Congrats to our Super Special KAL winners!

A collage of colorful knitted objects.

Back in March, I decided back to launch the Indie Untangled Super Special KAL so we’d have some fun knitting incentives. Not that we really need prizes, let alone a pandemic, to inspire our crafting mojo, but it is nice to have deadlines.

Over three months, there were 70 total entries, including 16 in the sock category and 15 in the sweater category (but only one in the new bralette category, which surprised me!). Last week, I selected 15 winners in eight categories via random number generator. Here are the winning FOs (please note that the links go to Ravelry).

Sweater

Knitting Our National Parks

Shawl

Cowl

Mitts

Socks

Bralette

Hat

What to stash this week: A yarn and needle library

Navy blue and hot pink cases.

Stephanie Earp, a knitwear designer from Montreal, designed the ultimate interchangeable needle case. Handmade in small batches of 100% wool felt, the case has slots for up to 24 pairs of interchangeable needle tips up to 10mm in size — and they won’t budge from their suede pouches, no matter how much you shake them — four pockets for cables and a large zippered pocket for notions. The cherry on the stitcher’s sundae is a magnetized center panel to hold stitch markers, scissors and tapestry needles. 

A peach and forest green colorwork yoke sweater.

Each confined to their homes in coastal Italy, Stefania and Giulia of Lanivendole recently embarked on some “blind dyeing” and created three new colorways in their respective studios. The result is six subtly variegated shades that go together, and will be available in a shop update next Thursday, April 30, along with yarn for the Udo sweater by Orlane Sucche. The sweater was planned for an in-person release at the Knit Eat festival in Lyon, but will debut the day of the update on Ravelry.

A silver cabled hat with a gold pompom.

Designer Mary Annarella summed up her thoughts about 2020 with a new cabled hat pattern featuring a halo of fuzzy mohair to soften the blow. Omgwtf2020 is 30% off through April 28, no code needed.

An aqua to teal yarn fade.

Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks doesn’t have anything against neon speckles, but her fades are of the — surprise — murky variety. Her new fade sets use Deep Sock or Harbour Singles Fingering, with a total of 1600 yards per set. And until life gets back to some degree of normalcy, all items in her Etsy shop remain 15% off using code CXL15 at checkout.

A mint green knit shawl sits on a woman's shoulders.

Whether you’re in the mood for a mindless or complex project, all of Sara of La Cave à Laine’s patterns, from endless, comforting garter to challenging brioche, are buy one get one free, no code needed.

Yarn in bright colors.

7th Floor Yarn introduced a DK-weight 50/50 cotton/Merino blend that’s perfect for spring and summer projects.

A bell sleeve sweater in mint speckled yarn with a dark blue accents at the hem and sleeves.

Lena of Softyarn Design has released her size-inclusive Emmerly Sweater, and you can get 30% off the pattern through this Monday with the code springknitting on Ravelry and Etsy.

ReVe Design Co has created heel and toe-less socks for yoga, pilates and dance.

What to knit with stranded mohair — Olympic National Park edition

1

A green speckled sweater with radiating textured stitches.

After years of declaring that I couldn’t tolerate mohair, I decided to take the plunge earlier this year and knit an As If Tee and Love Note sweater. I convinced myself that they were quick knits — the As If took me only one week, and the Love Note took me two — so if they were too itchy to wear, I wouldn’t have lost so much time. And do you know what? Those sweaters are some of the softest, and least itchy, sweaters I’ve knit!

So, when Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. showed me the inspiration photo for her installment of Knitting Our National Parks, I decided the yarn needed to have a complementary colorway in mohair/silk. Then when I saw the resulting colorways — the speckled Rialto Beach and a complementary mohair called Green Anemone — I knew just the pattern for it.

Sorrel from Wool & Pine — a design collaboration between Selena of Dank Fiber and Abbye of Abbye Knits, who are coincidentally from the Pacific Northwest — was already in my favorites on Ravelry, and I think it would be perfect for this color combination (the sample shown above includes a fade of colors, but it would look perfect in one speckled colorway). If you’re not a sweater knitter, Wool & Pine’s Calliope Nest Cowl would also be a great match.

As a bonus, Rialto Beach is available in both sock and DK, which increases the pattern possibilities!

Here are some more pattern suggestions for using the two colorways together.

Cowls

A red cabled cowl.

Indira Cowl by Vanessa Smith

Speckled Snow by Lucinda Iglesias

Hats

A silver cabled hat with a gold pompom.

Omgwtf2020 by Mary Annarella

Everyday Slouchy Beanie by Dragon Hoard Designs

úlfur hat by ash alberg

Kobuk by Caitlin Hunter (for DK)

Shawls

A lacy shawl in pale pink.

PRIMA by Shellie Anderson

Ambara by Paula Pereira

More Sweaters

A woman with purple hair models an orange and pink sweater.

My As If Tee, which could be knit with McMullin Fiber Co. Posh DK if you’re a loose knitter.

Diaphanous Raglan by Jessie Maed Designs

Susurrus by Joji Locatelli

Stardust Sweater by Dragon Hoard Designs

Gabrielle, a soon-to-be-published pattern from Geraldine Yang, for use with DK

See all the suggestions on Ravelry.

Knitting Olympic National Park: From a crafty park ranger’s view

3
A beach alongside mountains on a clear day.

Second Beach at La Push, Washington, Olympic National Park

[Ed.’s note: This post coincides with the release of the Knitting Our National Parks colorway from McMullin Fiber Co., inspired by Olympic National Park. It’s available to preorder through May 1, 2020.]

There’s nothing quite like knitting in peace and quiet. And it’s a tough thing to find in our bustling world. But at Olympic National Park, it exists. And it’s not just any peace and quiet.

It’s complete silence.

In fact, some would argue the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park takes the cake as the quietest place in the United States — in one square inch of rainforest.

The summer I worked as a park ranger, I was told about this One Square Inch (and instructed to warn people to stay on trail if they were headed to find it). So naturally, I sought it out as a prime knitting spot.

The park is, without a doubt, the epitome of peace. Walking through the Hall of Mosses feels like sneaking through an empty home. And yet, there’s a buzz around you. A feeling of abundant life just beyond the boundaries of your senses.

And it’s a gorgeous destination for knitting. Later, I’ll list my favorite knitting spots around the park. But the one I visited most was just alongside the Hoh River. This was my chosen sanctuary for elk-watching, solitude, simply being — and of course, sneaking in a little crafting.

A tree arches over a forest trail.

Hall of Mosses Trail, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park. Photo by Amira Umphres

Living and Working as a Crafty Park Ranger

Working as a ranger came with feelings of great responsibility, pride and passion for untamed wilderness. It also came with a lot of time alone in a very small entrance booth facing the same two trees for hours at a time.

Eventually, I got to know and love those two trees (which turned out to be red alders). I started to notice little details, like their adorably tiny pine cones. Soon, I was reading about them. Apparently, after a wildfire, red alder trees are among the first to courageously repopulate the area, making way for new life. And the knitter in me was excited to learn that their bark could be used to create a natural, rusty red dye.

Suddenly, my nameless tree companions became a life form I was emotionally invested in.

This mirrored my experience as I got to know the park. Every lichen, wasp, bird and stone became a source of fascination until this place I called my “office” took root inside of me. And though I no longer work and live on the Olympic Peninsula, it’s part of who I am.

And it continues to inspire the patterns, colors and textures I choose for knitting.

A green handknit sweater and hat.

I often choose deep greens as I did for this Tin Can Knits Flax Sweater (left), or forest motifs like this Boyland Knitworks’ Faller’s Cap (right). Photos by Amira Umphres

The first time I saw Olympic National Park was the summer of 2013. It got under my skin and never left. Its enchanting landscape has a habit of taking hold of your heart. I dreamed of being a part of it.

I’d volunteered for the San Antonio Missions National Park, majored in anthropology as an undergraduate and worked for UT Austin’s computed-tomography lab in the Geosciences school. You could say I was a little obsessed with science, history and natural heritage.

But it wasn’t until I saw a documentary on national parks where an African American park ranger was interviewed that I actually felt I could take the leap. Seeing someone who looked like me in ranger uniform somehow melted away a lot of the doubts I’d had about becoming a ranger myself.

With this thought floating in the back of my head, and some helpful tips from a friend who’d worked as a park ranger, in the spring of 2015, I sent out applications to almost every national park in the U.S.

I only got one reply.

It was from Olympic. They had a spot for me at the Hoh Rainforest.

I said yes immediately and drove 1,900 miles from my home in Iowa with my family in tow. We rented a one-bedroom house connected to an old surf shop in Forks (the town of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books fame) and settled in for the summer.

Snow-covered mountains, an African American woman in a park ranger uniform holds a baby, purple flowers by a body of water.

From left to right: Hurricane Ridge, My daughter, Nora and I, Flowers in the park. Photos by Amira Umphres

Olympic National Park is an unparalleled protected wilderness. Not a single road crosses through the park. To get from one end of the peninsula to the other, you have to go the long way around (or, I suppose, you could hike!).

The peninsula has a population of around 378,000, spread out over 3,600 square miles. My fellow rangers were a tight-knit bunch. There’s not much choice when you’re living in such a remote place.

Though I was stationed at the Hoh, part of my job was to explore the rest of the park. We had work days dedicated to getting up close and personal with as many areas of the park as we could. It’s a very, very big park.

Life on the Olympic Peninsula

Not only is the park large in size, it’s large in biodiversity.

Olympic shelters an impressive range of flora and fauna. There’s a swift elevation change between the snowy mountain peaks and the sweeping coastal forests and beaches. These changes create precious and varied habitats. Olympic also houses the last stand of old growth temperate rainforest in the lower 48 states.

Like the landscape, the weather varies wildly. Olympic’s intense beauty is carved out by landslides, floods, wind storms, avalanches, heavy snows and wildfires.

Black bears, beaver, salmon, cougars, mink, whales, deer, marmots and otters (among many others) call the park home. And so does the largest herd of wild Roosevelt elk in the country.

Actually, the Roosevelt elk were the first to greet me on my first day at work. The Upper Hoh Road stretches roughly 18 miles from the main highway to the park entrance. It curves and bumps through towering hemlock, spruce and cedar trees, taking you around blind corners and sharp curves.

It was around one of these corners that I was welcomed — and stopped — by a herd of elk that had chosen the road as a spot for a nap.

I honked my horn. Nothing. Honked again. Got a few stares.

So I waited. No one was coming or going on the road that time of morning. I had no cell service.

After a couple of lazy minutes, they decided to move on. Slowly. I was late to work. And I learned to live a little more slowly in this place. Slowly, and far more connected to (and at the mercy of) nature than I’d ever been.

A Place of Connection

Knitting so often comes from a place of love and connection to the things we deeply care for. And Olympic is a living, breathing reminder of connection. I’ll share just one, small piece of that connection here.

Large tree roots.

A fallen tree showing its roots, Olympic National Park. Photo by Amira Umphres.

During one of those quiet times working the entrance booth, I came across a brief paragraph in a book. It was about the shallow roots of the rainforest’s trees.

With approximately 140 inches of annual rainfall, they have no reason to go far, which made sense to me. But I hadn’t thought about how these shallow roots played a role in the grand scheme of things.

Washington’s wind storms are notorious for blowing down massive trees, and the trees fall easily because of their shallow roots. And when they fall across a river, they create shelters — shelters where salmon can safely spawn, and where their tiny fry can grow and flourish. Once they’re old enough, after living in the safety of the fallen tree, they swim downriver, following it to the distant ocean, where they remain for several years.

But once they’re ready, they remember. They find their river. And not just any river — their home river. They swim with all their strength to get back. They jump as they go, fighting against the currents.

They don’t just return to the same river — they return to the exact place, the shelter, where they were born. And there they spawn… and die.

Their bodies become part of the soil, bringing rich nutrients from the ocean. Nutrients needed by — you guessed it — the trees that helped bring them safely into the world. They give back to the trees with their lives.

I’d sit alongside these rivers, watching the trees and, later in the fall, watching the salmon return. It was my favorite place to knit, because knitting for me is a way to connect, to make something I could use to give back to those who nurtured me with their love and kindness. Like trees and salmon.

A beach and a lake in clouds and fog.

Second Beach on a cloudy day (left) and Lake Crescent in fog (right). Photos by Amira Umphres

5 favorite knitting spots in Olympic

Second Beach at La Push: Second Beach doesn’t require a ton of hiking to get to the coast — which meant I could haul plenty of yarn. The beach is breathtaking and rarely overwhelmed with people. Driftwood from massive trees make perfect natural seating for crafting.

Lake Crescent: Lake Crescent is downright dreamy with crystal waters encased by mountains. One of my favorite knitting moments on Lake Crescent was watching a bald eagle float through the sky, then dive for fish.

Hoh River: It’s no surprise that the Hoh River was one of my favorite knitting spots. There was silence, beauty and serenity beyond compare.

Kalaloch Lodge: Kalaloch’s Creekside Restaurant — there’s no better place to catch a sunset. And no place better for public knitting than while watching the Pacific do its thing from an elegant dining room.

Ruby Beach: Low tide at Ruby Beach is an absolute must-see. And tide pools were the perfect place to have my kiddo entertained, searching for starfish and sea urchins while I kicked back on a beach blanket with my latest WIP.

~~~

Olympic National Park is a stunning palette of colors — from pristine snow to blue glaciers, brilliant emeralds and deep mossy greens, dusky sand beaches and steely ocean skies, purple starfish and white foamy waves, slick black sea stacks and peach sunsets. I can’t think of a better place to knit — and to reflect on the people, places and moments that inspire us to keep creating.

What to stash this week: support our indies

A skein of red mohair yarn.

Kathy and Hannah at Despondent Dyes, who were slated to vend at VKL Seattle this weekend, decided to put their extra inventory to good use after the show was postponed due to COVID-19. They will be donating 15% of sales made from March 13 to 15 to Partners in Health, which helps those in need get access to live-saving care. 

A skein of purple yarn next to a seashell.

Karen of Seven Sisters Arts, who was planning to vend at VKL Seattle, is offering her yarn at 15% off with the code VKE from 12 noon EDT today through Sunday at midnight. The Steampunk Hat is being released today as well and 50% of all pattern sales for the weekend will be donated to H.O.M.E., an organization that assists homeless and low-income people with shelter and job skills.

A white bag with a blue and green leaf pattern.

Allena of StarKits was scheduled to vend at the Pittsburgh Creative Arts Festival and YarnCon in Chicago, so check out her project bags for all fiber artists.

A skein of white yarn with pink and purple speckles.

YarnCon was Chicago-based Michele’s first big event as Misfit Yarns, so show her some support by checking out her bright, speckled colorways in a variety of bases.

A yellow to aqua gradient yarn.

Elisabeth of Wolle’s Yarn Creations had been set to vend at the Carolina FiberFest in Raleigh this weekend. She’s now offering a 10% discount throughout the weekend to make up for lost sales. Use coupon code RALEIGH at checkout.

A two-toned pink bag with a blue strap.

Sara of La Cave à Laine’s crossbody bags recently got an upgrade and now feature fully detachable and adjustable crossbody straps. Some of the bags feature a special coated cotton, from Le Jacquard Français, an historic textile brand created in the Vosges Mountains near Sara’s home in France.

A bright colorwork hat with pink, blue and gold.

Selena of Sweater Sisters has kits for Lynette Meek’s new Fair Isle hat pattern, Tulipa. It features Selena’s newest hand-dyed base Au Naturale and a Ravelry download code for a free copy of the pattern.

A red and purple bag with a Z Scrabble tile.

Good Water & Co., a Pennsylvania-based, mother-daughter project-bag-making team, uses 100% quilter’s grade cotton or canvas sourced from small, local quilt shops for their products, including a signature Build A Bag, which includes multiple coordinating accessories.

Victoria’s next update includes a special colorway called Trans Rights are Human Rights and pastel rainbow mini skein sets. 20% of the purchase price donated to Stonewall, a UK organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community.Pastel rainbow mini skeins.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns’ next update includes a special colorway called Trans Rights are Human Rights and pastel rainbow mini skein sets. 20% of the purchase price donated to Stonewall, a UK organization supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

2019 Year In Review: Indie Untangled KAL

1

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.

What to stash this week: come together

A maroon hat with a yellow geometric pattern

Woolly Wormhead, a self-proclaimed hat architect, has just released her latest collection that challenges the idea of how a colorwork hat is constructed. Called Convergence, the collection of six hat patterns brings together a range of creative techniques — short rows, mosaic knitting and all-over patterns — in Woolly’s unique sideways construction. Woolly covers the techniques in depth, with detailed photographic tutorials in the eBook, so you get a knitting lesson in each pattern.

Plum, plum and aqua and aqua skeins of yarn

The WayfaringYarns quarterly Yarn Grab is up on the Sweater Sisters site! Selena’s taking preorders for the fall palette colors on four different bases through Saturday, September 14, with free shipping in the U.S.

A green floral bag with a gray Downton Abbey lining

Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios has a ready-to-ship Downton Abbey tribute going live today at 9 a.m. Pacific. Bring your project bag and knit in the theater during the Downton movie!

Green, blue and plum hats with fur pom poms

Marian of Marianated Yarns has a new base, a 2-ply bulky Superwash Merino called Gusto. It’s currently available for preorder and is perfect for quick-knit accessories, like the Hunterdon Hat by Katy Carroll.

Blue, pink and yellow variegated yarn untwisted

Rachelle of Moondrake Co. is prepping for fall and winter with some rich and dark colors. This IU newcomer also takes requests for sweater quantities, so you can really get ready for sweater weather.

Orange and cream colored yarn

Heather of the appropriately-named Pumpkins and Wool has a new fall collection with five new colorways that are ready to ship.

What to stash this week: stashing for a cause

A collage with a snow-covered mountain and purple sky, and pale purple yarn

I have a soft spot for Mount Rainier in Washington State as it’s the first national park I ever visited, almost exactly 10 years ago. Fittingly, Heather of Early Grey Fiber Company, based in the Pacific Northwest, chose this photo of a purple-y winter sunrise over Naches Peak, taken by parks volunteer JD Hascup. The Highest Peak will be dyed on Darjeeling Sock, a 75/25 blend of Superwash Merino and nylon that comes in generous 463-yard skeins. It’s available to preorder on Indie Untangled through August 23 and will ship at the end of September. As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation. 

Pink and purple skeins of yarn

Here’s another cause worth stashing for: Christina has channeled her feelings of frustration about current events into two a new collection called Meaningful Action. 25% of sales of these two colorways, Bleeding Heart and No More Thoughts and Prayers, will be donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center and Everytown for Gun Safety.

Presents wrapped in brown paper and the words Knit Yourself A Merry Little Christmas BigFootFibers 2019 Advent Calendar

Advent calendars from BigFootFibers are available to preorder now! They come with 24 individually-wrapped and numbered minis, one full-sized skein to open December 25, a Christmas-themed, shawl-sized bag by SouthernSparrowHandmade, and more!

Aqua bags that say Knitting is my happy place

Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios is having a ready-to-ship shop update today at 9 a.m. Pacific with some old favorites, including her exclusive Knitting is my Happy Place design and Knitmare on Elm Street. 

A gray hat with an orange accent and an orange hat with a gray accent

Amy of Summit Rd. Fibers has special fall knit kits available for preorder through August 12. The kits feature the Archer’s Beanie design by Lacy from Two Arrows & Co. There are two colorways to choose from and enough yarn to make two beanies!

A baggy purple long-sleeve T-shirt with a purple lace trim

Joan of White Lies Designs has created unique kits for those of you who don’t want to knit a whole sweater. Hybrid Tee kits come with a 100% cotton, A-line tee and organic cotton yarn. Choose your color and then decide which style to knit.

Inspired by her latest infatuation with A Court of Thorns and Roses, Gabby of Once Upon a Corgi presents An Advent of Wool and Minis.

What to stash this week: fab finds

Heather of Heather’s Yarn Barn is dyeing small batches of colorways each month all inspired around a theme. This month’s colorways have an antique theme and include Yellow Flowers (pictured above), Rusty Old Keys and Lavender End Table.

Yarn clubs are such a great way to explore the work of new-to-you dyers, designers and other creative folks, and to fall in love with colorways that you may not have found on your own. Of course, you need a perfect theme to tie it all together. Diane of Lady Dye Yarns has been dedicated to promoting the work of women color in the fiber industry, and her latest club, called the Fab 8 Craft Club, is comprised of products from eight black female yarn-trepreneurs, including Brooke of Fully Spun.

Laura and Co.’s January Bag of the Month serves up some cuteness, but you’ll want to wash these creatures’ mouths out with soap (hand wash, of course). They have chosen three super cool designs from artist Cynthia Frenette. Preorders open today 9 a.m. PST and close at midnight on Monday, January 14.

Heather of Earl Grey Fiber Co.’s Afternoon Tea Collection is a quarterly collection of sock sets inspired by the best hot beverage. Three new sock sets, which include one full skein and two coordinating minis, will be debuting in a shop update on January 19.

Julia’s new free Nimbus hat is designed to be knit with either fingering, sport or DK weight yarn held with mohair silk lace. The cable crown shows off your inner supernatural strength, even on days when a rain cloud is hovering over you.

Grab the Mrs. Frog colorway from IU newcomer Wobble Gobble Yarn.