Indie Untangled Everywhere Untangling: Birdie Parker

A woman with red dyed hair and black glasses.

This is the 10th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled Everywhere, taking place from October 15-17, 2020.

Metalsmithing doesn’t seem to have much in common with the fiber arts, but Kristi Jensen of Birdie Parker Designs has pulled both together seamlessly. After earning a BFA in Metalsmithing from California State University Long Beach in 2016, Kristi turned her skill into a fiber-focused jewelry business. Her jewels have donned many an ear, wrist and shawl, and she’s expanded into other unique items, such as light switch plates, all bearing her signature stitch designs.

How did you decide to study metalsmithing in college?

I originally intended to major in sculpture, but found that the program at my school wasn’t a good fit for me. A friend suggested that I check out the metalsmithing program and I instantly fell in love. I get to play with hammers and fire? Sign me up!

What led you to turn that skill into a fiber-focused jewelry business?

Like many fine arts majors, once I graduated I was faced with trying to figure out how to turn my new knowledge into a marketable skill. I played around with different ideas and mediums but nothing really fit. All throughout my time in the metalsmithing program, I was avidly knitting and padding my schedule with classes from the Fibers department, and it finally occurred to me: the fiber world didn’t have much going on in the way of jewelry at the time. I turned my focus toward trying to replicate the stitches of fibers arts in metal. After much experimentation, I developed a technique with electro-etching that eventually became my signature element.

Leaf shaped earrings with etched knitting stitches.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled Everywhere?

I plan to introduce a few new products that I’ve been working to perfect with the help of my laser printers: new mirrored acrylic stitch markers, and silicone watch bands for Apple Watches.

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

I think the number one thing is that from day one I have treated Birdie Parker like a business, not a hobby. This has allowed me to grow exponentially, to the point where I have recently moved operations to a large warehouse and I’m beginning to take on employees to help with the workflow.

A silver bracelet with stockinette stitches etched into it.

When and how did you learn to knit?

The first time I picked up the needles, it was from a little kit that I found at Costco, of all places. I later realized that I spent the first handful of projects knitting through the back loop! Life then got in the way and I didn’t knit for about a dozen years. One day I was freezing at the bus stop and I thought, I really should knit myself a hat! I visited the nearest LYS, watched a lot of youTube videos, figured out how to properly execute that knit stitch, and off I went!

Do you enjoy other crafts in addition to knitting?

Around the same time I started that hat, I started to wonder how hard it would be to learn to spin yarn. Within a span of about three weeks, I had built myself a drop spindle, visited an alpaca farm and ordered myself a spinning wheel! In addition to spinning, I learned to weave when I inherited my husband’s family loom. I dabble a bit in sewing, embroidery, cross stitch and sashiko. Since starting the business, my free time has become quite limited, so I seem to have focused my efforts on hoarding yarn. I’m quite good at it.

A leather cuff with silver stitches.

What are your favorite skeins in your stash?

I have a terrible weakness for self-striping sock yarn and rainbow gradient sets.

A leather tray with the image of a yarn ball.

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

Too many! I have 3/4 of a Love Note sweater, a half finished Rift tee, a pair of striped socks, a Junction Shawl and I’m sure a few others that I’m forgetting. The pandemic has been great for getting me to cast on projects but finishing them seems to be another issue!

What to stash this week: Love knot for your knits

A purple shawl cuff with a silver Celtic knot.

Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations has put her own spin on the shawl cuff trend. Michelle crafts them with colorful cork, which is both vegan and environmentally friendly, hand stitching Celtic knit charms onto each piece, which are secured with metal snaps. You can see the cuffs, along with Michelle’s assortment of accessories, in her booth at Stitches West next weekend (I’ll be there too!).

A snowy forest and green yarn.

Quiescence is Gabby of Once Upon a Corgi’s interpretation of Sequoia National Park after a snowstorm. This anything-but-quiet colorway is available to preorder through next Friday, with 10% of sales donated to the National Park Foundation.

A bag with birds and red and blue yarn.

Kate of McMullin Fiber Co is having a special Valentine’s Day shop update today at 11 a.m. Eastern time. It will include a special Lovebird collaboration with gingeroots bags, and two packages inspired by Pride and Prejudice and Jane Eyre available to preorder.

Gold stockinette stitch earrings.

Jen of Porterness Studio has restocked after VKL NYC, with tons of new jewels, including 14K Gold Stockinette Stitch Motif Minis and Short Row earrings.

A blue bag with white alpaca wearing red scarves.

Stephanie of Rock Solid Designs has debuted her new Grace bag. These spacious bags have a more classic style for use as an everyday tote.

A lacy aqua shawl on a dress form.

Marian of Marianated Yarns is debuting several new designs at Stitches West, collaborating with designers including Katy Carroll, Deb Gerhard, Romi Hill and Louis Boria of Brooklyn Boy Knits.

A bag with conversation hearts fabric holding purple yarn.

Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios has once again collaborated with artist Cynthia Frenette for a special V-day update that will drop today at 9 a.m. Pacific.

Plum and pink solid and speckled skeins of yarn.

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels will have several kits for Wool & Pine’s Sorrel Sweater available for preorder starting tomorrow at 10 a.m. Eastern through Friday, February 21 until 8 p.m. Eastern.

Blue and white fuzzy yarn.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns will have an update on Saturday at 3 p.m. UK time with plenty of Coniston Fingering, a single-ply yarn with extra fine Merino and luxurious superkid mohair.

What to stash this week: Join the flock

Hands hold up pastel skeins of yarn.

Geraldine, the dyer behind new indie dye company The Wandering Flock, dyes yarn with intention and an eye towards knitting it into fashion-forward garments that you’ll want to wear. If you’re headed to Vogue Knitting Live NYC next week, stop by Booth 1101-1103 to see Arete, her design in the Winter 2019 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, and the rest of her flock of hand-dyed yarn.

A skein of taupe yarn and a silver necklace.

Jennifer of Porterness Studio will also be headed to VKL NYC next week, as a guest brand in mYak’s Tibetan Fibers booth. You definitely have to check out her stylish jewels in person!

A bag in yellow and orange floral fabric.

Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios is launching several vintage designs, along with a snarky Yarn Sock, in a limited and ready-to-ship update that goes live today at 9 a.m. Pacific.

Skeins of white, tan and gray yarn.

Like many of you, I have felt gutted by the destruction caused by the massive bush fires throughout Australia. Along with having family in Victoria, I have also had the fortune of working with Isabel and Nick of the Great Ocean Road Woolen Mill, who sent a batch of their yarn over for last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show. ⁣

Aside from sourcing their fiber from farmers roughly one hour from the mill, Isabel and Nick keep their carbon footprint low: 95% of their power comes from solar, they wash their fiber only using rainwater and a low phosphate detergent and use the waste water to keep their orchard green and healthy. ⁣

I have finally had time after the holiday season to add their yarn to the Indie Untangled shop, including a kit for Truly Myrtle’s Bobby beanie and Eva DK, which can be used for Thea Coleman’s Shandy sweater (there are only five skeins left!). ⁣

Along with making a personal contribution to wildfire relief efforts, I am donating 15% of ALL sales in the Indie Untangled shop through the end of January to the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund.

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

If you’ve been enjoying the Indie Untangled Knitting Our National Parks series, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to step inside one of the inspiration photos and create your own parks-inspired colorways!

At this first Indie Untangled retreat, taking place near Mount Rainier in Washington State, we’ll let you be a dyer for the afternoon. After touring Mount Rainier and taking in all its natural beauty, we’ll provide the supplies and equipment for you to hand dye personalized souvenirs, under the expert guidance of Heather Pleva from Earl Grey Fiber Company, who created The Highest Peak, pictured above. We’ll also explore the best patterns for using your kettle-dyed, variegated or hand-painted yarn.

Register by February 15 to secure your preferred accommodations. I hope you can join us!

What to stash this week: A little birdie told me you’d like this

Stockinette and garter stitch metal earrings.

Kristi of Birdie Parker Designs is a self-proclaimed fiber addict with a degree in metalsmithing. She uses cupric nitrate and electricity to electro-etch stitch stockinette and garter stitch patterns (crochet coming soon!) into sterling silver, brass and copper for earrings, necklaces, bracelets and stitch markers. If you’re going to Stitches United at the end of May/beginning of June, she’ll be there booth 709. If not, you can take 15% off your online order through June 30 with the code INDIEINTRO.

A cream tote bag with the words Knit Knit Knit in red.

Sara of La Cave à Laine has fallen down the rabbit hole of linocut, which uses linoleum instead of rubber. She is now offering Linocut Totes, which feature her original drawings. These 100% cotton totes are limited, so act fast!

An orange floral bag with I love bad words.

I’m not shirting you. Slipped Stitch Studios is debuting artist Cynthia Frenette’s less spicy fabric designs. Preorders open today at 9 a.m. Pacific and run through Monday.

A set of white yarn speckled with pink and purple and a dark purple skein.

Shanna of Lambstrings Yarn has opened up preorders for kits for Caitlin Hunter’s Navelli tee, with 12 possible color combos.

A set of five skeins of purple yarn with sparkles.

Eden Cottage Yarns is having an update on Tuesday at 8 p.m. UK time with sparkly yarn to mark Eurovision.

Aimee of Pancake and Lulu/PLYarn is taking preorders for her 2019 Advent calendars.