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.
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.
Hall of Mosses Trail, Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park. Photo by Amira Umphres
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.
I often choose deep greens as I did for this Tin Can Knits Flax Sweater (left), or forest motifs like this Boyland Knitworks’ Faller’s Cap (right). Photos by Amira Umphres
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.
From left to right: Hurricane Ridge, My daughter, Nora and I, Flowers in the park. Photos by Amira Umphres
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.
A fallen tree showing its roots, Olympic National Park. Photo by Amira Umphres.
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.
Second Beach on a cloudy day (left) and Lake Crescent in fog (right). Photos by Amira Umphres
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!
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