A weekend in NYC with Andrea Mowry

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Lisa of Indie Untangled and Andrea Mowry post with tote bags featuring the Brooklyn Bridge over a yarn ball.

Andrea and I pose with the Andrea Untangled tote bags.

A while back, I learned via Facebook that my friend Brian had created a new music venue in Brooklyn called Murmrr, a few miles away from my apartment, in a space he and his business partners leased from the Union Temple of Brooklyn. As long as I’d known him, Brian had been in a band, and one of my first train rides from Long Island into New York City sans parents was to see him and some of our other high school classmates perform as Pesantes at a long-shuttered club in the East Village (their cover of Guided By Voices’ As We Go Up, We Go Down was a favorite of mine). At Murmrr, he arranged for musicians such as Bjork and Nick Cave to perform at the space, also hosting live podcasts, comedy shows and author talks.

I had already been thinking about doing some Indie Untangled events in the city, but I wanted something that was different from the usual marketplace — especially since I already do plenty of shopping at one of the four Brooklyn yarn shops. After seeing a couple of shows at the new space, I knew we could put together something cool. And Murmrr would be a fitting venue, since so many knitwear designers seem like they’re rock stars.

It was with that in mind that I contacted Andrea Mowry and Kristy Glass last year about the idea for what would become Andrea Untangled. Kristy would interview Andrea in what was essentially a live version of her popular podcast, and afterward there would be a small marketplace with exclusive colorways available for some of Andrea’s designs.

In early January — eerily, a couple of weeks before tickets to Andrea Untangled were set to go on sale — writer Edith Zimmerman wrote a love letter to Andrea in The Cut, calling her “the knitting world’s Taylor Swift. Cute, talented, driven, precise, upbeat, and kind, with a wink and a flicker of darkness.

“This all feels a little like putting up pictures of her in my school locker, although that is kind of how I feel,” Edith wrote. “I love her!”

Kristy then had the brilliant idea to invite Edith on stage to begin the show, interviewing her before letting her meet her idol onstage. As she wrote to me proposing the opening act: “It’s like the ultimate fan girl moment — kind of like Kim MacAfee in Bye Bye Birdie representing all the girls in America.”

Two women embrace on a stage.

Andrea and Edith after their meeting onstage at Andrea Untangled.

Even though I’m part of the industry, I have to admit that I was still a bit starstruck when it came to really meeting Andrea, not just in passing at Edinburgh or Rhinebeck. While I was not at all nervous about the show itself — I knew that Kristy was a pro, and I felt that if I could execute an event as large as the Rhinebeck Trunk Show, this would be a piece of cake — I did feel first-date jitters as I went out to meet Andrea for lunch Friday afternoon before her first appearance of the weekend at Knitty City.

I agonized over what to wear, settling on a black, lacy dress from WISP (a StitchFix find), which I paired with gray tights and a sample of Andrea’s Golden Hour shawl that Paola of mYak had leant me. I couldn’t believe that my job included sharing plates of pierogi and knitting with one of the knitting world’s It girls.

Showing off colorful skeins of yarn.

Andrea shows off some of her finds at Knitty City.

As the weekend went on, I discovered that Andrea was also awed by the fact that this was her job. That people loved her designs so much, they would wear her shawls and cardigans to meet her in unseasonably warm weather, travel to take her brioche class, or write a gushing article about her for New York magazine.

Two women pose onstage with a large triangular shawl in pink and mustard yellow.

Andrea and Kristy show off the famous Find Your Fade shawl. Photo by Emma Holter.

In her answers to Kristy’s questions onstage at the main event, Andrea came across as the kind of person that we could all relate to. After Kristy asked Andrea what her favorite food was, my friend Shameka said she whispered to her seat neighbor that hers was curried mango. Andrea replied that she loved mangoes and tofu, which Kristy then suggested would taste great in a curry. Later, when Kristy asked Andrea “What’s your favorite boy band?” and she answered, “The Smiths,” somewhere 17-year-old Lisa was incredibly impressed.

Two women take a selfie.

Andrea poses with Gaye Glasspie of GGMadeIt.

On Sunday, Andrea came to one of my local yarn shops, String Thing Studio, for the last event of her whirlwind weekend, which also included workshops and appearances at Brooklyn General and Argyle Yarn Shop. Her meet and greet turned into an afternoon hangout, with Andrea passing around her samples, giving knitting advice and answering questions as we sat on the cozy couches and in chairs that had been packed in and around the back of Felicia Eve’s tiny shop in Park Slope, not too far from Murmrr. Even as she posed for selfies/photobombs, it didn’t seem all that different from any other knit night.

Rock star knitters — they’re just like us.

What to stash this week: Sunset over Yellowstone

The latest Knitting Our National Parks colorway from Candice of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers is inspired by a sunset over Yellowstone captured by park ranger and photographer Jacob W. Frank. Candice named the glowing pinks and earthy greens, dyed on a Merino/silk fingering, Kiowa to pay tribute to the Native Americans who inhabited the land years before it became a place where visitors flocked to see Old Faithful erupt. The colorway will be available to preorder through April 20, with the yarn shipping at the end of May.

Hey, SoCal knitters: Jen of Porterness Studio is having a trunk show at Gather DTLA on April 20 and 21 during the LA Yarn crawl. If you’re not in the area, click here to get a discount code for her lovely shawl pins, buttons and jewelry.

Want a little April in Paris? Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. has added fun snips to the shop, including a pair shaped like the Eiffel Tower. You’ll get one free when you purchase a skein of Dusty Rose and a skein of Tres Bien, which are both inspired by imaginary strolls along the Seine.

ShelliCan just had a shop update and introduced a ton of new designs, including the adorable Get Kracken, which is available on enamel pins, T-shirts and keychains.

Rebecca of Fuse Fiber Studio also updated her shop recently, and it includes a bunch of fingering-weight yarn in complementary colors that would be perfect for your next Fade.

Knittyandcolor’s Acid Rainbow colorway is back in stock and available on her Acoustic Sock, Hardcore Sock, Glam Rock Sparkle Sock, Dubstep DK and Indie Rock Worsted. Also catch her at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May!

Shanna of Lambstrings Yarn has kits for Andrea Mowry’s Rose cardigan on her new SW Merino 3-ply sport. The four-skein kits are available in three different color combinations to produce a fade that starts light on the back and ends dark at the sleeves.

What to make with North Cascades Night: multicolored shawls

Backyard Fiberworks’ North Cascades Night for the Knitting Our National Parks project looks stunning on its own, but one of the things I love about Alice’s colorways is how well they work together. She often says that Melanie Berg is her brand’s spirit animal, because Melanie’s multicolored designs show off her coordinating skeins beautifully.

So, I asked Alice to give North Cascades Night some friends from her current line of colors and paired them with some of my favorite multi-skein shawls from Melanie, as well as Andrea Mowry and Francoise Danoy. You can order the other colorways on the sportweight Terrain base directly through Backyard Fiberworks. (The skein amounts on a couple of Melanie’s shawls are padded so that you don’t run out of yarn.)

Perhaps, Perhaps by Melanie Berg. From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud & Pollen and Blackberry & Alpine; you will need one skein of each color.

Eifelgold by Melanie Berg. From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud and Hosta; you will need three skeins of the main color and one skein of the contrasting color. (I like either Stormcloud as the main with North Cascades and then North Cascades as the main with Hosta.)

Drachenfels by Melanie Berg. From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Blackberry & Alpine and Stormcloud & Pollen; you will need two skeins of Colors A (the brownish purple in the sample) and C (the red in the sample) and one skein of Color B (the lilac in the sample).

The Girl In Me by Melanie Berg; From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud, Walnut and Hosta; you will need three skeins in the main color and two skeins of the contrasting color. (I like either Stormcloud as the main with North Cascades as the contrast, Walnut as the main with North Cascades as the contrast, or North Cascades as the main and Hosta as the contrast.)

Goldfinch by Andrea Mowry. From left to right, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud & Pollen and Blackberry & Alpine; You will need one skein of each color.

Fields of Lavender by Francoise Danoy. From the top, North Cascades Night is paired with Stormcloud, Hosta and Walnut; you will need two skeins for the main color and one skein for the contrasting color.

Untangling Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits

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Unless you’ve been knitting under a rock, you’ve probably at some point this year encountered someone finding their fade. Since Andrea Mowry of Drea Renee Knits released her seven-skein shawl in December, and her So Faded sweater last month, Fade Fever seems to have taken over. Both patterns are the perfect match for hand-dyed yarn, and many a Fade kit can be found from the dyers who post on IU.

I decided to reach out to Andrea and learn more about the woman behind the Fade, as well as her other beautifully styled, casually elegant designs.

What did you do before becoming a knitwear designer and how does that inform your work?

Before designing I was a pastry chef! I actually got my first baking job (which eventually lead me down the path of culinary school) because the owner of the bakery loved that I included knitting under “other skills” on my resume! I have always loved creating and working with my hands, so when I left my job in the kitchen, it felt very organic to begin writing patterns instead of recipes.

How did you decide to become a designer?

I had been knitting for such a long time and always wanted to find a way to make a job of it. Finally, when I had more time to explore designing, thanks to being home with my first born, I thought, “What have I got to lose?” There were things I wanted to knit, and I figured maybe someone else would want to knit them as well! From there, I feel like my dreams have come true!

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned when I was about nine years old thanks to my amazing (and patient) Grandma Ginny! I am so thankful to her that she took the time to sit with me and wanted to share something she loved. It has brought so much joy to my life, and it is all thanks to her!

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

I am most inspired by yarn. For me, the design idea typically comes as I am looking at and swatching with the yarn I want to use!

How did Find Your Fade come about? Did you think it would take off like it did?

Every once in a while I like to do a “creativity experiment” where I just grab the yarn I most want to use out of my stash and I just cast on. I try not to give myself any constraints or expectations. I just knit what feels fun! Find Your Fade was one of my experiments. I had just had my son a few months earlier, and felt like I just need something selfish and indulgent on my needles. I had no idea it would take off! I am so thrilled and honored that knitters have been inspired by it!

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

Swatch! Well, sometimes I sketch first. But then I cake up the yarn and swatch.

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

I am continually drawn to pinks and yellows right now. I really love most colors though, and when I find myself constantly grabbing for the same colors, I try to switch it up. Grey will always be at the top of my list, along with mint and turquoise. And navy. And white. And gold.

You’ve created such a cool, laid-back aesthetic for your business. Did you come to designing with that particular look and feel in mind?

Thank you! I’ve tried to just be myself. I find that when I stick to what I love and what really inspires me and brings me joy, it seems to work. I think when we do that, our best work comes out and people can feel that.

Who are some of your favorite indie dyers?

There are so many amazing indie dyers out there! My absolute favorites include Hedgehog Fibres, Republic of Wool, Qing Fibre, Woolenboon and Peepaloo Fields, just to name a few!

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

I love embroidery, and am a novice sewer. 🙂