Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Yarn Farm Kingston

This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place on October 14, 2022 and online. Tickets are now available!

Have you ever been visiting a city or town and thought, “This place could use a yarn shop?” Well, Jocelyn Songco thought that after moving to Kingston, NY, also known as one of the gateways to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival. She’s in the process of opening Yarn Farm Kingston, a yarn shop and wine bar overlooking Rondout Creek. I’m looking forward to it becoming another must-visit during Rhinebeck weekend!

Tell me about the decision to open Yarn Farm Kingston. Had you always wanted to own a yarn shop?

Owning a yarn shop wasn’t always on my mind, but crafting has been a “serious hobby” for me for decades. Once when I was moving apartments in NYC, a moving guy asked me if “this is what you do” while he was carrying a mannequin and nodding at large clear bins of yarn and fabric. Um… yes?! So much of what I’ve done and who I am has led me to this point at exactly the right time! My career for the past decade and a half took me to remote parts of the world and I’ve always sought out fiber artists and artisans. When you have that personal interest and passion it can’t be suppressed! I’m also an avid class-taker and fiber festival attendee and have learned from many of the greats: Judith MacKenzie, Gayle Roehm, Edie Eckman, Abby Franquemont, Tin Can Knits… as well as more local teachers – Christine Janove, a star quilter in NYC.

So the backstory: I’ve been both knitting and living in NYC for about two decades. I went to my first sheep and wool festivals around 2004 – Rhinebeck and Maryland. Rhinebeck immediately became an annual girls’ weekend with knitter friends. It’s my favorite time of the year – Disneyland for the fiber artist! In 2019, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, I came up to this area to visit my high school friend Sophia, and I had an epiphany: I didn’t have to limit myself to experiencing the joys of the Hudson Valley only in October – I could rearrange my life, downsize my space in NYC, and get a home up here – which I took steps to doing that very weekend.

Fast forward to now, after getting through the pandemic and taking advantage of an opportunity to leave my employer with a bit of a safety net, I’m here in Kingston full time and 100% thrilled to be opening a fiber arts creative space in one of the most inspiring areas of New York state. We are doing everything possible to be fully open by Sheep and Wool weekend! We’ll share updates on Instagram @yarnfarmkingston, and on our website, yarnfarmkingston.com.

A storefront with brown paper in the windows.

The exterior of the soon-to-open shop on W Strand Street in Kingston, NY.

What did you do before you decided to become a yarn shop owner?

I was in the Peace Corps after college, then went to grad school and business school and worked in the corporate world for a few years. Most of my “career” has been as an impact investor at a private foundation – 14 years! There, I made investments in small businesses that were both for-profit and generated social impact in some way, such as job creation for low-income people, increasing yields and income for small farmers and improving access to essential services and medicines for marginalized people.

I traveled a ton for my job – every other week or so I’d be leaving for a trip. I’d lose myself in knitting on plane rides, “bush taxis” (beat-up station wagons for public transportation packed full of people, and maybe chickens) and dead time between meetings. My favorite part of this work was connecting with people, and that will be the best part of YFK for me as well.

 

How did you choose the products that you’ll carry?

I’m still choosing! It’s the beginning of September now and I’m deep in sampling and selection mode.

YFK’s emphasis is on local and/or small batch, hard-to-find, unique and special. This is what will differentiate us from other yarn sellers. I’m reluctant to stock much that is very readily available on, say, Amazon, but rather items that are harder for the average shopper to get, or things that really must be seen in person. My priority has been and continues to be to reach out to local yarn producers, dyers and small businesses. Often things are made to order, so longer than average time is needed. In this way, I think YFK can be a social enterprise. I can help small producers more easily tap into the retail market, both in my shop and with online sales. This could help remove a traditional barrier for them, which is access to markets.

I also learned about specific fiber artists and other artisans during work travel in my former career and plan to go back to those sources as I grow my portfolio of products in the shop. To start, I’m really excited to offer Cowgirlblues yarn from Cape Town, South Africa, this fall. I first learned of the company during a work trip in 2013, and met the founder/owner Bridget at her dye studio along with her team of dyers. Their yarn is spectacular! Then I reconnected with Bridget at the Indie Untangled pavilion at a crafts trade show earlier this year… perfect timing.

All that said, I still plan to stock some commercial/traditionally-manufactured yarns that many of us know and love, because they are very good and meet a gap in my “yarn portfolio.”

We’re also deep into sampling and selection mode for our wine list, craft beer and snack menu. I eventually hope to create yarn and drink pairings, both for our waterfront bar and as gifts for the holidays. Imagine if your knitter friend sent you a flight of New York state craft beer and a skein or two of hand-painted yarn plus a pattern, or pattern suggestions… wouldn’t you be delighted?!

Shelves of rustic yarn.

What will make your shop different from others?

Wine! Local craft beer! Snacks! Coffee! A waterfront view! Did I mention? We are a wine bar too, in a fabulous location.

As for the local yarn shop aspect… there’s no doubt that knitters, crocheters and crafters more generally are shopping online, and there are benefits to this medium (breadth of products and sometimes cost). But fundamentally, we crafters are a community and there is absolutely no substitute for being in a community in-real-life. There’s no greater joy than squishing yarn in person, no greater accuracy in choosing colors than seeing them in front of you, side by side with other options, and loving the result, rather than “living with” something you thought was a little different when you saw it on your screen. And I’d guess the former gets cast on immediately, while the latter might get thrown into the stash that we all have.

Since I think many of us are cross crafters, YFK will have a hodgepodge of supplies beyond yarn: fiber for spinning, fabric, embroidery kits, lap looms and weaving supplies. We’ll have a more curated offering of yarn, and offset that with a greater diversity of other crafting materials, from places near and far.

For classes, YFK will have traditional offerings like multi-class courses on how-to-knit/crochet/spin/drop spindle and workshops and trunk shows. Yes to all that. Beyond this, though, we’re super excited about launching drop-in classes for people to do on their own at their leisure (like Julia Cameron’s Artist Date), or with friends, or for date night. Think: playing with watercolors, building a terrarium, weaving on a lap loom… and you take home your finished object and/or tool or resource from the class after your one-hour session. We’re super excited about this, kind of a self-guided “paint and sip” for fiber artists, or curious creatives more generally.

And for wine bar patrons who aren’t knitter-crafters, we’ll have gifts to give loved ones or to treat yourself, like locally-handcrafted charcuterie boards, weekender bags (aka HUGE project bags), lotions and potions. We have a small batch of handknit samples for sale now, and I’d also love to enable connections between local knitter-crocheters to take on commission pieces for shoppers who want custom-made knitwear or home goods.

The interior of an empty shop.

The soon-to-be-filled interior of the shop.

When and how did you learn to knit?

My Peace Corps friend Almaz taught me on a train from NYC to Princeton in 2003 while we were on our way to visit friends… she’d learned to knit in San Francisco during the surge of popularity in knitting at that time. I learned on metal needles and I used acrylic yarn. New knitters will start off on a better foot materials-wise with us, for sure!

But I actually learned to crochet first, it was either my mom or my aunt/godmother, Tita Baby. This was when I was 7 or 8. I crochet now and love it, but I’m still a beginner crocheter.

And for spinning – I *had* to learn after I went to my first sheep and wool festival in Maryland and Jim from the Yarn Barn Kansas and Gord Lendrum (though I didn’t know who he was at the time) started me off on a few wheels in Jim and his wife’s booth. I was definitely intoxicated by the fluffy fiber and lanolin fumes at the fairground… and ordered my first wheel, a Schacht Matchless (the Lendrum was a very close contender).

Do you prefer knitting or spinning?

Knitting!

Fluorescent yarn.

What’s currently on your needles and/or spinning wheel?

Needles: All the yarn I’ve been sampling! It’s important to me to work with every yarn that I plan to carry in my shop, with both needles and hooks. I like blending two different yarns together to create something unique and to understand yarns that play well together or don’t, and to expand the options for how to use the yarn I will offer in my shop, which will be relatively small at the outset and grow over time as YFK grows and we learn more and more what our customers prefer.

On my Ashford Joy 2 wheel: undyed Polwarth (spun from the fold from top), started at the recent Woodstock-New Paltz Arts and Crafts Fair where I demoed with the Ulster County Handspinners Guild, and also introduced Yarn Farm Kingston to the market.

On my cherry Schact Ladybug wheel: undyed Rambouillet (also spun from the fold from top) started at the September monthly meetup for the Ulster County Handspinners Guild.

Tell me about one of your most memorable FOs.

I decided to make a cable afghan from Melissa Leapman’s Cables Untangled (the one on the cover) for my parents as a gift. It probably took 2 ½ years because of one reason or another – I ran out of yarn, got fatigued making yet another square, ran out of yarn again, didn’t want to seam, “Oh, let me cast on for another project”… the list goes on. Then I finally finished and it was beautiful and I gave it to them. And they never used it. Well, after maybe a year I claimed it for my own and use it every winter and I love it. My brother covets it. (No, I am not making another. Yes, I would still support anyone that wants to make this blanket. It’s a beautiful pattern.)

Same sort of thing happened more recently. I decided to make my dad and my brother Mr. Rogers sweaters for Christmas. They got them two Christmases later. They loved them… and do wear them!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Yarncentrick

This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place on October 14, 2022 and online. Tickets are now available!

We all know that yarn festivals are made even better with our friends, delicious food and… more yarn! Earlier this year, Mary of 29 Bridges Studio, a vendor at this year’s Indie Untangled, and Valerie the Knitting Fairy Godmother, began organizing Yarncentrick, a new indie pop-up/pre-game event for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. It featured more than 20 indie dyers, bag makers and creatives. Here’s a little behind the scenes look at the event.

What inspired you to organize Yarncentrick?

Maryland is a destination for the first weekend in May. We wanted to create an event that celebrates our diverse community of indie fiber dyers, artisans, and small creative businesses. Yarncentrick is a small and indie-focused with about 30 creative vendors.

How did you come up with the name?

Yarncentrick was in the making for quite a while. We talked and dreamed every time we got together. We both have the same memory of how we decided on the name. We were on a road trip coming home from a yarn festival and tossing out ideas for this new event we wanted to create, as we frequently did. Mary said, “I want it to be yarn-centric.” And Valerie, said, “Did you just name our event?!” From there, we did name and domain research and Yarncentrick evolved. Ending with -ck is meaningful – the “C” represents crochet, the “K” represents knitting.

Mary, you’ve done a lot of shows as an indie dyer. What did you learn from being on the organizer’s side?

Seeing an indie fiber event from both sides has been really interesting. I appreciate how important these events are for small businesses. In addition to being a financial necessity, it gives the opportunity to grow your business through advertising, networking and collaboration. I think being an organizer will help me be a better vendor. It’s a lot of work — year round, not just on the day of the event!

Do you have anything new planned for the next event?

We’re moving! Spring weather in Maryland is notoriously unpredictable. We’re moving to a more comfortable facility (with indoor plumbing!). It’s still very accessible with plenty of parking but our customers and vendors will be protected from the elements. Also, new this year, we’ll be accepting donated knit or crochet items that will help keep people warm this winter.

Mustard project bag, skeins of gold and coral yarn, pink speckled yarn.

When and how did each of you learn to knit?

Valerie: Many knitters I talk to have a similar experience. I have knit and crocheted on and off for my whole life. As an adult, I came back to knitting during a time of loss and sorrow. I needed something to keep my hands busy and pass the time.

Mary: Learning to knit and sew was inevitable for me. My grandmother was an amazing seamstress and quilter, learning to upcycle and mend during World War II. My mother added knitting to their repertoire of shared skills. When I was 5, I figured out that if you were sick, you stayed home from school. I wanted some mom time, so I pretended that I was sick so that I could stay home her. That day she taught me to knit with some mustard gold 1970s yarn. Mustard is still my favorite color.

Do either of you do any crafts in addition to knitting?

Valerie: I have tried and dabbled in almost every single craft hobby. For me, nothing else stuck like knitting and crochet.

Mary: I love to try new things! Sewing, visible mending, weaving, and spinning are among my favorites. But like Valerie, knitting is my go-to. I love to make sweaters and knitting is portable.

What are each of your most memorable FOs?

Valerie: My most memorable FO is the Brambles Beret by Amanda Muscha. We were traveling from the East Coast to the West Coast on a non-stop flight. I started casting on as we took off. Joking, my partner “bet” me that I couldn’t finish the hat by the time we landed in the West. It was a non-stop flight and I triumphantly bound off before we touched down.

Mary: It would have to be my honeymoon sweater. My husband and I got married in my favorite city — Florence, Italy. I don’t know what the process is like now, but when we got married we had to check in the consulate first, and then there was a waiting period — I think it was five days — so we drove all over Tuscany. One day we ended up in Siena. After we had a picnic in the Piazza del Campo, we found a little yarn store where they kept all the yarn behind glass — no squishing. I bought a sweater quantity, made a sweater, and have a wonderful memory.

What’s currently on your needles?

Valerie: I’m working on a franken-sweater mashup. The finished sweater will have a solid bodice and bright striped sleeves.

Mary: I’m making the Trelawny Top by Tamy Gore. I’m a sucker for leaves!

What to stash this week aside from Indie Untangled show specials

A lacy cowl with gray, brown and red stripes with mini pumpkins.

Crystal of Milly’s Knit Desgins teamed up with Kimberly of Palmer Yarn Company for the Solitude cowl, which brings together six DK-weight mini skeins and a lace pattern that provides a subtle transitions between color changes. The pattern can be purchased as part of a kit from Kimberly or on its own from Crystal’s web or Ravelry shop, and Indie Untangled insiders receive a special 25% discount off the pattern with code SOLITUDE through October 29.

Sets of red, brown, purple and gray, pink, red and purple and gray gold, pink, purple, blue and green yarn.

Speaking of Solitude… Kimberly of Palmer Yarn Company has three different custom color combinations. They’ll be available for a two-week preorder starting this Sunday at 2 p.m. CT, and mini sets will ship at the end of October.

A trio of purple and green yarn.

Eve of Holly Dyeworks has new fall colorways up in her shop, including Fletcher, Asheville Estate and Asheville, pictured here as a trio. There’s also a Wicked Sock Set that’s part of the Backstage Lights Yarn Club and there are Sugar N’ Spice Blanket kits.

A collage with red,, black and green yarn.

Just in time for Halloween, the Woolen Women have a Nightmare on Elm Street colorway that will scare your socks off.

Skeins of pink and rust yarn.

Victoria and the Eden Cottage Yarn crew have released a new base called Keld Aran, an Aran-weight blend of extrafine Merino and linen.

‘Make Good’ with Scratch

Two light-skinned women wearing sweaters sit smiling on a teal sofa.

Jessica and Karen of the Make Good Podcast and Scratch Supply Co.

This is the tenth 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’re not already familiar with Scratch Supply Co., once you learn about this welcoming LYS you’ll want to move to Lebanon, New Hampshire. Aside from showcasing indie, women, POC/BIPOC, queer and otherwise underrepresented dyers and makers, owners Jessica and Karen also recently launched an engaging podcast called Make Good (it’s an audio podcast, meaning you can concentrate solely on your stitches).

At Indie Untangled in Saugerties, you’ll be invited to submit questions to Jessica and Karen for the “Dear Scratch” segment of the Make Good podcast. You can ask them all of your fiber world questions, whether they be technical issues, fiber friend etiquette, or anything else you’ve been wondering about.

How did you decide to create the Make Good podcast?

Make Good was a direct result of COVID lockdowns. We spent a number of months with Scratch being closed to the public, and having to run every part of our business online. While we were fortunate that we were easily able to adapt, we really missed feeling like we were connected to the fiber community!

Over the years we’ve had lots of people tell us that they thought we should start our own podcast, and always kind of dismissed it as something we didn’t really have the time and energy for. But suddenly we were using our time really differently, and we decided to give it a shot. The community has been so supportive and amazing!

Why did you decide on an audio podcast versus video?

That’s easy — we’re both totally awkward on camera! But really, when we think of podcasts, we think of audio format. Video podcasts feel like something entirely different. Audio podcasts are just more suited to popping in your earbuds and listening while you go about your day, rather than having to find the time to dedicate to watching video.

A drawing of a sheep wearing headphones and the words MAKE GOOD.

Do either of you have previous podcasting experience?

We’ve both been interviewed on podcasts (in totally unrelated fields) before, but neither of us have ever created and hosted our own show. There’s been A LOT of learning by doing. And we absolutely couldn’t make this happen without having Travis to polish and edit every episode. The exceptionally low occurrence of hearing one of us sniffle or take a weird deep breath during an episode isn’t because we are trained orators, or robots. It’s because Travis painstakingly edits those things out so it’s a nice listening experience. He’s the real hero on this team.

How do you prepare for each episode? 

We try topics that we’re excited to talk about, or things that we think knitters will find interesting or helpful in some way. We draw on the interests of the knitters that come to Scratch, and we always welcome emails and messages with questions or suggestions for episodes. Once we pick a topic we do some research (if we need to), write an outline, and hope that we’ve had enough sleep and coffee before we hit record! We like to think that our conversations are like the experience you’d have if you were at Scratch talking about these things with us.

A bathtub full of yarn.

Do you get any common Dear Scratch questions? What was the most interesting question you’ve received?

The questions we receive are really all across the board. We get technical questions, etiquette questions, non-knitting partners looking for gift suggestions… it’s amazing! Sometimes we get questions that inspire entire episodes. Rather than the most interesting, I think that the most surprising Dear Scratch experience was when we got our first email from another LYS owner.

A letter sign that reads ALLAREWELCOME and @SCRATCHSUPPLYCO in pink and white.

Name two people in the crafting world you would drop everything to interview.

Xandy Peters because their designs are amazing! It would be fascinating to talk about their process and where their inspiration comes from.

Kate Atherley because she must be a bottomless resource of information and experience. Between her experience teaching, and the thousands of patterns that she’s edited (and written!), she must have a story about everything!

What non-crafting podcasts do you enjoy listening to?

Karen: I Don’t Even Own a Television, The Opportunist

Jessica: The Opportunist, The Dream, Nighty Night with Rabia Chaudry

What to stash this week: Exploring Alaska

A furry rodent on a mossy rock, and skeins of pink and pink and green speckled yarn.Ali of Explorer Knits + Fibers, who also loves the great outdoors, and donates a portion of every purchase of her yarn to the National Parks Foundation, was the perfect partner for this series and I’m so excited to finally work with her! Ali was inspired by the above photo of an adorable pika spotted along the Savage River Loop Trail at Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska by wildlife photographer David Turko.

Two colorways — the speckled Mountain Floof and a semisolid pink called Rosehip — are available to preorder on the appropriately-named Denali Sock, a blend of 80% Superwash Merino and 20% nylon with a 2-ply twist, through Sunday, October 17, during Indie Untangled Everywhere, the online version. (Read on for more about show fun… and how to win some prizes!)

A green crescent shawl with a blue and gray edging of wavy lace.

I’ve also been in touch with another national parks lover, designer Theressa Silver, who published her book Knitting Wild in 2019. It features 21 patterns, including shawls, cowls, hats, mitts and scarves, accompanied by descriptions about the place that served as its inspiration and exploring the issues of climate change, habitat conservation and endangered species protection.

You can use Ali’s colorways to knit Theressa Silver’s Here Be Puffins shawl from Knitting Wild, which is also available for preorder from Indie Untangled.

Skeins of cream, brown and mauve yarn surrounded by cinnamon sticks and pinecones.

Maureen of Charming Ewe has added new items to the shop, including The Cocoa Collection of solids and tonals.

A spiral-edged pin with a mother of pearl button in the center sits atop a cake of green yarn.

Michelle of Crafty Flutterby Creations has a new line of shawl pins that she crafted with vintage mother of pearl buttons from the 1930s through the ’80s, sourced from a vendor at the Shenandoah Valley Fiber Festival. She’ll be debuting them at SAFF, which is being held October 22-24.

Sock-shaped wood with decorative holes.

Sara of of La Cave à Laine, an Indie Untangled Everywhere vendor, has curated quite a collection of handy and attractive tools and notions for knitters and crafters, including stitch markers, handmade soap, different scissors, notion kits and more. Above are sock blockers that are handmade in Austria in Austrian beech plywood.

A coil of brown rustic yarn.

Monica of Gothfarm brought together three different fibers — bay black alpaca, Shetland sheep wool and Jacob sheep wool — to form Terra Preta, a rich brown yarn named after a soil created thousands of years ago by indigenous farming communities in the Amazon Rainforest. It will debut next week at Indie Untangled Everywhere.

Metal rings with beads of black, blue and gold and a silver witch.

Michele of MAB Elements is marking the upcoming holiday with a Glitzy Witch Stitch Marker Set. It includes seven handcrafted markers made with faceted crystals, including one beginning of round marker with the witch, plus seven plain bulb removable markers that fit up to size US 10.5 knitting needles.

Skeins of yellow, peach and pink yarn in a row.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarn is back with some shop updates with British wool, including Bowland 4ply and Bowland DK (100% Superwash British Bluefaced Leicester), as well as yarn packs for various patterns, including Andrea Mowry’s Douglas Cardi and the Cumulo sweater by Lili Buce-Chmelko from issue 1 of crochet mag Moorit.

Skeins of green, beige, gray and pink yarn.

7th Floor Yarn has a new base. Twisted Aran is 50% Fine Merino and 50% Alpaca, with 191 yards per skein, perfect for winter projects.

A row of tote bags with purple, green and pink dots.

Crista Jaeckel is having a shop update today at 6 p.m. ET with a few XL tote bags with XL shoulders straps, zipper bags, and large drawstring bags.

A black tote bag with a teal, orange and beige illustration of animals and the words Win a swag bag!

The Indie Untangled swag bags are always super popular, and we wanted to share the love to shoppers in all the sessions at our October 15 show in Saugerties, as well as online! Everyone with a ticket to the 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. or 2:30 p.m. shopping times, or anyone who buys a ticket for the in-person or online events through Monday, October 11, will have the opportunity to win one of several event tote bags with swag from 10 of our fab sponsors: Scratch Supply Co. and the Make Good podcast, Knitrino, 29 Bridges Studio, Soak, Birdie Parker Designs, Three Irish Girls, Daughter of a Shepherd, Leo & Roxy Yarn Co., Wool & Vinyl and Yarn Over New York.

 

Birdie Parker goes beyond metal

An orange leather bracelet on a light-skinned arm.

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

Kristi Jensen of Birdie Parker Designs is known for her metal stitching-themed jewelry — she even has a BFA degree in Metalsmithing from California State University Long Beach — but her most recent designs have veered away from the shiny medium. They include enamel, acrylic and leather, which you’ll be able to purchase at our online show, as well as the Beautiful Syster booth at the in-person show, and The Perfect Blend Yarn & Tea shop in downtown Saugerties, in about a week!

Since you studied metalsmithing, how did you decide to move to other materials, such as enamel, acrylic and leather?

Enameling was actually my first love in metalsmithing, but it’s a rather time-consuming process so it’s been on the back burner until now. I’ve been fortunate enough to find an amazing assistant this year, and she has freed up time in my schedule for me to explore adding small-batch enamel items to my collection. As for the acrylic and leatherworking… I’ve always intended for Birdie Parker to offer a wide assortment of items other than just jewelry. About two years ago, I started exploring combining leather with my etched metal pieces and quickly realized that cutting and finishing those leather items by hand was slow work. That’s when I added a laser printer to my process. Then, I started seeing all this beautiful acrylic in a wide range of colors and effects and the wheels started turning in my brain and soon after I had a whole line of acrylic stitch markers. I’m definitely a person who loves learning new techniques and the addition of the laser has opened so many new avenues in the business.

A light-skinned woman with red dyed hair and black glasses.

How does it change your process to work with other materials?

Working with metals can take a lot of steps and time and, for the most part, it can only be done by me. The leather and acrylic is pretty hands off once I do the designing, and my assistant can finish the assembling and packaging process. By working with new materials, I’m not limited by the properties of metal and can make more of my visions a reality.

A necklance with a silver stickinette stitch pattern and an aqua enamel oval.

Can you share some of your plans for this year’s Indie Untangled Everywhere?

I’m really excited to offer colorful enamel pieces, some new useful leather accessories and show off some of the new items released over the past year.

Do you have ideas for other types of products in the pipeline?

So many items! I’m working on a line of rings, some with enamel. There are several new earrings in development, and some bangle bracelets. Leather project bags! I just need more hours in the day to make them come to fruition.

Round earrings with etched knitting stitches.

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

I always have several sock tubes waiting for finishing, and I’m currently working on a beautiful stripey rainbow version of the Sunset Shawl by Meghan Babin of Hudson and West Co.

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.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Three Irish Girls

A light-skinned woman with light brown hair wearing a gold sweater holding yarn.

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

Three Irish Girls is a well-known name in the yarn world. In operation for more than a decade, it’s currently run by Duluth, Minnesota-based Erin McFarland, who creates bright, cheerful colors inspired by, among other things, pop culture — The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, The Beatles — and nature.

We’re excited to have Erin at the in-person event as well as the online show!

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I started dyeing yarn in 2009 when my childhood friend, Sharon McMahon was moving back home with her yarn-dyeing business, Three Irish Girls, to our hometown in Minnesota at the same time that I was moving home from New Zealand.

Skeins of yarn in a rainbow of colors.

The Love Is Love mini kit.


What inspires your colorways?

This is a loaded question!

Anything from inspirational photos, artwork, nature, color palette photos from Pinterest, but sometimes from a feeling transposed into color.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyes?

Currently, anything in the mustard realm and cool fuchsia like Midge from my Mrs. Maisel collection. Truly my favorite color changes frequently as is is sooo mood driven for me to which color I am attracted to…

I just say rainbow 🌈 most of the time.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

It is so funny, but a proper camel tan is extremely hard to get just right… still haven’t figured it out yet — but I will someday!

A white yarn speckled with gold, pink, teal and aqua and corresponding coiled skeins of yarn.

The Mrs. Maisel collection.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

I feel my top 10 include:

Space Oddity
Rocket Man
Fireside Chat
Everlasting Gobstopper
When Doves Cry
Magnolia
Bless Your Heart
River Delta
Skinny Jeans
Guinness

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

I am featuring:

Designer Lisa Ross and her work with coordinating kits
Knitrino samples with coordinating yarn
A featured colorway from Northern Minnesota called Lake Superior Agate
My Mrs. Maisel collection of coloways

NEW, YET-TO-BE-RELEASED COLLECTIONS:

Across The Universe/Beatles Inspired
Anne of Green Gables
Fall
Spooky Halloween

Expect sweater quantities and a wide variety of variegated colorways in our custom base, Adorn Luxe fingering; Springvale DK, Worsted and Bulky; Dubliner Silk; Alpaca Merino DK and Claddagh Silk Mohair in semisolids and speckles.

A collage of colorful yarn.

The Beatles collection

When and how did you learn to knit?

When I was living in New Zealand, a kind woman at the local yarn shop showed me a few things. Then I used YouTube to keep learning as I tried different patterns.

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

There are so many but if I were to choose one I love the Soldotna Crop by Caitlin Hunter that we had made with our yarn for a show sample and my Throwback Cardigan by Andrea Mowry that I made.

A rainbow striped shawl.

The Happy Thoughts Shawl.

What’s currently on your needles?

I am currently working on Hearthstone pullover by Ysolda Teague in our colorway Arroyo (go figure — mustard gold and pretty speckles!).

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Leo & Roxy

A light skinned brunette with straight hair and olive skinned woman with curly black hair, both wearing black t-shirts.

Kerri and Jolyn, the dyers behind Leo & Roxy Yarn Co.

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

Leo & Roxy Yarn Co. is run by best friends and collaborators, Jolyn Gardner and Kerri Masseo, who first met as coworkers in their LYS, The Little Red Mitten in downtown St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada. The company is named for their mascots: Leo, a Rambouillet sheep, and Roxy, a Green Cheek Conure, or parakeet.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

Both Jolyn and Kerri were interested in dyeing yarn after knitting for years. They tried many different methods over the years, but once they decided to try dyeing a little more seriously for themselves, they got together in the kitchen and made some colorway magic! This quickly became the full-fledged dyeing business now known as Leo & Roxy Yarn Co.!

Three skeins of purple hand-dyed yarn

What inspires your colorways?

Our colourways are inspired by so many things — objects or things that we see, colours we want to replicate, or even just silly things like our dye challenges we have on our podcast.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you started dyeing?

Jolyn’s favourite colour is orange, and Kerri’s is pink. Neither’s favourite colours have changed since becoming dyers, but they definitely like to dye in the orange and pink combinations and families!

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

We do have some techniques for dyeing that are more challenging or difficult than others. This usually means that the colour is limited edition or gets retired when we aren’t having much fun dyeing it anymore.

A sock knit with black and white marled yarn with a pink stripe at the top.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Some of our most popular colourways are Meredith, Sugar Skull and Copper Roof.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

We’re definitely planning on having a discount code for those who attend Indie Untangled, both in person and virtually. We’re also planning on having some great kits available to make picking your next project even easier!

When and how did each of you learn to knit?

Jolyn took a course when she was younger (about 11), and was surprised to find that she was surrounded only by older ladies. Kerri taught herself to knit about 22 years ago, but really picked it up to hone her skills about six years ago.

A teal cowl with a white cord on a dress form.

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

It’s always so much fun to have designers create with our yarns, we’re always honoured when they choose our yarns. We love the creativity that our customers have, and always love to see the things that are created by pattycakeknitz, irrakatze, Junespoon, sakharwood, and more on Ravelry! Some of our favourite samples that we have for our shows are The Daydreamer by Andrea Mowry in our 80/20 and Mohair/Silk, our work sock sets, and the Lilli Pilli Wrap by Ambah O’Brien in our 80/20 Sock.

What’s currently on your needles?

Both girls have a cast-on problem, and have so many things that we created a whole podcast around our WIPs and tracking them! Our Little Red Mitten podcast on YouTube chronicles what the girls are working on, what they’ve finished or frogged, new project plans, and anything going on both with Leo & Roxy, and with the LYS, Little Red Mitten, that they own as well. Kerri just cast on the Scout Shawl by Florence Spurling for our KAL, and Jolyn always has a variety of projects on the needles, including some vanilla socks for knitting in the car now that her son is old enough to drive!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Wool & Vinyl

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A woman with blonde wave hair stands in front of a wall of yarn.

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

I know I’m not alone in being a sucker for hand-dyed yarn that tells a story. Rachael of Wool and Vinyl tells the story of rock and roll in her bright, fun colorways.

You can get a “backstage pass” and meet Rachael during our online show on Sunday, October 17 at 12 noon Eastern.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I originally wanted to learn how to dye yarn at the beginning of 2018 but was nervous to actually try, it would be later in the spring before I dyed my first skeins. My husband (affectionately known as Mr W&V) gifted me a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame for Valentine’s Day that year. I wanted to make a rock and roll-inspired shawl or project to take with me on the trip but I couldn’t find anything that was really speaking to me. Which then got me thinking about how I could combine my love for both music and yarn together and Wool & Vinyl was born. And I got a ton of colorway inspo from the Rock Hall.

Bright pink, aqua, black and white yarn next to a poster for blink 182.

What inspires your colorways?

All of my colorways are named after rock and roll songs or artists and I put a lot of thought into which songs represent each color I dye. I usually listen to the song I’m dyeing for on repeat as I’m dyeing them. I’ve found that choosing a song first and then dyeing the colorway is easiest for me.

Do you have a favorite color or colors, and have they changed since you became a dyer?

Some of my favorite colorways include November Rain, Noise Pollution, Highway To Hell, Dr Feelgood and Hotel California. I also have some really great solid colorways that are custom mixes of different dye powders so they are unique to W&V. Since I started dyeing I think I’ve really perfected my speckle technique so you’re getting skeins with those crisp little micro speckles which is one of my favorite parts of dyeing. Each speckled skein always ends up having a really cool section of all of these tiny little speckles.

Aqua and purple yarn next to a Motley Crue CD.

Is there a color that you would love to dye, but that is challenging to create?

I’d love to dye more colorways inspired by album covers but sometimes they are difficult to execute depending on the album art.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Some of my most popular colorways are also some of my favorites. I really love Dr Feelgood, the base color is a custom mix of dyes and the finished skein actually matches the album cover. I also have a Blink-182 colorway that matches their self titled album perfectly and its one of the colorways I’m most proud of. A few other popular colorways include Smells Like Teen Spirit, Go Ask Alice, Paranoid Android, All She Wants To Do Is Dance and my collection of Fleetwood Mac-inspired colorways which includes Dreams, Rhiannon, Gold Dust Woman and Stevie.

Bright lilac yarn with rainbow speckles.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

I’ll be releasing two new bases during the show: Pop Punk Sock and DK bases, which are both rainbow tweed. I’ll also be dyeing up all of my Halloween-inspired colorways inspired by songs like Monster Mash, Scary Monsters & Super Creeps, Strange Magic, Moondance, Whistlin’ Past The Graveyard, Thriller and more. As well as creating some sock sets which is something I haven’t offered before. I’m also really looking forward to dyeing a special colorway for the show inspired by Rhinebeck itself. Visiting in the fall is one of my favorite things and I’m really excited to translate that feeling into color.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I was actually a crocheter first. My mom taught my sister and I to crochet when we were in elementary school and I eventually got the hang of it but didn’t stick with it. I later learned how to knit by using a kids learn to knit kit from AC-Moore that I was given for my birthday. I would take my knitting to school with me in my backpack and then knit on the bus on the way home. YouTube didn’t exist back then so unfortunately I was wrapping the wrong way so all of my stitches were twisted — something I’d find out years later after my mom learned to knit, too.

A wall of colorful yarn with black labels.

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

The collection of socks my customers have made is absolutely INCREDIBLE. There are so many different patterns that they’re all unique. I also tear up everytime someone makes a sweater out of W&V. Sweater knitting can be such a huge goal for a knitter and the fact that someone chooses to use W&V for a sweater always blows me away. Another favorite customer project is an Outline Tank By Jessie Mae in my Blink-182 colorway. The way that the yarn pooled in the finished garment is stunning.

What’s currently on your needles?

I don’t always have time to knit as I also work full time as well as dye for W&V but I’ve been working on a Parallelolamb by Stephen West using eight different W&V colorways.