‘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

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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.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Leo & Roxy

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

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

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

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

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

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

Three skeins of purple hand-dyed yarn

What inspires your colorways?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are some of your most popular colorways?

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

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

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

When and how did each of you learn to knit?

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

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

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

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

What’s currently on your needles?

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

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Wool & Vinyl

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

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

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

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

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

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

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

What inspires your colorways?

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

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

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

Aqua and purple yarn next to a Motley Crue CD.

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

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

What are some of your most popular colorways?

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

Bright lilac yarn with rainbow speckles.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

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

When and how did you learn to knit?

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

A wall of colorful yarn with black labels.

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

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

What’s currently on your needles?

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

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Daughter of a Shepherd

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

Rachel Atkinson of Daughter of a Shepherd © Richard Jung

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Skeins of black, gray and cream yarn.

How do you decide on the blends that you mill?

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

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

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

A skein of dark brown yarn.

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

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

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

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

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

A flock of black sheep.

Do you have a favorite sheep breed?

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

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

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

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

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

Tell me about how you learned to knit?

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

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

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Yarn Over New York

A smiling person models a rainbow and black plaid shawl.

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

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

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

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

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

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

Skeins of colorful yarn and a small yellow taxi.

What inspires your colorways?

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are some of your most popular colorways?

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

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

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

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

When and how did you learn to knit?

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

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

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

A person holds a wrap with neon stripes.

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

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

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

What’s currently on your needles?

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