Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Anne Vally of Little Skein In the Big Wool

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

For most people, crafting evokes the same feelings as getting into a good book. Anne Vally decided to bundle that feeling up into curated kits for knitters through her business, Little Skein In the Big Wool. While Anne has expanded beyond her hand-sewn project bags to include her own hand-dyed yarn, she has continued to remain true to the values that she started out with.

A woman sits at a desk looking down.

Tell me about how you started a project bag business?

I started Little Skein with the idea of making project bags and kits that would bring to life my love of books. Knitting is something that’s central to who I am — and so are books. I make the things I want to use: project bags that tell a story, kits that not only make me eager to knit them, but that also fill me with the happiness and rich emotion of a favorite story.

I started out on Etsy with my first kit (Velveteen with Susan B. Anderson) but pretty quickly moved to littleskein.com. Details are important to me, and I wanted to create an experience where shopping for a kit or project bag of mine felt like being welcomed home. Something special, full of good feelings, just for you.

What did you do before you launched Little Skein In the Big Wool and how do you think it informs what you bring to the business?

I live in San Francisco and before starting Little Skein, I was a program officer at a large California foundation for more than a decade. Foundation work is not easily explained, but the big picture is that I made grants to nonprofits around California that were (and are still) working to create positive social change.

My foundation work absolutely informs how I run Little Skein. My degree is in economics, so I’m particularly attuned to how I run my business. I talk a lot on social media about fair pay for makers, the importance of art, and making room at the table for everyone.

I believe the way a business operates adds something intangible and important to the final product.

An African American person holds a bouquet of colorful yarn

When did you decide to incorporate yarn?

I’ve always worked with other yarn dyers for my kits, but I started dyeing yarn myself about three years ago. I realized I was becoming increasingly involved in designing the colors, and I also had a vision of the final fabric I wanted. It became a passion for me to figure out how to make that vision come to life.

Like many knitters, I often fall in love with yarn that’s showy in the skein but doesn’t always create a fabric I enjoy. So, my journey in learning how to dye yarn was to create a yarn that makes a subtle and complex color of fabric—one that might look semi-solid from a distance, but up close would have little hints and gradations of color with itsy bitsy, random pops of intensity.

For the first year, I studied, experimented, and dyed only for myself. But now I have an outdoor dye kitchen (an essential in foggy San Francisco) and I do periodic Live streams on Instagram where I show what I’m dyeing. I still work with other dyers, but about 90% of the yarn I offer is now dyed by me.

Tell me about how your yarn is sourced and dyed.

I source my yarn from three mills: two in the U.S. and one in Canada. I’m especially interested in what each yarn will be used for: a sweater? socks? a shawl? I’ve chosen bases that are ideal for a particular purpose. I think my start as a sewist and project bag maker is a big influence. I’m interested in the fabric.

For example, my sock yarn, House Sock, is 90% American Targhee wool and 10% nylon. It’s different from the multi-purpose sock yarn that most dyers offer. Mine is especially perfect for socks. The Targhee wool is soft and sproingy when you knit with it, and it makes a plush, hard-wearing sock.

A woman knits with green yarn

When and how did you learn to knit?

It feels like I always knew how to knit. My Nonnie and grandmother knit, but their knitting was for utility. I remember knitting as a young adult, but it was when my son was about 2 that I felt this deep urge to make things for him. I picked up my needles to knit fruit for his play kitchen (I started with this strawberry!). Oddly enough, I didn’t feel daunted by the tiny stitches or knitting in the round. I just kept at it, and my boy’s delight at getting a new piece of “fruit” every few days was rocket fuel to me.

Then, I discovered Ravelry and, boom, down the rabbit hole I went!

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

If it involves making something by hand, I have probably tried it. I am a sewist, I draw, embroider, cross-stitch, play with polymer clay, and have recently begun block printing on fabric. (I’ll be debuting something special with my new block prints at the Rhinebeck trunk show!)

A project bag with a city skyline holds two skeins of gray and aqua speckled yarn

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

That it’s possible to do good and do well at the same time.

I believe that knitting, reading, and making things by hand is art, and art matters. Using your imagination ripples out into the world in powerful ways. Art changes you, and in turn you change the world for the better. (Not an original idea, though! This is from Neil Gaiman.)

I try to lead by example. I make sure that everyone who works with me is compensated and valued. I believe diversity makes our community better, and I believe in sliding over to make space at the table for everyone. This shows up in the causes I support, in the inspiration for some of my kits, and in discussions I lead on Instagram.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Asylum Fibers

Stephanie of Asylum Fibers in a pink sweater

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

It’s been incredibly cool to see how Stephanie Jones of Asylum Fibers has grown her business since launching in early 2017. I met Stephanie when she was organizing a knitting group in midtown Manhattan, and just this spring saw her yarn all the way in New Orleans at the Quarter Stitch.

I’m excited to have her back at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show for the third year in a row! I’ve interviewed Stephanie before, so asked her to share a bit about how her business has evolved and what she has planned for the event.

How has your business and aesthetic changed at all since launching two years ago?

I think my colorways have become more cohesive as I’ve learned more about how I want to see the yarn work up. My focus is much more on what the finished object will look like as compared to when I first started dyeing. I still have a lot of fun with the process, though!

Purple variegated yarn

Forbidden

Which of your colorways are your favorites?

This is always changing, but right now I do really love Forbidden and Absolem. I’m also digging a brand new color called Aura. It reminds me a little of an oil slick. I tend to gravitate to bright or saturated colors with muddled speckling.

Have your favorite colors changed since you became a dyer?

Yes and no. Despite my tendency to wear a lot of black, I’ve always been someone who appreciates a bright pop of color, usually in pink or blue. That’s still true, but sometimes I dye a color that I wouldn’t have normally been drawn to, and suddenly I’m intrigued. This happened recently with Shocked (a neon yellow), and I actually enjoy wearing that color now. I’ve also gotten more into green and orange lately.

An aqua to dark blue fade of yarn

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

I have seen some amazing Soldotna Crops recently. I’m especially loving the ones using my sparkle DK base in unexpected color combos. Another great FO I saw recently on Ravelry is a Half Moon Oracle shawl, knit in Creepy Graffiti and Vacant Stare along with a very light grey yarn from another dyer. The contrast is striking. As a dyer, creating fade sets is a ton a fun. There is a Chevron Shenanigans shawl knit in a golden yellow to hot pink fade kit that I absolutely love as well.

A box of orange, purple, pink and green yarn.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

The most important lesson I’ve learned is to trust my instincts. It’s great to see what everyone else is up to, but I think being true to one’s self is where true success lies. Also, you don’t have to be for everyone. Do what you really like and what you’re good at, and don’t worry about everything else.

I have also find that having the right tools can make all the difference. I remember when I first purchased kitchen prep tables for my setup, the height of the table totally alleviated the back discomfort I had experienced with my original setup. The skein twister is another favorite tool of mine. It saves time from twisting so I can spend more time on the fun stuff! Even my shipping label printer made a huge difference in my efficiency.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

I have a deep, moody event colorway planned, which I’m very excited to show everyone. In addition, Melissa Alexander-Loomis (aka skeinanigans) is designing a sweater with really unique construction and fun use of color. I’m looking forward to displaying that and preparing kits for the new design. I’m bringing lots of brand spanking new colors with me, too.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Dragonfly Fibers

Kate and Nancye of Dragonfly Fibers

Kate Chiocchio and Nancye Bonomo of Dragonfly Fibers.

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

Dragonfly Fibers is one of the first indie dye companies I discovered, though it had launched in 2006, before I had even started knitting. Kate Chiocchio and Nancye Bonomo, based in suburban Washington, DC, were part of the DMV (DC, Maryland and Virginia) scene that has produced a lot of indie talents. They and their yarn are familiar to anyone who has attended Maryland Sheep & Wool, Vogue Knitting Live NYC and Rhinebeck in recent years, with vivid colors like the fiery Airport Hot Sauce or explosive Firecracker.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

Dragonfly Fibers began with our love of color and texture. Kate learned to quilt and sew, and then became fascinated with fiber. Learning to felt, spin, and knit evolved into a need to dye it. We learned so much from other dyers and spinners, both local and in the blogosphere. We got our start at the same time as Karida of Neighborhood Fibers and Gryphon and Sarah of the Sanguine Gryphon, and later Cephalopod Yarns. We all supported each other and shared resources and processes. We still believe strongly that this collaboration is what our community is all about.

Black, blue, yellow, pink and green yarn

How did you decide on the name Dragonfly Fibers?

Kate is fond of skulls and dragonflies. While she really wanted her branding to feature skulls, her Stitch and Bitch buddies forcefully advocated that dragonflies would be friendlier and maybe sell yarn more effectively. Kate is still not sure about this.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?
Nancye is partial to the purples, such as Royal, Arya, and Heroine. Kate has loved Riptide and Rocky Top since they first came on the scene. They both love Dragonberry.

When and how did you learn to knit?

Kate learned from her mom at age 8. She knit one lumpy red scarf, and put the needles down until after age 40. She bought some wooden needles and How to Knit booklet and hasn’t looked back. Nancye learned during a January term in college and then picked it back up in earnest after the birth of her first child.

Pink purple yarn

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

Definitely! We love spinning, felting, and weaving. Lately, we have been sewing like mad fiends and dipping our toes into eco-dyeing and visible mending.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?
Great question! We are completely visual, and love to create from images. Oxidizing copper and the beach, sand included, are both great challenges. Also,the perfect red to purple gradient has yet to be achieved.

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

For Kate, it is an Empire Ave Cardi knit in Dance Rustic Silk many years ago. Nancye loves her Fair Isle Skirt in Traveller; knitted skirts are just so fun.

Light blue lacy cowl

You were one of the earliest indie dye brands I discovered. How have you navigated the changes in the industry over the years?

While we work hard to bring the new yarns, projects, and colorways that our customers crave, we have remained true to the original spirit of Dragonfly. We bring a unique style of dyeing to the industry that is not truly replicated anywhere else. Our colors are bold, and often combined in unexpected ways. There are many beautiful yarns out there but only one company that makes the Colors of Happiness.

What are you bringing to Rhinebeck?

So many things! An exclusive 2019 Rhinebeck colorway inspired by the great state of New York. Two new kits: three combos for Andrea Mowry’s Stonecrop sweater and rainbow sets to make the Love is Love hoodie by our own Susan Powell. “Starter packs” for Caitlin Hunter’s Soldotna Crop in 2 and 4 oz Traveller. All of our yarn bases, including mohair and silk laceweight Faerie, our newest yarn. Huge quantities of our most popular colorways. And, last but definitely not least, Dragonfly Farewell Tour tote bags.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Danielle Romanetti of fibre space

Danielle Romanetti of fibre space

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

I remember my first visit to fibre space. It was at the tail end of a fall 2012 road trip I took with my husband that started in Maryland at the Verdant Gryphon open house and included Charleston, Savannah and Colonial Williamsburg. I had already bought plenty of yarn at the beginning of the trip, but when I realized that our drive home would be taking us right past Alexandria, Virginia, and it would be the perfect midpoint for lunch, I knew I had to go to the shop. I ended up getting my first skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. and a recommendation of where to get some delicious cupcakes that fueled our drive back to NYC through the pouring rain.

Danielle Romanetti’s shop has moved locations a couple of times since that visit, but it still retains what I consider yarn store perfection: a welcoming atmosphere with plenty of comfy seating, great lighting and design, and a commitment to indie brands, with a focus on local businesses.

Tell me the story of how fibre space came to be. Had you always wanted to own a yarn shop?

My shop is really an extension of my original business – Knit-a-Gogo, Inc., which I opened in October of 2006 to offer knitting classes in the DC metro area. Initially, I taught beginner and intermediate classes at coffee shops, bakeries and even public libraries in and around Washington, DC. Utilizing these spaces required a solid relationship with the businesses that hosted us and has led to the collaborative philosophy that fibre space now maintains. As my customers grew in number, so did the community of knitters and crocheters, as well as the number of classes being offered and my staff of instructors.

Eventually, the Knit-a-Gogo community really needed a permanent home – a place where stitchers could meet outside of classes, buy quality supplies and and share with other stitchers. In 2009, this dream became a reality when Knit-a-Gogo became fibre space and opened its doors in historic Alexandria, VA. I am so excited to have finally put down permanent roots at our new building, 1319 Prince Street.

A blue building with the fibre space logo and green Adirondack chairs out front

What did you do before you became a yarn shop owner and how do you think it informs what you bring to the business?

I was a professional fundraiser and event planner for international nonprofit organizations. I have a background in international development, with a specialization in Latin America. The event planning and marketing background is certainly a huge asset to my business. Working for a rather large international organization helped me to learn a ton about marketing campaigns and how to effectively implement them. I use that experience in planning all of our seasonal marketing, events, etc.

How do you choose the dyers and brands that you carry?

I have a commitment to supporting small and indie brands as much as possible. I often make decisions on a brand because of their origin story or even their owner. I like to support businesses whose owners are amazing, engaging and forward-thinking women. In general, you will find many brands at our shop that aren’t in many other places. I like to keep things unique, as we have so many yarn shops in our area. It helps us to be a destination.

A wall of Neighborhood Fiber Co. hand-dyed yarn

You were carrying indie dyers since the beginning. How would you say the explosion of indie dyers has changed your business?

It’s interesting. We went through a few years of carrying a ton of indie hand dye from many, many different dyers, including international. I made a shift a few years back to focusing on fewer of the dyers but having a wider range of yarns from the ones that we do stock. This seems to be working right now. Our customers know that we are a destination for Neighborhood Fiber Co. [editor’s note: Neighborhood Fiber Co. is also an Indie Untangled sponsor], Miss Babs, Hazel Knits, Freia, the Periwinkle Sheep and Knerd String and more as we get orders from them almost monthly to restock. We also have a good inventory of our locals (Neighborhood Fiber Co. again), Havirland, Fully Spun [an Indie Untangled vendor] and the Fiberists.

Despite the hand dye explosion, we are still a huge stockist of traditional beautiful wool yarns. Our customers buy a lot of De Rerum Natura, Brooklyn Tweed, Kelbourne Woolens and Stonehedge Fiber Mill.

Interior of a yarn shop

Can you talk about any new products the shop is going to carry or special events in the works?

I am really excited about the new yarn project that Karida Collins and Ann Weaver are working on. We will be launching Plied Yarn at our shop on November 9th. The wool is hand dyed by the Plied team and then plied to create a marled yarn in fingering weight [Plied is also an Indie Untangled sponsor].

We are also hosting Miss Babs for our annual Mega Miss Babs Trunk Show on September 14-15. It is a wonderful event, where Miss Babs brings up a huge quantity of yarn and takes over our store space with yarn, kits and samples made from her yarn.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was very young. I made a scarf for my Cabbage Patch doll. I relearned from her when I was in graduate school and visiting. Their dial-up internet access wasn’t sufficient and I was bored! It quickly became a huge part of my life and my therapy for anxiety.

Artwork on an orange wall

Artwork lines the walls at fibre space.

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

I do also crochet, although certainly not as much as knitting. I also sew and run, although its been a few years since I ran a marathon!

Tell me about one of your most memorable FOs.

Well before I opened the shop, I used to attend the trade show with Karida of Neighborhood Fiber Co. to help her sell to yarn shops. Olga Buraya-Kefelian was working on a design in two of her yarns, and I volunteered to do the knitting. It was the Murasaki Pullover. It was amazing to see Olga’s creation process first hand and to be part of it. I was still knitting it on the early morning flight to the show with Olga but we got it done, and I was able to wear it at the show.

Indie Untangled by the numbers

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Rhinebeck trunk show illustration in coral, navy and mustard

Illustration by Eloise Narrigan

When I organized the first Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show in 2014, I got together the group of a dozen vendors by asking dyers and makers who had posted to the online marketplace if they wanted to bring a suitcase of their products to a meeting room at the Best Western. Since I started organizing this in June of that year, only four months prior to the festival, I even post-stalked them on Ravelry to see if they were already going to be at Rhinebeck.

This year, starting in March, I received more than 100 applications — 105 to be exact — for roughly 36 spaces. I had a jury of 10 people, plus my co-planner, Petrina, helping me make this incredibly tough decision. We wanted to make sure we had varied styles and a selection of non-yarn goodies, and that we brought in some new faces.

Here’s a look at Indie Untangled by the numbers:

36 spaces, including in the lounge at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory, where Candice of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers and designer Caitlin Hunter will be debuting an exciting new project

32 yarn companies (plus three others — The Blue Brick, Gauge Dyeworks and Onyx Fiber Arts — who will be providing exclusive colorways for the Indie Untangled booth)

9 bag and accessories makers/designers, bringing project bags, enamel pins, stitch markers, buttons and more

2 fiber-themed jewelry makers — that you can actually wear, not just for your projects!

1 needle vendor — after the past few years of sponsoring, Signature Needle Arts will finally be at the show!

Of these vendors, 25 of them are new (four of them — Julie Asselin, Twill & Print, La Bien Aimée and Nerd Bird Makery — had a presence at last year’s show, but now they will be bringing a full line-up) and they are marked with an asterisk on the event page.

If that all seems a bit overwhelming, ticket holders will receive a PDF guide prior to the show, so you can strategize your shopping.

Your indie shopping guide to the 2019 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival

A map of the Howard County Fairgrounds

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival seems to have snuck up on me this year. While I don’t have a stashing plan in mind (which probably means I’ll do more damage than I planned), I’m looking forward to spending time with beloved fiber friends and meeting some of my favorite indie business owners.

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

THE KNOT HOUSE INDIE POP-UP

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

Dragon Hoard Yarn

A collage of yarn

Dragon Hoard Yarn is a one woman show run by Trysten out of Utah. Her style is inspired by pop culture, geeky fandoms, and witchy themes.

I’ll be bringing the entire Outlander collection, including:
Lallybroch (green), Red Jamie (Orange), Clan Fraser (blue), and Je Suis Prest. (Blue and brown). I’ll also be giving a sneak peek at a new design coming out in July! The Moondrip Summer Tee will be showcased, and I will be there to help people create kits!

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

A collage of yarn

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers specializes in hand-dyed yarns inspired by dyer Candice’s cultural heritage and Montana roots.

Little Fox Yarn

Orange yarn

Aimee & Brian are the dyers of Little Fox Yarn, based just outside of Richmond, Virginia. Their subtle, wearable colorways are inspired by the Blue Ridge Mountains where Aimee grew up.

We will be at the Knot House Indie Dyer Pop Up this weekend. We will have all of our usual lineup of tonal yarns including our new Vixen Lace base.

Also at The Knot House will be ShelliCan and Nice & Knit.

THE FESTIVAL

See the festival map here.

Bare Naked Wools/Knitspot

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C28

A sweater, shawl, hat and yarn

Bare Naked Wools offers natural, dye-free, artisanal yarns in single breed and wool blends, wool and alpaca blends, and unique luxury blends.

• The hat is the “Happy Dog Cap” which we will be selling at MDSW as a kit with Betty King Natural Dyes Merino DK.
• The pullover sweater is “Multigrain”
• The lace shawl is “Harrier”
• The yarn is Better Breakfast DK, a luxury alpaca blend

Bijou Basin Ranch  

Outside North, Booth N1

A collage of yarn

Bijou Basin Ranch provides sustainably harvested, high quality exotic yarns & fibers dyed by various indie dyers across the country. After 15 years of merchandising yarn, BBR will be closing its doors by the end of the year, so don’t miss your chance to see, feel and purchase at our last MDS&W Festival!

Pictured clockwise from the top left are:
Solids by MJ Yarns on Xanadu, 100% Mongolian Cashmere
The Valkyries Series by MJ Yarns on Gobi, 35/65 baby camel/Mulberry silk
The Mariposa Series by Colorful Eclectic on Himalayan Summit, 50/50 yak/Merino — brand new at the show!
Various colors by ModeKnit Yarns on Tibetan Dream, 85/15 yak/nylon

Dragonfly Fibers

Outside Lower Corral, Booth LC9  

A collage of yarn and a tote bag

Dragonfly Fibers has been dyeing high-quality yarn and fiber in suburban Washington, DC, for more than ten years. We’re known for our vivid and saturated tonal and variegated colorways, and we have gorgeous neutrals, too! Come see all that’s new and beautiful in the Lower Outside Corral!

Our brand-new tote bag is free to the first 25 customers both days and all purchases over $125. Available for purchase for $12.

Our newest yarn, Faerie, an ethereal mohair-silk blend, is perfect for warm-weather knitting. The Jocelyn colorway (shown in Pixie, also in Jocelyn) makes for a beautiful spring Elton, by Joji Locatelli.

Our show exclusive colorway, Carroll Creek Park’s bright and happy colors make it perfect for spring! It will be available on multiple bases. Supplies are limited, so be sure to stop by early in the morning for the best selection.

We will also have three great kits for the brand-new Casapinka design, Magical Thinking, which made its debut last Saturday during LYS Day.

Fluffy U Fiber Farm

Barn 5, Booth 14

A collage of yarn

We specialize in British and U.S. rare and heritage breed sheep. We gain our inspiration from the sheep themselves and the beautiful countryside. For those participating in the Shave Em to Save Em and the 52 weeks of sheep programs we will have both natural spinning fibers and yarns produced from the sheep here at the farm.

KnittyandColor/Subterranean Woodworks

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B13

A collage of yarn and wood spindles

Knittyandcolor specializes in eye popping bright, unique pastel, and fun speckled yarn and fiber. Her husband, Subterranean Woodworks specializes in finely crafted, exotic wood and hand dyed Turkish spindles.

Toad Hollow

Outside Lower Corral, Booth LC18

A blue crab tote bag with blue speckled yarn

Created by sisters, Helen and Mary Beth, Toad Hollow makes project bags and hand dyed yarn. Our products all have a whimsical sense usually based on books and fandoms we love. Limited quantities of our Maryland 2019 color, “Crab Pickin,” will be available this weekend.

Wolle’s Yarn Creations

Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B2

A collage of gradient yarn cakes

Wolle’s Yarn Creations will be at MDSW for the third year and we are bringing our amazingly soft and deluxe Cotton/Silk yarns as well as our new Cotton/Bamboo yarns. Also, new this year: DK Cotton yarns, perfect for all your summer tops. Stop by and touch our yarns — feeling is believing.

Also at the festival will be:
Backyard Fiberworks, Main Exhibition Hall, Booth C4 
Crafty Flutterby Creations, Barn 3, Booth 5
Into the Whirled, Main Exhibition Hall, Booth B16
Middle Brook Fiberworks, Main Exhibition Hall, Both B26

Indie Untangled is 5! There are some special things to celebrate!

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A cake with rainbow sprinkles with the words Yarny Bday

Time definitely flies when you’re having fun. I was in New Orleans last week celebrating my mom’s birthday, after coming down from the high that was Andrea Untangled, and I completely forgot that Indie Untangled turned FIVE YEARS OLD a week ago!

When I sent out my first newsletter on April 4, 2014, in order to spread the word about indie dyer shop updates, I never could have dreamed what Indie Untangled would become: events like the Rhinebeck Trunk Show, Indie Goes West and Andrea Untangled, a place for exclusive colorways and a way to raise thousands of dollars for the National Park Foundation.

In honor of this milestone, I figured that a few giveaways were in order. Here’s how to enter:

A woman wearing a green and gray shawl.

Newsletter giveaway

Subscribe to the newsletter by midnight Eastern time on Thursday, April 18 and you’ll be entered to win an Untangled shawl bundle with the exclusive colors from La Bien Aimee.

A woman wears a green and gray lace shawl.

Blog giveaway

Comment on this blog post by midnight Eastern time on Thursday, April 18, with your favorite Indie Untangled dyer/designer/maker discovery and you’ll be entered to win a Rainshadow shawl bundle with the exclusive colors from La Bien Aimee.

Keep your eyes on the Indie Untangled Instagram account next week for a separate giveaway there.

My favorite finds at EYF 2019: Beyond Merino

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A collection of yarn, pompoms and buttons surrounds a poster for the Edinburgh Yarn Festival.

If the last two years at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (and fiber events in general) were all about the speckle, then 2019 was the year of embracing sheep-y goodness in all its many varieties. The vendors at EYF have long promoted British wool, but this year it seemed like there was so much fiber content beyond Superwash Merino, even among the indie dyers who tend to gravitate towards that tried and true base.

My finds at EYF 2019 bore out that trend — in fact, I’m proud to say that there is no Superwash Merino in my haul!

Here are some of my favorite finds from this year’s EYF.

A table displayed with colorful yarn from La Bien Aimee.

One of the first things I had to check out was La Bien Aimée’s new base, Mondim. This yarn is collaboration between Aimee and Rosa Pomar, the owner of Retrosaria Rosa Pomar in Lisbon, Portugal. Rosa has created yarn bases comprised of wool from Portuguese sheep and they take more than two dozen of Aimee’s colors beautifully.

Jars of pink-hued buttons.

There were already a few sweater samples knit up, including Andrea Mowry’s LYS (which stands for Little Yellow Sweater) and Isabell Kraemer’s Eula, with her sample using buttons from ultra-tempting EYF vendor Textile Garden.

A skein of light aqua yarn.

I was also excited to see London-based dyer Ocean of Ocean By the Sea, whose botanically-dyed yarn was available in a special pop-up in Ysolda’s space at the festival. There were so many tempting soothing colorways and bases, including this skein of Falkland wool in the appropriately-named Beachcomber colorway.

A pile of brown-gray yarn.

No EYF would be complete without yarn from one of Scotland’s many islands. Uist Wool is a mill that has been based in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland since 2013. I was particularly attracted to their Canach cottongrass blend, spun from Scottish Merino, a cross breed of Shetland and Saxon Merino sheep. The flecks of white in the dark gray yarn I ended up buying makes for a beautiful natural speckle.

A wall of colorful yarn.

A cream colored sweater with gray and gold colorwork.

Kettle Yarn Co.‘s colorful display of Northiam DK British Bluefaced Leicester, which is spun and dyed at a British mill, also caught my eye, as did her sample of Caitlin Hunter’s Tecumseh.

A display of yarn and patterns.

Martin’s Lab (who I’m excited to have as part of this year’s Indie Untangled yarn club) debuted a new base called Aubrey Sport, a blend of BFL and silk. It was used in the Homecoming Collection of mitts to sweaters by 10 designers.

A flared pink sweater with a cream colored yoke.

Speaking of patterns, a couple of my favorites from the show did actually use Merino: I loved Fiona Alice’s grown-up version of her Mabel baby cardigan. This sweater, called Mabel’s Sister, uses Viola DK and was available in kits at the stand for Loop London.

A pink shawl with a green stripe.

I also loved glimpsing Casapinka’s latest designs in the wild, including this new multicolored shawl, Botanique, in collaboration with Walk Collection.

Untangling Christine of Skeinny Dipping

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Skeinny Dipping was one of the first yarn companies to advertise on Indie Untangled, way back in 2014. I was smitten by Christine’s glowing colorways, particularly her rich reds and complex browns and greens (and I am generally not a brown or green person) and learned a little more about her when she vended at the first-ever Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show that same year.

Christine’s background includes working in East Africa with the Peace Corps, which has inspired some of her colorway names (Malaria Dreams and Vervet), as have SNL (I Need More Cowbell and Space Pants) and food (Brown Butter and Blue Raspberry Slurpee).

When she’s not dyeing or traveling around the world with her husband and their adorable Chihuahua, Gracie, Christine knits incredible colorwork sweaters. Her yarn is currently available in the Indie Untangled Virtual Trunk Show.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

Dyeing yarn was never on my radar. Like many dyers I had gotten to a point in my life where the normal job wasn’t possible and I had to find something to do.

Christine with a “mama” from her village in Kenya.

What did you do in the Peace Corps?

I was an agroforestry extensionist in the Peace Corps. This was my primary assignment through the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. I worked with other local Kenyan extensionists in my location (similar to a county) providing technical assistance to subsistence farmers in my region.

My area of expertise was agroforestry, which is a multi-purpose land use system that promotes fuel wood security and improved crop yields on subsistence-sized plots. Together with my Kenyan counterparts we also addressed water and sanitation issues, health education (such as HIV prevention) and any other issues that farmers encountered. I also had some secondary projects like teaching how to bake without an oven, which was a project that happened by accident.

What inspires your colors?

Sometimes it’s a word or phrase that inspires the color (Space Pants from SNL). Other times, it’s the parasitic diseases of tropical Africa or the nut sacks of Kenyan monkeys (Malaria Dreams and Vervet). If it’s disturbing, I’m pretty sure I’ll get a good colorway out of it.

Tinsel-ectomy on Journey Worsted.

Which of your colorways are you most proud of?

I’m proud of them all in their own way, but my favorites are the ones that glow even though they’re extremely saturated and dark. Those take a lot of experimentation to get right, and I have to redo the recipes for each base since different fibers take the dyes differently.

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

My favorite color has always been green, and there were a lot of colors I didn’t like before I became a dyer, like yellow and red. But I found that I started to like them if I could get them murky and saturated, so I’ve come around to those colors. I still don’t like pink, though, except for Adobe Wan Kenobi, and that’s only because I’ve pushed that colorway to the line between coral and red. I love gray and black, too.

Christine knit Sweaterfreakknits’ Birch Sap shawl in a colorway called Adobe Wan Kenobi.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My grandmom first taught me to knit when I was seven. I only knew the knit stitch, and I had some horrid pink acrylic from Woolworths. Like a lot of kids, I was interested for 10 minutes and then put it aside till I was much older. I picked it up again during my pre-service training in the Peace Corps. We get three months of intensive training in-country before our service officially begins, and it was during this time that our trainers encouraged us to develop another hobby other than reading. We managed to cobble together the rest of the knitting basics like casting on and binding off from within our group. I made a lot of scarves and potholders until the next extension group of volunteers arrived. There was a hat knitter in that group and luckily she was based near me, so I learned how to make Anna Zilboorg’s hats. Aside from when I was in grad school and working full time, I haven’t stopped knitting since then.

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

I cannot dye less saturated colorways to save my life. I do have Salt Marsh, Zingbat, Vintaged and Blue Raspberry Slurpee but I hated all of them when I came up with them. But everyone else liked them, so they got to stay.

Olives on Journey Worsted.

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

It’s not so much that there are certain projects that are my favorites, but moreso when my customers make something with a colorway they say is not from a color group that they normally like. Those are my favorites — if I can get you to be open to a color group that you didn’t like before, that is the ultimate compliment.

The Indie Untangled shopping guide to VKL NYC 2019

It’s that time of year again, when Times Square gets overtaken by knitters on a mission, dodging tourists and glaring at the Starbucks line, hoping to make it to their 9 a.m. brioche class on time — or just to the Marketplace to shop for yarn.

The Marketplace at this year’s VKL NYC — taking place at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square from January 25-27 — looks to be the busiest it’s ever been. To help you prepare, I’ve put together a guide to the Indie Untangled vendors that you need to visit. Each vendor has introduced themselves and is offering a sneak peek at some of the yarns and products they’ll be bringing.

Will you be there this weekend (and on the subway Saturday)?

Asylum Fibers

Fifth Floor, Booths 314 & 316

Asylum Fibers focuses on in-your-face, vibrant tones and one-of-a-kind colorways on over 15 bases, both versatile and luxurious. The brand name was thought up in order to incorporate the playfulness of horror flicks while leveraging the other meaning of the word “asylum,” acknowledging that crafting is such a wonderful, meaningful form of therapy and comfort.

Stop by to “embrace your crazy” with a photo shoot and check out some new 2019 colorways. Available will be an event colorway called Sidewalk Reflections, a new base called Brainless Bulky and The Brainless Beanie, a free pattern corresponding with the release of this new base, and a 2019 mini set featuring new colors, including I’m Alive, inspired by the Pantone color of the year.

Cat Sandwich Fibers

Fifth Floor, Booth 321

I dye everything out of my home’s basement in New Jersey and I’m inspired by all things cute and pink.

I’ll be bringing more than 20 new colorways, some of which are one-of-a-kinds and will never be repeated again. A ton of new colors are inspired by Sailor Moon, which is a show I religiously watched growing up.

Dragonfly Fibers

Sixth Floor, Booth 907

Dragonfly Fibers has been dyeing high-quality yarn and fiber in suburban Washington, DC, for more than 10 years. We’re known for our vivid and saturated tonal and variegated colorways, and we have gorgeous neutrals, too! Come see all that’s new and beautiful in booths 807 and 809!

Pictured above is the Plumpy Shawl by Andrea Mowry. Sample shown in the Starry Night colorway of our Traveller Fade Color Pack (plus one additional skein of Starry Night). Four other fade packs are available — Fade to Back, Reds to Browns, Blues to Browns and Blues.

Nightshift shawl by Andrea Mowry. Sample is shown in one of two kit options of six two-ounce skeins of Traveller: Jocelyn, Mossy Glen, Into the Woods, Hot Pants, Arya, and Limelight The other kit is Cheshire Cat, Airport Hot Sauce, Titania, That Ol’ Chestnut, Silver Fox, Velvet Underground.

Garment District, our show exclusive colorway! Shown in Djinni, our fingering weight MCN. It will be available in multiple bases but supplies are limited.

Eternity Ranch Knits

Fifth Floor, Booth 118

Most of my dying revolves around themes. At VKL in NY I will have Disney Men, Disney Villains as well as a few added colorways to series I currently have, plus many new semisolids in fingering/DK and worsted weights.

Pictured are Pittsburgh Steelers, Cast Iron, Hyacinth and Beth.

Katrinkles

Fifth Floor, Booth 100

Katrinkles makes buttons, wearable accessories, tools for fiber artists and custom products out of durable wood. Each piece is lovingly designed, carefully crafted and hand-finished in our Providence, RI, studio.

[Editor’s note: You can preorder some special VKL items (not the stitch marker pins, unfortunately) to pick up at the show on the Katrinkles website through the end of the day today.]

Kim Dyes Yarn

Fifth Floor, Booth 117

Kim Dyes Yarn is an indie dyer from the beautiful state of Virginia. Kim offers hand-dyed luxury yarn and spinning fibers in unique colorways.

Lady Dye Yarns

Fifth Floor, Booth 541

Lady Dye Yarns has specialized in hand-dyed, vibrant and saturated yarns since 2010. I believe in promoting a more diverse crafting community through my actions and building collaborations with others.

In addition to tons of new colorways, I will have my limited-edition Fingering Merino Cashmere yarn just for VKL in my Black Panther colorway and in all of my new colorways. Also in my booth will be Alex Creates, Crochet Luna, Fully Spun and Alasdair Post-Quinn, all representing diverse backgrounds culturally, but also in their work.

Little Fox Yarn

Fifth Floor, Booth 119

Aimee and Brian are the dyers of Little Fox Yarn, based just outside of Richmond, Virginia. Their beautiful, wearable colorways are inspired by the Blue Ridge Mountains where Aimee grew up.

Magpie Fibers

Fifth Floor, Booths 600-610

Magpie Fibers specializes in hand-dyed luxury yarns, saturated colors and distinctive accessories.

Mollygirl Yarn

Fifth Floor, Booth 418

MollyGirl Yarn is a rockin’ yarn company featuring exclusive yarns inspired by music! Their Vogue lineup includes 2 new yarns, tons of new mini bundles, new enamel pins featuring art from designer Xandy Peters and signups for Volume II of the Spotlight Club!

mYak

Sixth Floor, Booth 914

This is mYak: Born in Tibet, Crafted in Italy.
A natural fiber unique in the world.
Born in one of the world’s most extreme locations.
Made with Italian artisanal quality.

At VKL we are going to present our line of Baby Yak and Tibetan Cashmere in both kits and single skeins with the beautiful designs created for us by incredibly talented designers.

Nice & Knit

Fifth Floor, Booth 408

We’re Katie and Kara of Nice and Knit — sisters, best friends, knitters and color enthusiasts. We work hard to bring you the very best of what we love, from our creative patterns to our quality hand-dyed yarns. We love working together in our light-filled Connecticut studio, dyeing yarn, shipping orders, and brainstorming our next big idea. Thank you for being a part of our dream!

We’ll be featuring an VKL color way called Times Square and custom City Lights bags from Sandy by the Lakeside.

One Geek To Craft Them All

Fifth Floor, Booth 412

One Geek to Craft Them All makes stitch markers, notions pouches, project bags, and jewelry for all crafters. Inspired by music, movies, books, history, and more I bring a nerdy flair to all I make. My designs are to inspire everyone’s inner geek.

[Editor’s note: Marsha will have exclusive Indie Untangled yarn ball earrings in her booth!]

Ritual Dyes

Sixth Floor, Booth 1015

Ritual Dyes is an independent Dyehouse out of Portland, Oregon, that focuses on wearable, subtle colorways of hand-dyed yarn. We also offer a line of modern project bags including the Knitter’s Backpack.

We will be bringing along kits for Caitlin Hunter’s Alyeska pattern, kits from our new, sign-specific Zodiac Collection, an exciting version of our popular Knitter’s Backpack – the Knitter’s Sling Bag (in leather!) as well as our new American Rambouillet line.

Shelli Can

Sixth Floor, Booth 1107

Shelli designs enamel pins, apparel, and other accessories for fiber lovers. She’ll be releasing an exclusive VKL design (pizza!) on a variety of items along with some collaborations by Tuft Woolens, Havirland, Katrinkles and Bunny & Toot.

Wolle’s Yarn Creations

Fifth Floor, Booth 116

Wolle’s Yarn Creations — the original gradients. Our cotton and cotton/silk yarns are skin-soft luxury, feeling is believing.

Yarn Culture

Sixth Floor, Booths 711-719

Based in Rochester, N.Y., Yarn Culture brings yarn, inspiration and designers from around the corner and around the world.

Meet Åsa Tricosa and see her beautiful collection of Ziggerats Sweaters.

Participate in a VKL-NYC exclusive preview of Rosy Green Wool’s new Manx Merino Fine collection and be the first to see Melanie Berg’s newest shawl design, Glückauf.

We’ve got a gorgeous selection of garments and yarn from Rochester, N.Y.’s own Renee from Spun Right Round, including the exclusive colorway ROC City Blooms.

Youghiogheny Yarns

Fifth Floor, Booth 108

Youghiogheny Yarns, pronounced “yock-i-gainey,” is the creation of husband and wife team, Todd & Keri Fosbrink. Color is everywhere in the Youghiogheny River Valley no matter the season, and Youghiogheny Yarns wants to help you bring some of that color into your life and projects.

Pictured above are their colorways Blueberry Lemonade, Coral Cove, Chinese Fireball and a preview of their 2019 show exclusive, I Beg Your Pardon!

Zen Yarn Garden

Fifth Floor, Booth 421

Zen Yarn Garden’s dye studio is based is Ontario, Canada. Our yarn is special. We take pride in providing the most luxurious fibres and dyeing them in a range of beautiful semi-solid, splatter and one-of-a-kind colourways. We know every yarn you buy is destined to have many hours in your stash and on your needles. With each skein we strive to reflect the same passion that you have for your projects and craft in our yarns.

We will have a myriad of colourways available in several bases and will be offering free patterns with yarn purchases. Be sure to check out our Lux Blanx which knit up and express colours in unique ways!