Time has flown for Barbara of Spencer Hill Naturally Dyed Yarn, whose unique yarns are inspired by the authors or literary characters who inspire us. She’s about to celebrate 10 years in business. To mark the festivals and events where she’s gotten to meet many of her customers, she was planning to have an anniversary sale at her fall shows. Instead, she’s taking the sale online. Starting today and running through August 28, you’ll get 10% off every purchase in her shop and free shipping on purchases of $100 or more.
I’m extending preorders of Birch Hollow Fibers’ ethereal Stardust In Basin colorway through this Sunday. The yarn, available on Sylvia Sock and Phillis DK, is inspired by a photo taken by Eric Ritchie at Great Basin National Park in Nevada. 20% of sales will be donated equally to the National Park Foundation and the NDN COVID-19 Response Project (the NDN is an Indigenous-led organization dedicated to building Indigenous power).
The other day, I was reminded of Mina Philipp of Knitting Expat Designs’ Roadwipping Cowl, designed for the 2019 Where We Knit Yarn Club with Rebecca of Fuse Fiber Studio. Sadly, Rebecca is no longer dyeing, but the May 2020 colorway from Shani of Bleu Poussière, created with natural dyes, would be perfect for this one-skein design. The yarn is available to preorder on Indie Untangled only through this Sunday.
Mary Annarella’s latest design pays homage to the cute cardigans worn by the character of Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory. You can get the fingering-weight pattern at 30% off on Ravelry or Payhip with the code “feelthebern” now through Sunday.
Sample Dana’s yarn with the Un Besito Snack Pack. The packs come with a dozen 10g yarn balls of Smooches Fingering Weight Merino/nylon yarn peeking through the window of a fun bakery box. Many of these sets are limited editions, so grab them while you can!
Robynn’s Concrete Jungle is a simple lace knit that will help keep away the upcoming small chill. It’s available for 20% off until Sunday on Ravelry and Payhip.
Monica of Gothfarm Yarn is all about the gray, from a blend of Jacob Sheep wool and black mohair to Nebelung, a matte-steel blend of carbonized bamboo and Coopworth sheep locks.
Through my text thread with Nina Mayer Ritchie — her husband, Eric, was the photographer for the Great Basin National Park photo that Robin picked, but they both take the stunning photos in her feed — I learned that there was a deeper connection to the fiber arts — and a fascinating story that the reporter in me had to tell.
Nina has been taking Navajo weaving lessons from Emily Malone of the Spider Rock Girls, a family that has been weaving rugs for four generations. Emily’s mother, Rose Yazzie, owns a Hogan, a traditional dwelling of the Navajo people, and has a flock of sheep that provides the wool for their pieces, which they sell (I’m planning to post an interview with Emily as well). Above is an in-progress rug that Nina is weaving inspired by a photo she took of sunset through the “Window” at Big Bend National Park in Texas.
Nina and Eric also have an impressive track record in the national parks, having visited 48 out of 62, some with their two young children. Both Nina and Eric are MedsPeds physicians (dual board certified in internal medicine and pediatrics), and they have been working over the last several months in Chinle, Arizona, the geographic center of the Navajo Nation, which for a period of time had the highest rate of COVID-19 cases per capita in the country. Eric is the chief medical officer of the Indian Health Service (IHS) hospital there and Nina works with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health as a public health doctor.
I spoke with Nina about learning Navajo weaving, her family’s parks visits and about the public health response to the coronavirus in the Navajo Nation. In addition to supporting the parks, 10% from the sales of Robin’s colorway will be donated to the NDN Collective COVID-19 Response Project.
Emily Malone of the Spinder Rock Girls uses raw fleece for a weaving project.
Tell me about your weaving lessons. Have you done any other fiber crafts (knitting, crochet or spinning)?
I started taking weaving lessons from a local weaver in March 2018. She is part of a family of weavers called the Spider Rock Girls. Her mother weaves and taught her, and then she taught her daughters. They live near Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly. According to Navajo teachings, Spider Woman lives atop Spider Rock and bestowed the gift of weaving to the Navajo. The Spider Rock Girls keep their own herd of sheep and sheer them to spin the wool into yarn for weaving.
This weaver has been offering weaving lessons to a small group of us over the last few years. She made looms for all of us, and we would typically meet one to two times per month to weave and learn together. Now with COVID, that has been put on hold, but we each have our own loom at home and weave individually. I learned how to crochet with my Yiayia (grandmother) when I was a little girl, but weaving in the traditional Navajo way with a loom is completely different!
Emily spinning yarn from her sheep before weaving.
It sounds like you and Eric are longtime hikers! When did you start visiting national parks?
We actually didn’t start “seriously” hiking until our honeymoon to Kauai in June 2008. After that, we immediately moved to Boston to start our residency training and found that during our off-time – without having access to a car – we would walk/hike the entire Boston area pretty regularly… roughly 11-12 miles on an average weekend day.
The first national park we visited together was the Grand Canyon, where we hiked North Rim to South Rim with my father during the last week of June 2009. It was the first time we had ever visited the Southwest, during record high temps, and we were smitten. It was one of the most formative experiences of our lives and we truly became enchanted with this part of the country. After that, we kept seeking ways to return to the Southwest to visit more national parks and to complete clinical rotations with the Indian Health Service.
We had always felt strongly about providing medical care to underserved populations and the Indian Health Service seemed like the best fit for us. As we visited more and more national parks, both out West and back East, we realized that our time spent in the parks was incredibly restorative and balancing especially while juxtaposed to our hectic schedules as medical doctors. We have visited 48 out of 62 national parks so far and it is our bucket list to visit them all together. As we started having children, our little boys visited the Grand Canyon as their first national park when they were each 2 weeks old. They have visited over 25 national parks each.
The Ritchies at Arches National Park in Utah.
Do you have a favorite national park?
This is the toughest question for us, and we get asked this all the time! I think we love different national parks for different reasons, and each could be considered a favorite in their own way. We are also very lucky to live close to so many of them, and we get to revisit these ones (roughly 15 of them) over and over again. Before spikes in visitation over recent years, I think we would easily say that Zion, Yosemite and Glacier were our top three, as these parks truly fill you with awe and wonder when you are immersed in them. However, as those parks have become more and more crowded, even during the “off season,” we have a new appreciation for the parks that are either off the beaten path or have enough space to really spread out. These include Death Valley and Big Bend.
James, the couple’s youngest son, in front of a Bristlecone Pine in Great Basin National Park.
What’s the story behind your photo of the tree at Great Basin?
This photo is from an incredible camping trip we took a few years ago to celebrate our youngest son’s first birthday… with the oldest living things on the planet: Bristlecone Pines in Great Basin National Park! This was his 17th national park visited during his first 12 months of life.
We had the coolest campsite up on Wheeler Peak, and spent an entire afternoon hiking around the impressive Bristlecone Pines, scouting out a favorable one to photograph later that night… My husband then hiked back out over a mile in the dark (while I stayed back, cozy with the kiddos in our camper) to reach this awesome tree and photograph it with the night sky. Such a fun memory!
How did you and Eric begin working for Native American healthcare organizations?
During our first year of residency, we attended a Grand Rounds held by two other married physicians that had completed our same residency program a few years prior. They had been working with the Indian Health Service in the middle of the Navajo Nation and everything they shared with us about their experiences truly spoke to us. We arranged to have two clinical rotations with the IHS, one in 2009 and the other in 2010, and fell in love with the communities we served. We decided to join the IHS in Chinle, AZ (the geographic center of the Navajo Nation) after completing our residencies in 2012 and have been here ever since. I transitioned into public health in 2014 with the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health and Eric is still with the IHS.
Can you talk about how the COVID-19 crisis has hit the Navajo Nation and Native Americans particularly hard and what kind of work have you and your colleagues been doing to address this?
As many have probably seen in the news, the Navajo Nation had the highest rate of cases per capita in the country for a period of time. Contributing factors include remote and impoverished living conditions (difficulty accessing resources, such as medical care, grocery stores, etc.), lack of running water and electricity, multigenerational/overcrowded households where the virus can easily spread throughout the family, higher incidences of underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and lung disease, limited access to broadband/internet, as well as difficulties with “staying home” when folks have to travel long distances to obtain supplies. With strict and comprehensive public health measures, such as universal masking, social distancing, limiting capacity in essential businesses, and curfews, the Navajo Nation decreased their case counts and have been flattening the curve. The mortality rate among Navajo is still the highest of any ethnic/racial group. Through our work, and collaborations with other philanthropic groups, we have been integrally involved in the public health responses here: increasing testing, increasing hospital capacity, increasing resources and securing PPE, developing and distributing educational materials, expanding contact tracing, supporting communities through delivery of goods and water to households, etc.
Oxbow Bend at Grant Teton National Park in Wyoming.
How has the pandemic impacted your travels? As physicians, do you have any advice for people looking to safely explore the country?
The biggest way the pandemic impacted our travels is that it prevented us from taking previously scheduled time off. With Navajo Nation weekend curfews and the increased workload, we needed to stay put and work. No more weekend camping trips for around three months straight, which is very atypical for us (we usually camp almost every weekend). As things have slowly improved on the Navajo Nation, we have been able to venture out a little more, but we are sticking to dispersed/boondock camping in more remote areas to remain physically distanced from others. We are now discovering some hidden gems.
I think the advice we would offer folks looking to safely travel during pandemic times is to think about their own risk tolerance and how that (and their actions) may affect others. Getting through this is going to take a “team” effort and we all need to do our part.
Outdoor spaces are generally the safest option for recreating, and getting there by personal vehicle is preferred. Identifying places that are not crowded is ideal.
I know we all love to visit our iconic national parks but these spaces are at risk of being “loved to death,” especially during these challenging times when everyone is looking to get outdoors and away from others. It’s getting harder to achieve this as our national parks get more and more congested. I would encourage travelers to look for hidden gems closer to home in other public lands that don’t normally get as much attention as our national parks.
Robin of Birch Hollow Fibers fittingly took inspiration from this photo, taken by by Eric Ritchie, of one of those twisty trees under a blanket of stars for her Knitting Our National Parks installment. Her complex speckled colorway, Stardust in Basin, will be available to preorder through Indie Untangled on a Superwash Merino sock and DK base until Friday, August 21.
Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks has released LaMer, a super-soft blend of 40% llama, 40% Superwash Merino and 20% nylon. The combination of Debbie’s subdued colors and the fiber blend produces a slightly heathered yarn that’s perfect for cozy sweaters and accessories.
What’s cuter than sloths? Sloths wearing backpacks! Jillian is celebrating back-to-school season — whatever that may look like this year — with this adorable free gift. With a qualifying purchase at WeeOnes during the month of August, you’ll receive one free individual Back-to-School Sloth stitch marker.
This brand new yarn-dyeing duo from the Pacific Northwest just released their first colorway collection, the first of a two-part series based on Greek Gods and Goddesses. There are also coordinating stitch marker sets.
Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns is getting ready to take a much-needed summer break, so she’s having two updates before she takes off: one today at 4 p.m. UK time with fingering and the other on August 11 at 8 a.m. UK time featuring lace and DK.
Trekkies, this is for you! Michele of Misfit Yarns has yarn from her Star Trek: The Next Generation collection ready to ship! Characters include Captain Picard, Deanna Troi, Data, Worf, Geordi, Dr. Crusher, Guinan and Q.
Tami of Eternity Ranch Knits is sadly closing her doors, and is selling off her inventory in grab bags.
Back in March, I decided back to launch the Indie Untangled Super Special KAL so we’d have some fun knitting incentives. Not that we really need prizes, let alone a pandemic, to inspire our crafting mojo, but it is nice to have deadlines.
Over three months, there were 70 total entries, including 16 in the sock category and 15 in the sweater category (but only one in the new bralette category, which surprised me!). Last week, I selected 15 winners in eight categories via random number generator. Here are the winning FOs (please note that the links go to Ravelry).
Stephanie Earp, a knitwear designer who introduced her incredibly popular Knitter’s Book Case earlier this spring, has come out with an expansion pack. Called the Knitter’s Brief Case, it can work as a standalone or as an add-on for the Knitter’s Book Case, holding up to nine pairs of needle tips, including slots for jumbo needles up to 15mm. It also has two slots for cables and a large pouch for notions.
Today is the last day to order Aleutian Fade, the colorway from Jenn of Cedar House Yarns based on a blue gradient forming the Kachemak Bay Mountains at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge.
Heather of Sew Happy Jane has updated her shop with new Perfect Pairings for two-skein projects, and a batch of new base Delightful Tweed DK. 10% of profits from sales this weekend will go to The Loveland Foundation, which helps Black women and girls access therapy services.
Add a wee bit of magic to your next project with Jillian of WeeOnes’ whimsical dragon stitch markers. They are being offered at an introductory 10% off discount through this Sunday, June 28.
Sara of La Cave à Laine’s summer collection is here and features practical project bags in both bright and delicate colored 100% cotton fabrics.
Robynn’s latest design, Viandar, is a simple way to use those irresistible mini skeins and it’s 20% off until Sunday, June 28.
Jenn of Cedar House Yarns has created this painterly representation of a blue gradient forming the Kachemak Bay Mountains at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, captured by Lisa Hupp of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This colorway will be available to preorder on Jenn’s Sapling Sock base on Indie Untangled through Friday, June 26.
As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation. This month, an additional 10% of sales for this installment will be donated to the NFC Momentum Fund, Neighborhood Fiber Co.’s donor-advised charitable fund at the Baltimore Community Foundation that will disperse contributions to a variety of organizations working for justice, empowerment and equality. Currently, money raised will support protestors in the Black Lives Matter movement.
Caroline of The Noble Thread was inspired by her favorite French painter, Marie Laurencin, to create her latest shawl design, Aquarelle. The shawl plays with Laurencin’s favorite celadon and peach hues, with chevrons and bobbles interrupting soothing garter ridges. Caroline has created Aquarelle kits using her very own naturally-dyed yarn. One kit is dyed on her Pure base, a 100% non-Superwash Merino and the other is dyed on her Superwash Merino Amelie base.
Mary of Lyrical Knits is holding her annual birthday sale! Use the code birthdaybash to take 40% off all patterns in her shop, from shawls to sweaters, through June 14.
Debbie of Murky Depths is one of only a few indie dyers to offer non-mohair laceweight yarn. Not only that, but she offers three different bases! In honor of lighter summer knits, these yarns are 15% off through the end of June.
Mark the end of Outlander Season 5 with Inner Yarn Zen’s Droughtlander 2020 kit. This kit features three skeins of hand-dyed yarn to complete the included Ridge Wedding Shawl by KJH Knit Designs.
Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations is taking you on a trip to the beach for this month’s mystery mailing. You can choose from three different options: notions only, notions and pin or notions and cuff.
The next Eden Cottage Yarns update takes place today at 8 p.m. UK time and includes Hayton DK, an MCN, and Bowland 4ply, a British BFL.
Designer Emily of Kitty With a Cupcake and dyer Lauren of Valkyrie Fibers are starting up a “yarn witch coven” on Patreon.
The June Virtu-Wool Fiber Festival on Facebook will showcase 20 vendors, including sponsor Bewitched Pigments, tomorrow and Sunday. Each vendor will showcase their products during a 45-minute live video.
Heather of Earl Grey Fiber Arts’ Mount Rainier-inspired colorway is back in the Indie Untangled shop as a rare preorder to coincide with this week’s Virtual Knitting LIVE! event. Heather will be joining me in my virtual shop tomorrow at 6 p.m. EDT to discuss her colorway! To join in, you can get marketplace tickets here. The colorway is available to preorder only until Monday, May 18 and then it will go back into the Knitting Our National Parks vault.
Stephanie of SpaceCadet Yarns had been a little uncertain about the renewal for her InterStellar Yarn Alliance, which was scheduled to happen in mid-March. But, she began receiving emails from members asking if it was time to renew, and realized it was time to reopen sign-ups.
Sign-ups for the club — which includes yarn in an exclusive colorway every other month, a special gift, a coupon and access to an otherworldly community of members cheering you on — are open only through this Monday, May 18.
Selena of Sweater Sisters has collaborated with Tiam Safari of KNITSAFARI Designs on Viola, a modern V-neck sweater pattern. Tiam designed this sweater using Wayfaring Yarns Arcadia DK, a 100% Superwash extra fine Merino and there are kits available in four colors.
Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. has opened up preorders for her May/June Sweater Quantity Discount colorway. She also has a few spots open for her very first literary Advent Calendar, “Dreaming of a Classic Christmas” inspired by the Penguin Clothbound Classics collection.
Emily’s Foul Temptress cowl is made for those tempting skeins you just have to buy, and uses just 200 yards of sport or fingering weight yarn.
A silver lining to yet another canceled festival is that independent publisher Cooperative Press has used the opportunity of a virtual Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival to re-release two of their most popular titles: the appropriate-for-these-times Doomsday Knits: Projects for the Apocalypse and After, edited by Alex Tinsley, and Subversive Socks, edited by Tabetha Hedrick. Both books are only available to preorder until this Sunday, May 3, so grab yours before they become harder to find than unsalted butter.
Tomorrow, Heather of Sew Happy Jane will be participating in the Virtu-wool fiber festival hosted on Facebook, and her virtu-wool shop will be updated with new colorways and old favorites. Get a preview at 10 a.m. EDT on Facebook and learn how you can enter to win a prize.
The inaugural Virtu-wool Fiber Festival is a two-day event taking place tomorrow and Sunday featuring 20 vendors from across the U.S. Each day, between 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. EDT, vendors will present their products via a livestream.
Austin, Texas-based Gothfarm Yarn specializes in blends of naturally-colored fibers from rare and uncommon breeds of sheep and other furry animals, working with small farms and mills.
Heather of Pumpkins and Wool created six new super ’80s-inspired colorways for some retro fun during this bogus situation we’ve found ourselves in. Colors such as Ms. Pacman and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun have also been discounted.
After years of declaring that I couldn’t tolerate mohair, I decided to take the plunge earlier this year and knit an As If Tee and Love Note sweater. I convinced myself that they were quick knits — the As If took me only one week, and the Love Note took me two — so if they were too itchy to wear, I wouldn’t have lost so much time. And do you know what? Those sweaters are some of the softest, and least itchy, sweaters I’ve knit!
So, when Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. showed me the inspiration photo for her installment of Knitting Our National Parks, I decided the yarn needed to have a complementary colorway in mohair/silk. Then when I saw the resulting colorways — the speckled Rialto Beach and a complementary mohair called Green Anemone — I knew just the pattern for it.
Sorrel from Wool & Pine — a design collaboration between Selena of Dank Fiber and Abbye of Abbye Knits, who are coincidentally from the Pacific Northwest — was already in my favorites on Ravelry, and I think it would be perfect for this color combination (the sample shown above includes a fade of colors, but it would look perfect in one speckled colorway). If you’re not a sweater knitter, Wool & Pine’s Calliope Nest Cowl would also be a great match.
As a bonus, Rialto Beach is available in both sock and DK, which increases the pattern possibilities!
Here are some more pattern suggestions for using the two colorways together.
This month, Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. takes us to the tide pools of Olympic National Park. She’s created two colorways, the speckled Rialto Beach and the glowing green Sea Anemone, that are inspired by the colorful gooseneck barnacles and orange and purple starfish found there and captured by Z. Van Duivenbode of the National Park Service.
Rialto Beach will be dyed on two MCN bases, a sock and a DK, and Green Anemone is available on a complementary skein of mohair/silk. I’ve already designated it for a Sorrel sweater by Wool & Pine! This yarn will be available to preorder through May 1 exclusively on Indie Untangled. It would make a great souvenir of your virtual trip.
Jen of Porterness Studio is offering some comfort with her stash of jewels, gift cards for future indulgences and some vintage charm with Grandma’s Paper Dolls, which are free to download and share with the little ones in your life (or use them yourself — there’s only so much Knitflixing we can do).
Sunshine of My Mama Knits is celebrating the release of her two new hat patterns, the Tabby Heid Hat and Team Badger Beanie, with 30% off all her knitting designs on Ravelry until May 31, no code needed.
Lisa The Knitting Artist has officially moved from Etsy to her very website, which is stocked with her painting-inspired colors, along with some new tonals. Take 15% off through the end of April with code LAUNCH.