I started watching tutorials and reading every yarn dyeing book I could get my hands on. I bought some supplies and started experimenting in my garage. Boy, was dyeing fun! Long story short: I loved it and I couldn’t stop. Sometimes I got what I wanted and sometimes I didn’t, but I was learning so much and I knew this was something I wanted to continue doing. There were other people who were looking for the same kind of yarn I was looking for and I wanted to be able to offer it to them. That’s when my yarn dyeing business became a dream I needed to make reality.
What inspires your colorways?
My colorways are inspired by nature, in two ways. There’s the usual way… something in nature catches my eye, like a flower, sunset, or landscape, and I want to recreate it. The other way nature inspires my yarn is the way I create colorways, layering and mixing colors. Have you ever looked at a purple flower really closely and realized that there are a ton more colors to it than just the purple your eye first registered? You might see purples, blues, pinks, and even maroon, brown or gray! Nature uses many hues and shades to create beautiful colors, and I use this concept in my own yarn dyeing and colorway creation. My colorways feature lots of layers of different colors to create something wearable and pleasing to the eye.
Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?
This is a great question! My favorite colors have always been orange and blue and they still are. However, creating colors from primaries really opens your mind to different hues and variations of colors. I’ve found that there isn’t a color I don’t like, if I can get the right version of it. For example, it’s not that I don’t “like” pink, it’s that I don’t like every pink. Find the right one, and it can be magical!
Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?
I’ve always struggled to create the perfect olive green color, but I just recently nailed it and I’m so excited about that! Something about it was such a huge challenge, and it feels good to have made it work after years of trying to get the color in my mind onto the actual yarn. The other color I think many dyers struggle with is a great black. It can be tough to get the saturation you desire.
Can you share some of your plans for Indie Spotlight?
Nope, it’s a secret. I’m just teasing! Of course I can. For my Indie Spotlight show special, I’m offering limited quantities of several different minis sets in unique colors. These are not going to be produced again, so this is the only way to get your hands on them. They’re on a new fingering weight base I haven’t offered before and I couldn’t be more excited about it! Indie Spotlight is going to shine a light on my small business, and all I can say is it’s going to “sparkle” under it! These ready-to-ship minis sets are exclusive to Spotlight and in limited quantities.
I’m offering free shipping worldwide with any purchase of $100 or more (USD) and any order of $40 or more will receive a free stitch marker too! (These offers are valid the weekend of the event and include standard shipping only. Stitch markers are while supplies last.)
I’m also doing a How-To demo Saturday from 4-5 p.m. on Yarn Substitution from a Dyer’s Perspective, that I think will be really helpful for a lot of makers. It features ways to save money and use your stash — even the stuff you don’t think you can wear. I’ll give you tricks to make the yarn you want to use work in more patterns, and we’re going to talk a lot about color — how to substitute so it looks amazing, how to pick colors that work for you, and how to “fix” colors you love but don’t think you can wear. Be sure to join us and bring your questions!
When and how did you learn to knit?
After many attempts to learn as a child over the years, I finally learned to knit in 2005 while I was pregnant with my third child, or “Kiddle” as we like to call them. I taught myself. I had a little how-to pamphlet book from a craft store, some plastic needles and acrylic yarn. When I got stuck, I looked online at tutorials (back then they were more of the photos style, not videos like you see now) or in my pamphlet. I took out books from the library and just figured it out on my own. Ravelry was just starting out while I was learning, and that was a great resource for me, too.
What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?
Gosh, there are so many great ones! One of my customers chose a dark gray (now called Graphite) and an orange (Lava Lamp) to make Stephen West’s Starflake shawl during the KAL and he did SUCH an amazing job. The colors are right up my alley and I’ve wanted to make one of my own ever since. It’s gorgeous. I adore my Clayoquat sweater, designed by Tin Can Knits, and knit in Ideal DK base. It was my first (and only) steeked project and it turned out so well. I wear it all the time and it still looks great! My friend Nadine made a beautiful magenta pink version Denise Bayron’s Waves of Change Jacket in Aurora Aran and I love the way it turned out and that the Sassy Pants colorway she chose is a perfect fit for her personality! My favorite FOs of my customers are often when they choose colors that I wouldn’t normally wear or choose for myself, but they’re the exact right fit for them. I can tell how happy they are with the projects and it brings me a lot of joy to share in that with them.
What’s currently on your needles?
I’m working on a Jayne Hat for my son in custom dyed colors (any Firefly fans out there?) and I have the Current Mood shawl by Knit Graffiti going right now as well. It’s my first Brioche project and it’s a lot of fun.
You are passionate about empowering makers to use the yarn they want. What’s your favorite yarn substitution story?
This is a toughie. I help people choose and substitute yarn all the time, so it’s hard to narrow down to just one. Any time I can help someone choose a combo of “their” colors that work with a colorwork pattern in the same way it was originally designed, it’s a win in my book. There is one substitution I helped customers make a lot, and that was when Andrea Mowry’s Weekender sweater first came out. It called for worsted weight yarn, but in a very fluffy and light yarn. My Aurora base is an Aran/heavy-worsted weight, but it’s very soft and drapey and isn’t a great fit for that particular sweater if you want it to look and feel the same as the original version. I found if I worked two strands of Velvet Sock (my single-ply fingering-weight base) together, I created yarn that was worsted weight, with just the right amount of drape and spring to it to make the Weekender perfectly!
Many of my customers ordered Velvet yarn for that pattern, sometimes all in one color, and sometimes two different colors held together for a marled effect. My favorite combo was a very colorful variegated called Rustle held with a busy tonal green called Spruced Up. I have a sample in that combo and several of my customers made that exact version as well! It is a great base substitution that allowed for some fun color play and ended up using less yarn overall than making it in aran/worsted weight. So my customers saved money and got the results they were looking for, which is really satisfying.
This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.
When Monica of Gothfarm Yarn first posted to Indie Untangled in April of last year, I had to laugh at the name. Though you’d expect someone who gave their business such an edgy moniker to be an indie dyer, Monica, a handspinner, knitter and crocheter who is based in Austin, Texas, instead works with small farms and mills to create an array of natural yarns — with an emphasis on the “black sheep,” of course.
Tell us the story of how Gothfarm Yarn came to be.
The idea for Gothfarm Yarn came during a conversation with a friend. I told her that I loved spinning yarn from naturally-colored fleece so much that I wish I could have a “goth farm” just for raising black sheep for their beautiful wool.
The name and concept struck a chord with me. As a handspinner and knitter, I personally enjoyed blending naturally colored fleeces and spinning them up into yarn, but I rarely saw this type of yarn produced in large quantities at yarn shops or fiber events.
I realized that my idea for a “goth farm” worked better as a small yarn business, especially since I wanted to be able to share the yarn with other knitters and crafters. I could buy an array of fleeces and fibers from producers, decide on the blends I liked best, and then work with small mills to scale them up. That’s essentially how Gothfarm Yarn works today.
Another important part of getting Gothfarm Yarn started is the example set by the indie yarn community and the knowledge offered by the Texas wool community.
When I talked to vendors at fiber shows, I saw that everyone had a different pathway to indie yarn. You didn’t need special credentials or a certification. Anyone could take part. This provided a big confidence boost to get Gothfarm Yarn started in the first place. In turn, the Texas wool community – especially Dawn Brown at Independence Fiber Mill – helped teach me about wool and how to prepare it for milling. The community has also provided a powerful network for connecting me with wool producers!
How have you found the producers you work with?
I met about half of my current producers at yarn and fiber events or through word-of-mouth networks that started there. The other half I have found through Facebook groups dedicated to selling wool, mohair and other fibers. I’m always interested in hearing from new people, too!
Do you have a favorite sheep breed?
Yes! The Jacob sheep is my favorite breed. They can have up to six horns and are known for their piebald fleeces that come in a number of beautiful shades, from the usual black-and-white to elegant lilac gray. They’re beautiful to behold and have adorably dainty bodies.
I love using Jacob wool in Gothfarm Yarn products because of the body and heathering it adds to the final product. Jacob is part of our yarns Gabbro and Aswan, and in our pencil roving Cirrus. I also stock a 100% Jacob roving that’s great to spin on its own or blend with other fibers at home.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned while running your business?
I find the history of different sheep breeds fascinating. The most interesting thing that I have learned while running Gothfarm Yarn is that a number of breeds — such as the Polypay and the Coopworth— are relatively recent developments, and the result of targeted, scientific breeding for specific characteristics and traits.
In that same line, I’m fascinated by “breed up” programs that are introducing populations of foreign sheep breeds to the United States without importing any individuals. Instead, semen from a foreign breed is imported and used to create cross-breed lambs with an established breed. The cross-breed ewes are then bred with imported semen, and the process is repeated until the genetics of the American offspring matches that of the original foreign population. This method is currently being used to establish American populations of Gotland sheep and the Valais Blacknose sheep.
How did you learn to knit?
I took a community knitting class while I was in college. It was a four-week program that met every Monday night. The instructor was excellent and wanted to make sure we left the class with a strong foundation that would prepare us to take on a range of projects. We covered colorwork, lace, and cabling. She even made us drop stitches and taught us how to fix our knitting.
She also gave us a list of local yarn shops and regional fiber festivals. I went to my first fiber festival – Kid N’ Ewe and Llamas, too in Boerne, Texas – based on her recommendation. I left the festival with armfuls of indie yarn, feeling excited to knit it all!
Can you share some of your plans for Indie Spotlight?
My plan for Indie Spotlight is to show off the yarn! Each of our 14 yarns has a unique look and feel based on the fibers that comprise it. I’m going to go through each one, sharing what went into it and how to use it.
I will also be debuting a brand new yarn at Indie Spotlight. It’s a yet-to-be-named sport weight made from a blend of Cheviot sheep wool and just a touch of light gray alpaca. The overall color is the lightest shade of dove gray.
I am also going to share strategies for working with undyed, naturally colored yarn, make a case for adding more rugged wool to your knitting, and show off some of my favorite finished objects.
Do you enjoy other crafts in addition to knitting?
Yes, I enjoy handspinning with my wheel and drop spindle. I also occasionally crochet.
Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.
I recently started the Shasta Vest. I’m using Gothfarm Yarn’s Aswan for the body and Carbonado for the edging. I also have a pair of socks on a magic loop that I’m pecking away at when I need a change of pace. I’m using YarnTrekker’s Walkabout Tweed sock yarn in the color Pumpkin Spicy.
We’re so excited to share more of what we have planned for our upcoming virtual event, Indie Spotlight, which is just two weeks away on May 14-16! We’ve partnered with yarn shop Scratch Supply Co. to put together two panels where we can meet and get to know a group of talented and fascinating designers. Since purpose of Indie Spotlight is to highlight newer businesses and those with under 10K followers on Instagram, our Spotlight designers fit that description, and were chosen because we feel they have unique viewpoints to share.
We look forward to hearing from:
Vanessa Smith of Vanessa Smith Designs, who aims to inspire and empower other knitters feel confident in their ability to make show-stopping pieces of knitwear that they can proudly wear for years to come
Corrado Lark, an actor and singer who loves a good pop culture pun and brings that inspiration to his ornate designs
Jennifer Lassonde of Down Cellar Studio, who specializes in accessories that look complicated but are simple to execute
Chase Harpole of Chase Harpole Knits, who looks to build opportunities for individual customization into his designs so that people that knit them can feel empowerment and ownership of their own identity
Michael Green of MGZDesignsCo, who uses the beauty of Afrocentric motifs to create works that challenge the mind but are accessible to all types of knitters
Sarah Krentz of Swanky Emu Knits, who designs size-inclusive knitting patterns that automatically adapt to your unique set of body measurements with an accompanying spreadsheet
Kacey Herlihy of Kacey Knits, who design patterns that are easier than they look, with low-pressure instructions and wearable results
Your $7 ticket provides you with access to shopping more than 20 vendors as well as these panels and all the other free activities in the Spotlight Lounge. Register now!
A Wing and A Prayer Farm’s Garden Party 100% Vermont Grown Natural Hand Dyed 3-ply Cormo yarn comes from Tammy’s sheep Peter Pan, Martha, Bonnie, Bluma, Mary and Birch. Their fleece is spun at local mills and Tammy grows natural dye stuffs, or has it sourced from sustainable foragers to make these special and unique series of colorways.
If you’re craving some springtime sushi (I think that’s a thing?) then Alisha of KnitSpinQuilt will deliver with these bags featuring adorable sushi cats, corgis, otters and pandas. Bags are available in sock-, shawl- and sweater-sized drawstring bags and shawl-sized box bags.
To celebrate new color combinations in 100% Shetland wool for her popular Lemoyne Cowl kits, and Mother’s Day, Erika of Liverpool Yarns is offering 15% off the kits with the code LC15 from midnight Saturday, May 1, through end of day Tuesday, May 4.
Speaking of natural yarns, Sharon of Flora Adora Fibers is having a huge shop update tomorrow, May 1. She’ll be debuting four new non-Superwash bases will make their debut: Wisp mohair silk laceweight, Edgeland 100% Merino worsted weight, Mountain Sport gradient sets made with sportweight Rambouillet, and Meander, an organic single-ply Merino fingering weight. Lots of new colors will be also be added for existing bases: Highland DK, Zebra Crossing fingering, Merino Sock Sets and Meadow Rustic Sport. As a bonus, get 10% off May 1 and 2 with the code BOTANICA.
Michelle is celebrating her birthday weekend with dazzling debuts, a weekend-long sale, and a free gift! Through Monday, you can preorder the Laurel Leaves MDSW 2021 Exclusive Shawl Pin in your choice of Shining Gold or Vintage Bronze. Along with free shipping within the U.S. on all orders over $15, you’ll save 10% sitewide with code MDSW2021. Each shopper who uses the code will find a free goodie bag of mystery notions in their order as a special birthday treat!
Aimee of Pancake and Lulu is celebrating the Summer Solstice with A Mini Summer Night’s Dream, a set of 12 Shakespeare-inspired mini skeins to open each day leading up to the solstice from June 9-20. The listing will be open for a short time and available in limited quantities, so act fast!
Attention weavers: Gothfarm’s Kaolin yarn is perfect for the Gothfarm Yarn Summer Clutch. The yarn is made with natural white Lincoln Longwool sheep locks blended with Tunis sheep wool. The clutch pattern is free with at least one skein of Kaolin and the code Clutch.
Aside from the list of more than 20 indie dyers and makers we’ve lined up for Indie Spotlight — our next virtual show taking place from May 14-16 — we’re making the Spotlight virtual lounge a destination where you can meet and hang out with your fellow crafters and special guests. We’re excited to announce that Gigi and Jasmin from the Knitmore Girls podcast will be joining us for a meetup during the show!
Your $7 ticket includes access to our Spotlight lounge, where the Knitmores will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday. In case you miss it, the session will be recorded and available only to registered attendees through the end of June.
Dana of Un Besito Fiber is dreaming of the days that she can throw some clothes in a backpack and taking off. Her Dreaming of Paris Snack Pack helps scratch that travel itch. The bakery box of a dozen 10-gram minis in 75/25 Superwash Merino/nylon fingering are inspired by the soft, dreamlike colors of a springtime in Paris image. And they’re all wound up into balls and ready to knit or crochet on your next adventure.
Liz of Yarns by the Bay is a dyer based in Melbourne, Australia, who creates fun, often bright colorways on Superwash Merino/nylon fingering and DK. If you happen to live Down Under, Liz offers free shipping within Australia.
Orders close this Monday, April 26, for the Summer Sock of the Season Club, a collaboration between Jilly & Kiddles Yarn and BritStitchery Design. Club installments include one full skein of an exclusive colorway, a club exclusive sock pattern and two surprise extras.
Megan of Megs & Co has finally found the luxury yarn of her dreams. Her Bluefaced Leicester Lux Fingering, or BFL Lux for short, is a blend of 70% Certified English Bluefaced Leicester Superwash wool, 20% silk, and 10% Cashmere. It’s ideal for sweaters and special garments.
Emily of Kitty With a Cupcake has published her first garment pattern! The Sucker Punch Shrug uses two colors of yarn to create a bold garment. Save $1 through April 28 to celebrate the release.
The April installment of the Teton Yarn Company’s full moon colorway series celebrates the Pink Moon, named after one of the first wildflowers to bloom after the snow melts. Featured on 100% Superwash Merino Mountain Sock, it goes live today at 6 p.m. MDT.
For our next virtual event, Petrina and I decided to go back to the roots of IU and provide a platform for newer and super-indie yarntrepreneurs.
We’ll be showcasing nearly two dozen small businesses at Indie Spotlight, which runs from May 14-16!
Spotlight vendors launched their businesses in 2019 or later or have fewer than 10k Instagram followers. Register now for access to virtual vendor booths that will feature video introductions and tours, photo galleries, and access to special products and discounts. You’ll also be able to meet dyers and makers during interactive shopping sessions (if you miss any, they will be recorded) and schedule one-on-one shopping appointments, where you can get help choosing colorways and deciding on patterns.
There will also be snacks…
I hope you can join us!
Today’s the last day to preorder Kraeo’s Setting Sun colorway for Knitting Our National Parks, inspired by sunset at the Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland, a peaceful place just a 45-minute drive from both Baltimore and Washington, DC. It’s available on Little Sister Fingering, a Superwash Merino single-ply fingering, and Mama Bear DK, a luxurious blend of 45% baby alpaca, 45% 19.5 Micron Merino and 10% silk.
Jillian’s recent love obsession with plants inspired these adorable succulent stitch markers now available in the WeeOnes shop, along with glow-in-the-dark aliens with a tiny spaceship and a set of knitting cats.
Who wouldn’t want to head off to Sheep Camp?! Dyer Meghan of Native Fibers, an Indie Spotlight vendor, is collaborating with designer Jennifer Berg of Native Knitter on the Sheep Camp Sweater KAL, which launches April 23.
Natalie of Fiberdog Fibers created her Rainbow Stars minis from raw Romney fleece that she washed, picked, carded, dyed and spun herself! Each set includes seven 20g minis.
Sharon of Garage Dyeworks also dyed up a different take on the rainbow. Be Yourself is now available on her 100% Superwash Merino. called Auto DK.
Kate of McMullin Fiber Co is taking us along on a trip out west and allowing us to pack our bags full of beautiful yarn. Today she debuts her Canyon Collection, a line of 12 coordinating colorways inspired by the beauty of the mountainous West.
Guilia and Stefania of Lanivendole have teamed up with designer Justyna Lorkowska of Letesknits on the Nappe Shawl. There are kits available in four different color combinations of A Chic Blend and A Heavenly Blend. Act fast — preorders close on Monday, April 12.
Join Mary, Queen of the Knitters, for a Mystery Knit-a-Long quest for the grail! Her Knights Who Say Knit shawl pattern is available for preorders and is discounted through April 15th. The first clue will be released April 19.
Stevie of Curated Yarn Co. runs her luxe hand-dyed yarn company near Brighton on the Sussex Coast of England. Her colorways are designed to evoke nostalgia and joy and she offers yarn, clubs, mini sets, Curated X Creatives Boxes and a range of bases.
Bonnie of Yank Your Yarn has a new set of colorful stitch markers that can attach to magnets, so you can keep your collection organized (and hopefully out of your sofa cushions).
April showers bring… Friendly Flutterby end minders, which help tame your loose ends, and Raindrop Stitch Markers from Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations.
Megan of Megs & Co has a few mini skein sets available, including the Hope & A Future set for use with Isabella Tonski of Fiber & Fox’s crochet shawl of the same name, and Home is Where the Heart is, an ode to Megan’s home city of Rochester, NY.
7th Floor Yarn is now offering their third annual 12 Days of Christmas in July Advent kit. The Hawaiian Christmas-themed kit includes 12 individually-wrapped skeins of DK yarn and notions, plus a knit or crochet pattern.
The Stardust Fiber Studio April subscription box is a collaboration with Mother of Purl. Boxes come with two skeins of Emerald’s Andromeda base and an exclusive stitch marker.
For the latest installment of Knitting Our National Parks, Kristin of KraeO, who has a background in painting, is bringing us along to Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland, which is about a 40-minute drive from both Baltimore and Washington, DC. I can so appreciate this space that allows both wildlife and people to recharge, and photographer Ian Shive captured the kind of stunning sunset that would make any spot look magical.
Kristin’s Setting Sun colorway is available to preorder on Indie Untangled through Friday, April 16. She’s dyed it on two bases — Little Sister Fingering, a Superwash Merino single-ply fingering and Mama Bear DK, a luxurious blend of 45% baby alpaca, 45% Merino and 10% silk. The yarn will ship at the end of May. As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation to help support these beautiful public lands.
Speaking of wildlife and springtime adventures, Jillian of WeeOnes is highlighting a few wild animal-inspired stitch markers. Her shop has a ton of creatures, including these cutie beavers, as well as robins and sea turtles. And this month’s surprise stitch marker theme is “babies,” so maybe… baby animals?!
If your inner wanderlust is taking you a little further afield, bring these adorable stitch markers from Katy and the Katrinkles team along on your journey. There are only a dozen sets left in the shop!
If you don’t pack light (um, what yarn enthusiast does?) then you might need this bag that I’ve called The Woolpack. It was handcrafted by Rhinebeck-based maker Julia Hilrbrandt and features ample room for your projects and essentials, an inner and outer pocket and a screen-printed yarn ball surrounded by colorful felted dots. There are only a couple left in the world, so if you’re eyeing them, act fast.
Stephanie, the dyer at SpaceCadet, has hit a new design home run with her new Striad Wrap, a series of short row triangles, knit individually in strips and joined together without any seaming up.
Nikki of Laneras Yarn Company has a new fingering-weight base made with 100% Uruguayan Polwarth. Like all Laneras yarns, it is custom spun using wool that is ethically sourced and sustainably produced in Uruguay.
This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Across the Pond, taking place from March 19-21, 2021.
I featured Garthenor Organic on the blog last year prior to Indie Untangled Everywhere in October. I’m excited that this British yarn company has decided to return for our first international fiber event! I spoke with Jonny King to learn even more about his and his mom Sally’s commitment to organic, British wool.
What did the process of organic certification entail?
It’s quite a lengthy process! For an organic farm like ours, there is a minimum of two years of transition, which lets the livestock and land adapt gradually to a new way of farming. For the yarn production, it’s usually a little quicker, thankfully. There are a few key areas that come under the scope of a GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certification, namely chemical inputs (like dyes and detergents), traceability, working conditions and environmental standards. For each of these, we need to be able to show complete transparency during our annual inspection and occasional unannounced spot inspections, so it’s pretty in-depth. I definitely don’t think we’d be able to keep it up if we didn’t truly believe in the process.
How has your company evolved over 20-plus years?
This is an odd one for me, as I’ve grown up alongside the company – Mum (Sally) often jokes that she brought me up to join in with making yarn! We started with spinning yarn from wool only from our own flock, but we’re now working with 50-60 organic farms around the UK to grow this amazing fibre. As you can imagine, this also means a lot more yarn being made too! We’re still a tiny company though, with just the two of us working full time, and I think that means we can keep that raw connection to the way our yarns are made – without any compromise at all.
Are you still facing challenges due to the pandemic? What about Brexit?
Definitely! I think like just about every industry, we’ve had a few setbacks over the last year or so. Not having in-person shows has been so heartbreaking, as this is really where we get to connect with friends and customers, and we really get to tell the story of the fibre. We work with a few small mills here in the UK, and they’ve all faced closures and reduced staffing, so it’s been trickier than ever to keep up with demand!
Shipping has been a challenge, but I’m glad to say this is looking a little more stable now – we’re dispatching orders every day all across the world, and the postal services are doing an amazing job to get all the yarny parcels delivered as quickly as possible.
Tell me more about the rare breed that you debuted at Indie Untangled Everywhere last year?
One of our favourite things when introducing a new or single-release yarn is to introduce makers to a fibre they may have never discovered before. For Indie Untangled Everywhere, it was a blend of Manx Loaghtan and Hampshire Down, two gorgeous British breeds, woollen spun into a super soft and squishy yarn. Partnering this one was the pure Manx Loaghtan, and a marl of the two shades (we always love a good marl here!). The flock that grows the Manx Loaghtan fleece was one of our first supplier farms, and it’s that genuine connection the story of the fibre that makes us so proud to do what we do.
Like all our fibre, it was hand sorted by Sally – her experience and knowledge in working with fibre for years is really what sets each yarn apart. She has a knack to understanding how the fibre will be behave, and it guides us to make wool that reflects the landscape, the sheep and the story that surrounds us every day.
What new products will you be showing at Indie Across the Pond?
We’re going to be re-introducing a special edition version of our newest base, Snowdonia Sock. Spun from pure rare-breed Greyface Dartmoor wool, the texture is so unique and special, and captures what I mentioned about reflecting our landscape. We worked with a farm in Cornwall to source the fibre, and it was spun just a few miles down the road from where it grew. We only spun a very small batch, so it’s definitely not one to miss!