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.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Daughter of a Shepherd

A light-skinned woman with red glasses and a blue shirt with brown fleece.

Rachel Atkinson of Daughter of a Shepherd © Richard Jung

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

For those of us who are excited about breed-specific, naturally-colored yarns, Daughter of a Shepherd is a must to add to your stash. Run by Rachel Atkinson, who is the literal daughter of a shepherd, the small UK-based operation celebrates natural black fleece in yarn as well as accessories, such as stunning tweed pouches by Julia Billings of Woollenflower, based in Scotland, and supports British shepherds and yarn producers.

Rachel will be participating in our online show in October, with a virtual shopping session taking place on Sunday, October 17 at 1:30 p.m. Eastern.

The story of Daughter of a Shepherd begins with the clip of the Hebridean sheep shepherded by your father. What led to you starting your yarn business?

I had been working in the yarn industry for a few years, initially at Loop in London before leaving to pursue my other job as a technical editor and book editor for various knitting and crochet publishers so was fully immersed in the yarn world. On a visit to see Dad he showed me the cheque received from the British Wool Board which represented 10% of the final value they would receive for the previous year’s clip. The cheque was for 94p (£0.94) meaning the final total would be £9.40 for approximately 300 fleeces giving each fleece a value of just 3p (£0.03).

As a knitter I would have loved to work with the incredible black Hebridean fibre and figured others also might. Just a few months later I was on a trip to the Swedish island of Gotland where you can buy natural yarn at farm stores right next to where the sheep the fleece is from are grazing and I began to wonder why we weren’t doing more of this in the UK?

I had savings for a house downpayment and decided instead to use that money to have the new clip of Hebridean fibre from Dad’s flock spun into yarn and the very first yarn launched in March of 2016. It was originally intended as a one-off project but by then I was absolutely committed to seeing where else this journey could take me.

Skeins of black, gray and cream yarn.

How do you decide on the blends that you mill?

Our first considerations are fleece that is undervalued or considered “worthless,” including the majority of naturally black or other non-white fleeces such as the tan colour of Castlemilk Moorit sheep. These naturally occurring coloured fleeces have a lower value as they are not commercially viable for dye houses whereas white wool can be dyed in a multitude of different shades. We are incredibly lucky to have 72 different British sheep breeds, each with their own characteristics and potential, it sometimes just takes a leap of faith to show others how good products from these breeds can be.

Additionally, we seek out fleece that is going to waste. Many sheep farmers bury or burn their annual clip as the amount they receive from the British Wool Board sometimes barely covers the cost of fuel to take the fleece to a depot and in extreme cases the shepherd can end up owing the Wool Board money, so our Ram Jam ranges of sport and worsted-weight yarns are all woollen spun from fibre that otherwise wouldn’t have seen a mill. We work closely with a longstanding mill in the heart of Yorkshire who spin both the black and white fleeces and blend the perfect grey gradient.

Other factors for blending, particularly with our worsted-spun range, is how well the main fibre responds to the spinning process. For our Heritage range, the Hebridean fibre is blended with Zwartbles, a similarly dark fleece, to enable a smoother spin and we then blend in a smidge of Exmoor Blueface to produce our Brume range of yarns.

A skein of dark brown yarn.

What do you think sets your yarn apart from that of other brands?

Not only do we spin natural black fleece, but we celebrate it and find uses for it beyond knitting wool, for example in blankets and tweed cloth which is then also used for creating accessories to make British wool available to different audiences, not just those who knit and crochet.

Our founding manifesto in 2015 included producing all our own label products within the UK using traditional processors to support jobs and business and ensure skills are passed on to the next generation. British wool has such a rich heritage and for these highly-skilled jobs and industry to vanish would be a crying shame. It often makes the job a lot harder and production costs much higher, but it’s hugely important to support businesses providing work for locals which in turn helps keep communities together and all employees work in what I know to be a safe environment within a company following employment law.

I have always been transparent about where the fibre is sourced, to where it’s washed, spun and finished, which often means I can tell you the exact journey a single skein has been on to get into your hands from the field the sheep graze to where the skeins were tied off.

At the end of the day Daughter of a Shepherd isn’t just about me, it’s so much more.

A flock of black sheep.

Do you have a favorite sheep breed?

It must be the Hebridean! They’re a small sheep, full of character, very hardy and live outside all year round even their lambs arrive in the open air. The flock my father shepherds are used for conservation grazing so also perform an invaluable job in an entirely natural way.

Their fleece tells the story of the year as they change colour with the sun and grow old with age; the natural black wool they are born with takes on tones of russet, gold, and silver grey. Just magical!

What are the most interesting things you’ve learned running your business?

Oh gosh, there’s been so much — it has been a steep learning curve — but learning how wool is processed within the UK has been fascinating. Going behind the scenes each step of the way and seeing the fleece being washed, to the actual machinery it is spun on, to meeting the incredibly knowledgeable people who have spun it always utterly inspiring.

A skein of dark brown yarn and a piece of lace knitting.

Tell me about how you learned to knit?

Like so many people I was taught to knit and crochet at a young age by my grandma with more advanced techniques and support provided by mum. I remember shopping for dishcloth yarn at the market with Grandma then returning to her house where I’d ferociously knit garter stitch dishcloths until the yarn ran out. Mohair (in the loosest sense of the word) sweaters soon followed along with a memorable batwing jumper.

Following on from this ’80s extravaganza, I put the needles and hooks to one side for many years before picking them up once more around 15 years ago during a long illness and got truly bitten by the bug!

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

There’s a special, limited-edition shade of Ram Jam Sport naturally dyed by Julia Billings of Woollenflower who I regularly collaborate with on yarn and tweed pouches, and you will also find a few seasonal bundles along with several surprises.

Many moons ago I was a personal shopper for Harvey Nichols department store so I’m looking forward to booking appointments for Indie Untanglers wishing to discuss project plans or pick out gifts for that tricky to buy for someone.

A brown/black tweed pouch in front of fabric with sheep.

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

When launching Daughter of a Shepherd I hadn’t thought beyond my hope that people would buy the yarn – it didn’t occur to me they would then go and knit with it and even wear their makes. When finished objects began to appear knitted and crocheted in our Hebridean yarn I was so overcome as it was the pinnacle of a huge and very emotional project. I still have the same reaction today whenever I see someone wearing a project made in Daughter of a Shepherd yarn and fabric or receive an email telling me all about plans for the yarn order just placed. There’s no feeling like it.

The sleeve and body of a dark brown textured sweater.Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

I’m most definitely not a monogamous knitter and currently have three sweaters on the go plus a shawl to finish and several pairs of socks and mittens awaiting their partners!

Work on a forthcoming pattern sample is taking priority, but once finished I’ll return to my Dew Sweater by Hiromi Nagasawa which has the most beautiful cabled-lace shoulder detail and is perfect for the indigo dyed Ram Jam Sport. The Spruce Peak Pullover by Amy Christoffers has been marinating in a project bag for a little too long and I’m keen to get it finished as the Ram Jam Worsted works up into a light but very warm fabric which I’ll need in my drafty studio come winter. Think I’ll have to speed up though as I’d also really love a Brume 4ply sweater – either Viburna by Fabienne Gassmann or an Eyelet Pullover by Orlane Sucche.

Wool sweater, shawl, hat, and mitten weather is my favourite time of year!

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Yarn Over New York

A smiling person models a rainbow and black plaid shawl.

Jessie wears Breaking Plaid by Carissa Browning (Ravelry link).

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

Jessie of Yarn Over New York is emblematic of the city that we both call home: colorful, interesting and full of talent. Aside from creating hand-dyed yarn, Jessie has worked as a stage manager for various performances and events, including the circus. That experience lends itself well to dramatic, bold colorways and artistic sock blanks.

You can catch Jessie at our online show in October, with their virtual shopping session taking place on Saturday, October 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

In January 2016, while in Vancouver, BC, a friend from knit group (Kelsey of K-Zip Knits) invited me and another friend to a Yarn Dyeing Party at her house. We tried hand-painting, low-immersion and mason jar dyeing techniques and had a lot of fun. I left that day with four beautiful new skeins of yarn and the seeds were planted for a major lifestyle change. As my yarn hung in the shower to dry, I ordered my own Greener Shades dye starter pack and a handful of bare yarn. I spent the next few months watching tutorials and experimenting in my kitchen. Eventually, I had dyed enough that I needed to clear out some space and I listed a few skeins in a knitting Facebook group. To my surprise, they sold! I decided to take a major leap of faith and contact all the local yarn stores and inquire about a trunk show during the NYC Yarn Crawl. One Brooklyn shop (Slip Stitch Needlectaft) and one Manhattan shop (Annie & Co) both said yes! It was a total dream come true. I used that event to launch my Etsy shop and before I knew it, Yarn Over New York was a real thing! Five years later, I still almost can’t believe it happened.

Skeins of colorful yarn and a small yellow taxi.

What inspires your colorways?

Is “everything” too vague an answer? Early on, I used photographs from my travels in Europe, Asia and North America to pick color palettes. Now, I have three main sources for ideas. Food (yum), flowers (pretty) and my dear old City, New York (not yum, maybe pretty).

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

Orange is definitely my personal favorite color. I love how it can pair with greens, blues and purples to create really dynamic effects. As I dyer, I’ve learned that not everyone wants to wear sunglasses while knitting/crocheting, so I have a new-found appreciation for subtler shades. I also really love rainbows and, luckily, so do lots of other crafters. I’ll never run out of ways to dye the rainbow.

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

Perhaps not a single color, but I’d love to dye self-striping sock yarn. At the moment, I really don’t have the space and equipment to do it properly, so it stays on the bucket list.

The Statue of Liberty and the NYC skyline on a piece of blue knitting.

What are some of your most popular colorways?

Colorways: Dusk Rainbow (variegated, saturated rainbow with black smudges), Taxis in the Rain (grey and yellow with speckles), Black Opal (dark grey with jewel undertones)

Hand-painted Sock Blanks: NYC Skyline, Watermelon Slices, Fractals

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Untangled?

(Big smile) Yes! I’ve got some super fun things planned. Our show special colorway will be a stunner this year. Sock knitters will definitely want to keep an eye out. It’s not a true self-striping colorway, but it will pool into very gorgeous spirals. I’m in the process of creating some really pretty companion tonal colorways so that shawl and sweater makers can mix and match to their hearts’ delight.

When and how did you learn to knit?

I started to crochet at the age of five when my mom gave me a hook and some yarn for Christmas. Admittedly, I didn’t totally fall in love at that point and ended up making pom poms and simpler yarn-crafted items. As a teen, she taught me again and I started a never-ending parade of crocheted hats, blankets and stuffed toys.

I learned how to knit in my 30s while living in Macau. A fellow circus worker and I traded skills. I taught her to crochet and she taught me to knit. She introduced me to ravelry and the world of fine yarn. It’s safe to say, she created a monster, lol. I started designing knit and crochet patterns and amassed quite a stash during my travels. Thanks, Sharon, I owe you!

I learned to weave when Rachel from Woolyn (Brooklyn yarn store) showed me all her gorgeous work and inspired me to buy a loom. I am still definitely a beginner, but definitely hooked. I love how you can color mix in both directions. So fun.

A person holds a wrap with neon stripes.

Jessie’s Celebrate With Love shawl (Ravelry link).

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

I really love when people make things for special occasions. A customer knit her own wedding veil with a custom-dyed gold and white silk lace. Another used an NYC sock blank to knit herself socks that reminded her of home. The beauty of indie-dyed yarn is the emotion and love carries through from my hands to theirs in the most amazing way.

What’s currently on your needles?

All the things. I can never just do one at a time. I’ve got a pair of socks on the go (for me, vanilla), a knitted and a crochet cowl for show samples (“Diurnal Cowl” by me) and a “Born this Way” test knit for Mary W Martin. I recently got a stand for my table loom so it can be ready to go all the time and I plan to make a birthday present for my mom with something pink and lovely. (Mom, if you are reading this, pretend you didn’t see that last part.)

What to stash this week: tea with yarn

A gray mug with Brooklyn in script sits on an orange swatch of knitting next to a black pouch of Brooklyn Tea.Recently, for the August installment of the Indie Untangled Where We Knit Yarn Club, which brought together Naomi of Humble Knit and designer Camille Descoteaux for a shawl pattern, I included a gift that’s my new obsession: Cucumber Melon Green Tea from Brooklyn Tea. They generously sent some extra pouches, and I realized: I have some fabulous custom mugs from Portland, Oregon-based JaMpdx, they need some tea to go with them!

While supplies last, you can order any custom JaMpdx mug — the Indie AF mugs, Brooklyn mugs and Brooklyn Brewed Pints — and add on a 1 oz tea pouch from Brooklyn Tea or a Coveted Collection Tea Box from eteaket in Scotland for 25% off!

A close-up of red-orange yarn.

Monica of Gothfarm Yarn is seeing red — natural red yarn, that is. She is currently well stocked with natural red yarns, including fibers that get their color from cinnamon red Huacaya alpaca fleece and from the aptly-named California Red Sheep.

A black tote bag with a teal, orange and beige illustration.

We’re busy making plans for our October show in Saugerties and online. We are happy to announce that we have an outdoor picnic area, sponsored by Scratch Supply Co. and the Make Good Podcast, where you hang out with your fiber friends, craft and grab a bite to eat from food vendors.

To get ready, make sure you have all your indie supplies at hand. Aside from snagging your tickets, you can preorder your event tote bags (placing a bag order today guarantees you a bag, as there’s going to be a limited supply at the event). We also have hand sanitizer from our partners at Soak available to pick up at the show or to have shipped after the show. And I’m taking preorders for one last round of yarn ball masks, so you can show off your indie pride while staying safe.

If you haven’t gotten your tickets, purchase your tickets soon. Some of the sessions are close to selling out.

What to stash this week: See you in October!

Over the last few weeks, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about what our plans are for Rhinebeck. Well, after many conversations about what an October show might look like, I’m excited to announce that an in-person Indie Untangled is officially a go!

We plan to share all the details, including the vendor list and entry times, in a couple of weeks, but here’s what we can tell you:

The event will take place on Friday, October 15 in Saugerties, NY. Vendor booths will be set up in covered, open-air pavilions with hard floors

Tiered entry tickets will go on sale at 12 noon Eastern on Saturday, July 17

If you can’t make it to the Hudson Valley or are unable to get tickets, or will be joining us but want more opportunities to shop and connect, we are also holding a virtual event

We can’t wait to see you in October!

A coiled braid of pink and purple fiber.

Stephania of Three Fates Yarns is offering Winter Solstice countdown kits and has hand-dyed spinning fiber available just in time for the upcoming Tour de Fleece.

A white and aqua crescent shaped shawl with holes.

Destin is Ashleigh Wempe’s new shawl pattern inspired by summer escapes. Use the coupon code BEACH to get 15% off the pattern through midnight on June 29.

Pink, purple, blue, black and yellow mini skeins in a circle.

Lisa The Knitting Artist just had a big shop update and has eight different mini sets, all inspired by her own original artwork.

A collage of bright colored yarn and a zipper bag.

Preorders are open for Woolen Women Fibers July mystery kits, including Christmas in July, ‘Gnome’ of the Brave, and more themes.

Purple and green hand-dyed chunky yarn.

Victoria of Eden Cottage Yarns has added lots of new yarn to the website, including a few dyelots each of Pendle Chunky and Titus Fingering.

Pre-Spotlight Untangling: Hudson + West

Two women wearing red posing together in wilderness.

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.

I first heard rumblings about Hudson + West during Rhinebeck 2019, where the rustic yarn brand had a soft debut, at the same fiber festival where the idea took root. This small company, started by friends Meghan Babin, the former editor of Interweave Knits, and Sloane Rosenthal, a knitwear designer, source and produce their yarns in the U.S., using a traceable, sustainable, and fair supply chain.

You can look forward to learning more about their two bases, Weld and Forge, and their stylish line of patterns at their virtual shopping sessions, and also learn more about the production of their yarns during their Let’s Talk About Wool session at 4 p.m. Sunday.

Tell us the story of how Hudson and West came to be.

Hudson + West started with two friends who were on parallel paths towards the same goal: making a yarn that would make the kinds of garments we would love to wear and could wear anywhere. Meghan and I met when I was an indie designer (and a full-time lawyer) and she was the editor in chief of Interweave Knits, when she hired me to design the sweater that became Tangled Up in Gray. We got to know each other and worked together on a number of projects over the next few years, and in 2018, both of us were trying to figure out what was next for us in the industry and were both talking to Mary Jeanne Packer, the owner of Battenkill Valley Fibers, about making yarn. MJ suggested that we work together, and we traded samples of potential yarns and got to talking at Rhinebeck in 2018 about how to make a yarn that would have the balance of durability, wearability, and ready-to-wear inspired polish that we craved, while doing it responsibly, ethically, and here in the US. H+W was born from those early conversations at Rhinebeck that year, and we opened to the public in November 2019.

Gold, navy, forest green, white and red yarn next to a map.

How have you found the sheep breeders you work with?

In our early batches of yarn, we bought our Corriedale from individual farmers and breeders in the Hudson Valley, mainly from farmers with some existing ties to either the Hudson Valley wool pool, or to MJ and our mill directly. We now work with a broader range of farmers in both the Hudson Valley and throughout the northeast and midwest, and buy a range of both raw fleece and combed Corriedale top, since our production needs have now (happily!) grown beyond being able to buy on a farm-by-farm basis. Like most US producers who use Merino, we get our Merino top from Chargeurs in South Carolina, which sources US-grown, ethically raised Merino from Colorado and New Mexico and scours and cards it for us.

How do both of you work together to decide on your color palette?

We have always been pretty aligned when it comes to the color palette, at least in terms of the broad guardrails: the colors had to be really easy to wear in a variety of settings, and feel rich and opulent and saturated while allowing some of the yarn’s underlying heathering to come through. We typically start with Pantone chips, and then I hand-dye samples in my office until we get the shade and saturation right (occasionally alarming my family members when I have multiple crock-pots of ten gram samples going in the bathroom of my office!). We look at those samples under a variety of lighting conditions and in the context of the rest of the existing palette, and the winners go to our dyehouse (Ultimate Textile in North Carolina) to go through their lab dip process and have the first test batches made.

Purple, orange, gold and pale pink yarn.

What are each of your responsibilities when it comes to the business? What are the unique things that each of you bring to your company?

We were super fortunate that we have a lot of overlapping skill sets, but also some distinct experiences that we bring to the table. Both of us are knitwear designers, and we have a lot in common in terms of our aesthetic sense and our overall creative vision for the company, so we collaborate very closely on both design work and those higher-level creative decisions. Meghan has a lot of experience with things like designer recruitment, managing editorial production, commercial photoshoots, and working with other third party publishers, all of which have been really critical to the development of our pattern support program, which has been a really important part of our journey in bringing our yarns to the world. Because of my legal background and previous start-up (and start-up adjacent) experience, and an admittedly deep love of spreadsheets, I end up having a lot of facility with more of the business back end and the production side, as well as managing our wholesale program. But overall, despite our geographically disparate setup, it’s a really free-flowing work environment, and we collaborate every day on both small and large-scale decisions.

Tell me about how each of you learned how to knit?

Meghan: My mom taught me the basics one weekend when I was home from college (I think I was about 19), and she had just learned how to knit, purl, cast on, and bind off. She promptly stopped knitting right after teaching me, but I kept on teaching myself, learning, taking classes, and experimenting with different yarns and techniques.

Sloane: Despite my mom, my best friend, and my mother-in-law both being knitters, I didn’t grow up knitting, and I actually taught myself after my older daughter was born in 2011. I was struggling with anxiety (like a lot of new moms), and the meditative nature of knitting really helped me at the time. I then got fascinated by the materials science of knitting and how our yarn affects our projects (after a few real bloopers on that score), and fell completely off the cabled sweater deep end shortly thereafter.

A woman models a black shawl with a rainbow of colors.

Can you share some of your plans for Indie Spotlight?

We’re so looking forward to meeting new folks and talking about yarn! We love hearing from knitters about what’s important to them and how and what they like to knit — it’s part of what we’ve missed about this strange, trade-show-less year+. We’re also so excited to introduce Meghan’s wonderful Sunset Shawl, our show special, and to meeting some other wonderful new indie producers.

Do you enjoy other crafts in addition to knitting?

Meghan: Where to start? I enjoy so many crafts, but I definitely don’t have enough time in the day, weeks, or years to practice them all. I’ve ventured into crochet fairly well, spinning + weaving as well not as well, embroidery with enthusiasm, sewing haphazardly, and I’ve always loved cooking, baking, and mixology. I’ve always wanted to try home brewing beer, but I think I’ll have to make friends with an avid home-brewer willing to teach me.

Sloane: Mostly drawing and painting, which I find incredibly relaxing. I also love baking (especially with my kids), and block printing.

Purple, orange, red and gray yarn.

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

Meghan: I’m currently making myself, for the first time ever, a gorgeous black sweater. It’s Sloane’s Adams in Weld in Raven and I’m loving its sweet, simple texture. I can’t wait to wear it this winter! I als have several swatches going for our Autumn/Winter collection.

Sloane: I’m working on Melody Hoffman’s Aito shawl (from an old issue of Laine) in Forge in Cabernet. I’ve never been a huge shawl knitter (I mostly do sweaters and hats), but I’ve been on a kick of exploring shawls in my personal knitting this year, and it’s been really interesting to a) knit from someone else’s patterns and b) explore knitting something I don’t tend to gravitate towards. I’ve also really loved having something warm to put around my shoulders while I’m working!

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.

Introducing: Indie Untangled Everywhere!

An illustration showing various animals in brown, orange and teal knitting, crocheting, spinning and enjoying yarn while connecting through various devices.

Illustration by Eloise Narrigan

By now, many of us expected to be casting on projects to finish in time for the fall fiber festival season, when we could look forward to showing them off while doling out hugs and those appreciative pets that only our fellow yarn people understand.

2020 had other plans for us… A couple of months ago, after we realized that an in-person Indie Untangled trunk show was not in the cards, IU event producer Petrina and I kickstarted our idea for a virtual alternative that would provide the connections we’ve all been craving.

We’re excited to announce that Indie Untangled Everywhere will be taking place on October 15, 16 and 17 and you’re invited to join us from wherever you are!

Previously, we were limited in what we could do by space, time and cost. But now, no matter where you’re located or what your schedule is like, you can gather with us, our indie vendors and some special guests for three whole days of fiber fun.

I’m sure you’re asking: How will this work?​ Well, since you already follow Indie Untangled, it will feel a little familiar, but there are also many new, interactive things we’re excited to include.

General Admission tickets will go on sale next Friday, August 7. Your $5 ticket will take you to a special section of the Indie Untangled website. From there, you’ll be able to browse virtual vendor booths that will feature video introductions and tours, photo galleries, and access to special products and discounts. You’ll also be able to meet dyers and makers during interactive shopping sessions and pop into a virtual lounge where you can connect with fiber friends old and new.

Once you purchase your ticket, you’ll be able to preorder mini boxes that will let you feel and squish our vendors’ Superwash and rustic yarns before you buy full skeins online, purchase Indie Untangled tote bags and swag, and register to attend events, including interactive chats with guest designers.

Additionally, because we know this year in particular has been economically challenging for many people, we are also partnering with one of our generous sponsors, New Hampshire yarn shop Scratch Supply Co., to provide financial assistance to six members of our community.

So, mark your calendar and browse our list of nearly 50 vendors. You’ll see some familiar faces, along with many new ones.

We look forward to seeing you at Indie in October!

2019 Year In Review: Indie Untangled KAL

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A lilac sweater with a lacy yoke.

The 2019 Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show seems like it was ages ago, and also like it was just yesterday. For the second time, we organized a massive KAL with eight separate categories, which brought in more than 200 entries! I thought it was appropriate to share the randomly-selected winners as part of a Year In Review post. Hopefully some of these FOs will inspire your 2020 projects.

Pictured above is KnitCosette’s Love Note by tincanknits, which was one of the winners in the sweater category.

Shawl

Hat

Cowl

Poncho

Cables

Socks

Mitts/mittens/gloves