For the latest installment of Knitting Our National Parks — which marks the fourth anniversary of this series! — Terra of Mitchell’s Creations was inspired by a photo of the White Mountains National Recreation Area in Alaska, captured by Bob Wick of the Bureau of Land Management. Terra will dye Camping Under The Lights on two bases, Lagniappe Sock, a 75/25 Superwash Merino and nylon yarn, and Ça c’est bon a Superwash Merino DK.
The yarn is available to preorder through June 18 and will ship at the beginning of August 2021. 10% of all sales will be divided between the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, and the Native American Rights Fund, which provides legal assistance to help preserve tribal existence and natural resources, promote Native American human rights and hold governments accountable to Native Americans. I was inspired to donate to this organization after reading this article that explores the idea of returning our national parks to Native Americans.
The Grey Sheep Co. is a small family farm, nestled in the rolling hills of the Hampshire countryside in Southern England, that has been producing yarns from fine wool flocks for over a decade.
Sara of La Cave à Laine has introduced made-to-order bags, a collections of six different styles that she will make to order to your own specifications and choices, including a palette of hand-dyed colors!
Monica of Gothfarm Yarn debuted her new Karst base at last month’s Indie Spotlight show. Now this sportweight yarn, made from a blend of white Cheviot sheep wool and stormy Huacaya alpaca fleece, is available to everyone, along with a new sock pattern.
Stitch Stuff Yarn has two new summer bases. Silky Lace Stuff and Silky Sock Stuff are both 75/25 blends of Superwash Merino and Mulberry Silk, perfect for lacy shawls or summer tees.
Erika of Liverpool Yarns is celebrating the unofficial start of summer with a price drop. Her 50-gram skeins of 100% Shetland Wool are now $10 each, and her 25-gram mini skeins are now $5 each.
Spinners: Natalie of Fiberdog Fibers can help you get ready for the Tour de Fleece! She has washed, picked, carded and dyed up a storm for you and added ready-to-ship fibers to her shop.
Farms are a green blur at the edges of my vision as my husband, Jim, and I motor down the highway. We’ve decided to head south on this trip. First stop, Indiana to visit friends. This couple could use some encouragement as one half has been in the hospital frequently.
These routes from our home in Wisconsin and through Illinois are how many of our road trips begin. Jim won’t need the assistance of the GPS in my jacket pocket, and there’s unlikely to be anything new I’m going to want to photograph. Time to pull out my knitting. I’m only a couple of rows into a prayer shawl, so the project still fits in my jacket pocket. When I get farther into the project, I’ll stow it in a drawstring bag attached by carabiner to my belt. I must stay connected to my knitting, because, I’m a passenger on my husband’s motorcycle.
I didn’t start out knitting on a motorcycle. After all, it was impossible (not to mention illegal) to knit while driving my own motorcycle. And, even as a passenger, I’m busy enjoying new places, taking photos, helping to navigate, simply relaxing, or even dozing. But when I’m not doing any of that, I often knit.
I’m not sure who this prayer shawl is for, but I have faith that it will be revealed before I complete the project. After Indiana, we continue south to the Wing Ding conference in Knoxville, Tennessee. My husband recently retired his Gold Wing 1500 and had his new-to-him Gold Wing 1800 converted to a trike with a California Sidecar conversion. The trike class at the conference was just what we needed to adjust to this new ride. The class was focused mostly on the driver’s interaction with the trike and the road, and included tips for the trike passenger as well. But no knitting tips!
Through decades of knitting on a motorcycle from Wisconsin to Key West and from Utah to Massachusetts, I’ve learned much about how to make the experience easier and more comfortable – and safe. Here’s what works best for me. Most importantly, don’t knit and drive! Do I even need to write this? Be a passenger.
Selecting a project
Keep the project size limited to something that can fit in the working space. For me, I hold the needles at about chest height, so the working space is from there to my lap and between my tummy and the back of my husband’s backrest. As my project gets bigger, I sometimes squish the start of the project down into that area. The pattern should be easy to memorize or one that I can write in large print on an index card in my pocket. The project uses only one yarn – multiple yarns add bulk and complexity.
Selecting the yarn
Use worsted weight or heavier yarn, although I sometimes use fingering-weight yarn, now that I’m experienced with knitting on the open road. Smooth yarn is easier to work with in this sometimes-bumpy position. I’m not an archer, but an archery release pouch works well for holding the skein/ball. The archery pouch size accommodates a typical full skein and has a drawstring top to feed the working yarn. I attach the bag to my belt or jacket with a carabiner. Yarn control is best achieved with a center pull ball, center pull skein, or a ball small enough to move freely in the pouch.
Road knitting technique
You must be able to easily see your knitting. I wear bifocal glasses all day, so no problem there. And my full-face helmet does not interfere with my line of sight. Weave in the cast-on end right away so that bit of yarn doesn’t end up getting blown around and frayed. Use circular needles, so you are less likely to drop the needle — yup, that happens with straight single-tip needles. Don’t use stitch markers, cable needles, or other notions that can also be dropped. If I need to keep a count, I use a row counter that slips onto the needle. It’s easier than marking off finished rows with a marker on the back of my husband’s helmet! Fingerless leather gloves give me the safety I want and still allows me to manipulate the yarn and needles. And I know that if you end up scraping some fingertips on the pavement, your fingerprints do grow back after your fingers heal. Don’t ask – it was a long time ago, and I was not knitting at the time. No stitches dropped!
Just as in knitting, the unexpected does happen. Keep your knitting simple enough that you can stay in tune with the driver and your surroundings. Lean when you should lean. Be prepared to quickly stuff the knitting down into your work space or in a project bag attached to you.
After the Wing Ding conference, we continued south to our first time in Key West before heading back to Wisconsin. The prayer shawl was finished. The recipient of this knitted gift was clear. Upon our return home, I placed the shawl in a box and addressed it to our friends in Indiana. Years later, after he died, his widow still treasures this road knitting memory of our friendship.
Rita Schunk has been a knitter since the age of 9, courtesy of 4-H. She’s the author of Surviving the Pink Ribbon: Body and Soul Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors and Co-Survivors. She lives with her husband, Jim, in Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.
Over the winter, as I hunkered down at home for the umpteenth month while inhaling Schitt’s Creek (it’s simply the best!), I engaged in some serious comfort knitting with Julie Asselin’s Nurtured yarn — a rustic but soft blend of Rambouillet, Targhee and Merino that is hand dyed “in the wool” prior to being mill spun at Green Mountain Spinnery in Vermont. Aside from completing Casapinka’s Powder Wrap and Faye Kennington’s Winter Garden Hat, I also whipped up an original creation of my own using some of the mini skeins that I offered as part of a collaboration with Julie and Jean-François!It took me a little while to jot down what I did, but I recently created what I call a “recipe” for a simple slipped-stitch cowl that shows off the slightly heathered colors of Nurtured perfectly.
I have some mini skeins remaining and decided to offer a few bundles so you can knit your own Nurtured Neck Warmer. And when I say “a few,” I mean that literally, as there is only one each of three color combinations. You’ll receive five approximately 32g skeins and guidance on using the skeins together to make a multicolored accessory.
If you’re in the New Jersey area, are free this holiday weekend and need fiber, NJ Fibershed is having a Fleece & Yarn Sale this Sunday. The outdoor sale will feature fleece, yarn, spinning fiber, natural dye plants, honey, and other farm products from local fiber producers. Spinners can partipate in a Spin-In.
Since you may be crafting to the soundtrack of Brood X cicadas, Jillian of WeeOnes has enhanced your experience with cicada stitch markers, hand sculpted using polymer clay.
Andrea and Sami of WoolenWomenFibers have brought nostalgia of beach boardwalks, including cotton candy and saltwater taffy, to life with their Boardwalk & Beaches collection. It includes single skeins, sock sets and three-skein fades.
If you found yourself smitten with the hit Netflix Series, Bridgerton, then Melissa of Rising Tide Fiber Co. has the Advent set for you! It will include 25 20-gram mini skeins, one full skein and five goodies.
Join the Fiber Coven MKAL for a modular shawl that is the perfect accessory for a hyperspace journey. Created with self-striping yarn and a coordinating tonal, solid, or speckled yarn, this is a take on a triangle shawl but uses modular techniques to show off a self striping yarn and make the shape easier to wear.
Crista Jaeckel is having a shop update today at 5 p.m. EDT featuring one-off, one-of-a-kind bags and preorders in summery prints.
As I was taking out my latest tote bag along on a few errands recently, I realized how much the color scheme matches some of the yarn I was showing off during my own virtual shopping sessions during Indie Spotlight, and the Scottish tea that I recently stocked up on, and I realized — these items belong together! So, I’m debuting Indie Yarnie Packs, which are the perfect way to kick off a season of outdoor knitting.
You have your choice of two themed and discounted packages, available while supplies last:
Spotlight Yarnie comes with an Indie Spotlight tote bag, a skein of Countess Ablaze Rebel Fingering (60% Superwash Merino, 20% silk and 20% yak/400 yds) in your choice of two colorways (pictured above is Rage Against the Knitting Machine), a box of tea from Scotland’s Eteaket, an Indie Untangled Sweater Fob and access to the Indie Spotlight marketplace and recordings. A $99 value for only $80!
Jetset Yarnie comes with an Indie Across the Pond tote bag, a skein of Countess Ablaze Rebel Fingering (60% Superwash Merino, 20% silk and 20% yak/400 yds) in your choice of two colorways (pictured below is I’m So Indie I Buy Yarns That Don’t Exist Yet), a box of tea from Scotland’s Eteaket, a set of Indie Untangled paper airplane stitch markers and access to the Indie Spotlight marketplace and recordings. A $109 value for only $90!
Nikki of Laneras has her Secretos fingering and Felicidad Light DK, both custom spun using Fine Uruguayan Merino, currently on sale, and domestic US orders of $90+ ship free!
Kate of Bad Lux Designs has created a collection of seven new colors inspired by antiques. The Antique Shop collection is available on bulky, DK, and fingering weights. Plus, 10% of all May profits are donated to the Human Rights Campaign.
Sarah’s May Full Moon colorway for the Teton Yarn Company, the Flower Moon, has risen. Inspired by the time when wildflowers begin to bloom across the Teton Landscape, the colorway is available in her new Yosemite yarn base, a 2-ply Superwash Merino with black plies.
Preorders are open for Wild Hair Studio’s 2021 December Fiber Advents. There are two themes to choose from and each includes 24 small packages and one large package of fiber, for a total of 10 ounces of ready-to-spin-or-felt fiber, plus a couple surprises.
Our Indie Spotlight show launches today (there’s a vendor meet and greet at 1 p.m. Eastern and the marketplace officially opens at 2! Aside from shining the spotlight on 22 indie dyers and makers, I am really excited about the show specials. We all know how hard it is to resist those items, which are like souvenirs of the event.
All 22 of our vendors are offering exclusive colorways or debuting special products — plus there’s a lovely Indie Spotlight tote bag you can fit it all in! We hope you can join us this weekend and snag some of these tempting goodies.
Starting from the top left corner and working across each row, we have the Indie Untangled tote and products from our sponsors:
The WeeOnes shop is in spring migration mode and filled with vibrantly colored birds. There are Baltimore Orioles and others to make your heart sing.
WoolenWomenFibers is a mother/twin daughters team that includes a molecular scientist who now uses her laboratory skills in the dye studio to create indie-dyed yarn ”down to a science!” They also offer knitting jewelry and project bags to create one-of-a-kind knit and crochet kits.
For the latest installment of Knitting Our National Parks, Kristin of KraeO, who has a background in painting, is bringing us along to Patuxent Research Refuge in Maryland, which is about a 40-minute drive from both Baltimore and Washington, DC. I can so appreciate this space that allows both wildlife and people to recharge, and photographer Ian Shive captured the kind of stunning sunset that would make any spot look magical.
Kristin’s Setting Sun colorway is available to preorder on Indie Untangled through Friday, April 16. She’s dyed it on two bases — Little Sister Fingering, a Superwash Merino single-ply fingering and Mama Bear DK, a luxurious blend of 45% baby alpaca, 45% Merino and 10% silk. The yarn will ship at the end of May. As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation to help support these beautiful public lands.
Speaking of wildlife and springtime adventures, Jillian of WeeOnes is highlighting a few wild animal-inspired stitch markers. Her shop has a ton of creatures, including these cutie beavers, as well as robins and sea turtles. And this month’s surprise stitch marker theme is “babies,” so maybe… baby animals?!
If your inner wanderlust is taking you a little further afield, bring these adorable stitch markers from Katy and the Katrinkles team along on your journey. There are only a dozen sets left in the shop!
If you don’t pack light (um, what yarn enthusiast does?) then you might need this bag that I’ve called The Woolpack. It was handcrafted by Rhinebeck-based maker Julia Hilrbrandt and features ample room for your projects and essentials, an inner and outer pocket and a screen-printed yarn ball surrounded by colorful felted dots. There are only a couple left in the world, so if you’re eyeing them, act fast.
Stephanie, the dyer at SpaceCadet, has hit a new design home run with her new Striad Wrap, a series of short row triangles, knit individually in strips and joined together without any seaming up.
Nikki of Laneras Yarn Company has a new fingering-weight base made with 100% Uruguayan Polwarth. Like all Laneras yarns, it is custom spun using wool that is ethically sourced and sustainably produced in Uruguay.
Our Indie Across the Pond virtual event kicks off tomorrow and the collection of show specials from our vendors based in Europe and the UK is especially tempting — and the best part is you don’t have to worry about fitting your haul in luggage that you severely underestimated the size of!
Here’s a closeup of Botanical Yarn’s exclusive Across the Pond fade set! Dyer Sophie, a self-professed crazy plant lady based in York, UK, has created this aqua to lilac set that comes with 10 mini skeins, perfect for a variety of projects, including shawls, hats, garments, or a blanket.
If you’re registered for Indie Across the Pond, you can join Sophie at 10 a.m. EDT/3 p.m. CET Friday through Sunday for her Zoom livestreams or book a private appointment with her to talk project plans. Plus, you’ll also get a coupon code for 10% off purchases over £75.
This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Across the Pond, taking place from March 19-21, 2021.
Sara Maternini of La Cave à Laine has been a regular part of the Indie Untangled marketplace since her first post about her 100% cotton, extra light and washable project bags in 2018. She’s since expanded her range into hand-dyed bags — perfect for hand-dyed yarn! — oilskin backpacks and notions.
Making her home in Alsace, France, by way of Italy, Sara is also a prolific designer, so she knows a thing or two about what makes a great home for your WIPs.
What came first: knitwear design or bag making?
They came both quite close! I began designing and making the first bags, and then a few weeks after I published my first pattern, Fibonacci Ronde (https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/fibonacci-ronde). I think I had to fulfill a sort of need to express myself with my hands, which is, still today, my daily call!
What did you do in your pre-La Cave à Laine career and do you find any parallels between it and your business?
I did many jobs, in different sectors: I began as a museum guide in Milan, Italy, where I was living at the time. I then moved on to the early stages of the internet and worked as a researcher (in a pre-Google era) and a social media manager. I had a brief but intense career as one of the first Italian food bloggers, that opened me many doors to different digital agencies and the job of social media manager. In 2011 we then moved to France, we had two very small children, and I felt the call for my needles!
What made you decide to start sewing your own bags?
Mainly the possibility to choose fabrics that were more to my taste. I really like minimalist prints, bold, un-patterned colours, and austere shapes. The market was void of the kind of bags I wanted.
I feel our bags are the mirror of our souls: as an Italian I grew up surrounded by incredible beauty, and I always find myself looking for my own version of beauty and purity everywhere. I was always partial toward Renaissance artists and their infinite search for symmetry, beauty, and practicality in everything. And I look for these characteristics in everything I wear. Or make.
How would you say your project bags are different from others?
Some of the features I always stress about are that my bags are made only of natural materials (no plastic, no interfacing, no glue, no polyester), and that they are washable. These two rules are guiding me in choosing all the materials and the ways I design my bags.
Being a very practical person, I also try to reflect this in my bags: functionality is always my first concern. I fill my bags with pockets, adjustable handles, zippers…
Last but not least, my bags are designed and constructed to have no leftover fabric or waste: every single inch is used. And even with my hand-dyed line of bags, water waste during the dyeing process is reduced to a bare minimum.
Can you share some of your plans for Indie Across the Pond?
For Indie Across the Pond I went a bit over the top! I had some lines of new bags in the making and to be released throughout 2021, but I gave a final push to make all of them a reality for Indie Across the Pond!
Many new bags will debut during the show, from crazy unicorns bags, to oilskin backpacks (inspired by cartoon characters), luxury notion pouches (full to the brim with gorgeous notions!), and Knits Cosy: a new series of bags created to keep your knits safe and sound wherever you go, with many other uses! Also during the show, the full range of new notions will be available, from super cute scissors to the new stitch markers I have been making in the last months: my iconic skull stitch markers got a revamp, and some new beads will also debut.
The booth will be in full swing and ready to delight all knitters and crocheters!
What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your business?
So, so many! One of the best lessons I have learned is to trust myself but double the time I think a certain task will take to be accomplished! So, instead of stressing about unattainable self-imposed deadlines, I enjoy the time it takes to make everything!
When and how did you learn to knit?
I first learned to knit when I was around 7 years old: my grandma taught me the knit stitch, but that was about it. No cast-on, purl, bind off, increases, decreases…
Then, in 2009, when pregnant with my first child, I learned, thanks to the internet, everything else!
Something that really fascinates me about knitting is that there is no end to the learning curve: not only there are always ways to improve, but also learn new stitches, techniques, constructions…
What are your favorite skeins in your stash?
Too many! I am always ready to fall in love with new skeins without forgetting all the old ones!
One constant love, since 10 years, is Malabrigo, for their bold colours and type of fibers: give me some Plomo on any base, even singles, and I am happy!
Another love is Lanivendole, not only because Stefania and Giulia are dear friends, but also for the incredible project behind their brand, and the fact that their yarns are so alive: you feel it when you touch them, and even more when you knit them!
Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.
On my needles there is always a shawl at some stage of completion, and lately (too) many sweaters: a raglan in my size, ready for sleeve and body divide, and a saddle shoulder for my son in a size too big, because by the time it will be finished he will fill it just right! All these projects will be patterns one day, once the samples will be finished, patterns written in multiple sizes, tech edited, tested, and then tech edited once more!
Marian of Marianated Yarns is collaborating with designer Katy Carroll of Katinka Designs on a multicolored cowl kit to celebrate ’80s movie icon John Cusak.
Today’s the last day to preorder Terri of AT Haynes House Yarns’ Knitting Our National Parks colorway, called I Got One Just Like It In My Living Room (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), inspired by Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming and a certain ’70s movie. It’s available on her sock and DK-weight bases. As always, this yarn supports the National Park Foundation.
Stephanie of SpaceCadet has released her first design! The D’aeki Wrap is designed to show off SpaceCadet’s mini skeins or any other collection of colors, with a herringbone pattern that shifts the color flow along the length of the piece and uses the Join As You Go method (no seaming!).
The Little Red Dress KAL from Knitting Hope tells the story of Judy Fleischer Kolb, who was born in the Shanghai Ghetto after her family fled Nazi Germany in 1939, and her her little red dress, which she donated to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. The dress was turned into a knitting pattern by designer Melissa Shinsato.
The Bad Lux Designs Romantisch collection has swoon-worthy colors available on Bulky, DK and Fingering weights.
These new WeeOnes penguin stitch markers are appropriate for these Arctic temperatures! They come with one Adélie, one macaroni penguin, one chinstrap and one emperor with it’s baby.
These magnetic shawl pins from Michele of MAB Elements celebrate the Pantone colors of the Year for 2021.
Selena of Sweater Sisters is partnering with Erica Heusser on a kit release for her new pattern, Varia Mitts. They feature a Fair Isle pattern depicting an owl settled in on a branch with the silvery background.