2019 Year In Review: Indie Untangled KAL

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A lilac sweater with a lacy yoke.

The 2019 Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show seems like it was ages ago, and also like it was just yesterday. For the second time, we organized a massive KAL with eight separate categories, which brought in more than 200 entries! I thought it was appropriate to share the randomly-selected winners as part of a Year In Review post. Hopefully some of these FOs will inspire your 2020 projects.

Pictured above is KnitCosette’s Love Note by tincanknits, which was one of the winners in the sweater category.

Shawl

Hat

Cowl

Poncho

Cables

Socks

Mitts/mittens/gloves

What to stash this week: Otterly adorable yarn

An otter with gray and brown yarn.

This month’s Knitting Our National Parks colorway from Kim of The Woolen Rabbit is inspired by this adorable photo of an otter at the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge. Everybody Otter Knit — which is much easier to pet than an actual otter! — will be available on two bases: Pearl, an 80/20 blend of Merino/nylon, and Wren, a DK-weight Superwash Merino.

You can preorder the yarn here through Friday, December 20; it will ship the last week of January. As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation.

A hand holds a white plastic bunny and silver and yellow plastic sheep.

Speaking of animals, Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations has added some sparkly friends to her menagerie of creature-shaped “end minders.”

A cake of blue gradient yarn with patterns.

The Yarnover Truck Happiness Gradient Yarn Club is open to new members. The second half of this club includes three packages with a gradient colorway from Apple Tree Knits, knit and crochet patterns and fun themed extras.

A maroon and taupe colorwork beanie.

Welcome the colder weather with Mona’s new Let It Snow hat pattern! This colorwork pattern is available in both tammy and beanie style.

Fuzzy teal yarn.

IU newcomer Lester of Prosper Yarns is obsessed with Goddess, her laceweight Kid Mohair/Merino.

White yarn speckled with green and red.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns has a new colourway called Festive Fun that is available to preorder.

Tahoma Vista Fiber Mill has a selection of mill-spun alpaca yarns in natural colors.

The FunHouse Cowl is a new customizable crochet design from ReVe Design Co.

Untangling Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Earlier this year, I had the honor of collaborating with Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs — along with Sarah of The Dye Project and Thao of Nerd Bird Makery — on the Rosé and Rambouillet kit.

Tamy published her first design, the Out of Winter shawl, on Ravelry in May 2016, and it shows off her skill at combining speckled and semisolid colorways of hand-dyed yarn. She also creates lovely garments with just semisolids. Her Dusky Rose shawl, which is now available individually as well as with the kit (of which there are only a few left), is one of those stunning shawl designs, and uniquely combines garter, brioche, short rows and slipped stitches in an elegant garment.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I really just decided to try my hand at it. I had modified a few cowls before but never really designed anything on my own, and so I figured I take the plunge and I haven’t stopped since.

How did you come up with Narrow Path Designs and why do you use it as your business name?

The name was actually chosen by my husband and it stems from Jesus’ words in the Bible in regards to entering by the narrow gate, meaning that He is the only way to salvation and so calling all people to come to Him. I love and am thankful for that and so I kept the name and added Designs to it.

A woman models a pink shawl.

Tami’s Dusky Rose shawl for the Rosé and Rambouillet collaboration.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I was taught in 2013 by my goddaughter and her siblings. I smile each time I think of those days and the many mistakes I made and how extremely patient these children were with me. 🙂 It took a while for me to understand (especially purling!), but I finally got it.

Do you do any crafts other than knitting?

Not at this moment, but I would like to start using my sewing machine. I got a vintage machine from a sweet friend, but haven’t really buckled down to use it yet.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Nature. Birds and other animals, plants and changing seasons. I love playing with different colors, and yet there are a few colors that always seem to end up in most of my designs.

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

I draw. Sometimes that means I’m drawing on a napkin if we’re out for dinner, or I have my handy notepad and pencil with me. 🙂 The design starts to form in my mind and then I start playing around with it on paper. I usually change the design as I’m knitting it and rarely ever stick to the original idea.

A multicolored triangular shawl

Tamy’s Milu shawl.

Do you think you’ll ever design sweaters or will you stick to accessories?

It’s definitely in the plan, but we’ll see what happens. 🙂

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

My favorite colors are yellow, rusty orange and shades of pink and peaches. They haven’t really changed since I first started and I would be surprised if they did, but you never know. 🙂

Post-Rhinebeck Untangling: Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs

Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs in gray sweater with a pink and red geometric yoke

Debra Gerhard models her Once Again sweater.

This is the 17th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs has a background as a designer, but not in fashion. For years she worked as an environmental engineer, addressing environmental impacts. These days, her design work involves taking hand-dyed yarn and turning them into colorful geometric sweaters and shawls with stripes, lace, cables and other textured stitches.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I was never one to follow a pattern exactly as written. I would usually use the pattern as a “guide” and then add my own shaping, motifs, edgings or other personal touches. A number of years ago after I left engineering to be home with my son, I started sample knitting for a few yarn companies which subsequently lead to technical editing of patterns. Around this same time, I took a few knitwear design classes at the Rhode Island School of Design.

I released my first design, Checks Mix Cowl, which was based on a swatch I had done for one of my classes. However, I didn’t release anything else for about two years after this initial design and instead spent my time doing more technical editing for a number of designers and yarn companies. I finally made the leap to mostly designing around 2017 and now I find myself struggling at times to turn out all the ideas I have in my head. I love the process, and I especially enjoy seeing knitters’ interpretations of my patterns and their use of color combinations and various yarn bases.

How has your background as an environmental engineer informed your work?

As an environmental engineer, I would be charged with designing and applying the best remedy for addressing environmental impacts. And just as each impacted site presented a unique set of issues, I find that the processes I used to identity these issues and form a solution are very similar to the processes I use in my designing. I have also found that my love of math is deeply ingrained in designing and grading. I love to see the numbers unfold, and I enjoy applying geometrical concepts to some of my shawl designs.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

I take my inspiration from a variety of sources: an architectural detail, a colorful sunset, a spider web I may spy when out for a hike, bark on a tree, nature, found objects and many other sources. I have been known to tell my hubby to “pull over” so that I can take a picture of something that inspires me. I am drawn to color and patterns. I like to create colorful knits that fuel the imagination of each knitter and hopefully inspires them make my pattern their own.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My mom taught me how to knit when I was 10. My mom knits continental style, which suited me fine as I am left handed. I started with the garter stitch scarf and seamed hat as my first knitting items and continued with more hats and a few mittens. I didn’t knit much during junior high and high school, but in college I picked it up again and knitted the “boyfriend” sweater. I started to seriously knit in my late 20s after getting married, and I haven’t stopped since that time.

A pink speckled lace shawl.

Sunrise Over Bryce for Knitting Our National Parks.

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

After deciding on yarn, I will make a large swatch of the design/motif that I have in mind to see how the colors play together and to get gauge. Once I’ve gotten gauge, I will work up the numbers and write out a draft of the pattern, including any charts, if needed. I like to have the pattern completed as much as possible before I begin knitting so that I am in a sense, “testing” my own design and I have the ability to make edits as I knit.

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

My favorite colors are purples, reds and other rich, saturated colors, and that hasn’t changed much. I also like the playfulness of speckled yarn with the surprising pops of color. Additionally, I am just starting to explore the color and textural effects of working with two strands of yarn, specifically a mohair/silk base coupled with a Merino base.

Meet Grace, Espace Tricot’s newest addition

Lisa and Melissa of Espace Tricot

This is the 16th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Espace Tricot is a modern yarn shop located in Montreal, Canada, and owners Lisa Di Fruscia and Melissa Clulow recently began venturing beyond its carefully curated selection of yarns, notions, accessories, books and patterns, and established its own hand-dyed yarn line.

Their newest addition is Grace, a singly-ply Merino. Working with local hand-dyer Annie Paaren, Lisa and Melissa created a palette of 28 colors, designed to reflect the unique atmosphere both of Montreal and the store. The name Grace is inspired by both the luxury of the Merino/silk/Cashmere blend and Espace Tricot’s location in the neighborhood of Notre-Dâme-de-Grace.

Colorful skeins of yarn.

The color palette ranges from essential neutrals through moody hues and perfectly balanced brights. All the colors are inspired by Melissa and Lisa’s aesthetic as shop owners and knitters, and include the shades they have been drawn to knit with over the years. Annie combined their input with her own dyeing expertise to craft a cohesive and complex palette.

Grace is ideal for sweaters, such as Espace Tricot’s Gracious sweater, as well as “one-skein-wonder” patterns. You can also hold it with a mohair/silk blend for projects like the Bonjour/Hi cowl and Frankie sweater.

In naming the colors, Lisa and Melissa wanted to reflect Montreal’s geography, architecture and history, along with Quebec’s culture and identity:

The warmth of Opéra and Truffle recalls lazy strolls along Montreal’s quirky streets of brick terraces. Take a cosy walk on Mount Royal in fall with the bold autumnal colors of Érable and Sous-bois. Revel in the frolics of Cirque du Soleil with Cirque. Bask in the bright summer sun by the river with the dappled tones of Printemps and Nuage. Adventure out east to take in the beauty of the Gulf of St Lawrence with Tadoussac, Baleine, and Madeleine. Or dress up in your most low-key glamorous “I woke up like this” neutrals for a stylish lunch in the Old Port in Leonard and Chateau.

And of course, don’t miss a trip to Espace Tricot’s brick-and-mortar store, where the staff will greet you with a friendly “Bonjour/Hi!” in a nod to Montreal’s bilingual spirit. You might even bump into Les Filles – “the girls” Lisa and Melissa themselves.

You can also meet them virtually on their YouTube channel.

What to stash this week: Autumn Light

Skeins of purple hand-dyed yarn

Anne of Little Skein In the Big Wool has opened preorders for Autumn Light, her show colorway for the upcoming Indie Untangled on October 18. If you have tickets to Indie Untangled, you can pick up your skeins at the show. If you don’t have tickets, you can preorder and Anne will dye and ship your skein when she returns to the West Coast to ship to you in November.

Advertisement for the 8th annual Kings County Fiber Festival on October 12, 2019.

For the past several years, I have also enjoyed attending the Kings County Fiber Festival, an annual event organized by my Brooklyn neighbor Maxcine DeGouttes. The backdrop is the historic Old Stone House of Brooklyn, located in the picturesque Park Slope neighborhood. The eighth annual event, which takes place on Saturday, October 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., includes a variety of indie vendors, including dyers, felters, knitters, crocheters, quilters, spinners and weavers. This year’s event will also feature a talk and exhibit by crochet artist Nacinimod Deodee, moderated by textile developer Sahara Briscoe of Super String Theory Design. There will also be a collection for donations of handmade hats for the homeless.

An advertisement for preorders of Teal Torch Knits Advent calendar.

Christina of Teal Torch Knits has extended the deadline for her Advent calendar preorders to October 6. The 12-day and 24-day calendar options are inspired by her child’s favorite books. 

Skeins of peach yarn.

IU newcomer Dana of Un Besito Fiber has dyed up her Swoon DK base in time for sweater season. Swoon DK is a 75/25 Superwash Merino/Mulberry silk blend and it’s 15% off during the month of October with the code UNTANGLED.

Skeins of golden brown and pale pink yarn.

Rachelle of Moondrake Co. is also ready for sweater season with a variety of bases and weights for your sweater-knitting or crocheting needs. Rachelle is also available for color consultations if you need help deciding.

Skeins of bright blue, green and purple yarn.

Lisa The Knitting Artist is celebrating fall with a new yarn. Her Silky Single is a 70/30 blend of Superwash Merino and Mulberry silk in fingering weight, dyed in all of her painting-inspired colorways. She’s offering 20% off all Silky Single yarn through October 1.

A colorwork cowl made with purple, pink and aqua yarn.

Joan of White Lies Designs’ latest kit is a colorwork cowl with a stitch pattern taken from an antique book of Russian embroidery motifs that she translated into knitting charts. Her sample uses a solid cashmere with a hand-painted colorway, held double for a quick and cozy knit.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Stephen West

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Stephen West holds up a pink striped shawl

Stephen models his Mohairino Medley shawl. Photo by Darren Smith.

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

If you were asked to compile a list of rockstar knitwear designers, Stephen West would most likely be at the top of it. The Tulsa, Oklahoma, native, who has a background in dance, brings a performer’s creativity to his work, and has seen Bowie-esque transformations, starting with subdued designs like his Boneyard Shawl, transitioning to edgier pieces, such as Transatlantic from his Westknits Book Two, and then to Shrowls and Ribbed Dickeys, and more recently to incredibly complex brioche lace.

Recently, Stephen collaborated with Malia Mae Joseph, the co-owner of the Stephen & Penelope yarn shop in Amsterdam, which Malia originally founded, to release West Wool, a line of non-Superwash yarn comprised of Falkland Merino and Texel, a breed of domestic sheep originally from the island of Texel in the Netherlands.

We’re also excited to have Stephen as the special guest for the Indie Untangled after party at the appropriately-named Dutch Ale House in downtown Saugerties! He’ll be at the 6 p.m. dinner seating to hang out and take photos. Tickets are limited and available here.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I began designing knitting patterns ten years ago after the owner of my first local yarn shop, Klose Knit, in Urbana, IL, asked me to write a simple pattern during the local Boneyard Arts Festival. I named that first shawl the Boneyard Shawl and started designing simple hats and shawls during that first year of designing patterns. I love the interaction of sharing a design and seeing the colorful variations when knitters customize the patterns and make them their own. I began by modifying patterns which taught me a lot about construction and simple math modifications to existing patterns. Once I started to design my own patterns, my mind couldn’t stop racing with ideas so it was a great fit for me.

How does your background in dance inform your work?

I was very improvisational as a dancer and I also improvise most of my designs while I knit. Sometimes I start a piece thinking it will be a hat or a cowl and it evolves into a modular shawl or sweater. I always loved to create and compose my own dances and that joy and passion for creating something from scratch translated into all of my knit shawls and sweaters. When I was dancing and performing more, I always had down time between rehearsals and performances which I filled with knitting.

Stephen West models a multicolor striped shawl

A collage of Stephen modeling his Cozy Corner Shawl. Artwork by Stefan Gunnesch.

Your aesthetic has changed since your early days of designing, transitioning from neutrals, greens and mustards to bright pops of color. How did that transformation come about?

I have always been fascinated with color, but I started embracing more vibrant colors after I moved to Amsterdam and started collaborating with other artists like my friend Alexandra Feo, a talented photographer, dancer, and knitter from Venezuela. We began collaborating on Westknits photos and approached them with a more mindful planning process. We ebraced fashion, styling, and makeup combined with the knitwear to produce more dynamic images. That was around 2013. That year sparked a joyful shift in my approach to combining colors and I was also traveling much more after that collecting inspiration around Europe and during my visits to Iceland. Soon after, I encountered the work of Belgian fashion designer Walter van Beirendonck. He continues to be an inspiration to me with his vivid use of color and unapologetic style in the fashion world. Yarn companies and hand dyers are always coming out with new colors. I start most of my designs with the yarn first, so yarn heavily influences my evolving design style.

On a related note, what are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?

I love yellow, especially golden yellow. Currently, my favorite color is anything fluffy. I love mohair and brushed alpaca yarns.

A model shows off a lacey brioche shawl.

Stephen’s Suriously Holey shawl. Photo by Yunfei Ren.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Yarn yarn yarn. I have a colorful cabinet of yarn at home where I start most of my designs. Quite often I’ll create the first prototype of a design with a dozen or more colors. Then, I’ll look at the design and rework it with a more focused color palette. I play a lot with theme and variation so many designs are based off of previous explorations in short rows, and graphic striped effects.

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

I try to write down the pattern while I knit. I used to not write my patterns down the first time so I always re-knit them a second time. I’m getting better at writing patterns down while I knit to save time.

West Wool Bicycle yarn in grey, light blue, gold, light pink and bright blue.

West Wool Bicycle yarn. Photo by Darren Smith.

How did the development of West Wool come about?

Malia and I wanted to create a yarn for our store in Amsterdam and one that we could take to shows as well and something missing from our shop collection was an extensive solid range of non-superwash wool. We wanted a soft fiber that maintains structure and stitch definition so we chose a Falkland Merino blended with 10% Texel which is a Dutch sheep breed. Texel wool is quite toothy and give a little bite and loftiness to the soft merino wool. We debuted West Wool earlier this year in Bicycle, a fingering weight yarn with two plies gently twisted around each other, and a more bouncy DK weight yarn called Tandem. I particularly love Tandem because the stitch definition is so crisp and squishy. We can’t wait to release more colors and bases in the future.

What are some interesting things you learned when creating your yarn line?

We learned that two people with totally different color tastes can put a beautiful collection of yarn together. Malia has a super sophisticated approach to color and loves gray so you will see six shades of gray and some subtle and saturated tones throughout the palette. I always love a vibrant color pop so we injected some statement colors to balance out the neutrals. We are excited to expand the color range to make even more complex color combinations for stranded knitting and striped projects. We both had some yarn production ideas years ago that were never fully realized so we’re glad we waited until now to create our dream yarn just the way we wanted to do it.

We’ve learned to be very patient and thoughtful throughout the process to not rush anything too quickly. I try to carry these lessons through into my design work these days too. I used to be more quick and immediate with my decisions and design process, but now I let ideas simmer and cook longer until they are more mature and developed. The end result is always something I’m more proud of and I have fewer regrets these days. I rarely regret not doing something these days. Developing big projects like West Wool together with Malia or creating my Westknits books is an exercise in patience because there are so many components that go into the final product, but the beautiful result is always worth it in the end.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned to knit when I was sixteen years old from some friends in high school while we were rehearsing a school musical. I carried knitting with me everywhere from the beginning and became the knitting guy in high school. I haven’t put my needles down since.

2018 Year In Review: IU dyers and yarns

I get so much inspiration from the knitters who find wonderful things to make with hand-dyed yarn — especially when they get creative and combine yarns from different indie dyers in colorwork projects, or find the perfect pattern for that semisolid or speckled colorway. Here’s a compilation of my favorite projects using yarn from Indie Untangled artisans.

Above is perhaps my favorite project of the year, Vicki’s All Points South with Dark Harbour Yarn Starboard, Duck Duck Wool Silky Singleton and The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers Foxy Lady. I love how the four colorways from three different dyers look meant for each other (and I definitely looked to Vicki’s pullover shawl, as the designer Casapinka calls it, as inspiration when knitting my version with Duck Duck Wool.

Mary’s Heart of Glass with Duck Duck Wool 80/20 Merino Silk Fingering

Carol’s Tulle Shawl with Spun Right Round Superwash Sock 80/20

Lavanya’s Rue St. Antoine with Astral Bath Yarns Astral Sport

Amanda’s Beeline with Marianated Yarns Scrumptious HT

Karen’s Yin & Yang Loop with Middle Brook Fiberworks Vintage No. 3

Jenn’s Stripey Cowl with Canon Hand Dyes Charles Sock

Elizabeth’s Sunset Highway with Hue Loco Single Sock, Skeinny Dipping Merino Single and Voolenvine Yarns Nouveau

Kate’s Guthrie with Spincycle Yarns Dyed in the Wool and The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers Juicy DK — which won the 2018 Indie Untangled KAL

2018 Year In Review: IU exclusives

One of the best things about running Indie Untangled is getting to work with talented dyers to come up with exclusive colorways, whether it’s for the Rhinebeck Trunk Show, the Knitting Our National Parks project or the Where We Knit yarn club. And while I love collecting hand-dyed yarn as much as the next knitter, I truly enjoy seeing those colorways put to use in beautiful sweaters, shawls, cowls and more.

For the 2018 Indie Untangled Year In Review, I’ve compiled some of my favorite projects that use Indie Untangled exclusives.

Pictured above is Cecilia’s Sunset Highway with La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in Automne à Rhinebeck, Asylum Fibers Solitary in Rhinebeck’s All The Craze, Dark Harbour Yarn Port in Davy Jones Locker and La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in Yellow Brick Road

Aimee’s Rainshadow in La Bien Aimée Merino Singles Kingston and Hudson

Janet’s Local Yarn Shawl with The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers Foxy Lady in Kiowa

Kelly’s Glaciers and Wildflowers Pullover with Duck Duck Wool DK Limited in Glaciers and Wildflowers

Tawana’s The Doodler with La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in Automne à Rhinebeck and Asylum Fibers Solitary in Rhinebeck’s All The Craze and Sleepless

Deborah’s Do It Up with Gauge Dye Works SHAWL: MCN Fingering in Hudson Valley

Jerrill’s Birds and Ships with Little Fox Yarn Vixen in Birds and Ships

Amy’s Close To You with Asylum Fibers Solitary in Acadia Lights

Abigail’s Concentra Cowl with Backyard Fiberworks Terrain in North Cascades Night and Merino 2/6

Maggie’s Lemon Pie with La Bien Aimée Merino DK in Automne à Rhinebeck

See many more FO’s using yarn from Indie Untangled dyers here.

What to knit with fingering yarn and stranded mohair

I have to admit, I’m warming up to mohair. Because it makes me itchy, I never sought it out. But after Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks showed me the photos of her yarn for this month’s installment of Knitting Our National Parks — the speckled Winter Wizardry and complementary mohair called Wizard Sky — I knew I had to have it in my stash.

Now, after researching all the new patterns popping up that incorporate mohair, and seeing Jennifer’s beautiful swatch using the two yarns stranded together, I realized I just have to knit with it!

Here are some pattern suggestions for using the two yarns together, in everything from hats to sweaters.

Hats

Sparkling Cider by Voolenvine

Azurine Hat by Ambah O’Brien

Hyde Park by Dragon Hoard Designs

úlfur hat by ash alberg

Cowls/ponchos

Ballerina by Julie Knits In Paris

Azurine Cowl by Ambah O’Brien

Speckled Snow by Lucinda Iglesias

Shawls

Birds of a Feather by Andrea Mowry

Fallen Leaves by Justyna Lorkowska

Growing Lilies by Webster Street Knittery

Merino & Mohair Shawl by Sarah Punderson

Slice of Light by Susanne Sommer (with another color of fingering)

Sweaters – Pullovers

Chelsea Sweater by Nancy Ricci

No Frills Sweater by PetiteKnit

Ambient by eri

Sweaters – Cardigans

Scapa by Alma Bali

Elton by Joji Locatelli

See all the suggestions on Ravelry.