Untangling C.C. Almon of Javapurl Designs

C.C. wearing her A Walk in the Park Cowl.

Knitting and caffeine seem to go together like, well, yarn and needles. C.C. Almon of Javapurl Designs takes that to the next level with her designs, many of them coffee related, or with a geeky twist. There’s also a bit of Gilmore Girls thrown in (again, coffee) as she often collaborates on collections with her daughter, Dami.

C.C. also often works with dyer Julia of Pandia’s Jewels, and for this year’s Where We Knit yarn club, she created two items: her Brackett’s Landing socks and cowl are now available to purchase.

When and how did you learn to knit and how did you decide to become a designer?

I’ve always been crafty having grown up with a great-grandmother who did needlework, a grandmother who painted and sewed and a momma who did lots of crafts including cross stitch. I dabbled in lots of crafts over the years, but had always wanted to learn to knit. Why? I’m not sure. I didn’t know anyone who knit. It was just always calling to me.

So I finally answered the call in 2005 when I purchase a Learn to Knit kit from a big box store. I was instantly in love! The first few years, I knit mostly blankets and hats.

Things exploded in 2012 when I took a sock knitting class. In 2013, I released my first big pattern (Rescue Me, Chin Boy, & Show Me the Stars – a Doctor Who-inspired Socks) after I was gifted a gorgeous skein of yarn that I knew needed to be a certain pattern, but I couldn’t locate one, so I made it up.

Since then, I’ve designed 60 patterns (mainly socks, but also shawls, cowls, and a few miscellaneous things).

What did you do before becoming a designer and how does it inform your design work?

My final job before I became disabled was as a hospital chaplain. My primary unit was the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I desperately miss working with those wee babes and their families. As a way to continue to bless them, I designed my Top Down Preemie Hat pattern (free on Ravelry) with seven sizes from 24 weeks to full-term. Since 2014, I have knit one preemie hat each week which I then donate to a local hospital.

How did you decide to team up with your daughter, Dami, and how do you work together on your designs?

My Dami (she’s 19 years old and a freshman in college) is a prolific knitter. For a couple of years, she helped me by knitting the samples for my designs. In 2016, she had an idea for a pair of socks inspired by the TV show Elementary. Once she designed those, she continued with eight further patterns and she is now working on a collection of patterns inspired by one of her favourite musicals, Hadestown. We haven’t both collaborated on singular designs, but rather design our own things that then come together in a collection or book.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Our pattern design inspirations range from geeky things like Doctor Who and Elementary, to TV shows such as Gilmore Girls and Outlander, to coffee, to colourways that demanded to be something, to locations such as the city of Edinburgh, and more.

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

I need to connect to the specific thing that inspires me (whether it’s a TV show or a colourway or a location or a coffee drink) first and then the design flows out of that.

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

PINK!!!!!!!!!! Always PINK!!!!!! (Although I have surprised some people recently by sharing that my second favourite colour is orange, not bright orange, but rather that autumnal burnt orange.) I love PINK so much that we designed an entire book inspired by the colour (Tickled PINK ~ two designers, four indie dyers, eight PINK-tastic patterns).

ks.jpg” alt=”” width=”700″ height=”700″ class=”size-full wp-image-15447″ /> I Love You More Than Pumpkin Spice Socks

Where is your favorite place to knit?

In a coffeeshop with a cuppa coffee (what kind varies by the season, pumpkin spice lattes are my absolute favourite) with either a good friend to chat with or a good book to read or an intriguing podcast to listen to.

What to stash this week: a knitting journey

I’m thrilled to open sign-ups today for the 2019 Where We Knit Yarn Club. This quarterly club, which will begin shipping in February, brings together four dyer/designer dream teams: Life In the Long Grass and Cassondra Rizzardi of Rizzaknits, Martin’s Lab and Justyna Lorkowska of Lete’s Knits, Asylum Fibers and Woolly Wormhead and Fuse Fiber Studio and Mina Philipp of Knitting Expat Designs.

Each pair will collaborate on an exclusive colorway and an accompanying accessory design inspired by their favorite spots to whip out their WIPs. Their inspiration photos are shown in the image above, clockwise from top left; both cozying up with a tasty beverage and travel knitting are represented. (I also got a little peek at the cocktail-inspired colorway that Caroline of LITLG has been working on for the first installment, and can honestly say you do not want to miss getting your hands on it!)

Speaking of awesome yarn clubs, here’s one not to be missed. Diane is collaborating with Louis of Brooklyn Boy Knits, Amanda of Brown Gyrls Knit, Thao of Nerd Bird Makery and Coffee by Kee — all amazing men and women of color who have been dedicated to promoting diversity in craft — for a Winter Solstice Yarn Club. You’ll receive a skein of worsted weight yarn dyed by Diane, an exclusive knitting pattern by Louis, stitch markers by Amanda, an enamel pin by Thao and a choice of coffee or tea, plus a surprise item. Sign-ups close this Wednesday, November 21.

A beloved fabric from Slipped Stitch Studios’ past is back, with a new spin. The Ghastlies have returned, and this time they have yarn! Bags and accessories in these two fabrics, along with yarns from Skeino, vintage embroidery scissors and stitch kits, are available starting today at 9 a.m. Pacific time.

Every day is Small Business Saturday at FiberCrafty! The fiber marketplace is having a full weeklong frenzy, with plenty of shops offering coupon codes, free shipping and other goodies.

Stephanie of Rock Solid Designs did an awesome collaboration with Jenna of Fiberrarium for Knitter’s Day Out in Harrisburg and there are a few of these Sloth sets still available. They include a medium project bag and a skein of Fiberrarium Conservatory Sock (a 90/10 Merino/nylon blend).

‘Tis the season for Julia of Pandia’s Jewels to create another seasonal sock kit based on C.C. Almon’s Peppermint Mocha Sock pattern. Each kit includes a skein of Julia’s Snug base in the Peppermint Mocha colorway, a Ravelry pattern download code and this cute hand-stamped progress keeper.

Victoria has released two new patterns for her lovely yarns. Above is the Laverton shawl, which brings together three Eden Cottage yarns to create a beautiful, wearable piece. There’s also the Gatekeeper cowl, a simple, quick-to-knit cowl designed to make the most of a single skein of Pendle Aran. 

No need to be afraid of these three ghostly colorways from Holly and Ivy, inspired by A Christmas Carol. Ghost of Christmas Past is a golden yellow that captures the warm glow of a candle, Ghost of Christmas Present is the rich pine green of the second spirit’s velvet robes and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a dark blood red.

Shanna of Lambstrings Yarn also has some holiday colorways, and they are far from traditional. Her two holiday sock sets are mystery packages inspired by either Krampus or Saint Nick. Each set will contain a full skein of Tralala Sock and two mini skeins in contrasting heel/toe/cuff colorways. Preorders close next Friday.

Purple Lamb Fiber Arts has created Twelve Days of Christmas mini skein sets.

What to stash this week: Fall pairings

Kate and her crew at Dragonfly Fibers are gearing up for a busy fall, with New York Sheep and Wool, SAFF, STITCHES SoCal (they’ll be featured there on the Yarnover Truck there) and local trunk shows. They’ve also prepared some amazing kits for Andrea Mowry’s The Throwback and Catherine Clark’s Ixchel Pullover. And, they’re giving back: above is a new colorway, called Carolina, and 25% of their sales through December will go to the organization Global Giving, which is helping with Hurricane Florence relief, among many other projects.

Marian of Marianated Yarns has collaborated with Carolyn Bloom of of Bloom Handmade Studio on Marilyn’s Cowl and Hat, which are both knit holding multiple strands of different yarns: two strands of Marianated Yarns Ava Lace together with one strand of Aerie (mohair/silk lace) and one strand from an MCN gradient set. Marian has made kits available in several different colors and a KAL will be held in Carolyn’s Ravelry group starting October 8.

Marian has also collaborated with Katy Carroll of Katinka Designs in celebration of Knitmas. There are two Knitmas kits, one for a shawl and one for a poncho, available for preorder.

Designer Barbara Benson collaborated with The Fiber Seed on Every Witch Way, an innovative lace shawl that uses a single skein of yarn. A two-panel, top-down triangle version uses yarn with one of The Fiber Seed’s dye techniques, while the three-panel, 3/4 square version uses another.

Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. has opened signups for the Jane Eyre installment of the McMullin Fiber Co. Literature Society. Single dose packages will contain one skein of yarn and some extra goodies inspired by the novel, while double dose packages come with two skeins.

Woodsy and Wild’s new Sapling bag and Maple tote are perfect for winter accessory knitting and sweater knitting/fiber festival season! Both will be in Shannon’s shop this Sunday at 8 p.m. Eastern.

Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations has updated her shop with a collection of shawl pins perfect for keeping your latest hand knit in place on crisp fall evenings.

Winter is coming… so get your Sheep Squeezers. Nicole of One Sock Wonder Bags has limited quantities of Sheep Squeezers, which hold your yarn cakes in place, with a Game of Thrones-inspired design by Bulgarian artist Karamfila Siderova.

Heather Anderson’s Knitting in the City KAL kicks off October 1 and includes seven city-themed patterns: four shawls, two cowls and a pair of mittens. The latest pattern, Amsterdam Canals Cowl, is 25% off through Sunday.

My Mama Knits has a new set of Halloween colorways, including the newest addition to her Scottish Myths and Legends series, The Gorbals Vampire. Her Advent calendars have also started shipping out.

Canon Hand Dyes is now taking preorders for Outlander minis sets.

Samantha Guerin has released Eastern Glow, a crescent shawl that uses two skeins of fingering weight yarn.

Introducing Indie Untangled newcomer Humble Pie Design.

What to stash this week: Leaving Olympic National Park

Today is the last day to preorder Hazel Knits’ stunning Sol Duc Valley colorway for the Knitting Our National Parks Project. The yarn takes its name and inspiration from the Sol Duc rainforest at Olympic National Park. Here’s a new pic of it all knitted up!

Stephanie of Rock Solid Designs has added a new twist to the project bag and come up with a brilliant solution to the “yarn/zipper dilemma.” Her box bag, called the Kellie bag, uses sturdy plastic snaps instead of zippers, to help keep your yarn from running away, but avoiding snags. Best of all — the snaps also serve as built-in yarn guides, allowing you to separate multiple strands of yarn for colorwork projects or when you’re alternating skeins in a sweater.

Is there a slight chill in the air? That means it’s almost PSL (pumpkin spice latte) time! Sheila of Big Foot Fibers has just updated her shop with limited-edition, piping hot PSL mini skein sets.

It’s Porterness Studio’s birthday and Jen is celebrating with a sale! Get a generous 25% off through August 31 with the code IndieBday25. If you make a purchase over $40 you will get a free “There Will Be Cake” pin!

Like most of us, Sarah of QCC Yarn is also in an autumn state of mind. In addition to new fall colors, she also now has three new yarn bases available: Floofy Cat (80% Superwash Merino/20% nylon) and Forlorn Cat (80% Superwash British BFL/20% nylon), both of which are 2-ply fingering weight yarns, and Cat-Mandu, a 3-ply fingering weight yarn that’s a blend of 70% Superwash Merino, 20% yak and 10% nylon, with colors dyed on a natural grey base.

Karen of Round Table Yarns has teamed up with Tim Stephens of Periodic Knits to create a We Knit in Texas Cowl kit to raise money for the Unite for Bleeding Disorders Walk, which benefits the local Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the Texas Central Hemophilia Association. It’s available in your choice of red, white or blue yarn and $17 of your purchase will be donated to the Texas Central Hemophilia Association.

Stomp on over to the Slipped Stitch Studios website. A fun dinosaur update goes live today at 9 a.m. Pacific time. 

Eden Cottage’s next update goes live on Wednesday, August 29 and includes her Titus 4ply base, a luxurious blend of Superwash Merino and mulberry silk, perfect for shawls and sweaters alike.

Do you believe in fairies? Either way, you’ll be enchanted by Baad Mom Yarns’ new Woodland Fairy Collection of colorways, which includes Enchanted Forest, pictured above.

Wolle’s Yarn Creations’ newest yarn line is called TONALS, a unique creation that is part gradient, part ombre, part heather on a super soft 100% cotton fingering weight base. 

Mad Science Yarn has experimented with a special fall 2018 colorway.

What to stash this week: Go for the green

For the latest installment of Knitting Our National Parks, Wendee of Hazel Knits is taking us on a road trip to Olympic National Park, just a few hours from her Seattle studio. Photographer Adam Jewell captured this stunning image of sunlight filtered through the trees at the park’s Sol Duc rainforest and Wendee perfectly picks up the bark peeking through the moss and greenery in her colorway, which is available to preorder here on two bases hrough Friday, August 24. As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation.

If you’re a planner like me, then you know it’s almost Halloween. Slipped Stitch Studios has special Nightmare Before Christmas treats and other ghoulish delights on sale today at 9 a.m. Pacific time. They will only be available through Monday at midnight and will ship in time to tote around your fall projects.

Speaking of Halloween, Wild Hair Studio is creating a bag of fiber treats inspired by the sweets that Hogwarts students procured during their special Hogsmead Weekends. Hogsmead Treat Bags will include an assortment of limited-edition fiber — a combination of batts, smidgens and custom-blended roving — inspired by candy from Honeydukes. Preorders will be open until September 20.

Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations is hosting a MKAL of a shawl called In The Rough. She encourages you to polish your knitting skills with cables, lace, beading and slipped-stitch techniques. You can preorder the pattern, yarn, beading tool and beads now before the first clue is released on Labor Day.

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has once again teamed up with designer C.C. Almon of Java Purl Designs to bring you an Outlander Wrap Kit. The kit, inspired by book 4 of the Outlander series, will include a skein of Bauble Heavy Lace in the colorway Nothing is Lost, a tote bag, a spiral notebook, stitch markers and a Ravelry pattern download code. Preorders are open until August 19.

One of Melanie’s (and my!) favorite movies growing up was The Sound of Music. In honor of the classic musical, she’s teamed up with Lina from Lina Knits to create a My Favorite Things Cowl kit. The cowl, and kit, features colorways inspired by popular scenes from the movie. Each kit comes with one 50g skein and five 10g skeins, along with the pattern.

Marianated Yarns will be at the Lancaster Fiber Festival next weekend. She also has a giveaway with prizes that include a day pass, class or mini skein kit for Casapinka’s Crown Wools MKAL going on now.

IU newcomer Heather’s Yarn Barn has plenty of fun fall colorways, including Fall Fusion, pictured above, with teal covering one half of the skein and specks of teal, plum, mustard and golden orange on the other.

Untangling SweaterFreak Knits

While I tend to discover most designers and patterns on Ravelry, I actually learned about Jenny of SweaterFreak Knits via Instagram. I was drawn to her modern, clean aesthetic and the use of subtle speckles in many of her shawls.

Despite her name, I approached her about pairing up with Nicole of Hue Loco to design a one-skein accessory pattern for the Indie Untangled Where We Knit yarn club. The result was Nicole’s Chelsea Park Cowl, a lovely shawl/cowl hybrid that looks so easy to throw on with a spring outfit. It is now available to purchase by non-club members.

Read on to learn more about Jenny’s career as a designer and about how the cowl got its name.

How did you decide to become a designer?

It happened organically. I have always preferred to knit things out of my head and after plenty of encouragement from Ravelry community, I started writing up the instructions to my ideas which became patterns.

Is there anything from your software developer side that transfers over to design?

Actually, it’s a great question and the answer is yes! Software development is all about planning and details which is very similar to knitwear design. The math behind grading requires quite a bit of focus and attention to detail. Similarly, writing the pattern is akin to writing code – both essentially are a list of instructions. You will find that many designers were involved in tech before they started designing because it really does employ the same part of the brain.

How did you come up with SweaterFreak Knits and why do you use it as your designer name?

My very first project after a long hiatus was a sweater. Wanting specific sweaters really was the reason that I picked up the needles again. This was back in 2006 and in 2007 Ravelry made its debut. I chose SweaterFreak as my nick and of course I had no idea I will end designing knitwear! In 2011 when I released my first pattern, I considered changing the moniker but since so many people knew me already I decided to keep it.

Jenny’s latest pattern, White Light.


When and how did you learn to knit?

I learned how to knit in 1985 when I was 7 years old. My maternal grandmother, Rivkah, taught me and I liked it right away. She was an avid crafter and actually preferred to crochet but she taught me both. We also share total love for yarn! She had a sizable stash and I grew up with lots of fabric and yarn around me. Most of my family two generations back were dress makers so I feel that making clothes with my hands is really something I am meant to be doing.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

It’s a bit of everything – sometimes I get a particular idea in my head, maybe from seeing it somewhere or just something I have wanted for awhile. I love browsing fashion magazines and see the clothing evolve. My personal favorite decade is the ‘60s which has lots of different elements – classic tailored pieces as well as boho-hippie style ones. I love both equally. Often times, the yarn itself starts everything in motion. For example, when you touch hearty unprocessed wool, you think fair isle.

The Vegas top.

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

The first step is to sketch it. This usually gives me a good idea of what garment or accessory is going to look like, what kind of shaping it will involve. Sometimes, I use colored pencils to sketch, if the design is colorful.

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

My absolutely favorite color is blue – all shades of it, except periwinkle. It hasn’t really changed. I also love various shades of grey, green and natural. Lately, I have really gotten into yellow and mustard colors – they just look so smashing with grey!

Jenny’s most popular pattern is her Everyday Shawl.

Where is your favorite place to knit?

Definitely outside, either in the park (closest to me is Chelsea Park!) or on the beach, or even my backyard! Somehow the combination of fresh air, warm wind and wool in my lap equals heaven. I could do this forever!

Your indie shopping guide to the 2018 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

I’ve always thought of the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival as the more low-key fiber festival. Aside from the fact that I’m not organizing a massive Friday trunk show (I leave that to Cathy and Heather, the owners of The Knot House), there’s no “Maryland sweater” to knit because it’s usually not sweater weather, last year being the exception.

However, as I’ve been putting together the shopping guide for the weekend, I’ve realized that the stashing temptation is anything but low key.

Here’s a roundup of the Indie Untangled vendors at both the pop-up at The Knot House and the Howard County Fairgrounds, and a peek at just some of the goodies they’ll be bringing.

I plan to be at the festival on Saturday, sporting a new shawl by Deb Gerhard that she designed with Into the Whirled’s Bryce Canyon-inspired Knitting Our National Parks colorway, which you can see below. I’ll be at the ITW booth at 12:30 p.m. for an Indie Untangled meetup, and you can see the yarn and the design in person. Hope to see you there!

THE KNOT HOUSE INDIE POP-UP

This is the fourth-annual indie pop-up that Cathy and Heather are throwing. In the spirit of the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show, it brings together a collection of dyers and makers from around North America. Unlike the IU Rhinebeck show, it runs all weekend, with a preview party on Friday night from 5 to 9 p.m.

Duck Duck Wool

Sandra, who is based in nearby Virginia, will have some of the Indie Untangled Knitting Our National Parks colorway, Glaciers and Wildflowers (pictured above), on hand, along with her famous speckled skeins.

Julie Asselin

Julie hails from Montreal, with a beautiful palette of dreamy semisolids and subtle speckles.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are Good Morning Fredrick, an event exclusive, a Nuances set (five 28-gram mini skeins of Leizu Superwash Merino/silk fingering) in Pivoines, and a selection of colorways.

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

Candice will be coming to the show all the way from Montana, bringing her soft, Western-inspired colorways.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are Half Breed, Heartbreak Hotel and Paul Newman in Foxy Lady (70% Merino/30% silk), Monarch in Mighty Mo (70% kid mohair/30% Mulberry silk), and Gary Cooper and Are You Sure Hank Done It That Way on Foxy Lady.

Little Fox Yarn

Aimee is another Virgina-based dyer, known for her beautiful semisolids.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are Old Favorite, Loganberry on Vixen (Superwash Merino and silk fingering), various colors of Vixen, and her Blue Boy, Silver Birch and Deep Water colorways.

That Clever Clementine

Vicki sews her adorable and functional project bags in Maryland. She will bring a variety of zipper bags, including some made with a sparkly linen fabric that is perfect for showing off your fiber flare.

There will also be yarn from South Carolina’s Autumn and Indigo, Connecticut’s Nice and Knit, Periwinkle Sheep from Albany, N.Y., and Swift Yarns from New York City.

THE FESTIVAL

See the festival map here.

Backyard Fiberworks

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C4

Alice, who is based in Silver Spring Maryland, will be bringing her popular semisolid and speckled colorways and mini-skein kits.

In the first image, pictured clockwise from the top left are Backyard Fiberworks Sock in Urchin, Stormcloud, the Spiced Cider mini skein set, and Mallow.

Bare Naked Wools/Knitspot

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C28

Famed designer Anne Hanson will be bringing stunning samples made with her line of custom-milled yarns that show off the natural creams, browns, and greys.

Pictured above is the Deep Dive sweater knit in Better Breakfast Fingering (55% Merino, 35% dehaired alpaca and 10% nylon), the Polypore shawl knit in Chebris lace (60% Merino/40% mohair), and a selection of Better Breakfast Worsted (65% Merino, 35% dehaired alpaca).

Bijou Basin Ranch

Outside North, Booth N1

Based in Colorado, this mom and pop operation specializes in yak blends and in the last few years they have begun collaborating with indies on hand-dyed colorways.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are the Gobi base (baby camel and silk) in the Valkyrie-inspired hand-dyed colors, Shangri-La Lace (50/50 yak and Mulberry silk) in the Explorer collection, new stickers that they will be handing out, and variegated Shangri-La Lace.

Dragonfly Fibers

Outside Lower Corral, Booth LC9

Also from Maryland, Kate and her crew are MDSW veterans, bringing a huge selection of colorful yarns.

Pictured above is the Maryland Mini color pack and Andrea Medici’s Calverts and Crossings Cowl, along with Dragonfly’s show exclusive colorway Boardwalk Lights, named after Ocean City, Maryland, at night.

Fluffy U Fiber Farm

Barn 5, Booth 14

Shepardess Katrina Updike has been raising British and rare breed sheep, including Blue-Faced Leicester, Gotland, Leicester Longwool and Teeswater, for the past 18 years on a farm in Pennsylvania.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are a selection of her BFL fingering, a sample of Katrina’s Spring Lilac colorway, Merino Bulky in Tropical Breeze, Pebble Beach and Lilly Pad, and beads strung for spinning.

Into the Whirled

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B16

New York-based dyer Cris is known for her semisolid and variegated colorways, and she has recently moved into speckles, including her colorway for the Indie Untangled Knitting Our National Parks series.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are the new speckled colorways, batts in various colors, Shokan Singles single fingering in the Bryce Canyon-inspired Hoodoos colorway (which you can see in person in her booth and preorder here), and braids of fiber.

Knittyandcolor

Outside North, Booth N12

Sarah, who is based in Georgia, is known for her eye-poppingly bright colorways. Aside from yarn and fiber she’ll also be bringing Turkish spindles made by her husband under the name Subterranean Woodworks.

Pictured clockwise from the top left are new colorways Smoky Quartz and Neon Lotus, along with the spindles and fiber braids.

Middle Brook Fiberworks

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B26

Anne offers yarn blends made with the fiber from the sheep on her New Jersey farm as well as stunning handspun. At the festival, she’ll be debuting her Vintage No. 4, organic Polwarth coordinating sets, and lip balm.

Spirit Trail Fiberworks

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth A30

Jennifer, another Virginia-ite, is a master of dyeing a variety of colors on both rustically sheepy and luxurious silk bases.

Pictured clockwise from the top left is a set of Aurora (single-ply fingering Superwash Merino), Selene (DK-weight, non-shrink organic wool), stitch markers from Katrinkles, and Jennifer’s new enamel mugs.

You can see more goodies in Jennifer’s sneak peek post.

Other vendors

Here are some other vendors I’m looking forward to visiting:

The Buffalo Wool Co.
Outside Upper Corral, Booth UC1

Jamie Harmon
Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B9

Jill Draper Makes Stuff
Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C31

Julia Hilbrandt
Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B29

Madder Root
Outside North, Booth N2

Neighborhood Fiber Co.
Outside East, Booth E7

North Light Fibers
Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C9

Untangling Casapinka

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I have to admit that when I first learned of the designer Casapinka, I was kind of intimidated by the idea of approaching her about posting on Indie Untangled. I had discovered her Loop shawl at the first Maryland Sheep & Wool indie pop-up at The Knot House and thought she was so talented with her innovative use of variegated yarns. I was also in awe of her colorwork skills with the Fall Is a Color hat that she designed for the 2015 Rhinebeck Trunk Show. When I learned she has worked as an ER doctor, I was convinced she was one of those people that is just so amazing at everything that you should probably hate them.

However, after getting to know Bronwyn (her real name), I was thrilled to find she is one of the most down to earth and hilarious knitters I’ve ever met. Her patterns simultaneously wow me with their brilliant use of color and crack me up with hilarious names like Welcome Back Garter, Mick Jagged and Your Slip Is Showing. I recently asked her to tell me a little bit more about her process and give me a small peek behind the speckled curtain:

You’ve worked as an emergency medicine doctor. How did you decide to become a designer?

Designing found me rather than my deciding to become a designer. I was very ill with Lyme Disease and I couldn’t stand lying around doing “nothing.” At least knitting made me feel productive… and then I found indie-dyed yarns. And I got addicted. You see where this is going!

How did you come up with Casapina and why do you use it as your designer name?

I chose the name Casapinka in 2007 when my husband and I bought a house that needed some work. Design blogs were just getting started and I would post about painting my dining room hot pink, wallpapering my dishwasher, that sort of thing. So the “Casa” part refers to the house and the “Pinka” was just chosen at whim… and then when I segued into knitwear design I just kept the name because it fit me.

When and how did you learn to knit?

As an exchange student in high school, I lived in New Zealand, land of three million people and 70 million sheep. I was stranded one week in the rain during spring vacation at a friend’s house on Lake Taupo. It poured for days and her sister knit most of a sweater during this time. It looked so boring and lame to be knitting, but as the week went on, we’d watched a bunch of movies and had nothing to show for it — and she had this amazing sweater. I actually thought those tiny needles and the slowness of knitting meant actually making a sweater was impossible, but as a metaphor for anything difficult, knitting consistently builds on itself. I was completely hooked and learned how to knit intarsia immediately so I could “draw” with my yarn.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Color! I adore rich color, hand-dyed yarn, and how different stitches work to show off the colors in the yarn. It usually begins with a color combination that catches my eye or a stitch pattern, a photograph, or some combination of the three. Seeing how indie dyers combine their colors is also inspiring and I never tire of looking at their Instagram posts.

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

It all begins with the yarn. If I know I want to knit something in particular (for example, I’m working on a swing coat right now) I don’t do anything until I find the right yarn. Sometimes, the yarn isn’t available in enough yards. Sometimes, it’s discontinued or in another country, or looks different in person compared to online. I adore when a local yarn store has a yarn for me because it’s the best of all worlds.

If a dyer has contacted me to do a design, I have to get the yarn first. Sometimes I’ll do a private Pinterest board with the dyer to get an idea of a particular inspiration that they would like, but usually I get free reign. If I try too much to make it into something specific I fall flat on my face. And finally, I’m sometimes asked to submit a proposal or draw a design that I have in mind. My drawings are laughable and do not reflect what goes on in my head. I can’t seem to make my vision go through my hand onto paper — just onto knitting needles.

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

Despite the moniker “Casapinka” I adore aqua. All shades of aqua! I also love pink but not all colors of pink. A gorgeous blue-red cannot be beat. Magenta (is that considered pink?) and recently certain greens are on my radar. It has absolutely changed and constantly changes, especially with the invention of speckled yarns. Suddenly, I can have a tiny bit of a certain color and it grows on me until I’m in love, like some of the gold/yellows… Oh, and did I mention coral? That’s a new obsession!

You’ve published a few sweater designs, but is there a reason you stick to shawls and accessories?

This is entirely by accident. I’ve made and designed a lot of sweaters but didn’t publish them because I don’t enjoy grading of sizes — and only learned about the all-important technical editor a few years ago. I’m fairly addicted to shawl knitting but I also have plans for more sweaters. The portability of accessories is also handy, as I have ended up knitting during swim meets, robotics practices, and Rubik’s Cube competitions. I actually have a tunic, a sweater, and a coat coming out in conjunction with Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

Where is your favorite place to knit?

I love, love, love knitting in airports. I’m a plane/airport geek and can sit there for hours staring out at the runway, coffee by my side, phone turned off. I’m one of the rare humans who welcomes an airport delay (if I have my knitting, of course).

Untangling MK Nance

Designer MK Nance first popped on my radar (AKA the Indie Untangled Marketplace) at the end of 2014. Since she tends to design her accessory patterns with indie-dyed yarn, she was a perfect fit for the website and also for the Where We Knit Yarn Club, in which I pair together dyers and designers, who collaborate on an exclusive colorway and one-skein pattern.

For last year’s club, Nance bended the rules slightly and used two half skeins of Three Fates Yarn Terra Sock to create not one, but two patterns with a two-color cable design that has become her trademark. The Crystal Springs cowl and Jenkins hat are now available to purchase. I recently asked Nance to tell me a little bit more about her work and inspiration.

How did you decide to become a designer?

I just did! The first pattern I wrote was because I couldn’t find a pattern that I needed to make and friends’ friends asked me to make it for them so I wrote the pattern up and said I would teach them. Two dyers, Three Fates Yarn and The Periwinkle Sheep, both suggested I just do it.

What did you do before becoming a designer and how does it inform your design work?

The first thing I ever designed was a scarf was my sophomore year of high school, so I had not really done anything at that point. I studied anthropology and middle eastern studies in college. After that I lived in NYC, Cairo, and Portland, Oregon. Many names and motifs are inspired by where I have been or studied.

When and how did you learn to knit?

Mrs. Struk, my first and second grade teacher, kept me in during recess until I learned how to tie my shoes. That didn’t work so she took my mother aside and told her I needed better eye hand coordination, so knitting or crochet would be good to learn. As my mother can’t crochet she taught me how to knit. My shoes are never tied still (I can tie them now) but I have knitting in my purse, car and everywhere.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Honestly, if I knew I would have an easier time coming up with names.

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

If it will be self published, I’ll pull out the yarn and start painting stitches using my graphing program.

If it for a call for a third party publisher, I’ll pull up the mood board and paint stitches.

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

My favorite colors have not changed. I do use color differently, I once loved lace and variegated colorway but now I’ll use busier yarns with a solid with stranding or mosaic.

You recently published your first sweater design in Twist Collective. Do you plan to design more garments?

Absolutely! I am planning on releasing at least three more cardigans this year. I may also have a few pullover ideas bouncing around my head.

Where is your favorite place to knit?

I have two. Farina’s is a little bakery in Portland with great light, food, and the staff/owner are great people. Home is my other favorite place with my dog literally under foot.

What to stash this week: A bird in the hand

Sue of Sandpiper Yarns creates her lovely skeins two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean on the South Shore of Long Island, hence her beachy name. Her yarns are comprised of a number of sheep breeds, including Merino, Blue Faced Leicester, Polwarth, Finn, Gotland, Icelandic, Corriedale and Targhee, with guest appearances by alpaca, Tencel, silk and Angora.

Terri of Whole Knit ‘n Caboodle comes from a yarny family. Her sister, Mary, owns Perfect Blend Yarn & Tea in Saugerties — I’ll be collaborating with the shop for this year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show — and Terri dyes yarn. She has a huge selection of lovely colorways on a variety of fibers, as well as plenty of Fade combinations.

If you’re in the Connecticut area next weekend, you should definitely join Rebecca of Fuse Fiber Studio and Gabby of Once Upon a Corgi (and me!) for a pop-up shop and knit night at the Farmington Valley Arts Center. Rebecca and Gabby have even collaborated with one of the painters from a neighboring studio to create exclusive colorways based on one of her paintings!

I have a batch of Aimee’s Automne à Rhinebeck in stock and ready to ship! And if you’re interested in this Indie Untangled exclusive on LBA’s Merino DK, make sure to get on the list for a reorder, which is happening in mid-April. 

Get your hands on some Happy Little Project Bags for the Slipped Stitch Studios Bag of the Month. This tribute to the 1980s “leaders in imagination” include bags, accessories and three colorways from Anzula Yarns and Stay Classy Yarns. There will also be another cameo from Mr. Rogers. All of it goes on sale at 9 a.m. Pacific time today.

Laura’s latest design is inspired by a small island in the Pacific that you’ve probably never heard of, but that she’s been to twice, between Fiji and The Solomon Islands. Vanuatu features bright turquoise and dark sand that will make you want to escape somewhere sunny and warm.

Robynn is offering one free pattern with every three you buy from her Ravelry store, no coupon code required — just add four patterns to your cart and the cheapest will be free. Use it for any of her designs, from accessories to sweaters. Most include photo tutorials for special techniques.

Wild Hair Studio is having a Groundhog Day sale.