Untangling Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs

Earlier this year, I had the honor of collaborating with Tamy Gore of Narrow Path Designs — along with Sarah of The Dye Project and Thao of Nerd Bird Makery — on the Rosé and Rambouillet kit.

Tamy published her first design, the Out of Winter shawl, on Ravelry in May 2016, and it shows off her skill at combining speckled and semisolid colorways of hand-dyed yarn. She also creates lovely garments with just semisolids. Her Dusky Rose shawl, which is now available individually as well as with the kit (of which there are only a few left), is one of those stunning shawl designs, and uniquely combines garter, brioche, short rows and slipped stitches in an elegant garment.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I really just decided to try my hand at it. I had modified a few cowls before but never really designed anything on my own, and so I figured I take the plunge and I haven’t stopped since.

How did you come up with Narrow Path Designs and why do you use it as your business name?

The name was actually chosen by my husband and it stems from Jesus’ words in the Bible in regards to entering by the narrow gate, meaning that He is the only way to salvation and so calling all people to come to Him. I love and am thankful for that and so I kept the name and added Designs to it.

A woman models a pink shawl.

Tami’s Dusky Rose shawl for the Rosé and Rambouillet collaboration.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I was taught in 2013 by my goddaughter and her siblings. I smile each time I think of those days and the many mistakes I made and how extremely patient these children were with me. 🙂 It took a while for me to understand (especially purling!), but I finally got it.

Do you do any crafts other than knitting?

Not at this moment, but I would like to start using my sewing machine. I got a vintage machine from a sweet friend, but haven’t really buckled down to use it yet.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Nature. Birds and other animals, plants and changing seasons. I love playing with different colors, and yet there are a few colors that always seem to end up in most of my designs.

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

I draw. Sometimes that means I’m drawing on a napkin if we’re out for dinner, or I have my handy notepad and pencil with me. 🙂 The design starts to form in my mind and then I start playing around with it on paper. I usually change the design as I’m knitting it and rarely ever stick to the original idea.

A multicolored triangular shawl

Tamy’s Milu shawl.

Do you think you’ll ever design sweaters or will you stick to accessories?

It’s definitely in the plan, but we’ll see what happens. 🙂

What are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?

My favorite colors are yellow, rusty orange and shades of pink and peaches. They haven’t really changed since I first started and I would be surprised if they did, but you never know. 🙂

Post-Rhinebeck Untangling: Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs

Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs in gray sweater with a pink and red geometric yoke

Debra Gerhard models her Once Again sweater.

This is the 17th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs has a background as a designer, but not in fashion. For years she worked as an environmental engineer, addressing environmental impacts. These days, her design work involves taking hand-dyed yarn and turning them into colorful geometric sweaters and shawls with stripes, lace, cables and other textured stitches.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I was never one to follow a pattern exactly as written. I would usually use the pattern as a “guide” and then add my own shaping, motifs, edgings or other personal touches. A number of years ago after I left engineering to be home with my son, I started sample knitting for a few yarn companies which subsequently lead to technical editing of patterns. Around this same time, I took a few knitwear design classes at the Rhode Island School of Design.

I released my first design, Checks Mix Cowl, which was based on a swatch I had done for one of my classes. However, I didn’t release anything else for about two years after this initial design and instead spent my time doing more technical editing for a number of designers and yarn companies. I finally made the leap to mostly designing around 2017 and now I find myself struggling at times to turn out all the ideas I have in my head. I love the process, and I especially enjoy seeing knitters’ interpretations of my patterns and their use of color combinations and various yarn bases.

How has your background as an environmental engineer informed your work?

As an environmental engineer, I would be charged with designing and applying the best remedy for addressing environmental impacts. And just as each impacted site presented a unique set of issues, I find that the processes I used to identity these issues and form a solution are very similar to the processes I use in my designing. I have also found that my love of math is deeply ingrained in designing and grading. I love to see the numbers unfold, and I enjoy applying geometrical concepts to some of my shawl designs.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

I take my inspiration from a variety of sources: an architectural detail, a colorful sunset, a spider web I may spy when out for a hike, bark on a tree, nature, found objects and many other sources. I have been known to tell my hubby to “pull over” so that I can take a picture of something that inspires me. I am drawn to color and patterns. I like to create colorful knits that fuel the imagination of each knitter and hopefully inspires them make my pattern their own.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My mom taught me how to knit when I was 10. My mom knits continental style, which suited me fine as I am left handed. I started with the garter stitch scarf and seamed hat as my first knitting items and continued with more hats and a few mittens. I didn’t knit much during junior high and high school, but in college I picked it up again and knitted the “boyfriend” sweater. I started to seriously knit in my late 20s after getting married, and I haven’t stopped since that time.

A pink speckled lace shawl.

Sunrise Over Bryce for Knitting Our National Parks.

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

After deciding on yarn, I will make a large swatch of the design/motif that I have in mind to see how the colors play together and to get gauge. Once I’ve gotten gauge, I will work up the numbers and write out a draft of the pattern, including any charts, if needed. I like to have the pattern completed as much as possible before I begin knitting so that I am in a sense, “testing” my own design and I have the ability to make edits as I knit.

What are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?

My favorite colors are purples, reds and other rich, saturated colors, and that hasn’t changed much. I also like the playfulness of speckled yarn with the surprising pops of color. Additionally, I am just starting to explore the color and textural effects of working with two strands of yarn, specifically a mohair/silk base coupled with a Merino base.

Post-Rhinebeck Untangling: Heather Love of Hellomello

A woman knitting while surrounded by yarn.

This is the 14th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Hellomello Handspun is a Brooklyn hipster indie yarn company: dyer Heather Love was using farm-fresh yarn before it was cool.

Heather starting out selling handspun, hence the name, and then fell down the rabbit hole of sourcing local wool, like the super springy and soft Cormo she offers on a range of hand-dyed colorways (designer Paula Pereira used it for Yullana, a sweater that’s part of a collection she launched this past weekend at Indie Untangled and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival).

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I’ve always been a bit of a textile nerd, so by the time I made it to art school I was a pretty experienced seamstress and had a regular side hustle “restyling” vintage clothing and stitching for a few local designers. Because of this, I made an effort to spend most of my studio time exploring other artistic avenues, including glass and photography. With the exception of a few bookbinding classes, my only textile class was a year-long African Dye Resist intensive that I took for fun.

Really and truly, hand-spinning was what got me started down the rabbit hole though. I took a class 10 or 12 years ago and got hooked. Fleeces were purchased. There was a lot of experimentation with carding and dyeing. Pretty soon, I had “too much” handspun and started selling it. It’s funny how things circle back around sometimes.

Purple hand-dyed yarn.

How did you come to source local yarn blends and how challenging is it to do this?

At a certain point, I realized that I couldn’t keep up spinning everything by hand — most people seemed more interested in my dye work, anyway. The problem for me was that I really wasn’t inspired by the idea of using a standard Superwash wool. Like most hand-spinners, I crave the tactile spring and softness of lanolin-rich wools. So in 2010, I decided to try sending a few fleeces to the mill for processing and had a small batch of my own yarn made. What I got back changed everything.

There are a lot of challenges in manufacturing. Sourcing fleece is just the start. Everything about milling takes time, a long time, and a lot can go wrong along the way. Prices climb higher with every season, but, in the end, I know it’s a worthwhile endeavor and I love being able to create amazing yarns that no one else has. My runs are very limited but that’s what keeps it interesting. Every batch is a little different and, with hand dyeing, every skein is uniquely beautiful.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

Brooklyn by way of Boston. The city is ever changing, sometimes exhausting, always inspiring: music, fashion, traffic and graffiti. There is always something new to photograph and explore. I am lucky to have lived in such vibrant cities and have met so many wonderful people along the way.

A hank of bright orange yarn.

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

I don’t have a favorite, I need the whole box of crayons. For me, it is all about the interaction and influence of colors on one another. I love how a color changes based on what it is paired with. The more vibration, the better I like it.

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

At the moment, I’m obsessed with super-saturated neons. I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting with layering color and over dyeing these lately and there are a couple of surprises in the works for VKL in January.

A black cropped sweater with bobbles.

Paula Pereira’s Yullana sweater in Hellomello Cormo.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My grandmother taught me to knit and crochet when I was young. As a kid I spent a lot of time stitching intricate little acrylic outfits for my army of Barbies. I favored crochet for its quicker finish until I started knitting garments for myself in high school. These days, I can knit much more quickly than I crochet.

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

Sewing is my other craft job. I wrote book called 30 Minute Sewing a few years back. I’ve also worked as an on-set tailor, stylist, costume designer and sewing instructor. I especially love the quiet pleasure of hand sewing techniques like embroidery, Sashiko and quilting.

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

I was floored when my friend told me that Stephen West used my yarn in his Amazing Technicolor Dream Sweater and featured it in one of his sweater books — I had no idea.

Recently, there was also a really beautiful Soldotna by Pia Cooperman.

Melissa Fitzpatrick made a killer Tecumseh.

But, one of my all-time favorite neons is the Maria Sweater by Yamil Anglada. It’s like bottled sunshine.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Stacie Dawson of Must Stash Yarn

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Stacie Dawson of Must Stash Yarn

This is the 12th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

It’s not very hard to find indie dyers who carry semisolid, variegated and (the ubiquitous) speckled yarn. Self-striping skeins, on the other hand, aren’t as common, with only a few companies specializing in it. Stacie Dawson of Must Stash Yarn is one of those indies who is synonymous with stripes. Here’s how she decided to go down that path.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I have my friend Claire to thank for that. She hosted a “Dye Your Own Skein” party using Kool-Aid and I was hooked.

I have always been creative so, over the years, I tried lots of different ways of expressing my creativity… with music, acting, decoration, stenciling/embossing/calligraphy, cross stitch, sewing, painting and the fiber arts of crochet, knitting, spinning and weaving. It was the fiber arts that spoke loudest to me and so learning yet another way of manipulating fiber was a natural progression for me. Like knitting, I obsessively gobbled up every dyeing resource I hold lay my hands/eyes on! Took classes with professional hand dyers, bought books, did workshops and practiced, practiced, practiced.

Why did you decide to focus on self-striping yarn?

Self striping was the second thing that I dyed, ever. If you have ever met me then you may have heard me joke that I am like the “Hair Club for Men” owner… I am not just the president, I am also a client. I just love knitting with self-striping sock yarn so much and when I first started dyeing, there were not a lot of options in the market; I felt like there was a niche that I could help to fill.

Originally, I didn’t want to be known as a one trick pony and so I dyed tonals as much as self striping. After about two years of always running behind, I realized that I needed to focus in order to realize my goals. Now we produce self striping on only four bases, limited tonals and so can have a steady stream of skeins available in the shop each week.

Yarn with red, yellow, blue, purple, gray and brown stripes.

What did you do before you started Must Stash and how does it inform your business?

I was a medical office administrator. I handled their books, hiring, staff management, training, supplies ordering, new equipment acquisition/maintenance, billing, etc. If it had something to do with running the business, I handled it! Yes, running a business, even one as different from being an indie as a medical office, was extremely beneficial to starting my own business. I was already familiar with setting up and reconciling books, paying taxes and being fiscally responsible and in this gig, I get to play with yarn almost everyday!

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

Inspiration comes from all around me! If you are familiar with Must Stash, then you have probably noticed that we have quite a few pop culture-inspired colorways. The names are usually drawn directly from the inspiration… we aren’t subtle. Some names pop into my head while designing/dyeing and some from my family, like Martian Rainbow, was suggested by my husband.

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

If I had to pick just one, it would be grey. I am a sucker for neutrals like brown and grey and don’t even get me started about that place where gold and silver meet… absolutely divine. I wouldn’t say my color preferences have changed a great deal since becoming a dyer but I would say that my palette has expanded substantially. For example, I wasn’t much for pastels or for garishly loud colors, either, but now, I have an appreciation for almost everything from sunglasses bright down to barely there… there is beauty in color, period.

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

The perfect amber. A liquid gold that has life and vitality and practically flows as you knit it. Other than a certain color, I would love to create a true self striping that does not repeat for an entire sock… that would be an amazing thing!

Yarn with Blue, red, green and purple stripes.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My mom taught me to knit when I was 9. She was an avid crafter and enjoyed creating beautiful and practical things. That winter she was knitting matching dress for us to wear for Easter. I was so intrigued by it that I begged her to teach me the mechanics of the stitches. I knit a rectangle about three inches wide and 10 inches long and it was a struggle for every inch!

I soon gave it up and put my supplies away and there they stayed for several years. However, every now and again, I would get a longing and so the bag of supplies would come out of the closet and we would sit down to learn again and after knitting a rectangle it would go back into the bag and back into the closet. This cycle repeated until 2010 when I pulled that bag out again, used YouTube tutorials and never stopped knitting.

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

Not really. I have enjoyed crocheting, spinning, cross stitch and weaving but none of them has captivated me like knitting.

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

I have a Tailwind that I knit with one of my Affirmation color ways and a natural skein that I find myself using a lot when the weather cools down and I would love to knit a Color Affection with two solids and a self striping but I need to decide on the colors.

You cannot imagine how much I enjoy seeing what my customers make with Must Stash! Of course, there are lots and lots of socks that are so well knit that they inspire me to make myself another pair but it’s the shawls and sweaters that really make me drool. Recently an IGer showed off her Strange Brew color work sweater she is knitting with one of my rainbow self striping in the yoke… so beautiful and fantastic.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Shannon Steinberg of Woodsy & Wild

Shannon of Woodsy and Wild

This is the 10th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2019 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Zippered project bags have a pretty standard look, but Shannon of Woodsy and Wild has managed to elevate the simplest of shapes, with roomy pockets, functional handles and fashionable fabrics. Her Birch bag is one of my favorites, as it’s small enough to stash in a large tote, but big enough to stuff full and use as a primary carry-all.

Tell me about how you started a project bag business?

I took a break from my academic career a few years ago when I was pregnant with my second son to spend more time with my kids, but I realized pretty quickly that being a full-time, stay-at-home mother was also leaving me feeling unfulfilled. I had started sewing a few years earlier, and decided on a bit of a whim to give opening a small business a try. I couldn’t quite find the exact project bag I wanted, that gave me the same joy as the beautiful, lovingly hand-dyed yarns I was knitting with, but I knew I could make it. So I spent a lot of nights in my sewing room after my son had gone to sleep playing with prototypes, and fine-tuning, and problem-solving, and that creative thinking and challenge really brought back something I had been missing.

Eventually I had enough confidence in what I what I was making, and my husband gave me some gentle encouragement to believe in myself and put my work out there, and I opened an Etsy shop. I love making beautiful things for other makers, and the creative challenge of designing new things and maintaining a growing business, and haven’t looked back!

Floral zipper bags

What did you do before you launched Woodsy and Wild and how do you think it informs what you bring to the business?

I’m a scientist by training — I have a PhD in microbiology and immunology. I think my attention to detail comes from that background, and it helps me a lot with the product development process.

In science, one of the things that it really teaches you is to embrace failures and learn from them — day in and day out you are trying new things and a great many of your experiments don’t turn out the way you thought they would, but you can always learn something from them. When I’m designing a new item for the shop, it generally goes through a lot of iterations and prototypes before I’m truly happy with it (those sky-high standards also probably come from my scientific background!), which probably would frustrate a lot of people, but I really enjoy that fine-tuning!

And the other thing that a PhD-level training really instills in you is the ability to research, to figure out for yourself just about anything. I don’t have a background in business, or design, or manufacturing, but I do love to teach myself new things, and owning a small business is always throwing new challenges at you. Whenever I need to learn a new skill, whether it’s how to work with a new kind of hardware or how to build a new website, I really enjoy researching all the knitty gritty details, even if most people would probably just skim over a lot of it and get right to the creating. And I’m always confident that with enough time and research, I can figure anything out.

Gray project bag

How did you decide on the types of bags to create?

I started Woodsy and Wild because I was having a hard time finding exactly what I wanted in a project bag. I have a natural, minimalist aesthetic, and if I’m going to carry something around with me everyday, and leave it sitting out in my house, which is what I do with my project bags and other knitting gear, I really want it to fit in with my style and my life. I find a lot of beauty in strong, well-made materials that will age well and evolve over the life of an item, which is why I only use natural fibers and solid metal zippers and hardware.

It was also really important to me to design bags that would fit in with my daily life — I have two little boys, and we travel often. So, secure pockets and closures are designed into all of my bags because I need things to stay put when I toss my bag in the car or an airplane overheard compartment, and to keep little fingers from making off with my scissors and stitch markers.

I love the rustic elegance of linen, and I designed my signature line of project bags (the Birch Bag, Sapling and Maple Tote) to really celebrate that. They have the soft structure of a crisp linen, with clean design lines that show off the fabric while adding some features that make life easier for a knitter. And I love how they get softer and develop a lovely gentle rumpled texture the more you use and love them. They’re really my dream bags.

How do you find your unique fabrics?

I think a lot of that comes back to my love to research. I have a lot of patience for searching all the nooks and crannies of the internet for good sources! Most of my patterned fabrics come from various online fabric shops, and some of them are small-batch, digitally-printed fabrics from Spoonflower. There are so many indie surface pattern designers there creating beautiful designs, I can spend hours pouring over all the options!

The waxed canvas I use in the Maple Totes comes from a wonderful U.S.-based, woman-owned small business; they hand-wax every yard with the most gorgeous-smelling local beeswax. A gracious tip from a fellow project bag maker led me to them — I love how kind and collaborative our indie fiber business community is! I’m also very lucky that my LYS is also an amazing sewing and quilting shop, and the owner will often clue me in to new fabrics that she thinks I will like, and order extra for me of special fabrics (like all the lovely Rifle Paper Co. fabrics I love!) and she even helped me get in touch with and set up a wholesale account with my linen supplier.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My grandmother taught me when I was very young, probably 5 or 6 years old. She also taught me to crochet and hand sew around the same time, but the knitting is what really stuck! We lived pretty far away, but whenever we went to visit I remember her inviting me into her stash of yarns and fabrics and letting me take whatever I liked, and helping me get started with a new project. And then the next time we visited I would show her what I had made! It was a really special way to keep her close even though she was hours away.

I put knitting aside for quite a while as I got older, but I picked it back up when I was working on my PhD because I needed somewhere to channel my creative energy and help me manage the stress. That’s when I discovered Ravelry, YouTube knitting tutorials and knitting podcasts, and I spent the next few years teaching myself all the things! I still get to knit with my grandmother, and I’ve even been able to teach her a few things! I’m hoping we might get to teach my oldest son how to knit together in another year or two.

Red needle case

Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting and sewing?

In addition to making bags, I also do a lot of garment sewing. Sewing and knitting are really my only crafty hobbies, but I also love to cook and have an ongoing love affair with sourdough bread baking. And I am an enthusiastic, if not very skilled, gardener.

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

I think running a fiber business has been like introvert therapy for me! I’m naturally very shy and reserved, but the fiber arts community is so engaging and it’s easier to get to know someone when you know going in that you have a shared love of craft! Owning a business has encouraged me to get involved and participate in conversations and actually get outside my comfort zone. And there are so many opportunities to meet and talk to new people, whether it’s on Instagram or Ravelry, at my local Sip ‘n’ Stitch, or at events.

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.

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.

Untangling C.C. Almon of Javapurl Designs

C.C. wearing her A Walk in the Park Cowl.

Knitting and caffeine seem to go together like, well, yarn and needles. C.C. Almon of Javapurl Designs takes that to the next level with her designs, many of them coffee related, or with a geeky twist. There’s also a bit of Gilmore Girls thrown in (again, coffee) as she often collaborates on collections with her daughter, Dami.

C.C. also often works with dyer Julia of Pandia’s Jewels, and for this year’s Where We Knit yarn club, she created two items: her Brackett’s Landing socks and cowl are now available to purchase.

When and how did you learn to knit and how did you decide to become a designer?

I’ve always been crafty having grown up with a great-grandmother who did needlework, a grandmother who painted and sewed and a momma who did lots of crafts including cross stitch. I dabbled in lots of crafts over the years, but had always wanted to learn to knit. Why? I’m not sure. I didn’t know anyone who knit. It was just always calling to me.

So I finally answered the call in 2005 when I purchase a Learn to Knit kit from a big box store. I was instantly in love! The first few years, I knit mostly blankets and hats.

Things exploded in 2012 when I took a sock knitting class. In 2013, I released my first big pattern (Rescue Me, Chin Boy, & Show Me the Stars – a Doctor Who-inspired Socks) after I was gifted a gorgeous skein of yarn that I knew needed to be a certain pattern, but I couldn’t locate one, so I made it up.

Since then, I’ve designed 60 patterns (mainly socks, but also shawls, cowls, and a few miscellaneous things).

What did you do before becoming a designer and how does it inform your design work?

My final job before I became disabled was as a hospital chaplain. My primary unit was the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I desperately miss working with those wee babes and their families. As a way to continue to bless them, I designed my Top Down Preemie Hat pattern (free on Ravelry) with seven sizes from 24 weeks to full-term. Since 2014, I have knit one preemie hat each week which I then donate to a local hospital.

How did you decide to team up with your daughter, Dami, and how do you work together on your designs?

My Dami (she’s 19 years old and a freshman in college) is a prolific knitter. For a couple of years, she helped me by knitting the samples for my designs. In 2016, she had an idea for a pair of socks inspired by the TV show Elementary. Once she designed those, she continued with eight further patterns and she is now working on a collection of patterns inspired by one of her favourite musicals, Hadestown. We haven’t both collaborated on singular designs, but rather design our own things that then come together in a collection or book.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Our pattern design inspirations range from geeky things like Doctor Who and Elementary, to TV shows such as Gilmore Girls and Outlander, to coffee, to colourways that demanded to be something, to locations such as the city of Edinburgh, and more.

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

I need to connect to the specific thing that inspires me (whether it’s a TV show or a colourway or a location or a coffee drink) first and then the design flows out of that.

What are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?

PINK!!!!!!!!!! Always PINK!!!!!! (Although I have surprised some people recently by sharing that my second favourite colour is orange, not bright orange, but rather that autumnal burnt orange.) I love PINK so much that we designed an entire book inspired by the colour (Tickled PINK ~ two designers, four indie dyers, eight PINK-tastic patterns).

ks.jpg” alt=”” width=”700″ height=”700″ class=”size-full wp-image-15447″ /> I Love You More Than Pumpkin Spice Socks

Where is your favorite place to knit?

In a coffeeshop with a cuppa coffee (what kind varies by the season, pumpkin spice lattes are my absolute favourite) with either a good friend to chat with or a good book to read or an intriguing podcast to listen to.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: The Perfect Blend

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This is the 13th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Last November, after I checked out the Saugerties Performing Arts Center and decided it was the perfect new venue for Indie Untangled, I paid a visit to The Perfect Blend Yarn & Tea Shop. First of all, I couldn’t not pay a visit to a well-regarded LYS less than a mile down the road. But, I mainly wanted to see what the shop was like before reaching out to the owner, Mary Ebel, about collaborating on the show, which I knew would bring quite a lot of visitors to the little town. Since I hadn’t yet signed the contract for the new venue, I went “incognito,” and didn’t reveal the real reason I was there.

Mary welcomed me and my mother-in-law warmly, and she and I chatted like knitting-obsessed folks do about the projects we were working on and hoping to make one day. I learned about the yarn club the store runs, with hand-dyed colorways inspired by the beauty of the Hudson Valley. Mary brewed some Harney & Sons tea for us to sample and I picked out a colorful navy, teal and orange basket that now holds all my WIPs by my living room sofa.

Later, after I reached out to Mary and revealed the true reason for my visit that day, she became an indispensable part of the planning team for the fifth annual Rhinebeck Trunk Show, connecting me to local resources and rallying together the local merchants to give Indie Untangled visitors a warm welcome not unlike the one I received during my first visit, with a free shuttle service, sit ‘n’ knit stations and even an after party — plus a little yarny surprise.

I recently learned a little bit more Mary about how she became the owner of one of the Hudson Valley’s loveliest yarn shops.

Tell me about the decision to open The Perfect Blend. Was running a yarn shop a longtime dream of yours?

Yes it was a long term plan — as I imagine lots of knitters have dreams of opening a yarn shop, too!

Fortunately for me, I had the support of my family and friends to make it happen. My husband retiring early from law enforcement and taking on a second career in sales allowed me to leave my full-time job and pursue this yarn shop dream job (though I dreamed it much differently… I thought there would be time to sit and knit).

After eight years of teaching friends at home and my husband settling into his new career, I “retired” and opened a shop. Seemed everything fell into place as I worked towards the opening. The location, in the small village of Saugerties, was the only storefront I looked at. And it’s perfect – a bit rustic with brick wall and charming atmosphere.

Why did you decide to focus on yarn and tea?

Growing up with a family of makers, my mother was always knitting, but she also, sewed, crafted, tried just about everything — except cooking. My dad, an engineer, loved building, woodworking, fixing things, problem solving. He and friends built our family cottage in Maine in 1950s. There are seven of us “kids” and we were all encouraged to learn a craft. For the last 30 years or so, our family Christmas has been handmade. We make something six times, one for each family member. It’s creative and fun!

Though each of my siblings have some sort of hands-on crafting talent, mine was knitting. I have sweet memories of knitting with my mother during quiet early mornings in Maine. I love knitting, and teaching people to knit.

And the tea: well, a few reasons. First reason was I wanted something other than yarn to bring people into the shop. Turns out, that was a good decision — they’re looking for tea, and wouldn’t normally walk in a yarn shop, then discover the beautiful yarns, and talk about how they “always wanted to learn” … ”Oh, and you teach classes?” And bam — new knitter!

We’re Irish and there are lots of tea drinkers in the family. The tea kettle is ON when we’re together, from early morning to late at night!

As with knitting and crocheting, making tea is slow process – it’s peaceful and calming. It’s what you do to relax and unwind, or to help you feel better. And it all works with The Perfect Blend: of yarn, or tea blends, or of the community of knitters and crocheters.

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

Prior to opening the shop, my career was in human resources. The last 13 years in benefits and employee relations for our local hospital system. Though my background did not include retail or anything in the fiber world, I’m a good listener, confidential and love to help people.

My position at the hospital was to serve the people that took care of people, helping them resolve an issue so that they could get back to their jobs of patient care. That’s why an LYS is better for me than an online store. Though we tried for a few months last year, it’s not for me, and most of our online sales happened in the shop. We like the interaction with our customers and have fun! And just like HR, we don’t discuss politics and we’re confidential — I won’t tell anyone how much yarn you bought!

Why did you choose the dyers and brands that you carry?

The brands and the products change over the years and will continue to. We started carrying basic, core brands that I was familiar with: Cascade, Noro, Classic Elite, etc. In the beginning, I used the advice and guidance of reps for what to buy and what was trending. Now, I research myself, attend TNNA and always listen to my customers.

As we evolve and grow our shop, the yarn choices will change too. There’s always something new that we must have! Although we carry many classic yarns for the projects you’ll have 10 years from now, we do carry a variety of yarns, not novelty, but some trendy yarns for our adventurous knitters and crocheters. From Cashmere and yak to cotton and wool, and lots of perfect blends in between.

Who are some of your favorite designers?

Hardest question right here! There are so many talented designers, who could ever pick a favorite?

Let me say this though, we just had two days of classes with Ann Budd (she’s amazing!). Her Intro to Sweater Design Class – wow! We all know that there’s tons of math in knitting, but now I have a whole new respect for what it takes to design it, from concept, to gauging, choosing the right yarn, sizing… there are so many factors. It was an amazing class! One person commented that “We don’t pay enough for patterns.”

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

We met a few new vendors at TNNA trade show in June. Gleeners recently arrived and we’re planning a demo day soon. We’re also bringing in some fun products from Knit Baah Purl — sheep-y wine glasses, mugs and notecards. We’re also xcited to bring in Dragonfly Fibers.

As for special events, it doesn’t get any better than having Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show a half-mile away from the shop! We’re thrilled and super exited to have this event come to Saugerties!

When and how did you learn to knit?

I was taught by my mother on the porch of our summer cottage in Maine. Not sure of my age, I think around nine, but I remember where I was sitting and the yarn (split-y cotton) and the big wooden needles. Pretty sure there were other neighborhood kids learning at the same time, but I clearly remember where I was sitting and the moment I “got it!”

Is there an FO that you’re particularly proud of?

Through the years there were definitely many proud moments when I discovered a new technique, such as German short rows, or when I made my first sweater, or did Fair Isle for the first time, and a cabled sweater. After all these years there’s always something new to learn — that only another knitter can be excited about, too!