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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Debra Gerhard of Spruce Lane Designs has a background as a designer, but not in fashion. For years she worked as an environmental engineer, addressing environmental impacts. These days, her design work involves taking hand-dyed yarn and turning them into colorful geometric sweaters and shawls with stripes, lace, cables and other textured stitches.
How did you decide to become a knitwear designer?
I was never one to follow a pattern exactly as written. I would usually use the pattern as a “guide” and then add my own shaping, motifs, edgings or other personal touches. A number of years ago after I left engineering to be home with my son, I started sample knitting for a few yarn companies which subsequently lead to technical editing of patterns. Around this same time, I took a few knitwear design classes at the Rhode Island School of Design.
I released my first design, Checks Mix Cowl, which was based on a swatch I had done for one of my classes. However, I didn’t release anything else for about two years after this initial design and instead spent my time doing more technical editing for a number of designers and yarn companies. I finally made the leap to mostly designing around 2017 and now I find myself struggling at times to turn out all the ideas I have in my head. I love the process, and I especially enjoy seeing knitters’ interpretations of my patterns and their use of color combinations and various yarn bases.
How has your background as an environmental engineer informed your work?
As an environmental engineer, I would be charged with designing and applying the best remedy for addressing environmental impacts. And just as each impacted site presented a unique set of issues, I find that the processes I used to identity these issues and form a solution are very similar to the processes I use in my designing. I have also found that my love of math is deeply ingrained in designing and grading. I love to see the numbers unfold, and I enjoy applying geometrical concepts to some of my shawl designs.
Tell me about what inspires your designs.
I take my inspiration from a variety of sources: an architectural detail, a colorful sunset, a spider web I may spy when out for a hike, bark on a tree, nature, found objects and many other sources. I have been known to tell my hubby to “pull over” so that I can take a picture of something that inspires me. I am drawn to color and patterns. I like to create colorful knits that fuel the imagination of each knitter and hopefully inspires them make my pattern their own.
When and how did you learn to knit?
My mom taught me how to knit when I was 10. My mom knits continental style, which suited me fine as I am left handed. I started with the garter stitch scarf and seamed hat as my first knitting items and continued with more hats and a few mittens. I didn’t knit much during junior high and high school, but in college I picked it up again and knitted the “boyfriend” sweater. I started to seriously knit in my late 20s after getting married, and I haven’t stopped since that time.
What’s the first thing you do when you start designing a pattern?
After deciding on yarn, I will make a large swatch of the design/motif that I have in mind to see how the colors play together and to get gauge. Once I’ve gotten gauge, I will work up the numbers and write out a draft of the pattern, including any charts, if needed. I like to have the pattern completed as much as possible before I begin knitting so that I am in a sense, “testing” my own design and I have the ability to make edits as I knit.
What are your favorite colors and have they changed at all since you started designing?
My favorite colors are purples, reds and other rich, saturated colors, and that hasn’t changed much. I also like the playfulness of speckled yarn with the surprising pops of color. Additionally, I am just starting to explore the color and textural effects of working with two strands of yarn, specifically a mohair/silk base coupled with a Merino base.
Espace Tricot is a modern yarn shop located in Montreal, Canada, and owners Lisa Di Fruscia and Melissa Clulow recently began venturing beyond its carefully curated selection of yarns, notions, accessories, books and patterns, and established its own hand-dyed yarn line.
Their newest addition is Grace, a singly-ply Merino. Working with local hand-dyer Annie Paaren, Lisa and Melissa created a palette of 28 colors, designed to reflect the unique atmosphere both of Montreal and the store. The name Grace is inspired by both the luxury of the Merino/silk/Cashmere blend and Espace Tricot’s location in the neighborhood of Notre-Dâme-de-Grace.
The color palette ranges from essential neutrals through moody hues and perfectly balanced brights. All the colors are inspired by Melissa and Lisa’s aesthetic as shop owners and knitters, and include the shades they have been drawn to knit with over the years. Annie combined their input with her own dyeing expertise to craft a cohesive and complex palette.
Grace is ideal for sweaters, such as Espace Tricot’s Gracious sweater, as well as “one-skein-wonder” patterns. You can also hold it with a mohair/silk blend for projects like the Bonjour/Hi cowl and Frankie sweater.
In naming the colors, Lisa and Melissa wanted to reflect Montreal’s geography, architecture and history, along with Quebec’s culture and identity:
The warmth of Opéra and Truffle recalls lazy strolls along Montreal’s quirky streets of brick terraces. Take a cosy walk on Mount Royal in fall with the bold autumnal colors of Érable and Sous-bois. Revel in the frolics of Cirque du Soleil with Cirque. Bask in the bright summer sun by the river with the dappled tones of Printemps and Nuage. Adventure out east to take in the beauty of the Gulf of St Lawrence with Tadoussac, Baleine, and Madeleine. Or dress up in your most low-key glamorous “I woke up like this” neutrals for a stylish lunch in the Old Port in Leonard and Chateau.
And of course, don’t miss a trip to Espace Tricot’s brick-and-mortar store, where the staff will greet you with a friendly “Bonjour/Hi!” in a nod to Montreal’s bilingual spirit. You might even bump into Les Filles – “the girls” Lisa and Melissa themselves.
Elizabeth Colorful Eclectic has launched her Murderino Collection, inspired by the hit true crime/comedy podcast My Favorite Murder, and named for its adoring fan base. The collection includes nine colors with a black dappled effect. They include the signature red dubbed “Stay Sexy, Knit a Sweater,” and a chilling green called “Toxic Masculinity Ruins The Party Again.”
And perhaps the best thing about this collection? Through the end of the year, Colorful Eclectic is donating $2 from each skein of the Murderino Collection sold to End the Backlog, an initiative to eliminate the backlog of untested rape kits in the United States.
I have fond memories of celebrating Hanukkah as a child, deciding which present to unwrap each night. Should it be the one that I know is a cassette I’ve been lusting after because of how it’s shaped and sounds when you shake it? Or the large package that has to be a Cricket doll?
With that in mind, I was inspired to collaborate with some fellow Jewish fiber friends — Julia of Pandia’s Jewels, Spencer and Reggie of The Fiberists and Raya of Blissful Knits — on an Indie Untangled Eight Nights of Hanukkah Kit! Kits will include individually-wrapped items from all of these folks, plus a few special surprises.
We’re partying like it’s the 5780s with an ’80s-themed palette inspired by the colors in the skein-menorah above. Preorders are limited and open only until November 15.
Alisa is back after a semester in England for graduate school and debuted sweater-sized bags at Indie Untangled. They are now available in her Etsy shop! There are both drawstring bags and box bags in a size designed to hold a worsted weight sweater quantity of yarn. As always, Alisa will donate 15% of the sale price to RAICES Texas.
Sue collaborated with designer Adrienne Fong, who recently lost her battle with cancer, on a special colorway called Wisdom. She will be donating $10 for each skein sold to the American Cancer Society in Adrienne’s memory.
Prior to this year’s Indie Untangled, Shireen of The Blue Brick embarked on a fall ombré colorway, taking inspiration from her own photo of fall foliage to create leaf peeping in yarn form. Autumnal premiered at IU and it is now available on the Indie Untangled website on Killarney Sock (regular and 800-yard Woolly Mammoth) and Manitoulin Merino Sparkle.
Stephanie of Rock Solid Designs, who creates project bags, is collaborating with other makers for holiday gift sets. Her 12 Days of Christmas and 8 Nights of Hanukkah gift sets include items from Fairy Tale Yarn Co, TurtleMade, One Sock Wonder bags and Me Time Botanicals. Preorders are up now, and packages will ship in late November/early December.
Augusta of adknits just had a shop update filled with gift tags and festive stitch markers for your holiday knitting, new notecards and the latest sticker in the Knitional Park Series.
Kate has opened sign-ups for her Le Societe d’Orsay, a yarn club where each month’s colorway will be inspired by art from the Musee D’Orsay in Paris. She is also once again celebrating Socktoberfest with some amazing giveaways and a 24% off sale.
Laura is once again collaborating with artist Cynthia Frenette on some knit-centric items! Orders open today at 9 a.m. Pacific time and close on Monday at midnight.
Designer Kathleen Dames and Alice O’Reilly of Backyard Fiberworks have taken us to New York and Paris through their Knit Like A Local series of bookazines from One More Row Press. Recently, they launched I Knit San Francisco, a fiber journey through the Bay Area, which is available to preorder. Here’s more about their latest trip.
How did you decide to include San Francisco for your latest book?
We started talking about San Francisco after attending Stitches West a couple of years ago. There is a vibrant knitting culture in Northern California, lots of great yarn shops, local designers and dyers, and, as we all know, the weather in San Francisco is such that having something woolly on hand is always a good idea. Plus, we both have connections to the area: Alice’s grandparents lived south of San Francisco (and her brother lives in the city now), while Kathleen worked for two different publishers, one in Sebastopol and the other in Pacific Grove, so she has spent working time in the area, in addition to more touristy visits.
Which designers do you have lined up for I Knit San Francisco?
We are thrilled to have Vilasinee Bunnag (founder of The Loome) in collaboration with Kathleen, Faina Goberstein, Juliana Lustenader, Audry Nicklin, Sonya Philip (100 Acts of Sewing), Yvonne Poon (Gamer Babe Knits), Sloane Rosenthal (co-founder of brand new Hudson + West yarn company with Meghan Babin), Heatherly Walker (the Yarn Yenta), Julie Weisenberger (founder of Cocoknits), and Kelly White, plus yarns from Bay Street Yarns, The Dye Project, Hudson + West Co., Little Skein in the Big Wool with help from Seismic Yarns, Love Fest Fibers, Sincere Sheep, Speckled Finch Studios, Twirl Yarn, and A Verb for Keeping Warm. Getting to know the designers and dyers is the best part of this job.
What are each of your favorite designs from the book?
We love them all (of course)! Seriously, every book we publish is a whole new wardrobe we want to knit.
So far Julie’s rug, Half-moon, made with Love Fest Fibers crazy cool and crazy big yarn, and Sloane’s Ferry Building pullover in WELD from brand new yarn company, Hudson + West Co. (Sloane’s bicoastal partnership with Meghan Babin, former editor of Interweave Knits) have been most popular on our Instagram feed.
Aside from designs, what will the book include?
We interview each designer, so you will learn a little about their design journey and, of course, their favorite local things, particularly places to go that you might not know about and restaurants to try. Then, we take you on our three-day Yarn Crawl from Santa Rosa up in Sonoma County all the way down through Napa County to the East Bay and San Francisco itself down through Santa Cruz to Pacific Grove on Monterey Bay. We definitely recommend taking more than three days, if you want to do the whole tour – we had to be ruthlessly efficient in our research trip due to time constraints, but our doing so means you can take your time and enjoy everything a little more thoroughly.
What surprising things did you learn about San Francisco while doing your research?
That walking around is no joke! Coming from the east and being used to walking everywhere (New York City and Washington, D.C., for us are walking and subway-riding cities), the hills of San Francisco are deceptive. What seems like a doable walk is an intense workout. We also were surprised/not surprised to notice the quality of the light. As intensely visual people, we were both struck by that West Coast golden light, and we think Alli did a great job of capturing it in our photos.
There has been an explosion of local “bookazines,” such as the By Hand serial and Nomadic Knits. How would you say One More Row Press is different?
We start with the question “Where shall we (as knitting people) go next?” Then we work hard to find local designers, some new and others more established, who design across many categories and for varying skill levels, and then we collaborate with them to find yarn partners that make each project sing.
Beyond the interviews and yarn crawls, we also seek out local photographers and models who bring the designs to life on location. We focus on curating a collection that is rooted in place with additional information that allows you to go to that place and make your own personal connections (or be an armchair travel knitter).
What other cities or places are next for your series?
That is the question we are asked AND that we ask everyone we meet! Our “To Visit” list includes: Chicago (where Kathleen grew up), Kyoto (or Tokyo), London, Detroit (people keep mentioning it, and there are a lot of yarn stores in the area, so we are totally intrigued), and Los Angeles. We have also talked about Italy, Cuba, Australia, Spain, Portugal, and Ireland, though we have been focused on individual cities thus far.
It’s a matter of finding the right people (designers, dyers, LYSes) and making the timing work for everyone (including us with our own jobs and families to manage). We are also in talks to do a crochet book with a handful of designers using their favorite buildings as inspiration for elegant, wearable crochet garments and accessories.