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.
Speckled Snow by Lucinda Iglesias
Everyday Slouchy Beanie by Dragon Hoard Designs
úlfur hat by ash alberg
Kobuk by Caitlin Hunter (for DK)
Ambara by Paula Pereira
Diaphanous Raglan by Jessie Maed Designs
Susurrus by Joji Locatelli
Stardust Sweater by Dragon Hoard Designs
Gabrielle, a soon-to-be-published pattern from Geraldine Yang, for use with DK
See all the suggestions on Ravelry.
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).
Alisa of Knitspinquilt is donating 15% of the sale price of her drawstring bags and DPN cases to the Ali Forney Center, a charity that works to alleviate homelessness in LGBTQ youth in New York City. Since the center is considered essential, it is in need of support now more than ever.
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.
[Ed.’s note: This post coincides with the release of the Knitting Our National Parks colorway from McMullin Fiber Co., inspired by Olympic National Park. It’s available to preorder through May 1, 2020.]
There’s nothing quite like knitting in peace and quiet. And it’s a tough thing to find in our bustling world. But at Olympic National Park, it exists. And it’s not just any peace and quiet.
It’s complete silence.
The summer I worked as a park ranger, I was told about this One Square Inch (and instructed to warn people to stay on trail if they were headed to find it). So naturally, I sought it out as a prime knitting spot.
The park is, without a doubt, the epitome of peace. Walking through the Hall of Mosses feels like sneaking through an empty home. And yet, there’s a buzz around you. A feeling of abundant life just beyond the boundaries of your senses.
And it’s a gorgeous destination for knitting. Later, I’ll list my favorite knitting spots around the park. But the one I visited most was just alongside the Hoh River. This was my chosen sanctuary for elk-watching, solitude, simply being — and of course, sneaking in a little crafting.
Living and Working as a Crafty Park Ranger
Working as a ranger came with feelings of great responsibility, pride and passion for untamed wilderness. It also came with a lot of time alone in a very small entrance booth facing the same two trees for hours at a time.
Eventually, I got to know and love those two trees (which turned out to be red alders). I started to notice little details, like their adorably tiny pine cones. Soon, I was reading about them. Apparently, after a wildfire, red alder trees are among the first to courageously repopulate the area, making way for new life. And the knitter in me was excited to learn that their bark could be used to create a natural, rusty red dye.
Suddenly, my nameless tree companions became a life form I was emotionally invested in.
This mirrored my experience as I got to know the park. Every lichen, wasp, bird and stone became a source of fascination until this place I called my “office” took root inside of me. And though I no longer work and live on the Olympic Peninsula, it’s part of who I am.
And it continues to inspire the patterns, colors and textures I choose for knitting.
The first time I saw Olympic National Park was the summer of 2013. It got under my skin and never left. Its enchanting landscape has a habit of taking hold of your heart. I dreamed of being a part of it.
I’d volunteered for the San Antonio Missions National Park, majored in anthropology as an undergraduate and worked for UT Austin’s computed-tomography lab in the Geosciences school. You could say I was a little obsessed with science, history and natural heritage.
But it wasn’t until I saw a documentary on national parks where an African American park ranger was interviewed that I actually felt I could take the leap. Seeing someone who looked like me in ranger uniform somehow melted away a lot of the doubts I’d had about becoming a ranger myself.
With this thought floating in the back of my head, and some helpful tips from a friend who’d worked as a park ranger, in the spring of 2015, I sent out applications to almost every national park in the U.S.
I only got one reply.
It was from Olympic. They had a spot for me at the Hoh Rainforest.
I said yes immediately and drove 1,900 miles from my home in Iowa with my family in tow. We rented a one-bedroom house connected to an old surf shop in Forks (the town of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight books fame) and settled in for the summer.
Olympic National Park is an unparalleled protected wilderness. Not a single road crosses through the park. To get from one end of the peninsula to the other, you have to go the long way around (or, I suppose, you could hike!).
The peninsula has a population of around 378,000, spread out over 3,600 square miles. My fellow rangers were a tight-knit bunch. There’s not much choice when you’re living in such a remote place.
Though I was stationed at the Hoh, part of my job was to explore the rest of the park. We had work days dedicated to getting up close and personal with as many areas of the park as we could. It’s a very, very big park.
Life on the Olympic Peninsula
Not only is the park large in size, it’s large in biodiversity.
Olympic shelters an impressive range of flora and fauna. There’s a swift elevation change between the snowy mountain peaks and the sweeping coastal forests and beaches. These changes create precious and varied habitats. Olympic also houses the last stand of old growth temperate rainforest in the lower 48 states.
Like the landscape, the weather varies wildly. Olympic’s intense beauty is carved out by landslides, floods, wind storms, avalanches, heavy snows and wildfires.
Black bears, beaver, salmon, cougars, mink, whales, deer, marmots and otters (among many others) call the park home. And so does the largest herd of wild Roosevelt elk in the country.
Actually, the Roosevelt elk were the first to greet me on my first day at work. The Upper Hoh Road stretches roughly 18 miles from the main highway to the park entrance. It curves and bumps through towering hemlock, spruce and cedar trees, taking you around blind corners and sharp curves.
It was around one of these corners that I was welcomed — and stopped — by a herd of elk that had chosen the road as a spot for a nap.
I honked my horn. Nothing. Honked again. Got a few stares.
So I waited. No one was coming or going on the road that time of morning. I had no cell service.
After a couple of lazy minutes, they decided to move on. Slowly. I was late to work. And I learned to live a little more slowly in this place. Slowly, and far more connected to (and at the mercy of) nature than I’d ever been.
A Place of Connection
Knitting so often comes from a place of love and connection to the things we deeply care for. And Olympic is a living, breathing reminder of connection. I’ll share just one, small piece of that connection here.
During one of those quiet times working the entrance booth, I came across a brief paragraph in a book. It was about the shallow roots of the rainforest’s trees.
With approximately 140 inches of annual rainfall, they have no reason to go far, which made sense to me. But I hadn’t thought about how these shallow roots played a role in the grand scheme of things.
Washington’s wind storms are notorious for blowing down massive trees, and the trees fall easily because of their shallow roots. And when they fall across a river, they create shelters — shelters where salmon can safely spawn, and where their tiny fry can grow and flourish. Once they’re old enough, after living in the safety of the fallen tree, they swim downriver, following it to the distant ocean, where they remain for several years.
But once they’re ready, they remember. They find their river. And not just any river — their home river. They swim with all their strength to get back. They jump as they go, fighting against the currents.
They don’t just return to the same river — they return to the exact place, the shelter, where they were born. And there they spawn… and die.
Their bodies become part of the soil, bringing rich nutrients from the ocean. Nutrients needed by — you guessed it — the trees that helped bring them safely into the world. They give back to the trees with their lives.
I’d sit alongside these rivers, watching the trees and, later in the fall, watching the salmon return. It was my favorite place to knit, because knitting for me is a way to connect, to make something I could use to give back to those who nurtured me with their love and kindness. Like trees and salmon.
5 favorite knitting spots in Olympic
Second Beach at La Push: Second Beach doesn’t require a ton of hiking to get to the coast — which meant I could haul plenty of yarn. The beach is breathtaking and rarely overwhelmed with people. Driftwood from massive trees make perfect natural seating for crafting.
Lake Crescent: Lake Crescent is downright dreamy with crystal waters encased by mountains. One of my favorite knitting moments on Lake Crescent was watching a bald eagle float through the sky, then dive for fish.
Hoh River: It’s no surprise that the Hoh River was one of my favorite knitting spots. There was silence, beauty and serenity beyond compare.
Kalaloch Lodge: Kalaloch’s Creekside Restaurant — there’s no better place to catch a sunset. And no place better for public knitting than while watching the Pacific do its thing from an elegant dining room.
Ruby Beach: Low tide at Ruby Beach is an absolute must-see. And tide pools were the perfect place to have my kiddo entertained, searching for starfish and sea urchins while I kicked back on a beach blanket with my latest WIP.
Olympic National Park is a stunning palette of colors — from pristine snow to blue glaciers, brilliant emeralds and deep mossy greens, dusky sand beaches and steely ocean skies, purple starfish and white foamy waves, slick black sea stacks and peach sunsets. I can’t think of a better place to knit — and to reflect on the people, places and moments that inspire us to keep creating.
I’ve been taking immense comfort in my knitting these last few weeks, treating myself to afternoons and evenings on the sofa, accompanied by special snacks. It’s the perfect time to share that knitting, so I decided to launch a super special KAL on April 1. It also happens to coincide with the sixth birthday of Indie Untangled (where does the time go?)!
The entry form with all the rules and a list of the amazing prizes can be found here.
There’s also a Ravelry thread where you can share what you’re working on!
Here’s a peek at what else you can win:
Three skeins of hand-dyed yarn from Lanivendole
A pattern of the winner’s choice from Vanessa Smith
Two skeins of LolaBean Yarn Co. Wax Bean in Georgia Peach
A pattern of the winner’s choice from Casapinka
Yarn Pirate Booty from Treasure Goddess Yarn: Three skeins of Treasured DK Luxe yarn, a cotton mermaid tote bag, a holographic pirate sheep vinyl sticker/decal, a white pirate sheep enamel pin and an orange pirate sheep keychain
A pattern of the winner’s choice from Woolly Wormhead
A Tiny popper miniskein bundle and one full skein of coordinating yarn from Sew Happy Jane
Two patterns of the winner’s choice from MK Nance
A set of five 10g mini skeins from My Mama Knits
A project bag from Rose and the Wren
A skein of Duck Duck Wool DK Limited in Glaciers and Wildflowers, a Knitting Our National Parks tote bag and a I Want S’more Yarn enamel pin from Indie Untangled
Debbie of Murky Depths, who has a background in retail fashion, is ahead of the curve with her new Maelstrom base, an alpaca and polyamide bouclé laceweight that you can swap for any pattern that calls for mohair (so, like, almost every new pattern).
Today’s the last day you can order Quiescence, a yarn-y interpretation of Sequoia National Park after a snowstorm from Gabby of Once Upon a Corgi. 10% of sales are donated to the National Park Foundation.
Today is Meg of Nutmeg Fibers’ 40th birthday, and to celebrate, everything on her website is 40% off today only, no code needed.
Norwegian Dreams is Selena’s newest Sweater Sisters pattern, and she has kits with the eight colors to knit up this Fair Isle cowl.
Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios is doing a salute to Supernatural today at 9 a.m. Pacific.
The latest Eden Cottage Yarns update takes place today and includes Oakworth 4ply in support of The Blossoming Sweater by Rachel Illsley of Unwind Knitwear.
I’m excited to debut the latest installment of Knitting Our National Parks from Once Upon a Corgi. Gabby was inspired by a photo of a snowstorm at Sequoia National Park taken by Ian Beckley. She calls her colorway Quiescence: the state of being temporarily quiet like the forest during and after a fresh snow storm.
Quiescence will be dyed on Marie Cutie, a 75/25 blend of Superwash Corriedale and nylon, and available to preorder on Indie Untangled until February 21. As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation. Gabby is dyeing a limited number of skeins, so make sure to order early if you want to snag one!
Spots are open in Brooke of Fully Spun’s 2020 REMIX subscription club. For this club, Brooke takes an existing colorway of Fully Spun Sock Fingering, which is hand dyed and custom milled, and gives it a remix to make it look like new!
Giulia and Stefania of Lanivendole are having their first shop update of 2020 and have their web shop stocked with skeins of A Heavenly Blend. The appropriately-named base is made with Giulia’s own homegrown Cashmere, along with Aquilana wool and Italian alpaca. The update also includes two new colorways: Zafferano, a dark caramel, and Scirocco, a cold slate blue.
Selena of Sweater Sisters has listed 17 colors of her Wayfarer fingering (80% extra fine Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% nylon) and nine colorways of Snow City Yarns SOCK (60% extra fine Merino, 20% baby alpaca, 20% nylon) in her shop.
Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios is celebrating her birthday with a collection of superheroes! The update goes live today at 9 a.m. PST.
Julia of Pandia’s Jewels is having a shop update tomorrow at 10 a.m. EST with a variety of Outlander-inspired colors both new and revised, available on several different fingering bases and a few on DK. These are limited-edition colors, with only a few in stock.
The next hand-dyed yarn update from Eden Cottage Yarns goes live tomorrow at 5 p.m. UK time. The update will include Bowland DK, Pendle Aran and the final installment of the Four Seasons Collection, a collaboration with Jayalakshmi of Apoorva Designs.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
Since I kicked off the Knitting Our National Parks series in 2017, it seemed only natural to organize a retreat that incorporated a visit to one of the magnificent U.S. parks. I’m excited to let you know that registration is now open for Indie Untangled’s first retreat, which will be held from May 28-31 at Wellspring Spa, near Mount Rainier in Washington State.
You have until the end of 2019 to sign up for next year’s Indie Untangled Where We Knit Yarn Club and sample from among several talented indie dyers (including yours truly!) and four designers.
Sue of Invictus Yarns is bidding farewell to 2019 with an automatic 20% discount on all in-stock items through December 31.
If you’re interested in getting a sample of one of my favorite discoveries from Barcelona Knits, Stefania and Giulia of Lanivendole are opening preorders today for a special yarn club called BY THE SEA. For this one-package club, they are dyeing 200 grams of a new blend of Italian Wool and alpaca in an exclusive colorway, and including two accessories, from Marianna of isewsoidontkillpeople and Alice & Eleonora of Last One Stones.
The kits will be listed in the Lanivendole shop at 5 p.m. CEST (that’s 10 a.m. Eastern) and will be open until January 20, or until they’re sold, with shipping in early February.
We need a little Mister Rogers in our lives, now more than ever, so it’s fitting that Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios is ending the year with one of her most requested fabrics of 2019. This tribute to our favorite neighbor will go live in the Slipped Stitch Studios shop today at 9 a.m. Pacific Time and orders will ship today and Monday.
Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations is celebrating the new year with dragonfly shawl pins in new colors.
The Indie Untangled Eight Nights of Hanukkah Kits have shipped, which means there are some extra goodies available! Shop the Indie Untangled Hanukkah shop before the first candle is lit on Sunday. Orders made today through Sunday will ship out on Monday and should arrive before the end of the holiday, depending on where you’re located. (If you purchased a kit, don’t click the link and spoil your surprise, though there are Spoiler Alert photos just in case!)
Today is the last day to preorder the otterly adorable Knitting Our National Parks colorway from Kim of The Woolen Rabbit.
Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns is having a special update planned for this Tuesday, with some Titus 4ply, a Merino and silk blend, Eldwick Lace mohair and silk and some Hayton DK MCN. This random assortment supports an upcoming pattern release that is expected to be quite popular.
First quarter signups are open for October House Fiber Arts’ 2020 Sock Club and the theme is “Souvenir de Paris.”
Christy of Les Belles Lainages loves seeing a person’s interpretation of color from a photo brought to life in fiber, and she is doing just that with her Elements yarn club. She’s using colorful photos of the four elements — air, earth, water and fire — as inspiration for a four-month club starting in January. Each month subscribers will receive two full skeins of extra fine Merino fingering, one that’s a variegated/speckled colorway and a coordinating tonal/solid, along with a fun gift.
Sign-ups are open until January 10 or until the club sells out.
Set your alarms for today at 9 a.m. Pacific time, to snag products from a special re-release of Slipped Stitch Studio customer-favorite knitting and sheep-y fabrics!
It’s time that you learned to crochet. And if you’re going to the Red Alder Fiber Arts Retreat (formerly Madrona) in February, Karen is teaching six crochet classes!
Kim of The Woolen Rabbit’s otterly adorable Everybody Otter Knit colorway, inspired by an otter in the Alaska Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge, is available to preorder online until next Friday, December 20. As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation.