Kitterly gets ready for Rhinebeck

From left to right: Kitterly co-founders Elizabeth Rowen and and Mari Bower.

This is the ninth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Can you believe it’s exactly one month until Indie Untangled — and Rhinebeck?! Before this popular knitting weekend extravaganza, I asked Elizabeth Rowen and Mari Bower, the founders of Kitterly, which sells knitting and crochet kits, to talk about their plans for Rhinebeck and their predictions for this year’s most popular Indie Untangled and Rhinebeck sweaters.

Who are you both most looking forward to seeing at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show?

We’re really excited to see the variety of products, new products that inspire us and catch up with our vendors and meet new ones!

What are each of your Top 5 favorite Kitterly kits from the last year?

Mari: From a site popularity standpoint, the Sushi Scarf by Stephanie Shiman and Wonderland Yarns is a perennial favorite with our customers.

We’ve been so fortunate to work with so many amazing designers like Andrea Mowry, Isabell Kraemer and Melanie Berg, to name a few. It’s been fun to meet and feature designers from all over the world.

Liz: I love them all! Our designers as so talented and it’s always so inspiring to work with them.

Sushi Scarf by Stephanie Shiman.

Are there any indie dyers and designers that you think should be on knitters’ radars?

Mara of Aya Fibers
Steffi of Uschitita
Renee of Spun Right Round
Aimee of La Bien Aimée

There are so many more we could list but we’re running out of space!

What are you both planning to wear to Indie Untangled and the New York Sheep & Wool Festival?

Mari: Depending on weather I’m going to wear my newly knit Humulus pullover by Isabel Kraemer knit in The Fibre Company Cumbria and Spincycle Dream State. I hope to be able to finish my Rose cardigan, knit in Olann Sock Sport, in time.

Liz: I’m going bring my Sheltered poncho by Andrea Mowry, my Sipila pullover knit in Olann Singles as well as my Impressionists shawl by Helen Stewart. Hoping to have my Comfort Fade cardi in Olann complete too!

The Throwback © Andrea Mowry

What do you think is going to be the most-seen sweater at Rhinebeck this year?

Mari: I’ll think we’ll see a bunch of The Throwback cardis by Andrea Mowry, Sipila by Caitlin Hunter, Rose cardigan by Andrea Mowry, Carbeth Cardigan by Kate Davies and Weekender by Andrea Mowry.

Liz: I imagine we’ll see many Fading Points by Joji, Comfort Fade Cardi by Andrea Mowry and The Doodler by Stephen West.

Tell me the things that are currently on your needles.

Mari: Rose cardigan by Andrea Mowry and Separate Ways by Joji.

Liz: Comfort Fade Cardi by Andrea Mowry, Neridah by Ambah O’Brien and a test knit for Lesley Robinson of Knit Graffiti.

A WIP of Mix and Mingle by Andrea Mowry.

What are each of your favorite FOs from the last year?

Mari: Weekender by Andrea, Mix and Mingle, a Kitterly Special project for Kitterly by Andrea Mowry, and Kobuk by Caitlin Hunter.

Liz: Too many to name!

What to stash this week: Readying for Rhinebeck

Casapinka’s Crown Wools MKAL was such a hit that she’s launching another, non-mystery KAL! It starts September 10 and runs for six weeks — perfect for showing it off at Rhinebeck. She has compiled a list of dyers selling kits, so order yours before the KAL kicks off.

Amy of Canon Hand Dyes opened preorders for Deathday Party, and a complementary semisolid called The Deathly Hallows, to both Rhinebeck ticket holders AND those who are not attending the show. The colorways will be available to order on three different bases until September 25. Note the instructions carefully!

Brooke of Fully Spun just had a shop update that includes five new semisolid colorways designed to pair with her Fully Spun Original and Sock yarns — mill-spun with the look of handspun. Check them out online or in person at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival on September 29 and 30.

Melissa of Dye Is Cast Yarns is debuting some new fall and Halloween colorways today. She’ll also be introducing 50-gram half skeins and minis of her Squish Wish Sock yarn base.

Laura of Slipped Stitch Studios is teaming up with Forbidden Fiber Co. for an Outlander update today at 9 a.m. Pacific time. It includes project bags, accessories and, of course, yarn!

Pam’s latest shawl design, Soulshine, is inspired by stars shooting across the night sky. It’s worked in two colors of fingering weight yarn and includes bias shaping and short rows.

Lena’s Mermaid Scales Slouch Hat is a great showcase for that random skein of variegated, tonal or hand-dyed sportweight yarn.

Mona of bunnymuff is kicking off a shawl MKAL on October 8.

If you’re an indie dyer planning an Advent calendar, consider adding Sheep Squeezers from One Sock Wonder Bags.

What to stash this week: simple and whimsey

Stephanie of Asylum Fibers put together some yarn sets for Michele Costa of Stitch and Hustle’s Unicorn County (crochet) and Unicorn Kounty (knitting) shawl pattern. Grab one and take part in the Unicorn Along, which will culminate in a fun group photo at Rhinebeck.

Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks has travel knitting (or Knitflixing, or soccer game knitting) in mind with her latest design. Stream of Consciousness is comfort knitting at its finest, a scarf designed in garter stitch, with sections of textured stitches mixed in. It’s knit on the diagonal, so Jennifer says the only “hard” part is remembering to increase on one side and decrease on the other, every other row, with textured sections requiring slightly more attention.

Jennifer also has a new batch of subscriber inspiration colorways for August, based on a photo her newsletter subscriber, Melanie, sent her of a gorgeous Autumn-hued mandala. There are three tonal colors plus a speckle that pulls from the others. They are available to preorder only through the end of the day today!

Rebecca of Fuse Fiber Studio recently had a shop update with sweater quantities of her Fuse Luxury Fingering base. For this update, she focused on neutrals and colors that can be combined to make the perfect Rhinebeck sweater.

Suzanne of Groovy Hues is going goth for Halloween. Her You Can’t Take the Goth Outta the Girl colorway is available on a variety of bases and is the perfect colorway for the upcoming fall holiday — and the rest of the year.

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels is also ready for Halloween and just added lovely new fall and Halloween inspired colors to the shop. The slight chill in the air also means she’s brought back her tweed yarn bases. There are lots of new colors, tonals, OOAKs and a few favorites.

Michelle has a new collection of shawl pins crafted from bronze, with designs including Dragonflies and Frosted Oceans, with rich, warm colors to show off on your fall knits.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Carol Feller

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This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

I have long been a fan of Carol Feller‘s designs. Her Akoya and Carpino patterns have been favorited for a while, waiting for the perfect yarn.

When I heard the news that Carol would be making a trip from Ireland to Rhinebeck — and that she wanted to see Indie Untangled in particular! — I was thrilled. Here’s a chance to learn a little more about her, and how her background as a structural engineer informs her stunning designs.

How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?

I really sort of fell into knitwear design! When I left school I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do, swinging between art and science/maths. I started by doing a year in art college but I really missed working with numbers, so after the year I switched to engineering, specializing in structural engineering. I spent several years working in engineering and when my second son was born I set up an online natural parenting shop. After my fourth son was born I sold the business and intended to become a full-time mum. That plan didn’t work out too well for me, by the time he was 5 months old I was craving some mental stimulation. I discovered an online yarn shop that had just opened up in Ireland and I started to relearn how to knit. It came back to me very quickly and I was obsessed!

Within a year I had published my first pattern and from there my first book was only a few years later. For the first time in my life I had found the perfect blend of art and maths. It’s very hard to be a knitwear designer without enjoying both ends of the spectrum; you need to be able to imagine and create the knitwear and then have the ability to do the number crunching to manipulate all the different sizes and make sure they work.

How has your training as a textile artist and then as a structural engineer informed your designs?

Starting off as a structural engineer — or any type of engineer — makes you a very logical thinker. The design, whether it is a garment or a building, has to make sense. When knitting, every stitch sits one on top of another. If you need it to be bigger you have to increase and if you need it smaller, you need to decrease. This means that design has to follow a logic path, and makes sense. This ability to dissect a design’s construction gives me the tools to turn design on its head and create new construction techniques and directions.

Carol’s Ribosome sweater.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

You many notice that I design a lot of cardigans. This is probably because I wear cardigans almost all the time! I think frequently designers like to design what they find useful on a personal level. After that it becomes about combining shapes, colours and stitch patterns in ways that make me happy. I often find that I have a picture of what I want to design, from there I combine sketching and swatching to see if I can make it work or how I need to change the initial idea so that it flows and makes knitting sense. I love autumn (fall) in shops; they are filled with new colours, knits and shapes. I spend a few mornings wandering in town getting a feel for the colours and trends of the season, zoning in on ones that mesh with my own aesthetic perspective.

You have created your own yarn line. How did that come about and what does that entail?

My yarn line happened accidentally, but it was a very happy accident! The yarn company, Fyberspates, distributes my patterns and self-published books and they had just started a yarn line with Rachel Coopey, Sock Yeah! I was saying how much fun that sounded and they suggested that I also start a yarn line with them. Between us we decided on the fiber blend; the two main criteria I had were that I wanted a sport weight yarn and I didn’t want a Superwash. After that I planned out the colours for the yarn (they are dyed by the mill) and got a yarn label designed. It was such a fun experience creating a yarn line and it somehow feels like it adds an extra dimension to my design work being able to work all the way from the yarn right through to the finished design.

Carol’s Coiled Magenta.

Is there a construction method you haven’t tried yet?

I don’t think so! There are a few construction techniques that I’ve use very rarely but I think I’ve given most a try. I’ve knit sweaters from the bottom up, top down and from side-to-side. I’ve tried raglan, set-in sleeves, circular yokes, drop shoulders and contiguous. I have designed sweaters in pieces and seamed them together but it’s not my favourite method. I’m definitely a fan of seamless in all its guises!

When and how did you learn to knit?

I actually have almost no memory of learning to knit. In primary school in Ireland when I was small everyone learned to both knit and sew. It has however changed now and is dependent on individual teachers and their personal preferences. My mother was able to knit but found it too slow, preferring to crochet or sew. Her mother however was a fantastic knitter, producing new sweaters for all her 5 children every September when they went back to school. As I learned to knit so young it feels like a very natural thing for me to be doing, very similar to writing or reading. It was when I picked up knitting however as an adult that I learned how to refine my knitting and read a pattern.

What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?

I swatch, swatch, swatch. It doesn’t matter what is in my head or what I draw on paper if the yarn doesn’t agree, it won’t work! So, I swatch, sketch and them measure. Once this is done I can start working on the numbers and write up the bones of the pattern. This way when I begin knitting the finished piece I can tweak and rewrite the pattern as I work to make sure it’s as accurate as possible.

What are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?

My colours are usually on the rustic end of the scale; all shades of green, rusts, ochres and pumpkin plus the very useful grey. In the yarn line I had an advantage because of the fiber content of the yarn. With 20% yak it means that the base, undyed colour of the yarn is a light beige. This means that all the colours that are overdyed on it will have a muted, rustic feel. I started with all my favourite colours and then grouped them into neutrals and brights/contrasts so that there were lots of options to combine colours. I do find as a designer that I have to fight against my own colour biases especially with larger projects. When I do books I try to have a good range of colour representation if possible.

What to stash this week: Leaving Olympic National Park

Today is the last day to preorder Hazel Knits’ stunning Sol Duc Valley colorway for the Knitting Our National Parks Project. The yarn takes its name and inspiration from the Sol Duc rainforest at Olympic National Park. Here’s a new pic of it all knitted up!

Stephanie of Rock Solid Designs has added a new twist to the project bag and come up with a brilliant solution to the “yarn/zipper dilemma.” Her box bag, called the Kellie bag, uses sturdy plastic snaps instead of zippers, to help keep your yarn from running away, but avoiding snags. Best of all — the snaps also serve as built-in yarn guides, allowing you to separate multiple strands of yarn for colorwork projects or when you’re alternating skeins in a sweater.

Is there a slight chill in the air? That means it’s almost PSL (pumpkin spice latte) time! Sheila of Big Foot Fibers has just updated her shop with limited-edition, piping hot PSL mini skein sets.

It’s Porterness Studio’s birthday and Jen is celebrating with a sale! Get a generous 25% off through August 31 with the code IndieBday25. If you make a purchase over $40 you will get a free “There Will Be Cake” pin!

Like most of us, Sarah of QCC Yarn is also in an autumn state of mind. In addition to new fall colors, she also now has three new yarn bases available: Floofy Cat (80% Superwash Merino/20% nylon) and Forlorn Cat (80% Superwash British BFL/20% nylon), both of which are 2-ply fingering weight yarns, and Cat-Mandu, a 3-ply fingering weight yarn that’s a blend of 70% Superwash Merino, 20% yak and 10% nylon, with colors dyed on a natural grey base.

Karen of Round Table Yarns has teamed up with Tim Stephens of Periodic Knits to create a We Knit in Texas Cowl kit to raise money for the Unite for Bleeding Disorders Walk, which benefits the local Dallas/Fort Worth chapter of the Texas Central Hemophilia Association. It’s available in your choice of red, white or blue yarn and $17 of your purchase will be donated to the Texas Central Hemophilia Association.

Stomp on over to the Slipped Stitch Studios website. A fun dinosaur update goes live today at 9 a.m. Pacific time. 

Eden Cottage’s next update goes live on Wednesday, August 29 and includes her Titus 4ply base, a luxurious blend of Superwash Merino and mulberry silk, perfect for shawls and sweaters alike.

Do you believe in fairies? Either way, you’ll be enchanted by Baad Mom Yarns’ new Woodland Fairy Collection of colorways, which includes Enchanted Forest, pictured above.

Wolle’s Yarn Creations’ newest yarn line is called TONALS, a unique creation that is part gradient, part ombre, part heather on a super soft 100% cotton fingering weight base. 

Mad Science Yarn has experimented with a special fall 2018 colorway.

The latest in the Bijou Basin Ranch Indie Dyer Series

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Bijou Basin Ranch is known for producing yak, Cashmere, Paco Vicuna and Qiviut blends from a small ranch just outside of Elbert, Colorado. Owners Carl and Eileen Koop also collaborate with some indie dyers, such as ModeKnit Yarns of Minnesota and MJ Yarns of Seattle, who create a little magic in their dye pots and complement their luxurious blends.

Here are some of the latest yarns from their indie dyer series:

Autumn Spice

This is a coordinated collection for colors dyed by MJ Yarns on BBR’s new Himalayan Summit fingering base, a 50/50 blend of yak and Superfine Merino.

Explore Collection

Dyed by Colorful Eclectic on 50/50 yak and silk lace weight, Shangri-La. Each of the colorways in this series would look fantastic on its own, but are designed to pair together, as in the Blood of My Blood shawl from BBR’s Outlander collection, pictured above.

Reflections Collection

Dyed by Colorful Eclectic on Lhasa Wilderness yak/bamboo yarn. Each color in Reflections contains all five colors, with one being the predominant color.

Gobi

Hand-dyed colors from MJ yarns inspired by the Sheildmaidens of Nordic mythology, and popularized in Richard Wagner’s opera “The Valkyrie.” The yarn base is Gobi, a blend of baby camel and silk.

Stripes

Self-striping colors on Himalayan Summit dyed by Modeknit Yarns.

Gradients

Hand dyed on Tibetan Dream by Modeknit Yarns.

What to stash this week: Knitting for fall

Kate of McMullin Fiber Co. has stocked her shop with plenty of hues that bring to mind fall leaves and apple cider donuts. Take 15% off your order with the code INDIE15.

Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks is also in a fall state of mind, and has recently released a bunch of autumn-inspired colors, including Picante, Gigli and Porcino, which pretty much look like the colors of Rhinebeck.

Heather’s Yarn Barn is now offering her yarns wholesale, so if you’re interested in seeing them in person, ask the owner of your LYS to look into stocking them.

Third Vault Yarns’ yarns of the month are inspired by the Nine Worlds of Norse mythology and available to preorder only until the 20th.

Mona of bunnymuff has just released two new patterns, the Blue Citrus pullover and Blue Citrus tammy. Knit both and be super coordinated!

Eden Cottage Yarns had a shop update yesterday filled with sock yarn, for the perfect warm weather knitting. Yarns include Brimham 4ply (85% Superwash Merino, 15% nylon) and Tempo 4ply (75% Superwash wool, 25% nylon).

Wendee of Hazel Knits’ stunning Sol Duc Valley colorway for the Knitting Our National Parks project, inspired by the mossy green in the Sol Duc rainforest at Olympic National Park, is available to preorder only through next Friday!

Check out the project bags with windows from MidMitten Designs.

What to stash this week: Go for the green

For the latest installment of Knitting Our National Parks, Wendee of Hazel Knits is taking us on a road trip to Olympic National Park, just a few hours from her Seattle studio. Photographer Adam Jewell captured this stunning image of sunlight filtered through the trees at the park’s Sol Duc rainforest and Wendee perfectly picks up the bark peeking through the moss and greenery in her colorway, which is available to preorder here on two bases hrough Friday, August 24. As always, 10% of sales will be donated to the National Park Foundation.

If you’re a planner like me, then you know it’s almost Halloween. Slipped Stitch Studios has special Nightmare Before Christmas treats and other ghoulish delights on sale today at 9 a.m. Pacific time. They will only be available through Monday at midnight and will ship in time to tote around your fall projects.

Speaking of Halloween, Wild Hair Studio is creating a bag of fiber treats inspired by the sweets that Hogwarts students procured during their special Hogsmead Weekends. Hogsmead Treat Bags will include an assortment of limited-edition fiber — a combination of batts, smidgens and custom-blended roving — inspired by candy from Honeydukes. Preorders will be open until September 20.

Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations is hosting a MKAL of a shawl called In The Rough. She encourages you to polish your knitting skills with cables, lace, beading and slipped-stitch techniques. You can preorder the pattern, yarn, beading tool and beads now before the first clue is released on Labor Day.

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has once again teamed up with designer C.C. Almon of Java Purl Designs to bring you an Outlander Wrap Kit. The kit, inspired by book 4 of the Outlander series, will include a skein of Bauble Heavy Lace in the colorway Nothing is Lost, a tote bag, a spiral notebook, stitch markers and a Ravelry pattern download code. Preorders are open until August 19.

One of Melanie’s (and my!) favorite movies growing up was The Sound of Music. In honor of the classic musical, she’s teamed up with Lina from Lina Knits to create a My Favorite Things Cowl kit. The cowl, and kit, features colorways inspired by popular scenes from the movie. Each kit comes with one 50g skein and five 10g skeins, along with the pattern.

Marianated Yarns will be at the Lancaster Fiber Festival next weekend. She also has a giveaway with prizes that include a day pass, class or mini skein kit for Casapinka’s Crown Wools MKAL going on now.

IU newcomer Heather’s Yarn Barn has plenty of fun fall colorways, including Fall Fusion, pictured above, with teal covering one half of the skein and specks of teal, plum, mustard and golden orange on the other.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Nomadic Knits

Becky (left) and Melissa (right) heading out to find all the local yarn.

This is the third in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

You may know designer Melissa Kemmerer by her adorable sheep-y sweaters. You may not know that she and former yarn shop owner Becky Beagell are creating a new knitting magazine, called Nomadic Knits, that will focus on local regions and feature indie dyers, producers and designers. Their first issue, which will look at the knitting scene in Florida, is set to be released in the coming weeks.

How did the idea for Nomadic Knits come about?

Becky loves to travel, and recently sold her house and closed her yarn shop, The Glitter Ninja, to explore the country in a van with her poodle, Bubba. Melissa loves knitting and has been designing for several years. We wanted to find a project that could incorporate both of these passions while allowing us the freedom to expand the idea and grow with it as we discover new possibilities. There may have been a few cocktails involved as the original idea came to life.

Aside from designs, what will the publication include?

Each issue will feature local dyers or fiber producers, as well as articles about the local knitting scene and some interesting finds. The Florida issue includes information about fibers that are great for knitting in warm weather, a cocktail made with local ingredients, and tips for knitting on the beach.

Shadows in the Rain, a shawl design included in Issue One, using Be So Fine 100% bamboo yarn by Kristin Omdahl.

Why did you decide to focus on Florida for the first issue?

Both of us happened to be spending last winter in south Florida, not far from each other, and we wanted to share all of our knitting fun with the rest of the fiber community. We also wanted to correct the misconception that no one knits in Florida. It’s actually full of amazing dyers and passionate knitters!

Can you reveal what regions other issues will focus on?

Our second issue is focusing on New York, specifically upstate (everything north and east of NYC), where we both grew up. After that, we have plans to explore the southwestern United States. From there… the world!

When and how did both of you learn to knit?

Melissa: My aunt taught me the basics when I was 16, and after a year of garter stitch scarves, she introduced me to patterns and how to read them.

Becky: After a few failed attempts at learning from family members, I taught myself to knit on a circular loom. Then one day I decided it was time to learn to use sticks and I grabbed a copy of Stitch ‘N Bitch by Debbie Stoller, and I was off and running. Or knitting.

Do either of you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

We both LOVE shopping for craft supplies, a hobby in itself! Melissa dabbles in cross-stitch, and wants to learn more advanced embroidery and basic sewing. Becky is your standard maker, trying anything she can get her hands on.

Becky’s dog, Bubba, joining in the photo shoot fun, with design Take Me To The Beach, knit in Sprout Sock by The Fiber Seed.

Tell me about each of your most memorable FOs.

Melissa: I crocheted an enormous acrylic blanket while I was in college. It took me about four years to complete it, as it was entirely in single-chain, and I only worked on it sporadically. The tension changed from year to year, and one end is loose and wonky, while the other end is so tight, it’s almost bullet-proof. My dad proudly displays the blanket on his couch, and I have never crocheted another thing.

Becky: A few years ago I made what I thought was going to be a trendy, chunky sweater. It became lovingly known as the Wooly Grimace at The Glitter Ninja. Does anyone remember Grimace, the McDonald’s character? Anyway… it was LARGE and purple and ridiculous. It probably weighed about forty pounds. We kept it around for comedic relief and threatened to make grumpy knitters wear it during knit club.

Where are each of your favorite places to knit?

Melissa: In theory, I love to knit outside, soaking up the sunshine by the pool or on the beach, but in reality, I can usually be found knitting in a cozy chair, binge watching Netflix.

Becky: I love knitting in the car. Unfortunately, Bubba can’t drive, so I usually only get to do that while Melissa and I are on yarn tour and she’s at the wheel. Qualified drivers, feel free to submit your applications.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Espace Tricot

Espace Tricot owners Lisa and Melissa.

This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

While I haven’t visited Espace Tricot yet (emphasis on yet, as I am hoping to go sometime soon after a trip scheduled for last February was cancelled by the flu), I feel like I have because of owners Lisa Di Fruscia and Melissa Clulow’s approachable podcast.

When I do get to visit, I will be all over their selection, which includes yarn from local dyers Julie Asselin and Tanis Fiber Arts and goodies from Twill & Print, and excited to see their beautiful patterns in person.

Tell me the story of how Espace Tricot came to be. Had both of you always wanted to own a yarn shop?

Melissa first picked up a set of knitting needles back in 2008, and something just clicked. Meanwhile, across town, Lisa had turned to knitting while her newborn son napped afternoons away in the car (his preferred location). As two newly minted yarn lovers, hooked on the creative and stress-relieving properties of the craft, we soon met at a local knit night and became fast friends. Over the next year we daydreamed about creating the ideal knit shop – in an aspirational but totally idle sort of way. One day, when a local yarn shop owner who was moving out of town asked Melissa if she knew of anyone who might be interested in subletting her space, it took one phone call to Lisa and about five seconds for us to decide we would be the ones to take over the lease and open a store. Three months later, Espace Tricot was born!

What did each of you do before you became yarn shop owners and how do you think it informs what you bring to the business?

Lisa was a physical education teacher by profession and had worked most recently in the area of personal/spiritual development while Melissa’s varied background combined clinical psychology, non-profit management and website design and development. Neither of us had specific experience running a retail business, but we optimistically believed we had the personal and professional qualities, work ethic, and initiative necessary to make a go of it.

Fundamentally, creating and growing a successful store requires both practical and organizational skills, as well as interpersonal abilities. These aspects are especially important in the knitting world insofar as we are serving a community of people who love to share, learn, create, and connect through our craft. Having backgrounds in education and psychology enhance our capacity to understand our clients and to guide them in their projects, choices and learning in a supportive and instructional way.

Furthermore, Melissa’s experience in management and web development and Lisa’s work as a physical education teacher contribute to our ability to keep the various aspects of our business running smoothly. That said, we also recognize the limitations of our skill-sets and do not hesitate to engage outside professional assistance when necessary (e.g. accounting, product photography)!

How do you choose the dyers and brands that you carry?

As we’ve grown in our business, we’ve gained a better understanding of knitters and the market as a whole. We would say that the selection of dyers, and brands in general, is more art than science and there are many factors that enter into our decision-making process.

First, we consider our current inventory and determine whether there are particular weights or textures missing and prioritize filling those gaps. We constantly evaluate our shelves to decide if yarns need to be retired and replaced in order to breathe new life into our staples. We meet with yarn reps on a regular basis to see whether their product lines suit our needs and often ask for samples to knit up test swatches before finalizing our decisions.

This all sounds very methodical, but we are also not above making impulsive decisions when we fall for a yarn, even when any rationale for adding it to our shelves is entirely lacking. We are knitters, after all! When selecting hand-dyed yarns and smaller brands we rely heavily on our instincts, we tune in to what is capturing the attention of knitters, and keep a keen eye on sparks flying out in the ether.

Sometimes the clues are ephemeral and sometimes they are more concrete, taking the form of repeated customer requests! We might see something at a festival, twig on to something through social media, receive an e-mail from a new hand dyer, or develop a personal relationship with a producer. We also look to Ravelry for guidance. We check up on popular yarns and those gaining momentum and take note of what our favourite and/or popular designers are knitting their patterns with.

What made you decide to start a podcast?

Lisa had begun to delve into the fountain pen world and wanted to learn more about these curious instruments so turned to YouTube to find out more. She stumbled upon a podcast by a young entrepreneur with an online pen shop and mentioned it to Melissa. Melissa quickly set about exploring this intriguing world of podcasts within the knitting community and was immediately hooked on the plethora of wonderful channels already available. We didn’t dare dream of starting a podcast ourselves (what?! no way would we ever!), but on the urging of Lisa’s husband we decided to film an episode just to see if we could do it. Needless to say, we took great comfort in knowing our initial effort wouldn’t see the light of day if we felt it was just too terrible. And now here we are, 20 episodes later and counting.

Can you talk about any new products the shop is going to carry or special events in the works?

We are always on the hunt for new and exciting products and often bring them in irrespective of the season. This fall, however, we are turning our focus towards stranded colourwork projects and are working to bring our customers on a journey with us as we learn more about the incredible properties of minimally processed 100% wool. We are so excited by all of the beautiful rustic and breed-specific sheep yarns we’ve ordered and look forward to encouraging knitters to move beyond their immediate reactions to these yarns as scratchy or rough towards an appreciation of their warm, comforting, versatile and aesthetically stunning properties!

We’ve developed new relationships with the distributors of Rauma, BC Garn, and Garthenor, and are restocking our current offerings from Brooklyn Tweed, Tukuwool and Quince & Co. We’re also adding new lines from Kelbourne Woolens, Julie Asselin, Rowan and Lopi. Of course, all of these will find a home among our wide selection of hand-dyed yarns from producers such as Madelinetosh, Hedgehog Fibres, Artfil, Julie Asselin and Koigu as well as lines from Shibui Knits, Woolfolk, Lang, mYak, Berroco, Cascade and many others!

When and how did both of you learn to knit?

Interestingly, both Lisa and Melissa learned to knit around the same time in March 2008. At that time Lisa was at home with her 18-month old son and was looking for an outlet to express her creativity and to reconnect with herself. She found a little shop that was offering Learn to Knit classes and the rest is history.

Melissa had just moved to Montreal and asked her mother to teach her how to knit as part of a strategy to find community in her new city. Shortly after, we met at a local knit night and it was love at first sight! We’ve been great friends, business partners, and obsessive knitters ever since. Having each other has been wonderful for our knitting progress — we encourage and motivate one other, take great pride in each other’s successes, and support one another through the inevitable failures –- usually with wine!

Do either of you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

Lisa loves to dabble in art for self-expression, including painting, drawing, journaling, or collage, while Melissa enjoys a bit of weaving and sewing. Of course, all of these take a back seat to knitting…

Espace Tricot’s Wrapped in Lino shawl.

Tell me about each of your most memorable FOs.

Every project that has pushed our skills to the next level has led to a great sense of accomplishment (e.g. first pair of socks, first sweater, first colourwork project, etc). For Lisa, however, the most memorable ones are the projects she has knit which required kilometres of knitting and sheer perseverance, such as her Wrapped in Lino and European Road Trip shawls. She is also especially proud of her latest design, Étoile Maritime, which required her to figure out how to increase while maintaining a star mesh rib design!

Melissa’s favourite projects are usually those to which she’s added a strand of silk and mohair for that halo quality she can’t get enough of! Her most memorable ones, however, have been designs such as her Chevron Baby Blanket and Getting Warmer cowl which have resonated with so many knitters on Ravelry and which made her think that perhaps she had something to offer in the area of simple, straightforward knitwear design.