What to stash this week: giving back by shopping small

A collage of yarn and bags.

This list will be updated throughout the weekend with any new sales.

As you cozy up with your devices and browse gifts and personal treats, know that your purchases will also benefit people who could use a helping hand this year.

When you buy from the Indie Untangled shop or an Indie Untangled vendor this weekend, I will donate 5% of your purchase to Camba, an organization that provides programs in economic development, education and youth development, family support, health, housing and legal services to people in my hometown of Brooklyn. Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks will be providing an additional matching gift of 5%

Here’s what you need to do:
• Forward me the email confirmation from any purchase you made from an Indie Untangled vendor between 12:01 a.m. your time Thursday, November 26 and midnight your time Tuesday, December 1 to lisa at indieuntangled dot com.

• You can see the list of qualifying vendors here, either on the right side of the screen if you’re on a computer or at the bottom if you’re on your phone. Purchases from the Indie Untangled shop during this time automatically qualify!

• Forward the email before midnight your time on Friday, December 4 so it can qualify for the donation. 

Colorful Yarn arranged in a circle.

I’ve also made my holiday deals a little sweeter: If you purchase any physical item from the new and improved Indie Untangled shop, you’ll receive this Indie Untangled Sweater Fob, custom made by Katrinkles, for free! Simply add it to your cart and the discount will automatically apply. In addition, orders of $150+ will ship free in the U.S. and with flat rate shipping internationally. There are also a few new discounts scattered around, including on Fiber Friends Selfie enamel pins and the remaining two skeins of Field and Pasture self-striping yarn from Gauge Dye Works. 

A bouquet of orange flowers and the words Indie Untangled Yarn Club, Lanivendole / Soraya García #whereweknit

For the first installment of the 2021 Indie Untangled Where We Knit Yarn Club, Giulia and Stefania of Lanivendole, who create rustic, hand-dyed yarns in Italy, will partner with Soraya García, a native of Spain currently living in Amsterdam. Their inspiration is a photograph Soraya took in late winter 2020, showcasing the blooming of a new reality in a year filled with complex emotions. ⁣

This quarterly club, which will begin shipping in February, brings together four dyer/designer dream teams. Aside from Giulia, Stefanie and Soraya, there will be collaborations from Black Elephant and JimiKnits, Humble Knit and Camille Descoteaux, and Murky Depths Dyeworks and Bristol Ivy. ⁣Each pair will collaborate on an exclusive colorway and an accompanying accessory design inspired by their favorite spots to whip out their WIPs. ⁣

Sign-ups will be open through the end of the year. Make sure to grab your spot, or snag the perfect gift for a special indie yarn-loving person in your life. 

Yarn speckled with red, pink and green on a silver tray.

In a nod to Thanksgiving, Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks has released her newest seasonal color, Cornbread and Cranberry, on BFL Sock and Neptune Merino DK. These colorways, and the rest of the yarn in her shop, are 20% off through Tuesday, no coupon code required.

Additionally, Debbie will be making a matching gift of 5% to Camba as part of Indie Untangled Giving Tuesday promotion.

Skeins of orange, purple and white yarn.

Kate of McMullin Fiber Co has a special discount for Indie Untangled friends this month: use the code INDIEU at checkout for 20% off your entire order through the end of November. This includes the best price you’ll see all year on annual club subscriptions for 2021.

A bronze shawl pin on pink yarn.

Save 20% on all of Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations’ handcrafted shawl pins, cuffs, patterns and notions — including her newest pins, the sparkling Czech glass and timeless Celtic knot — through November 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET, no code required.

Brown and cream yarn with flowers.

Heather of Sew Happy Jane’s Black Friday sale begins today at 12 noon MT. Get 30-40% off Seconds Bundles, 20% off the soon-to-be-discontinued Dreamy MCN DK, 15% off DK Tweed Bundles and 15% off Perfect Pairings.

A black and white photo of yarn.

If you like surprises, treat yourself with a luxury mystery (alpaca or silk) or a standard mystery skein from Fairy Tale Yarn Co. You choose the weight and Dawn will choose a colorway and a base.

A pink bag with gold dots and a black and white striped p<a href=ocket. ” width=”1920″ height=”2560″ class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-25728″ />

Shop small this weekend with Crista Jaeckel’s sparkly notion pouches and bags that are perfect for the holiday season. The front of these bags features sparkly hand-printed or block-printed fabric, while the backs have either waxed sparkly linen or sparkly cotton.

A gray and yellow triangle cowl.

Emily’s newly-released Wicked Enchantress is on sale for 20% off through December 2. This top-down cowl uses just 150 yards of worsted-weight yarn, perfect for those single-skein purchases or for using up scrap yarn.

A gray bag with a clear window.

Just in time for the holiday season, Nancy of Tika Bags is offering a special Bag Club! There are tons of choices: you can choose from a two-bag club or three-bag club, choose the style of bag and choose from two colorways. Sign-ups run through December 23, making them perfect gifts.

Stardust Fiber Studio is having a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale, with 25% off everything and free shipping.

Doodle Dew Designs is offering 20% off all items and a free mystery marker with every order through Sunday.

What to stash this week: Where We Knit 2021

A collage with a orange flowers, cherry tomatoes, a ceramic mug and a field of blueberries.

There’s no doubt that 2020 upended all of our lives. However, one constant throughout the last several months has been the meaningful virtual connections that we’ve made through our beloved craft. Even though we’ve all been missing important in-person interaction and have been limiting travel, I feel like my world only continues to expand through knitting. 

With that in mind, I’m thrilled to open sign-ups today for Where We Knit 2021. This quarterly club, which will begin shipping in February, brings together four dyer/designer dream teams: Lanivendole and Soraya García, Black Elephant and Jimenez Joseph, Humble Knit and Camille Descoteaux, and Murky Depths Dyeworks and Bristol Ivy.

Each pair will collaborate on an exclusive colorway and an accompanying accessory design inspired by their favorite spots to whip out their WIPs. Their inspiration photos are shown in the image above, clockwise from top left.

Aside from the yarn and pattern, each shipment will include a surprise gift from a third small business. This year, building on the spirit of virtual connection, there will also be an interactive Zoom interview with each team after their installment ships out. 

Black and white plastic dogs and cats.

The latest additions to the Crafty Flutterby menagerie of end minders — designed to keep your cast-on tails, color changes, and other loose ends out of the way as you knit or crochet — are Crafty Cats and Dependable Dogs.

Orange and green yarn sits next to a mug.

Giulia and Stefania of Lanivendole are excited to share three new designs using their non-Superwash yarn: The Brogna Sweater by Rievive, which uses natural shades of A Stormy Blend fingering, the Trifari sweater by Paula Pereira, knitted in A Heavenly Blend as main color and A Chic Blend as contrast, and the Caloroso shawl by Aleks Byrd, which uses A Pure and Simple Wool.

A blue hat worn by a campfire.

To celebrate today’s release of Vanessa Smith’s Emberly hat, designed for the 2020 Where We Knit Yarn Club, I’m doing a limited preorder of Heather from Earl Grey Fiber Company’s lightly speckled semisolid, dyed on her Matcha Sport 80/20 Merino/nylon. It’s available through December 4 and will ship at the end of December.

Purple, pink and green yarn peeking out of a bag with a print of colorful trees.

Eve of Holly Dyeworks has new festive colorways and kits in her shop just in time for the holiday season. They include the Christmas Time is Here Kits, with one trio set of fingering minis, a matching project bag and a handmade progress keeper.

An aqua, white and red zipper bag with a clear window.

Jean of Midmitten Designs’ limited edition Peppermint Treat project bag features hot cocoa and peppermint-themed fabric featured on her Medium Vinyl Front project bag and on the coordinating Yarn Snuggler, which keeps your yarn cake clean and tidy in your project bag. You also get a peppermint candy zipper charm and surprise treats.

Silver jewelry above orange and gray yarn.

Jen of Porterness is celebrating the holidays with new jewels, sales and a discount code. She has a new perfect-for-gifting Sterling Silver Stockinette Stitch Motif Earrings & Stitch Marker Necklace set, a new sterling silver shawl ring with the stockinette stitch motif, gift cards and a wish list. Use the code IndieNOV20 for 10% off through November 30.

Colorful yarn with black stripes.

7th Floor Yarn has two new yarn bases, an 80% Superwash Merino/20% silk and a 100% Superwash Merino with black stripes. They’re also offering free shipping this holiday season AND 15% off with the code INDIE15.

Leaves and leaf-shaped metal jewelry.

Jo of JW Jewelry Studio is one of us — an obsessive knitter — and crafts jewelry, stitch markers, shawl pins and notion bowls that inspired by nature and modern forms. She creates molds from foraged plants, leaves and flowers and executes her pieces in enamel, bronze and precious metals.

Circular knitted colorwork clocks.

Set an alert: Stephanie’s Yoke O’Clock Kits, along with her Knitter’s Book Case and Knitter’s Brief Case, are 30% off for Black Friday. And on Cyber Monday, get 25% off all of the knitting patterns available on her website.

Hanging rainbow of yarn.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarn has a shop updated with mohair/silk Eldwick Lace and Bowland Aran kits for Fiona Alice’s Woodbine sweater. There’s plenty of other news, including a list of gift ideas, so jump into her latest post.

Cream-colored yarn.

Monica of Gothfarm has rustic yarn from Navajo-Churro sheep in four natural and undyed colors.

A cream hat patterned with blue.

Lena’s latest, the Icelandia Hat, is 25% off on Ravelry and Etsy with code Icelandia through Sunday.

Colorful yarn with black stripes.

Sharon of Flora Adora Fibers specializes in naturally-dyed yarns using non-Superwash bases with colors foraged from nature or purchased raw materials.

Les laines Coco has a winter sock box.

What to stash this week: keep calm and organize your yarn

Red yarn in a sleeve with knitting dogs.

Stephanie from Rock Solid Designs has a new product that speaks to the need for neatness. She recently started playing with her serger and sewed up Yarn Sleeves, tubes of stretchy fabric that hug your center-pull yarn cakes so they don’t end up a tangled, barf-y mess. They are designed to work in conjunction with her project bags to keep multiple cakes separate and tidy. She is launching these with six different fabric designs, including these adorable knitting dogs. There’s also a bee print to match the bags she has in stock, new prints geared towards fellow sci-fi nerds and some fun holiday ones.

A white tote with a black floral print.

Sara of La Cave à Laine has some new bag collections, including these limited-edition linocut bags created with white cotton and a piece of linoleum, carved based on a drawing inspired by her love for geometry and nature.

Gray cat stitch markers.

Jillian of WeeOnes finds her calm in meditation and knitting… and so do her latest stitch marker creatures, which are — get this — Yoga Kitties. The cats and new armadillos are 10% off through this Sunday.

A blue dreidel and jelly doughnut stitch markers.

Jillian also designed these limited-edition Hanukkah sets for Indie Untangled! Each set comes with three sufganiyot and one little dreidel. You can use them to mark the sections of your Cashmenorah hat, or to add some holiday light to other WIPs. They’re available to preorder on Indie Untangled through November 20 and will ship at the beginning of December.

A gray hat with gradient leaves.

Crystal’s latest design is the Grange Hat, a two-color stranded colorwork hat that complements The Grange, a cowl she released in late summer. If you’re a colorwork newbie, the pattern includes plenty of helpful tips.

Cat stitch markers.

Bonnie of Yank Your Yarn has stitch marker sets for your favorite crafting friends and loved ones, including knitting sets in different sizes and sets for cat lovers, as well as crochet hook tags to help you remember which hook you were using.

What to stash this week: Lighting the way to winter

A woman models a blue and gray beanie next to columns.

I’m thrilled to release Cashmenorah, a mosaic beanie that brings together luxurious Cashmere from Rebecca Kevelson of Clinton Hill Cashmere and Geraldine Yang of The Wandering Flock, both fellow Brooklynites. I have long wanted to get a chance to work with Rebecca, who is also Jewish, and I came up with the idea to combine her bespoke Cashmere yarn with Geraldine’s hand-dyed. I also wanted to create a Hanukkah design that was sophisticated and not overly kitschy, but still representative of this holiday that is defined by hope, patience and light in the midst of darkness. 

You can purchase kits for Cashmenorah, as well as the pattern only, in the Indie Untangled shop.

Knit gray mice in red and white sweaters.

There is also another important winter holiday coming up, and Sarah of Say! Little Hen has some home decor projects for you to knit in time for Christmas. Patterns include her super adorable Nordic Christmas Mice, pictured here — Sarah says this pattern is a great one to start with if you’ve never tried stranded colorwork before — her Nordic Christmas Gnome and the equally precious Mini Jumper (possibly the one of the only jumpers you can finish a few of in time for Christmas!).

Amber jars with an orange, teal and cream round label.

Cold weather also brings about dry skin, so counter it with Lolo Body Care’s luxurious and yummy-sounding Face Puddings. These naturally scented puddings come in reusable and recyclable glass jars and will leave your face silky smooth.

A collection of yarny treats.

Melissa of Alley Cat Yarns is taking us on a trip to Canada to the holidays with her Canadian Holiday gift sets, filled with Canadian-sourced goodies perfect for the yarn crafter in your life (that includes you!).

Red and green yarn.

Speaking of Christmas, Gail of Dragon Thistle Fibers has added some holiday colors to her shop, including some sock sets in 50-gram skeins that come with a mini.

A woman holds up a large blue triangular shawl.

Emily’s Long Distance Coven is a “geometry-meets-witchcraft-themed” shawl that crafts yarn magic by marling together two strands of fingering-weight yarn.

The crown of a pale pink textured hat.

Lena’s new Trellis Beanie, knit with an easy slip-stitch pattern, is 25% off through end of day Sunday, Nov. 8, with the code Trellis on Ravelry and Etsy.

A blue bag with a clear window.

Join Nancy of Tika Bags for Virtual Knitting LIVE from November 13-15. She will have two sessions highlighting her new bag fabrics, a new Bag Club and a few new sewn products. She also carries alpaca yarn from her own animals and speckled skeins from indie dyer Emma’s Yarn.

The Pearl Project: A tribute to Knitty City owner Pearl Chin

A collage of colorful yarn and an orange oyster with a pearl.

There are few New York knitters and crocheters who don’t know about the Manhattan yarn shop Knitty City. But beyond connecting the local yarn community, Knitty City‘s founder, Pearl Chin, has been instrumental in helping so many indie dyers and fiber business owners get their start and providing valuable advice as they move forward. Pearl has also been a role model for how to be a craftivist, using her platform as a leader to raise money and attention for important causes.

When I heard the devastating news about Pearl’s cancer diagnosis, I got in touch with a group of indie dyers that Pearl has been instrumental in guiding and championing. We thought it was fitting to turn our sadness into action. As we now grieve the loss of our friend and colleague, we can think of no better way to honor Pearl’s legacy.

A woman stands in front of colorful yarn.

We have created special colorways and designs, and are hosting giveaways to raise money for organizations she has supported:

• Julie Asselin has created a colorway called Dear Pearl, with proceeds donated to help budding knitwear entrepreneurs attend the CAN Retreat hosted by Marceline Smith and Anne Choi

• Christina of Chelsea Yarns has created a colorway called String of Pearls, with proceeds donated to Moms Demand Action

• Amanda of Hu Made has created a colorway called Pearl Power, with proceeds donated to the Asian Americans Arts Alliance

• I will be designing a hat pattern called Pearl’s Oyster, with proceeds donated to the NFC Momentum Fund (I’m still knitting up the sample and hope to publish it next week)

• Marian of Marianated Yarns has created a colorway called Thank You, Pearl, with proceeds donated to City Harvest

• Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks has created a colorway called Pearl of The West (Side), with proceeds donated to Womankind, an organization serving the Asian community in New York, helping survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual violence

• Mariana and Nick of Nooch Fiber will be hosting a series of mini-skein giveaways, with proceeds donated to Heifer International

What to stash this week: Trick or knit

Brown leather cases.

Stephanie Earp has a sequel and a rebrand for her needle case. Her Knitter’s Book Case is now called The Original Case, and is joined by two new designs, The Flip Case and The Stretch Case. available to preorder in leather through November 9. The Flip Case stores up to eight needle tips, and has two pockets for cables, while the Stretch Case allows you to access your notions without having to open the whole case up.

Winter wishes illustration.

If you missed out on A Twisted Year’s End, participant Anzula Luxury Fibers has put together another multi-dyer/maker December box, teaming up with Lorna’s Laces, Mod Yarns, Mrs. Crosby Yarn, Slipped Stitch Studios and Tattooed Ewe for a package of yarn, project bags, notions and more. There are three sizes and three different color schemes to choose from to light up your December.

Rows of rainbow colored yarn.

If you’re in need of some comfort knitting, be sure to check out the yarns from Rebecca from WildWestDye. She specializes in all naturally-dyed yarn, which she hand dyes in her home studio in British Columbia (and ships with flat-rate shipping). Rebecca has also developed kits for a variety of projects. From cosy socks and hats to blankets, there are colorful kits for every style of knitting. Some kits even come in cakes that are big enough for an entire project, meaning fewer ends to weave in, making it even easier and more comforting. 

Skeins of pink, green and gold yarn.

Sharon of Garage Dyeworks has a new base called Bentley DK, a non-Superwash Merino with a generous 328 yards per 100g skein. These colorways and more will be on her website this week.

Natural colored socks.

Before the end of October, make sure to check out Gothfarm’s sock special: Buy one sock yarn, get another skein 40% off with the coupon code “sockz” at checkout.

A long taupe cardigan.

Get 25% off Lena’s new Tasselated Cardigan, an easy piece to knit with a sideways cuff-to-cuff construction, through Sunday with code Tasselated on Ravelry and Etsy. 

The October Virtu-Wool Fiber Festival is getting a little spooky, with 22 vendors sharing some “tricks” of the trade in 45-minute live video sessions.

Black and red yarn and fiber.

Natalie of Fiberdog Fibers is also getting spooky. Her Halloween colorway, Beyond the Veil, is available as both yarn and fiber, dyed on 100% Corriedale cross wool.

Get your order in for the Fall Sock of the Season Club, a nature-inspired mystery kit collaboration between Jilly & Kiddles and BritStitchery Designs.

Orange and black paw charms.

If you want to do some last-minute “stitch or treating” there are still some Halloween stitch markers left in the Doodle Dew Designs shop.

What to stash this week: A Twisted, indie New Year

Champagne glasses and confetti in jewel tones.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that the goal of Indie Untangled is to bring together and support indie dyers and makers. I’m so excited and honored to bring that passion to an amazing collaboration between 31+ dyers, makers and designers!

This box, called A Twisted Year’s End, will be filled with at least 31 items, including 20g, 80-90-yard, fingering-weight mini skeins dyed in a jewel tone color palette and other yarn-y treats by a stellar lineup of indies, along with a few patterns to tie it all together. Count down to the end of this crazy year with the ultimate December calendar! 

Purple, cream and green yarn.

Mary Annarella of Lyrical Knits is building on the comfort of quarantine baking for her latest mystery knit-a-long. Stark Baking Mad: Great British Baking Shawl 2 is another homage to The Great British Baking Show. Mary says that, “Like the show, the MKAL will rise to the occasion with a bit of camp, a recipe with each clue, and an occasional pun.”

Purple, red and black drawstring bag and yarn.

Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks and Alisa of KnitSpinQuilt have done it again! Their third collaboration is the limited edition Stained Glass Window Kit. The bag has a rainbow stained glass print, which reminds Alisa of the medieval cathedrals she visits on her dissertation research trips to Europe, while the yarn is dyed to reflect the fabric. Preorders are open now in both their Etsy shops.

Star Trek Christmas and Hanukkah Yarnie Pack

Dawn of Fairy Tale Yarn Co, another Twisted Year’s End participant, has some holiday goodies as well. Her Hanukkah and Christmas sets are Star Trek themed and come with 10 50g hanks of yarn and four extras, each packaged for your chosen holiday and available in fingering weight and DK weight.

Charms with fall leaves and a doughnut.

If you miss the fall leaves and doughnuts of Rhinebeck, get your fix with Jillian of WeeOnes’ special stitch markers.

For her last Sweater Quantity Discount shipment of 2020, Kate of McMullin Fiber Co is offering two colorways at close to wholesale pricing. Ink is a rich navy blue and Sunflower is a sunny golden yellow. Act fast, because these installments sell out quickly!

Christmas greens border and the words Stocking Knit-a-Long

Join Jill of Jilly & Kiddles in casting on for a holiday stocking Knit-a-Long on November 1, with weekly prizes, encouragement and help.

Boots with purple cabled cuffs.

Marny’s Autumn Wander Boot Cuffs are a cozy and fashionable way to dress up your boots while you stroll through the autumn leaves.

A plum and pink hat with a pink pom pom.

This new pattern by Christen Clement uses Janis and Christen of Queen City Yarn’s Berryhill yarn held double, getting you ready for fall quickly.

A sheep print bag with a clear window.

Nancy of Tika Bags has launched an every-other-month bag club. Each shipment features a surprise fabric that may or may not be in her current lineup OR ever be available in her shop again.

Christmas yarn.

Dana of Un Besito Fibers’ Holly Freakin’ Jolly sock set comes with a 100g main skein and two 10g minis to make a variety of Christmas socks. Make them for a gift or keep them for yourself.

A pink basket with a strap.

Keep your WIPs at hand and organized with these baskets, woven by hand by marginalized women from Boostani Crafts owner Lois’s tribe in Kenya.

Halloween yarn.

Emerald of Stardust Fiber Studio’s newest collection, All Hallows’ Eve, has eight colorways and a spooky stitch marker set. There are also two sales running in her studio.

What to stash this week: Going to the Sun

A collage with a lake and pink and teal yarn.

Scarlet of Huckleberry Knits is helping us with the transition to fall through her stunning Knitting Our National Parks colorway. It’s called Going to the Sun after its inspiration photo of Lake McDonald, along Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park, taken by Colorado-based photographer Mallory Wilson. This colorway will be dyed on Scarlet’s Willow sock base, 80% Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester and 20% nylon, with 420 yards per skein, and available to preorder on Indie Untangled through Sunday, October 18. 

A box with a photo of a yellow tote and straw hat.

Sara of La Cave à Laine is introducing Happy Knitting Boxes: four different boxes with a selection of handcrafted fiber accessories made in France or Europe, including hand-dyed or hand-printed project bags, stitch markers, wool soap and knitting patterns.

Green, purple and orange yarn.

Sarah of Superfine Yarn has been playing around with one-of-a-kind dye batches. If you fall in love with any of her experiments, be sure to use code FALL10 to get 10% off and free shipping.

Pale pink speckled yarn.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns had a shop update yesterday with Keld Fingering, a new-to-ECY blend of Superwash extrafine Merino with linen.

A hot pink cowl with a gray interior.

Marny’s Reversible Trellis Cowl is just what it sounds like, a fun accessory that can be made in any two colorways.

Red, blue and orange and black and purple yarn.

Kristen of KS Fiber Arts has a limited number of skeins of these colorways inspired by Jack Skellington and Ragdoll Sally of The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Dark brown and green dyed yarn.

Annie Dot Creative’s Fantastic Socks yarn club is inspired by Newt Scamander and his magical creatures. There’s still time to join in the fun.

A brown knitted square with a circle of gray.

Who says un-dyed yarn has to be boring? Monica of Gothfarm Yarn has four color palette ideas to make striking knits.

Indie Untangled Everywhere Untangling: North Light Fibers

A group photo with people and dogs.

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

North Light Fibers, which I had the pleasure of visiting in 2016, is the very definition of a fiber escape. It’s based on Block Island, a Rhode Island community reachable only by ferry that feels like a combination of coastal New England and the Irish countryside. I’m excited to be working with them after admiring their yarn and business for so long.

Sven Risom, who runs North Light Fibers with his wife, Laura, has a wonderful way of describing what he refers to as a “micro yarn mill,” so I’ll let him take it away!

Tell me the story of how North Light Fibers came to be.

Laura and I started North Light Fibers in 2010. We knew we wanted to move to Block Island (Rhode Island) which is a small community of 900 people in the winter and about 15,000-20,000 in the summer. The island to 7 miles long by 3 miles wide and the place that we wanted to call home. It is lovely.

We then had long discussions about what to do when we moved to Block Island since we wanted to do something with fiber. We had moved all over the country doing different jobs in business or nursing and wanted to do something together with lasting impact. While we considered starting a yarn shop, that was not truly feasible given the seasonality of the island. We then met the people that make the equipment which is now in our yarn studio and fell in love with the plan to produce and create yarn here on the island. The equipment is small and to the scale of Block Island as we produce small batches of kettle-dyed yarns and design the fiber blends to our liking. Laura is a phenomenal knitter and designer and develops different fiber blends, weights, colors and patterns in addition to all the designers that we work with.

Unfortunately, when we decided to move forward with the yarn studio and had negotiated for a long-term lease on a building, we were informed by the Town that there was no “permitted use to make a product” on Block Island. So, we had to spend the next year and 12 public hearings to change the zoning laws by creating a “light industry” permitted use. Since then, a few other small companies have started and now a furniture maker is starting up on Block Island making small-batch furniture. We are one of the only year-round businesses and the only manufacturer and exporter from Block Island.

The only offshore wind farm is located 3 miles off the Island’s south bluffs. Based on this, it turns out that North Light Fibers is the only manufacturer in the U.S. that is 100% powered by offshore wind! We also installed solar panels and have developed extensive green practices. Our vision in 2010 was to have a zero carbon footprint and we have attained that goal!

A pile of colorful yarn sitting on a rock.

North Light Fibers Water Street.

How do you source the fiber for your yarn?

North Light Fibers is located on a small animal farm, the 1661 Farm and Gardens. The animals range from alpacas, llamas and camels to yaks and Scottish Highland bulls as well as Jacob sheep and a variety of goats. There are also many more animals that make the farm quite an interesting place. While we use the fiber from the farm in our felting kits, bird balls and dryer balls, we do not use it for yarn as it is older and not to our quality standards.

We have been very fortunate over the years to work with many small alpaca and sheep farms around the country, mostly in the Northeast, including Virginia and West Virginia. While at one point we were sourcing fiber from 116 different farms, we have narrowed that down a lot and have also been sourcing fibers from around the world more broadly.

Over the past 10 years we are have learned a lot about fiber and how the environment, animal health and feed can dramatically impact the quality of the fiber and therefore yarn. For example, our Cashmere comes from Mongolia and some of our wool from the Falkland Islands. This is very important for we also use a lot of domestic Merino. While all of our wall is a Merino they are not sourced from the same location by intention. As you may know, the Falkland Islands Merino has a longer staple length, is finer (smaller micron count) and also has a different shaped crimp compared with the domestic Merino. Each is very good in their own respect. For example, we designed for our Water Street yarn (40% Cashmere/60% Super fine Merino) with the highest-grade domestic Merino and blend it with Cashmere. The fiber length and crimp blend well together to create an amazing yarn. On the other hand, our Atlantic and Spring Street yarns are 100% Merino wool sourced from the Falkland Islands. The fiber for it is softer and has better drape than the domestic Merino. So not only do we use different fibers but we also source similar breeds from different locations to make the best yarn possible.

How much yarn does your mini mill produce each year?

That is a very interesting question, but before talking about capacity, I would like to make a few clarifications. First of all, we do not consider North Light Fibers to be a mini mill. In the past, we have called our business a “micro yarn mill” which is very different. Mini mills follow a service model as they process fibers for different farms. For example, if a farmer has 40 alpacas or 30 sheep, they can send the fiber to a mini mill, which will turn their fiber into yarn. North Light Fibers does not produce any yarn for other businesses. Our business is more like a microbrewery — a small-scale brewery, or in this case a small-scale yarn producer or mill.

Over the past two years, we have begun to shift our focus to the two key areas of our business: the Dye Studio and the Yarn Studio. As we will share during the Indie Untangled event, we kettle dye all of our fibers in 10-pound batches. Usually we produce 20 pounds when we dye as we have two vats. The key thing is that we dye fibers and not finished yarn.

When the dying is finished, we bring the fibers up to the yarn studio where are we pick, card, spin, ply, steam and finish the yarn. While there are machines, a significant amount of hand work goes into the yarns along the way. We physically touch each yarn at least 20 times during the process and QC all the yarn by hand.

As far as the total volume that we produce, it’s very subject to the types of yarns and blends that we are making. Most importantly, we produce enough so that our knitters can purchase yarn from the same production date to finish their project. I mention a “production date” because we blend colors within the manufacturing process — therefore the date of dying is less important to us as the date when the colors are blended on the carder or throughout production process.

A pile of marled yarn.

North Light Fibers Seaside.

What inspires your colors?

Being 15 miles off the coast and located well into the Atlantic, we have amazing light and colors as well as different shades of earth tones here on the island. The bluffs show layers of soil millions of years old and the number of ponds is amazing… all within 1.5 miles of the ocean. The animals on the farm, the island itself, the ocean, the beaches, the sunsets, the sunrises and the rocks on the shore inspire us daily. If you follow us on Instagram, you’ll see that we post a lot of pictures of the island and different colors and blends. The island is an inspiration.

In addition to inspiration about colors, we also get really inspired by how to blend fibers and make the colors in unique ways. For example, Water Street has beautiful heathery colors that come alive when the garment or accessory is knit or crocheted. The flecks of different colors creates a unique palette. For example, we produce a green color in Water Street that we called Enchanted Forest. While one may think of this color as a dark green, there are actually flecks of purple and light green within the yarn that bring it alive and make it very complex and exciting.

In our recent introduction of Seaside, we have blended 50% Supima cotton and 50% Merino wool to create a very exciting worsted weight yarn. Given our acid-based kettle dye process, we are not able to dye plant fibers so therefore Seaside has a very soft palette as the cotton is white. The color, though, is unique as the yarn is designed in a marled fashion with each ply being a different color, creating a beautiful fabric or textile that really moves with the colors.

The water Street and Seaside colors differ greatly from our Atlantic and Spring Street yarns, which have much deeper hues.

Another big aspect of North light Fibers yarn is that all our lines have at least 14 colors. Forever Lace (80% alpaca/20% bamboo) has about 27 colors! We work hard to have a full line of colorways with exciting and unique main and contrast colors for different designs.

A pink cabled poncho modeled on a beach.

The Sailboat Poncho in Seaside designed by Deborah Newton.

Can you talk about some of the business challenges you’ve had to overcome during the pandemic?

Being on a small island connected by only a ferry or small airplane creates unique challenges. As we mentioned earlier, some of the zoning issues that we faced impacted our business for the first two years, but we overcame those. Of course, shipping gets to be a little bit more expensive, but the island provides an amazing inspiration and a beautiful place to live and enjoy. Nothing like being in the middle of nonstop inspiration!

Probably the biggest challenge that we faced in those early years was “how to make a really beautiful yarn that we were proud of.” While it seems relatively straightforward, making a high-quality yarn is not a simple task. On a daily basis, we have challenges in the dye studio or with a spinner or on one of the carders, but that honestly is part of the fun of running North Light Fibers: being able to overcome those challenges and create a product that we love.

2020 has been especially difficult for everyone in the yarn industry. We’ve been working very hard to present our yarns in the best way possible, yet clearly, the reduction in shows and delayed retreats has impacted our business significantly. We are very excited to be part of the Indie Untangled Everywhere event and look forward to helping knitters, crocheters and fiber enthusiasts learn more about our business.

One of the things that we have enjoyed most has been working with designers. We are awed by the ability of many of the designers we work with to create unbelievably stunning fabrics and garments in creative ways. Seeing their inspiration and their ability to turn a design concept into reality is fantastic.

Does everyone on the North Light Fibers team knit or do other fiber crafts?

Yes, everyone is involved in fiber in different ways. While Laura is clearly the leader of the company and an amazing knitter, weaver and crocheter, she is also the inspiration for so much of what we do. Many of us have made hats and different garments, done a lot of needle and wet felting, created kits and designed new knitting and crocheting kits. But Laura is the clear leader and knitter. We all feel and know the pleasure of creating a finished garment or design from the yarn that we created.

A green and white geometric shawl.

The Islander by Melanie Berg.

What are some of your favorite FOs you or your customers have made with your yarn?

North Light Fibers has been honored to work with many great designers such as Deborah Newton, Melanie Berg, Olga Buraya-Kefelian, Andrea Mowry, Bristol Ivy, Thea Coleman, Patty Lyons, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Nora Gaughan, Gudrun Johnson, Charles Gandy, Kate Gilbert, Melissa Leapman and many other world-renowned designers as well as local designers such as Sophia Scallora, Charon Littlefield, Renee Batchelder and others who designed their first garments and patterns here at North Light Fibers. It is hard to pick our favorites, but there are a few relationships that stand out. Deborah Newton, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, has become a major part of our little company. She has designed many garments and has offered advice along the way that’s been immeasurable. A few example designers and FOs include:

Charles Gandy is an outstanding designer that we met earlier in the life of the company and he designed a pair of wristers with titled welted squares — still one of the most fascinating and intriguing designs we have.

Andrea Mowry designed Ramble in Water Street, which is a stunning blend of brioche and garter stitch.

Fiona Ellis designed one of the most amazing sweaters we have ever seen in Proscenium with our Atlantic worsted-weight yarn. The cables, design, button sides and A-Frame design are truly beautiful.

Melanie Berg recently designed The Islander in our Forever Lace yarn that has a stunning geometric structure. This will be classic design for years to come.

In addition to working with great designers, we have also worked hard to form partnerships to knit and weave finished goods for our studio store, given how many tourists and non-knitters visit the island. For example, we have formed a lifelong relationship with the Hartford Artisans Weaving Center, a non-profit weaving center for blind and visually-impaired people. In addition, years ago we started working with Women for Women International, a nonprofit that helps women in war-torn countries to knit a range of garments and accessories for the store. We have worked with Stitches 22 in Bosnia for over nine years, sending them our yarn and designs, which they turn into finished garments that we sell here. These relationships, and the ability to help those who are less fortunate, is a real actualization of our early vision for North Light Fibers.

What to stash this week: Dipping into fall

A pink cabled sweater.

Heather of Sew Happy Jane has teamed up with designer Makenzie Alvarez of Hanks and Needles on the River’s Edge pattern collection, which is a beautiful compromise between full-fledged sweater and easy accessory. The collection is inspired by the quiet banks of a winding river, with a simple cabled design that showcases a tonal hand-dyed yarn. The seamless cardigan features a flowing cable panel down the back and has a unique construction that allows you to work the collar and the body at the same time. If you’re not in a sweater frame of mind, the one-skein River’s Edge Hat is a small taste of a similar cable pattern. 

Both patterns are 25% off through this Monday, and Heather has dyed-to-order listings with suggested colorways at a discounted price on a choice of three DK base yarns.

Polymer clay animals in costumes.

⁣What’s more adorable than hedgehogs? Hedgehogs in Halloween costumes! They are 10% off in the WeeOnes shop through Sunday, no coupon code needed.

A chartreuse sweater with a striped yoke in blue and brown.

Deb of Spruce Lane Designs’ latest sweater design, Variation on a Twist, is a top down, short- (yes!) or long-sleeved DK-weight pullover with a simple garter and twisted stitch pattern that adorns the yoke.

A sepia toned ohoto of yarn and leaves.

Stefania and Giulia of Lanivendole are offering their very first Advent Calendar. They include 24 mini skeins plus one full skein of A Chic Blend, a fingering-weight blend of Italian wool, mohair and alpaca, and a set of hand-molded stitch markers from Carla of Laboratorio Indie.

Pink and green speckled yarn.

Heather of Pumpkins and Wool has released 10 new multicolored tweed colorways and 10 new neutral tweed colorways, plus five new colorways of mohair/silk.

Sign-ups are open for the September installment of the Queen City Yarn Studio Series Yarn Club.