What to stash this week: Fingering-weight sweater weather

If you’re looking for some summer knitting, Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. has her shop stocked with plenty of singles and sock yarns. She recommends Posh Skinny for light transition sweaters like Caitlin Hunter’s Tegna. Since you’re an Indie Untangled reader, you get an exclusive discount! Use code UNTANGLED20 for 20% off any purchase through the end of this month.

If you’re more of a shawl person in summer, then check out Michelle’s latest shawl pin designs. If you’re a blue or purple person, her Shimmering Violet Noteworthy Pin will complement yarn in many shades of blue, indigo, violet, lavender and lilac.

Since I just debuted a new Rhinebeck Trunk Show event/tote bag design, you may want to get your hands on one of the last remaining totes from last year. There are only eight left as of “press time.”

The QCC Yarn line continues to expand and just got its own website, separate from Ewe Sew An Sew. There’s also a rewards program called Happy Cats. Just by creating an account you’ll get 200 Happy Cats, which can be redeemed for $5 off your next order.

IU newcomer Train Track Fiber Designs was inspired by her location near one of the major rail lines in the Southeastern U.S. Jen, who’s also a podcaster, just debuted some micro mini sets. The sets of 10 10-gram skeins are designed for colorwork or wherever you need a pop of brightness.

What to stash this week: Sunset on Bryce

You have until midnight Eastern time tonight to preorder Hoodoos from Into the Whirled, a colorway inspired by sunrise over Thor’s Hammer in Bryce Canyon National Park. I’m definitely using my two skeins to knit the Sunrise Over Bryce shawl by Spruce Lane Designs (because I don’t want to give the sample back!). 

This colorway is part of the Indie Untangled Knitting Our National Parks project. Into the Whirled is one of several dyers creating exclusive-to-IU colorways inspired by photos of U.S. national parks. 10% of all sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation.

Shelli Can’s fabulous new designs are not for muggles (AKA non-knitters). Her new Notions Master line has awesomely magical pins and progress keepers. They will be part of her next shop update on Monday at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Mother-daughter team Liane and Nicole have formed The Golden Purls to create colorways based on one of the greatest sitcoms of all time (flipping on the Hallmark Channel and knitting along to stories of Saint Olaf and Sicily = heaven). Check out the rest of their colors, including Spumoni Face and Butter Queen, plus get 10% off during their “soft opening” on Etsy. 

FiberCrafty is celebrating its first anniversary with more than a dozen giveaways over the next two weeks! Click here to find out how to enter and to also see more previews of the latest FiberCrafty shop updates. Pictured above is a skein from Halesbee Handmade.

You know may know Ewe Sew An Sew for their adorable project bags. They recently branched out into hand-dyed yarn with their QCC Yarn line — which stands for Quality Cat Control. There are new colors coming every week.

Since Sheila of BigFootFibers is having a shop update today — at 6 p.m. Central on a shiny new website — with plenty of miniskeins, bulky yarn, SilkyYak DK, worsted, sport and, of course, fingering. Indie Untangled subscribers can use code “IndieSpring10” for 10% off their order.

Lola of Third Vault Yarns has debuted a new base made with bamboo yarns. Kaguya 4ply will available in a range of new colorways in limited quantities during the next update at 12 noon BST on Saturday. There are also a couple of spots left in her quarterly fandom club, with a Mad Max: Fury Road theme.

IU newcomer Mad Science Yarns is having a shop update today with summery colors.

Also in time for summer, Pandia’s Jewels has a new laceweight base called Bauble.

Untangling SweaterFreak Knits

While I tend to discover most designers and patterns on Ravelry, I actually learned about Jenny of SweaterFreak Knits via Instagram. I was drawn to her modern, clean aesthetic and the use of subtle speckles in many of her shawls.

Despite her name, I approached her about pairing up with Nicole of Hue Loco to design a one-skein accessory pattern for the Indie Untangled Where We Knit yarn club. The result was Nicole’s Chelsea Park Cowl, a lovely shawl/cowl hybrid that looks so easy to throw on with a spring outfit. It is now available to purchase by non-club members.

Read on to learn more about Jenny’s career as a designer and about how the cowl got its name.

How did you decide to become a designer?

It happened organically. I have always preferred to knit things out of my head and after plenty of encouragement from Ravelry community, I started writing up the instructions to my ideas which became patterns.

Is there anything from your software developer side that transfers over to design?

Actually, it’s a great question and the answer is yes! Software development is all about planning and details which is very similar to knitwear design. The math behind grading requires quite a bit of focus and attention to detail. Similarly, writing the pattern is akin to writing code – both essentially are a list of instructions. You will find that many designers were involved in tech before they started designing because it really does employ the same part of the brain.

How did you come up with SweaterFreak Knits and why do you use it as your designer name?

My very first project after a long hiatus was a sweater. Wanting specific sweaters really was the reason that I picked up the needles again. This was back in 2006 and in 2007 Ravelry made its debut. I chose SweaterFreak as my nick and of course I had no idea I will end designing knitwear! In 2011 when I released my first pattern, I considered changing the moniker but since so many people knew me already I decided to keep it.

Jenny’s latest pattern, White Light.


When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned how to knit in 1985 when I was 7 years old. My maternal grandmother, Rivkah, taught me and I liked it right away. She was an avid crafter and actually preferred to crochet but she taught me both. We also share total love for yarn! She had a sizable stash and I grew up with lots of fabric and yarn around me. Most of my family two generations back were dress makers so I feel that making clothes with my hands is really something I am meant to be doing.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

It’s a bit of everything – sometimes I get a particular idea in my head, maybe from seeing it somewhere or just something I have wanted for awhile. I love browsing fashion magazines and see the clothing evolve. My personal favorite decade is the ‘60s which has lots of different elements – classic tailored pieces as well as boho-hippie style ones. I love both equally. Often times, the yarn itself starts everything in motion. For example, when you touch hearty unprocessed wool, you think fair isle.

The Vegas top.

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

The first step is to sketch it. This usually gives me a good idea of what garment or accessory is going to look like, what kind of shaping it will involve. Sometimes, I use colored pencils to sketch, if the design is colorful.

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

My absolutely favorite color is blue – all shades of it, except periwinkle. It hasn’t really changed. I also love various shades of grey, green and natural. Lately, I have really gotten into yellow and mustard colors – they just look so smashing with grey!

Jenny’s most popular pattern is her Everyday Shawl.

Where is your favorite place to knit?

Definitely outside, either in the park (closest to me is Chelsea Park!) or on the beach, or even my backyard! Somehow the combination of fresh air, warm wind and wool in my lap equals heaven. I could do this forever!

What to stash this week: Color depth

Debbie recently launched Murky Depths Dyeworks, a great name to describe her passion for color and dive into the dye pots. Her bases include Harbor Singles — shown above in Girl Gone Mad, Jubilee and Neopolitan — as well as a Deep Sock (80% Superwash Merino/20% nylon), Triton MCN DK (80% Superwash Merino/10% Cashmere/10% nylon) and Sanctuary Worsted, a non-Superwash Merino.

If you’re local and want to see this new talent in person, Debbie will be vending along with yours truly tomorrow at Knitty City’s Moms and Makers Market, a great shopping event that will also raise money for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

Jen of Porterness Studio has done it again! She’s expanded her line of gorgeous sterling silver and bronze jewelry to include a stitch marker bracelet, stitch marker necklace and a shawl/scarf ring. Indie Untangled readers get 20% off with the code Indie20.

The Sunrise Over Bryce shawl was a huge hit at Maryland Sheep & Wool this weekend — I didn’t want to take it off! Deb of Spruce Lane Designs used two skeins of Into the Whirled’s speckled Hoodoos colorway for Knitting Our National Parks, which is available to preorder only through next Friday.

Kara and Katie of Nice & Knit have updated their shop with their popular 2,175-yard kits for Ambah O’Brien’s Adventurous Wrap. To celebrate Mother’s Day weekend, they’re also giving one away.

Michelle’s new cabled shawl pattern, Warwick Reflections, is inspired by the crenellations, towers and medieval arched windows of Warwick Castle. Kits with the pattern, two skeins from Fairy Tale Knits and a shawl pin are available to preorder, while the pattern is 50% off until May 28, when a KAL begins.

Mama need a brand new bag? Laura and the Slipped Stitch Studios crew has released a limited line of Mother’s Day bags, with hilarious sayings, including, “The joys of motherhood are experienced when kids go to bed.” Today, at 9 a.m. Pacific time, Slipped Stitch is also releasing their adorable Mama Llama & the Cactus collection.

Marian of Marianated Yarns will be vending along with yours truly tomorrow at Knitty City’s Moms & Makers Market in NYC. She’ll have yarn and color ideas for projects like the Pero Shawl by Katy Carroll, Your Slip is Showing by Casapinka and Chevron Cloud by Espace Tricot.

Indie Untangled goes to MDSW 2018

I usually like to go to fiber festivals with some sort of plan. At this year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, while I had a few things that I know I wanted to snag, like Anne of Middle Brook Fiberworks’ Vintage No. 4 (a blend of Shetland, fine wool, silk and a bit of ramie — the next best thing to cuddling her sheep!), I let myself get swept away in it all. Some of my purchases were guided a bit by Instagram:

Some of them were impulse buys, like the not-pictured Jill Draper Kingston, which I guess technically wasn’t an impulse buy since the color I wanted was sold out and I ended up buying it on Etsy Tuesday.

Aside from stashing, I also had fun taking everything in and spending time with my fiber friends.

The Knot House

The weekend started as it usually does at The Knot House indie pop-up. Well, it started with an amazing dinner at Black Hog BBQ a few blocks away. Then, after making sure my hands were completely clean of sauce, I petted the yarn.

The Friday night kickoff party was a much calmer affair than last year thanks to the early bird shopping that I couldn’t make it in time for. It was a nice atmosphere for chatting and snapping photos.

Autumn & Indigo

Linen bags from That Clever Clementine

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

Little Fox Yarn

The festival

Weather wise, this was probably the best Maryland to date. The temperatures were perfect T-shirt and shawl weather, whereas previous festivals were either “I really regret wearing any handknits” or “What is this, Rhinebeck?”

After snagging my Vintage No. 4 (which may become a Charlie’s Cardigan), I visited the Into the Whirled booth to see the Bruce Canyon-inspired Hoodoos in person and admired the rest of Cris and James’s new speckles.

Vintage No. 4 from Middle Brook Fiberworks

Saying Hi to James and Cris of Into the Whirled.

Into the Whirled Bryce Canyon-inspired Hoodoos colorway for Knitting Our National Parks on display.

Jill Draper models a cute short sleeved cardigan in her new Kingston base.

A close-up of Kingston, DK-weight Targhee wool from NY’s Finger Lakes.

What to stash this week, whether or not you’re at MDSW

Cris of Into the Whirled took inspiration from a photo of sunrise over Thor’s Hammer in Bryce Canyon National Park for Hoodoos, named for the tall skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins or badlands. ITW has only recently made the move into speckled yarn, but as you can see the results are stunning. You can preorder the yarn here through May 25. And see it in person in their booth if you’re going to Maryland Sheep & Wool this weekend.

Speaking of stunning, if you’re not sure what to make with the yarn, Deb Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs just released Sunset Over Bryce, an asymmetrical triangle shawl with texture and lace that uses two skeins of Hoodoos. And she’s offering $1 off until June 30th with the code Thor. 

Star Wars fans, you might want to hop on this May 4th update from Slipped Stitch Studios. It goes live at 9 a.m. Pacific time with three fabrics, New Yarn socks, and a Princess Leia enamal pin.

Heather of Hellomello Handspun hand selects special fleeces from her favorite farms and has them spun in small batches at a family-owned mill in upstate NY. She then lovingly hand dyes these unique bases in Brooklyn. Check out the selection on her Etsy shop.

Suzanne of Groovy Hues Fibers recently had a shop update devoted to bases that she doesn’t normally bring to fiber festivals and trunk shows, including Smoothly Groovin’, a single-ply fingering weight base made of Superwash Merino and Mulberry silk, and Bambooin’ ‘n Groovin’, a fingering-weight base made of Superwash Merino, bamboo and nylon. You’ll also find fun colorways like Emo Little Pony and Ludicrous Speed: They’ve Gone To Plaid!

Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks designed Panier, her new hat pattern, especially for her new base, Andromeda, a DK-weight, single-ply 100% Superwash Merino. It’s debuting at MDSW this weekend, along with some other great products.

Katrina of Fluffy U Fiber Farm will also be at MDSW, bringing kits for her very own Conewago shawl, beads strung for spinning and art batts, just to name a few things. If you’re not headed to Maryland, Katrina will be listing everything on her website afterwards and is offering free shipping until June 30th.

Alisa of Knitspinquilt will be vending along with yours truly on May 12 at the first Moms & Makers Market in NYC. She’ll be bringing three sizes of project bags, stitch markers, notions tins, and a couple of small surprises.

If you’re a turtle fan, Heather is hosting a Turtle-Along — a KAL with her turtle-themed patterns in her Ravelry group starting June 1. To prepare, all seven of her turtle patterns are 20% off.

Lambstrings Yarn has more Fading Point kits in stock.  

Your indie shopping guide to the 2018 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

I’ve always thought of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival as the more low-key fiber festival. Aside from the fact that I’m not organizing a massive Friday trunk show (I leave that to Cathy and Heather, the owners of The Knot House), there’s no “Maryland sweater” to knit because it’s usually not sweater weather, last year being the exception.

However, as I’ve been putting together the shopping guide for the weekend, I’ve realized that the stashing temptation is anything but low key.

Here’s a roundup of the Indie Untangled vendors at both the pop-up at The Knot House and the Howard County Fairgrounds, and a peek at just some of the goodies they’ll be bringing.

I plan to be at the festival on Saturday, sporting a new shawl by Deb Gerhard that she designed with Into the Whirled’s Bryce Canyon-inspired Knitting Our National Parks colorway, which you can see below. I’ll be at the ITW booth at 12:30 p.m. for an Indie Untangled meetup, and you can see the yarn and the design in person. Hope to see you there!

THE KNOT HOUSE INDIE POP-UP

This is the fourth-annual indie pop-up that Cathy and Heather are throwing. In the spirit of the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show, it brings together a collection of dyers and makers from around North America. Unlike the IU Rhinebeck show, it runs all weekend, with a preview party on Friday night from 5 to 9 p.m.

Duck Duck Wool

Sandra, who is based in nearby Virginia, will have some of the Indie Untangled Knitting Our National Parks colorway, Glaciers and Wildflowers (pictured above), on hand, along with her famous speckled skeins.

Julie Asselin

Julie hails from Montreal, with a beautiful palette of dreamy semisolids and subtle speckles.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are Good Morning Fredrick, an event exclusive, a Nuances set (five 28-gram mini skeins of Leizu Superwash Merino/silk fingering) in Pivoines, and a selection of colorways.

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

Candice will be coming to the show all the way from Montana, bringing her soft, Western-inspired colorways.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are Half Breed, Heartbreak Hotel and Paul Newman in Foxy Lady (70% Merino/30% silk), Monarch in Mighty Mo (70% kid mohair/30% Mulberry silk), and Gary Cooper and Are You Sure Hank Done It That Way on Foxy Lady.

Little Fox Yarn

Aimee is another Virgina-based dyer, known for her beautiful semisolids.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are Old Favorite, Loganberry on Vixen (Superwash Merino and silk fingering), various colors of Vixen, and her Blue Boy, Silver Birch and Deep Water colorways.

That Clever Clementine

Vicki sews her adorable and functional project bags in Maryland. She will bring a variety of zipper bags, including some made with a sparkly linen fabric that is perfect for showing off your fiber flare.

There will also be yarn from South Carolina’s Autumn and Indigo, Connecticut’s Nice and Knit, Periwinkle Sheep from Albany, N.Y., and Swift Yarns from New York City.

THE FESTIVAL

See the festival map here.

Backyard Fiberworks

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C4

Alice, who is based in Silver Spring Maryland, will be bringing her popular semisolid and speckled colorways and mini-skein kits.

In the first image, pictured clockwise from the top left are Backyard Fiberworks Sock in Urchin, Stormcloud, the Spiced Cider mini skein set, and Mallow.

Bare Naked Wools/Knitspot

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C28

Famed designer Anne Hanson will be bringing stunning samples made with her line of custom-milled yarns that show off the natural creams, browns, and greys.

Pictured above is the Deep Dive sweater knit in Better Breakfast Fingering (55% Merino, 35% dehaired alpaca and 10% nylon), the Polypore shawl knit in Chebris lace (60% Merino/40% mohair), and a selection of Better Breakfast Worsted (65% Merino, 35% dehaired alpaca).

Bijou Basin Ranch

Outside North, Booth N1

Based in Colorado, this mom and pop operation specializes in yak blends and in the last few years they have begun collaborating with indies on hand-dyed colorways.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are the Gobi base (baby camel and silk) in the Valkyrie-inspired hand-dyed colors, Shangri-La Lace (50/50 yak and Mulberry silk) in the Explorer collection, new stickers that they will be handing out, and variegated Shangri-La Lace.

Dragonfly Fibers

Outside Lower Corral, Booth LC9

Also from Maryland, Kate and her crew are MDSW veterans, bringing a huge selection of colorful yarns.

Pictured above is the Maryland Mini color pack and Andrea Medici’s Calverts and Crossings Cowl, along with Dragonfly’s show exclusive colorway Boardwalk Lights, named after Ocean City, Maryland, at night.

Fluffy U Fiber Farm

Barn 5, Booth 14

Shepardess Katrina Updike has been raising British and rare breed sheep, including Blue-Faced Leicester, Gotland, Leicester Longwool and Teeswater, for the past 18 years on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are a selection of her BFL fingering, a sample of Katrina’s Spring Lilac colorway, Merino Bulky in Tropical Breeze, Pebble Beach and Lilly Pad, and beads strung for spinning.

Into the Whirled

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B16

New York-based dyer Cris is known for her semisolid and variegated colorways, and she has recently moved into speckles, including her colorway for the Indie Untangled Knitting Our National Parks series.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are the new speckled colorways, batts in various colors, Shokan Singles single fingering in the Bryce Canyon-inspired Hoodoos colorway (which you can see in person in her booth and preorder here), and braids of fiber.

Knittyandcolor

Outside North, Booth N12

Sarah, who is based in Georgia, is known for her eye-poppingly bright colorways. Aside from yarn and fiber she’ll also be bringing Turkish spindles made by her husband under the name Subterranean Woodworks.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are new colorways Smoky Quartz and Neon Lotus, along with the spindles and fiber braids.

Middle Brook Fiberworks

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B26

Anne offers yarn blends made with the fiber from the sheep on her New Jersey farm as well as stunning handspun. At the festival, she’ll be debuting her Vintage No. 4, organic Polwarth coordinating sets, and lip balm.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth A30

Jennifer, another Virginia-ite, is a master of dyeing a variety of colors on both rustically sheepy and luxurious silk bases.

Pictured clockwise from the top left is a set of Aurora (single-ply fingering Superwash Merino), Selene (DK-weight, non-shrink organic wool), stitch markers from Katrinkles, and Jennifer’s new enamel mugs.

You can see more goodies in Jennifer’s sneak peek post.

Other vendors

Here are some other vendors I’m looking forward to visiting:

The Buffalo Wool Co.
Outside Upper Corral, Booth UC1

Jamie Harmon
Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B9

Jill Draper Makes Stuff
Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C31

Julia Hilbrandt
Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B29

Madder Root
Outside North, Booth N2

Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Outside East, Booth E7

North Light Fibers
Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C9

What to stash this week: in knitting color

Gradient Play, the latest shawl design from Deb of Spruce Lane Designs uses two gradient sets, so you don’t even have to decide between two. Or you can use those sets in your stash, or leftovers that definitely go together because you pick the same colors of yarn all the time. 

IU newcomer Claudia Hand Painted Yarns is ready for warm weather with new spring colors on linen. Pictured above is Ishmael on Drama 100% linen yarn.

For this collaboration with Insomniac Designs, Slipped Stitch Studios is releasing a new line of bags with a fitting sentiment. These will only be on sale through Monday, so set your alarm.

Cat Sandwich Fibers just had a shop update with a ton of new colorways, some fade kits, mini skein sets and more.

Rose gold is the new… gold. Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations has added the trendy metal to her lineup of shawl pins.

Wild Hair Studio has fiber boxes and yarn and fiber grab bags available.

Untangling: Wool and Wine

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As evidenced by the popularity of the Knitting & Gin pin, knitters like their adult beverages. Massachusetts resident John Martin took the idea a step further with his new book, Wool and Wine (affiliate link). John, who developed an appreciation of yarn and knitting from his wife, Melissa, came up with the idea for a book about yarn and wine during a project management course. Though he didn’t actually have to publish the book to pass the class, he decided to go forward with the project anyway.

In his self-published book, John expertly weaves the stories behind a dozen indie dyers and yarn companies, including Indie Untangled regulars Eden Cottage Yarns, The Woolen Rabbit and Cedar Hill Farm Company, together with those of their vineyard “pairings,” such as the Rhinebeck favorite Hetta Glögg. There are also suggested patterns for the yarns, with samples knit by Melissa and photographed out in nature (the patterns themselves are not included in the book, but you can purchase them on Ravelry).

John explained how he came up with the pairings in our interview:

How did this book come about?

The book actually began as a project for graduate school. I was taking a project management class and needed to come up with a “project” to work on. I had always been interested in writing a book and on a whim, I suggested that as a possible option to the professor. She approved the idea and I was on my way! As part of the course, I was required to come up with a subject for the book, budget, market research, timetable and many other related tasks.

My final assignment was a presentation detailing the project from start to finish and when I was done, the professor said to sounded like a great idea and to let her know if I ever actually wrote the book. I had the market research showing that there was interest in the idea so after giving it some additional though, I decided to give it a try. I figured that even if it didn’t work out, it would be a fun project to work on with my wife and daughter.

I am not sure how other books are written by in my case, I had a very detailed, step-by-step plan! As I started each new step, I would think, “Will I be able to get everything done or will this be the step that I get stuck on?” Gradually, one step turned into the next. There is a Christmas special called “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town” which has a song called “Put One Foot in Front of the Other” – I am always reminded of that as I think about the process that I went through! After about a year of tiny steps, I had Wool and Wine.

Wine from Dry Creek Vineyards and yarn from The Woolen Rabbit.

How did you come up with the dyer and vineyard pairings? I notice that each are from different parts of the world.

Initially, I thought that the pairings might be one of the harder parts of creating the book. The dyers/yarns and vineyards/wines were actually chosen independently and to some degree based on a particular individual actually wanting to participate in the project. I started with an idea that I wanted to include a wide variety of wines and yarns – things that perhaps folks were not as familiar with; a spiced wine for example or a relatively new dyer – to make the book more interesting. However, just reaching out to someone did not guarantee that they would want to be in the book so it was impossible to try to plan the pairings ahead of time.

Ultimately, we ended up with a group of wines and yarns that may or may not have something in common. The big fear was – what if I am not able to find a good pairing for one of them?

As it turned out, the pairings just seemed to develop by themselves based on a wide variety of criteria. In the case of Long Ridge Farm and Poocham Hill Winery, they are located within a mile of each other in New Hampshire and are run by college friends, so they obviously needed to be together. Some of the yarns were very elegant and sophisticated and seemed to go best with a rich, refined red wine. Some yarns were light, bright and fun and were paired with sunny, summery rosés and white wines. In the case of the glögg, which is a Nordic spiced wine, it has a long history of being served in cold weather and what better yarn to work with in the winter than a soft, buttery, bulky (Hedgehog fibres in the case of the book). In the end, everything just seemed to have a natural match!

It was fun to talk about the pairings at the beginning of each section and provide the reader with the reasons why the pairing was created – I really had a picture in my head of the wine being drunk while someone knit or wore a piece made with the yarn. A good example is the chapter featuring a beautiful yarn from Kim Kaslow (The Woolen Rabbit) and a nice zinfandel from Dry Creek Vineyard. The color inspiration for the yarn was the 1940s and I can really picture a starlet wearing a shawl made from the yarn (a design from Paulina Popiolek is highlight in the chapter), at an elegant black tie gathering with a glass of zinfandel in her hand.

Meadow by Paulina Popiolek

Did you visit any of the wineries?

I wish that I had been able to visit them all! Poocham Hill Winery is relatively close to my house and I was pleased to be able to spend some time with Steve Robbins and Mame ODette, learning about their history and operation. Many of the other wineries were generous enough to provide me with time on the phone so that I could conduct my interviews remotely.

The first wine tasting that I ever went on with my wife was to Dry Creek Vineyard in California. Until that time, I selected wine based on cost more than anything else, so I was not sure what to expect when we arrived! The staff there were extremely generous with their time and talked about the differences in the types of wine, how they were aged and what types of food to pair them with. It really opened up a whole new world for me. I remember later in the day wondering how people established vineyards and opened wineries. When I started working on this project, one of the first wineries I reached out to was Dry Creek and was thrilled when they agreed to take part in Wool and Wine.

What was the publishing process like?

I have been involved in writing, editing, photoshoots, printing and layouts for a number of years professionally but never with publishing. Honestly, it was a bit daunting at first – saying “I want to write a book” is a lot easier than actually doing it! Because of my background, the creation of the content was fairly straightforward. While I was interviewing, writing, photographing and editing, I started researching how exactly to take all of that information and make it into a book. In my case, I wanted to self-publish, so there was a lot of research done on the exact process. Luckily, there is a lot of good information available to educate yourself!

There was a very surreal point where after almost a year of work, I just needed to press a button and the book would actually be published and available for sale! I remember thinking that there must be more to it than that! Some type of fanfare or something! But no, in the end, it just came done to a simple click of a button.
That is not the end of the process of course. Once you have a book and folks can purchase it, you need to let everyone know that it is out there. The marketing and promotion can be a bit of roller coaster – big sales followed by very few purchases – but I have been working for a number of years as a marketer so I am a bit more comfortable with that aspect of the work.

What is your professional background and how do you think it informed your book?

If you look at my background, I doubt that you would connect it to a book or at least not to a book about wool and wine! My undergraduate degree is in Biology and my focus was on Environmental Science and Ecology. I am still working on my graduate degree part-time (one and a half classed left!) and that work is in Business, specifically Organizational Leadership. Professionally, I have worked for a number of scientific instrumentation companies and am currently a regional marketing manager for a company that manufactures weather detection equipment (like the weather radars you see on the television news). So, from that perspective, I might well be writing a book on a scientific subject of some sort.

However, if you look beyond the obvious, a lot of the skills that I have picked up along the way have been helpful with the project. I have done a lot of writing for industry publications as well as creating technical papers, brochures, websites, etc. – activities that have helped me to learn how to communicate with people using a lot of different types of media. Photography and photoshoots have always been part of my job, as has the creation of graphics, designing and editing. All of those different things have played a part in helping me not only visualize and create Wool and Wine but also in its promotion and sale.

My specific interest in yarn and knitting stems from spending a lot of time next to my wife on the couch as she created beautiful things (and my wearing many of them!) – I caught the knitting bug from her. I always found the entire process fascinating – self-stripping yarn is amazing! – and wondered how people got their starts. Very similar to that first day wine tasting when I starting wondering about the people behind the scenes. That is really what the book is focused on – the people behind these wonderful products – how they got their start, what inspires them and where they want to go in the future. The history behind knitting and its profound effect on people are also fascinating and I enjoyed weaving that into the stories as well.

Tell me about your knitting story.

One of the things that I will always remember about my grandmother was her knitting and crocheting. She always had one project or another going and she was really the only knitter I remember seeing when I was young. When the weather got cold, she would focus on making slippers for everyone in the family – taking requests for colors, pom-poms, reinforced heels and just about anything else you could want. I do not ever recall a time when I did not have a pair under my bed. She would also make blankets for each family member when they became engaged so that they would have one handmade item to start their new life with – I still have the one that she made for my wife and me.

Knitting faded from my life as I got older. It did not return until after I was married and I can attribute its comeback to my love of baseball. Or rather, my wife’s indifference to the sport. As I would settle down to watch a game she quickly started to look for something to occupy her time while she kept me company. She started to teach herself knitting and gradually became more and more proficient. My contribution at first was strictly as a model but I soon started to see yarns that I never had encountered in my grandmother’s knitting basket. I began to accompany her on trips to fairs and yarn events and to poke around yarn shops (our first Sheep and Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY together was in 2008!). The excitement and passion of the knitting community really is contagious and soon I was looking over her shoulder at podcasts and flipping through books. It was just a short hop from there to making my first tentative attempts at a washcloth!

Fabergé by Laura Aylor in Rosy Green Wool Cheeky Merino Joy

What kinds of projects are you usually working on?

My knitting skills are still in their infancy – the majority of the knitting for Wool and Wine was carried out by my wife. However, I am lucky to have such a skilled knitter in the house for teaching, tips and corrections (probably more corrections than anything else!). I am currently finishing off a hat and this summer, after my current graduate class is completed, I would like to move on to socks, which are a natural progression in my learning. I am hopeful that I will be able to progress to the point that I will not be yelled at for knitting too tightly!

What is your favorite wine and favorite yarn to work with?

My favorite wine really depends on what I am eating but I favor Malbecs if they are available (especially from Argentina and Chile). I also like a nice, chilled white during the summer. I have been fortunate enough to do a lot of traveling over my career and have enjoyed trying regional wines in many parts of the world. You can find a good wine just about any place if you take the time to look. I wanted to highlight that in the book as well and was lucky enough to be able to include some wines from non-traditional locations such as Maine, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Texas. One piece of advice that I was once given was to find a wine that you enjoy and drink it – it does not matter how much it costs, where it comes from or what others think of it. If you like it and are happy enjoying it, then it is a good wine.

Regarding yarn, I am drawn to natural colorways – likely because those are colors that I would tend to wear myself (although I do occasionally sport some pretty crazy sock colors!) – and most definitely hand-dyed indie yarns. I really admire the entire dying process and how complex it can become; it is a true art form. A yarn that has a very deep palette with multiple layers of color definitely catches my attention. With so many innovative technique and unique colors, there is always something new to discover in the world of yarn, which contributes to its uniqueness and excitement. Something that I came to admire during my research for the book was the organic wools and production techniques that are starting to become more popular and I hope to be able to learn more about that in the future (thanks to Rosy Stegmann and Patrick Grubaen of Rosy Green Wool for getting me started!).

John was generous enough to donate a copy of Wool and Wine for a giveaway! To enter, comment on this post with your favorite type of wine and/or vineyard. The giveaway will run through midnight EDT on Wednesday, May 2. A winner will be chosen via random number generator.

This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to winner Annie!

What to stash this week: sip and stitch

I spotted these enamel pins in Sue Stratford’s booth at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival and had to get one for myself… and for the rest of the gin enthusiasts in the States! A batch of these pins arrived on Tuesday and they are nearly sold out, so snap one up if you’re a juniper fan.

Speaking of beverages, I especially love the sentiment on Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks’ new camp mugs.

You have until midnight Eastern time tonight to preorder Candice’s Kiowa, inspired by sunset over Yellowstone, for the Indie Untangled Knitting Our National Parks project!

Amanda of Hu Made has introduced a new selection of art yarn. No, it’s not glittery handspun, but a small batch of hand-dyed yarns inspired by art history and artists such as Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper and Agnes Martin.

Shanna of Lambstrings Yarn is working on more kits for Joji Locatelli’s Fading Point shawl, but you can also work with her to build your own kit for this project. Either choose five skeins or contact Shanna to get suggestions.

Denise of Yoshi & Lucy has five different Fading Point kits now available for preorder, in a choice of three bases, including Merino/nylon, Merino 3-ply and a Merino single.

Many FiberCrafty shops have been updated recently with yarny goodness. Pictured here is a skein of fandom-inspired yarn from The Girl Who Crafted.