Jessica and Karen of the Make Good Podcast and Scratch Supply Co.
This is the tenth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place from October 15-24, 2021. Tickets are now available!
If you’re not already familiar with Scratch Supply Co., once you learn about this welcoming LYS you’ll want to move to Lebanon, New Hampshire. Aside from showcasing indie, women, POC/BIPOC, queer and otherwise underrepresented dyers and makers, owners Jessica and Karen also recently launched an engaging podcast called Make Good (it’s an audio podcast, meaning you can concentrate solely on your stitches).
At Indie Untangled in Saugerties, you’ll be invited to submit questions to Jessica and Karen for the “Dear Scratch” segment of the Make Good podcast. You can ask them all of your fiber world questions, whether they be technical issues, fiber friend etiquette, or anything else you’ve been wondering about.
How did you decide to create the Make Good podcast?
Make Good was a direct result of COVID lockdowns. We spent a number of months with Scratch being closed to the public, and having to run every part of our business online. While we were fortunate that we were easily able to adapt, we really missed feeling like we were connected to the fiber community!
Over the years we’ve had lots of people tell us that they thought we should start our own podcast, and always kind of dismissed it as something we didn’t really have the time and energy for. But suddenly we were using our time really differently, and we decided to give it a shot. The community has been so supportive and amazing!
Why did you decide on an audio podcast versus video?
That’s easy — we’re both totally awkward on camera! But really, when we think of podcasts, we think of audio format. Video podcasts feel like something entirely different. Audio podcasts are just more suited to popping in your earbuds and listening while you go about your day, rather than having to find the time to dedicate to watching video.
Do either of you have previous podcasting experience?
We’ve both been interviewed on podcasts (in totally unrelated fields) before, but neither of us have ever created and hosted our own show. There’s been A LOT of learning by doing. And we absolutely couldn’t make this happen without having Travis to polish and edit every episode. The exceptionally low occurrence of hearing one of us sniffle or take a weird deep breath during an episode isn’t because we are trained orators, or robots. It’s because Travis painstakingly edits those things out so it’s a nice listening experience. He’s the real hero on this team.
How do you prepare for each episode?
We try topics that we’re excited to talk about, or things that we think knitters will find interesting or helpful in some way. We draw on the interests of the knitters that come to Scratch, and we always welcome emails and messages with questions or suggestions for episodes. Once we pick a topic we do some research (if we need to), write an outline, and hope that we’ve had enough sleep and coffee before we hit record! We like to think that our conversations are like the experience you’d have if you were at Scratch talking about these things with us.
Do you get any common Dear Scratch questions? What was the most interesting question you’ve received?
The questions we receive are really all across the board. We get technical questions, etiquette questions, non-knitting partners looking for gift suggestions… it’s amazing! Sometimes we get questions that inspire entire episodes. Rather than the most interesting, I think that the most surprising Dear Scratch experience was when we got our first email from another LYS owner.
Name two people in the crafting world you would drop everything to interview.
Xandy Peters because their designs are amazing! It would be fascinating to talk about their process and where their inspiration comes from.
Kate Atherley because she must be a bottomless resource of information and experience. Between her experience teaching, and the thousands of patterns that she’s edited (and written!), she must have a story about everything!
What non-crafting podcasts do you enjoy listening to?
This is the ninth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled, taking place from October 15-24, 2021. Tickets are now available!
Kristi Jensen of Birdie Parker Designs is known for her metal stitching-themed jewelry — she even has a BFA degree in Metalsmithing from California State University Long Beach — but her most recent designs have veered away from the shiny medium. They include enamel, acrylic and leather, which you’ll be able to purchase at our online show, as well as the Beautiful Syster booth at the in-person show, and The Perfect Blend Yarn & Tea shop in downtown Saugerties, in about a week!
Since you studied metalsmithing, how did you decide to move to other materials, such as enamel, acrylic and leather?
Enameling was actually my first love in metalsmithing, but it’s a rather time-consuming process so it’s been on the back burner until now. I’ve been fortunate enough to find an amazing assistant this year, and she has freed up time in my schedule for me to explore adding small-batch enamel items to my collection. As for the acrylic and leatherworking… I’ve always intended for Birdie Parker to offer a wide assortment of items other than just jewelry. About two years ago, I started exploring combining leather with my etched metal pieces and quickly realized that cutting and finishing those leather items by hand was slow work. That’s when I added a laser printer to my process. Then, I started seeing all this beautiful acrylic in a wide range of colors and effects and the wheels started turning in my brain and soon after I had a whole line of acrylic stitch markers. I’m definitely a person who loves learning new techniques and the addition of the laser has opened so many new avenues in the business.
How does it change your process to work with other materials?
Working with metals can take a lot of steps and time and, for the most part, it can only be done by me. The leather and acrylic is pretty hands off once I do the designing, and my assistant can finish the assembling and packaging process. By working with new materials, I’m not limited by the properties of metal and can make more of my visions a reality.
Can you share some of your plans for this year’s Indie Untangled Everywhere?
I’m really excited to offer colorful enamel pieces, some new useful leather accessories and show off some of the new items released over the past year.
Do you have ideas for other types of products in the pipeline?
So many items! I’m working on a line of rings, some with enamel. There are several new earrings in development, and some bangle bracelets. Leather project bags! I just need more hours in the day to make them come to fruition.
Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.
I always have several sock tubes waiting for finishing, and I’m currently working on a beautiful stripey rainbow version of the Sunset Shawl by Meghan Babin of Hudson and West Co.
This is the sixth in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Spotlight, taking place from May 14-16, 2021.
We’ve loved teaming up with Jessica and Karen of New Hampshire Yarn shop Scratch Supply Co. (dig their new and improved logo!) on our events because their shop is filled with indie companies. In fact, they also carry, or will soon carry, several of the dyers and makers we featured at the Indie Spotlight show last weekend (if you missed it, you can still register to catch the recordings).
Check out their guide to the Spotlight indies they carry.
Augusta, based in Richmond, VA, creates a a fiber-inspired gift line that incorporates an earthy aesthetic, pops of color, and punny takes on yarn into a line of stickers, pins, project bags, stitch markers, and other fun items for knitters and makers.
“My goal is to connect knitters to nature and help them express their unique woods-walking, mountain-climbing, yarn-loving identity through my fiber-themed designs!”
Hudson + West
Hudson + West is a new yarn company dedicated to bringing innovative American-made yarns to the handknitting market, along with modern and wearable designs that highlight those yarns’ best qualities. Hudson + West was founded in 2019 by Meghan Babin, the former editor of Interweave Knits, and Sloane Rosenthal, a knitwear designer (and recovering litigator). Their name evokes our disparate locations: Meghan hails from New York’s Hudson River Valley, while Sloane calls the San Francisco Bay Area home.
“We’re both obsessed with ruggedly handsome yarns, practical design, and thoughtful, well-made goods. We’re serious students of yarn construction and knitwear design, and passionate about details. We’re also both lovers of the outdoors, and of the rugged, starkly beautiful landscapes of the American west that inspired and indeed, birthed, our first two yarns.”
The Wandering Flock
The Wandering Flock is a contemporary Knitwear design studio and hand dyed yarn line based in Brooklyn, NY. In the summer of 2019, using the experience she had gained from working in fashion. Geraldine took a leap of faith and started The Wandering Flock.
“Drawing my inspirations the runway to streetwear, I create colors that are fun, wearable and contemporary.”
Coming soon is yarn from:
Terra is a Georgia native now living in Louisiana for over a decade. Mitchell’s Creations started with cakes and project bags and years later grew into much more.
“When looking for yarn for the first ever KAL I participated in, I went to my LYS for yarn. While they had nice yarn, I just didn’t see what I was looking for and this is where yarn dyeing started and I haven’t looked back.”
Plied Yarns is a new venture from Karida Collins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. and Ann Weaver of Weaverknits! These two friends have worked with the mill at Harrisville Designs to create North Ave, an innovative woolen-spun, hand-dyed, marled yarn.
In the winter of 2020, while browsing at Backstory Books & Yarn, a local used book and yarn store in Portland, Oregon, I stumble across a giant hank of pale gray yarn lurking on a top shelf. I immediately pick it up and trace the softness of the Targhee strands with my fingers. The label states it’s from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, a local dyer I’m familiar with, and best of all, it’s enough to make a sweater. A quick peek at the price tag makes me even more jubilant — I have enough store credit to cover the purchase, basically making it free.
I find the perfect pattern for the yarn, Myrna by Andi Satterlund. Vintage-inspired, it’s cropped and form-fitting and will pair perfectly with dresses for the colder months. After almost a full episode of the BBC series “Pride and Prejudice” and numerous turns of the yarn winder, I have a ball of yarn the size of a newborn’s head that is ready to be knit. Once I have knit a swatch to figure out what size I need to knit, I cast 70 loops on my needles and start the sweater. The yarn is lovely to work with. Soft and supple, each stitch is clearly defined like a spider’s web in the rain.
After fits and starts and several weeks, I’m almost done with the back of the sweater. I hold it up to myself and grimace. Even accounting for the stretch, it simply looks too small. I put it aside to deal with it later. Every knitter is familiar with “frogging,” which means ripping back your work — you “rip it, rip it,” like the “ribbit” of a frog. And as accustomed as we are to frogging, it does not mean we dislike it any less. You can just see weeks of your time circling down the drain. But knitting is a wonderful craft because, as in life, you can almost always go back and fix your mistakes (except for mohair, but we will not speak of that).
I could ignore the mistake and try to convince myself that, “Oh, it will fit with some stretching and blocking,” but I know that I’ll be even more devastated to have finished the entire sweater and not have it fit. I tear the stitches off the needles and begin the process of undoing the rows, leaving a wave of crinkled wool in my wake. Knitting teaches us about falling and getting back up minus the bruises and scrapes, leaving just the toll it takes on our patience.
Then COVID-19 strikes in March. One day my knitting friends and I are huddled together in a car for 10 hours as we zigzag across the Portland area to participate in the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl. Then the next week, seemingly everything is shut down. Instead of seeing each other as people, all we see is potential virus vectors. The days blur into one giant loop. We are stuck in Groundhog Day with only slight variations letting us know that time has passed.
I simply cannot see the point in continuing with the sweater. Where would I wear it? There is nowhere to go. And how would I wash it? A handknit wool sweater is not meant to hold up to endless rounds of sanitizing in hot water and bleach. And who would see it to admire the handiwork? My knitting friends are huddled in their houses and not stirring, not even for yarn. My sweater is at a standstill, the needles silent, much like the outer world. I have trouble looking at either.
“Put the sweater down and start another project,” a friend advises. “Let it hibernate.”
I take half her advice, but have trouble figuring out what to do next. Numerous articles and studies have listed the physical and mental health benefits of knitting — it induces an enhanced sense of calm, lowers your heart rate and blood pressure and boosts serotonin levels. That is great when all is said and done, but it does not solve the problem when you can’t even get motivated to start that first stitch.
April’s dog, Nandi, shows off an FO.
I’m doomscrolling when I get a text from a friend from high school.
“Sorry, this week has been kind of crazy. We actually just had our kid yesterday. Delivered a healthy baby girl. 8.6lb, 21 inches…”
Accompanying the text is a photo of my friend wearing a mask and cradling a newborn to her chest. I shoot off a text of congratulations and then immediately start browsing patterns for baby sweaters. I may not have anywhere to wear a handknit sweater, but this baby clearly needs a wool sweater to keep her warm. COVID-19 may reign, but new life continues. And human connections are so fraught right now, I grab at any strand that resembles hope.
I dive into my stash of yarn, stored under my bed in plastic bins, to discover that I have absolutely no yarn that is suitable. No sensible parent wants to carefully hand wash a delicate baby sweater every single time the baby throws up or drools. So, I make a rare trip into the outside world for yarn. I’m equipped with a handmade mask and hand sanitizer and mentally calculate how far 6 feet is from any person I see.
As I walk down Alberta Street, it’s a ghost town. Dark windows look forlornly out onto the street, and passersby walk by briskly with their heads down and masks on. But when I step inside Close Knit to look for the right yarn, it’s like stepping back into the past. Piles of brightly colored yarn dot the walls, and that slight hush you get from a space overly insulated with fiber prevails. Then I look again and see a jumbo-sized container of hand sanitizer and a giant sign at the entrance declaring the COVID-19 protocols. A plexiglass shield guards the staff from customers.
I debate between two vividly colored hanks of worsted and ultimately go with the coral. The shade, Malabrigo’s Living Coral, evokes eye-popping colored macaroons, which is fitting as the sweater pattern, by The Noble Thread, is named French Macaroon and I met the new mom in our high school French class.
It’s almost exactly the shade of the 2019 Pantone color of the year, living coral. The color was declared to be an “animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge.” Babies also affirm life while anchoring us to the future. Stepping back into time is a futile endeavor. But it reminds me that this too shall pass and one day we will gather together once more.
The bright coral stitches fly smoothly across the needles, leaving behind a gentle click-clack sound. It feels strangely foreign to be knitting again, but my hands remember what to do. Unlike the monotony of COVID-19 life, I can see visible progress as the sweater steadily grows, inch by inch. With each stitch, I knit in my thoughts and hopes for the future. As the ball of yarn dwindles, so do my troubled thoughts. The knitting blogger A Friend to Knit With once calculated the number of stitches in a sweater she was knitting: 70,532. If we were to think about that sheer number, we would never knit a sweater. We take it one stitch at a time. Like each stitch, we trudge forward to the next, waiting until the day when we are whole.
As I knit, I can feel the invisible threads connecting me to women of the past who used knitting to cope with the troubling times of their era. Knitting teacher and designer Elizabeth Zimmermann wrote, “Knit on with confidence and hope through all crises.” Women knitted through the two World Wars and the Spanish Flu and countless other crises and elections. And they likely will again in the future. Knitting leaves us with a tangible memory of time and helps us cope with our fears and anxieties. It reminds us that life goes on. There will always be a baby who needs warmth. And one day I will finish that gray sweater.
April Choi is a freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. She has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Oregonian and Agence France-Presse (AFP). When not writing, she likes to read and knit, usually at the same time. She shares an affinity for indie yarns with her dog who is a noted yarn snob.
There are few New York knitters and crocheters who don’t know about the Manhattan yarn shop Knitty City. But beyond connecting the local yarn community, Knitty City‘s founder, Pearl Chin, has been instrumental in helping so many indie dyers and fiber business owners get their start and providing valuable advice as they move forward. Pearl has also been a role model for how to be a craftivist, using her platform as a leader to raise money and attention for important causes.
When I heard the devastating news about Pearl’s cancer diagnosis, I got in touch with a group of indie dyers that Pearl has been instrumental in guiding and championing. We thought it was fitting to turn our sadness into action. As we now grieve the loss of our friend and colleague, we can think of no better way to honor Pearl’s legacy.
We have created special colorways and designs, and are hosting giveaways to raise money for organizations she has supported:
• Julie Asselin has created a colorway called Dear Pearl, with proceeds donated to help budding knitwear entrepreneurs attend the CAN Retreat hosted by Marceline Smith and Anne Choi
• Christina of Chelsea Yarns has created a colorway called String of Pearls, with proceeds donated to Moms Demand Action
• Amanda of Hu Made has created a colorway called Pearl Power, with proceeds donated to the Asian Americans Arts Alliance
• I will be designing a hat pattern called Pearl’s Oyster, with proceeds donated to the NFC Momentum Fund (I’m still knitting up the sample and hope to publish it next week)
• Marian of Marianated Yarns has created a colorway called Thank You, Pearl, with proceeds donated to City Harvest
• Debbie of Murky Depths Dyeworks has created a colorway called Pearl of The West (Side), with proceeds donated to Womankind, an organization serving the Asian community in New York, helping survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual violence
• Mariana and Nick of Nooch Fiber will be hosting a series of mini-skein giveaways, with proceeds donated to Heifer International
This is the first in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of Indie Untangled Everywhere, taking place from October 15-17, 2020.
Four years ago this month, Jessica Giordani and Karen Zook launched Scratch Supply Co., a craft store and inclusive home for makers in Lebanon, New Hampshire. Since then, they along with their partner Travis, have transformed the shop into a showcase for indie, women, POC/BIPOC, queer and otherwise underrepresented dyers and makers.
Scratch’s monthly Cast-On Club — I’ll be curating the October box! — celebrates the diversity of the fiber community with an exclusive colorway, and the shop features many indie brands that are familiar to Indie Untangled readers — Cat Sandwich Fibers, Fuzz Family, Julie Asselin — and some that may not be.
Since Petrina, Indie Untangled’s event producer, introduced me to the Scratch folks at Vogue Knitting Live NYC in January, I’ve enjoyed getting to know them and share in their enthusiasm for our amazing indie community (they’ll also be sponsoring the Bingo night that Petrina is hosting the Friday of Indie Untangled Everywhere, which means some great indie prizes!).
Tell me about the decision to open Scratch Supply Co. Did you ever think you’d own a yarn shop?
Not really! We didn’t even decide to open a yarn shop at first — we started as a multipurpose craft store with a handwork makerspace in the basement.
When we first opened the doors, we barely had any yarn at all. We had like two shelves with 40 skeins of yarn total and some hopeful shade card boxes — and we were SO proud of those two shelves. The best thing you could say about us was that we were scrappy. If you wanted to knit a sweater you could make something with stripes or wait for us to order a sweater’s quantity of one color. We were trying! Fortunately for us, our enthusiasm resonated with the knitting community, and they stuck with us through this awkward period while we found our footing, fine-tuned our offerings, and started stocking a full range of colorways in quantities large enough to make something bigger than a hat.
Over the last four years we’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to create a welcoming and inspiring space, and grow — with our amazing community of makers — into the LYS we were meant to be.
What you each of you do before you became yarn shop owners and how do you think it informs what you bring to the business?
The three of us met after Travis and Jessica moved to Connecticut after Travis left the Marine Corps. Jessica opened a small bakery and Travis and Karen met while they were enrolled in a PhD program in Comparative Literature.
We all have experience with research and working independently, and we’ve all been teachers in some capacity at some point. Jessica has previous experiencing running a retail shop, Karen has a background as a freelance writer, and Travis has government training in getting shit done.
We bring a lot of flexibility and a can-do, make-it-work spirit to Scratch. Since we all live together this is truly a family business. We’ve put our hearts into creating a space and a community that reflects who we are, and we like to make the members of our community part of that in any way we can. Our path from idea to execution is lightning-fast — our real area of expertise is in Doing The Thing. (Sometimes the thing is fixing your knitting, sometimes the thing is installing light fixtures, sometimes the thing is finding a way to keep our community connected during a pandemic.)
Why did you choose the dyers and brands that you carry?
First and foremost, we fill our shop with the yarns that we want to knit with! We have a carefully-curated selection that is constantly evolving. We are committed to supporting small makers and small mills, and providing our community access to with quality materials that they won’t find in just any LYS. We are enthusiastic about working with talented people in our industry whether they are established or just starting out. The fiber industry is diverse, and we believe that the dyers and makers that we work with should reflect that.
For us, there’s no value in filling our shop with yarn that you can get everywhere else. Our favorite thing is when people walk into the shop and announce “You have all the yarns that I follow on Instagram!”
Who are some of your favorite designers?
We love designers who are doing interesting things! It’s cold in New Hampshire so we’re sweater knitters at heart. We love Jessie Mae, Fatimah Hinds, Shay Johnson, Lavanya Patricella, Isabelle Kraemer, Maxim Cyr and Jacqueline Cieslak.
Crochet designers we’re following are Toni Lipsey, Vincent Williams, Twinkie Chan and Stephanie Erin.
Can you talk about any new products the shop is going to carry or special events in the works?
In September we just celebrated our fourth birthday, which is our biggest event of the year and kicks off a wildly-busy fall season!
We’ve been expanding our yarn selection since March to get ready for the long winter. We’ve recently brought in three bases by Julie Asselin, DK and bulky weight yarn from The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers, fresh Spincycle, lace mohair, worsted and fingering-weight yarn from SweetGeorgia Yarns, the Nightshades from Harrisville Designs and two new fingering-weight bases from Junkyarn.
One of the best things about Cast-on Club (our monthly subscription box) is that we always have something amazing on its way to us — every month a different dyer sends us something new and exclusive! Indie Untangled is curating our October box, and in November our featured dyer is Doug Lopez of Knittinbro.
The Scratch family, including Violet and Scarlet.
When and how did you learn to knit?
Karen learned as a child from her mom, and knit/unknit/reknit a rectangle from the same skein of red Red Heart until she left for college. She couldn’t tell the difference between the right side and the wrong side of her fabric, so she had a strip of masking tape wrapped around the bottom of one of the horrendous plastic straight needles to help her keep it straight. After college she started a post-bacc program with an endless workload. She was living in Philadelphia and there was an amazing LYS right around the corner, so she started obsessively knitting just to hold a finished object in her hands once in a while. (Fortunately by then YouTube had been invented, which gave her the opportunity to increase her skills!)
Jessica learned to knit when she moved to Minnesota for grad school. There was a woman in her program who would knit through seminars, and since she didn’t know anyone and it was very cold, this seemed like a great hobby to take up. She didn’t know that LYSs existed, so she picked up a Susan Bates pamphlet and some bouclé yarn and taught herself how to knit while watching Pulp Fiction on repeat. She had been knitting for three years before she could read a pattern and learned a lot of problem-fixing techniques through trial and error.
Travis doesn’t knit (we’re wearing him down!), but has a lot of opinions about color, fiber content and design.
Tell me about each of your most memorable FOs.
The first sweater Karen ever knit for herself was bottom-up with seamed sleeves. She was very excited about knitting it and bought crazy-expensive alpaca yarn that wasn’t really suited to the pattern… it turned into such a fiasco that it’s currently stuffing a dog bed.
In 2011, Jessica promised her mom a sweater. She knit all but one sleeve, and that sweater lived in project bags until it was finally consigned to the bin in 2020. It just wasn’t meant to be… but don’t worry, mom will finally get her sweater this year.
Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.
Jessica is knitting the Ghost Ranch hat using Dyed in the Wool in Payback and Street Light in Nightshades. It’s the squishy, Halloween-y hat of her dreams!
Karen is working on a gift knit that she’s going to try to keep a surprise so won’t spill the beans on that just yet. She just cast on a Pressed Flowers shawl by designer Amy Christoffers in Juicy DK from The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers.
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 shop will have extended weekend hours during the festival:
Friday, October 18, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Saturday, October 19, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.
Sunday, October 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
On Friday from noon-3 p.m., there will be special appearances by Becky and Melissa from Nomadic Knits, along with designer Laura Dobratz and a trunk show from Emma’s Yarn, which is run by Laura’s daughters, Emma and Aspen.
The shop will also have a special souvenir edition of its Perfect Blend Inspirations Yarn Box, featuring a beautiful collaboration with Nomadic knits and Whole Knit n’ Caboodle.
Autumn Hearth from Pandia’s Jewels.
From 4-9 p.m. on Friday, the shop will welcome Julia of Pandia’s Jewels with a special pop-up.
Self-striping yarn from Whole Knit n’ Caboodle.
On Saturday, Terri of Whole Knit n’ Caboodle will be at the shop with a trunk show from 1 p.m.-8 p.m.
The shop will also be showcasing Cocoknits and Kelbourne Woolens trunk shows throughout the weekend.
The Saugerties merchants will join Mary in welcoming everyone to the village! Be on the lookout for yarn embellishments throughout, make dinner reservations and be sure check out Destination Saugerties for additional adventuring while you’re there.
You can always depend on Heather and Cathy, the owners of The Knot House yarn shop in Frederick, Maryland, to stay on top of trends in the fiber world. Their shop always features the hottest indie dyers and they themselves are prolific sweater knitters.
I asked them to walk us through their preparations for Rhinebeck and Indie Untangled, and give a look at what’s new for their in-house yarn line.
Who are you both most looking forward to seeing at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show?
I don’t think there is anyone specific we look forward to seeing. The biggest treat is meeting the customers that don’t live locally that support us! We get to put faces with names and hopefully get to see some of their FOs. I love it when Mom and I are separated and people say, “Oh, hi, Heather, where’s your Mom?” Everyone loves Mom. We also love to see other LYS owners, indie dyers, podcasters and designers.
Tell me about some of the most recent dyers that you’ve stocked your shop with.
Thanks for asking about our Knot House Yarns line! I have added La Di Da Worsted base for the 2019/2020 season. It is a 4-ply (plied twice) 100% Superwash Merino (same as the La Di Da DK). Mom and I are currently looking at new bases to add in the spring.
I should also add that Mom and I will be vending at the Black Mountain Indie Extravaganza the weekend following Rhinebeck! It will be our first event out of The Knot House and we are both excited and nervous. Dates for the event are October 25th and 26th it will be held during SAFF at Black Mountain Yarn Shop.
What are your favorite projects that customers have made with your hand-dyed yarn?
Oh my. There are a couple of favorites. I don’t know how many people have made the Ranunculus, but it has been a favorite this summer, along with the Soldotna Crop. It is so fun to see the color combos.
What are you each planning to wear to both Indie Untangled and the New York Sheep & Wool Festival?
I remember my first visit to fibre space. It was at the tail end of a fall 2012 road trip I took with my husband that started in Maryland at the Verdant Gryphon open house and included Charleston, Savannah and Colonial Williamsburg. I had already bought plenty of yarn at the beginning of the trip, but when I realized that our drive home would be taking us right past Alexandria, Virginia, and it would be the perfect midpoint for lunch, I knew I had to go to the shop. I ended up getting my first skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Co. and a recommendation of where to get some delicious cupcakes that fueled our drive back to NYC through the pouring rain.
Danielle Romanetti’s shop has moved locations a couple of times since that visit, but it still retains what I consider yarn store perfection: a welcoming atmosphere with plenty of comfy seating, great lighting and design, and a commitment to indie brands, with a focus on local businesses.
Tell me the story of how fibre space came to be. Had you always wanted to own a yarn shop?
My shop is really an extension of my original business – Knit-a-Gogo, Inc., which I opened in October of 2006 to offer knitting classes in the DC metro area. Initially, I taught beginner and intermediate classes at coffee shops, bakeries and even public libraries in and around Washington, DC. Utilizing these spaces required a solid relationship with the businesses that hosted us and has led to the collaborative philosophy that fibre space now maintains. As my customers grew in number, so did the community of knitters and crocheters, as well as the number of classes being offered and my staff of instructors.
Eventually, the Knit-a-Gogo community really needed a permanent home – a place where stitchers could meet outside of classes, buy quality supplies and and share with other stitchers. In 2009, this dream became a reality when Knit-a-Gogo became fibre space and opened its doors in historic Alexandria, VA. I am so excited to have finally put down permanent roots at our new building, 1319 Prince Street.
What did you do before you became a yarn shop owner and how do you think it informs what you bring to the business?
I was a professional fundraiser and event planner for international nonprofit organizations. I have a background in international development, with a specialization in Latin America. The event planning and marketing background is certainly a huge asset to my business. Working for a rather large international organization helped me to learn a ton about marketing campaigns and how to effectively implement them. I use that experience in planning all of our seasonal marketing, events, etc.
How do you choose the dyers and brands that you carry?
I have a commitment to supporting small and indie brands as much as possible. I often make decisions on a brand because of their origin story or even their owner. I like to support businesses whose owners are amazing, engaging and forward-thinking women. In general, you will find many brands at our shop that aren’t in many other places. I like to keep things unique, as we have so many yarn shops in our area. It helps us to be a destination.
You were carrying indie dyers since the beginning. How would you say the explosion of indie dyers has changed your business?
It’s interesting. We went through a few years of carrying a ton of indie hand dye from many, many different dyers, including international. I made a shift a few years back to focusing on fewer of the dyers but having a wider range of yarns from the ones that we do stock. This seems to be working right now. Our customers know that we are a destination for Neighborhood Fiber Co. [editor’s note: Neighborhood Fiber Co. is also an Indie Untangled sponsor], Miss Babs, Hazel Knits, Freia, the Periwinkle Sheep and Knerd String and more as we get orders from them almost monthly to restock. We also have a good inventory of our locals (Neighborhood Fiber Co. again), Havirland, Fully Spun [an Indie Untangled vendor] and the Fiberists.
Despite the hand dye explosion, we are still a huge stockist of traditional beautiful wool yarns. Our customers buy a lot of De Rerum Natura, Brooklyn Tweed, Kelbourne Woolens and Stonehedge Fiber Mill.
Can you talk about any new products the shop is going to carry or special events in the works?
I am really excited about the new yarn project that Karida Collins and Ann Weaver are working on. We will be launching Plied Yarn at our shop on November 9th. The wool is hand dyed by the Plied team and then plied to create a marled yarn in fingering weight [Plied is also an Indie Untangled sponsor].
We are also hosting Miss Babs for our annual Mega Miss Babs Trunk Show on September 14-15. It is a wonderful event, where Miss Babs brings up a huge quantity of yarn and takes over our store space with yarn, kits and samples made from her yarn.
When and how did you learn to knit?
My grandmother taught me how to knit when I was very young. I made a scarf for my Cabbage Patch doll. I relearned from her when I was in graduate school and visiting. Their dial-up internet access wasn’t sufficient and I was bored! It quickly became a huge part of my life and my therapy for anxiety.
Artwork lines the walls at fibre space.
Do you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?
I do also crochet, although certainly not as much as knitting. I also sew and run, although its been a few years since I ran a marathon!
Tell me about one of your most memorable FOs.
Well before I opened the shop, I used to attend the trade show with Karida of Neighborhood Fiber Co. to help her sell to yarn shops. Olga Buraya-Kefelian was working on a design in two of her yarns, and I volunteered to do the knitting. It was the Murasaki Pullover. It was amazing to see Olga’s creation process first hand and to be part of it. I was still knitting it on the early morning flight to the show with Olga but we got it done, and I was able to wear it at the show.