The knitter’s bookshelf: A gift list from Indie Untangled

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A book sits in front of a pile of colorful knitwear.

As much as I’ve embraced the digital world, there is definitely still part of me that needs physical books in my life. I know it’s cliché, but flipping through the pages, taking in printed photographs and taking pride in a colorful stack of spines on your bookshelf or nightstand… It’s actually kind of similar to having a yarn stash. I probably won’t knit every single pattern in every book I own, but I appreciate knowing that they’re there, to take me on a journey when I might need it most.

I’ve come across many books over the past few years, and while I don’t think I can do them all justice with a “proper” book review, I thought it would be helpful to provide a guide to some of the ones that have found a special place on my IKEA Kallax. And if you happen to find the perfect holiday gift, even better! (This posts contains affiliate links, meaning a small percentage of your purchase may benefit Indie Untangled.)

Wool & Pine Book One

I may be biased about this book because I’m offering it in the Indie Untangled shop, but the reason I decided to carry this book is why I’d recommend it. I’ve admired the designs of Abbye and Selena, the team that makes up Wool & Pine, since I first saw the Sorrel sweater pop up on my Instagram feed. Aside from being a bound collection of the pair’s patterns and gorgeous photographs, the book provides access to video tutorials with instructions and tips for each design. I know I’m going to be referring to the Sorrel videos after I start my sweater.

The book is also bound in a way that it stays open to the page you need very easily. I certainly love the look of matte or hardcover books with thick spines, however, I find that if I want to knit from them I need to photocopy the pages or download the PDF (this book also comes with access to the PDF patterns if you prefer to knit from one).

The Power of Knitting: Stitching Together Our Lives in a Fractured World

by Loretta Napoleoni

I wasn’t familiar with Loretta Napoleoni until earlier this year, when her assistant contacted me about this new book. Napoleoni is a journalist who has covered the financing of terrorism — her first book, Terror Inc: Tracing the Money Behind Global Terrorism, is a bestseller that has been translated into 12 languages. The topic of knitting is decidedly softer, but Loretta tackles it with a well-researched expertise, weaving together the history of our craft with her personal experiences.

The book does include 10 patterns at the end, including a version of the Pussy Hat called the Pussy Power Hat. While the patterns seem a bit like an afterthought, and I think Loretta’s writing is strong enough to stand on its own, it is nice that they have connections to passages in the book, and the simple illustrations are quite lovely.

Seasonal Slow Knitting: Thoughtful Projects for a Handmade Year

by Hannah Thiessen

I was already a fan of Hannah Thiessen’s first book, Slow Knitting, which was everything I could ever want in a knitting book: stories about the creators of artisanal yarns that I’ve been fortunate to work with, including Anne Hanson, Jill Draper, Julie Asselin and mYak, and beautiful patterns to tie these stories together. Seasonal Slow Knitting is just what it sounds like, breaking up our mindful craft into seasons.

Whereas Slow Knitting brought together patterns from a variety of designers, Hannah designed all 10 patterns in this book, which was released in October, so the collection feels much more cohesive and is a beautiful showcase for the rustic yarns.

Vanishing Fleece: Adventures in American Wool

by Clara Parkes

No knitter’s bookshelf is complete without the work of “yarn whisperer” Clara Parkes. In this book, released last fall, Clara recounts her Great White Bale project, in which she crowdsourced the transformation of a 676-pound bale of fleece into skeins that found their way into the hands of knitters. As you may know if you read my newsletter, I’m a sucker for a road trip, especially one that includes yarn, and Clara is an expert guide, taking us along with her to Catskills Merino in New York to the Saco River Dyehouse in Maine and many places in between, all in the pursuit of yarn.

Two people wearing knitted items stand in snow next to horses.

Knits About Winter

by Emily Foden

I knew that I needed this book on my shelf ever since I heard that it was being published by Pom Pom Press. Emily Foden of Viola was one of the first indie dyers that I fell for as a new yarn collector and the 12 patterns in this book show them off beautifully. I haven’t knit any of them yet, however I scored two skeins of her Shadow DK (a blend of Polwarth, Wensleydale and Zwartbles) in a shop update over the summer and realized it’s the perfect match for her Skyhill hat.

The book is filled with beautifully styled and composed shots of knitwear against the snowy backdrop of Emily’s home in Ontario, Canada, though for me it is definitely meant for admiring and not knitting from. Fortunately, the book comes with a code to download a PDF version via Ravelry.

What to stash this week: Peak yarn

A golden mountain reflected in a lake, and light blue yarn speckled with gold and purple.

For the latest installment of Knitting Our National Parks, Rachel of Six and Seven Fiber takes us to Grand Teton National Park, which I was lucky to visit in May of 2019 (which seems like ages ago). Her Jenny Lake colorway was inspired by the above photo taken by photographer Brian Johns.

This lightly speckled neutral is available to preorder on Indie Untangled through December 27 on three bases: Alfalfa, a luxurious 80/10/10 Superwash Merino/Cashmere/nylon heavy fingering-weight yarn, Amaranth, a toothy but soft non-Superwash Merino fingering (this one is my personal favorite) and Soybean, a non-Superwash Merino DK. Alfalfa would make amazing winter accessories, while the latter two are the perfect sweater yarns.

A woman holds a white fur pom-pom over a purple knit hat.

Speaking of non-Superwash yarns, designer Mary Annarella used Julie Asselin’s Nurtured yarn in the special Indie Untangled Leaf Pile colorway to design not just one but two new hats! The one above, with the zig zag purl pattern, is called Swipe Right (which means, in the world of Tinder dating, that you’re interested).

Mary’s other hat, called Take a Bough, has an elegant cable pattern reminiscent of pine trees and is a perfect match for the colorway, which is indeed like jumping into a leaf pile. The links above will take you to kits for the hat featuring this exclusive colorway, and they are discounted through Monday, December 14, no coupon code needed.

I also invite you to explore this incredible yarn further…

Skeins of gray, white, pink and gold yarn.

When I first learned about 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 — it was love at first sight… through my computer monitor. Fortunately, when I finally got a chance to see it in person at a yarn festival, I was even more smitten — enough to ask Julie and her partner Jean-François to create a special colorway for Indie Untangled. 

Since we don’t have the ability to feel yarn in person at festivals, and I want everyone to discover the joy of knitting with Nurtured, I’m excited to collaborate with Julie and Jean-François on Nurtured Mini Boxes. These sets will allow you to try out this woolly Aran-weight yarn and see the incredible heathered colors in real life.

The boxes are available to preorder on Indie Untangled through January 8 and will ship in mid-March, allowing time for Julie and Jean-François to create mini skeins to order and for cross-border shipping.

Six knitted sweater designs on a diverse group of models.

I was so excited to see that Abbye and Selena of the design duo Wool & Pine, who I enjoyed learning more about during Indie Untangled Everywhere in October, had published their first pattern collection. I’m even more thrilled to be a stockist of this special new book! Featuring Wool & Pine’s first six garments, this softcover book is filled with beautiful images and size-inclusive patterns with written and charted directions. It also includes a digital download code and access to detailed video tutorials to help you knit your perfect sweater.

Blue and white speckled yarn.

The cold whether inspired Lanivendole’s Winter Mood palette, which will be available in Giulia and Stefania’s online shop today starting at 6 p.m. CET. There will also be limited edition handmade stitch markers from their friend Carla of @laboratorioindie.

A textured cowl in shades of blue.

Rebecca of WildWestDye, a natural dyer based in Canada, has lots of new kits uniquely dyed using indigo, including CabooseWay, a three-color, three-texture indigo kit launched with a new collection of worsted weight yarn.

A lacy gold shawl pin.

The Crafty Flutterby Creations seasonal Victorian Christmas Collection features shawl pins or vegan leather shawl cuffs with sophisticated lace designs. Michelle also has limited edition sparkly holiday end minders, which help keep your ends neat and tidy while you work. All orders placed by Monday will ship in time for Christmas within the U.S.

Multicolored skeins of yarn and faux fur pom-poms.

Megan of Megs & Co has curated a collection of hand-dyed hat kits to get you ready for the cold weather. Kits include a skein of Folk Song Aran paired with one skein of Head in the Clouds mohair and silk laceweight, plus a hand-stuffed faux fur pom-pom.

A teal textured hat.

Speaking of hats, all Softyarn Designs hat patterns are 25% off through Wednesday, December 16, with the code Hatknitting on Ravelry and Etsy. Lena’s Pebble Street Hat, pictured above, is a quick knit using Aran-weight yarn and a slip-stitch pattern.

Dragon Thistle Fibers has Merino/Angora in sets of four 50-gram skeins.

Yarn suggestions for Wool & Pine Book One

Six knitted sweater designs on a diverse group of models.

Pictured from left to right, top row and bottom row: Sorrel, Scotch Broom, Summer Sorrel, Wild Wind, Criterion and Broadleaf.

When Abbye and Selena of the design duo Wool & Pine asked if I was interested in carrying their new book in the new and improved Indie Untangled Shop, I didn’t hesitate. I had been a fan of their work and aesthetic before getting to know them better through their Untangling the Designer’s Studio session during Indie Untangled Everywhere in October, and am excited to get to work with them further next year (you’ll learn more in a few weeks!).

It also just so happens that I have stocked the shop with yarn that would be perfect for their designs. Here are some suggestions:

Sorrel and Broadleaf

Cakes of red and purple wool and mohair yarn knit together in a swatch.

The duo’s first sweater design features a blend of fingering-weight yarn and mohair. I recently opened preorders for Poseidon Mohair Silk from Greece-based dyer Lise of TréLiz. It’s available in her fiery Indie Untangled exclusive When You Play the Game of Indie… in Zeus Merino Single, as well as dark plum Bluebeard.

Both would look great together, but I love how the Bluebeard halo adds another dimension to the red/orange/pink fingering. It would also look lovely as the contrast in the brioche in Broadleaf.

Criterion

This elegant colorwork yoke sweater was inspired by Downton Abbey, so what better yarn to use than skeins from UK dyer Countess Ablaze? Selena gave these color combos of Rebel Fingering (Superwash Merino, silk and yak) and Countess Ablaze Lady Persephone Sock (Superwash Bluefaced Leicester wool and nylon) her seal of approval.

Green and pink yarn.

I Only Knit With Vintage Yarn and Stockpiled Yarn Stash

Pink and black and gold speckled yarn.

Stockpiled Yarn Stash and Make Do and Mend

Teal and orange yarn.

I’m So Indie I Buy Yarns That Don’t Exist Yet and I Crochet in the Coffee Shop

Teal and orange yarn.

I’m So Indie I Buy Yarns That Don’t Exist Yet and Rage Against the Knitting Machine

Blue and red yarn.

Knitflix-a-thon and Zoom Sweater

Scotch Broom, Summer Sorrel and Wild Wind

Green, orange, purple and blue variegated yarn.

When You Play the Game of Indie… in Zeus Merino Single would of course be perfect for these tops, which make great use of those precious skeins of sock yarn.

Any of these would also be ideal for one of the wilder skeins of Countess Ablaze Lady Persephone Sock, such as Keep Calm and Knit On, Fun Fur Is Cool Again and I Like Yarn That Nobody Else Likes (pictured).

What to stash this week: Yarn with attitude

Skeins of pale pink yarn.

Heather of Sew Happy Jane has embraced the rustic wool trend with her new line of non-Superwash yarn. She’s dyed her new 100% Peruvian Highland Wool in 10 colorways — eight semisolids and two speckled/variegated — that coordinate beautifully, making it perfect for colorwork. At $18 per 246-yard skein, it’s also an inexpensive entree into the world of crunchy yarn. Heather is taking dyed-to-order preorders until May 25.

Dandelions blowing against a blurred green background.

Tomorrow, Stefania and Giulia of Lanivendole are launching orders for their next yarn club/collaboration. The Mind Wanderers Yarn Club is themed around where we go when we get lost in our thoughts while knitting. Each club bundle will include three skeins of their luxurious and local blend of Italian wool, Cashmere and alpaca and two accessories from Italian makers.

A set of gray to green mini skeins of yarn.

Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks is evoking the childhood nostalgia of the 64 Crayola box (the one with the sharpener on the back) with her new mini skein sets. Each set includes five 80-yard skeins of Deep Sock, perfect for colorwork hats, fingerless mitts or as sweater accents. Debbie is also offering 15% off, using code CXL15.

A green box bag with pictures of honey.

If your Startitis is flaring up, house your new WIPs in one of Rock Solid Designs’ new project bags! There are sweet honeybees and cheerful yellow poppies to get us in the mood for our socially-distanced spring, as well as reminders of the travels in our future.

Gray yarn with orange mini skeins.

Heather of Pumpkins and Wool has launched her new Sock Kits, featuring one 463-yard skein and one 92-yard mini in a super soft Superwash Merino/nylon blend.

Skeins of sage speckled yarn.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns’ next update, taking place on Monday at 1 p.m. UK time, will include a summer-ready restock of laceweight yarns, including Titus Lace (Merino/silk) and Askham Lace (baby alpaca/silk).

A woman models a gold crocheted sweater on the cover of Modern Lace Italian Crochet.

Karen Whooley’s new book, Modern Italian Lace Crochet, will be released on June 2 and you can preorder it now. The book includes 10 new crochet designs inspired by her Italian heritage.

What to stash this week: prepare for the coming apoca-knits

A person wears a balaclava and a gas mask on the cover of Doomsday Knits.

A silver lining to yet another canceled festival is that independent publisher Cooperative Press has used the opportunity of a virtual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival to re-release two of their most popular titles: the appropriate-for-these-times Doomsday Knits: Projects for the Apocalypse and After, edited by Alex Tinsley, and Subversive Socks, edited by Tabetha Hedrick. Both books are only available to preorder until this Sunday, May 3, so grab yours before they become harder to find than unsalted butter.

A hand touches a skein of multicolored yarn.

Tomorrow, Heather of Sew Happy Jane will be participating in the Virtu-wool fiber festival hosted on Facebook, and her virtu-wool shop will be updated with new colorways and old favorites. Get a preview at 10 a.m. EDT on Facebook and learn how you can enter to win a prize.

A laptop with a ball of yarn advertising the Virtu-wool Fiber Festival.

The inaugural Virtu-wool Fiber Festival is a two-day event taking place tomorrow and Sunday featuring 20 vendors from across the U.S. Each day, between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT, vendors will present their products via a livestream.

Dark gray yarn.

Austin, Texas-based Gothfarm Yarn specializes in blends of naturally-colored fibers from rare and uncommon breeds of sheep and other furry animals, working with small farms and mills.

A cake of ombre yarn from blue to great and the words Stained Glass.

Elisabeth of Wolle’s Yarn Creations is participating in the virtual Maryland Sheep and Wool, and you can get 20% off her cotton and silk gradient yarns using the code MDSW20 to check out on her website.

An orange starfish and orange, purple and green yarn.

Today is your last day to book your ticket for a virtual road trip to Olympic National Park via McMullin Fiber Co.’s two colorways, inspired by the park’s tide pools.

Untwisted skeins of neon green yarn.

Heather of Pumpkins and Wool created six new super ’80s-inspired colorways for some retro fun during this bogus situation we’ve found ourselves in. Colors such as Ms. Pacman and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun have also been discounted.

What to stash this week: keep calm and KAL on

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A purple and blue shawl.

Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations has launched a KAL called Parallelominis that encourages you to dive into your collection of mini skeins and scrap yarn to create artistic color combinations. 

The KAL runs through May 17 and every participant that shares their FO gets a free pattern and a chance to win a $50 gift certificate for Crafty Flutterby Creations. Indie Untangled readers get 60% off the Parallelominis pattern through the end of March with code INDIELOVE.

Blue and yellow yarn.

Vanessa of Cape May Fiber Company has opened sign-ups for her Botanically Dyed Yarn of the Month Club. The next shipment she’ll be sending out is for April, which is Grape Hyacinth.

Purple, teal and gold yarn.

Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. is having a spring cleaning sale and a giveaway rolled into one. Every $20 spent in the shop between now and April 12 enters you to win prizes, including a Joji & Co. needle wallet, a $100 shop credit, a $50 shop credit, and a crochet hook from Furls and some of Kate’s yarn to go with it. Edit: This giveaway will now be taking place via Instagram. Stay tuned for updates.

A wall of yarn.

Terri of Whole Knit ‘N Caboodle has added over 150 new colors to her website, and will be sending a check to your LYS for every online purchase.

A purple, blue and black shoulder bag.

Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios has once again teamed up with Julia of Pandia’s Jewels for the Yarnies to the bone collection. The ready-to-ship update goes live today at 9 a.m. Pacific, and there is a special yarn colorway available to preorder on Julia’s website.

Blue, pink and gray speckled yarn.

Shanna of Lambstrings Yarn debuted a new MCN fingering base called Faun and kits for Samantha Guerin’s Side Trip cowl. Use the code STAYHOME to get 10% off your purchase, or don’t and Shanna will donate 10% of sales to Direct Relief.

A woman in a gray colorwork hat with a black and white cat.

What’s more appropriate than cats and yarn? A book about cats and yarn! Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns has collaborated with Marna Gilligan of ‘an caitin beag’ for Cat Knits, a book of 16 knit designs featuring kitties and Eden Cottage yarns.

Yellow to orange ombre yarn.

Susan of Sunflower Designs is also hosting a KAL for her Love in the Time of Coronavirus shawl, with proceeds from the pattern split evenly between the CDC foundation and Meals on Wheels Covid-19 Response Fund.

A teal crocheted shawl.

Crochet is having a moment, and Karen Whooley’s Whimsy shawl is a colorful, project with easy crochet stitches and lace. Get the pattern at 10% off through the end of March with the code 10offmarch.

AnnieDot Creative has released a kit for the Fintry shawl by Knox Mountain Knit Co.

What to stash this week: Yarny holidays

Hanukkah collage with orange, purple, pink and gray yarn.

The dyers collaborating with me on this Indie Untangled Eight Nights of Hanukkah Kit all have their own beautiful aesthetics: Spencer and Reggie of The Fiberists create vibrant semisolids, Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has a talent for subtle speckles and Raya of Blissful Knits is known for her colorful mini skeins. While their full skeins/mini sets for the kit will be a surprise, here is an example of their talents.

Preorders are open only through the end of the day today. I hope you celebrate with us!

Pink, green and blue yarn.

Sue of Invictus Yarns is also getting ready for the holidays (it’s not too early!) and has been adding to her collection of holiday colorways, restocked some that had sold out and have added gift cards to the shop.

A beige oversized cardigan

Issue 4 of the NF Magazine comes out today and is filled with fall warmth. It includes four knitting patterns and three cold-weather recipes.

A pink scarf that looks like leaves.

Andi Smith’s newest book for Cooperative Press, called Scarves Two Ways, will make you a scarf knitter again. The book, released at Rhinebeck, includes a dozen new scarf designs using a variety of techniques. The patterns are both charted and fully written out, hence there are two ways you can create them. The motifs from scarf to scarf also riff off each other. You can save $6.95 through the end of 2019 by using the code STARGAZER on Ravelry.

Post-Rhinebeck Untangling: ‘I Knit San Francisco’

The cover of I Knit San Francisco

This is the 15th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Designer Kathleen Dames and Alice O’Reilly of Backyard Fiberworks have taken us to New York and Paris through their Knit Like A Local series of bookazines from One More Row Press. Recently, they launched I Knit San Francisco, a fiber journey through the Bay Area, which is available to preorder. Here’s more about their latest trip.

How did you decide to include San Francisco for your latest book?

We started talking about San Francisco after attending Stitches West a couple of years ago. There is a vibrant knitting culture in Northern California, lots of great yarn shops, local designers and dyers, and, as we all know, the weather in San Francisco is such that having something woolly on hand is always a good idea. Plus, we both have connections to the area: Alice’s grandparents lived south of San Francisco (and her brother lives in the city now), while Kathleen worked for two different publishers, one in Sebastopol and the other in Pacific Grove, so she has spent working time in the area, in addition to more touristy visits.

Which designers do you have lined up for I Knit San Francisco?

We are thrilled to have Vilasinee Bunnag (founder of The Loome) in collaboration with Kathleen, Faina Goberstein, Juliana Lustenader, Audry Nicklin, Sonya Philip (100 Acts of Sewing), Yvonne Poon (Gamer Babe Knits), Sloane Rosenthal (co-founder of brand new Hudson + West yarn company with Meghan Babin), Heatherly Walker (the Yarn Yenta), Julie Weisenberger (founder of Cocoknits), and Kelly White, plus yarns from Bay Street Yarns, The Dye Project, Hudson + West Co., Little Skein in the Big Wool with help from Seismic Yarns, Love Fest Fibers, Sincere Sheep, Speckled Finch Studios, Twirl Yarn, and A Verb for Keeping Warm. Getting to know the designers and dyers is the best part of this job.

A yellow knit rug.

What are each of your favorite designs from the book?

We love them all (of course)! Seriously, every book we publish is a whole new wardrobe we want to knit.

So far Julie’s rug, Half-moon, made with Love Fest Fibers crazy cool and crazy big yarn, and Sloane’s Ferry Building pullover in WELD from brand new yarn company, Hudson + West Co. (Sloane’s bicoastal partnership with Meghan Babin, former editor of Interweave Knits) have been most popular on our Instagram feed.

Aside from designs, what will the book include?

We interview each designer, so you will learn a little about their design journey and, of course, their favorite local things, particularly places to go that you might not know about and restaurants to try. Then, we take you on our three-day Yarn Crawl from Santa Rosa up in Sonoma County all the way down through Napa County to the East Bay and San Francisco itself down through Santa Cruz to Pacific Grove on Monterey Bay. We definitely recommend taking more than three days, if you want to do the whole tour – we had to be ruthlessly efficient in our research trip due to time constraints, but our doing so means you can take your time and enjoy everything a little more thoroughly.

Woman models a gray sweater on a beach.

What surprising things did you learn about San Francisco while doing your research?

That walking around is no joke! Coming from the east and being used to walking everywhere (New York City and Washington, D.C., for us are walking and subway-riding cities), the hills of San Francisco are deceptive. What seems like a doable walk is an intense workout. We also were surprised/not surprised to notice the quality of the light. As intensely visual people, we were both struck by that West Coast golden light, and we think Alli did a great job of capturing it in our photos.

There has been an explosion of local “bookazines,” such as the By Hand serial and Nomadic Knits. How would you say One More Row Press is different?

We start with the question “Where shall we (as knitting people) go next?” Then we work hard to find local designers, some new and others more established, who design across many categories and for varying skill levels, and then we collaborate with them to find yarn partners that make each project sing.

Beyond the interviews and yarn crawls, we also seek out local photographers and models who bring the designs to life on location. We focus on curating a collection that is rooted in place with additional information that allows you to go to that place and make your own personal connections (or be an armchair travel knitter).

Woman models a white sweater with pom poms.

What other cities or places are next for your series?

That is the question we are asked AND that we ask everyone we meet! Our “To Visit” list includes: Chicago (where Kathleen grew up), Kyoto (or Tokyo), London, Detroit (people keep mentioning it, and there are a lot of yarn stores in the area, so we are totally intrigued), and Los Angeles. We have also talked about Italy, Cuba, Australia, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, though we have been focused on individual cities thus far.

It’s a matter of finding the right people (designers, dyers, LYSes) and making the timing work for everyone (including us with our own jobs and families to manage). We are also in talks to do a crochet book with a handful of designers using their favorite buildings as inspiration for elegant, wearable crochet garments and accessories.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Pom Pom Quarterly’s Sea Change issue

An African American woman models a blue and sand textured wrap on the cover of Pom Pom Quarterly

The cover features Seelig by Katrin Schubert, modeled by Arrish Wol. All photos by Shingi Rice, with make-up by Eleanor Hammond.

This is the ninth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Pom Pom Quarterly‘s autumn issue focuses on the conversations about racism and white supremacy in the fiber industry that have been taking place since January. Called “Sea Change,” it includes sand- and surf-inspired garments by designers and makers, including some who were brought to editors Lydia Gluck and Meghan Fernandes’ attention due to the movement for more diversity and inclusion in the knitting community.

Over its seven-year history, Pom Pom has featured models of diverse races and ages, and has plans to continue working with a larger range of designers. I asked Lydia how she and Meghan tackled this topic in the issue, which was released August 30, and how they plan to continue to address inclusivity going forward.

How did you decide on the sea as a metaphor for the ongoing discussion about diversity and white supremacy in the fiber industry?

We had been thinking about a sea-themed issue for a while, as it’s almost an obsession for me; I grew up on the Welsh coast and will always go for a salty dip if I can. The sea is also part of Meghan’s father’s background. He is from the tiny seaside state of Goa in India, and that heritage really resonated for Meghan at this time. I guess the sea has always been a source of solace and inspiration, but we hadn’t quite found the right time to do the issue. When we were thinking about putting together this autumn we realised it was the perfect time for the sea theme. We think that the outward-looking feeling that the shore gives, along with the place for reflection it provides is a great way to embody the expansive feeling of trying to create a genuinely inclusive and welcoming space. The sea is always changing, and we hope to carry on growing and changing too.

How was your approach to this issue of the magazine different than previous ones?

We had been spending a lot of time following and engaging with the racism, diversity, and inclusion conversations that have been more present online in the knitting world and felt that we had to start putting what we were learning into practice. We want to make Pom Pom a good option for people who feel that they aren’t represented in the knitting world at the moment. For this issue we put more time into making sure our line-up of contributors and collaborators was more diverse in various ways, and we hope that through diversity will come inclusion and we know Pom Pom will only be richer for it.

Our approach has also been different in terms of layout; we added pages to the magazine so that we could increase the font size – something we have wanted to do for a long time and finally have been able to because we have changed the way we ship the magazines (yay logistics!). We also added sizes to make our sizing more inclusive. We owe so much to the BIPOC and other marginalised voices who have been bringing to our attention what needs to change to make publications accessible and inclusive and we couldn’t be more grateful that they have done such difficult and dangerous work to make our world a better place. They are the heroes in this story.

A woman models a mosaic sand and blue sweater

Trove by Emma Ducher, modeled by Gina Patch.

What does diversity and inclusion look like for Pom Pom?

Diversity and inclusion looks like the magazine being accessible, welcoming to, and representative of anyone who wants to be part of our community. We want to work with and amplify the voices of people whose perspectives and experiences aren’t usually included in and reflected by the media.

Who has most inspired the Pom Pom team as you’ve taken on anti-racism work?

The team behind Unfinished Object have been particularly inspirational. Without those voices, we don’t think the movement would have burst forth in January in the way that it did. We are all making progress, and continuing to make progress now thanks to their work.

A sand colored cabled sweater modeled by the sea

Fata Morgana by Sylvia Watts-Cherry

What advice would you give to crafters and fiber business owners looking to take on anti-racism work?

Remember that whether racism exists in the knitting world is not a debate. That’s step one. Then educate yourself; we would say visiting Unfinished Object is a good place to start, and the anti-racist educators @rachel.cargle and @laylafsaad have plenty of resources. Make sure to be respectful when you are visiting spaces held for and by marginalised people, and check whether an answer to your question already exists before asking it.

The most important thing is to be ready to learn and get things wrong. There’s a lot of fear around saying the wrong thing, but we think it’s important to make sure that fear doesn’t come from a place of defensiveness or thinking that people will deliberately misinterpret you. If you get something wrong and receive critique from the community, it’s vital to listen and make sure you take feedback on board. No one is expected to be perfect, but we think it’s worth holding yourself to a high standard, while being kind to yourself. We can and must do better as a community, and in order to do that we have to be ready to rigorously examine our deeply embedded biases and our unequal societies.

And, if it’s possible for you, do pay people for the education you have received from them. Ko-fi is a great way to do that. Again we want to emphasise that we are following the lead of others in this regard, and we advise doing the same.

I’ve noticed this is the first published design for a few of the designers in the magazine. How do you work with designers who haven’t self-published a knitting or crochet design before? How are you finding new designers and dyers?

We have always worked with designers who haven’t been published or self-published before. Most issues of the magazine have had an open call for submissions because we are always interested in finding people who are not yet part of the knitting scene. We try and provide as much support as we can when we are working with new designers. We know there’s a lot about the process that might be new, so we are on hand to answer questions and can provide help with technical aspects, for example getting assistance with grading if needed. We are always honoured when someone entrusts their vision to us, whether they are a new designer or not, so our main concern is making sure we do their creativity justice.

We also spend a lot of time looking for new designers and dyers online through social media, and if appropriate reach out to people who we think would be interested in working with us. Sometimes people email us too! If we go to shows we make sure to go and check out stands that we don’t yet know.

A peach hat with cables

Timbre by Meghan Fernandes

Have either of you knit any of the designs from the issue (aside from Meghan’s Timbre hat, of course!) or do you plan to knit them?

I am working on Astragal by Ainur Berkimbayeva in some beautiful avocado-dyed yarn from Hey Mama Wolf, and I’m planning to make Eventide by Inyoung Kim next. Meghan is waiting to get her hands on some of Ocean Rose’s yarn to make Fata Morgana by Sylvia Watts-Cherry. If we had time we would make every pattern… but at least we get to live vicariously through our reader’s projects online!

Speaking of Timbre, how did you decide to include a pattern from Meghan in this issue?

When Pom Pom first started we both designed a lot of the patterns (we did all of them for Issue 1!) but as the business has grown we’ve had less and less time to design. Turns out running a magazine is pretty time-consuming! And of course we love making the patterns that we publish. But every now and then, if we have time, we like to design, and if we feel we have an idea that fits the brief then we’ll pitch it to the other and to the team. Meghan’s hat was perfect for this issue because the mohair cables skim over the surface and look like little rivulets, and the rhythmic quality of cables made us think of the sound of waves. I designed a sweater (Woodwardia) for Issue 28 this year which I loved, but we both feel that one design a year is probably plenty for us!

Are there plans for a plus size issue?

We don’t have plans for a specific plus size issue at the moment. We have increased our sizing, so we are intending for every issue to feature a larger range of sizes so that our patterns are accessible to more bodies. We plan to continue featuring a range of models of different sizes too.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Anne Vally of Little Skein In the Big Wool

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A woman sits at a desk looking down.

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

For most people, crafting evokes the same feelings as getting into a good book. Anne Vally decided to bundle that feeling up into curated kits for knitters through her business, Little Skein In the Big Wool. While Anne has expanded beyond her hand-sewn project bags to include her own hand-dyed yarn, she has continued to remain true to the values that she started out with.

Tell me about how you started a project bag business?

I started Little Skein with the idea of making project bags and kits that would bring to life my love of books. Knitting is something that’s central to who I am — and so are books. I make the things I want to use: project bags that tell a story, kits that not only make me eager to knit them, but that also fill me with the happiness and rich emotion of a favorite story.

I started out on Etsy with my first kit (Velveteen with Susan B. Anderson) but pretty quickly moved to littleskein.com. Details are important to me, and I wanted to create an experience where shopping for a kit or project bag of mine felt like being welcomed home. Something special, full of good feelings, just for you.

What did you do before you launched Little Skein In the Big Wool and how do you think it informs what you bring to the business?

I live in San Francisco and before starting Little Skein, I was a program officer at a large California foundation for more than a decade. Foundation work is not easily explained, but the big picture is that I made grants to nonprofits around California that were (and are still) working to create positive social change.

My foundation work absolutely informs how I run Little Skein. My degree is in economics, so I’m particularly attuned to how I run my business. I talk a lot on social media about fair pay for makers, the importance of art, and making room at the table for everyone.

I believe the way a business operates adds something intangible and important to the final product.

An African American person holds a bouquet of colorful yarn

When did you decide to incorporate yarn?

I’ve always worked with other yarn dyers for my kits, but I started dyeing yarn myself about three years ago. I realized I was becoming increasingly involved in designing the colors, and I also had a vision of the final fabric I wanted. It became a passion for me to figure out how to make that vision come to life.

Like many knitters, I often fall in love with yarn that’s showy in the skein but doesn’t always create a fabric I enjoy. So, my journey in learning how to dye yarn was to create a yarn that makes a subtle and complex color of fabric—one that might look semi-solid from a distance, but up close would have little hints and gradations of color with itsy bitsy, random pops of intensity.

For the first year, I studied, experimented, and dyed only for myself. But now I have an outdoor dye kitchen (an essential in foggy San Francisco) and I do periodic Live streams on Instagram where I show what I’m dyeing. I still work with other dyers, but about 90% of the yarn I offer is now dyed by me.

Tell me about how your yarn is sourced and dyed.

I source my yarn from three mills: two in the U.S. and one in Canada. I’m especially interested in what each yarn will be used for: a sweater? socks? a shawl? I’ve chosen bases that are ideal for a particular purpose. I think my start as a sewist and project bag maker is a big influence. I’m interested in the fabric.

For example, my sock yarn, House Sock, is 90% American Targhee wool and 10% nylon. It’s different from the multi-purpose sock yarn that most dyers offer. Mine is especially perfect for socks. The Targhee wool is soft and sproingy when you knit with it, and it makes a plush, hard-wearing sock.

A woman knits with green yarn

When and how did you learn to knit?

It feels like I always knew how to knit. My Nonnie and grandmother knit, but their knitting was for utility. I remember knitting as a young adult, but it was when my son was about 2 that I felt this deep urge to make things for him. I picked up my needles to knit fruit for his play kitchen (I started with this strawberry!). Oddly enough, I didn’t feel daunted by the tiny stitches or knitting in the round. I just kept at it, and my boy’s delight at getting a new piece of “fruit” every few days was rocket fuel to me.

Then, I discovered Ravelry and, boom, down the rabbit hole I went!

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

If it involves making something by hand, I have probably tried it. I am a sewist, I draw, embroider, cross-stitch, play with polymer clay, and have recently begun block printing on fabric. (I’ll be debuting something special with my new block prints at the Rhinebeck trunk show!)

A project bag with a city skyline holds two skeins of gray and aqua speckled yarn

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

That it’s possible to do good and do well at the same time.

I believe that knitting, reading, and making things by hand is art, and art matters. Using your imagination ripples out into the world in powerful ways. Art changes you, and in turn you change the world for the better. (Not an original idea, though! This is from Neil Gaiman.)

I try to lead by example. I make sure that everyone who works with me is compensated and valued. I believe diversity makes our community better, and I believe in sliding over to make space at the table for everyone. This shows up in the causes I support, in the inspiration for some of my kits, and in discussions I lead on Instagram.