Pre-Spotlight Untangling: Gothfarm Yarn

A woman in a white T-shirt with a sheep head.

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!

Gray yarn.

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.

Dark gray yarn.

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.

A pair of cream-colored socks.

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!

Gold yarn.

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.

Cream-colored yarn.

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.

What to stash this week: Spotlight on designers

A collage of eight people with the illustration of a brown and gold spotlight in the center.

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

Crystal Hiatt of Milly’s Knit Designs, who designs patterns with size inclusivity at the forefront
 
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!

Cream-colored yarn with pink speckles.

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.

Four bag with colorful animal sushi fabric.

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.

A woman models a lacy cream-colored cowl.

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.

Four skeins of wine-colored yarn.

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.

Striped ginger cat stitch markers.

Jillian of WeeOnes has ginger tabby cat stitch markers in her shop this week. These hand-sculpted felines come complete with hand-painted paw pads.

Gold swirled metal shawl pins atop a skein of light blue yarn.

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!

A collage of purple images and the words A MINI SUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM; 12 SURPRISE MINI SKEIN SET

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!

Two hands hold up a white woven clutch.

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.

What to stash this week: Spotlight on special guests

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Two woman wearing purple blazers, one with teal hair, smile at the camera.

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.

Balls of pastel yarn peer out of a clear-windowed bakery box.

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.

The new Bridgerton-inspired knitting, crochet and cross stitch mystery box from Leann of Forbidden Fiber Co. is causing quite the stir. Lady Whistledown recommends that you make haste and purchase your mystery box today before they sell out.

Pink and peach flowers.

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.

Skeins of yarn in shades of blue and purple.

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.

Skeins of bright pink, blue, orange and green yarn.

7th Floor Yarn is ready for spring and summer with their new 50% Cotton 50% Superwash Merino base, which they’ve dyed up on bright colors.

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.

A spiral skein of green and pink yarn.

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.

The MAB Elements Alice in Wonderland-themed, limited-edition stitch markers come with 11 handcrafted stitch markers made with real stones, plus 11 bulb removable stitch markers that fit up to size US 10.5 knitting needles.

A woman wears a gray and white mosaic bandana.

Ashleigh’s new design, La Bandanita, is a lightweight mosaic cowl that reflects her and her 4-year-old daughter’s love of horses and rodeos.

Gray yarn with green and pink speckles next to a skull.

Knitting After Midnight is inspired by heavy metal music and a goth aesthetic. She’s having a 15% off sale on her Superwash Merino Direful DK base.

What to stash this week: Join us for Indie Spotlight

An illustration of a bear wearing a teal sweater under spotlights.

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!

Sunset over wetlands and skeins of pink, purple, gold and green speckled yarn.

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.

Mini succulent charms.

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.

A long-haired woman in a wide-brim hat models a black and white colorwork sweater.

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.

Black mini skeins with pops of rainbow color.

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.

Skeins of blue, orange, purple, green and yellow yarn.

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.

What to stash this week: inspired yarn

Pink, orange and orange and green yarn.

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.

A pink, red, orange and gray shawl.

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.

A knight holding wooden knitting needles with a skein of yarn on her head.

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.

Gold, cream and lilac yarn.

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.

Purple, blue, pink and green round stitch markers.

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).

A hand holds blue and white plastic butterflies wrapped in purple yarn.

April showers bring… Friendly Flutterby end minders, which help tame your loose ends, and Raindrop Stitch Markers from Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations.

A rainbow of mini skeins.

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.

Aimee of Panckae and Lulu has opened up preorders for her 2021 Advent calendar and the April Pink Moon skein for her 2021 Full Moon Surprise special yarn series.

Mint green bulky yarn.

If you want to get some quick projects in, Kate of Bad Lux Designs has a new 2ply bulky-weight base, made of 100% fine Superwash wool sourced from Peru.

The Green Sweater: Knitting the history of the Holocaust

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A worn child's green cardigan.

Editor’s note: Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day, known in Hebrew as Yom Hashoah. I asked Lea Stern, a knitter and longtime Indie Untangled follower, to write about her Green Sweater project to memorialize the Holocaust. You can purchase the pattern on Ravelry.

In 2003, I was invited by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to attend a preview of a new exhibit called The Hidden Children. As the name suggests, it was about those children who were hidden or removed from parts of Europe during World War II and the Holocaust. They were given up by parents who were desperate to preserve the lives of their children and too often, these were the only members of a family to survive. I attended this event with a friend and colleague of mine who had himself been a hidden child in Holland. There were many stories in this exhibit of fear and tragedy, but there were also stories of supreme sacrifice and bravery.

What caught my eye at the museum preview was a small green sweater knitted for a young girl by her paternal grandmother. The girl was Krystyna Chiger and she had lived in Lvov, Poland. Her family had a comfortable life there, with a large apartment and a busy and popular textile shop, across the street from another fabric and wool shop owned by her maternal grandparents. Krystyna was a bright and inquisitive child who, as she tells it, would do mischievous things. She would unravel the little green sweater that her grandmother was knitting for her when she set it down and went out. She would ultimately receive a scolding but she would persist in her tricks nonetheless.

An old black and white photo of a family of four.

When the war broke out, Lvov was occupied by the Russians under an agreement with the Germans. When the Germans reneged on this agreement and invaded this part of Poland, things went from bad to worse for the Chiger family and the Jewish community. They were forced to give up their home, business and nearly all their possessions and were moved into the Jewish ghetto. It was from a window there in their small living space that Krystyna saw her grandmother who had knitted her sweater being taken away on a cart to Janowska concentration camp where she perished.

After several years, on May 1943, the final liquidation of the ghetto began. All its inhabitants were to be transported to the Janowska camp and what would have been their certain death. Krystyna’s father, and several others, in anticipation of this event had already begun to prepare a place for them to hide in the sewers below Lvov. And so on that night, Krystyna, along with her mother, father and 3-year-old brother descended into the sewers. They were not able to take much with them, but Krystyna took her beloved little green sweater with her. What they all thought would be a short sojourn in the sewers turned out to be 14 months. While many who sought refuge there died, the Chigers, helped by three Catholic Polish sewer workers led by Leopold Socha, survived and — so did her sweater. After some time in Poland, she went to Israel where she became a dentist, married and had two sons. She is now Dr. Kristine Keren and she and her husband live on Long Island, New York.

While her sweater is nearly 75 years old and bears some stains and holes, it is remarkably well preserved considering its age and journey.

A green sweater hanging in a display.

Reengineering history

When I saw the sweater I felt that I had a duty to try to reengineer a pattern for it so its history would remain alive. After a bit of convincing, I was able to set up a time to come and directly examine the sweater with the museum exhibit curator, Suzy Snyder, and Cynthia Hughes, head of textiles. I determined gauge and took many measurements, notes, drawings and photos that would assist me in figuring out the stitch pattern. It was a simple knit and purl pattern and I spent many hours searching for it in every available stitch collection I knew of. I was unable to find a previously published form of the pattern in any collection. I thus assumed that it was something that Krystyna’s grandmother had made up or was a popular pattern commonly known but not written. Fortunately, I was able to reproduce it on my own after having been able to examine the sweater closely.

After many hours of test knitting swatches, I needed to choose a yarn for the project. I thought this would be quite easy as I know some very talented hand dyers. After some thought, I realized that while they may be able to more accurately reproduce the color as it is now, specifically hand-dyed yarn may be difficult for knitters to obtain.

A hand points to a diagram surrounded by items spread out on a table.

Since the sweater was knitted around 1939-1940 in Poland, I knew from my studies of historical knitting that we would need a very basic wool. A luxury yarn would not have been readily available in wartime, nor would it have been used for a child’s sweater. Considering the horrific environmental conditions it had been subjected to, wool was the obvious choice.

I chose Quince & Co. Finch, a fingering-weight 100% wool that had great stitch definition and the largest palette of greens. The original sweater is faded and stained, but many of Quince & Co. greens were quite close. Additionally, if one wanted to knit this sweater in something other than green, their broad color palette was excellent.

A woman sits next to a table filled with small green sweaters.

Dr. Kristine Keren with the test-knitted sweaters.

Once the sweater pattern was created, I had two sets of test knitters. One used the first draft to evaluate the pattern for errors, understanding of directions and readability. The second set of knitters used the final pattern to make sure there were no errors before publication. I donated the copyright for the pattern to the Holocaust museum where it is currently for sale in the museum bookstore as a hard copy along with a display of Krystyna’s book, The Girl In the Green Sweater, and one of the test-knitted sweaters. Since the museum does not have an online store, they have allowed me to sell copies of the sweater on Ravelry. All proceeds from the sale of the pattern are donated to the museum.

In December of 2014 I traveled to New York to meet Dr. Keren and tell her the story of recreating her sweater. Her husband, Mr. Marion Keren, is a mechanical and civil engineer and enjoyed the process of “reverse engineering” a sweater! He is also a Holocaust survivor and they were very open and kind in inviting me into their home. I brought her a timeline of my whole journey. I showed her my notes, early photos, drafts and swatches. I presented her with a finished copy of the pattern and let her choose one of the test-knitted sweaters that reminded her most closely of her original. The curator had told me that it had been difficult for her to give up her sweater but she had graciously donated it to the museum. When she chose one of the copies, she held it up and said, “Now I have my sweater back!” It was a very emotional and fulfilling moment.

A woman holds up a green sweater decorated with award ribbons.

Lea displaying the ribbons her Green Sweater earned at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

With this project largely completed, I have reflected on what this project has meant to me. This sweater represents triumph over prejudice and intolerance. It is a grandmother’s love for her granddaughter and the devotion the granddaughter felt in return. I am a physician and have been fortunate to have lived a wonderful life in the United States, mostly protected against the type of injustice that has too often pervaded the world. I had a brilliant mother raised in northern England  who taught me many types of needlework, but particularly knitting. I am fortunate to have been able to use these skills to do this project.

My hope is that this small green sweater will be knit again and again. I hope the story of Krystyna Chiger, her family and the brave men who helped them will be told over and over and as such the sweater will be a small piece of living history. The green sweater should be a reminder to generation after generation of what happens when intolerance is allowed to fester unchecked and as young people wear it, we can open a discussion about what it represents and why it is so important to never forget. Suzy Snyder commented in a television interview she and I did about this project that the survivors won’t always be with us, but the things they’ve left with us will continue to tell their story. My hope is that small things like this sweater will somehow make a difference.

What to stash this week for your spring travels

A marshy area under a pink sunset, with pink, green and gold speckled yarn. Edit alt text

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.

Beaver charms with silver ring attachments with a green background.

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?!

Clear stitch markers with paper airplanes.

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!

A grey felt backpack with a black yarn ball.

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.

What to stash this week as you’re dreaming of spring

A woman holds out a purple and blue geometric wrap behind her.

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.

Black yarn with pops of green, blue and purple.

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.

A single skein of orange and green yarn.

Eve of Holly Dyeworks has fresh new colorways for spring, and kits for Stone Knits’ Alice’s Easter Bunny Socks.

Skeins of pink, gray, blue and purple yarn.

Aimee of Pancake and Lulu just had a shop update with few new Spring 2021 colorways and she has a few yarn kits for the upcoming MKAL by Ambah O’Brien.

Skeins of organge, green, gray and brown yarn.

IU newcomer Telling Yarns offers non-Superwash and Superwash all-British yarns sourced from British mills, in Devon and Yorkshire.

Gold llama charms on cardboard backings.

Missy of This Craft Or That has restocked some customer favorite progress keepers, which can also be used as zipper pulls.

A pink bag with gold flowers.

Maria G Knits, based in Portugal, creates project bags with crafters in mind.

A photo collage with various stitch markers.

Join Michele of MAB Elements this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Facebook Live to see new designs.

Ivory buttons scattered over blue fabric.

Monica of Gothfarm Yarn now offers vegetable ivory buttons that serve as a sustainable alternative to plastic.

Sharon of Garage Dyeworks has introduced a new yarn club.

Indie Across the Pond Untangling: Garthenor Organic

A label with teal print.

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.

Yarn being milled.

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.

A black and white image of a man holding a dark lamb.

A woman leaning on a cane wearing a dark coat and knitted hat.

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.

A sheepdog among a pile of brown and white fleece.

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.

A skein of cream-colored yarn that says Dartmoor.

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!

What to stash this week, across the pond and everywhere

A collage of colorful yarn and products.

Our Indie Across the Pond virtual event kicks off tomorrow and the collection of show specials from our vendors based in Europe and the UK is especially tempting — and the best part is you don’t have to worry about fitting your haul in luggage that you severely underestimated the size of!

A florescent yarn fade with mini skeins and a stockinette swatch.

Here’s a closeup of Botanical Yarn’s exclusive Across the Pond fade set! Dyer Sophie, a self-professed crazy plant lady based in York, UK, has created this aqua to lilac set that comes with 10 mini skeins, perfect for a variety of projects, including shawls, hats, garments, or a blanket.

If you’re registered for Indie Across the Pond, you can join Sophie at 10 a.m. EDT/3 p.m. CET Friday through Sunday for her Zoom livestreams or book a private appointment with her to talk project plans. Plus, you’ll also get a coupon code for 10% off purchases over £75.

Blue, pink, gray, brown and black stone-like stitch markers.

Ashleigh has stitch markers, progress keepers and more jewelry live in her shop.

Pink, blue and yellow marshmallow Peeps charms, with a chocolate bunny in a basket.

Fill your Easter basket with these new stitch markers from Jillian of WeeOnes that look good enough to eat.

Blue, green and orange hand-dyed yarn.

Sarah of Teton Yarn Company, who dyes yarn that celebrates the Grand Tetons, has created a new spring collection of colors.

A purple, pink and yellow floral tote bag.

Crista Jaeckel is having a spring shop update on March 27 at 8 p.m. EDT with mostly large drawstring bags in spring colors.

Bonnie of Yank Your Yarn’s “The Cat’s in the Cradle Again” Chain Row Counter is back in stock in her Etsy shop.