Ten Beautiful Years of Natural Dyes

  • A rainbow of yarn above a book featuring Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Wow! I can’t believe we are about to celebrate 10 years as a business! What started as a few skeins of yarn and roving that I dyed up as an experiment, has grown into an enterprise full of color, and patterns. I have met so many wonderful customers and friends through traveling to festivals and events, and deeply miss seeing everyone this year.

Originally, my goal was to have a big anniversary sale at my fall festivals this year. Of course, those are no longer happening, so I’m taking it online! You will get 10% off of every purchase, and free shipping on purchases of $100 or more. Our anniversary sale begins this Friday, August 21 and will run through August 28.

Our yarns are inspired by authors or literary characters, many of whom speak to us at a deeper level as we collectively address issues of racism, acting for the collective good, and standing for what is right. Which inspiration speaks to you?

Will you dare to be yourself like Wilbur, and support your friends because you believe in them like Charlotte did in E.B. White’s classic Charlotte’s Web? Grab some of our fingering weight “Charlotte” base, and create colorful unique projects!

Are you standing tall in the face of adversity, and doing what is right like Patty Lovel’s heroine in Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon? Make a statement with our worsted “Molly” base.

Or sport-weight “Faith,” inspired by author and mixed media artist Faith Ringgold, who has faced hardship and personal struggles, but instead of lashing out, uses it to fuel her creativity. Look in amazing books such as Tar Beach for Ms. Ringgold’s use of color and pattern, but even more importantly, the story within.

Maybe you are a truth-seeker, such as Harriet in Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy, or Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg? They may be opposite ends of the spectrum, but both women (fictional or real) want nothing more than to understand and uphold the truth. Read Justice Ginsburg’s My Own Words for more. “Harriet” is a fingering-weight superwash, and “Ruth” a fingering-weight Merino singles.

Check out our literary yarns, and grab a few skeins for your next big fall project. And don’t forget to tag us on Instagram, @spencerhilldyer!

Ten Years and Counting

  • A box of brightly colored yarn next to a book.

Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn turns 10 this month! It’s been a whirlwind, starting with experiments (some more successful than others), opening an Etsy shop (and closing it to move to a custom domain), and for the last five years, traveling to festivals throughout New York and Pennsylvania.

We’ve grown from one or two base yarns and five or six colors to our current five base yarns, approximately 25 colors at any given time, and custom-spun yarns from small farms in NY and PA. And of course, we’d be nowhere (or buried in yarn, your choice) without the support and friendship of great customers. Whether you’re looking for fingering-weight singles or Aran-weight Romney 3ply, Spencer Hill has you covered in the beautiful colors that natural materials provide. Please stop by our website for more details, and drop an email with any questions… or just to say hello!

Meet Ruth and Meg

Spring comes to Spencer Hill with two new bases, “Ruth” and “Meg.” “Ruth” is a Superwash Merino fingering-weight single that takes dye like WHOA. I think it’s destined to be a favorite. Currently available in a limited color range, I can’t wait to dye up more and see where it goes. Put-up is approximately 400 yds/100g. “Meg” is a 100% non-Superwash organic wool, in a sporty/DK-ish weight, and put up at about 166 yds/50g. I give that kind of nebulous weight description because I was able to knit it up with a wide variety of needle sizes. It’s very versatile. The smaller skeins are nice for colorwork yokes and small colorful projects.

I didn’t mention our last new product in the title…FRANKENBLANKS! Naturally-dyed sock blanks of 75/25 superwash Merino/nylon blend, with approximately 436 yds/100g, FrankenBlanks add the element of surprise to your sock, shawl, or scarf knitting as you ravel them while you knit (or wind them into a ball before you do-your choice).

Thanks to everyone who came out to see Spencer Hill in the last few months at For The Love of Fiber! in Bellefonte, PA; Steel City Fiber Festival in Allentown, PA, and RaggZ Fiber Affair and Wool Market in Delmont, PA. Next up will be a booth at GlassFest in Corning, NY (Memorial Day weekend…runners, there’s an 8K, too!), and the Central New York Fiber Festival in Bouckville, NY the weekend of June 10-11. Hope to see you there!

Whirlwind!

That’s the best way to describe the past four months here at Spencer Hill. Waaay back in September was Knitters’ Day Out in Summerdale, PA; in October came the Little York Fiber Festival in Cortland and the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival in all its glory. I didn’t vend there, but I did come home with two gorgeous Romney fleeces and a Finnsheep fleece that are destined for the dyepot. November was spent preparing for a trunk show at WOOLYN in Brooklyn (which was SO cool). December, for school band directors like me, is concert season. That gets us here! I’m tired all over again just reading this. But! There is still yarn…

“Charlotte” Shetland fingering weight is back in the shop for your Fair Isle and other colorwork needs, as is its new heavy worsted-weight cousin “Madeleine.” It’s spun from Liverpool Yarns’ same great 100% Pennsylvania grown and spun Shetland, and I’m finding it to knit up around 16-19 sts/inch on needles sized 5-8. I currently have a patterned yoke sweater on 8s, and the fabric is warm but not too heavy. Madeleine is going for $20, in an approximately 70 yd/2 oz skein. Liverpool Yarns has full-size undyed skeins of this base as well. Like Charlotte, my supplies are limited due to the small-farm nature of the product.

There’s a “clear the decks” sale going on over at the online shop, too. Select colors of “Pippi” BFL/nylon sock yarn are $15 or $18, depending on the color. My entire stock of “Molly” is available for $18 each, and the entire stock of “Lily” is $25 each.

Thank you to our incredible fiber community for all its support in 2016, and may the new year bring us all peace, clarity, and the businesses we desire!

New Yarn, New Site, New Ideas

Long time, no see! Welcome back to Spencer Hill, and our newly-designed (and easier-to-navigate) website. I’m pretty proud of it, and I hope you’ll enjoy what you see. Pippi BFL/nylon sock and Lily silk/Merino fingering are still there, joined by a new base in a wide range of colors: Molly! Molly is 100% non-superwash 4-ply Merino, approximately 218 yd/100g. I’m finding it’s very versatile gauge-wise, holding up well from US 5-8 without becoming bulletproof or fishing net. Sweater quantities are available (think Rhinebeck!). I’m working on Square & Stripe by Veera Valimaki. There’s a couple more very special yarns in the pipeline too, but I’m keeping those to myself for just a little while longer.

If we were able to say hello at the Central New York Fiber Festival back in June, or the Pennsylvania Organic Farm Festival a couple weeks ago, thanks again for stopping by. And if not, my cohort Stephanie from Rock Solid Designs and I will be at Knitters’ Day out in Summerdale, PA, the weekend of September 16-17. Workshop teachers this year include Lily Chin, Candace Eisner Strick, Ann Weaver, and more! Come on by the shop and get ready for fall knitting with Molly, Pippi, and Lily! Happy knitting!

Special Snowflakes!

SNOWFLAKES? Come on, isn’t it May? You know, SPRING? Aren’t we done with snow? Spencer Hill hopes so as much as you do, but we still have a few special ones to share. Special Snowflakes are many things here on the hill… could be a base yarn that’s going on hiatus or will be discontinued; a base or color I’m trying out; an overdye I know I can’t repeat. One way or another, they aren’t going to come around any time soon.

This time, they’re the Lalo base, which is a DK-weight 80/10/10 blend of baby alpaca, Merino, and silk (non-superwash). The singles construction is soft and fuzzy. Four colors are featured, but more are available and will be rotated in. See the online shop for more information.

Spencer Hill + Rock Solid Designs = A New Pattern

Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn has teamed up with Rock Solid Designs, maker of project bags, notion pouches, pattern protectors, and original knitting designs to bring you the Turtle Cove Cowl. Here in the Northeast, we can’t quite trust a run of nice weather just yet, so a snuggly cowl of Spencer Hill’s Nell MCN patterned with with turtles and the promise of blue skies is just the thing to get us through. You can purchase the kit, which contains the charted pattern and two mini-skeins of Nell needed to complete the project at Spencer Hill’s Big Cartel shop. Rock Solid Designs is undergoing a website redesign at the moment, but please direct any questions about Stephanie’s products through [email protected] and I’ll make sure she gets the message.

Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn returns!

It’s been a while, but after two successful shows (Knitters’ Day Out and For The Love of Fiber!), Spencer Hill has a new look over at the online shop, and plenty of Pippi BFL sock, Nell MCN, and Lily Merino/silk for you to chose from. Pictured is Lily in the color “Roz Red.” With more updates on the way, and some new bases on the horizon, there’s plenty afoot on the hill. Stop by for a look!

A little louder, indeed!

My last post said that I would go a little quiet to get a little louder… and that’s exactly what happened at Knitters’ Day Out last weekend! Thank you to everyone who came out, stopped by, and just plain made my first big show a resounding success. I came home excited, inspired… and wiped out! 4th graders at their first band lesson have nothing on fiber people looking for a new project! (Almost.)

Between what sold out and what I’ve taken down to Wooly Minded (should you find yourself on Market St. in Corning), there’s still enough for a very tidy shop update. Look for it on Sunday!

Going Quiet to Get A Little Louder

On Wednesday, Sept. 16, Spencer Hill’s Big Cartel shop will go dark for a little bit, as I take it on the road with my cohort Stephanie of Rock Solid Designs to Knitters’ Day Out in Summerdale, PA, on September 18-19! This Friday evening/all day Saturday event includes vendors from Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, New York, and Australia. If you’re in the Harrisburg area, I hope you can stop by and see Stephanie’s sweet project bags, needle rolls, DPN protectors, and original projects (including one she’s working up with my Nell yarn), and of course, my goods too. I’ll have some hand-dyed and sheep-colored fiber available as well as naturally-dyed yarn. And that picture up there? If I were the student instead of the teacher at school, it would be the subject of my “what I did over the summer” essay. That’s my own personal dining room table with a summer’s worth of dyeing on it. It’s even better in person, if I do say so myself.