November 21, 2018

Suicide Prevention Fundraiser!

This year, I’m doing something a little bit different for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all.

Instead of a discount, I’m donating 25% of all sales to help prevent suicide. Suicide rates are on the rise in the United States, while at the same time funding for mental illness is mediocre at best, and most insurance policies severely restrict mental health coverage. Up until recently, I had not been directly affected by suicide, but the suicide of Anthony Bourdain (who I adore) hit hard.

That changed in October, when one of my daughter’s best friends, Emma, committed suicide. It’s devastating, and absolutely heartbreaking to lose a loved one this way.

From now through November 30, 2018, I’m donating 25% of all sales in my shop to help prevent suicide, to help with research into the brain, and to help those left behind. This is in honor of Emma and all who have left us by their own hand, and with hope that our donations may help prevent this from happening to others, and may also help scientists learn more about how the brain functions and how to heal mental illness. This 25% will be split equally between five organizations: the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, The Trevor Project, the National Veterans Foundation and the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, which is “committed to alleviating the suffering caused by mental illness by awarding grants that will lead to advances and breakthroughs in scientific research” and is an organization I learned of from Emma’s mother.

I’ll also be donating a portion of that 25% manually to the Alliance of Hope, which is an organization founded in 2008 to help those who have lost loved ones to suicide. I had hoped to add this organization to the automatic donations on my site, but Pledgling is still in the process of adding it as an organization in their system. Once Pledgling adds it to their list, I’ll adjust the automatic donations in my shop to include this organization as well.

Beginning December 1, 5% of all sales moving forward will be split between these five organizations, so know that a portion of every purchase you make will be going to help others. I hope together we can help make a difference.

Read more about these organizations here.

For all U.S. readers, I wish you the very best Thanksgiving, full of family, friends, love and joy. And for everyone, I wish you all the love and joy of your family and friends, each and every day.

Jennifer

October 17, 2018

NYSW Preview and Changes at Spirit Trail Fiberworks

I’m headed to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival this weekend, where I’ve been a vendor for the past 14 years. You’ll find us in our regular spot in Building A, Booths 3-4 (just inside the main entrance, on the right side and down a bit).

I have a lots of new colors coming with me to the Festival; I’ve included just a few here. I’m bringing a ton of yarn, in lots of bases — everything from laceweight to super bulky: Nona, Philomena, Aurora, Sunna, Selene, Birte, Andromeda, Luna, Verdande, and Zaftig. I’m also bringing, for the first time, mini-skeins of Philomena which will be available for purchase in a few gradient kits and lots of single skeins so you can pick your own.

Fun extras coming to my booth are logo enamel camp mugs, temporary knitting-themed tattoos, gleener de-piller tools, and a special set of stitch markers made for me by Katy at Katrinkles.

I have been in the midst of some huge personal changes this year: both my kids headed off to college, and my husband and I are splitting up after 22 years. I’m in some major transitioning, and may actually be moving pretty far away from where I now live. I’ve written about all this in much more detail on my blog, so if you’re interested in reading more about it please check out my blog. Suffice to say, it’s been a crazy, stressful year!

With everything so up in the air, this may or may not be my last year vending at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. I know it will be my last with my current booth set-up (I may go back to a single booth rather than a double, and a different overall booth set-up, but everything is too up in the air right now to say for sure what 2019 will bring). I made the decision last month that I will no longer be vending at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival and, while I’d absolutely love to continue vending at NY, I won’t know until my future plans and move are finalized to say one way or the other.

I’m offering some specials and discounts over the course of NYSW weekend, in hopes that you’ll support me and Spirit Trail Fiberworks by purchasing something from me at the Festival.

Here’s the run down (and these will all be posted in my booth, too):

Saturday, October 20:

9 a.m. to approximately 1 p.m. (while supplies last):
• A free temporary tattoo with purchase of $50 or more
• Your choice of a free tattoo or fun STF logo enamel camping mug with purchase of $150 or more.
• Your choice of a free tattoo, logo mug, or Gleener de-piller with a purchase of $250 or more.

1-5 p.m. (closing):
5% off purchases of $50 or more
10% off purchases of $100 or more
15% off purchases of $250 or more

Sunday, October 21:

9 a.m. 1 p.m.: 15% off all yarn in the booth; no minimum purchase required.
1-4 p.m. (closing): 25% off all yarn in the booth; no minimum purchase required.

I hope you’ll come see me at the festival if you can, and support me and Spirit Trail Fiberworks if you find something you love!

I’m looking forward to seeing you at the festival!

September 12, 2018

September Subscriber Inspiration Colors are Up!

Wow, did I get some great inspiration photos for September! This month’s photo comes from Karen, who sent me this gorgeous photo of an early wintertime scene, complete with clear aqua waters, the last leaves of autumn, storm clouds and towering snow-capped mountains. 

Karen says the photo came across her Facebook feed; she loved the color and wanted to knit some Fair Isle using this photo as inspiration. It just so happens that the colors I’ve created will work great for Fair Isle (and I didn’t even know this until I emailed Karen to let her know I’d chosen her photos!), in addition to lots of other projects, of course.

I was so taken by all the different colors in this photo I ended up creating five colorways around it! The cold, clear aqua of the water became “Crystalline,” the rich red of those lingering leaves became “Last Leaves,” the deep charcoal-with-a-hint-of-blue of the mountains and tree became “Winter Shadows,” the multi-gray hued clouds became “Snow Clouds,” and finally, all were rolled up into a soft, dainty speckle named “Winter Revelry.”

This month’s colors are offered on Aurora (singly-ply fingering-weight Superwash Merino), Philomena (three-ply fingering-weight Superwash Merino), and Birte (DK-weight Superwash Merino, Cashmere, and silk). As usual, there’s a listing for each color on each base.

September Subscriber Inspiration colors will be available for preorder from now through September 23, 2018. That’s a bit longer than usual, but I’m off on an adventure with 10 of my high school girlfriends, which we do every five years to celebrate our joint birthdays. So, I figured I’d just leave them open until I return. Then, I’ll get to work and get them out to you in about three weeks.

I’ll be skipping October inspiration colors due to New York Sheep & Wool preparations (read: marathon dyeing!), but will resume Subscriber Inspirations in November, so if you’re a newsletter subscriber please feel free to send me an inspiration photo anytime between now and mid-October, for November’s colors (and, if you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up over on my website, and play along with me!).

And, don’t forget, whoever’s photo is chosen receives a free skein of yarn in any of the bases being offered, in one of their special colors!

August Subscriber Inspiration Colorways are Live!

August’s Subscriber Inspiration colorways are based on a photo newsletter subscriber Melanie sent me, of a gorgeous Autumn-hued mandala. It made me think of the ancient Silk Road, rich tapestries and silks. And, of course, the beauty of Autumn in the eastern United States (and I don’t know about you, but I am ready for Fall!!).

After looking at Melanie’s photo for a while, I knew it was the one to use for August, as summer comes to an end and autumn is on the horizon. Evenings are cooling off, and there’s a crispness to the air on some mornings (not today, though!) that tells me Autumn is definitely on its way.

“Tamrin” is based on the palest colors in the mandala. It’s named for the Tamrin Basin, in Northwest China, made up part of the Silk Road route.

“Taklamakan” draws from the rich golden hues, and is named after the desert which dominates most of the Tamrin Basin.

“Kashgar Market” is based on the rich chili red-orange in the mandala, and is named for the colorful markets along the Silk Road.

Lastly, “Jingdezhan” draws from the muted teal in the mandala, and is named for the kiln responsible for the highly reconizable ceramics of China c 1300-1340.

All four colors are available for pre-order now through August 30. Then I’ll get busy dyeing them up, and plan to ship by September 15-20, 2018. Just in time to officially welcome Autumn to the Northern Hemisphere!

And hey, don’t forget! If you’re a newsletter subscriber (link on my website), send me an inspiration photo for September. It can be a photo you’ve taken, or something you’ve come across online. If I choose your photo, you’ll get a free skein of yarn in your special color!

Happy Almost-Autumn! Woohoo!!

New Design! Stream of Consciousness

This summer has been a giant heap of crazy for me. If you’re one of my newsletter subscribers, you know both my kids went away to college last week (my son to James Madison University, as an incoming junior, and my daughter as a freshman to Duke University), my husband and I are in the process of splitting up and I’m not yet sure where I’ll be come 2019. So, big changes! It’s all scary-sad-exhausting-exhilarating. Such a gamut of emotions going on over here these days.

There were times this summer when I was so frazzled and exhausted, I couldn’t even knit. When I did, I needed something relaxing and uncomplicated, something that would keep my hands busy while my brain could do it’s own thing. This scarf is the result, so I’ve aptly named it Stream of Consciousness.

Stream of Consciousness is designed in sections of garter stitch and striped garter stitch, with sections of textured stitches mixed in. It’s knit on the diagonal, so the only “hard” part is remembering to increase on one side and decrease on the other, every other row. And pay a little bit more attention in the textured stitch portions.

I’ll admit I even messed that up here and there. Forgot to increase or decrease, knit too many rows of one color here and there …

But it’s all about having fun and relaxing with your knitting. Knit too many rows in a section? It’s no big deal, just keep on going. Switch sections up if there are some you like more than others, and knit until you run out of yarn. Use one, two, three, four, or even more colors! Use up all your leftover scraps! Leave sections out to make it shorter if the length is longer than you like (and it’s pretty long as designed – I may have gone just a bit too stream of consciousness 😉 ). Swap out the DK for fingering weight for a lighter weight scarf, or choose worsted or bulky to knit a more substantial shawl (just be aware yardage requirements will change if substituting yarn).

This design is meant to be a starting point for your own unique accessory. You can even leave the end a diagonal for a different look, and not worry about the final decrease section. It’s all about having fun with your knitting, relaxing, and putting your own unique spin on it.

I think it’s a perfect pattern for knitting while watching kids’ fall sports, play practices and other activities. Also perfect for watching TV or any activity where your attention is split, and you don’t want to be knitting something you need to be constantly looking at or checking. With all the complications in life these days, I’m all about comfort knitting.

I have loads of great colors available on my Andromeda yarn base, which is a fabulous DK weight single ply superwash Merino, which I’ve linked to this post. It’s soft and lofty — knit yourself a scarf in this yarn, and you’ve knit yourself a wonderfully soft hug!

“Stream of Consciousness” is available on Ravelry.

July Subscriber Inspiration Colors!

The limited edition Subscriber Inspiration colorways have just been added to the Spirit Trail Fiberworks shop!

This month’s limited edition colors are inspired by a photo sent to me by Amy (who also happens to be the podcaster behind Hudson Valley Knits). She sent me a photo of bits of colored glass she’s found on her walks along the Hudson River.

There are three colors inspired by this month’s photo: River Walk, a subtle speckle of the glass colors on a soft gray background; Bottle Glass, a light blue reminiscent of the little bit of blue in the photo, and Beach Treasure, a soft amethyst-pink (which I used some artistic license and darkened up a bit, to create a color with more depth and richness).

All three colorways are now available on the Dyed-to-Order page at Spirit Trail Fiberworks. The listings will be open from July 19-July 25, 2018. Click the shop link for more details!

June Subscriber Color Inspiration Colorways!

The June Subscriber Color Inspiration colorways are now live at Spirit Trail Fiberworks! This month’s colorways are inspired by a photograph sent by Kate G.

Kate said this about her photograph: “I took this photo in April when we spent a week in Ogden, Utah, for work training for my husband. We were at the Ogden Botanical Garden one evening having a picnic and this bright orange flower hidden among the woody shrub caught my eye. It was easily missed and such a neat find!”

Kate wins a free skein of yarn in her own special colorway! Congratulations, Kate! (If you’d like to get in on the fun, just subscribe to my newsletter on my homepage, and send me a photo you love! I pick a new photo inspiration every month for these limited edition colorways.)

Botanical is the main colorway. It’s a speckled blend of grays, soft browns, greens, yellow, and oranges on a soft gray base color. Pretty much all the colors in the photograph.

Little Flower is the bright, happy yellow-orange complementary colorway, based on that pretty little flower.

And Leafy is the rich, nearly iridescent green complementary colorway.

All three colors are available on the following bases:

Aurora: fingering weight 100% Superwash Merino single-ply, 400 yards per 100g skein.

Philomena: fingering weight 100% Superwash Merino 4-ply, 438 yards per 100g skein.

Sunna: fingering weight 75% Superwash Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% silk 3-ply, 356 yards per 115g skein.

Andromeda: DK weight 100% Superwash Merino single ply, 240 yards per 100g skein.

Verdande: worsted weight 75% Superwash Merino, 15% Cashmere, 10% silk 4-ply, 220 yards per 115g skein.

Please note that each base has its own listing for each color (because I haven’t figured out how to add variations to a listing on Shopify, when the variations have different prices).

Dyed-to-order listings will be open from June 19-June 30, 2018. Once listings are closed, all yarns will be dyed and shipped between July 15-25, 2018.

Spirit Trail post-move shop update!

I’ve just completed a giant shop migration from my old website host to Shopify! There are lots of new colors on every base, including loads of my Lucky Pot colors (one-of-a-kind, totally nonrepeating colors). Update includes tonal solids, speckles, and softly variegated colors.

Also in this update is lots of Andromeda, the yarn used in my new Panier hat pattern (available on Ravelry).

Thanks for checking it out!

Jennifer

MDSW sneak peek!

Can you believe it’s May already?! I sure can’t! Every year just seems to fly by faster than the last. It’s hard to believe it’s already time for the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, but it is!

We’ll be there in our regular space in the Main Building, Booth A30 (about 3/4 of the way down the left wall from the front door). This is our 14th year at the Festival, which also confounds me!

We’re bringing loads of yarn: Nona, Aurora, Sunna, Andromeda, Birte, Selene, Verdande, Luna – everything from heavy lace weight to worsted. This year, I’ve dyed a bunch of new repeating colorways and, new this year, a whole bunch of my one-of-a-kind, totally non-repeatable Lucky Pots. I’ve been posting a lot of sneak peek photos on my Instagram feed, so do go check it out if you’d like to see more.

I have so much fun with these Lucky Pot colors, and oftentimes I really wish I’d written down the recipe and the instructions. They’re so good, and I love them so much, I wish I could make certain colors again. But that would defeat the intention of them, which is fresh, spontaneous creation. A potter friend, Del, once told me: “You only create something once. After that, it’s production.” For artists, no matter what the medium, creation and production can at times really be at odds with each other. It’s sometimes easy to get into a “rut” of reproducing the same thing over and over again, no matter how beautiful or popular these items might be. My friend Del, an incredibly talented potter, built himself a salt-fired kiln to force himself out of production, which was, of course, a huge, necessary, and integral part of his business. It made him switch gears and get into that truly creative space, with no concern about being able to do the same thing again, because he could not predict or fully control the results of these salt firings.

I’ve always remembered his words, how excited he was about his salt-fired pieces, and how truly amazing this work was. And I realized that I was in the same place in my own creativity: creating repeating colorways is necessary and integral to my business; they’re fun and I love them. But, I create these colors once, and then it’s reproduction. I needed to do something that was completely spontaneous and unreproducible. This truly creative process is freeing, and it’s also amazing how it spills over into everything else I do.

That’s a long explanation for what and how my Lucky Pots came to be. I hope if you’re coming to MDSW, you’ll swing by my booth and check them out! I have lots of them dyed on very base!

Also for MDSW, I have special 2018 MDSW-themed stitch markers sets from Katrinkles (while supplies last), and a new order of my popular camp mugs which include my personal mantra – Life is short, knit the good stuff.

Hope to see you at the Festival! But if you can’t make it, I’m planning a shop update for when I get home which will include lots of Lucky Pots and more!

New Hat Pattern! Panier

As soon as I felt my new yarn base, Andromeda, I knew I had to start playing with it immediately. Andromeda is a DK weight single ply 100% Superwash Merino, and it’s unbelievably soft and cushy. It just begs to be knit into something worn right next to skin. The next thing I’ll be knitting is a cowl or scarf for sure.

Andromeda is making its debut at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival this coming weekend (I’ll be in my regular spot, Main Building A30, if you’re headed to the Festival!), and it will debut online soon, in an upcoming shop update. STF Yarn Club members got the first taste of this new base, with the April Yarn Club shipment (my Panier hat is knit in the exclusive Club Colorway, Dutch Masters).

It’s a fabulous pattern for variegated or speckled yarn: the all-over textured basket pattern highlights these kinds of colors, and the pattern doesn’t get lost in them but rather accentuates them. Panier is an easy, fun knit

I love how this pattern turned out so much, with it’s slouch ending in a fun ruffle and dangling i-cord. Panier is now available on Ravelry!

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