Indie Across the Pond Untangling: Garthenor Organic

A label with teal print.

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Across the Pond, taking place from March 19-21, 2021.

I featured Garthenor Organic on the blog last year prior to Indie Untangled Everywhere in October. I’m excited that this British yarn company has decided to return for our first international fiber event! I spoke with Jonny King to learn even more about his and his mom Sally’s commitment to organic, British wool.

What did the process of organic certification entail?

It’s quite a lengthy process! For an organic farm like ours, there is a minimum of two years of transition, which lets the livestock and land adapt gradually to a new way of farming. For the yarn production, it’s usually a little quicker, thankfully. There are a few key areas that come under the scope of a GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certification, namely chemical inputs (like dyes and detergents), traceability, working conditions and environmental standards. For each of these, we need to be able to show complete transparency during our annual inspection and occasional unannounced spot inspections, so it’s pretty in-depth. I definitely don’t think we’d be able to keep it up if we didn’t truly believe in the process.

Yarn being milled.

How has your company evolved over 20-plus years?

This is an odd one for me, as I’ve grown up alongside the company – Mum (Sally) often jokes that she brought me up to join in with making yarn! We started with spinning yarn from wool only from our own flock, but we’re now working with 50-60 organic farms around the UK to grow this amazing fibre. As you can imagine, this also means a lot more yarn being made too! We’re still a tiny company though, with just the two of us working full time, and I think that means we can keep that raw connection to the way our yarns are made – without any compromise at all.

A black and white image of a man holding a dark lamb.

A woman leaning on a cane wearing a dark coat and knitted hat.

Are you still facing challenges due to the pandemic? What about Brexit?

Definitely! I think like just about every industry, we’ve had a few setbacks over the last year or so. Not having in-person shows has been so heartbreaking, as this is really where we get to connect with friends and customers, and we really get to tell the story of the fibre. We work with a few small mills here in the UK, and they’ve all faced closures and reduced staffing, so it’s been trickier than ever to keep up with demand!

Shipping has been a challenge, but I’m glad to say this is looking a little more stable now – we’re dispatching orders every day all across the world, and the postal services are doing an amazing job to get all the yarny parcels delivered as quickly as possible.

A sheepdog among a pile of brown and white fleece.

Tell me more about the rare breed that you debuted at Indie Untangled Everywhere last year?

One of our favourite things when introducing a new or single-release yarn is to introduce makers to a fibre they may have never discovered before. For Indie Untangled Everywhere, it was a blend of Manx Loaghtan and Hampshire Down, two gorgeous British breeds, woollen spun into a super soft and squishy yarn. Partnering this one was the pure Manx Loaghtan, and a marl of the two shades (we always love a good marl here!). The flock that grows the Manx Loaghtan fleece was one of our first supplier farms, and it’s that genuine connection the story of the fibre that makes us so proud to do what we do.

Like all our fibre, it was hand sorted by Sally – her experience and knowledge in working with fibre for years is really what sets each yarn apart. She has a knack to understanding how the fibre will be behave, and it guides us to make wool that reflects the landscape, the sheep and the story that surrounds us every day.

A skein of cream-colored yarn that says Dartmoor.

What new products will you be showing at Indie Across the Pond?

We’re going to be re-introducing a special edition version of our newest base, Snowdonia Sock. Spun from pure rare-breed Greyface Dartmoor wool, the texture is so unique and special, and captures what I mentioned about reflecting our landscape. We worked with a farm in Cornwall to source the fibre, and it was spun just a few miles down the road from where it grew. We only spun a very small batch, so it’s definitely not one to miss!

What to stash this week: staying cozy

A woman in a draped blue, gray and gold striped sweater.

This week, designer Mary Annarella released a much more fashionable version of the mid-aughts Snuggie: Cozy McBlanket. This sweater is essentially a blanket with sleeves, but Mary has worked her magic with some cleverly placed short rows to help it curve around your shoulders and neck for a better fit. It calls for five colors of sportweight yarn, and I’m sure you can find some that are prettier than the fire-engine-red fleece I was sporting in Winter 2008.

An illustration of a masked alpaca and squirrel with question marks and the words Trivia Night.

We have a lot of fun new things planned for you at our upcoming virtual event, Indie Across the Pond! In addition to shopping for amazing yarn, you’ll also be able to:

• Have tea with Amy Florence of Stranded Dyeworks and the Stranded Podcast — she’ll be joining us Friday from the east coast of Scotland to kick off the show!
• Show off your smarts at virtual trivia!
• Enter our KAL/CAL and win prizes from Indie Untangled and some of our awesome sponsors: Garthenor Organic, La Cave à Laine and Yedraknits!
• Hang out and meet our fabulous vendors in a casual environment at Saturday and Sunday’s teas!

There are still spots available for our free bingo event on Saturday, March 20 at 3 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. CET, hosted by Indie Untangled event producer Petrina Hicks. This is a popular event, so register soon!

Green, gray and gold clay dinosaurs.

Jillian of WeeOnes has several brand new stitch marker sets including dinosaurs, arctic foxes and the latest installment of the surprise markers with a spring theme. And to celebrate Jillian reaching 10K sales on Etsy, get 15% off your order with the code YAY10K.

Skeins of yarn in a rainbow of colors.

March comes in with a sale! Everything on the Liverpool Yarns site — 100% Shetland fingering yarns, kits for shawls and accessories, patterns and project bags — is 20% off through March 14.

A hand holds white plastic dogs wrapped in light blue yarn.

Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations has new additions to her menagerie of end minders, which help tame your loose ends, including playful pups, curious kittens and — special for March — Mindful Manatees.

Swatches of knitting in various colors and the words Greek Gods (Part Two) Signature Collection Live Now stardustfiberstudio.com.

Emerald of Stardust Fiber Studio has released part two of her Greek Gods collection. This collection contains nine main colorways, each based off a deity from Greek Mythology, and two special features. A matching stitch marker set is also available.

Purple and pink yarn.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns just had an update of Pendle 4ply, a classic yarn that’s pure Superwash Merino. It’s available on 20 colorways, from deep and rich to the soft and pale. There’s also a spring sale going on.

A ball of brown wool fiber.

Monica of Gothfarm Yarn has five types of roving in stock, including Cirrus, a pencil roving made from blended Jacob and Shetland sheep wool, and Coopworth, Navajo-Churro, Ultisol and 100% Jacob Sheep roving. 

A Celtic knot stitch marker and the words Erin Go Where Now? Big Clippy! Progress Keeper, Yank Your Yarn.

Bonnie of Yank Your Yarn has some Big Clippy progress keepers, which are oversized, movable single stitch markers featuring a 21-23mm lobster clasp for use on your chunkiest knitting and crochet projects.

Sharon of Garage Dyeworks has a new colorway called Mahalo.

‘Please, draw me a sheep’: The history of the Hog Island sheep

Three white sheep with black faces in the snow.

Photo courtesy of Holly Hill Ranch

Imagine a sheep, as unique as the one Antoine de St Exupery drew one morning for the Little Prince. That is the Hog Island sheep, from somewhat unknown origins, and needing protection, a special sheep, a sheep like no other… The Hog Island sheep is unique to the United States. It originated on Hog Island, a barrier island off the coast of Virginia. So few of them are left today that they are a rare, critical, conservation breed.

In the words of Jeanette Beranger, senior manager of the Livestock Conservancy, the Hog Island Sheep is a “snapshot of livestock from the 1700s.” To understand how special the Hog Island sheep is, we have to go back in time 400 years, when Hog Island was settled. Along with the settlers came sheep of British origin. It is also believed that Merino sheep were already roaming free on the island, after having been abandoned by ship-wrecked Spaniards. Even though we cannot clearly match the DNA of the Hog Island sheep with any modern English breed, some surmise that Down breeds have been contributors to this unique sheep.

The sheep roamed the rugged island freely. The settlers would gather them once a year to shear them. The rugged conditions set the stage for the development of the breed into a sheep well adapted to foraging and living in harsh, wet weather conditions. Rugged life continued, unchanged for both the settlers and the sheep for hundreds of years, each year bringing its share of storms. But in 1933, after a terrible hurricane, causing massive erosion that reduced the size of the island by half, the residents of Hog Island found themselves forced to abandon the island and move their homes to the mainland. The sheep were left on the island.

Two sheep in the snow.

Photo courtesy of Holly Hill Ranch

In the 1970s, the island was purchased by the Nature Conservancy. A decision was made to remove the now feral sheep from the island to protect the natural vegetation. The sheep were resettled at particular sites, among them Mount Vernon and Virginia Tech, and efforts began to study and preserve the breed. Hog Island sheep can still be seen today in living museums like the Accokeek Foundation National Colonial Farm. They are also being raised by farmers dedicated to the preservation of rare breeds.

Geographic isolation, the conditions on the island, few predators, and the lack of human intervention allowed the development of a hardy, self-shedding, parasite-resistant, foraging breed, which reproduced efficiently, with ewes often birthing twins. Most Hog Island sheep are white, with 10 to 20% of them being black. The lambs have the cutest speckled faces. Adults often have dark legs and faces. The Hog Island Sheep is a smaller sheep, weighing around 90 to 150 pounds. It is also a slow-growing sheep, taking 18 months to mature. Alert and docile, they prefer to live in tight flocks.

A black and white lamb in tall grass.

Photo courtesy of Holly Hill Ranch

What about the fiber they produce? To quote Holly Callahan of the Baltimore Wool Company, “The wool is like the sheep, relaxed and friendly!” To examine the unique qualities of the Hog Island fiber, I purchased some raw fleece, and some roving from Holly Hill Ranch.

White, beige and brown fleece.

Raw fleece from Holly Hill Ranch

The raw fibers are very high in lanolin, a perfect protection from harsh weather. The fibers are dense, compact, with a very tight, disorganized crimp, and a matte appearance. The staple length ranges from 1.5 to 2.5 inches. The newer generations, which are being fed a richer diet can have a staple length up to 3 inches. Overall, the staple length is short, which makes the fiber a perfect candidate for light, warm woolen yarns. The fineness of the fibers is uneven, with some being appropriate for next-to-the-skin wear, while others should be reserved for outerwear.

White, beige and brown fleece.

Raw fleece from Holly Hill Ranch

To spin, I used the carded roving I had purchased, and spun it with a supported long draw to create a lofty woolen yarn. After spinning two fine singles, I plied them together to create a 2-ply yarn. What struck me most was the incredible bounce and elasticity of the yarn!

A hand holding a ball of white yarn.

Woolen yarn spun from Holly Hill Ranch fibers

I knitted a simple swatch, which I then dyed with natural dyes. The swatch was knitted on US 4 needles. The soft matte halo is clearly noticeable, slightly reducing the stitch definition, while giving it a gentle subtlety. The incredible elasticity of the yarn reduces the openness of the sample lacework. The swatch took color beautifully, showcasing the matte appearance. The swatch also proved to be naturally felt resistant, a credit to the Down breed origins of the Hog Island sheep.

A green square of knitting.

A dyed swatch from handspun woolen yarn.

Armed with the knowledge I gained from swatching, I decided to knit a warm, comfy pair of house socks, which would encounter less wear than regular socks, while taking full advantage of the elasticity of the fibers!

A view of white handknit socks from above.

So where can you get this very special fiber? The Livestock Conservancy has created a wonderful program called Shave ‘Em to Save ‘Em. Shepherds register their flocks of conservation breeds and are listed as providers of rare fibers and yarns. Fiber artists are encouraged to try different breeds and get stickers for their breed passport! Because of its smaller size, and slower growth, the Hog Island sheep is not as attractive for large-scale farming. It is thanks to the Livestock Conservancy, the dedication of rare breed farmers, and the desire of fiber artists like you and me to preserve breeds by working with breed-specific fibers, like the Hog Island, that we can hope to see this amazing breed thrive in the future.

A white sheep with a black face.

Photo courtesy of Holly Hill Ranch


More resources:

Hog Island Part 1: A Feral Breed, a blog post from Knitting the Stash!
The history of the Hog Island sheep from Quietude Farm

What to stash this week: Trick or knit

Brown leather cases.

Stephanie Earp has a sequel and a rebrand for her needle case. Her Knitter’s Book Case is now called The Original Case, and is joined by two new designs, The Flip Case and The Stretch Case. available to preorder in leather through November 9. The Flip Case stores up to eight needle tips, and has two pockets for cables, while the Stretch Case allows you to access your notions without having to open the whole case up.

Winter wishes illustration.

If you missed out on A Twisted Year’s End, participant Anzula Luxury Fibers has put together another multi-dyer/maker December box, teaming up with Lorna’s Laces, Mod Yarns, Mrs. Crosby Yarn, Slipped Stitch Studios and Tattooed Ewe for a package of yarn, project bags, notions and more. There are three sizes and three different color schemes to choose from to light up your December.

Rows of rainbow colored yarn.

If you’re in need of some comfort knitting, be sure to check out the yarns from Rebecca from WildWestDye. She specializes in all naturally-dyed yarn, which she hand dyes in her home studio in British Columbia (and ships with flat-rate shipping). Rebecca has also developed kits for a variety of projects. From cosy socks and hats to blankets, there are colorful kits for every style of knitting. Some kits even come in cakes that are big enough for an entire project, meaning fewer ends to weave in, making it even easier and more comforting. 

Skeins of pink, green and gold yarn.

Sharon of Garage Dyeworks has a new base called Bentley DK, a non-Superwash Merino with a generous 328 yards per 100g skein. These colorways and more will be on her website this week.

Natural colored socks.

Before the end of October, make sure to check out Gothfarm’s sock special: Buy one sock yarn, get another skein 40% off with the coupon code “sockz” at checkout.

A long taupe cardigan.

Get 25% off Lena’s new Tasselated Cardigan, an easy piece to knit with a sideways cuff-to-cuff construction, through Sunday with code Tasselated on Ravelry and Etsy. 

The October Virtu-Wool Fiber Festival is getting a little spooky, with 22 vendors sharing some “tricks” of the trade in 45-minute live video sessions.

Black and red yarn and fiber.

Natalie of Fiberdog Fibers is also getting spooky. Her Halloween colorway, Beyond the Veil, is available as both yarn and fiber, dyed on 100% Corriedale cross wool.

Get your order in for the Fall Sock of the Season Club, a nature-inspired mystery kit collaboration between Jilly & Kiddles and BritStitchery Designs.

Orange and black paw charms.

If you want to do some last-minute “stitch or treating” there are still some Halloween stitch markers left in the Doodle Dew Designs shop.

Indie Untangled Everywhere Untangling: Deep Dyed Yarn

Stephanie Stratton of Deep Dyed Yarn.

This is the eighth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled Everywhere, taking place from October 15-17, 2020.

There are many indie dyers who start their business after learning how to spin yarn. Stephanie of Deep Dyed Yarns is one of those dyers. She’s also one of the few indies selling hand-dyed fiber as well as yarn in the Indie Untangled Everywhere marketplace. Here’s her story.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

My yarn dying adventures began as a snowball effect. In January of 2007, I bought my first spinning wheel and became hooked. It wasn’t long before I had amassed a large amount of handspun yarn.

There was no way I would use all of the yarns spun, so an Etsy store was created. To my utter delight and astonishment, it all sold. More fiber was purchased to be spun and I thought, Why not try my hand at Kool-Aid dyeing? From there, I progressed to commercial acid dyes and began listing hand-dyed fibers. There came a point where I could not keep up with supply and demand of handspun yarn, so han-dyed, mill-spun yarns were added to the line-up.

A friend encouraged me to try a local festival in the fall of 2007. The first booth consisted of a card table and bread rack. It was such a warm, welcoming, and shockingly successful experience, I began looking for more to attend. Pennies were saved and trailers to haul displays were purchased. A small metal building was constructed that has evolved and been improved upon a little each year. One year it was insulation, another was a ceiling, another was proper ventilation, enclosing the dye area, etc.

It has been a 13-year journey of love, friendship and sometimes tears. There have been so many amazing people who have influenced me. I am so grateful to everyone who has encouraged, uplifted, supported and been there for me in not just my journey as a dyer, but all of us as a community.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Black goes with everything in my humble opinion. In all honesty, I love all colors. Maybe a few more than others, as I can’t get away with wearing yellow or orange, but that doesn’t mean I snub my nose at all the pretty shades, tones and hues they contain.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

No, I pretty much dye what I like. Color combos are tested in the pots and if I really love it, they make it online or to the festival floor.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled Everywhere?

So… I might be a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. This is a new style of show for me and while ideas are brewing, I do not have a concrete plan in place. I am hoping to showcase some of the most popular colors and colors that complement them. Maybe a little time talking about what it’s like spending so much time on the road. Oh, and there’s always time for showcasing patterns using my colors as well as a studio tour! My one goal is to not drop the ‘F’ bomb, lol!

When and how did you learn to knit?

A funny thing happened on a returning British Airways flight from London Heathrow to JFK in New York. The year was 1997 and it happened to be my first overseas trip for a tour of Scotland.

Upon takeoff, the lady next to me pulled her knitting out of her bag and began to knit a simple corner-to-corner afghan for her soon-to-be-arriving grandchild out of some very lovely yellow wool she bought while visiting England. I asked question after question about what she was doing at the ends and she explained they were yarn-overs to make the blanket grow larger with every other row and purling to keep the edges from curling. And she kindly suggested that I find a local yarn shop when I got home for lessons.

Shortly thereafter, I fell asleep and did not wake up until after the flight landed. No joke, I have slept through tornados and earthquakes, so a plane landing was a walk in the park for me! Once home, yarn and metal needles were bought at a big box store and I taught myself the ‘e’ cast-on and how to knit, purl and yarn-over.

Feeling confident and thrilled with my progress, the next step was a visit to the local yarn shop where more yarn and a simple little pattern was purchased. And, that’s where trouble started. The kind lady on the flight mentioned something about not knitting like her, but I was so groggy that I didn’t remember that part in the thrill of teaching myself by mimicking what I remembered her doing. It was so frustrating because nothing I did would make the pattern show up. K, P, K2tog, SSK, YO….. NOTHING WORKED!

That is until I checked out Kids Knitting by Melanie Falick at the local library. I followed the steps page by page and not advancing until the next step. Casting on and knitting the first row were simple and then the next set of directions said to TURN THE WORK! I about died of laugher! You see, I taught myself how to knit back and forth instead of turning the work because that is what the very patient lady on the plane had done.

Since you sell fiber, do you spin?

I certainly do and feel it has made me not just a better knitter and judge of yarn, but also a better dyer. When you spin, the colors and combinations of colors you use can drastically change the outcome of your yarn.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

In no particular order:

Monnie’s Vintersol using Grit in colors Seafoam, Whisp, and Smoke.

My Night Shift (Christopher Sala) using Figment in colors Velvet Underground and Appaloosa.

Jan M’s Honey Comb Aran sweater using Grit in color Caramel (pictured above).

ZueZuesKnots’s Tecumseh Using Still in colors Summer Berries, Coraline, and Caramel.

What’s currently on your needles?

Light in Shadows by Milja Uimonen using Align in colors Driftwood and Caramel.

Indie Untangled Everywhere Untangling: Northern Bee Studio

Melissa of Northern Been Studio with a friend.

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled Everywhere, taking place from October 15-17, 2020.

When we and other people envision knitting, crocheting and fiber crafts, we often conjure up images of frolicking amongst sheep, goats and other farm animals, though for most of us our fiber story is set against a backdrop of binge-watched TV shows and honking horns (though the latter is mainly me and my fellow city-dwellers!).

The name Northern Bee Studio is a true expression of dyer Melissa’s setup in Rib Lake, Wisconsin: she and her husband have bees, chickens and cats, and this year they welcomed some Sannen goats, the largest of the dairy breed. They milk them daily and make cheese, yogurt, ice cream and soap from their milk.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

It really started with spinning. I had wanted to learn how to spin for so long. When we lived in Juneau, Alaska, a friend messaged me that she had just bought a couple wheels off of Craigslist. This would have been about 2008-ish. She wondered if I was interested in buying one of them for her because she thought she didn’t need both (hah!). Sure! Well, I watched videos and requested books from the library and made some stuff that eventually resembled yarn. The problem was, I didn’t know where exactly to get hand-dyed prepared top to spin besides Etsy. I had ordered a bunch from Etsy when I first started and shipping was killer. So, I decided to find somewhere to order undyed top in a kind of large amount (back when I thought a pound would last me a while) and played around with Kool-Aid and food coloring. I had so much fun with it and got such great feedback that I decided to try dyeing yarn.

I started out with Knitpicks Bare and went from there. I would make longies for our kids and little hats and things and people in my knitting group loved my colors. Well, the owner of the shop that I used to work at liked the yarn too and asked me to dye as much as I could for the upcoming tourist season. This is when I used to dye yarn one skein at a time on the stovetop. So much has changed! Fast forward 12 years and here I am with a dedicated studio space, dyeing thousands of pounds of yarn a year and still enjoying every minute of it.

What inspires your colorways?

I get inspired by nature so much of the time. I get inspired by the different flowers in our gardens, the plants and trees around us and if it is the middle of winter and I want to work on a new colorway, I love to look at pictures of nature on Pinterest where the colors are broken down.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Almost any blue has always been and will always be my favorite color. Especially the turquoise-ish blue of the bee in my logo. It is such a great color that goes so well with so many other colors.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

I am still challenged by Grellow. I mean, I really like the one I do now but I don’t feel like it is exactly right. And I have experimented and overdyed so much yarn over the years trying to get just the right tone, I have kind of just told myself that I just need to be happy with the Grellow I have, not the Grellow I want.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled Everywhere?

Sure! We have been working on setting up a mini-booth in the Studio and I plan to have a wall with a skein of every one of our colors on it. That way I can show everyone how the colors play across the skeins. I have our show special colorway that I can’t wait to show off more —- it is inspired by the Indie Untangled Everywhere logo and I just love it. I also plan to have my Yak Sock mini skein sets ready for the event and maybe it is aiming too high, but I hope to show off the Advent sets that I have been working on. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

When and how did you learn to knit?

When I was a kid, my mom taught me how to crochet. Every winter, she would sit and crochet blankets for everyone. I cherish the blankets I have, even though over the years, the Red Heart yarn has gotten kind of scratchy. Fast forward to 2006. My husband and I had been restationed to the island of Saipan [Melissa’s husband serves in the U.S. Coast Guard] and I was pregnant with our first child. I had read about this nifty new website, Ravelry, on someone’s blog and was seeing more and more fantastic knitting projects. My mom had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and her sleeping schedule was really wild. So, we would talk during my day (which was her night, Saipan is 15 hours ahead of Central Standard Time) and she would help walk me through the basic steps over the phone. She was an avid thrifter and garage sale junkie so anytime she saw yarn or knitting needles, she would buy them and send them to me. I still have so many of those old aluminum straight needles she sent me, I don’t think I could ever get rid of them. With her help, random tutorials I found online and a new friend that had grown up on Saipan and was a knitter (hey Deece!), the rest is history.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

You know, I really love seeing all the FOs and WIPs from my customers. One of my favorites is seeing the Advent set projects, those for me are such a challenge… coming up with 24 to 25 new colors that work together every year really pushes my creativity in a good way. And I love all the different designs that the designers do, we have so many great patterns to choose from. I also love seeing my yarns being used with other indie dyers’ yarns in large projects. It’s fun when you know the dyers personally, and you can see how your yarns play so well together and know how the purchases really help them, too.

Three goats with fall leaves.

Melissa’s Sannen goats.

What’s currently on your needles?

Oh gosh, that’s a slippery slope. I am a serial starter. I am really trying hard to make more pairs of socks this month. It is Socktober after all. But I have so many WIPs that are just sitting, so the struggle is real over here. Currently on the needles:

High Desert Socks
No Frills Sweater
Octopus Mittens (probably my 10th pair, they’re so fun!)
Dissent Cardigan
Scrappy Pillows (crochet version)
And a secret Advent test knit for Ambah

What to stash this week: earthy knits

1

A person hugging a tree.

Kismet of LoLo Body Care is doing her part with the LoLo Body Care Eco-Bag, a 100% organic cotton Fair-Trade Certified bag that, among other advantages, uses growing systems that replenish and maintain soil fertility and build biologically diverse agriculture. Even better, with every bag that’s purchased, one tree gets planted with LoLo’s partners, One Tree Planted.

Cream yarn with pale pink, purple and gold speckles.

To mark the release of Paula Pereira’s Talyse shawl, designed for the 2020 Where We Knit Yarn Club, I’m doing a limited preorder of Shani’s delicately speckled colorway, created with natural dyes! While reminiscent of cherry blossoms, she dubbed it Crazy 88 because she had never dyed that many skeins of one colorway before. It’s available on her Helios 50/50 Merino/Mulberry silk base, which would look gorgeous in Paula’s new shawl, or in sweaters that call for some drape. You can find some pattern suggestions, and preorder the yarn, through August 23.

Red, white and blue hand-dyed yarn.

Janis and Christen of Queen City Yarn are donating $10 for every skein of their red, white and blue colorway sold to Fair Fight, which works to “promote fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourage voter participation in elections, and educate voters about elections and their voting rights.”

An orange and brown tweed tote bag.

Katherine of K. MacColl Bags makes sophisticated tote bags using wool fabrics. They come in five different looks and two large sizes, and in a number of colorways and patterns.

A box of colorful yarn.

Melissa is celebrating the launch of her new Canada-based shop, Alley Cat Yarns, with free shipping within North America and 20% off purchases of $150CAD or more, through the end of August.

Purple and teal variegated yarn.

Maelstrom Fiber Arts’ Gothic Mermaid Collection is inspired by the legends and lore of sirens or mermaids. Jennifer’s colorways are available on the majority of her bases, including a new non-Superwash fingering-weight yarn.

Gray shark stitch markers.

It’s Shark Week, so celebrate with WeeOnes miniature shark stitch markers at a 10% discount through this Sunday! You get a hammerhead, great white, black-tipped reef shark, and a longtail carpet shark made by Jillian with your choice of soldered rings or lobster claw clasps.

A spiral of brightly colored hanks of yarn.

The chunky Coriedale wool and Superwash Merino fingering wool from Quiltwoman.com is dyed with a variety of needlework projects, including rug hooking/punching and punch needle embroidery, in mind. Aside from yarn, the Quiltwoman.com shop has a variety of patterns and kits.

A multicolored striped shawl.

Vanessa of Cape May Fiber Company has a new shawl design called Froth that uses either three full-sized fingering-weight skeins or 12 minis, and she has kits in her very own naturally-dyed colors.

A box of brightly colored yarn next to a book.

Barbara’s Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn turns 10 years old this month, so celebrate with one of her colorful five base yarns and custom-spun yarns from small farms in NY and PA.

A braid of black and purple fiber and the words Purple Girl.

Natalie of Fiberdog Fibers is a new indie who offers hand-dyed fibers, as well as hand-dyed and handspun yarn, using almost exclusively raw fleeces that she washes, cards, dyes and spins herself.

Red, blue and gray hand-dyed yarn.

You can still join AnnieDot Creative’s ongoing Fantastic Socks: a yarn club inspired by Newt Scamander. The year-long club features colorways that bring Newt’s magical creatures to life.

ADKnits has a knitting sticker designed for all the campers out there.

What to stash while you get ready for Indie Untangled Everywhere

A white teacup sits in front of fairy lights on a handknit with the worlds Advent 2020 let's get cozy.

Heather of Sew Happy Jane, who is one of our Indie Untangled Everywhere vendors, is opening preorders tomorrow for her 2020 Advent Calendars, designed to bring that cozy, comforting feeling we need right now.

Mini mannequins wearing colorful mini sweaters.

Selena of Sweater Sisters is having a huge clearance sale to make way for fall yarns. Two of her luxury fingering bases are 40% off. It’s also time once again for her Mini Sweater Challenge.

Packages with black and white cat stickers and dog paw tissue paper.

The latest mystery box from Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations is totally pawsome. You have your choice of cat or dog, notions only, pin and notions, or cuff and notions. Subscribers will also be the first to get two new shapes of end minders inspired by our four-legged family members.

The edge of a pink and orange botanical brioche wrap.

The latest design from Amanda of Handmaine Knits, the Floret Wrap, is a botanically-inspired brioche trapezoid that comes in a three-color version and a six-color gradient version.

A teal and green lacy and textured shawl.

The Mermaids in the Waves shawl MKAL from Softyarn Designs is no longer a mystery. Join in and chat along, and enter to win prizes, including a gift card from dyer Jilly and Kiddles.

Amanda of Wild Hair Studio has a Lord of the Rings-inspired spinning Advent calendar.

Introducing: Indie Untangled Everywhere!

An illustration showing various animals in brown, orange and teal knitting, crocheting, spinning and enjoying yarn while connecting through various devices.

Illustration by Eloise Narrigan

By now, many of us expected to be casting on projects to finish in time for the fall fiber festival season, when we could look forward to showing them off while doling out hugs and those appreciative pets that only our fellow yarn people understand.

2020 had other plans for us… A couple of months ago, after we realized that an in-person Indie Untangled trunk show was not in the cards, IU event producer Petrina and I kickstarted our idea for a virtual alternative that would provide the connections we’ve all been craving.

We’re excited to announce that Indie Untangled Everywhere will be taking place on October 15, 16 and 17 and you’re invited to join us from wherever you are!

Previously, we were limited in what we could do by space, time and cost. But now, no matter where you’re located or what your schedule is like, you can gather with us, our indie vendors and some special guests for three whole days of fiber fun.

I’m sure you’re asking: How will this work?​ Well, since you already follow Indie Untangled, it will feel a little familiar, but there are also many new, interactive things we’re excited to include.

General Admission tickets will go on sale next Friday, August 7. Your $5 ticket will take you to a special section of the Indie Untangled website. From there, you’ll be able to browse virtual vendor booths that will feature video introductions and tours, photo galleries, and access to special products and discounts. You’ll also be able to meet dyers and makers during interactive shopping sessions and pop into a virtual lounge where you can connect with fiber friends old and new.

Once you purchase your ticket, you’ll be able to preorder mini boxes that will let you feel and squish our vendors’ Superwash and rustic yarns before you buy full skeins online, purchase Indie Untangled tote bags and swag, and register to attend events, including interactive chats with guest designers.

Additionally, because we know this year in particular has been economically challenging for many people, we are also partnering with one of our generous sponsors, New Hampshire yarn shop Scratch Supply Co., to provide financial assistance to six members of our community.

So, mark your calendar and browse our list of nearly 50 vendors. You’ll see some familiar faces, along with many new ones.

We look forward to seeing you at Indie in October!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Plied Yarn Co.

Two women hold skeins of colorful yarn.

Karida Collins, foreground, and Ann Weaver, the co-owners of Plied Yarn Co.

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

For years, Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. and designer Ann Weaver have expertly brought together color. Recently, the longtime collaborators embarked on an exciting new venture, co-founding Plied Yarn Co. to produce a unique product: woolen-spun yarn that is hand dyed and then plied at the mill.

I was excited to see hints of their new venture pop up on Instagram a few months ago, and now that their cat is out of the bag, I’m thrilled to announce that I will be hosting this new yarn line in my booth at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show!

Tell me how Plied Yarn Co. came about.

Plied Yarns is a collaboration between Karida Collins, founder and president of Neighborhood Fiber Co., and Ann Weaver, knitting instructor and designer. We traveled to Harrisville Designs for a weeklong weaving workshop, which included a mill tour. After the tour, we talked excitedly about the potential for creating a woolen-spun hand-dyed yarn unlike any yarn that was on the market. We refined our ideas and conferred with Harrisville for about a year, figuring out how we could create the yarn we envisioned. Then came a nerve-wracking period of trial and error (the possibility that what we wanted just wouldn’t work was always looming). Finally, we spun and dyed a small test batch and then a larger batch, which was enough to start selling.

How is it different from other hand-dyed yarns?

Plied is different from other hand-dyed yarns in two significant ways. First, unlike the majority of hand-dyed yarns, it is woolen spun, not worsted spun. Woolen spun yarns are not Superwash, and they are lighter and loftier than worsted spun yarns. After washing and blocking, woolen spun yarns bloom beautifully, which makes them suitable for knitting at a wide range of gauges. Second, we hand-dyed each of the plies in each color separately, and then we return them to the mill for plying. The result is complex, multilayered colors because each ply is semisolid.

Skeins of colorful yarn on a curved wooden stool.

What expertise would you say each of you brings to the table in this venture?

Karida brings a dozen years of yarn-dyeing and selling experience, which is invaluable. She not only has the expertise to create the colors we envision, but also has the business insight that comes from over a decade in the industry. Ann brings a strong color point of view from nearly a decade of teaching color theory for knitters and creating designs based on color interaction. Additionally, we both bring our contacts — designers, shops and events — and what we’ve learned from them to the yarn we’re creating. Our goal is to make yarn that is both exciting and appealing to a wide range of fiber artists.

What plans does Ann have for designs in the yarn?

Ann has reworked a few of her designs in Plied, and she is developing a few new designs to be released in 2020. Currently, she is focused on working with other designers and sample knitters to ensure that Plied designs reflect a variety of viewpoints and styles (and she’s really busy making the yarn).

Karida, how does Plied fit into the overall vision you have for Neighborhood Fiber Co.?

Karida imagines herself as a yarn baron, much in the style of past oil barons. Or Mr. Monopoly. Mainly, she wants to wear a monocle. Plied and Neighborhood Fiber Co. have significantly different production processes, even though they’re both hand-dyed yarns. Ideally, Plied will be the beginning of a new kind of offering from Neighborhood Fiber Co. and its affiliates (what we call the Neighborhood Fiber Co. Lab). We want to have a wide variety of yarns, in addition to the wide variety of colors.

Arms up in the air holding bundles of colorful yarn.

How did each of you learn to knit?

Ann learned from her mom, who taught her to knit and purl. Beyond the knit and purl stitches, she is self taught. Over the past few years, she’s taken workshops with other teachers, both local and nationally known, whenever she can to improve her skills and broaden her perspective.

Karida learned to knit right after college. Suddenly faced with the realities of budgeting a life in Washington, DC, with an entry-level salary, she and her friends started looking for ways to have fun at home. Her best friend taught her to knit, and she felt like she was finally doing what she was meant to do.

Do you enjoy other crafts in addition to knitting?

When she’s not knitting, Ann quilts, weaves, crochets, cross-stitches and embroiders, and rummages around at thrift stores, yard sales, auctions and, occasionally, the trash for the “supplies” she needs for these projects. Karida enjoys starting projects and then letting them languish in assorted bins and bags around the house. She has dabbled in quilting, weaving, crochet, cross-stitch, embroidery, rug tufting and basket-weaving. Her main hobby is chasing her 19-month-old son around the house and sneaking in naps whenever she can.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the fiber industry?

First, be prepared to work VERY HARD for a long time. Have a source of income outside your fiber industry pursuit that pays your bills (being independently wealthy works, too). Then, don’t give up. Even when all of your friends and family tell you to quit and get a “real job,” refuse to admit defeat. Take risks! Don’t worry about the long-term financial consequences. You were never going to pay back your student loans anyway. Or move to Baltimore. You can afford to do anything here. Look at us. Living the dream.