Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Murky Depths Dyeworks

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place on October 14, 2022 and online. Tickets are now available!

Along with your local yarn shop, it’s great to support your local indie dyers. Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks is part of the New York community, splitting her time between New York City and upstate New York, not far from where Indie Untangled is held! She’ll be joining us in a few weeks for her third show, bringing a ton of her murky and colorful skeins.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

It was a total accident! As an avid knitter and yarn collector, I had a little Jacquard dye starter kit and some KnitPicks bare yarn sitting around. I thought it would be a fun day to dye some yarn over my winter break up at my country house in 2017.Turns out by the end of that day, I know I was going to start an indie dyeing business.

Skeins of yarn in blue, red and gold.

What inspires your colorways?

Oh, inspiration can come from anywhere. I literally have colors inspired by the color of a car seen on the highway or an old teal green battleship. As often as not, I just get a visual image of a particular color in my mind and the adventure of unlocking the formula to realize it on yarn commences. Usually it turns out to be a complex shade, requiring many primary colors to get where I want.

Just as importantly, I’m fascinated with what happens when color is layered over color and the surprising results that ensue. The watercolor (transparent) nature of dyes means there are endless possibilities when adding mixed color over mixed color.

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

I like to boast that I have the worst two favorite colors for a dyer, olive green and orange…two of the three slowest selling colors of yarn, along with yellows. While half my wardrobe is made up of these, I’ve developed an unexpected love for all colors aquatic and have unless colorways inspired by bodies of water. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised, I did name my company Murky Depths!

Three skeins of a purple, pink, blue variegated yarn with multicolored speckles on top of solid skeins in two different blues and dusty pink.

Holi, Interrupted at the top.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Some of the colors I’ve dyed so many times I have the formulas memorized are Picante, a deeply saturated almost burnt orange and Destroyed, the above mentioned battleship green. Of my multies, some of my murkiest colors are also the most popular, like The Real Casanova, an aubergine brown with warm caramel and raspberry popping through and Holi, Interrupted, a wash of rich pastel tones of rose, amethyst, slate blue and warm honey with pops of speckles in the same tones. I have quite a few colors that I’ve been selling since I started Murky Depths in 2018 and show no sign of slowing down.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

One word answer is tonnage! Honestly, I’m bringing all my favorite colors on my basic bases (plied and singles fingering, Merino and MCN DK, mohair) but it will be the Fall premier for Sanctuary, my non-Superwash merino worsted weight and Nautilus, my BFL aran weight, just in time for sweater weather. I’ll also be bringing a big range of my alpaca boucle laceweight, Maelstrom, and for the first time my newest base, Yakima – a merino, silk and yak singles fingering. I’m brewing up a group of variegated colors on it for the first time, in addition to the solids I offer. And of course I’ll have a special show color on fingering and DK, and maybe even on mohair.

A group of two different multicolored yarns in golds, greens and blues.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned the knit and purl stitches as a youngster but never put them to use. Then, in 2007, when I was already in my 40’s, my sister gave me a 15 minute lesson after an excessive Thanksgiving dinner and I went home and cast on my first sweater. I’ve always been a go big or go home kind of person!

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

Seeing knit or crocheted items made from yarn I’ve dyed never gets old. But right now all I can think about is a sweater soon to be published by a designer named Sharon Hartley, @riverroadknits called Dark Academia. Hopefully I’ll have the designers sample in my booth at the Indie Untangled trunk show and will definitely be offering kits.

What’s currently on your needles?

Orbits by Rachel Isley @unwind_knitwear which I think is breathtakingly beautiful. I’m doing it in my Caspian base, using Delft-a soft porcelain grey base with Copenhagen blue speckles as the main color and a medium slate blue for the colorwork.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Yarn Farm Kingston

This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place on October 14, 2022 and online. Tickets are now available!

Have you ever been visiting a city or town and thought, “This place could use a yarn shop?” Well, Jocelyn Songco thought that after moving to Kingston, NY, also known as one of the gateways to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. She’s in the process of opening Yarn Farm Kingston, a yarn shop and wine bar overlooking Rondout Creek. I’m looking forward to it becoming another must-visit during Rhinebeck weekend!

Tell me about the decision to open Yarn Farm Kingston. Had you always wanted to own a yarn shop?

Owning a yarn shop wasn’t always on my mind, but crafting has been a “serious hobby” for me for decades. Once when I was moving apartments in NYC, a moving guy asked me if “this is what you do” while he was carrying a mannequin and nodding at large clear bins of yarn and fabric. Um… yes?! So much of what I’ve done and who I am has led me to this point at exactly the right time! My career for the past decade and a half took me to remote parts of the world and I’ve always sought out fiber artists and artisans. When you have that personal interest and passion it can’t be suppressed! I’m also an avid class-taker and fiber festival attendee and have learned from many of the greats: Judith MacKenzie, Gayle Roehm, Edie Eckman, Abby Franquemont, Tin Can Knits… as well as more local teachers – Christine Janove, a star quilter in NYC.

So the backstory: I’ve been both knitting and living in NYC for about two decades. I went to my first sheep and wool festivals around 2004 – Rhinebeck and Maryland. Rhinebeck immediately became an annual girls’ weekend with knitter friends. It’s my favorite time of the year – Disneyland for the fiber artist! In 2019, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, I came up to this area to visit my high school friend Sophia, and I had an epiphany: I didn’t have to limit myself to experiencing the joys of the Hudson Valley only in October – I could rearrange my life, downsize my space in NYC, and get a home up here – which I took steps to doing that very weekend.

Fast forward to now, after getting through the pandemic and taking advantage of an opportunity to leave my employer with a bit of a safety net, I’m here in Kingston full time and 100% thrilled to be opening a fiber arts creative space in one of the most inspiring areas of New York state. We are doing everything possible to be fully open by Sheep and Wool weekend! We’ll share updates on Instagram @yarnfarmkingston, and on our website, yarnfarmkingston.com.

A storefront with brown paper in the windows.

The exterior of the soon-to-open shop on W Strand Street in Kingston, NY.

What did you do before you decided to become a yarn shop owner?

I was in the Peace Corps after college, then went to grad school and business school and worked in the corporate world for a few years. Most of my “career” has been as an impact investor at a private foundation – 14 years! There, I made investments in small businesses that were both for-profit and generated social impact in some way, such as job creation for low-income people, increasing yields and income for small farmers and improving access to essential services and medicines for marginalized people.

I traveled a ton for my job – every other week or so I’d be leaving for a trip. I’d lose myself in knitting on plane rides, “bush taxis” (beat-up station wagons for public transportation packed full of people, and maybe chickens) and dead time between meetings. My favorite part of this work was connecting with people, and that will be the best part of YFK for me as well.

 

How did you choose the products that you’ll carry?

I’m still choosing! It’s the beginning of September now and I’m deep in sampling and selection mode.

YFK’s emphasis is on local and/or small batch, hard-to-find, unique and special. This is what will differentiate us from other yarn sellers. I’m reluctant to stock much that is very readily available on, say, Amazon, but rather items that are harder for the average shopper to get, or things that really must be seen in person. My priority has been and continues to be to reach out to local yarn producers, dyers and small businesses. Often things are made to order, so longer than average time is needed. In this way, I think YFK can be a social enterprise. I can help small producers more easily tap into the retail market, both in my shop and with online sales. This could help remove a traditional barrier for them, which is access to markets.

I also learned about specific fiber artists and other artisans during work travel in my former career and plan to go back to those sources as I grow my portfolio of products in the shop. To start, I’m really excited to offer Cowgirlblues yarn from Cape Town, South Africa, this fall. I first learned of the company during a work trip in 2013, and met the founder/owner Bridget at her dye studio along with her team of dyers. Their yarn is spectacular! Then I reconnected with Bridget at the Indie Untangled pavilion at a crafts trade show earlier this year… perfect timing.

All that said, I still plan to stock some commercial/traditionally-manufactured yarns that many of us know and love, because they are very good and meet a gap in my “yarn portfolio.”

We’re also deep into sampling and selection mode for our wine list, craft beer and snack menu. I eventually hope to create yarn and drink pairings, both for our waterfront bar and as gifts for the holidays. Imagine if your knitter friend sent you a flight of New York state craft beer and a skein or two of hand-painted yarn plus a pattern, or pattern suggestions… wouldn’t you be delighted?!

Shelves of rustic yarn.

What will make your shop different from others?

Wine! Local craft beer! Snacks! Coffee! A waterfront view! Did I mention? We are a wine bar too, in a fabulous location.

As for the local yarn shop aspect… there’s no doubt that knitters, crocheters and crafters more generally are shopping online, and there are benefits to this medium (breadth of products and sometimes cost). But fundamentally, we crafters are a community and there is absolutely no substitute for being in a community in-real-life. There’s no greater joy than squishing yarn in person, no greater accuracy in choosing colors than seeing them in front of you, side by side with other options, and loving the result, rather than “living with” something you thought was a little different when you saw it on your screen. And I’d guess the former gets cast on immediately, while the latter might get thrown into the stash that we all have.

Since I think many of us are cross crafters, YFK will have a hodgepodge of supplies beyond yarn: fiber for spinning, fabric, embroidery kits, lap looms and weaving supplies. We’ll have a more curated offering of yarn, and offset that with a greater diversity of other crafting materials, from places near and far.

For classes, YFK will have traditional offerings like multi-class courses on how-to-knit/crochet/spin/drop spindle and workshops and trunk shows. Yes to all that. Beyond this, though, we’re super excited about launching drop-in classes for people to do on their own at their leisure (like Julia Cameron’s Artist Date), or with friends, or for date night. Think: playing with watercolors, building a terrarium, weaving on a lap loom… and you take home your finished object and/or tool or resource from the class after your one-hour session. We’re super excited about this, kind of a self-guided “paint and sip” for fiber artists, or curious creatives more generally.

And for wine bar patrons who aren’t knitter-crafters, we’ll have gifts to give loved ones or to treat yourself, like locally-handcrafted charcuterie boards, weekender bags (aka HUGE project bags), lotions and potions. We have a small batch of handknit samples for sale now, and I’d also love to enable connections between local knitter-crocheters to take on commission pieces for shoppers who want custom-made knitwear or home goods.

The interior of an empty shop.

The soon-to-be-filled interior of the shop.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My Peace Corps friend Almaz taught me on a train from NYC to Princeton in 2003 while we were on our way to visit friends… she’d learned to knit in San Francisco during the surge of popularity in knitting at that time. I learned on metal needles and I used acrylic yarn. New knitters will start off on a better foot materials-wise with us, for sure!

But I actually learned to crochet first, it was either my mom or my aunt/godmother, Tita Baby. This was when I was 7 or 8. I crochet now and love it, but I’m still a beginner crocheter.

And for spinning – I *had* to learn after I went to my first sheep and wool festival in Maryland and Jim from the Yarn Barn Kansas and Gord Lendrum (though I didn’t know who he was at the time) started me off on a few wheels in Jim and his wife’s booth. I was definitely intoxicated by the fluffy fiber and lanolin fumes at the fairground… and ordered my first wheel, a Schacht Matchless (the Lendrum was a very close contender).

Do you prefer knitting or spinning?

Knitting!

Fluorescent yarn.

What’s currently on your needles and/or spinning wheel?

Needles: All the yarn I’ve been sampling! It’s important to me to work with every yarn that I plan to carry in my shop, with both needles and hooks. I like blending two different yarns together to create something unique and to understand yarns that play well together or don’t, and to expand the options for how to use the yarn I will offer in my shop, which will be relatively small at the outset and grow over time as YFK grows and we learn more and more what our customers prefer.

On my Ashford Joy 2 wheel: undyed Polwarth (spun from the fold from top), started at the recent Woodstock-New Paltz Arts and Crafts Fair where I demoed with the Ulster County Handspinners Guild, and also introduced Yarn Farm Kingston to the market.

On my cherry Schact Ladybug wheel: undyed Rambouillet (also spun from the fold from top) started at the September monthly meetup for the Ulster County Handspinners Guild.

Tell me about one of your most memorable FOs.

I decided to make a cable afghan from Melissa Leapman’s Cables Untangled (the one on the cover) for my parents as a gift. It probably took 2 ½ years because of one reason or another – I ran out of yarn, got fatigued making yet another square, ran out of yarn again, didn’t want to seam, “Oh, let me cast on for another project”… the list goes on. Then I finally finished and it was beautiful and I gave it to them. And they never used it. Well, after maybe a year I claimed it for my own and use it every winter and I love it. My brother covets it. (No, I am not making another. Yes, I would still support anyone that wants to make this blanket. It’s a beautiful pattern.)

Same sort of thing happened more recently. I decided to make my dad and my brother Mr. Rogers sweaters for Christmas. They got them two Christmases later. They loved them… and do wear them!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Yarncentrick

This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place on October 14, 2022 and online. Tickets are now available!

We all know that yarn festivals are made even better with our friends, delicious food and… more yarn! Earlier this year, Mary of 29 Bridges Studio, a vendor at this year’s Indie Untangled, and Valerie the Knitting Fairy Godmother, began organizing Yarncentrick, a new indie pop-up/pre-game event for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. It featured more than 20 indie dyers, bag makers and creatives. Here’s a little behind the scenes look at the event.

What inspired you to organize Yarncentrick?

Maryland is a destination for the first weekend in May. We wanted to create an event that celebrates our diverse community of indie fiber dyers, artisans, and small creative businesses. Yarncentrick is a small and indie-focused with about 30 creative vendors.

How did you come up with the name?

Yarncentrick was in the making for quite a while. We talked and dreamed every time we got together. We both have the same memory of how we decided on the name. We were on a road trip coming home from a yarn festival and tossing out ideas for this new event we wanted to create, as we frequently did. Mary said, “I want it to be yarn-centric.” And Valerie, said, “Did you just name our event?!” From there, we did name and domain research and Yarncentrick evolved. Ending with -ck is meaningful – the “C” represents crochet, the “K” represents knitting.

Mary, you’ve done a lot of shows as an indie dyer. What did you learn from being on the organizer’s side?

Seeing an indie fiber event from both sides has been really interesting. I appreciate how important these events are for small businesses. In addition to being a financial necessity, it gives the opportunity to grow your business through advertising, networking and collaboration. I think being an organizer will help me be a better vendor. It’s a lot of work — year round, not just on the day of the event!

Do you have anything new planned for the next event?

We’re moving! Spring weather in Maryland is notoriously unpredictable. We’re moving to a more comfortable facility (with indoor plumbing!). It’s still very accessible with plenty of parking but our customers and vendors will be protected from the elements. Also, new this year, we’ll be accepting donated knit or crochet items that will help keep people warm this winter.

Mustard project bag, skeins of gold and coral yarn, pink speckled yarn.

When and how did each of you learn to knit?

Valerie: Many knitters I talk to have a similar experience. I have knit and crocheted on and off for my whole life. As an adult, I came back to knitting during a time of loss and sorrow. I needed something to keep my hands busy and pass the time.

Mary: Learning to knit and sew was inevitable for me. My grandmother was an amazing seamstress and quilter, learning to upcycle and mend during World War II. My mother added knitting to their repertoire of shared skills. When I was 5, I figured out that if you were sick, you stayed home from school. I wanted some mom time, so I pretended that I was sick so that I could stay home her. That day she taught me to knit with some mustard gold 1970s yarn. Mustard is still my favorite color.

Do either of you do any crafts in addition to knitting?

Valerie: I have tried and dabbled in almost every single craft hobby. For me, nothing else stuck like knitting and crochet.

Mary: I love to try new things! Sewing, visible mending, weaving, and spinning are among my favorites. But like Valerie, knitting is my go-to. I love to make sweaters and knitting is portable.

What are each of your most memorable FOs?

Valerie: My most memorable FO is the Brambles Beret by Amanda Muscha. We were traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast on a non-stop flight. I started casting on as we took off. Joking, my partner “bet” me that I couldn’t finish the hat by the time we landed in the West. It was a non-stop flight and I triumphantly bound off before we touched down.

Mary: It would have to be my honeymoon sweater. My husband and I got married in my favorite city — Florence, Italy. I don’t know what the process is like now, but when we got married we had to check in the consulate first, and then there was a waiting period — I think it was five days — so we drove all over Tuscany. One day we ended up in Siena. After we had a picnic in the Piazza del Campo, we found a little yarn store where they kept all the yarn behind glass — no squishing. I bought a sweater quantity, made a sweater, and have a wonderful memory.

What’s currently on your needles?

Valerie: I’m working on a franken-sweater mashup. The finished sweater will have a solid bodice and bright striped sleeves.

Mary: I’m making the Trelawny Top by Tamy Gore. I’m a sucker for leaves!

Untangling Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Earlier this year, I had the honor of collaborating with Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs — along with Sarah of The Dye Project and Thao of Nerd Bird Makery — on the Rosé and Rambouillet kit.

Tamy published her first design, the Out of Winter shawl, on Ravelry in May 2016, and it shows off her skill at combining speckled and semisolid colorways of hand-dyed yarn. She also creates lovely garments with just semisolids. Her Dusky Rose shawl, which is now available individually as well as with the kit (of which there are only a few left), is one of those stunning shawl designs, and uniquely combines garter, brioche, short rows and slipped stitches in an elegant garment.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I really just decided to try my hand at it. I had modified a few cowls before but never really designed anything on my own, and so I figured I take the plunge and I haven’t stopped since.

How did you come up with Narrow Path Designs and why do you use it as your business name?

The name was actually chosen by my husband and it stems from Jesus’ words in the Bible in regards to entering by the narrow gate, meaning that He is the only way to salvation and so calling all people to come to Him. I love and am thankful for that and so I kept the name and added Designs to it.

A woman models a pink shawl.

Tami’s Dusky Rose shawl for the Rosé and Rambouillet collaboration.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I was taught in 2013 by my goddaughter and her siblings. I smile each time I think of those days and the many mistakes I made and how extremely patient these children were with me. 🙂 It took a while for me to understand (especially purling!), but I finally got it.

Do you do any crafts other than knitting?

Not at this moment, but I would like to start using my sewing machine. I got a vintage machine from a sweet friend, but haven’t really buckled down to use it yet.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Nature. Birds and other animals, plants and changing seasons. I love playing with different colors, and yet there are a few colors that always seem to end up in most of my designs.

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

I draw. Sometimes that means I’m drawing on a napkin if we’re out for dinner, or I have my handy notepad and pencil with me. 🙂 The design starts to form in my mind and then I start playing around with it on paper. I usually change the design as I’m knitting it and rarely ever stick to the original idea.

A multicolored triangular shawl

Tamy’s Milu shawl.

Do you think you’ll ever design sweaters or will you stick to accessories?

It’s definitely in the plan, but we’ll see what happens. 🙂

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

My favorite colors are yellow, rusty orange and shades of pink and peaches. They haven’t really changed since I first started and I would be surprised if they did, but you never know. 🙂

Post-Rhinebeck Untangling: Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs

Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs in gray sweater with a pink and red geometric yoke

Debra Gerhard models her Once Again sweater.

This is the 17th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs has a background as a designer, but not in fashion. For years she worked as an environmental engineer, addressing environmental impacts. These days, her design work involves taking hand-dyed yarn and turning them into colorful geometric sweaters and shawls with stripes, lace, cables and other textured stitches.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I was never one to follow a pattern exactly as written. I would usually use the pattern as a “guide” and then add my own shaping, motifs, edgings or other personal touches. A number of years ago after I left engineering to be home with my son, I started sample knitting for a few yarn companies which subsequently lead to technical editing of patterns. Around this same time, I took a few knitwear design classes at the Rhode Island School of Design.

I released my first design, Checks Mix Cowl, which was based on a swatch I had done for one of my classes. However, I didn’t release anything else for about two years after this initial design and instead spent my time doing more technical editing for a number of designers and yarn companies. I finally made the leap to mostly designing around 2017 and now I find myself struggling at times to turn out all the ideas I have in my head. I love the process, and I especially enjoy seeing knitters’ interpretations of my patterns and their use of color combinations and various yarn bases.

How has your background as an environmental engineer informed your work?

As an environmental engineer, I would be charged with designing and applying the best remedy for addressing environmental impacts. And just as each impacted site presented a unique set of issues, I find that the processes I used to identity these issues and form a solution are very similar to the processes I use in my designing. I have also found that my love of math is deeply ingrained in designing and grading. I love to see the numbers unfold, and I enjoy applying geometrical concepts to some of my shawl designs.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

I take my inspiration from a variety of sources: an architectural detail, a colorful sunset, a spider web I may spy when out for a hike, bark on a tree, nature, found objects and many other sources. I have been known to tell my hubby to “pull over” so that I can take a picture of something that inspires me. I am drawn to color and patterns. I like to create colorful knits that fuel the imagination of each knitter and hopefully inspires them make my pattern their own.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My mom taught me how to knit when I was 10. My mom knits continental style, which suited me fine as I am left handed. I started with the garter stitch scarf and seamed hat as my first knitting items and continued with more hats and a few mittens. I didn’t knit much during junior high and high school, but in college I picked it up again and knitted the “boyfriend” sweater. I started to seriously knit in my late 20s after getting married, and I haven’t stopped since that time.

A pink speckled lace shawl.

Sunrise Over Bryce for Knitting Our National Parks.

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

After deciding on yarn, I will make a large swatch of the design/motif that I have in mind to see how the colors play together and to get gauge. Once I’ve gotten gauge, I will work up the numbers and write out a draft of the pattern, including any charts, if needed. I like to have the pattern completed as much as possible before I begin knitting so that I am in a sense, “testing” my own design and I have the ability to make edits as I knit.

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

My favorite colors are purples, reds and other rich, saturated colors, and that hasn’t changed much. I also like the playfulness of speckled yarn with the surprising pops of color. Additionally, I am just starting to explore the color and textural effects of working with two strands of yarn, specifically a mohair/silk base coupled with a Merino base.

Post-Rhinebeck Untangling: ‘I Knit San Francisco’

The cover of I Knit San Francisco

This is the 15th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Designer Kathleen Dames and Alice O’Reilly of Backyard Fiberworks have taken us to New York and Paris through their Knit Like A Local series of bookazines from One More Row Press. Recently, they launched I Knit San Francisco, a fiber journey through the Bay Area, which is available to preorder. Here’s more about their latest trip.

How did you decide to include San Francisco for your latest book?

We started talking about San Francisco after attending Stitches West a couple of years ago. There is a vibrant knitting culture in Northern California, lots of great yarn shops, local designers and dyers, and, as we all know, the weather in San Francisco is such that having something woolly on hand is always a good idea. Plus, we both have connections to the area: Alice’s grandparents lived south of San Francisco (and her brother lives in the city now), while Kathleen worked for two different publishers, one in Sebastopol and the other in Pacific Grove, so she has spent working time in the area, in addition to more touristy visits.

Which designers do you have lined up for I Knit San Francisco?

We are thrilled to have Vilasinee Bunnag (founder of The Loome) in collaboration with Kathleen, Faina Goberstein, Juliana Lustenader, Audry Nicklin, Sonya Philip (100 Acts of Sewing), Yvonne Poon (Gamer Babe Knits), Sloane Rosenthal (co-founder of brand new Hudson + West yarn company with Meghan Babin), Heatherly Walker (the Yarn Yenta), Julie Weisenberger (founder of Cocoknits), and Kelly White, plus yarns from Bay Street Yarns, The Dye Project, Hudson + West Co., Little Skein in the Big Wool with help from Seismic Yarns, Love Fest Fibers, Sincere Sheep, Speckled Finch Studios, Twirl Yarn, and A Verb for Keeping Warm. Getting to know the designers and dyers is the best part of this job.

A yellow knit rug.

What are each of your favorite designs from the book?

We love them all (of course)! Seriously, every book we publish is a whole new wardrobe we want to knit.

So far Julie’s rug, Half-moon, made with Love Fest Fibers crazy cool and crazy big yarn, and Sloane’s Ferry Building pullover in WELD from brand new yarn company, Hudson + West Co. (Sloane’s bicoastal partnership with Meghan Babin, former editor of Interweave Knits) have been most popular on our Instagram feed.

Aside from designs, what will the book include?

We interview each designer, so you will learn a little about their design journey and, of course, their favorite local things, particularly places to go that you might not know about and restaurants to try. Then, we take you on our three-day Yarn Crawl from Santa Rosa up in Sonoma County all the way down through Napa County to the East Bay and San Francisco itself down through Santa Cruz to Pacific Grove on Monterey Bay. We definitely recommend taking more than three days, if you want to do the whole tour – we had to be ruthlessly efficient in our research trip due to time constraints, but our doing so means you can take your time and enjoy everything a little more thoroughly.

Woman models a gray sweater on a beach.

What surprising things did you learn about San Francisco while doing your research?

That walking around is no joke! Coming from the east and being used to walking everywhere (New York City and Washington, D.C., for us are walking and subway-riding cities), the hills of San Francisco are deceptive. What seems like a doable walk is an intense workout. We also were surprised/not surprised to notice the quality of the light. As intensely visual people, we were both struck by that West Coast golden light, and we think Alli did a great job of capturing it in our photos.

There has been an explosion of local “bookazines,” such as the By Hand serial and Nomadic Knits. How would you say One More Row Press is different?

We start with the question “Where shall we (as knitting people) go next?” Then we work hard to find local designers, some new and others more established, who design across many categories and for varying skill levels, and then we collaborate with them to find yarn partners that make each project sing.

Beyond the interviews and yarn crawls, we also seek out local photographers and models who bring the designs to life on location. We focus on curating a collection that is rooted in place with additional information that allows you to go to that place and make your own personal connections (or be an armchair travel knitter).

Woman models a white sweater with pom poms.

What other cities or places are next for your series?

That is the question we are asked AND that we ask everyone we meet! Our “To Visit” list includes: Chicago (where Kathleen grew up), Kyoto (or Tokyo), London, Detroit (people keep mentioning it, and there are a lot of yarn stores in the area, so we are totally intrigued), and Los Angeles. We have also talked about Italy, Cuba, Australia, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, though we have been focused on individual cities thus far.

It’s a matter of finding the right people (designers, dyers, LYSes) and making the timing work for everyone (including us with our own jobs and families to manage). We are also in talks to do a crochet book with a handful of designers using their favorite buildings as inspiration for elegant, wearable crochet garments and accessories.

Post-Rhinebeck Untangling: Heather Love of Hellomello

A woman knitting while surrounded by yarn.

This is the 14th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Hellomello Handspun is a Brooklyn hipster indie yarn company: dyer Heather Love was using farm-fresh yarn before it was cool.

Heather starting out selling handspun, hence the name, and then fell down the rabbit hole of sourcing local wool, like the super springy and soft Cormo she offers on a range of hand-dyed colorways (designer Paula Pereira used it for Yullana, a sweater that’s part of a collection she launched this past weekend at Indie Untangled and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival).

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I’ve always been a bit of a textile nerd, so by the time I made it to art school I was a pretty experienced seamstress and had a regular side hustle “restyling” vintage clothing and stitching for a few local designers. Because of this, I made an effort to spend most of my studio time exploring other artistic avenues, including glass and photography. With the exception of a few bookbinding classes, my only textile class was a year-long African Dye Resist intensive that I took for fun.

Really and truly, hand-spinning was what got me started down the rabbit hole though. I took a class 10 or 12 years ago and got hooked. Fleeces were purchased. There was a lot of experimentation with carding and dyeing. Pretty soon, I had “too much” handspun and started selling it. It’s funny how things circle back around sometimes.

Purple hand-dyed yarn.

How did you come to source local yarn blends and how challenging is it to do this?

At a certain point, I realized that I couldn’t keep up spinning everything by hand — most people seemed more interested in my dye work, anyway. The problem for me was that I really wasn’t inspired by the idea of using a standard Superwash wool. Like most hand-spinners, I crave the tactile spring and softness of lanolin-rich wools. So in 2010, I decided to try sending a few fleeces to the mill for processing and had a small batch of my own yarn made. What I got back changed everything.

There are a lot of challenges in manufacturing. Sourcing fleece is just the start. Everything about milling takes time, a long time, and a lot can go wrong along the way. Prices climb higher with every season, but, in the end, I know it’s a worthwhile endeavor and I love being able to create amazing yarns that no one else has. My runs are very limited but that’s what keeps it interesting. Every batch is a little different and, with hand dyeing, every skein is uniquely beautiful.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

Brooklyn by way of Boston. The city is ever changing, sometimes exhausting, always inspiring: music, fashion, traffic and graffiti. There is always something new to photograph and explore. I am lucky to have lived in such vibrant cities and have met so many wonderful people along the way.

A hank of bright orange yarn.

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

I don’t have a favorite, I need the whole box of crayons. For me, it is all about the interaction and influence of colors on one another. I love how a color changes based on what it is paired with. The more vibration, the better I like it.

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

At the moment, I’m obsessed with super-saturated neons. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with layering color and over dyeing these lately and there are a couple of surprises in the works for VKL in January.

A black cropped sweater with bobbles.

Paula Pereira’s Yullana sweater in Hellomello Cormo.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet when I was young. As a kid I spent a lot of time stitching intricate little acrylic outfits for my army of Barbies. I favored crochet for its quicker finish until I started knitting garments for myself in high school. These days, I can knit much more quickly than I crochet.

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

Sewing is my other craft job. I wrote book called 30 Minute Sewing a few years back. I’ve also worked as an on-set tailor, stylist, costume designer and sewing instructor. I especially love the quiet pleasure of hand sewing techniques like embroidery, Sashiko and quilting.

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

I was floored when my friend told me that Stephen West used my yarn in his Amazing Technicolor Dream Sweater and featured it in one of his sweater books — I had no idea.

Recently, there was also a really beautiful Soldotna by Pia Cooperman.

Melissa Fitzpatrick made a killer Tecumseh.

But, one of my all-time favorite neons is the Maria Sweater by Yamil Anglada. It’s like bottled sunshine.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Candice English of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

Candice English of The Farmer's Daughter Fibers

This is the 13th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers first caught my eye when I was at The Knot House for the 2017 Maryland Sheep & Wool indie pop-up. I was intrigued by dyer Candice’s subtle palette that was comprised of many of my favorite colors: berry pinks, steely grays and watery blues.

In the last few years, Candice, whose home state of Montana infuses her brand, has become involved in Indie Untangled and this year I’m excited for her to debut a new concept at the Rhinebeck Trunk Show — she will be taking over part of the lounge at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory with her Sisters United initiative, a massive fundraiser that benefits organizations that are dedicated to supporting Native American women.

At the show she will be collaborating with another IU veteran, Rochelle of Home Row Fiber Co., to offer her October initiative with a custom Sisters United bag, a skein of a custom FDF colorway and a pattern. All proceeds from this collaboration are donated to the initiative.

How would you say your heritage has informed the story of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers?

When I first started our company, I was going through all of the first initial steps anyone does; brainstorming about branding, what story we wanted to tell, who was our target audience, etc. It first started with knowing that a lot of people I would run into in Portland and Seattle would be totally enamored with the fact I was from Montana. I thought a lot about that and realized a lot people are seeking from this slower-paced, easygoing, hard-working lifestyle. Then came a naming of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers from a song my cousin sings me by Merle Haggard. Something clicked once we named it and our heritage became the focus and center around the culture and art of FDF.

What inspired you to launch the Sisters United Initiative?

In June of 2017 a young girl named Ashley Heavyrunner Loring went missing on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation. The way her case was handled was messed up, and I knew that if she was a white girl things would have went a lot differently. I didn’t know Ashley personally but something about her going missing touched a nerve that had been brewing for sometime. I see all of these issues every single day that effect American Indians and at a certain point it becomes too much. The anxiety was really eating at me and it felt like I would explode if I didn’t try to help. By January 2019, FDF had that ability.

Sisters United bags

Tell us about the organizations that benefit from the initiative.

This changes all the time and you can find a list on the Sister’s United page of our website. Recently we set up a $5,000 college scholarship for a Native American student and our next project we will be putting together healing bundles for trauma survivors. I am doing some of the ground work with our local human trafficking and MMIP (Murdered and Missing Indigenous People) task force, so this helps steer us to see where we are needed.

How do you decide on the artisans to work with for the project?

This year everyone has reached out to me, which has been amazing! At this point I could honestly make Sister’s United my full time job. So without the help of my fellow makers I could not pull this off. I ask them to have creative control on what they are contributing and we follow their lead, it makes it manageable for me.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I first started doing a lot of natural dying — my mom practices traditional plant medicine — and I wanted to bring my love of fiber together with her love of plants. Three years later and I was in a job where I was working 60-plus hours a week and really unhappy in general. I knew I wanted to do something within the knitting industry, but plant dying was too spiritual for me to want to sell out. So I tried using acid dyes and fell in love with the process.

Blue speckled yarn

Crow Camp

Which of your colorways are you most proud of?

Crow Camp is probably up there, one of my favorite artists Kevin Red Star sent me a Christmas card one year (btw this was one of those mailing list type cards, but that didn’t stop me from being a dorky fan girl!) and I replicated his colors on Crow Camp. I sent it to him and he thought is was pretty cool!

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

Anything blush colored, pinks, purples, raspberry. Always and forever!

How did you learn to knit?

I was using one of those Kniffty Knitter looms and my husband encouraged me to ask my friend Brooke to teach me how to “really” knit. I always say those were his famous last words! Poor guy just wanted me to make him some hats and now we have family business based off the industry!

Golden speckled yarn

Ode to Autumn

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

I am getting back into traditional beading! I love to do any new fun craft with my daughter too.

What advice would you have for people just getting started in the industry?

Don’t focus on what everyone else is doing. Listen to your inner creative spirit and let that be your driving force to how you want to run your business. I remember it being really difficult for me at first to decide where and how I wanted to grow Farmer’s Daughter, as there are so many different routes you can go. First, make sure it makes you happy when you are doing it, and second it will eventually make you some money because it matters more than you think in the beginning. Burnout is real, but having financial stability is a good cure.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Stacie Dawson of Must Stash Yarn

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Stacie Dawson of Must Stash Yarn

This is the 12th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

It’s not very hard to find indie dyers who carry semisolid, variegated and (the ubiquitous) speckled yarn. Self-striping skeins, on the other hand, aren’t as common, with only a few companies specializing in it. Stacie Dawson of Must Stash Yarn is one of those indies who is synonymous with stripes. Here’s how she decided to go down that path.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I have my friend Claire to thank for that. She hosted a “Dye Your Own Skein” party using Kool-Aid and I was hooked.

I have always been creative so, over the years, I tried lots of different ways of expressing my creativity… with music, acting, decoration, stenciling/embossing/calligraphy, cross stitch, sewing, painting and the fiber arts of crochet, knitting, spinning and weaving. It was the fiber arts that spoke loudest to me and so learning yet another way of manipulating fiber was a natural progression for me. Like knitting, I obsessively gobbled up every dyeing resource I hold lay my hands/eyes on! Took classes with professional hand dyers, bought books, did workshops and practiced, practiced, practiced.

Why did you decide to focus on self-striping yarn?

Self striping was the second thing that I dyed, ever. If you have ever met me then you may have heard me joke that I am like the “Hair Club for Men” owner… I am not just the president, I am also a client. I just love knitting with self-striping sock yarn so much and when I first started dyeing, there were not a lot of options in the market; I felt like there was a niche that I could help to fill.

Originally, I didn’t want to be known as a one trick pony and so I dyed tonals as much as self striping. After about two years of always running behind, I realized that I needed to focus in order to realize my goals. Now we produce self striping on only four bases, limited tonals and so can have a steady stream of skeins available in the shop each week.

Yarn with red, yellow, blue, purple, gray and brown stripes.

What did you do before you started Must Stash and how does it inform your business?

I was a medical office administrator. I handled their books, hiring, staff management, training, supplies ordering, new equipment acquisition/maintenance, billing, etc. If it had something to do with running the business, I handled it! Yes, running a business, even one as different from being an indie as a medical office, was extremely beneficial to starting my own business. I was already familiar with setting up and reconciling books, paying taxes and being fiscally responsible and in this gig, I get to play with yarn almost everyday!

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

Inspiration comes from all around me! If you are familiar with Must Stash, then you have probably noticed that we have quite a few pop culture-inspired colorways. The names are usually drawn directly from the inspiration… we aren’t subtle. Some names pop into my head while designing/dyeing and some from my family, like Martian Rainbow, was suggested by my husband.

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

If I had to pick just one, it would be grey. I am a sucker for neutrals like brown and grey and don’t even get me started about that place where gold and silver meet… absolutely divine. I wouldn’t say my color preferences have changed a great deal since becoming a dyer but I would say that my palette has expanded substantially. For example, I wasn’t much for pastels or for garishly loud colors, either, but now, I have an appreciation for almost everything from sunglasses bright down to barely there… there is beauty in color, period.

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

The perfect amber. A liquid gold that has life and vitality and practically flows as you knit it. Other than a certain color, I would love to create a true self striping that does not repeat for an entire sock… that would be an amazing thing!

Yarn with Blue, red, green and purple stripes.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My mom taught me to knit when I was 9. She was an avid crafter and enjoyed creating beautiful and practical things. That winter she was knitting matching dress for us to wear for Easter. I was so intrigued by it that I begged her to teach me the mechanics of the stitches. I knit a rectangle about three inches wide and 10 inches long and it was a struggle for every inch!

I soon gave it up and put my supplies away and there they stayed for several years. However, every now and again, I would get a longing and so the bag of supplies would come out of the closet and we would sit down to learn again and after knitting a rectangle it would go back into the bag and back into the closet. This cycle repeated until 2010 when I pulled that bag out again, used YouTube tutorials and never stopped knitting.

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

Not really. I have enjoyed crocheting, spinning, cross stitch and weaving but none of them has captivated me like knitting.

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

I have a Tailwind that I knit with one of my Affirmation color ways and a natural skein that I find myself using a lot when the weather cools down and I would love to knit a Color Affection with two solids and a self striping but I need to decide on the colors.

You cannot imagine how much I enjoy seeing what my customers make with Must Stash! Of course, there are lots and lots of socks that are so well knit that they inspire me to make myself another pair but it’s the shawls and sweaters that really make me drool. Recently an IGer showed off her Strange Brew color work sweater she is knitting with one of my rainbow self striping in the yoke… so beautiful and fantastic.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Pom Pom Quarterly’s Sea Change issue

An African American woman models a blue and sand textured wrap on the cover of Pom Pom Quarterly

The cover features Seelig by Katrin Schubert, modeled by Arrish Wol. All photos by Shingi Rice, with make-up by Eleanor Hammond.

This is the ninth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Pom Pom Quarterly‘s autumn issue focuses on the conversations about racism and white supremacy in the fiber industry that have been taking place since January. Called “Sea Change,” it includes sand- and surf-inspired garments by designers and makers, including some who were brought to editors Lydia Gluck and Meghan Fernandes’ attention due to the movement for more diversity and inclusion in the knitting community.

Over its seven-year history, Pom Pom has featured models of diverse races and ages, and has plans to continue working with a larger range of designers. I asked Lydia how she and Meghan tackled this topic in the issue, which was released August 30, and how they plan to continue to address inclusivity going forward.

How did you decide on the sea as a metaphor for the ongoing discussion about diversity and white supremacy in the fiber industry?

We had been thinking about a sea-themed issue for a while, as it’s almost an obsession for me; I grew up on the Welsh coast and will always go for a salty dip if I can. The sea is also part of Meghan’s father’s background. He is from the tiny seaside state of Goa in India, and that heritage really resonated for Meghan at this time. I guess the sea has always been a source of solace and inspiration, but we hadn’t quite found the right time to do the issue. When we were thinking about putting together this autumn we realised it was the perfect time for the sea theme. We think that the outward-looking feeling that the shore gives, along with the place for reflection it provides is a great way to embody the expansive feeling of trying to create a genuinely inclusive and welcoming space. The sea is always changing, and we hope to carry on growing and changing too.

How was your approach to this issue of the magazine different than previous ones?

We had been spending a lot of time following and engaging with the racism, diversity, and inclusion conversations that have been more present online in the knitting world and felt that we had to start putting what we were learning into practice. We want to make Pom Pom a good option for people who feel that they aren’t represented in the knitting world at the moment. For this issue we put more time into making sure our line-up of contributors and collaborators was more diverse in various ways, and we hope that through diversity will come inclusion and we know Pom Pom will only be richer for it.

Our approach has also been different in terms of layout; we added pages to the magazine so that we could increase the font size – something we have wanted to do for a long time and finally have been able to because we have changed the way we ship the magazines (yay logistics!). We also added sizes to make our sizing more inclusive. We owe so much to the BIPOC and other marginalised voices who have been bringing to our attention what needs to change to make publications accessible and inclusive and we couldn’t be more grateful that they have done such difficult and dangerous work to make our world a better place. They are the heroes in this story.

A woman models a mosaic sand and blue sweater

Trove by Emma Ducher, modeled by Gina Patch.

What does diversity and inclusion look like for Pom Pom?

Diversity and inclusion looks like the magazine being accessible, welcoming to, and representative of anyone who wants to be part of our community. We want to work with and amplify the voices of people whose perspectives and experiences aren’t usually included in and reflected by the media.

Who has most inspired the Pom Pom team as you’ve taken on anti-racism work?

The team behind Unfinished Object have been particularly inspirational. Without those voices, we don’t think the movement would have burst forth in January in the way that it did. We are all making progress, and continuing to make progress now thanks to their work.

A sand colored cabled sweater modeled by the sea

Fata Morgana by Sylvia Watts-Cherry

What advice would you give to crafters and fiber business owners looking to take on anti-racism work?

Remember that whether racism exists in the knitting world is not a debate. That’s step one. Then educate yourself; we would say visiting Unfinished Object is a good place to start, and the anti-racist educators @rachel.cargle and @laylafsaad have plenty of resources. Make sure to be respectful when you are visiting spaces held for and by marginalised people, and check whether an answer to your question already exists before asking it.

The most important thing is to be ready to learn and get things wrong. There’s a lot of fear around saying the wrong thing, but we think it’s important to make sure that fear doesn’t come from a place of defensiveness or thinking that people will deliberately misinterpret you. If you get something wrong and receive critique from the community, it’s vital to listen and make sure you take feedback on board. No one is expected to be perfect, but we think it’s worth holding yourself to a high standard, while being kind to yourself. We can and must do better as a community, and in order to do that we have to be ready to rigorously examine our deeply embedded biases and our unequal societies.

And, if it’s possible for you, do pay people for the education you have received from them. Ko-fi is a great way to do that. Again we want to emphasise that we are following the lead of others in this regard, and we advise doing the same.

I’ve noticed this is the first published design for a few of the designers in the magazine. How do you work with designers who haven’t self-published a knitting or crochet design before? How are you finding new designers and dyers?

We have always worked with designers who haven’t been published or self-published before. Most issues of the magazine have had an open call for submissions because we are always interested in finding people who are not yet part of the knitting scene. We try and provide as much support as we can when we are working with new designers. We know there’s a lot about the process that might be new, so we are on hand to answer questions and can provide help with technical aspects, for example getting assistance with grading if needed. We are always honoured when someone entrusts their vision to us, whether they are a new designer or not, so our main concern is making sure we do their creativity justice.

We also spend a lot of time looking for new designers and dyers online through social media, and if appropriate reach out to people who we think would be interested in working with us. Sometimes people email us too! If we go to shows we make sure to go and check out stands that we don’t yet know.

A peach hat with cables

Timbre by Meghan Fernandes

Have either of you knit any of the designs from the issue (aside from Meghan’s Timbre hat, of course!) or do you plan to knit them?

I am working on Astragal by Ainur Berkimbayeva in some beautiful avocado-dyed yarn from Hey Mama Wolf, and I’m planning to make Eventide by Inyoung Kim next. Meghan is waiting to get her hands on some of Ocean Rose’s yarn to make Fata Morgana by Sylvia Watts-Cherry. If we had time we would make every pattern… but at least we get to live vicariously through our reader’s projects online!

Speaking of Timbre, how did you decide to include a pattern from Meghan in this issue?

When Pom Pom first started we both designed a lot of the patterns (we did all of them for Issue 1!) but as the business has grown we’ve had less and less time to design. Turns out running a magazine is pretty time-consuming! And of course we love making the patterns that we publish. But every now and then, if we have time, we like to design, and if we feel we have an idea that fits the brief then we’ll pitch it to the other and to the team. Meghan’s hat was perfect for this issue because the mohair cables skim over the surface and look like little rivulets, and the rhythmic quality of cables made us think of the sound of waves. I designed a sweater (Woodwardia) for Issue 28 this year which I loved, but we both feel that one design a year is probably plenty for us!

Are there plans for a plus size issue?

We don’t have plans for a specific plus size issue at the moment. We have increased our sizing, so we are intending for every issue to feature a larger range of sizes so that our patterns are accessible to more bodies. We plan to continue featuring a range of models of different sizes too.