What to stash this week: earthy knits

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A person hugging a tree.

Kismet of LoLo Body Care is doing her part with the LoLo Body Care Eco-Bag, a 100% organic cotton Fair-Trade Certified bag that, among other advantages, uses growing systems that replenish and maintain soil fertility and build biologically diverse agriculture. Even better, with every bag that’s purchased, one tree gets planted with LoLo’s partners, One Tree Planted.

Cream yarn with pale pink, purple and gold speckles.

To mark the release of Paula Pereira’s Talyse shawl, designed for the 2020 Where We Knit Yarn Club, I’m doing a limited preorder of Shani’s delicately speckled colorway, created with natural dyes! While reminiscent of cherry blossoms, she dubbed it Crazy 88 because she had never dyed that many skeins of one colorway before. It’s available on her Helios 50/50 Merino/Mulberry silk base, which would look gorgeous in Paula’s new shawl, or in sweaters that call for some drape. You can find some pattern suggestions, and preorder the yarn, through August 23.

Red, white and blue hand-dyed yarn.

Janis and Christen of Queen City Yarn are donating $10 for every skein of their red, white and blue colorway sold to Fair Fight, which works to “promote fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourage voter participation in elections, and educate voters about elections and their voting rights.”

An orange and brown tweed tote bag.

Katherine of K. MacColl Bags makes sophisticated tote bags using wool fabrics. They come in five different looks and two large sizes, and in a number of colorways and patterns.

A box of colorful yarn.

Melissa is celebrating the launch of her new Canada-based shop, Alley Cat Yarns, with free shipping within North America and 20% off purchases of $150CAD or more, through the end of August.

Purple and teal variegated yarn.

Maelstrom Fiber Arts’ Gothic Mermaid Collection is inspired by the legends and lore of sirens or mermaids. Jennifer’s colorways are available on the majority of her bases, including a new non-Superwash fingering-weight yarn.

Gray shark stitch markers.

It’s Shark Week, so celebrate with WeeOnes miniature shark stitch markers at a 10% discount through this Sunday! You get a hammerhead, great white, black-tipped reef shark, and a longtail carpet shark made by Jillian with your choice of soldered rings or lobster claw clasps.

A spiral of brightly colored hanks of yarn.

The chunky Coriedale wool and Superwash Merino fingering wool from Quiltwoman.com is dyed with a variety of needlework projects, including rug hooking/punching and punch needle embroidery, in mind. Aside from yarn, the Quiltwoman.com shop has a variety of patterns and kits.

A multicolored striped shawl.

Vanessa of Cape May Fiber Company has a new shawl design called Froth that uses either three full-sized fingering-weight skeins or 12 minis, and she has kits in her very own naturally-dyed colors.

A box of brightly colored yarn next to a book.

Barbara’s Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn turns 10 years old this month, so celebrate with one of her colorful five base yarns and custom-spun yarns from small farms in NY and PA.

A braid of black and purple fiber and the words Purple Girl.

Natalie of Fiberdog Fibers is a new indie who offers hand-dyed fibers, as well as hand-dyed and handspun yarn, using almost exclusively raw fleeces that she washes, cards, dyes and spins herself.

Red, blue and gray hand-dyed yarn.

You can still join AnnieDot Creative’s ongoing Fantastic Socks: a yarn club inspired by Newt Scamander. The year-long club features colorways that bring Newt’s magical creatures to life.

ADKnits has a knitting sticker designed for all the campers out there.

Weaving together Stardust in Basin

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A red and yellow sunset through mountains and a weaving project that echoes the scene.

A few weeks ago, after Robin of Birch Hollow Fibers chose an inspiration photo for her installment of Knitting Our National Parks, I contacted the photographer to get permission to use the photo and send a use fee.

Through my text thread with Nina Mayer Ritchie — her husband, Eric, was the photographer for the Great Basin National Park photo that Robin picked, but they both take the stunning photos in her feed — I learned that there was a deeper connection to the fiber arts — and a fascinating story that the reporter in me had to tell.

Nina has been taking Navajo weaving lessons from Emily Malone of the Spider Rock Girls, a family that has been weaving rugs for four generations. Emily’s mother, Rose Yazzie, owns a Hogan, a traditional dwelling of the Navajo people, and has a flock of sheep that provides the wool for their pieces, which they sell (I’m planning to post an interview with Emily as well). Above is an in-progress rug that Nina is weaving inspired by a photo she took of sunset through the “Window” at Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Nina and Eric also have an impressive track record in the national parks, having visited 48 out of 62, some with their two young children. Both Nina and Eric are MedsPeds physicians (dual board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics), and they have been working over the last several months in Chinle, Arizona, the geographic center of the Navajo Nation, which for a period of time had the highest rate of COVID-19 cases per capita in the country. Eric is the chief medical officer of the Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital there and Nina works with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health as a public health doctor.

I spoke with Nina about learning Navajo weaving, her family’s parks visits and about the public health response to the coronavirus in the Navajo Nation. In addition to supporting the parks, 10% from the sales of Robin’s colorway will be donated to the NDN Collective COVID-19 Response Project.

Weaving with raw fleece.

Emily Malone of the Spinder Rock Girls uses raw fleece for a weaving project.

Tell me about your weaving lessons. Have you done any other fiber crafts (knitting, crochet or spinning)?

I started taking weaving lessons from a local weaver in March 2018. She is part of a family of weavers called the Spider Rock Girls. Her mother weaves and taught her, and then she taught her daughters. They live near Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly. According to Navajo teachings, Spider Woman lives atop Spider Rock and bestowed the gift of weaving to the Navajo. The Spider Rock Girls keep their own herd of sheep and sheer them to spin the wool into yarn for weaving.

This weaver has been offering weaving lessons to a small group of us over the last few years. She made looms for all of us, and we would typically meet one to two times per month to weave and learn together. Now with COVID, that has been put on hold, but we each have our own loom at home and weave individually. I learned how to crochet with my Yiayia (grandmother) when I was a little girl, but weaving in the traditional Navajo way with a loom is completely different!

A Native American woman spinning cream-colored yarn.

Emily spinning yarn from her sheep before weaving.

It sounds like you and Eric are longtime hikers! When did you start visiting national parks?

We actually didn’t start “seriously” hiking until our honeymoon to Kauai in June 2008. After that, we immediately moved to Boston to start our residency training and found that during our off-time – without having access to a car – we would walk/hike the entire Boston area pretty regularly… roughly 11-12 miles on an average weekend day.

The first national park we visited together was the Grand Canyon, where we hiked North Rim to South Rim with my father during the last week of June 2009. It was the first time we had ever visited the Southwest, during record high temps, and we were smitten. It was one of the most formative experiences of our lives and we truly became enchanted with this part of the country. After that, we kept seeking ways to return to the Southwest to visit more national parks and to complete clinical rotations with the Indian Health Service.

We had always felt strongly about providing medical care to underserved populations and the Indian Health Service seemed like the best fit for us. As we visited more and more national parks, both out West and back East, we realized that our time spent in the parks was incredibly restorative and balancing especially while juxtaposed to our hectic schedules as medical doctors. We have visited 48 out of 62 national parks so far and it is our bucket list to visit them all together. As we started having children, our little boys visited the Grand Canyon as their first national park when they were each 2 weeks old. They have visited over 25 national parks each.

A mom and dad, each with a child on their back, pose in front of red rocks.

The Ritchies at Arches National Park in Utah.

Do you have a favorite national park?

This is the toughest question for us, and we get asked this all the time! I think we love different national parks for different reasons, and each could be considered a favorite in their own way. We are also very lucky to live close to so many of them, and we get to revisit these ones (roughly 15 of them) over and over again. Before spikes in visitation over recent years, I think we would easily say that Zion, Yosemite and Glacier were our top three, as these parks truly fill you with awe and wonder when you are immersed in them. However, as those parks have become more and more crowded, even during the “off season,” we have a new appreciation for the parks that are either off the beaten path or have enough space to really spread out. These include Death Valley and Big Bend.

A boy in front of a large tree.

James, the couple’s youngest son, in front of a Bristlecone Pine in Great Basin National Park.

What’s the story behind your photo of the tree at Great Basin?

This photo is from an incredible camping trip we took a few years ago to celebrate our youngest son’s first birthday… with the oldest living things on the planet: Bristlecone Pines in Great Basin National Park! This was his 17th national park visited during his first 12 months of life.

We had the coolest campsite up on Wheeler Peak, and spent an entire afternoon hiking around the impressive Bristlecone Pines, scouting out a favorable one to photograph later that night… My husband then hiked back out over a mile in the dark (while I stayed back, cozy with the kiddos in our camper) to reach this awesome tree and photograph it with the night sky. Such a fun memory!

How did you and Eric begin working for Native American healthcare organizations?

During our first year of residency, we attended a Grand Rounds held by two other married physicians that had completed our same residency program a few years prior. They had been working with the Indian Health Service in the middle of the Navajo Nation and everything they shared with us about their experiences truly spoke to us. We arranged to have two clinical rotations with the IHS, one in 2009 and the other in 2010, and fell in love with the communities we served. We decided to join the IHS in Chinle, AZ (the geographic center of the Navajo Nation) after completing our residencies in 2012 and have been here ever since. I transitioned into public health in 2014 with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health and Eric is still with the IHS.

Can you talk about how the COVID-19 crisis has hit the Navajo Nation and Native Americans particularly hard and what kind of work have you and your colleagues been doing to address this?

As many have probably seen in the news, the Navajo Nation had the highest rate of cases per capita in the country for a period of time. Contributing factors include remote and impoverished living conditions (difficulty accessing resources, such as medical care, grocery stores, etc.), lack of running water and electricity, multigenerational/overcrowded households where the virus can easily spread throughout the family, higher incidences of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and lung disease, limited access to broadband/internet, as well as difficulties with “staying home” when folks have to travel long distances to obtain supplies. With strict and comprehensive public health measures, such as universal masking, social distancing, limiting capacity in essential businesses, and curfews, the Navajo Nation decreased their case counts and have been flattening the curve. The mortality rate among Navajo is still the highest of any ethnic/racial group. Through our work, and collaborations with other philanthropic groups, we have been integrally involved in the public health responses here: increasing testing, increasing hospital capacity, increasing resources and securing PPE, developing and distributing educational materials, expanding contact tracing, supporting communities through delivery of goods and water to households, etc.

A snow-covered mountain reflected in water at sunset.

Oxbow Bend at Grant Teton National Park in Wyoming.

How has the pandemic impacted your travels? As physicians, do you have any advice for people looking to safely explore the country?

The biggest way the pandemic impacted our travels is that it prevented us from taking previously scheduled time off. With Navajo Nation weekend curfews and the increased workload, we needed to stay put and work. No more weekend camping trips for around three months straight, which is very atypical for us (we usually camp almost every weekend). As things have slowly improved on the Navajo Nation, we have been able to venture out a little more, but we are sticking to dispersed/boondock camping in more remote areas to remain physically distanced from others. We are now discovering some hidden gems.

I think the advice we would offer folks looking to safely travel during pandemic times is to think about their own risk tolerance and how that (and their actions) may affect others. Getting through this is going to take a “team” effort and we all need to do our part.

Outdoor spaces are generally the safest option for recreating, and getting there by personal vehicle is preferred. Identifying places that are not crowded is ideal.
I know we all love to visit our iconic national parks but these spaces are at risk of being “loved to death,” especially during these challenging times when everyone is looking to get outdoors and away from others. It’s getting harder to achieve this as our national parks get more and more congested. I would encourage travelers to look for hidden gems closer to home in other public lands that don’t normally get as much attention as our national parks.

What to stash this week: Stardust in Basin

A gnarled tree under stars and purple speckled yarn.

Robin of Birch Hollow Fibers fittingly took inspiration from this photo, taken by by Eric Ritchie, of one of those twisty trees under a blanket of stars for her Knitting Our National Parks installment. Her complex speckled colorway, Stardust in Basin, will be available to preorder through Indie Untangled on a Superwash Merino sock and DK base until Friday, August 21.

Skeins of gray, steel blue, dark green and tomato red yarn.

Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks has released LaMer, a super-soft blend of 40% llama, 40% Superwash Merino and 20% nylon. The combination of Debbie’s subdued colors and the fiber blend produces a slightly heathered yarn that’s perfect for cozy sweaters and accessories.

Sloths wearing colorful backpacks as stitch markers.

What’s cuter than sloths? Sloths wearing backpacks! Jillian is celebrating back-to-school season — whatever that may look like this year — with this adorable free gift. With a qualifying purchase at WeeOnes during the month of August, you’ll receive one free individual Back-to-School Sloth stitch marker.

Bright, multicolored hand-dyed yarn arranged in a circle.

This brand new yarn-dyeing duo from the Pacific Northwest just released their first colorway collection, the first of a two-part series based on Greek Gods and Goddesses. There are also coordinating stitch marker sets.

Peach yarn.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns is getting ready to take a much-needed summer break, so she’s having two updates before she takes off: one today at 4 p.m. UK time with fingering and the other on August 11 at 8 a.m. UK time featuring lace and DK.

Black and pink hand-dyed yarn.

Trekkies, this is for you! Michele of Misfit Yarns has yarn from her Star Trek: The Next Generation collection ready to ship! Characters include Captain Picard, Deanna Troi, Data, Worf, Geordi, Dr. Crusher, Guinan and Q.

Tami of Eternity Ranch Knits is sadly closing her doors, and is selling off her inventory in grab bags.

Karen Whooley is holding an end of summer Mystery CAL.

What to stash while you get ready for Indie Untangled Everywhere

A white teacup sits in front of fairy lights on a handknit with the worlds Advent 2020 let's get cozy.

Heather of Sew Happy Jane, who is one of our Indie Untangled Everywhere vendors, is opening preorders tomorrow for her 2020 Advent Calendars, designed to bring that cozy, comforting feeling we need right now.

Mini mannequins wearing colorful mini sweaters.

Selena of Sweater Sisters is having a huge clearance sale to make way for fall yarns. Two of her luxury fingering bases are 40% off. It’s also time once again for her Mini Sweater Challenge.

Packages with black and white cat stickers and dog paw tissue paper.

The latest mystery box from Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations is totally pawsome. You have your choice of cat or dog, notions only, pin and notions, or cuff and notions. Subscribers will also be the first to get two new shapes of end minders inspired by our four-legged family members.

The edge of a pink and orange botanical brioche wrap.

The latest design from Amanda of Handmaine Knits, the Floret Wrap, is a botanically-inspired brioche trapezoid that comes in a three-color version and a six-color gradient version.

A teal and green lacy and textured shawl.

The Mermaids in the Waves shawl MKAL from Softyarn Designs is no longer a mystery. Join in and chat along, and enter to win prizes, including a gift card from dyer Jilly and Kiddles.

Amanda of Wild Hair Studio has a Lord of the Rings-inspired spinning Advent calendar.

Introducing: Indie Untangled Everywhere!

An illustration showing various animals in brown, orange and teal knitting, crocheting, spinning and enjoying yarn while connecting through various devices.

Illustration by Eloise Narrigan

By now, many of us expected to be casting on projects to finish in time for the fall fiber festival season, when we could look forward to showing them off while doling out hugs and those appreciative pets that only our fellow yarn people understand.

2020 had other plans for us… A couple of months ago, after we realized that an in-person Indie Untangled trunk show was not in the cards, IU event producer Petrina and I kickstarted our idea for a virtual alternative that would provide the connections we’ve all been craving.

We’re excited to announce that Indie Untangled Everywhere will be taking place on October 15, 16 and 17 and you’re invited to join us from wherever you are!

Previously, we were limited in what we could do by space, time and cost. But now, no matter where you’re located or what your schedule is like, you can gather with us, our indie vendors and some special guests for three whole days of fiber fun.

I’m sure you’re asking: How will this work?​ Well, since you already follow Indie Untangled, it will feel a little familiar, but there are also many new, interactive things we’re excited to include.

General Admission tickets will go on sale next Friday, August 7. Your $5 ticket will take you to a special section of the Indie Untangled website. From there, you’ll be able to browse 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 and pop into a virtual lounge where you can connect with fiber friends old and new.

Once you purchase your ticket, you’ll be able to preorder mini boxes that will let you feel and squish our vendors’ Superwash and rustic yarns before you buy full skeins online, purchase Indie Untangled tote bags and swag, and register to attend events, including interactive chats with guest designers.

Additionally, because we know this year in particular has been economically challenging for many people, we are also partnering with one of our generous sponsors, New Hampshire yarn shop Scratch Supply Co., to provide financial assistance to six members of our community.

So, mark your calendar and browse our list of nearly 50 vendors. You’ll see some familiar faces, along with many new ones.

We look forward to seeing you at Indie in October!

What to stash this week: Sweater architecture

A woman models a white sweater with pale orange colorwork.

Caroline of The Noble Thread was inspired by the architecture of this vibrant London neighborhood for her latest sweater design. Called Notting Hill, this short-sleeved, tee captures the geometry of the row houses with simple slip stitches. The sample is knit in a natural, undyed alpaca, Merino and silk blend, with a naturally-dyed contrast color in a non-superwash Merino held with a strand of mohair silk. There’s plenty of freedom to explore and customize the length of the sweater, which doesn’t require shaping, and the size inclusive pattern offers a finished bust circumference from 34” to 70”. To celebrate its release, Notting Hill will be free until today at 11:59 p.m. PDT and there are kits on Caroline’s website. 

Two rows of pink, gold, purple, blue and orange yarn.

Stefania and Giulia of Lanivendole are taking lemons and debuting yarn with a literal new twist. Their new base, Twisty Chic — a batch of A Chic Blend spun with the wrong parameters by the mill — has a bit more twist, but that just means it has much better stitch definition and color saturation. The update goes live today at 8 p.m. CEST.

Blue and black bird stitch markers.

Jillian of WeeOnes is heading to the skies this week, with shiny raven and tropical toucan stitch markers, along with ocean-dwelling octopus friends. 

A brown, gray, gold, blue, green and purple shawl with accompanying yarn.

7th Floor Yarn is collaborating with Michele Costa of 144 Stitches on East Bound, a new multicolored shawl that uses their DK Yak/Silk/Merino — and comes in both a knit and crochet version. Use the code INDIE for free shipping.

Purple cabled socks.

Emily’s new sock pattern, Happy Haunts, is inspired by the classically creepy decor of one of our favorite haunted mansions.

A blue flower in clear resin.

Augusta of ADKnits has new wildflower-themed items, including progress keepers with charms featuring dried flowers cast in resin.

A pile of purple sock yarn.

The next Eden Cottage Yarns update on Tuesday features plenty of sock yarn, including Tempo 4ply for Vikki Bird’s Seed Head sock pattern, which is raising money for The Flower Power Fund.

Sticks of hand lotion.

Take care of your hard-working hands with Elderwood Apothecary’s Maker’s Hand Relief, which promises to provide healing nourishment to your skin without leaving your hands feeling oily.

What to stash this week: From fingering to super-bulky

A teal shawl with lace and tassels.

Selena of Sweater Sisters has released kits for Ardelia, a new shawl design by K.M. Bedigan, named for the 17th-century composer Lady Mary Dering. The fingering weight shawl combines brioche and lace into an elegant botanical design. Kits are available in six color options of Wayfaring Yarns Europa, a blend of Extrafine Merino and Superkid Mohair, and Sophia Kidsilk Lace, a blend of Ultrafine Kid Mohair and Mulberry Silk.

Skeins of pink speckled yarn with teal mini skeins.

Heather of Pumpkins and Wool has a bunch of new sock kits in bright colorways. Get 10% off, no coupon needed, when you purchase two or more items, plus get free domestic shipping with a purchase of $35 or more.

A chunky cowl in green, blue and pink speckled bulky yarn.

Maybe it’s not chunky knit weather, but it’s hard to resist a super quick project. Jennifer of Maelstrom Fiber Arts has released her new Poseidon Super-Bulky single-ply yarn. Use it for her Anemone Cowl, which is available free for a limited time.

Join the Mermaids in the Waves shawl semi-mystery knitalong with Softyarn Designs and Jilly & Kiddles for 50% off through July 20.

Congrats to our Super Special KAL winners!

A collage of colorful knitted objects.

Back in March, I decided back to launch the Indie Untangled Super Special KAL so we’d have some fun knitting incentives. Not that we really need prizes, let alone a pandemic, to inspire our crafting mojo, but it is nice to have deadlines.

Over three months, there were 70 total entries, including 16 in the sock category and 15 in the sweater category (but only one in the new bralette category, which surprised me!). Last week, I selected 15 winners in eight categories via random number generator. Here are the winning FOs (please note that the links go to Ravelry).

Sweater

Knitting Our National Parks

Shawl

Cowl

Mitts

Socks

Bralette

Hat

What to stash this week: pay it forward

Silver tins with an orange and cream label.

Kismet and the team at Lolo Body Care have donated more than 500 of their portable lotion bars to healthcare workers, and they are drawing on that “pay it forward” ethos for their latest promotion. If you spend $30 before shipping, they’ll send a person of your choosing a free To-Go Bar, and if you spend $60 they’ll send a person of your choosing free a Body Bar, along with a note tucked inside the package.

A purple and gray striped shawl sits on a dress form.

If you’re dreaming of a beach vacation (aren’t we all?), Heather of Sew Happy Jane has bundles of Magic Mohair or Featherdown Suri for Shellie Anderson’s new Electric Beach shawl. Shelli’s sample used one skein of Electric Raspberry Merino fingering, and one skein of Agate Beach mohair.

Green and teal yarn with the words King Triton Jilly & Kiddles.

If you want a little — but not too much — mystery this summer, then join the Mermaids in the Waves KAL. Lena of SoftYarn Designs has designed a two-color shawl pattern with Jilly & Kiddle yarn, and Jill’s offering kits. The pattern will only remain a “mystery” until it’s released on July 28.

Green glow in the dark jellyfish.

Are you sensing a theme here? Jillian of WeeOnes has released new sea- and beach-inspired stitch markers, including super cool glow-in-the-dark jellyfish ones.

Skeins of dark red yarn.

Sharon of the yarn company once know as Stitchjones has rebranded to Garage Dyeworks. Check out new colors on the brand-new website.

Teal and teal and green speckled yarn.

Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks’ creativity has flourished this summer and she has more than two dozen new colors available on Neptune DK, Deep Sock and Harbor Singles. Get 10% off sweater quantities this week only with code SQS10.

Cream yarn with flecks of purple.

Tomorrow at 5 p.m. UK time, Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns is introducing a new base that’s available in both fingering and DK weight. Keswick Fingering and Keswick DK (pronounced Kez-ick) are comprised of 85% Superwash Merino with 15% Donegal neps.

What to stash this week: Scrappy and toasty

A purple patchwork tote.

Crista Jaeckel just updated her online shop with several colorful, summer-ready project bags of various sizes, including popular notion zipper bags and quilted tote bags that utilize fabric scraps to reduce waste.

Gray, purple and teal yarn with the words Sweater Quantity Discount.

Kate of McMullin Fiber Co has opened signups for her July/August Sweater Quantity Discount colorway, in which she takes preorders for one colorway in order to offer a close to wholesale discount, making a hand-dyed garment more accessible. Called Black Magic, the latest colorway is a coal black with hints of purple and teal.

A twisted hank of rustic cream-colored yarn.

Monica of Gothfarm Yarn has introduced two more naturally-colored yarns: Arkose, a blend of Rambouillet Merino, white mohair and red Huacaya alpaca, and Muskeg, a mix of amber mohair and dark brown Rambouillet Merino.