Untangling C.C. Almon of Javapurl Designs

C.C. wearing her A Walk in the Park Cowl.

Knitting and caffeine seem to go together like, well, yarn and needles. C.C. Almon of Javapurl Designs takes that to the next level with her designs, many of them coffee related, or with a geeky twist. There’s also a bit of Gilmore Girls thrown in (again, coffee) as she often collaborates on collections with her daughter, Dami.

C.C. also often works with dyer Julia of Pandia’s Jewels, and for this year’s Where We Knit yarn club, she created two items: her Brackett’s Landing socks and cowl are now available to purchase.

When and how did you learn to knit and how did you decide to become a designer?

I’ve always been crafty having grown up with a great-grandmother who did needlework, a grandmother who painted and sewed and a momma who did lots of crafts including cross stitch. I dabbled in lots of crafts over the years, but had always wanted to learn to knit. Why? I’m not sure. I didn’t know anyone who knit. It was just always calling to me.

So I finally answered the call in 2005 when I purchase a Learn to Knit kit from a big box store. I was instantly in love! The first few years, I knit mostly blankets and hats.

Things exploded in 2012 when I took a sock knitting class. In 2013, I released my first big pattern (Rescue Me, Chin Boy, & Show Me the Stars – a Doctor Who-inspired Socks) after I was gifted a gorgeous skein of yarn that I knew needed to be a certain pattern, but I couldn’t locate one, so I made it up.

Since then, I’ve designed 60 patterns (mainly socks, but also shawls, cowls, and a few miscellaneous things).

What did you do before becoming a designer and how does it inform your design work?

My final job before I became disabled was as a hospital chaplain. My primary unit was the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). I desperately miss working with those wee babes and their families. As a way to continue to bless them, I designed my Top Down Preemie Hat pattern (free on Ravelry) with seven sizes from 24 weeks to full-term. Since 2014, I have knit one preemie hat each week which I then donate to a local hospital.

How did you decide to team up with your daughter, Dami, and how do you work together on your designs?

My Dami (she’s 19 years old and a freshman in college) is a prolific knitter. For a couple of years, she helped me by knitting the samples for my designs. In 2016, she had an idea for a pair of socks inspired by the TV show Elementary. Once she designed those, she continued with eight further patterns and she is now working on a collection of patterns inspired by one of her favourite musicals, Hadestown. We haven’t both collaborated on singular designs, but rather design our own things that then come together in a collection or book.

Tell me about what inspires your designs.

Our pattern design inspirations range from geeky things like Doctor Who and Elementary, to TV shows such as Gilmore Girls and Outlander, to coffee, to colourways that demanded to be something, to locations such as the city of Edinburgh, and more.

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

I need to connect to the specific thing that inspires me (whether it’s a TV show or a colourway or a location or a coffee drink) first and then the design flows out of that.

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

PINK!!!!!!!!!! Always PINK!!!!!! (Although I have surprised some people recently by sharing that my second favourite colour is orange, not bright orange, but rather that autumnal burnt orange.) I love PINK so much that we designed an entire book inspired by the colour (Tickled PINK ~ two designers, four indie dyers, eight PINK-tastic patterns).

ks.jpg” alt=”” width=”700″ height=”700″ class=”size-full wp-image-15447″ /> I Love You More Than Pumpkin Spice Socks

Where is your favorite place to knit?

In a coffeeshop with a cuppa coffee (what kind varies by the season, pumpkin spice lattes are my absolute favourite) with either a good friend to chat with or a good book to read or an intriguing podcast to listen to.

What to stash this week: a knitting journey

I’m thrilled to open sign-ups today for the 2019 Where We Knit Yarn Club. This quarterly club, which will begin shipping in February, brings together four dyer/designer dream teams: Life In the Long Grass and Cassondra Rizzardi of Rizzaknits, Martin’s Lab and Justyna Lorkowska of Lete’s Knits, Asylum Fibers and Woolly Wormhead and Fuse Fiber Studio and Mina Philipp of Knitting Expat Designs.

Each pair will collaborate on an exclusive colorway and an accompanying accessory design inspired by their favorite spots to whip out their WIPs. Their inspiration photos are shown in the image above, clockwise from top left; both cozying up with a tasty beverage and travel knitting are represented. (I also got a little peek at the cocktail-inspired colorway that Caroline of LITLG has been working on for the first installment, and can honestly say you do not want to miss getting your hands on it!)

Speaking of awesome yarn clubs, here’s one not to be missed. Diane is collaborating with Louis of Brooklyn Boy Knits, Amanda of Brown Gyrls Knit, Thao of Nerd Bird Makery and Coffee by Kee — all amazing men and women of color who have been dedicated to promoting diversity in craft — for a Winter Solstice Yarn Club. You’ll receive a skein of worsted weight yarn dyed by Diane, an exclusive knitting pattern by Louis, stitch markers by Amanda, an enamel pin by Thao and a choice of coffee or tea, plus a surprise item. Sign-ups close this Wednesday, November 21.

A beloved fabric from Slipped Stitch Studios’ past is back, with a new spin. The Ghastlies have returned, and this time they have yarn! Bags and accessories in these two fabrics, along with yarns from Skeino, vintage embroidery scissors and stitch kits, are available starting today at 9 a.m. Pacific time.

Every day is Small Business Saturday at FiberCrafty! The fiber marketplace is having a full weeklong frenzy, with plenty of shops offering coupon codes, free shipping and other goodies.

Stephanie of Rock Solid Designs did an awesome collaboration with Jenna of Fiberrarium for Knitter’s Day Out in Harrisburg and there are a few of these Sloth sets still available. They include a medium project bag and a skein of Fiberrarium Conservatory Sock (a 90/10 Merino/nylon blend).

‘Tis the season for Julia of Pandia’s Jewels to create another seasonal sock kit based on C.C. Almon’s Peppermint Mocha Sock pattern. Each kit includes a skein of Julia’s Snug base in the Peppermint Mocha colorway, a Ravelry pattern download code and this cute hand-stamped progress keeper.

Victoria has released two new patterns for her lovely yarns. Above is the Laverton shawl, which brings together three Eden Cottage yarns to create a beautiful, wearable piece. There’s also the Gatekeeper cowl, a simple, quick-to-knit cowl designed to make the most of a single skein of Pendle Aran. 

No need to be afraid of these three ghostly colorways from Holly and Ivy, inspired by A Christmas Carol. Ghost of Christmas Past is a golden yellow that captures the warm glow of a candle, Ghost of Christmas Present is the rich pine green of the second spirit’s velvet robes and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come is a dark blood red.

Shanna of Lambstrings Yarn also has some holiday colorways, and they are far from traditional. Her two holiday sock sets are mystery packages inspired by either Krampus or Saint Nick. Each set will contain a full skein of Tralala Sock and two mini skeins in contrasting heel/toe/cuff colorways. Preorders close next Friday.

Purple Lamb Fiber Arts has created Twelve Days of Christmas mini skein sets.

What to stash this week: Knitting Our National Wildlife Refuges

For the latest installment of Knitting Our National Parks, Amy of Portland, Oregon-based Canon Hand Dyes takes us not to a national park, but to the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge in Maine. Tucked away in the northeastern part of the state, right near the Canadian border and just over 100 miles from Acadia, it is an important feeding and nesting habitat for a number of bird species. After corresponding with refuge manager Keith Ramos, who took the above photo, I’ve decided to donate 10% of sales this round to the National Wildlife Refuge Association and also make a contribution to the Friends of the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge.

Amy is dyeing up a fall-inspired shawl set made up of six 133-yard skeins of her Charles Sock base (80% Superwash Merino/20% nylon). The set, called Leaf Peepers, can be paired with a full 400-yard skein of The Road Less Travelled and would make an amazing On the Spice Market shawl. It is available to preorder on Indie Untangled through Friday, June 22.

If you’re a kindred spirit, then you may walk a ridge pole for McMullin Fiber Co.’s Anne of Green Gables collection. The six colors — Island Welcome, Amethyst Confessions ,Puffed Sleeves, October Mist, Carrots! and Gilbert Blythe — are available on the Squishy (SW Merino/nylon) sock base and Sublime Worsted (100% SW Merino single-ply) base.

Brooke of Fully Spun has two new colorways in her Sock Sport base, which is 400 yards of hand-dyed millspun with the look of handspun. This one is called I-95, which you may see a lot of on your next East Coast road trip.

Socks are the go-to project of summer. Terri of Whole Knit ‘n Caboodle has self-striping sock yarn in single stripes, three-row stripes and five-row stripes, including this Rainbow Stripe colorway. These are only available online!

Karen of Round Table Yarns is doing a little pre-yarn club adventure, separate from her Knight of the Lion club, with a no surprise colorway inspired by the tale of Sir Calogrenant.

Gabby of Once Upon a Corgi has teamed up with Becky of Soprano Knits and Hannah of Corner of Craft on a summer sock kit. It includes a fully skein and a mini on her Superwash Corriedale/nylon, a hand-beaded umbrella progress keeper from Hannah and Becky’s After the Rain sock pattern.

QCC Yarn has a new base. Sad Cat is a 75/25 blend of Superwash Bluefaced Leicester and nylon, perfect for your next shawl or cardigan (or socks, since there’s the nylon). Orchidelirium, pictured above, is one of 10 new repeatable colorways available on the base.

Lavender Lune Yarn Co. has moved to a new website.

What to stash this week: yarn from your LYS

Bronwyn of Casapinka has come up with an ingenious way to help you support your LYS for Local Yarn Store Day, which is next Saturday, April 21. If you buy yarn for her Local Yarn Shawl pattern that day from any of the participating LYSs, you will be given the pattern for free! 

If you’re looking for a new shawl pin — and some advice on how to show off your shawls — check out Crafty Flutterby Creations’ website. She not only crafts lightweight pieces, but her Product Tips include some styling lessons.

Tulips from a friend inspired Terri of Whole Knit ’n Caboodle’s latest striped sock yarn. It’s available for preorder in limited quantities only on her website.

Rocket’s Cardigan, the second installment in Mary Annarella’s brilliant Cardigans of the Galaxy series, is inspired a genetically modified raccoon and an unlikely superhero.

A few patterns can cover you in Marianated Yarns from head to toe! Above is the Millcreek Canyon Hat by Katinka Designs being releaed in mid-April.

The Knitspinquilt April update is all about the sea creatures. It includes sea turtle stitch markers and manatee bags. As always, 30% of the purchase price will be donated charity, which this year is the Hispanic Federation’s ongoing Puerto Rico disaster relief efforts.

Yarn from Squirrel Mountain Fiber Arts is sourced, spun and naturally dyed within 100 miles.

Mosaic Moon has stocked its new website with tons of roving.

A 2017 IU Year in Knitting Review

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I love nostalgia, especially when it’s knitting related.

I’m continuing my tradition of an Indie Untangled Year in Review, featuring several talented knitters who finished projects in 2017 using yarn from Indie Untangled dyers. There are so many beautiful shawls, socks and sweaters — oh, the sweaters! — to show off.

Above is my On the Spice Market using Backyard Fiberworks’ Sock in Stormcloud and the Dove in a Plum Tree miniskein set (photo taken by the wonderful Nancy of Knitty City). It was one of my favorite FOs of the year.

I hope these projects provide some inspiration for your 2018 knitting.

Lavanya’s Treccia

Kelly/KellyInTexas’s Elegant Sweatshirt

Kim/Xarix’s Rocio

Erin/skistricken’s Purple Spotted Socks

Karen/penchant4yarn’s Alecia Beth

Marta/MonogamousKnitter’s Veronika

Adrienne/killerb’s Gothy Gauntlets

Judy/miriamsdottir’s Superellipse Socks

Erica/ejsufka’s Chemistry

Amy/booeyedee’s Anniversaire

I’ll be adding more of my favorites to this tag.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Signature Needle Co.’s Signature Sock Series

This is the eighth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2017 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Signature needles have long been a coveted item among knitters, though the company’s offerings have remained pretty standard — until now. The Wisconsin-based Signature Needle Arts — run by knitter Cathryn Bothe, also president of Bothe Associates, which makes custom metal parts such as surgical tool components and mining safety equipment with the same precision as the needles — recently debuted its Signature Sock Series. The new needles come with a tougher cable and no rotation of the needle stalk and cable.

I recently spoke with Cathryn about the new product:

How did the Signature Sock Series come about?

Signature has manufactured our “Convertible” circular needles in sizes from US 3 up for some time. Those needles have the ability to attach various lengths of cables in a given size.

We knew we wanted to be able to provide the many, many customers asking for the smaller US sizes 1 and 2 as well as the 2.5mm size so loved by our Canadian and European customers.

However, having been in the metal manufacturing business for 67 years (see bothe.com) the shop folks knew the challenges of using the Convertible model within the small diameter of the size 1 and 2 needles.

Because we felt like we were setting ourselves up for failure if we asked customers to screw on the tiny internal threads required we decided to make these small sizes “fixed,” that is, they don’t unscrew or rotate.

To differentiate we chose a different name, Signature Sock Series, and changed the color of the cable.

Will they only be available for socks?

These small size needles will be wonderful for any project that calls for US sizes 1 and 2 and 2.5mm. Actually, I have done a scarf using them, but any lace project or anything else would be great with our points.

Why are you only starting with size US 1?

We know that making the US Size 2 would be easier since there is more diameter in the needle shaft with which to work. However, we decided that if we could manufacture the size 1s successfully the size 2s would be easier.

What has been feedback on the needles?

Customers love being able to have our fabulous hand polished points in this small size.

Are they manufactured differently than other Signature needles?

Yes they are. Instead of a rotating, removable cable the cable is affixed permanently into the tiny needle stalk. The color of the cable is different (white) than our regular cable on the Convertible Circulars (black) for easy recognition.

Can you say if there is anything else new on the horizon for Signature?

Whenever I bring up something new I can see the look on the faces of all concerned with the manufacturing. They know that I will be the worst “customer” ever. I will proudly accept that I am demanding and unbending in what I want even when they tell me that something is impossible. I do have a few new product ideas but I can’t really reveal at this time.

Having said that there is a new area that we are giving attention: that is of adaptive products for knitters with physical challenges. As well I have another, to quote Wendy of Wendy Knits, “stealth project” in this same vein.

What to stash this week: Leave your heart in your knitting

Julia of Pandia’s Jewels has kits for her gorgeous I Left my Heart in the Highlands Wrap available to preorder until until July 16. Each Highlands Knit Kit includes five skeins of her Aran Tweed yarn, a shawl pin and a copy of the pattern, with a big, smooshy cable. There are two different kits available: The Highlands, which moves in a gradient from gray to dark green and Heather on the Hills, which is various shades of green and pinks.

Stephanie of Three Fates Yarn has many new awesomely-named miniskein color sets available. They include Science Is Real, which you They Might Be Giants Fans may be familiar with, and I Remember California, which goes out to my fellow REM lovers.

Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks has stocked the shop with tons of new yarn and products, including new sock blanks in bold colors and a new “market” section with stitch markers from Katrinkles Knitting Jewelry, project and notions bags, mugs and more. If you’re starting to think about your Rhinebeck sweater (it’s time…) there’s some Brigantia (DK weight Polwarth/silk) and Zalti (100% U.S. grown and processed Targhee), as well a Birte and Verdande (both Superwash Merino, Cashmere and silk) in stock.

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect draped front sweater and Windswept by Melissa Kemmerer looks to be The One. This top-down seamless sweater is knit with fingering-weight yarn and offers the option to customize, with either subtle or wild, speckled stripes.

Add some flowers to your summer with Laura Patterson’s newest shawl design. The lovely Vervain, knit with 525 to 1,825 yards of laceweight yarn, uses two different Estonian flower stitches, one with clusters and another with double yarn overs.

Lara Smoot has released her new sock pattern, Shark Bite II: The Revenge, into the wild.

What to stash this week: Say goodnight to North Cascades

Today is the last day to get your hands on the debut Knitting Our National Parks colorway from Backyard Fiberworks! Preorders close at midnight Eastern Time tonight.

Krista of Pigeonroof Studios is celebrating more than 10 years in business by updating her shop with Greatest Hits. They include Electric Rose (pictured above), Ricochet, Ghost Orchid and Pansies, dyed on American Sock yarn as well as Polwarth/silk and Superwash Merino spinning fiber. As a fellow Indie Untangled fan, you can get 10% off until July 8th with the code INDIEUNTANGLED. 

The yarn from IU newcomer Old Rusted Chair is much more colorful than its rustic name implies. Dyer Lauren hails from Nashville, and has a great line of semisolids, along with a ton of fun variegated and speckled yarns. She recently added some new sock sets, which include a 100g skein of speckles plus a 20g mini skein of a complementary tonal color. 

SpaceCadet’s SpaceMonster Mega Yarn Club, a yarn club devoted to worsted and bulky weight yarns, is now open to new subscribers for a limited time. Subscriptions are either six months or 12 months and include a gift along with the yarn.

What to stash this week: Tour de stash

If you’re a sock knitter, then you may be training for the Tour de Sock, a knitting competition that raises funds for Doctors Without Borders. Sue of Invictus Yarns has dyed up some gorgeous TdS colorways, including a variegated one that’s TDF.

Wild Hair Studio is one of the first vendors on a new marketplace just for fiber and yarn called FiberCrafty, with 15% off in the shop through June 10th.

A glimpse into knitting designer Kirsten Kapur’s inspiration

Kirsten Kapur is one of those designers who consistently impresses me. I marvel at her use of texture and color, particularly her color combinations. While I’ve knit only three of her more than 250 simple and elegant patterns, I have several more in my favorites. So, when I heard that Kirsten, a fellow New Yorker, had been invited by Paola Vanzo, the owner of mYak, to give a talk on her design inspirations over tea and knitting in the West Village, I RSVPd faster than you could say yarn.

The event took place in the library of the Trace Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes Tibetan culture where Paola is managing director, and which houses an appointment-only pop-up shop for her yarn line. It was through her work in Tibet that Paola came to create mYak in 2011, working with a cooperative of nomads from the Tibetan Plateau to harvest and mill the super soft, Cashmere-like yarn from the underbelly of the baby yaks that they herd. It’s a story that deserves its own blog post.

Kirsten recently collaborated with Paola on two designs using mYak yarn: The Wave Hill brioche cowl, named for the estate and public gardens in Riverdale in the Bronx, and a lacy two-color shawl called Acorns and Arches, crafted with colors created using a natural mushroom dye. The two patterns set the scene for Kirsten’s inspirations, essentially knitted interpretations of the natural world.

Before becoming a knitting pattern designer a decade ago, Kirsten worked as an apparel and textile designer in the garment industry in New York City, where she also lives. While the city may not seem like an immediately obvious place to get natural inspiration, there’s plenty.

“In this city we have some pretty amazing places we can go,” Kirsten said. “We have some fabulous parks, like the New York Botanical Garden, Central Park. I go to these places and find inspiration for color, texture, obviously the shapes of the plants.”

She also uses the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (near me!), Hudson River Park, Rockaway Beach in Queens — particularly in winter — and the aforementioned Wave Hill. After taking photos, Kirsten returns home and starts playing around with the yarn in her healthy stash, drawing on the colors from her images of flowers and leaves, water and animals — even seaweed.

Kirsten then pores over stitch dictionaries and then plays around with charting software, making the patterns work for the look she’s trying to achieve. A lot of her design work also happens once the yarn gets on the needles, with changes made when stitch patterns aren’t working.

While some of Kirsten’s design names are obvious, many are particularly clever. Her Reynard Socks, for example, are named for the fox character in fables, and feature a fox-like lace pattern when viewed upside down. Cladonia, one of Kirsten’s best-known patterns, is named for the lichen on a rock she photographed it on.

The photographs are also what draws me to Kirsten’s patterns, and she recounted what it took to capture this view of A View From the Hill, on Rockaway Beach on a freezing, windy January afternoon.

After Kirsten’s talk, and after we finished up our tea and pastries, there was also the opportunity to shop the mYak pop-up, which had such a beautiful display.

Of course I wore my own Cladonia to the event and Kirsten was nice enough to pose for a photo with me while wearing the sample!