What to stash this week: dreams, realized

A blonde woman sits in a chair looking to her side at an orange embroidered tapestry.

Photo by Mary McGraw

Earlier this year, I connected with bestselling fiction author Betsy Cornwell via a Facebook group for female-identifying, trans and non-binary freelance writers and editors to find homes for their stories. Betsy posted about her plan to turn an old home in Connemara, Ireland, into a childcare-inclusive arts residency for single parents like her. The turn-of-the-last century building had once served as a place to teach rural women to knit so they could support themselves financially, and Betsy is a longtime knitter herself, so I knew this was a story I wanted to share. Betsy wrote a blog post about the project in March, and she also gave a virtual tour of the space during the Indie Across the Pond event.

I’ve been following Betsy’s progress over the last several months, and watched with excitement as her dream came closer to reality, with a crowdfunding campaign that succeeded in raising enough money for the 20% down payment and to cover the monthly payments. Sadly, she hit a roadblock a couple of months ago when the bank denied her mortgage application. She now has until this Monday to raise enough money for the entire purchase price of the building. After looking at her business plan and feeling confident that she will create a wonderful and much-needed space to support creative parents, I’m hoping our community can help bring this dream one step closer. 

Skeins of orange, yellow and gray yarn.

Get cozy as the temperature drops with new colors on Murky Depths Dyeworks’ Sanctuary worsted, a 100% Merino, non-Superwash that provides great stitch definition for cables, stranded colorwork and mosaic knitting.

A mosaic shawl in red, orange and green.

Ashleigh Wempe’s Sedona Sunrise shawl is designed to evoke the image of a sunrise, with three colors of fingering-weight yarn worked in an easy mosaic pattern.

The phrase LOVE STORY viewed in a typewriter.

While you’re getting ready for the winter holidays, don’t forget about the one in February! This Valentine’s countdown box from WoolenWomenFibers is inspired by epic love stories through the ages and includes 14 days of luxurious Cashmere yarn, charms and a project bag.

Skeins of pink, purple, blue and pink and orange yarn.

The recent shop update from Sharon of Flora Adora Fibers includes Surprise! Sock, naturally dyed with plants and other botanicals. Use the coupon code BOTANICA for 10% off all items except gift cards from November 13-19.

Skeins of red and green variegated yarn.

In preparation for the holidays, Maureen of Charming Ewe has been creating tons of new colors and pictured here is one of them. Deck the Halls is a fun sock set of bright red and green with multicolored speckles.

If you’re in or near Columbia, MD, Sharnessa of Shar’s Purls is having a P.S. Love the Butterfly Trunk Show at the SO Original Yarn Studio.

29 Bridges goes beyond Superwash yarn

Blue, chartreuse and purple yarn.

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place from October 15-24, 2021. Tickets are now available!

If you’ve been following Indie Untangled for a while, you know that we are all about non-Superwash yarns and custom-milled bases. Mary of 29 Bridges Studio, who we are excited to host for the first time at our in-person show on October 15, has expanded her offerings to include more non-Superwash yarn. In anticipation of seeing and feeling it in real life, I decided to ask Mary about the process of sourcing and dyeing this yarn.

Why did you decide to offer more non-Superwash yarn?

It’s about walking the walk and listening to our customers. In my personal life, I try to minimize my impact on the environment so, of course, I wanted that for our business too. Additionally, we heard requests from customers for non-Superwash yarns, especially at fiber festivals. So I started taking classes, talking to shepherds, and educating myself. I was hooked. I like how non-Superwash yarns honor the beauty and natural characteristics of the fiber. Our non-Superwash Merino sock yarn is a dream to work with and it blooms beautifully. It’s a perfect choice for sweaters, socks, or shawls and it’s very soft against your skin.

A skein of red yarn.

What was the process of sourcing these bases like?

At first, non-Superwash bases seemed harder to source but through networking and research, we were able to find a good fit. There was an initial upfront investment that is changing the way we do inventory planning but we’re adapting.

Are any of your bases custom milled?

We’re excited about our first custom base that will be available in December 2021: a really beautiful, non-Superwash Merino DK. It’s Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certified which means that it meets social criteria, ethical business behaviors, and environmental management. I can’t wait to get it in the pots and on the needles.

Blue yarn with gray speckles.

How does the dye process change for non-Superwash yarns?

The process of dyeing non-Superwash yarn requires a gentle approach and can sometimes take longer. The surface of wool is made up of overlapping cuticles, or scales. Heat and moisture raise the scales allowing them to grab onto each other. This is what enables felting. Since we don’t want to felt when we’re dyeing, we’re careful not to agitate the yarn. Non-Superwash yarn absorbs dye a little more slowly than Superwash and typically has a softer and more muted result. Speckling can also look more diffuse and, at times, can be a completely different color from how it dyes on a Superwash yarn. Because of this, we have a few colors that we had to reimagine or reformulate for non-Superwash.

What have you learned through the process of sourcing non-Superwash yarns?

I went down many rabbit holes while researching and sourcing our yarns. First, I had to take a step back to understand Superwash vs non-Superwash and GOTS. From there, I explored the different types of wool — fine, down, medium, long — and the differences in the fleece. And, finally, choosing and working with a mill.

Three skeins of plum yarn.

Are there any fibers on your non-Superwash wishlist?

Right now I’m exploring all the different types of sheep wool. There are so many I want to try, Merino is just the tip of the iceberg. My next in-person fiber festival will be seen through a new lens.

What kinds of garments can people make with your non-Superwash bases?

You can make any garment with a non-Superwash yarn — even socks. Lacy shawls and sweaters really lend themselves to non-Superwash because when they are blocked the yarn blooms and forms a halo which is not only beautiful, it helps it keep its shape.

I’d like to give swatching and blocking a plug. There are many fiber experts who have researched and written about swatching with Superwash and non-Superwash yarns. The takeaway is, before your start a project, make a swatch and block it. Not only can check your gauge, but you can also try out the pattern and colors you’ve chosen, and you’ll know how much yarn you need to complete your project. You spend countless hours knitting or crocheting the perfect handmade piece, swatching will help ensure that it turns out as you imagined.

You should also keep a few care details in mind. Garments made with non-Superwash yarn should be gently hand washed in tepid water, then carefully squeeze out the water, and lay them flat to dry. No hot water, no washing machine, no dryer.