Stock up on Spotlight makers at Scratch Supply Co.

A bathtub full of yarn.

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.

We’ve loved teaming up with Jessica and Karen of New Hampshire Yarn shop Scratch Supply Co. (dig their new and improved logo!) on our events because their shop is filled with indie companies. In fact, they also carry, or will soon carry, several of the dyers and makers we featured at the Indie Spotlight show last weekend (if you missed it, you can still register to catch the recordings).

Check out their guide to the Spotlight indies they carry.

A green badge with a yellow tent between two pine trees that reads Camp Knitter.

adKnits

Augusta, based in Richmond, VA, creates a a fiber-inspired gift line that incorporates an earthy aesthetic, pops of color, and punny takes on yarn into a line of stickers, pins, project bags, stitch markers, and other fun items for knitters and makers.

“My goal is to connect knitters to nature and help them express their unique woods-walking, mountain-climbing, yarn-loving identity through my fiber-themed designs!”

A skein of red yarn.

Hudson + West

Hudson + West is a new yarn company dedicated to bringing innovative American-made yarns to the handknitting market, along with modern and wearable designs that highlight those yarns’ best qualities. Hudson + West was founded in 2019 by Meghan Babin, the former editor of Interweave Knits, and Sloane Rosenthal, a knitwear designer (and recovering litigator). Their name evokes our disparate locations: Meghan hails from New York’s Hudson River Valley, while Sloane calls the San Francisco Bay Area home.

“We’re both obsessed with ruggedly handsome yarns, practical design, and thoughtful, well-made goods. We’re serious students of yarn construction and knitwear design, and passionate about details. We’re also both lovers of the outdoors, and of the rugged, starkly beautiful landscapes of the American west that inspired and indeed, birthed, our first two yarns.”

A skein of tie-dyed yarn.

The Wandering Flock

The Wandering Flock is a contemporary Knitwear design studio and hand dyed yarn line based in Brooklyn, NY. In the summer of 2019, using the experience she had gained from working in fashion. Geraldine took a leap of faith and started The Wandering Flock.

“Drawing my inspirations the runway to streetwear, I create colors that are fun, wearable and contemporary.”

Coming soon is yarn from:

Brown, pink and aqua yarn.

Mitchell’s Creations

Terra is a Georgia native now living in Louisiana for over a decade. Mitchell’s Creations started with cakes and project bags and years later grew into much more.

“When looking for yarn for the first ever KAL I participated in, I went to my LYS for yarn. While they had nice yarn, I just didn’t see what I was looking for and this is where yarn dyeing started and I haven’t looked back.”

Bobbins of colorful yarn.

Plied

Plied Yarns is a new venture from Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. and Ann Weaver of Weaverknits! These two friends have worked with the mill at Harrisville Designs to create North Ave, an innovative woolen-spun, hand-dyed, marled yarn.

What to stash this week: Today’s special

A collage of yarn and bags.Our Indie Spotlight show launches today (there’s a vendor meet and greet at 1 p.m. Eastern and the marketplace officially opens at 2! Aside from shining the spotlight on 22 indie dyers and makers, I am really excited about the show specials. We all know how hard it is to resist those items, which are like souvenirs of the event.

All 22 of our vendors are offering exclusive colorways or debuting special products — plus there’s a lovely Indie Spotlight tote bag you can fit it all in! We hope you can join us this weekend and snag some of these tempting goodies.

Starting from the top left corner and working across each row, we have the Indie Untangled tote and products from our sponsors:

Peach Pop from The Wandering Flock
Sparkle Minis Sets from Jilly & Kiddles
Karst, a new base from Gothfarm Yarn
Dragon Fruit from Greenwood Fiberworks
Sunset Shawl kits from Hudson + West
Merbun Parade from Jessica’s Rabbits
Mr Moonlight from Little Fox Yarn 
Beach knitting stitch markers from Purlsmith

A collage of yarn and bags.

Starting from the top left corner and working across each row, we have:

Yarn-themed stickers from adKnits
The Terri & Brian Show from AT Haynes House Yarns
A three-skein fade from Crabapple Yarns
Festival Season from Dye Mad Yarns
New Suri Alpaca Lace from Hardware City Yarn Co.
Kits from M1 Yarns
A Summer Nights Mini Skein Gradient from McMullin Fiber Co
Aura from Mitchell’s Creations
Shattered Vale and Scottish Elfame from Native Fibers
Steal Away from Passion Knits Yarn
Watercolor Cowl kits from Plied Yarns
OH SNAP from Queen City Yarn
The More Is More bag from Stephanie Earp
A floral bag from Yarn & Whiskey

Register now to snag these!

Skeins of purple and pale green yarn.
Sign-ups are open for SpaceCadet’s Yarn Alliance yarn club, where every package is an exploration of color.

Orange and blue bird stitch markers in a hand.

The WeeOnes shop is in spring migration mode and filled with vibrantly colored birds. There are Baltimore Orioles and others to make your heart sing.

A collage of fluorescent pink and orange yarn and mushrooms.
WoolenWomenFibers is a mother/twin daughters team that includes a molecular scientist who now uses her laboratory skills in the dye studio to create indie-dyed yarn ”down to a science!” They also offer knitting jewelry and project bags to create one-of-a-kind knit and crochet kits.

White mini skeins speckled with black.

Heather of Pumpkins and Wool has opened preorders for her Halloween and Christmas Advent calendars.

A collage with Santa on a beach and a Christmas tree under a palm tree.

Preorders are still open for 7th Floor Yarn’s Christmas in July Advent kits.

Pre-Spotlight Untangling: Jessica’s Rabbits

A woman with long curly hair holding a white and gold rabbit.

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.

I had heard about Jessica’s Rabbits and browsed the booth briefly at last year’s Kings County Fiber Festival, a small outdoor event that takes place a few miles from my Brooklyn apartment. I didn’t realize that owner/bunny wrangler/dyer Jessica Schmitz and I only live a few blocks away from each other until she applied for Indie Spotlight! Once I reach my fully vaxxed status, I look forward to meeting Jessica and seeing her adorable buns in real life, but for now I, and all of you, can have fun getting to know her virtually this weekend, and via this blog interview.

Tell us the story of how Jessica’s Rabbits came to be.

 I moved to New York a few weeks before 9-11 to study classical flute. From that time until 2014, I lived in small city apartments — studios or tiny one bedrooms (if the real estate gods were smiling down upon me). But about six-and-a-half years ago I decided I needed to embrace my Midwestern roots and find more space, whether that be in the city or out.

Luckily, I found a listing for an old, potentially haunted, Victorian home in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn. This was about the time I was falling deep in the yarn spinning rabbit hole, and a month into residence in my shockingly space-filled new digs I went to Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool Festival.

I didn’t go to Rhinebeck planning to stumble upon a booth with baby angora bunnies, take one home, and build a tiny furry commune in South Brooklyn, but that’s precisely what happened. The little bun that would become Jojo Cinnabun stuck his little head out of the litter box, jumped on me, and Bunny Town, USA was born.

For a few years after that fateful hop, I focused on learning how to spin and building inventory, and then when COVID happened (and flute work temporarily evaporated) I finally got a website together (yay pandemic projects!) Our little business launched in summer 2020.

Pink crimped yarn.

You live not to far away from me in Brooklyn! What is it like raising fiber animals in the city?

It’s amazing! I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, but have extended family in Indiana and farming has always been close to my heart. Having a little micro farm is the best of both worlds for me: I can get my Midwestern on with the buns, but then be close enough to the city for music work.

There are some challenges, however, to raising buns in the five boroughs: mainly getting food. Shockingly, there aren’t any Tractor Supply stores in the city, so I order about 300 pounds in bulk from New Jersey and drive out there every few months. The folks in the store call me “The Bunny Lady.”

Someday I’d also love to add some larger fiber friends to my family, and while I did look into subletting the downstairs apartment to an alpaca, that didn’t pan out (why is NYC always raining on my parade?). So maybe in the future I’ll follow in the footsteps of many a Brooklyn hipster before me and journey to the Hudson Valley.

What inspires your colorways?

It’s funny — as a musician and New Yorker I only wear black. So much of my yarn is the opposite of this fashion cosmic hole, defined by extreme brights and neons. I follow a lot of resin art accounts on Instagram, and the bold, glassy colors that come from alcohol ink in this genre are absolutely stunning.

Because all of my yarn is handspun, I dye much of it “in the wool,” meaning dyeing the fiber before I spin in. I love the variation this method brings, because I can blend colors together once they are already dry to highlight and accentuate different patterns. It’s more work doing it this way, but totally worth it to really make colors pop.

The natural colors of the buns is a big inspiration as well. Much of the fiber that I dye is from white bunnies, but overdyeing the natural greys, oranges, and blacks that the buns produce themselves can be a lot of fun.

Pink and blue yarn.

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

I love retro pinks, turquoises, and oranges (my apartment is a mid-century modern rainbow) and these hues carry through much of my work. When I first started spinning, I actually didn’t use any human-made dye, opting instead for natural dyes with avocado, madder root, etc. While I love these gorgeous soft tones, I couldn’t really find the bright turquoise I was craving with indigo. So I opened up the acid dye door just a tad to find a rich bright blue, and the other neons came pouring in.

I do still occasionally use natural dyes, but the chemistry behind all the subtle shades is a bit intimidating to me (I went to flute school, after all).

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

I’ve been dreaming of speckled ombré kits but haven’t taken the plunge yet. Dyeing yarn after I’ve already spun it is scary to me, because if I mess it up I remember how darn long it took to spin the skein. I think the key to unlocking gradient success will be practicing on yarn I didn’t spin, and then working my way up to angora handspun victory (hopefully 😉 ).

Blue, pink, orange and yellow yarn.

Jessica’s Indie Spotlight show special, Merbun Parade.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Spotlight?

I’m so very excited for Indie Spotlight! I’m planning on introducing folks to my new spring collection, which includes a lot of multi-animal fiber blends mixing angora with mohair, superfine Merino, alpaca, and more. I’m also launching a new yarn exclusive to Indie Spotlight called Bunboo, which is a blend of angora with bamboo fiber. Both fibers are incredibly soft and silky, and they of course take dye differently so the color variation is delicate and subtle.

When and how did you learn to knit?

While I was always a crafty kid, I actually didn’t learn to knit until I was about 30 and my brother and sister-in-law had a baby! I wanted to make my nephew a blanket so I went to Michaels, got a bunch of acrylic yarn, and hit YouTube. I didn’t know that circular needles were a thing, and remember being so incredibly perplexed as to how people made such large blankets on such small straight needles. I ended up making about 40 small squares and seaming them together. I’m so glad those medieval dark days are behind me.

Blue, pink, orange and yellow yarn.

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

I’m always so amazed with the gorgeous items my customers make! One of my recent favorites was with my Bunicornyarn, a bulky 2-ply of brightly dyed angora and white alpaca, where the customer used 80 yards as the cuffs and neckline on a white form-fitting sweater.

What’s currently on your needles?

Know what’s crazy? Nothing! I’ve been spending all my time spinning and dyeing, I’ve run out of time to knit. But, once spring lightens up a bit I have a Knit Collage cardigan I’m dying to make that uses some super bulky wool in black and hot pink. I’m also soon to be in fall-pattern-planning mode for some bulky spins for cold days, 2021.

What to stash this week: Spotlight flash sale

An illustration of a bear wearing a teal sweater under spotlights.

We are just one week away from the latest Indie Untangled virtual show and I’m so excited about it —  there are so many new vendors I’m looking forward to meeting and shopping with. Have you checked out our list of dyers, podcasters and designers who are part of this event?

Haven’t purchased your ticket yet? You’re in luck, since we’re have having a 72-hour flash sale on Indie Untangled Spotlight admission tickets. Save 25% off by using this special link to register by Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Pacific.
 
Need a last-minute gift for the special crafter in your life? bring them to Indie Spotlight! The two of you can hang out in lounge, attend virtual shopping sessions and play bingo and trivia together. 

Skeins of pale pink yarn.

Giulia and Stefania of Lanivendole are opening sign-ups on Sunday for their latest yarn club, which is inspired by the enchanted woods and the paintings of Gustav Klimt. Each club box will include 200g of their A Stormy Blend – Perla, a blend of Italian Wool and alpaca in a colorway hand-dyed exclusively for the club, and two accessories from Italian makers.

Preorders are open for Queen City Yarn’s Home Alone-themed Advent calendar that will leave you screaming like Kevin McAllister with aftershave. Boxes include 24 92-yard mini skeins and on full skein, along with three patterns.

Rainbow speckled yarn.

Mother/daughter team Holly and Erin of Stitch Stuff Yarn have new spring colors on fingering-weight 100% Superwash Merino wool. You can also learn more about the Stuff family (yes, that’s really their name!) in their intro post.

Superwash versus Non-Superwash

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Skeins of gray yarn hanging on wooden clothespins.

Superwash skein left, non-Superwash skein right.

Superwash and non-Superwash yarns, what’s the difference? After all, aren’t they both wool? In my view as a knitter and a natural dyer, they are related in the way a horse, and the Emerald City’s Horse of a Different Color would be!

To understand, let’s look at the horse first, or in our case the raw wool! Sheep wool is made of natural fibrous proteins from the keratin group. The keratin is what gives yarn its flexibility, elasticity, resilience and memory. Each “hair” has a complex physical structure, and is made up of overlapping minuscule scales. The scales help repel dirt and allow the fibers to felt. In the case of some non-Superwash fibers, felting does not occur, as in down breeds. In their natural state, the fibers are coated with a waxy coat of lanolin which serves as a water repellent. During wool processing, the lanolin is removed.

Now, let’s look at the Horse of a Different Color, the Superwash. The most common treatment used to transform a yarn into “Superwash” is the Chlorine-Hercosett process. To etch the scales we talked about earlier, the fiber is chlorinated with either chlorine gas or a chlorine solution, followed by the application of a plastic resin to coat the fibers. The result is a yarn you can wash in the washing machine that will not felt.

Before I discuss the difference between the two types of yarn from a dyeing and a knitting perspective, I want to point out some of the negative environmental impacts of the Chlorine-Hercosett process. This process is not sustainable, it uses hazardous chemicals, and creates toxic waste. It uses more water and energy than traditionally processed wools, and the yarns, after they are transformed into garments or household products, shed microplastics during washing.

Because of the negative environmental impacts of the traditional Chlorine-Hercosett process, new processes have been developed to improve the washability of wool, and decrease felting. Among them, to name only a few, are the EXP process which does not use chlorine and instead uses natural salts as oxidizing agents, and the Naturetexx Plasma Process which uses air and electricity.

Now that I have said that, and that I am sure you are looking sadly at all the beautiful skeins of Superwash in your stash, you are wondering what to do. My answer is: use them! The resources and energy that were used to produce them have already been expended, and not using them would be a waste.

So how do the horse and the Horse of a Different Color compare? The two skeins below and their samples were knitted from 100% Merino fingering yarn, one non-Superwash, the other Superwash, with both skeins weighing 20g each.

Body in the skein

Two photos of gray yarn, with the bottom one curling over the edge of a table.

Non-Superwash top, Superwash bottom.

The difference in body between the two skeins is very apparent in the pictures below. The non-superwash skein which appears first has body, whereas the superwash clearly has not retained its natural structure. The yarn is flatter, and denser.

Drape

Four gray swatches of knitting.

No-Superwash top, Superwash bottom.

The difference in body translates into the drape. I knitted two identical swatches. The Superwash Merino drapes more than the non-Superwash, but is also more shapeless.

Color

Small balls of gray yarn.

This is where my experience as a hand-dyer comes in. Superwash yarns absorb color more readily than non-Superwash. Non-Superwash yarns appear more subtle, while Superwash yarns are deeply saturated. Even with natural dyes, my dyes of choice, the color difference is striking. Both yarns were identically dyed together using sequoia. In addition, the absorption of color is faster in a Superwash skein than it is in a non-Superwash skein.

Shine

The difference in color is only accentuated by the difference in light reflection. A Superwash yarn is smooth with a slight sheen, while a non-Superwash yarn is matte with a soft glow.

Elasticity/Memory

Gray yarn swatches hanging on wooden clothespins.

Superwash skein left, non-Superwash right.

Superwash yarns lose their elasticity, and memory. The absence of scales, means the fibers and stitches are sitting next to each other but are not interlocked, so they tend to stretch more readily. This would be fine for a shawl, but less attractive for a sweater. The tendency to stretch is visible when the samples are wet.

Gauge

Folded swatches and twisted hanks of gray yarn.

Superwash left, non-Superwash right.

With an equal number of stitches cast on in these samples, the Superwash swatch is wider and longer than the non-Superwash swatch. The stitches in the non-Superwash swatch are closely connected to each other, while the stitches in the Superwash swatch remain clearly separate, with minute gaps. This will have an impact on the warmth of the knitted garment, with non-Superwash yarn being significantly warmer. The Superwash swatch is flatter. Textured stitches will appear flat in the Superwash Merino, and round and plump in the non-Superwash Merino.

Softness

Both are soft, though in a slightly different way. In the case of Merino yarns, Superwash feels sleek and non-Superwash feels pillow-y.

Water

Water sitting on gray stockinette swatches.

Non-Superwash top, Superwash bottom.

The Superwash yarn will absorb water faster as opposed to the non-Superwash yarn which will repel the water. A non-Superwash garment will allow you to stay warmer even when wet.

As a natural dyer, a knitter and a spinner, I prefer non-Superwash fibers. Each breed-specific fiber has unique properties that make one fiber or another ideal for a particular project. The same way a Superwash Merino is drastically different from a non-Superwash Merino, Merino fiber is drastically different from let’s say Suffolk or Wensleydale. And as I hinted earlier in my post, some fibers felt and some do not. There is a perfect natural fiber for any project! This could be the subject of a whole new post, but for now, I hope you will look at your stash a little differently, and that you will explore the possibilities in using non-Superwash fibers.

References

It’s Not You, It’s the Yarn: Superwash Edition by Jillian Moreno

Why Not Superwash Yarns? from Knitting the Natural Way

Why Is Superwash Yarn Not Sustainable? by Making Stories

Are There Sustainable Superwash Options? by Making Stories

The Structure of Wool

How knitting a sweater brought me out of a COVID slump

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Hands knitting a coral sweater.

In the winter of 2020, while browsing at Backstory Books & Yarn, a local used book and yarn store in Portland, Oregon, I stumble across a giant hank of pale gray yarn lurking on a top shelf. I immediately pick it up and trace the softness of the Targhee strands with my fingers. The label states it’s from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, a local dyer I’m familiar with, and best of all, it’s enough to make a sweater. A quick peek at the price tag makes me even more jubilant — I have enough store credit to cover the purchase, basically making it free.

I find the perfect pattern for the yarn, Myrna by Andi Satterlund. Vintage-inspired, it’s cropped and form-fitting and will pair perfectly with dresses for the colder months. After almost a full episode of the BBC series “Pride and Prejudice” and numerous turns of the yarn winder, I have a ball of yarn the size of a newborn’s head that is ready to be knit. Once I have knit a swatch to figure out what size I need to knit, I cast 70 loops on my needles and start the sweater. The yarn is lovely to work with. Soft and supple, each stitch is clearly defined like a spider’s web in the rain.

Shelves filled with books and yarn.

Backstory Books & Yarn in Portland, Oregon.

After fits and starts and several weeks, I’m almost done with the back of the sweater. I hold it up to myself and grimace. Even accounting for the stretch, it simply looks too small. I put it aside to deal with it later. Every knitter is familiar with “frogging,” which means ripping back your work — you “rip it, rip it,” like the “ribbit” of a frog. And as accustomed as we are to frogging, it does not mean we dislike it any less. You can just see weeks of your time circling down the drain. But knitting is a wonderful craft because, as in life, you can almost always go back and fix your mistakes (except for mohair, but we will not speak of that).

I could ignore the mistake and try to convince myself that, “Oh, it will fit with some stretching and blocking,” but I know that I’ll be even more devastated to have finished the entire sweater and not have it fit. I tear the stitches off the needles and begin the process of undoing the rows, leaving a wave of crinkled wool in my wake. Knitting teaches us about falling and getting back up minus the bruises and scrapes, leaving just the toll it takes on our patience.

Then COVID-19 strikes in March. One day my knitting friends and I are huddled together in a car for 10 hours as we zigzag across the Portland area to participate in the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl. Then the next week, seemingly everything is shut down. Instead of seeing each other as people, all we see is potential virus vectors. The days blur into one giant loop. We are stuck in Groundhog Day with only slight variations letting us know that time has passed.

I simply cannot see the point in continuing with the sweater. Where would I wear it? There is nowhere to go. And how would I wash it? A handknit wool sweater is not meant to hold up to endless rounds of sanitizing in hot water and bleach. And who would see it to admire the handiwork? My knitting friends are huddled in their houses and not stirring, not even for yarn. My sweater is at a standstill, the needles silent, much like the outer world. I have trouble looking at either.

“Put the sweater down and start another project,” a friend advises. “Let it hibernate.”

I take half her advice, but have trouble figuring out what to do next. Numerous articles and studies have listed the physical and mental health benefits of knitting — it induces an enhanced sense of calm, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and boosts serotonin levels. That is great when all is said and done, but it does not solve the problem when you can’t even get motivated to start that first stitch.

A dog wears a teal sweater.

April’s dog, Nandi, shows off an FO.

I’m doomscrolling when I get a text from a friend from high school.

“Sorry, this week has been kind of crazy. We actually just had our kid yesterday. Delivered a healthy baby girl. 8.6lb, 21 inches…”

Accompanying the text is a photo of my friend wearing a mask and cradling a newborn to her chest. I shoot off a text of congratulations and then immediately start browsing patterns for baby sweaters. I may not have anywhere to wear a handknit sweater, but this baby clearly needs a wool sweater to keep her warm. COVID-19 may reign, but new life continues. And human connections are so fraught right now, I grab at any strand that resembles hope.

I dive into my stash of yarn, stored under my bed in plastic bins, to discover that I have absolutely no yarn that is suitable. No sensible parent wants to carefully hand wash a delicate baby sweater every single time the baby throws up or drools. So, I make a rare trip into the outside world for yarn. I’m equipped with a handmade mask and hand sanitizer and mentally calculate how far 6 feet is from any person I see.

As I walk down Alberta Street, it’s a ghost town. Dark windows look forlornly out onto the street, and passersby walk by briskly with their heads down and masks on. But when I step inside Close Knit to look for the right yarn, it’s like stepping back into the past. Piles of brightly colored yarn dot the walls, and that slight hush you get from a space overly insulated with fiber prevails. Then I look again and see a jumbo-sized container of hand sanitizer and a giant sign at the entrance declaring the COVID-19 protocols. A plexiglass shield guards the staff from customers.

I debate between two vividly colored hanks of worsted and ultimately go with the coral. The shade, Malabrigo’s Living Coral, evokes eye-popping colored macaroons, which is fitting as the sweater pattern, by The Noble Thread, is named French Macaroon and I met the new mom in our high school French class.

It’s almost exactly the shade of the 2019 Pantone color of the year, living coral. The color was declared to be an “animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” Babies also affirm life while anchoring us to the future. Stepping back into time is a futile endeavor. But it reminds me that this too shall pass and one day we will gather together once more.

Hands knit a coral sweater.

The bright coral stitches fly smoothly across the needles, leaving behind a gentle click-clack sound. It feels strangely foreign to be knitting again, but my hands remember what to do. Unlike the monotony of COVID-19 life, I can see visible progress as the sweater steadily grows, inch by inch. With each stitch, I knit in my thoughts and hopes for the future. As the ball of yarn dwindles, so do my troubled thoughts. The knitting blogger A Friend to Knit With once calculated the number of stitches in a sweater she was knitting: 70,532. If we were to think about that sheer number, we would never knit a sweater. We take it one stitch at a time. Like each stitch, we trudge forward to the next, waiting until the day when we are whole.

As I knit, I can feel the invisible threads connecting me to women of the past who used knitting to cope with the troubling times of their era. Knitting teacher and designer Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote, “Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises.” Women knitted through the two World Wars and the Spanish Flu and countless other crises and elections. And they likely will again in the future. Knitting leaves us with a tangible memory of time and helps us cope with our fears and anxieties. It reminds us that life goes on. There will always be a baby who needs warmth. And one day I will finish that gray sweater.

Indie Untangled 2020 Year In Review Part I: Indie exclusives

Purple, pink and orange yarn and the words Indie Untangled 2020 Year In Review

It’s certainly been an… interesting year. Surreal. Heartbreaking. Challenging. But one of the things that has helped us retain a feeling of normalcy and comfort is, of course, our knitting. It makes me feel especially warm and fuzzy to see the special colorways that I worked with dyers to create, from the Knitting Our National Parks yarns to event exclusives, turn into beloved FOs.

Here are some projects using special Indie Untangled colorways that were finished in 2020.

A green lacy sweater.

Samantha’s Love Note by Tin Can Knits with Plies & Hellhounds Yarn Marie Cutie in Quiescence

A purple shawl.

Kathy’s Snowflake Party by Martina Behm with Earl Grey Fiber Co. Darjeeling Sock in The Highest Peak

A woman models knitwear.

svm’s Ande Donut Hat by Pierrot (Gosyo Co., Ltd) with Onyx Fiber DK in Cider Donut Dipped In Coffee
(Also pictured is the Zeen Top by Alisa Hartzel in Lavender Lune Yarn Co. Merino DK and the Hocus Pocus Cowl by Thea Eschliman Plies and Hellhounds)

A gray speckled cowl.

Diane’s Spring Thing by Espace Tricot with La Bien Aimée Merino Singles in Hudson and Kingston

A gray speckled sweater with a teal trim.

Kathy’s The Traveler Pullover by Tif Neilan – tif handknits – with La Bien Aimée Merino DK in Automne A Rhinebeck

A purple, blue and gold textured cowl.

Annie’s Linen Stitch Cowl by Carly Stipe with Pigeonroof Studios American Sock in Mountains and Valleys

The Pearl Project: A tribute to Knitty City owner Pearl Chin

A collage of colorful yarn and an orange oyster with a pearl.

There are few New York knitters and crocheters who don’t know about the Manhattan yarn shop Knitty City. But beyond connecting the local yarn community, Knitty City‘s founder, Pearl Chin, has been instrumental in helping so many indie dyers and fiber business owners get their start and providing valuable advice as they move forward. Pearl has also been a role model for how to be a craftivist, using her platform as a leader to raise money and attention for important causes.

When I heard the devastating news about Pearl’s cancer diagnosis, I got in touch with a group of indie dyers that Pearl has been instrumental in guiding and championing. We thought it was fitting to turn our sadness into action. As we now grieve the loss of our friend and colleague, we can think of no better way to honor Pearl’s legacy.

A woman stands in front of colorful yarn.

We have created special colorways and designs, and are hosting giveaways to raise money for organizations she has supported:

• Julie Asselin has created a colorway called Dear Pearl, with proceeds donated to help budding knitwear entrepreneurs attend the CAN Retreat hosted by Marceline Smith and Anne Choi

• Christina of Chelsea Yarns has created a colorway called String of Pearls, with proceeds donated to Moms Demand Action

• Amanda of Hu Made has created a colorway called Pearl Power, with proceeds donated to the Asian Americans Arts Alliance

• I will be designing a hat pattern called Pearl’s Oyster, with proceeds donated to the NFC Momentum Fund (I’m still knitting up the sample and hope to publish it next week)

• Marian of Marianated Yarns has created a colorway called Thank You, Pearl, with proceeds donated to City Harvest

• Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks has created a colorway called Pearl of The West (Side), with proceeds donated to Womankind, an organization serving the Asian community in New York, helping survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual violence

• Mariana and Nick of Nooch Fiber will be hosting a series of mini-skein giveaways, with proceeds donated to Heifer International

What to stash this week: A Twisted, indie New Year

Champagne glasses and confetti in jewel tones.

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! 

Purple, cream and green yarn.

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.”

Purple, red and black drawstring bag and yarn.

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.

Star Trek Christmas and Hanukkah Yarnie Pack

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.

Charms with fall leaves and a doughnut.

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!

Christmas greens border and the words Stocking Knit-a-Long

Join Jill of Jilly & Kiddles in casting on for a holiday stocking Knit-a-Long on November 1, with weekly prizes, encouragement and help.

Boots with purple cabled cuffs.

Marny’s Autumn Wander Boot Cuffs are a cozy and fashionable way to dress up your boots while you stroll through the autumn leaves.

A plum and pink hat with a pink pom pom.

This new pattern by Christen Clement uses Janis and Christen of Queen City Yarn’s Berryhill yarn held double, getting you ready for fall quickly.

A sheep print bag with a clear window.

Nancy of Tika Bags has launched an every-other-month bag club. Each shipment features a surprise fabric that may or may not be in her current lineup OR ever be available in her shop again.

Christmas yarn.

Dana of Un Besito Fibers’ Holly Freakin’ Jolly sock set comes with a 100g main skein and two 10g minis to make a variety of Christmas socks. Make them for a gift or keep them for yourself.

A pink basket with a strap.

Keep your WIPs at hand and organized with these baskets, woven by hand by marginalized women from Boostani Crafts owner Lois’s tribe in Kenya.

Halloween yarn.

Emerald of Stardust Fiber Studio’s newest collection, All Hallows’ Eve, has eight colorways and a spooky stitch marker set. There are also two sales running in her studio.

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.