If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that the goal of Indie Untangled is to bring together and support indie dyers and makers. I’m so excited and honored to bring that passion to an amazing collaboration between 31+ dyers, makers and designers!
This box, called A Twisted Year’s End, will be filled with at least 31 items, including 20g, 80-90-yard, fingering-weight mini skeins dyed in a jewel tone color palette and other yarn-y treats by a stellar lineup of indies, along with a few patterns to tie it all together. Count down to the end of this crazy year with the ultimate December calendar!
Mary Annarella of Lyrical Knits is building on the comfort of quarantine baking for her latest mystery knit-a-long. Stark Baking Mad: Great British Baking Shawl 2 is another homage to The Great British Baking Show. Mary says that, “Like the show, the MKAL will rise to the occasion with a bit of camp, a recipe with each clue, and an occasional pun.”
Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks and Alisa of KnitSpinQuilt have done it again! Their third collaboration is the limited edition Stained Glass Window Kit. The bag has a rainbow stained glass print, which reminds Alisa of the medieval cathedrals she visits on her dissertation research trips to Europe, while the yarn is dyed to reflect the fabric. Preorders are open now in both their Etsy shops.
Dawn of Fairy Tale Yarn Co, another Twisted Year’s End participant, has some holiday goodies as well. Her Hanukkah and Christmas sets are Star Trek themed and come with 10 50g hanks of yarn and four extras, each packaged for your chosen holiday and available in fingering weight and DK weight.
If you miss the fall leaves and doughnuts of Rhinebeck, get your fix with Jillian of WeeOnes’ special stitch markers.
For her last Sweater Quantity Discount shipment of 2020, Kate of McMullin Fiber Co is offering two colorways at close to wholesale pricing. Ink is a rich navy blue and Sunflower is a sunny golden yellow. Act fast, because these installments sell out quickly!
Heather of Sew Happy Jane has teamed up with designer Makenzie Alvarez of Hanks and Needles on the River’s Edge pattern collection, which is a beautiful compromise between full-fledged sweater and easy accessory. The collection is inspired by the quiet banks of a winding river, with a simple cabled design that showcases a tonal hand-dyed yarn. The seamless cardigan features a flowing cable panel down the back and has a unique construction that allows you to work the collar and the body at the same time. If you’re not in a sweater frame of mind, the one-skein River’s Edge Hat is a small taste of a similar cable pattern.
Both patterns are 25% off through this Monday, and Heather has dyed-to-order listings with suggested colorways at a discounted price on a choice of three DK base yarns.
Deb of Spruce Lane Designs’ latest sweater design, Variation on a Twist, is a top down, short- (yes!) or long-sleeved DK-weight pullover with a simple garter and twisted stitch pattern that adorns the yoke.
Stefania and Giulia of Lanivendole are offering their very first Advent Calendar. They include 24 mini skeins plus one full skein of A Chic Blend, a fingering-weight blend of Italian wool, mohair and alpaca, and a set of hand-molded stitch markers from Carla of Laboratorio Indie.
Heather of Pumpkins and Wool has released 10 new multicolored tweed colorways and 10 new neutral tweed colorways, plus five new colorways of mohair/silk.
The new La Cave à Laine Aquarelle Collection consists of organic cotton that Sara sources from eco-conscious European suppliers and dyes with fiber reactive dyes in her atelier in Alsace, France.
The fall collection from Constance of Les laines Coco has a base of rich browns, soft yellows and deep reds, which are complemented by bright pink mohairs, as well as pops of orange moss green.
Emily of Kitty With A Cupcake is also celebrating fall today with the debut of her Autumnal Equinox Hat and Autumnal Equinox Mitts. Both designs are dotted by acorns formed by slipped stitch cables with seed stitch. Both patterns are being featured at Knits & Knots Tahoe for the Sierra Nevada Yarn Crawl.
Join designer Paula Pereira at Virtual Knitting Live, where she’s teaching a class on knitting her trademark Petite Boxy-style sweater, which features a fitted yoke, fitted sleeves, some ease on the body and a “kinda” cropped shape that is flattering on all bodies.
It’s time for tweed! the latest Eden Cottage Yarns update features new batches of her tweedy Keswick Fingering and Keswick DK. Use it for a revamped version of the Chromium scarf, designed by Mr. ECY, David O’Kelly.
Marny Kindness designed her Rhody Love Hat as a love letter to her home state of Rhode Island, ideal for exploring Providence or walking on the beach. The yarn is from fellow RIer Jill of Jilly and Kiddles.
Misfit Yarns’ fall colors — which include Lake Michigan Sunset, Fiery Foliage, Rustic Harvest, Monarch and PSL — are now available on two new bases: MCN and Merino Camel.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Speaking of animals, Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations has added some sparkly friends to her menagerie of creature-shaped “end minders.”
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.
Welcome the colder weather with Mona’s new Let It Snow hat pattern! This colorwork pattern is available in both tammy and beanie style.
IU newcomer Lester of Prosper Yarns is obsessed with Goddess, her laceweight Kid Mohair/Merino.
Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns has a new colourway called Festive Fun that is available to preorder.