Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Yarn & Whiskey

A black woman wears a T-shirt that reads minding my black owned business.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place from October 15-24, 2021. Tickets are now available!

While Tammi of Brooklyn-based yarn&whiskey hasn’t yet realized her dream of opening a yarn shop/whiskey bar — which I would totally be a regular of — she launched her project bag-making business in January 2020. Using her collection of African print fabric, she creates bags to spark the feeling of “elegance, pride, and fearlessness” that she gets from these colors in her fellow crafters.

How did you decide to turn Yarn & Whiskey into a business?

For many years, I dreamed of having a yarn shop/whiskey bar, hence the name yarn&whiskey. But in 2019, when I decided that I would go back to school full time, I thought making project bags could be a way for me to earn an income while studying. Then the pandemic hit. I started yarn&whiskey in late January 2020 and by March when things were pretty bleak around the country, I had no desire to make project bags. I switched to making masks and gave them away for free for several months before deciding to sell them. After making about a thousand or so masks and by November, I was ready to switch back to bags. Around this time, Darci Kern reached out to me because I was promoting bags again and asked me to be part of her Fiber in Color box for January 2021. I wound down the mask making, ramped up bag making, and have not looked back. I’m back in the bag business and loving it.

Box bags with a green and pink botanical print.

How would you say your project bags are different from others?

I use wax prints in my project bags and the bags are reversible. I like to use bright prints for both sides of the bags and I do my best to coordinate the prints so they look great together without being too matchy. I also use wax prints for my pouches, which have a 3D/popcorn bag design that is enhanced by a high quality metal zipper. Unlike other box totes, my pouches lay flat when they’re not in use, which makes them easy to tuck away. I also make the pouches in five sizes, including two sizes that are great for storing your hand knits.

The zippers I use were chosen because a lot of high-end designers use them and I want to bring that same quality to my customers because I think every detail matters. I use a waxed cotton cord because it makes a tight and smooth cinch that produces less wear on the fabric than a rope drawstring. I buy my fabric from other people of color — mostly other women, small business owners, and purchase my zippers at a retailer out of Queens, NY.

I have also sourced fabric directly from Nigeria and Ghana because I am always on the lookout for prints that aren’t seen much here in the States. A lot of thought and care goes into my choices for trimmings and notions, the hand stitching done on each project bag, and the sustainable qualities of the packaging I use for shipping. I hope it shows in the products I produce.

You recently enrolled in a textile program at the Fashion Institute of Technology. What does this entail and how do you hope it will inform your business?

In my program, which is a one-year program, we’re mostly focusing on designing prints and learning the process of making prints digitally and by hand — which means a lot of drawing and painting. I’ve also got a weaving class, which I already know will be my favorite. My creativity is definitely being pushed. How will it inform my business? That remains to be seen. I am so grateful for the time to learn for the sake of learning. Every day I come to class with the knowledge that not everyone is able to walk away from a stable and steady income in order to pursue a passion and I couldn’t do this without a lot of planning and a supportive partner. I am extremely grateful, whatever the outcome.

A collection of bright zipper box bags.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your business?

It’s OK to stop making a thing that is profitable but is burning you out. When the pandemic hit, I pivoted to making masks. Masks far outsold project bags month after month, but I felt like my creativity was stagnating, so I killed mask production and made the decision to only make bags. Sales through my website were down for a few months, but after posting more bag content on Instagram and vending at a couple of virtual events, including Indie Untangled, my sales shot up again. I ended up getting wholesale orders and lots of interest in my products. I am glad I stuck to my decision.

When and how did you learn to sew and knit?

I took my first sewing class at a place called Sew Fast, Sew Easy in midtown Manhattan in the late ’90s/early 2000s and followed that up by enrolling in a few fashion design classes at FIT, just to enhance my hobby. I may have also taken my first knitting class there, but I’m no longer 100% sure about that. I do know that my first project was a scarf made with Manos del Uruguay yarn and it was about 8 feet of garter stitch. Yes, I still have the scarf.

Red yarn peeking out of a blue and red floral drawstring bag.

What are your favorite skeins in your stash?

Oof, that’s a hard one. But if I had to choose a favorite of the moment, it would be the yarn I have from FlYY Dyed. I’ve got several DK skeins of Rachel’s yarn that are within eyeshot of my workbench. They’re in bright hues of yellow, pink, and orange and looking at them cheers me up when I’m feeling grumpy. Don’t ask me what I’m going to use them for. I have no idea yet, but it’s a comfort to know they’re here when I need them.

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

I’ve got Textures Unite by Stephen West (a wonder of multiple colors and textured stitches) and Seelig (a brioche design) by Katrink Schubert hibernating on my needles because I’m not 100% sure where I left off. Plus both patterns are a bit complicated for me at the moment. I’m actively knitting Saknes by Zanete Knits, which is a cable pattern with just the right amount of difficulty and interest.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Leo & Roxy

A light skinned brunette with straight hair and olive skinned woman with curly black hair, both wearing black t-shirts.

Kerri and Jolyn, the dyers behind Leo & Roxy Yarn Co.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place from October 15-24, 2021. Tickets are now available!

Leo & Roxy Yarn Co. is run by best friends and collaborators, Jolyn Gardner and Kerri Masseo, who first met as coworkers in their LYS, The Little Red Mitten in downtown St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. The company is named for their mascots: Leo, a Rambouillet sheep, and Roxy, a Green Cheek Conure, or parakeet.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

Both Jolyn and Kerri were interested in dyeing yarn after knitting for years. They tried many different methods over the years, but once they decided to try dyeing a little more seriously for themselves, they got together in the kitchen and made some colorway magic! This quickly became the full-fledged dyeing business now known as Leo & Roxy Yarn Co.!

Three skeins of purple hand-dyed yarn

What inspires your colorways?

Our colourways are inspired by so many things — objects or things that we see, colours we want to replicate, or even just silly things like our dye challenges we have on our podcast.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you started dyeing?

Jolyn’s favourite colour is orange, and Kerri’s is pink. Neither’s favourite colours have changed since becoming dyers, but they definitely like to dye in the orange and pink combinations and families!

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

We do have some techniques for dyeing that are more challenging or difficult than others. This usually means that the colour is limited edition or gets retired when we aren’t having much fun dyeing it anymore.

A sock knit with black and white marled yarn with a pink stripe at the top.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Some of our most popular colourways are Meredith, Sugar Skull and Copper Roof.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

We’re definitely planning on having a discount code for those who attend Indie Untangled, both in person and virtually. We’re also planning on having some great kits available to make picking your next project even easier!

When and how did each of you learn to knit?

Jolyn took a course when she was younger (about 11), and was surprised to find that she was surrounded only by older ladies. Kerri taught herself to knit about 22 years ago, but really picked it up to hone her skills about six years ago.

A teal cowl with a white cord on a dress form.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

It’s always so much fun to have designers create with our yarns, we’re always honoured when they choose our yarns. We love the creativity that our customers have, and always love to see the things that are created by pattycakeknitz, irrakatze, Junespoon, sakharwood, and more on Ravelry! Some of our favourite samples that we have for our shows are The Daydreamer by Andrea Mowry in our 80/20 and Mohair/Silk, our work sock sets, and the Lilli Pilli Wrap by Ambah O’Brien in our 80/20 Sock.

What’s currently on your needles?

Both girls have a cast-on problem, and have so many things that we created a whole podcast around our WIPs and tracking them! Our Little Red Mitten podcast on YouTube chronicles what the girls are working on, what they’ve finished or frogged, new project plans, and anything going on both with Leo & Roxy, and with the LYS, Little Red Mitten, that they own as well. Kerri just cast on the Scout Shawl by Florence Spurling for our KAL, and Jolyn always has a variety of projects on the needles, including some vanilla socks for knitting in the car now that her son is old enough to drive!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Wool & Vinyl

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A woman with blonde wave hair stands in front of a wall of yarn.

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place from October 15-24, 2021. Tickets are now available!

I know I’m not alone in being a sucker for hand-dyed yarn that tells a story. Rachael of Wool and Vinyl tells the story of rock and roll in her bright, fun colorways.

You can get a “backstage pass” and meet Rachael during our online show on Sunday, October 17 at 12 noon Eastern.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I originally wanted to learn how to dye yarn at the beginning of 2018 but was nervous to actually try, it would be later in the spring before I dyed my first skeins. My husband (affectionately known as Mr W&V) gifted me a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame for Valentine’s Day that year. I wanted to make a rock and roll-inspired shawl or project to take with me on the trip but I couldn’t find anything that was really speaking to me. Which then got me thinking about how I could combine my love for both music and yarn together and Wool & Vinyl was born. And I got a ton of colorway inspo from the Rock Hall.

Bright pink, aqua, black and white yarn next to a poster for blink 182.

What inspires your colorways?

All of my colorways are named after rock and roll songs or artists and I put a lot of thought into which songs represent each color I dye. I usually listen to the song I’m dyeing for on repeat as I’m dyeing them. I’ve found that choosing a song first and then dyeing the colorway is easiest for me.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Some of my favorite colorways include November Rain, Noise Pollution, Highway To Hell, Dr Feelgood and Hotel California. I also have some really great solid colorways that are custom mixes of different dye powders so they are unique to W&V. Since I started dyeing I think I’ve really perfected my speckle technique so you’re getting skeins with those crisp little micro speckles which is one of my favorite parts of dyeing. Each speckled skein always ends up having a really cool section of all of these tiny little speckles.

Aqua and purple yarn next to a Motley Crue CD.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

I’d love to dye more colorways inspired by album covers but sometimes they are difficult to execute depending on the album art.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Some of my most popular colorways are also some of my favorites. I really love Dr Feelgood, the base color is a custom mix of dyes and the finished skein actually matches the album cover. I also have a Blink-182 colorway that matches their self titled album perfectly and its one of the colorways I’m most proud of. A few other popular colorways include Smells Like Teen Spirit, Go Ask Alice, Paranoid Android, All She Wants To Do Is Dance and my collection of Fleetwood Mac-inspired colorways which includes Dreams, Rhiannon, Gold Dust Woman and Stevie.

Bright lilac yarn with rainbow speckles.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

I’ll be releasing two new bases during the show: Pop Punk Sock and DK bases, which are both rainbow tweed. I’ll also be dyeing up all of my Halloween-inspired colorways inspired by songs like Monster Mash, Scary Monsters & Super Creeps, Strange Magic, Moondance, Whistlin’ Past The Graveyard, Thriller and more. As well as creating some sock sets which is something I haven’t offered before. I’m also really looking forward to dyeing a special colorway for the show inspired by Rhinebeck itself. Visiting in the fall is one of my favorite things and I’m really excited to translate that feeling into color.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I was actually a crocheter first. My mom taught my sister and I to crochet when we were in elementary school and I eventually got the hang of it but didn’t stick with it. I later learned how to knit by using a kids learn to knit kit from AC-Moore that I was given for my birthday. I would take my knitting to school with me in my backpack and then knit on the bus on the way home. YouTube didn’t exist back then so unfortunately I was wrapping the wrong way so all of my stitches were twisted — something I’d find out years later after my mom learned to knit, too.

A wall of colorful yarn with black labels.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

The collection of socks my customers have made is absolutely INCREDIBLE. There are so many different patterns that they’re all unique. I also tear up everytime someone makes a sweater out of W&V. Sweater knitting can be such a huge goal for a knitter and the fact that someone chooses to use W&V for a sweater always blows me away. Another favorite customer project is an Outline Tank By Jessie Mae in my Blink-182 colorway. The way that the yarn pooled in the finished garment is stunning.

What’s currently on your needles?

I don’t always have time to knit as I also work full time as well as dye for W&V but I’ve been working on a Parallelolamb by Stephen West using eight different W&V colorways.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Daughter of a Shepherd

A light-skinned woman with red glasses and a blue shirt with brown fleece.

Rachel Atkinson of Daughter of a Shepherd © Richard Jung

This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place from October 15-24, 2021. Tickets are now available!

For those of us who are excited about breed-specific, naturally-colored yarns, Daughter of a Shepherd is a must to add to your stash. Run by Rachel Atkinson, who is the literal daughter of a shepherd, the small UK-based operation celebrates natural black fleece in yarn as well as accessories, such as stunning tweed pouches by Julia Billings of Woollenflower, based in Scotland, and supports British shepherds and yarn producers.

Rachel will be participating in our online show in October, with a virtual shopping session taking place on Sunday, October 17 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

The story of Daughter of a Shepherd begins with the clip of the Hebridean sheep shepherded by your father. What led to you starting your yarn business?

I had been working in the yarn industry for a few years, initially at Loop in London before leaving to pursue my other job as a technical editor and book editor for various knitting and crochet publishers so was fully immersed in the yarn world. On a visit to see Dad he showed me the cheque received from the British Wool Board which represented 10% of the final value they would receive for the previous year’s clip. The cheque was for 94p (£0.94) meaning the final total would be £9.40 for approximately 300 fleeces giving each fleece a value of just 3p (£0.03).

As a knitter I would have loved to work with the incredible black Hebridean fibre and figured others also might. Just a few months later I was on a trip to the Swedish island of Gotland where you can buy natural yarn at farm stores right next to where the sheep the fleece is from are grazing and I began to wonder why we weren’t doing more of this in the UK?

I had savings for a house downpayment and decided instead to use that money to have the new clip of Hebridean fibre from Dad’s flock spun into yarn and the very first yarn launched in March of 2016. It was originally intended as a one-off project but by then I was absolutely committed to seeing where else this journey could take me.

Skeins of black, gray and cream yarn.

How do you decide on the blends that you mill?

Our first considerations are fleece that is undervalued or considered “worthless,” including the majority of naturally black or other non-white fleeces such as the tan colour of Castlemilk Moorit sheep. These naturally occurring coloured fleeces have a lower value as they are not commercially viable for dye houses whereas white wool can be dyed in a multitude of different shades. We are incredibly lucky to have 72 different British sheep breeds, each with their own characteristics and potential, it sometimes just takes a leap of faith to show others how good products from these breeds can be.

Additionally, we seek out fleece that is going to waste. Many sheep farmers bury or burn their annual clip as the amount they receive from the British Wool Board sometimes barely covers the cost of fuel to take the fleece to a depot and in extreme cases the shepherd can end up owing the Wool Board money, so our Ram Jam ranges of sport and worsted-weight yarns are all woollen spun from fibre that otherwise wouldn’t have seen a mill. We work closely with a longstanding mill in the heart of Yorkshire who spin both the black and white fleeces and blend the perfect grey gradient.

Other factors for blending, particularly with our worsted-spun range, is how well the main fibre responds to the spinning process. For our Heritage range, the Hebridean fibre is blended with Zwartbles, a similarly dark fleece, to enable a smoother spin and we then blend in a smidge of Exmoor Blueface to produce our Brume range of yarns.

A skein of dark brown yarn.

What do you think sets your yarn apart from that of other brands?

Not only do we spin natural black fleece, but we celebrate it and find uses for it beyond knitting wool, for example in blankets and tweed cloth which is then also used for creating accessories to make British wool available to different audiences, not just those who knit and crochet.

Our founding manifesto in 2015 included producing all our own label products within the UK using traditional processors to support jobs and business and ensure skills are passed on to the next generation. British wool has such a rich heritage and for these highly-skilled jobs and industry to vanish would be a crying shame. It often makes the job a lot harder and production costs much higher, but it’s hugely important to support businesses providing work for locals which in turn helps keep communities together and all employees work in what I know to be a safe environment within a company following employment law.

I have always been transparent about where the fibre is sourced, to where it’s washed, spun and finished, which often means I can tell you the exact journey a single skein has been on to get into your hands from the field the sheep graze to where the skeins were tied off.

At the end of the day Daughter of a Shepherd isn’t just about me, it’s so much more.

A flock of black sheep.

Do you have a favorite sheep breed?

It must be the Hebridean! They’re a small sheep, full of character, very hardy and live outside all year round even their lambs arrive in the open air. The flock my father shepherds are used for conservation grazing so also perform an invaluable job in an entirely natural way.

Their fleece tells the story of the year as they change colour with the sun and grow old with age; the natural black wool they are born with takes on tones of russet, gold, and silver grey. Just magical!

What are the most interesting things you’ve learned running your business?

Oh gosh, there’s been so much — it has been a steep learning curve — but learning how wool is processed within the UK has been fascinating. Going behind the scenes each step of the way and seeing the fleece being washed, to the actual machinery it is spun on, to meeting the incredibly knowledgeable people who have spun it always utterly inspiring.

A skein of dark brown yarn and a piece of lace knitting.

Tell me about how you learned to knit?

Like so many people I was taught to knit and crochet at a young age by my grandma with more advanced techniques and support provided by mum. I remember shopping for dishcloth yarn at the market with Grandma then returning to her house where I’d ferociously knit garter stitch dishcloths until the yarn ran out. Mohair (in the loosest sense of the word) sweaters soon followed along with a memorable batwing jumper.

Following on from this ’80s extravaganza, I put the needles and hooks to one side for many years before picking them up once more around 15 years ago during a long illness and got truly bitten by the bug!

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

There’s a special, limited-edition shade of Ram Jam Sport naturally dyed by Julia Billings of Woollenflower who I regularly collaborate with on yarn and tweed pouches, and you will also find a few seasonal bundles along with several surprises.

Many moons ago I was a personal shopper for Harvey Nichols department store so I’m looking forward to booking appointments for Indie Untanglers wishing to discuss project plans or pick out gifts for that tricky to buy for someone.

A brown/black tweed pouch in front of fabric with sheep.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

When launching Daughter of a Shepherd I hadn’t thought beyond my hope that people would buy the yarn – it didn’t occur to me they would then go and knit with it and even wear their makes. When finished objects began to appear knitted and crocheted in our Hebridean yarn I was so overcome as it was the pinnacle of a huge and very emotional project. I still have the same reaction today whenever I see someone wearing a project made in Daughter of a Shepherd yarn and fabric or receive an email telling me all about plans for the yarn order just placed. There’s no feeling like it.

The sleeve and body of a dark brown textured sweater.Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

I’m most definitely not a monogamous knitter and currently have three sweaters on the go plus a shawl to finish and several pairs of socks and mittens awaiting their partners!

Work on a forthcoming pattern sample is taking priority, but once finished I’ll return to my Dew Sweater by Hiromi Nagasawa which has the most beautiful cabled-lace shoulder detail and is perfect for the indigo dyed Ram Jam Sport. The Spruce Peak Pullover by Amy Christoffers has been marinating in a project bag for a little too long and I’m keen to get it finished as the Ram Jam Worsted works up into a light but very warm fabric which I’ll need in my drafty studio come winter. Think I’ll have to speed up though as I’d also really love a Brume 4ply sweater – either Viburna by Fabienne Gassmann or an Eyelet Pullover by Orlane Sucche.

Wool sweater, shawl, hat, and mitten weather is my favourite time of year!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Yarn Over New York

A smiling person models a rainbow and black plaid shawl.

Jessie wears Breaking Plaid by Carissa Browning (Ravelry link).

This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place from October 15-24, 2021. Tickets are now available!

Jessie of Yarn Over New York is emblematic of the city that we both call home: colorful, interesting and full of talent. Aside from creating hand-dyed yarn, Jessie has worked as a stage manager for various performances and events, including the circus. That experience lends itself well to dramatic, bold colorways and artistic sock blanks.

You can catch Jessie at our online show in October, with their virtual shopping session taking place on Saturday, October 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

In January 2016, while in Vancouver, BC, a friend from knit group (Kelsey of K-Zip Knits) invited me and another friend to a Yarn Dyeing Party at her house. We tried hand-painting, low-immersion and mason jar dyeing techniques and had a lot of fun. I left that day with four beautiful new skeins of yarn and the seeds were planted for a major lifestyle change. As my yarn hung in the shower to dry, I ordered my own Greener Shades dye starter pack and a handful of bare yarn. I spent the next few months watching tutorials and experimenting in my kitchen. Eventually, I had dyed enough that I needed to clear out some space and I listed a few skeins in a knitting Facebook group. To my surprise, they sold! I decided to take a major leap of faith and contact all the local yarn stores and inquire about a trunk show during the NYC Yarn Crawl. One Brooklyn shop (Slip Stitch Needlectaft) and one Manhattan shop (Annie & Co) both said yes! It was a total dream come true. I used that event to launch my Etsy shop and before I knew it, Yarn Over New York was a real thing! Five years later, I still almost can’t believe it happened.

Skeins of colorful yarn and a small yellow taxi.

What inspires your colorways?

Is “everything” too vague an answer? Early on, I used photographs from my travels in Europe, Asia and North America to pick color palettes. Now, I have three main sources for ideas. Food (yum), flowers (pretty) and my dear old City, New York (not yum, maybe pretty).

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Orange is definitely my personal favorite color. I love how it can pair with greens, blues and purples to create really dynamic effects. As I dyer, I’ve learned that not everyone wants to wear sunglasses while knitting/crocheting, so I have a new-found appreciation for subtler shades. I also really love rainbows and, luckily, so do lots of other crafters. I’ll never run out of ways to dye the rainbow.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

Perhaps not a single color, but I’d love to dye self-striping sock yarn. At the moment, I really don’t have the space and equipment to do it properly, so it stays on the bucket list.

The Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline on a piece of blue knitting.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Colorways: Dusk Rainbow (variegated, saturated rainbow with black smudges), Taxis in the Rain (grey and yellow with speckles), Black Opal (dark grey with jewel undertones)

Hand-painted Sock Blanks: NYC Skyline, Watermelon Slices, Fractals

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

(Big smile) Yes! I’ve got some super fun things planned. Our show special colorway will be a stunner this year. Sock knitters will definitely want to keep an eye out. It’s not a true self-striping colorway, but it will pool into very gorgeous spirals. I’m in the process of creating some really pretty companion tonal colorways so that shawl and sweater makers can mix and match to their hearts’ delight.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I started to crochet at the age of five when my mom gave me a hook and some yarn for Christmas. Admittedly, I didn’t totally fall in love at that point and ended up making pom poms and simpler yarn-crafted items. As a teen, she taught me again and I started a never-ending parade of crocheted hats, blankets and stuffed toys.

I learned how to knit in my 30s while living in Macau. A fellow circus worker and I traded skills. I taught her to crochet and she taught me to knit. She introduced me to ravelry and the world of fine yarn. It’s safe to say, she created a monster, lol. I started designing knit and crochet patterns and amassed quite a stash during my travels. Thanks, Sharon, I owe you!

I learned to weave when Rachel from Woolyn (Brooklyn yarn store) showed me all her gorgeous work and inspired me to buy a loom. I am still definitely a beginner, but definitely hooked. I love how you can color mix in both directions. So fun.

A person holds a wrap with neon stripes.

Jessie’s Celebrate With Love shawl (Ravelry link).

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

I really love when people make things for special occasions. A customer knit her own wedding veil with a custom-dyed gold and white silk lace. Another used an NYC sock blank to knit herself socks that reminded her of home. The beauty of indie-dyed yarn is the emotion and love carries through from my hands to theirs in the most amazing way.

What’s currently on your needles?

All the things. I can never just do one at a time. I’ve got a pair of socks on the go (for me, vanilla), a knitted and a crochet cowl for show samples (“Diurnal Cowl” by me) and a “Born this Way” test knit for Mary W Martin. I recently got a stand for my table loom so it can be ready to go all the time and I plan to make a birthday present for my mom with something pink and lovely. (Mom, if you are reading this, pretend you didn’t see that last part.)

Stock up on Spotlight makers at Scratch Supply Co.

A bathtub full of yarn.

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.

We’ve loved teaming up with Jessica and Karen of New Hampshire Yarn shop Scratch Supply Co. (dig their new and improved logo!) on our events because their shop is filled with indie companies. In fact, they also carry, or will soon carry, several of the dyers and makers we featured at the Indie Spotlight show last weekend (if you missed it, you can still register to catch the recordings).

Check out their guide to the Spotlight indies they carry.

A green badge with a yellow tent between two pine trees that reads Camp Knitter.

adKnits

Augusta, based in Richmond, VA, creates a a fiber-inspired gift line that incorporates an earthy aesthetic, pops of color, and punny takes on yarn into a line of stickers, pins, project bags, stitch markers, and other fun items for knitters and makers.

“My goal is to connect knitters to nature and help them express their unique woods-walking, mountain-climbing, yarn-loving identity through my fiber-themed designs!”

A skein of red yarn.

Hudson + West

Hudson + West is a new yarn company dedicated to bringing innovative American-made yarns to the handknitting market, along with modern and wearable designs that highlight those yarns’ best qualities. Hudson + West was founded in 2019 by Meghan Babin, the former editor of Interweave Knits, and Sloane Rosenthal, a knitwear designer (and recovering litigator). Their name evokes our disparate locations: Meghan hails from New York’s Hudson River Valley, while Sloane calls the San Francisco Bay Area home.

“We’re both obsessed with ruggedly handsome yarns, practical design, and thoughtful, well-made goods. We’re serious students of yarn construction and knitwear design, and passionate about details. We’re also both lovers of the outdoors, and of the rugged, starkly beautiful landscapes of the American west that inspired and indeed, birthed, our first two yarns.”

A skein of tie-dyed yarn.

The Wandering Flock

The Wandering Flock is a contemporary Knitwear design studio and hand dyed yarn line based in Brooklyn, NY. In the summer of 2019, using the experience she had gained from working in fashion. Geraldine took a leap of faith and started The Wandering Flock.

“Drawing my inspirations the runway to streetwear, I create colors that are fun, wearable and contemporary.”

Coming soon is yarn from:

Brown, pink and aqua yarn.

Mitchell’s Creations

Terra is a Georgia native now living in Louisiana for over a decade. Mitchell’s Creations started with cakes and project bags and years later grew into much more.

“When looking for yarn for the first ever KAL I participated in, I went to my LYS for yarn. While they had nice yarn, I just didn’t see what I was looking for and this is where yarn dyeing started and I haven’t looked back.”

Bobbins of colorful yarn.

Plied

Plied Yarns is a new venture from Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. and Ann Weaver of Weaverknits! These two friends have worked with the mill at Harrisville Designs to create North Ave, an innovative woolen-spun, hand-dyed, marled yarn.

Pre-Spotlight Untangling: Hudson + West

Two women wearing red posing together in wilderness.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.

I first heard rumblings about Hudson + West during Rhinebeck 2019, where the rustic yarn brand had a soft debut, at the same fiber festival where the idea took root. This small company, started by friends Meghan Babin, the former editor of Interweave Knits, and Sloane Rosenthal, a knitwear designer, source and produce their yarns in the U.S., using a traceable, sustainable, and fair supply chain.

You can look forward to learning more about their two bases, Weld and Forge, and their stylish line of patterns at their virtual shopping sessions, and also learn more about the production of their yarns during their Let’s Talk About Wool session at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Tell us the story of how Hudson and West came to be.

Hudson + West started with two friends who were on parallel paths towards the same goal: making a yarn that would make the kinds of garments we would love to wear and could wear anywhere. Meghan and I met when I was an indie designer (and a full-time lawyer) and she was the editor in chief of Interweave Knits, when she hired me to design the sweater that became Tangled Up in Gray. We got to know each other and worked together on a number of projects over the next few years, and in 2018, both of us were trying to figure out what was next for us in the industry and were both talking to Mary Jeanne Packer, the owner of Battenkill Valley Fibers, about making yarn. MJ suggested that we work together, and we traded samples of potential yarns and got to talking at Rhinebeck in 2018 about how to make a yarn that would have the balance of durability, wearability, and ready-to-wear inspired polish that we craved, while doing it responsibly, ethically, and here in the US. H+W was born from those early conversations at Rhinebeck that year, and we opened to the public in November 2019.

Gold, navy, forest green, white and red yarn next to a map.

How have you found the sheep breeders you work with?

In our early batches of yarn, we bought our Corriedale from individual farmers and breeders in the Hudson Valley, mainly from farmers with some existing ties to either the Hudson Valley wool pool, or to MJ and our mill directly. We now work with a broader range of farmers in both the Hudson Valley and throughout the northeast and midwest, and buy a range of both raw fleece and combed Corriedale top, since our production needs have now (happily!) grown beyond being able to buy on a farm-by-farm basis. Like most US producers who use Merino, we get our Merino top from Chargeurs in South Carolina, which sources US-grown, ethically raised Merino from Colorado and New Mexico and scours and cards it for us.

How do both of you work together to decide on your color palette?

We have always been pretty aligned when it comes to the color palette, at least in terms of the broad guardrails: the colors had to be really easy to wear in a variety of settings, and feel rich and opulent and saturated while allowing some of the yarn’s underlying heathering to come through. We typically start with Pantone chips, and then I hand-dye samples in my office until we get the shade and saturation right (occasionally alarming my family members when I have multiple crock-pots of ten gram samples going in the bathroom of my office!). We look at those samples under a variety of lighting conditions and in the context of the rest of the existing palette, and the winners go to our dyehouse (Ultimate Textile in North Carolina) to go through their lab dip process and have the first test batches made.

Purple, orange, gold and pale pink yarn.

What are each of your responsibilities when it comes to the business? What are the unique things that each of you bring to your company?

We were super fortunate that we have a lot of overlapping skill sets, but also some distinct experiences that we bring to the table. Both of us are knitwear designers, and we have a lot in common in terms of our aesthetic sense and our overall creative vision for the company, so we collaborate very closely on both design work and those higher-level creative decisions. Meghan has a lot of experience with things like designer recruitment, managing editorial production, commercial photoshoots, and working with other third party publishers, all of which have been really critical to the development of our pattern support program, which has been a really important part of our journey in bringing our yarns to the world. Because of my legal background and previous start-up (and start-up adjacent) experience, and an admittedly deep love of spreadsheets, I end up having a lot of facility with more of the business back end and the production side, as well as managing our wholesale program. But overall, despite our geographically disparate setup, it’s a really free-flowing work environment, and we collaborate every day on both small and large-scale decisions.

Tell me about how each of you learned how to knit?

Meghan: My mom taught me the basics one weekend when I was home from college (I think I was about 19), and she had just learned how to knit, purl, cast on, and bind off. She promptly stopped knitting right after teaching me, but I kept on teaching myself, learning, taking classes, and experimenting with different yarns and techniques.

Sloane: Despite my mom, my best friend, and my mother-in-law both being knitters, I didn’t grow up knitting, and I actually taught myself after my older daughter was born in 2011. I was struggling with anxiety (like a lot of new moms), and the meditative nature of knitting really helped me at the time. I then got fascinated by the materials science of knitting and how our yarn affects our projects (after a few real bloopers on that score), and fell completely off the cabled sweater deep end shortly thereafter.

A woman models a black shawl with a rainbow of colors.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Spotlight?

We’re so looking forward to meeting new folks and talking about yarn! We love hearing from knitters about what’s important to them and how and what they like to knit — it’s part of what we’ve missed about this strange, trade-show-less year+. We’re also so excited to introduce Meghan’s wonderful Sunset Shawl, our show special, and to meeting some other wonderful new indie producers.

Do you enjoy other crafts in addition to knitting?

Meghan: Where to start? I enjoy so many crafts, but I definitely don’t have enough time in the day, weeks, or years to practice them all. I’ve ventured into crochet fairly well, spinning + weaving as well not as well, embroidery with enthusiasm, sewing haphazardly, and I’ve always loved cooking, baking, and mixology. I’ve always wanted to try home brewing beer, but I think I’ll have to make friends with an avid home-brewer willing to teach me.

Sloane: Mostly drawing and painting, which I find incredibly relaxing. I also love baking (especially with my kids), and block printing.

Purple, orange, red and gray yarn.

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

Meghan: I’m currently making myself, for the first time ever, a gorgeous black sweater. It’s Sloane’s Adams in Weld in Raven and I’m loving its sweet, simple texture. I can’t wait to wear it this winter! I als have several swatches going for our Autumn/Winter collection.

Sloane: I’m working on Melody Hoffman’s Aito shawl (from an old issue of Laine) in Forge in Cabernet. I’ve never been a huge shawl knitter (I mostly do sweaters and hats), but I’ve been on a kick of exploring shawls in my personal knitting this year, and it’s been really interesting to a) knit from someone else’s patterns and b) explore knitting something I don’t tend to gravitate towards. I’ve also really loved having something warm to put around my shoulders while I’m working!

Pre-Spotlight Untangling: Greenwood Fiberworks

A woman wearing a green knit cowl.

This is the fourth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.

Carolyn of Greenwood Fiberworks is an indie dyer who is the rare triple threat: she knits, crochets AND spins, and so offers yarn, spinning fiber and knit and crochet kits. She’s been dyeing for a couple of decades (!) and shares her deep expertise at events and guilds across the country. While Greenwood Fiberworks is not a new company, we’re so excited to spotlight them and get them on your radar.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I began dyeing yarn about 20 years ago, the same time I learned how to spin. I spun literally pounds of white wool on a drop spindle and then wanted to dye it to make holiday stockings in a deep red and green. A friend told me I could use Kool-Aid as a dye, so I purchased a couple packets of lime and black cherry flavored mix. I soon learned that I needed much more than just a couple packets and returned to the store and purchased all they had on the shelf. I was finally able to get the deep colors I needed, but no matter how much I rinsed, there was still a fruity smell. I since learned to use professional grade dyes and love to put color on just about everything.

What inspires your colorways?

I live in the beautiful mountain west and the environment around me inspires a lot of my colorways. We have the beautiful red rock, deep mountains, and gorgeous sunrises and sunsets. Sometimes, colors come to me from a greeting card, a piece of fabric, or even my own imagination.

Beige yarn with red and blue.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Green has always been a favorite color of mine. It suits me since my name is Greenwood! I love it in all shades for the calm and peacefulness it brings.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

I find it challenging to make colorways with the color red. It seems to overwhelm the other colors I put with it. I’ve been able to come up with a few colorways such as American Diner or Dragon Scales, but it is still a challenge for me to put red in a colorway.

A braid of blue fiber.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Oh, that’s a hard one. I’d have to say Arcade, which is a more jewel-toned rainbow. Then there is Cappuccino, which seems to have many natural colors of creams, tans, and browns. Colorways with blues always seem popular, especially our Shades of Turquoise.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Spotlight?

I’m looking forward to introducing our new colorway, Dragon Fruit. I wanted something bright and cheerful as we begin to come together again so I put together happy colors. I wasn’t sure what to name it, but my daughter said it looked like Dragon Fruit, and she was right! I’m also wanting to share some of our hand-dyed fibers for spinners and felters.

Pink and green yarn with branches on top.

Dragon Fruit, the Greenwood Fiberworks show special.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I was about seven or eight years old when my mother gave me a pair of long metal knitting needles and some worsted-weight yarn. She taught me to knit back and forth in garter stitch. I knit what was supposed to be a square hot pad, but it turned out to be more of a trapezoid. I still have it after all these years.

I’ve taken up crochet recently. One of my favorite projects is the Lost in Time Shawl that we’ve made with our DK Yakity Yak yarn.

A multicolored shawl.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

I think one of my favorite projects has been the Hitofude sweater. It drapes so nicely with our Yakity Yak yarn. I’ve made several of these and many of my customers have also. Another favorite is the Peek-A-Boo Lace Shawl because it makes great use of our mini skeins.

What’s currently on your needles?

I’m playing with a pair of jaywalker socks in our April Diamond colorway. I wanted an easy travel project as I’ll hopefully be headed to Boston to meet my new grandson soon!

Pre-Spotlight Untangling: Jessica’s Rabbits

A woman with long curly hair holding a white and gold rabbit.

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.

I had heard about Jessica’s Rabbits and browsed the booth briefly at last year’s Kings County Fiber Festival, a small outdoor event that takes place a few miles from my Brooklyn apartment. I didn’t realize that owner/bunny wrangler/dyer Jessica Schmitz and I only live a few blocks away from each other until she applied for Indie Spotlight! Once I reach my fully vaxxed status, I look forward to meeting Jessica and seeing her adorable buns in real life, but for now I, and all of you, can have fun getting to know her virtually this weekend, and via this blog interview.

Tell us the story of how Jessica’s Rabbits came to be.

 I moved to New York a few weeks before 9-11 to study classical flute. From that time until 2014, I lived in small city apartments — studios or tiny one bedrooms (if the real estate gods were smiling down upon me). But about six-and-a-half years ago I decided I needed to embrace my Midwestern roots and find more space, whether that be in the city or out.

Luckily, I found a listing for an old, potentially haunted, Victorian home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. This was about the time I was falling deep in the yarn spinning rabbit hole, and a month into residence in my shockingly space-filled new digs I went to Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival.

I didn’t go to Rhinebeck planning to stumble upon a booth with baby angora bunnies, take one home, and build a tiny furry commune in South Brooklyn, but that’s precisely what happened. The little bun that would become Jojo Cinnabun stuck his little head out of the litter box, jumped on me, and Bunny Town, USA was born.

For a few years after that fateful hop, I focused on learning how to spin and building inventory, and then when COVID happened (and flute work temporarily evaporated) I finally got a website together (yay pandemic projects!) Our little business launched in summer 2020.

Pink crimped yarn.

You live not to far away from me in Brooklyn! What is it like raising fiber animals in the city?

It’s amazing! I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, but have extended family in Indiana and farming has always been close to my heart. Having a little micro farm is the best of both worlds for me: I can get my Midwestern on with the buns, but then be close enough to the city for music work.

There are some challenges, however, to raising buns in the five boroughs: mainly getting food. Shockingly, there aren’t any Tractor Supply stores in the city, so I order about 300 pounds in bulk from New Jersey and drive out there every few months. The folks in the store call me “The Bunny Lady.”

Someday I’d also love to add some larger fiber friends to my family, and while I did look into subletting the downstairs apartment to an alpaca, that didn’t pan out (why is NYC always raining on my parade?). So maybe in the future I’ll follow in the footsteps of many a Brooklyn hipster before me and journey to the Hudson Valley.

What inspires your colorways?

It’s funny — as a musician and New Yorker I only wear black. So much of my yarn is the opposite of this fashion cosmic hole, defined by extreme brights and neons. I follow a lot of resin art accounts on Instagram, and the bold, glassy colors that come from alcohol ink in this genre are absolutely stunning.

Because all of my yarn is handspun, I dye much of it “in the wool,” meaning dyeing the fiber before I spin in. I love the variation this method brings, because I can blend colors together once they are already dry to highlight and accentuate different patterns. It’s more work doing it this way, but totally worth it to really make colors pop.

The natural colors of the buns is a big inspiration as well. Much of the fiber that I dye is from white bunnies, but overdyeing the natural greys, oranges, and blacks that the buns produce themselves can be a lot of fun.

Pink and blue yarn.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

I love retro pinks, turquoises, and oranges (my apartment is a mid-century modern rainbow) and these hues carry through much of my work. When I first started spinning, I actually didn’t use any human-made dye, opting instead for natural dyes with avocado, madder root, etc. While I love these gorgeous soft tones, I couldn’t really find the bright turquoise I was craving with indigo. So I opened up the acid dye door just a tad to find a rich bright blue, and the other neons came pouring in.

I do still occasionally use natural dyes, but the chemistry behind all the subtle shades is a bit intimidating to me (I went to flute school, after all).

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

I’ve been dreaming of speckled ombré kits but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Dyeing yarn after I’ve already spun it is scary to me, because if I mess it up I remember how darn long it took to spin the skein. I think the key to unlocking gradient success will be practicing on yarn I didn’t spin, and then working my way up to angora handspun victory (hopefully 😉 ).

Blue, pink, orange and yellow yarn.

Jessica’s Indie Spotlight show special, Merbun Parade.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Spotlight?

I’m so very excited for Indie Spotlight! I’m planning on introducing folks to my new spring collection, which includes a lot of multi-animal fiber blends mixing angora with mohair, superfine Merino, alpaca, and more. I’m also launching a new yarn exclusive to Indie Spotlight called Bunboo, which is a blend of angora with bamboo fiber. Both fibers are incredibly soft and silky, and they of course take dye differently so the color variation is delicate and subtle.

When and how did you learn to knit?

While I was always a crafty kid, I actually didn’t learn to knit until I was about 30 and my brother and sister-in-law had a baby! I wanted to make my nephew a blanket so I went to Michaels, got a bunch of acrylic yarn, and hit YouTube. I didn’t know that circular needles were a thing, and remember being so incredibly perplexed as to how people made such large blankets on such small straight needles. I ended up making about 40 small squares and seaming them together. I’m so glad those medieval dark days are behind me.

Blue, pink, orange and yellow yarn.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

I’m always so amazed with the gorgeous items my customers make! One of my recent favorites was with my Bunicornyarn, a bulky 2-ply of brightly dyed angora and white alpaca, where the customer used 80 yards as the cuffs and neckline on a white form-fitting sweater.

What’s currently on your needles?

Know what’s crazy? Nothing! I’ve been spending all my time spinning and dyeing, I’ve run out of time to knit. But, once spring lightens up a bit I have a Knit Collage cardigan I’m dying to make that uses some super bulky wool in black and hot pink. I’m also soon to be in fall-pattern-planning mode for some bulky spins for cold days, 2021.

Pre-Spotlight Untangling: Jilly & Kiddles

A woman wearing a blue and orange sweater stands over a table of colorful yarn.

This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.

I first met Jill of the yarn company Jilly & Kiddles at a Brooklyn yarn event (remember those?) a couple of years ago, and she is just as fun and approachable as the name of her company would suggest. In fact, Jill received a slew of nominations for the Spotlight show from some of her loyal customers, and their words say it all:

“Jill is an amazing dyer – her yarn is absolutely amazing and should be shared. I belong to her Sock of the Season group where her gorgeous colors never disappoint. I also purchased her 2020 Advent which was extraordinary!!” –Eileen

“I would like to see Jilly & Kiddles in the spotlight. Jilly’s yarn is amazing to work with. The colors and color combinations she creates are exquisite! She works hard to create fun collaborations with other makers. Her newsletters are like receiving emails from your favorite friend. She manages to make each of her customers feel special.” –Christine

“I have made a few colorwork sweaters recently and of all of the main color yarn I enjoyed working with and the final project of Jilly and Kiddles yarn. The yarn is lush and springy and the dyer is helpful, answering questions quickly and thoroughly.” –Susan

If you’re up for some fun on the Saturday of Spotlight, and want the chance to win some of Jill’s beautiful yarn, sign up for our virtual trivia game, which Jilly & Kiddles is sponsoring. She’ll also be hosting an informative session in the Spotlight lounge on Saturday on yarn substitution.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

Around five or six years ago I started to become pretty obsessed with hand-dyed yarn. I loved the bright colors and creative combinations I was seeing, but found when I knit them up, they weren’t what I expected. It was difficult to find indie yarn that created the finished objects I desired. If you’ve ever adored a skein of yarn, but not the fabric it creates, you know exactly what I mean.

I began looking for colorful yarn that created more of a muted, soft overall color. I wanted the varied colors of hand-dyed, but in something that was really wearable for me and fit into my own style and wardrobe. Along the way, I found a couple of larger companies making the look I wanted, but not many. I wondered if I could do this myself and be able to get exactly what I wanted. I’d taken a yarn dyeing workshop with an indie dyer many years ago at a retreat and loved it. Maybe this is something I could learn?

I started watching tutorials and reading every yarn dyeing book I could get my hands on. I bought some supplies and started experimenting in my garage. Boy, was dyeing fun! Long story short: I loved it and I couldn’t stop. Sometimes I got what I wanted and sometimes I didn’t, but I was learning so much and I knew this was something I wanted to continue doing. There were other people who were looking for the same kind of yarn I was looking for and I wanted to be able to offer it to them. That’s when my yarn dyeing business became a dream I needed to make reality.

What inspires your colorways?

My colorways are inspired by nature, in two ways. There’s the usual way… something in nature catches my eye, like a flower, sunset, or landscape, and I want to recreate it. The other way nature inspires my yarn is the way I create colorways, layering and mixing colors. Have you ever looked at a purple flower really closely and realized that there are a ton more colors to it than just the purple your eye first registered? You might see purples, blues, pinks, and even maroon, brown or gray! Nature uses many hues and shades to create beautiful colors, and I use this concept in my own yarn dyeing and colorway creation. My colorways feature lots of layers of different colors to create something wearable and pleasing to the eye.

Purple, orange and pink yarn.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

This is a great question! My favorite colors have always been orange and blue and they still are. However, creating colors from primaries really opens your mind to different hues and variations of colors. I’ve found that there isn’t a color I don’t like, if I can get the right version of it. For example, it’s not that I don’t “like” pink, it’s that I don’t like every pink. Find the right one, and it can be magical!

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

I’ve always struggled to create the perfect olive green color, but I just recently nailed it and I’m so excited about that! Something about it was such a huge challenge, and it feels good to have made it work after years of trying to get the color in my mind onto the actual yarn. The other color I think many dyers struggle with is a great black. It can be tough to get the saturation you desire.

Multicolored skeins of yarn.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Spotlight?

Nope, it’s a secret. I’m just teasing! Of course I can. For my Indie Spotlight show special, I’m offering limited quantities of several different minis sets in unique colors. These are not going to be produced again, so this is the only way to get your hands on them. They’re on a new fingering weight base I haven’t offered before and I couldn’t be more excited about it! Indie Spotlight is going to shine a light on my small business, and all I can say is it’s going to “sparkle” under it! These ready-to-ship minis sets are exclusive to Spotlight and in limited quantities.

I’m offering free shipping worldwide with any purchase of $100 or more (USD) and any order of $40 or more will receive a free stitch marker too! (These offers are valid the weekend of the event and include standard shipping only. Stitch markers are while supplies last.)

I’m also doing a How-To demo Saturday from 4-5 p.m. on Yarn Substitution from a Dyer’s Perspective, that I think will be really helpful for a lot of makers. It features ways to save money and use your stash — even the stuff you don’t think you can wear. I’ll give you tricks to make the yarn you want to use work in more patterns, and we’re going to talk a lot about color — how to substitute so it looks amazing, how to pick colors that work for you, and how to “fix” colors you love but don’t think you can wear. Be sure to join us and bring your questions!

When and how did you learn to knit?

After many attempts to learn as a child over the years, I finally learned to knit in 2005 while I was pregnant with my third child, or “Kiddle” as we like to call them. I taught myself. I had a little how-to pamphlet book from a craft store, some plastic needles and acrylic yarn. When I got stuck, I looked online at tutorials (back then they were more of the photos style, not videos like you see now) or in my pamphlet. I took out books from the library and just figured it out on my own. Ravelry was just starting out while I was learning, and that was a great resource for me, too.

A lilac sock.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

Gosh, there are so many great ones! One of my customers chose a dark gray (now called Graphite) and an orange (Lava Lamp) to make Stephen West’s Starflake shawl during the KAL and he did SUCH an amazing job. The colors are right up my alley and I’ve wanted to make one of my own ever since. It’s gorgeous. I adore my Clayoquat sweater, designed by Tin Can Knits, and knit in Ideal DK base. It was my first (and only) steeked project and it turned out so well. I wear it all the time and it still looks great! My friend Nadine made a beautiful magenta pink version Denise Bayron’s Waves of Change Jacket in Aurora Aran and I love the way it turned out and that the Sassy Pants colorway she chose is a perfect fit for her personality! My favorite FOs of my customers are often when they choose colors that I wouldn’t normally wear or choose for myself, but they’re the exact right fit for them. I can tell how happy they are with the projects and it brings me a lot of joy to share in that with them.

What’s currently on your needles?

I’m working on a Jayne Hat for my son in custom dyed colors (any Firefly fans out there?) and I have the Current Mood shawl by Knit Graffiti going right now as well. It’s my first Brioche project and it’s a lot of fun.

An orange shawl.

You are passionate about empowering makers to use the yarn they want. What’s your favorite yarn substitution story?

This is a toughie. I help people choose and substitute yarn all the time, so it’s hard to narrow down to just one. Any time I can help someone choose a combo of “their” colors that work with a colorwork pattern in the same way it was originally designed, it’s a win in my book. There is one substitution I helped customers make a lot, and that was when Andrea Mowry’s Weekender sweater first came out. It called for worsted weight yarn, but in a very fluffy and light yarn. My Aurora base is an Aran/heavy-worsted weight, but it’s very soft and drapey and isn’t a great fit for that particular sweater if you want it to look and feel the same as the original version. I found if I worked two strands of Velvet Sock (my single-ply fingering-weight base) together, I created yarn that was worsted weight, with just the right amount of drape and spring to it to make the Weekender perfectly!

Many of my customers ordered Velvet yarn for that pattern, sometimes all in one color, and sometimes two different colors held together for a marled effect. My favorite combo was a very colorful variegated called Rustle held with a busy tonal green called Spruced Up. I have a sample in that combo and several of my customers made that exact version as well! It is a great base substitution that allowed for some fun color play and ended up using less yarn overall than making it in aran/worsted weight. So my customers saved money and got the results they were looking for, which is really satisfying.