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!

The 2021 KAL/CAL winners!

A collage of knitted items.

We’re so excited to share the winners of this year’s Indie Untangled make-a-long! Over three months, there were a total of 175 entries, including 21 in the sock category and a whopping 39 in the adult sweater category, and only one in the blanket category. This week, we selected 19 winners in 10 categories via random number generator. Here is their beautiful work.

Blanket

Cowl

A blue, green and orange striped and slipped stitch cowl.

Sandra’s The Shift (Ravelry link)

A gray and aqua cowl.

Jess’s Dioptric Cowl (Ravelry link)

Hat


A purple and yellow brioche hat.

Sharah’s Amber Duet Brioche Hat

Mitts/Mittens/Gloves

Poncho

Shawl/Wrap/Scarf

Linda’s Ziggy Shawl (Ravelry link)

Liz’s Ampersand Wrap (Ravelry link)

Socks

Megan’s Fish Lips Kiss Heel

Sweater – Adult

Sweater – Baby/Child/Pet

Erica’s Bean & Olive (Ravelry link)

Top

‘Make Good’ with Scratch

Two light-skinned women wearing sweaters sit smiling on a teal sofa.

Jessica and Karen of the Make Good Podcast and Scratch Supply Co.

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

If you’re not already familiar with Scratch Supply Co., once you learn about this welcoming LYS you’ll want to move to Lebanon, New Hampshire. Aside from showcasing indie, women, POC/BIPOC, queer and otherwise underrepresented dyers and makers, owners Jessica and Karen also recently launched an engaging podcast called Make Good (it’s an audio podcast, meaning you can concentrate solely on your stitches).

At Indie Untangled in Saugerties, you’ll be invited to submit questions to Jessica and Karen for the “Dear Scratch” segment of the Make Good podcast. You can ask them all of your fiber world questions, whether they be technical issues, fiber friend etiquette, or anything else you’ve been wondering about.

How did you decide to create the Make Good podcast?

Make Good was a direct result of COVID lockdowns. We spent a number of months with Scratch being closed to the public, and having to run every part of our business online. While we were fortunate that we were easily able to adapt, we really missed feeling like we were connected to the fiber community!

Over the years we’ve had lots of people tell us that they thought we should start our own podcast, and always kind of dismissed it as something we didn’t really have the time and energy for. But suddenly we were using our time really differently, and we decided to give it a shot. The community has been so supportive and amazing!

Why did you decide on an audio podcast versus video?

That’s easy — we’re both totally awkward on camera! But really, when we think of podcasts, we think of audio format. Video podcasts feel like something entirely different. Audio podcasts are just more suited to popping in your earbuds and listening while you go about your day, rather than having to find the time to dedicate to watching video.

A drawing of a sheep wearing headphones and the words MAKE GOOD.

Do either of you have previous podcasting experience?

We’ve both been interviewed on podcasts (in totally unrelated fields) before, but neither of us have ever created and hosted our own show. There’s been A LOT of learning by doing. And we absolutely couldn’t make this happen without having Travis to polish and edit every episode. The exceptionally low occurrence of hearing one of us sniffle or take a weird deep breath during an episode isn’t because we are trained orators, or robots. It’s because Travis painstakingly edits those things out so it’s a nice listening experience. He’s the real hero on this team.

How do you prepare for each episode? 

We try topics that we’re excited to talk about, or things that we think knitters will find interesting or helpful in some way. We draw on the interests of the knitters that come to Scratch, and we always welcome emails and messages with questions or suggestions for episodes. Once we pick a topic we do some research (if we need to), write an outline, and hope that we’ve had enough sleep and coffee before we hit record! We like to think that our conversations are like the experience you’d have if you were at Scratch talking about these things with us.

A bathtub full of yarn.

Do you get any common Dear Scratch questions? What was the most interesting question you’ve received?

The questions we receive are really all across the board. We get technical questions, etiquette questions, non-knitting partners looking for gift suggestions… it’s amazing! Sometimes we get questions that inspire entire episodes. Rather than the most interesting, I think that the most surprising Dear Scratch experience was when we got our first email from another LYS owner.

A letter sign that reads ALLAREWELCOME and @SCRATCHSUPPLYCO in pink and white.

Name two people in the crafting world you would drop everything to interview.

Xandy Peters because their designs are amazing! It would be fascinating to talk about their process and where their inspiration comes from.

Kate Atherley because she must be a bottomless resource of information and experience. Between her experience teaching, and the thousands of patterns that she’s edited (and written!), she must have a story about everything!

What non-crafting podcasts do you enjoy listening to?

Karen: I Don’t Even Own a Television, The Opportunist

Jessica: The Opportunist, The Dream, Nighty Night with Rabia Chaudry

Birdie Parker goes beyond metal

An orange leather bracelet on a light-skinned arm.

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

Kristi Jensen of Birdie Parker Designs is known for her metal stitching-themed jewelry — she even has a BFA degree in Metalsmithing from California State University Long Beach — but her most recent designs have veered away from the shiny medium. They include enamel, acrylic and leather, which you’ll be able to purchase at our online show, as well as the Beautiful Syster booth at the in-person show, and The Perfect Blend Yarn & Tea shop in downtown Saugerties, in about a week!

Since you studied metalsmithing, how did you decide to move to other materials, such as enamel, acrylic and leather?

Enameling was actually my first love in metalsmithing, but it’s a rather time-consuming process so it’s been on the back burner until now. I’ve been fortunate enough to find an amazing assistant this year, and she has freed up time in my schedule for me to explore adding small-batch enamel items to my collection. As for the acrylic and leatherworking… I’ve always intended for Birdie Parker to offer a wide assortment of items other than just jewelry. About two years ago, I started exploring combining leather with my etched metal pieces and quickly realized that cutting and finishing those leather items by hand was slow work. That’s when I added a laser printer to my process. Then, I started seeing all this beautiful acrylic in a wide range of colors and effects and the wheels started turning in my brain and soon after I had a whole line of acrylic stitch markers. I’m definitely a person who loves learning new techniques and the addition of the laser has opened so many new avenues in the business.

A light-skinned woman with red dyed hair and black glasses.

How does it change your process to work with other materials?

Working with metals can take a lot of steps and time and, for the most part, it can only be done by me. The leather and acrylic is pretty hands off once I do the designing, and my assistant can finish the assembling and packaging process. By working with new materials, I’m not limited by the properties of metal and can make more of my visions a reality.

A necklance with a silver stickinette stitch pattern and an aqua enamel oval.

Can you share some of your plans for this year’s Indie Untangled Everywhere?

I’m really excited to offer colorful enamel pieces, some new useful leather accessories and show off some of the new items released over the past year.

Do you have ideas for other types of products in the pipeline?

So many items! I’m working on a line of rings, some with enamel. There are several new earrings in development, and some bangle bracelets. Leather project bags! I just need more hours in the day to make them come to fruition.

Round earrings with etched knitting stitches.

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

I always have several sock tubes waiting for finishing, and I’m currently working on a beautiful stripey rainbow version of the Sunset Shawl by Meghan Babin of Hudson and West Co.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Knitrino

2

Two women standing in a field. They are wearing hand-knit sweaters.

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

Knitters are all about learning new things, but what if there was something that made the whole process easier? That’s what Knitrino, a new app from sisters Alison Yates and Andrea Cull, does. They work with independent designers to create specially-designed, interactive patterns. See only the size you’re making, check off your progress within the chart, create colorwork charts with the colors you’re using and click on a stitch to watch a video on how to do it.

Will you be joining us for our show on October 15? Knitrino is partnering with lots of Indie Untangled vendors to show off the current Knitrino patterns in their beautiful yarns. Kits will be available in the marketplace booths and Alison and Andrea will be on hand in the Indie Untangled Picnic Area to help you get started with Knitrino’s interactive features. If you’re attending our online event, you can meet them there, too!

A cream cowl with green colorwork and a smartphone.

The Koru Cowl from Francoise Danoy.

Tell us the story of how you came up with the idea for Knitrino.

We started Knitrino by listening to knitters’ stories. We talked to them on video chats and at live shows, asking them about learning to knit, current WIPs, knitting heartache, and what they’d want with three wishes. Over & over we heard about mistakes & roadblocks caused by paper patterns: looking at the wrong size, losing a sticky note, forgetting to mark where they left off, re-creating entire charts in Excel for colorwork in their color combos. These knitters where spending hundreds of dollars on indie-dyed yarn, hundreds more hours knitting, only to have projects banished to the unfinished project pile because of the PDF pattern.

Why is Knitrino important?

If there’s one thing we learned from listening to knitters, it’s that everyone learns and processes information differently. Even very experienced knitters run into problems, looking up the wrong video for their magic cast on, or circling the wrong sweater size for one line of instructions. And aspiring knitters are often stumped by the jargon and abbreviations frequently found in knitting patterns. We have been blown away by the number of knitters who have grown their skills, tackling projects that they never thought they could, from socks to first sweaters! We are so grateful to have each other as we knit, and we want Knitrino to be the knitting sister, knitting coach, knitting mentor so knitters everywhere can realize they can do so much more than they thought they could!

Two women knitting. They are wearing gold and blue colorwork sweaters.

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?

Andrea: As the “Chief Knitting Officer” I’m in charge of planning our curated collections, choosing yarns for new designs, scheduling tech edits & test knits, and organizing a collaborative release of the patterns when they’re ready for Knitrino. I love talking to designers, dyers, yarn shops, and knitter & brainstorming creative ideas. So I’m often on a video chat or DMing on Slack or IG to find out what people want, need, or dream of knitting in the future.

Alison: We always joke that I’m the business-end, but in reality, I’m the product/user experience (UX) part of the business. I dream up all the ways knitting should be easier, translate that into an implementation plan, and then work with our developers to create it. I also build the patterns on the backend – I love the mathy bits, and spend lots of my days in spreadsheets building patterns, doing our books, filing our taxes. Andrea and I are both scientists by training. We like to say that in our Venn diagram, our similarities are our parents, science, knitting, and shared values. Other than that, we’re very different, and that’s what makes us a great team.

What’s your vision of the future with Knitrino?

We have so many big plans for Knitrino, and this is just the start! What if you had settings for how you knit – left-handed picker or right-handed thrower, for example – and Knitrino would adjust all the instructions and videos to match how you knit? (Just to interject, we’re amazed at how left out our left-handed knitting friends have been, and all the extra effort that’s required of them.) What if you could specify your gauge or your size, and have Knitrino update the pattern just for you? And those are just the little things we’re working on – we have many secret things we can’t even talk about yet. Our hope is to take away the unnecessarily difficult aspects, and leave knitters with an experience where they can effortlessly focus on the knitting they love.

A colorwork sweater with a green yoke.

Cosmic Dreamer by Faye Kennington.

How do you decide which designers to partner with?

We love innovative ideas, beautiful motifs, and partnering with people who share our values. We are extremely grateful for the designers who believe in what we are doing for the future of patterns and want everyone we work with to feel good about our collaborations and what we are building with Knitrino.

Can you share some of your plans for future Knitrino designs?

We are really excited about an mini-skein pattern we have in progress for all those holiday kits! We also have about 20 beautiful designs currently in the queue from indie designers we love!

A smartphone next to gray knitting.

The Daybreak Wrap by Tif Neilan.

Tell me about how each of you learned how to knit? Alison, I understand you learned only after you and Andrea founded Knitrino.

Alison: When we started Knitrino, I wasn’t a knitter. I told Andrea I wasn’t going to learn – I just had too many hobbies that I didn’t have time for. But after a few months of talking to knitters, I broke down and told Andrea “Okay, you have to teach me how to knit! I feel like a fraud!” So I picked a vintage sweater that I wanted to make, and the rest is history,

Andrea: I first learned to knit from a pamphlet book with pictures about 20 years ago, but it didn’t go anywhere. It wasn’t until about seven years ago when a friend said, “You can knit anything if you just do what the pattern says” that I began a journey to do just that!

Do either of you enjoy other crafts in addition to knitting?

Andrea: I’ve done some others but can’t say I “enjoy” them!

Alison: Sewing and crochet predate knitting, but there isn’t much time for them these days.

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

Andrea: I’m working on a colorwork cardigan for Rhinebeck that I engineered myself using the stunning motif from Francoise Danoy’s Koru cowl!

Alison: My vintage Rhinebeck dress from a 1930s pattern!

29 Bridges goes beyond Superwash yarn

Blue, chartreuse and purple yarn.

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

If you’ve been following Indie Untangled for a while, you know that we are all about non-Superwash yarns and custom-milled bases. Mary of 29 Bridges Studio, who we are excited to host for the first time at our in-person show on October 15, has expanded her offerings to include more non-Superwash yarn. In anticipation of seeing and feeling it in real life, I decided to ask Mary about the process of sourcing and dyeing this yarn.

Why did you decide to offer more non-Superwash yarn?

It’s about walking the walk and listening to our customers. In my personal life, I try to minimize my impact on the environment so, of course, I wanted that for our business too. Additionally, we heard requests from customers for non-Superwash yarns, especially at fiber festivals. So I started taking classes, talking to shepherds, and educating myself. I was hooked. I like how non-Superwash yarns honor the beauty and natural characteristics of the fiber. Our non-Superwash Merino sock yarn is a dream to work with and it blooms beautifully. It’s a perfect choice for sweaters, socks, or shawls and it’s very soft against your skin.

A skein of red yarn.

What was the process of sourcing these bases like?

At first, non-Superwash bases seemed harder to source but through networking and research, we were able to find a good fit. There was an initial upfront investment that is changing the way we do inventory planning but we’re adapting.

Are any of your bases custom milled?

We’re excited about our first custom base that will be available in December 2021: a really beautiful, non-Superwash Merino DK. It’s Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified which means that it meets social criteria, ethical business behaviors, and environmental management. I can’t wait to get it in the pots and on the needles.

Blue yarn with gray speckles.

How does the dye process change for non-Superwash yarns?

The process of dyeing non-Superwash yarn requires a gentle approach and can sometimes take longer. The surface of wool is made up of overlapping cuticles, or scales. Heat and moisture raise the scales allowing them to grab onto each other. This is what enables felting. Since we don’t want to felt when we’re dyeing, we’re careful not to agitate the yarn. Non-Superwash yarn absorbs dye a little more slowly than Superwash and typically has a softer and more muted result. Speckling can also look more diffuse and, at times, can be a completely different color from how it dyes on a Superwash yarn. Because of this, we have a few colors that we had to reimagine or reformulate for non-Superwash.

What have you learned through the process of sourcing non-Superwash yarns?

I went down many rabbit holes while researching and sourcing our yarns. First, I had to take a step back to understand Superwash vs non-Superwash and GOTS. From there, I explored the different types of wool — fine, down, medium, long — and the differences in the fleece. And, finally, choosing and working with a mill.

Three skeins of plum yarn.

Are there any fibers on your non-Superwash wishlist?

Right now I’m exploring all the different types of sheep wool. There are so many I want to try, Merino is just the tip of the iceberg. My next in-person fiber festival will be seen through a new lens.

What kinds of garments can people make with your non-Superwash bases?

You can make any garment with a non-Superwash yarn — even socks. Lacy shawls and sweaters really lend themselves to non-Superwash because when they are blocked the yarn blooms and forms a halo which is not only beautiful, it helps it keep its shape.

I’d like to give swatching and blocking a plug. There are many fiber experts who have researched and written about swatching with Superwash and non-Superwash yarns. The takeaway is, before your start a project, make a swatch and block it. Not only can check your gauge, but you can also try out the pattern and colors you’ve chosen, and you’ll know how much yarn you need to complete your project. You spend countless hours knitting or crocheting the perfect handmade piece, swatching will help ensure that it turns out as you imagined.

You should also keep a few care details in mind. Garments made with non-Superwash yarn should be gently hand washed in tepid water, then carefully squeeze out the water, and lay them flat to dry. No hot water, no washing machine, no dryer.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Three Irish Girls

A light-skinned woman with light brown hair wearing a gold sweater holding yarn.

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

Three Irish Girls is a well-known name in the yarn world. In operation for more than a decade, it’s currently run by Duluth, Minnesota-based Erin McFarland, who creates bright, cheerful colors inspired by, among other things, pop culture — The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Beatles — and nature.

We’re excited to have Erin at the in-person event as well as the online show!

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I started dyeing yarn in 2009 when my childhood friend, Sharon McMahon was moving back home with her yarn-dyeing business, Three Irish Girls, to our hometown in Minnesota at the same time that I was moving home from New Zealand.

Skeins of yarn in a rainbow of colors.

The Love Is Love mini kit.


What inspires your colorways?

This is a loaded question!

Anything from inspirational photos, artwork, nature, color palette photos from Pinterest, but sometimes from a feeling transposed into color.

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

Currently, anything in the mustard realm and cool fuchsia like Midge from my Mrs. Maisel collection. Truly my favorite color changes frequently as is is sooo mood driven for me to which color I am attracted to…

I just say rainbow 🌈 most of the time.

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

It is so funny, but a proper camel tan is extremely hard to get just right… still haven’t figured it out yet — but I will someday!

A white yarn speckled with gold, pink, teal and aqua and corresponding coiled skeins of yarn.

The Mrs. Maisel collection.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

I feel my top 10 include:

Space Oddity
Rocket Man
Fireside Chat
Everlasting Gobstopper
When Doves Cry
Magnolia
Bless Your Heart
River Delta
Skinny Jeans
Guinness

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

I am featuring:

Designer Lisa Ross and her work with coordinating kits
Knitrino samples with coordinating yarn
A featured colorway from Northern Minnesota called Lake Superior Agate
My Mrs. Maisel collection of coloways

NEW, YET-TO-BE-RELEASED COLLECTIONS:

Across The Universe/Beatles Inspired
Anne of Green Gables
Fall
Spooky Halloween

Expect sweater quantities and a wide variety of variegated colorways in our custom base, Adorn Luxe fingering; Springvale DK, Worsted and Bulky; Dubliner Silk; Alpaca Merino DK and Claddagh Silk Mohair in semisolids and speckles.

A collage of colorful yarn.

The Beatles collection

When and how did you learn to knit?

When I was living in New Zealand, a kind woman at the local yarn shop showed me a few things. Then I used YouTube to keep learning as I tried different patterns.

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

There are so many but if I were to choose one I love the Soldotna Crop by Caitlin Hunter that we had made with our yarn for a show sample and my Throwback Cardigan by Andrea Mowry that I made.

A rainbow striped shawl.

The Happy Thoughts Shawl.

What’s currently on your needles?

I am currently working on Hearthstone pullover by Ysolda Teague in our colorway Arroyo (go figure — mustard gold and pretty speckles!).

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.