Getting ready for Rhinebeck with Mason-Dixon Knitting

This is the 12th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

Ann Shayne and Kay Gardiner of Mason Dixon Knitting have been corresponding about knitting since 2003, so they know a thing or two about Rhinebeck. This year, they will be the hostesses with the mostest in what is being dubbed the MDK Lounge at the fifth annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show.

I recently asked Ann and Kaye about their plans for the big weekend:

Who are you both most looking forward to seeing at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show?

An event like Indie Untangled gives us the opportunity to see our invisible internet friends in actual 3D human form — it’s incredibly good fun. We’ll be in the Indie Untangled Lounge all day — beginning at 1 p.m. rope drop! — so we hope to say Hi to as many folks as we can. Really looking forward to talking yarns and designs with everybody. Pub nights are kind of a branded thing with us. We love a good sit ’n’ knit.

Tell me about some of the most recent dyers that you’ve stocked your shop with.

The MDK Shop, our online yarn emporium, features a bunch of dyers that we admire and respect so much — a number of them are Indie Untangled vendors, and we’re proud to be working with them. Recently, that group includes Julie Asselin of Julie Asselin Yarns, Amy Lee Serradell of Canon Hand Dyes and Alice O’Reilly of Backyard Fiberworks. We met them all at Indie Untangled, so it’s a bit of a reunion to get to see them again. And we have an MDK exclusive, beautiful yarn coming soon from Karin Maag-Tanchak and Jill Draper.

Are there any indie dyers and designers that you think should be on knitters’ radars?

We often say we’re living in a golden age of yarn — it’s hard for us to keep up with the dyers who are emerging on the scene, but what a wonderful problem to have. Naturally-dyed yarns are really making us happy these days. Brooke Sinnes of Sincere Sheep is brilliant at pairing beautiful fibers with her color sense. Marcia McDonald of Lana Plantae gets these incredibly vibrant colors from plant dyes. And Meg Anderson of Nutmeg Yarns is working in the gentlest, softest palette imaginable.

Ann’s Birkin by Caitlin Hunter.

What are you each planning to wear to both Indie Untangled and the New York Sheep & Wool Festival?

We hope for a daily high of 57 degrees, because that is the perfect temperature for SWEATA WEATHA. Ann has about a half dozen potential sweaters, ranging from Carbeth by Kate Davies (in case there is a blizzard—that thing is HOT) to Birkin by Caitlin Hunter (fingering weight). Kay is madly knitting away on a vintage Kaffe Fassett kit from 1986 that is going to ROCK THE FESTIVAL one of these days (three years since cast-on! This could be the year!). If the Kaffe is not quite ready for showtime, and even if it is, Kay’s brand-new Savage Heart Cardigan by Amy Christoffers is going to make its maiden voyage this year.

What do you think is going to be the most-seen sweater at Rhinebeck this year?

Our prediction: many, many, many yoke sweaters. When have we ever had such a bumper crop of yoke designs? My guess: Humulus (Isabell Kraemer). More Birkins (Caitlin Hunter) Fades being found all over the place. And Carbeth, our Bang Out a Sweater sweater of 2018, will surely be everywhere if the temps are cool enough. (You could cast one on right now and get it done in time. We aren’t kidding when we say BANG OUT.)

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

Ann: Making a giant Parallelogram Scarf by Cecelia Campochiaro from MDK Field Guide No. 5: Sequences. And Thea Colman’s Appleseed Mitts from MDK Field Guide No. 8: Merry Making. And every other pattern from that Field Guide because we’re in the midst of a giant Bunchalong on MDK, where knitters are making holiday gifts in multiples. I’ve got ten weeks and a mighty momentum getting warmed up.

Kay: Currently blocking: three (three!) Stranded Diamonds Hats from MDK Field Guide No. 8. Next up: untold numbers of Slip-Stitch Caps and Appleseed Mitts and Chalice Cowls from Field Guide No. 8. I’m going to win the Bunchalong. (Wait — I’m not eligible to win the Bunchalong. But: bragging rights!)

Stranded Diamonds Hats from MDK Field Guide No. 8.

What are each of your favorite FOs from the last year?

Ann: I love my Birkin yoke sweater by Caitlin Hunter so, so much. I used Backyard Fiberworks Sock in the shades of Jamberry and Patio, aka the loudest colorway I’ve ever made. It makes me feel pretty and witty and bright.

Kay: My most recent FO is always my fave. I love love lurve my Savage Heart Cardigan, and may cast on a second one in Spud & Chloe Sweater, because it’s such a perfect match for the pattern. I also have to give a big thumbs-up to the Parallelogram Scarf from Field Guide No. 5. I’ve made 2, which are really 3, since the second one was a double-wide version. Once you start some soothing sequence knitting with Freia Fibers’ slow-changing Shawl Balls, you can’t really find a good stopping point. Just… keep… knitting…

The Knot House gets ready for Rhinebeck

This is the 11th in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

The Knot House in Frederick, Maryland, is an LYS that really supports indie dyers. It’s where trunk show vendor Dami of Magpie Fibers learned to knit and launched her company and always showcases the latest and greatest at their indie pop-up during the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

I asked owners Heather and Cathy to give us a look at their plans for Rhinebeck and also learned about a new dyer who has come on the scene…

Who are you both most looking forward to seeing at the Indie Untangled Rhinebeck Trunk Show?

Hu Made. We haven’t met Amanda, so we are looking forward to meeting her and seeing her yarns in person.

Tell me about some of the most recent dyers that you’ve stocked your shop with.

We have two that we have added recently:

1) Nice & Knit – We love their Sock and DK. They have great colors and are just a pleasure to work with.

2) Chasing Rabbits – Love the Sock and her colors.

Cathy and Heather

Are there any indie dyers and designers that you think should be on knitters’ radars?

I have to give myself a plug here. We have our own hand-dyed yarns now. We launched our La Di Da DK and Mo Debonair Mohair earlier this fall. With the focus on sweaters, we have focused on tonal solids.

How did you decide to dye your own yarn?

I don’t really know. I had thought about it before but never really thought of myself as an artist. But Mom and I thought I should try to supplement the shop. So Mom ordered yarn and I ordered dye and got started.

Where do you dye?

I currently dye in my home kitchen but we are working on building out a small studio in the basement.

What inspires your colors?

I have always loved textiles and have been known to spend way to much on decor fabrics. I love a room done well with pops of color. So I get a lot of inspiration from home decor pictures and fabrics. I also love timeless fashion. Matter of fact, I took a picture of Uma Thurman in the streets of NYC in 1987 and used it to come up with a small collection. In my option, yarn colors have to be truly wearable. I will be doing a sock weight in variegated fun stuff soon!

What are you each planning to wear to both Indie Untangled and the New York Sheep & Wool Festival?

Not exactly sure yet, but I’m sure Mom and I will both be wearing something from Boyland Knitworks and/or Andrea Mowry.

An FO of Caitlin Hunter’s Tecumseh.


What do you think is going to be the most-seen sweater at Rhinebeck this year?

Tecumseh and The Throw Back!

Tell me the projects that are currently on your needles.

Mom is working on Caitlin’s Ramblin Woman Cardigan [a pattern that is debuting at Indie Untangled] using Knot House La Di Da DK. I am working on Millie by Nice & Knit and the Aim True Hat by Caitlin Hunter.

Cathy’s Sipila sweater.

What are each of your favorite FOs from the last year?

I think mine is still Sunset Highway and Mom’s is her Sipila sweater.

Pre-Rhinebeck Untangling: Espace Tricot

Espace Tricot owners Lisa and Melissa.

This is the second in a series of blog posts featuring the fabulous sponsors of the 2018 Rhinebeck Trunk Show.

While I haven’t visited Espace Tricot yet (emphasis on yet, as I am hoping to go sometime soon after a trip scheduled for last February was cancelled by the flu), I feel like I have because of owners Lisa Di Fruscia and Melissa Clulow’s approachable podcast.

When I do get to visit, I will be all over their selection, which includes yarn from local dyers Julie Asselin and Tanis Fiber Arts and goodies from Twill & Print, and excited to see their beautiful patterns in person.

Tell me the story of how Espace Tricot came to be. Had both of you always wanted to own a yarn shop?

Melissa first picked up a set of knitting needles back in 2008, and something just clicked. Meanwhile, across town, Lisa had turned to knitting while her newborn son napped afternoons away in the car (his preferred location). As two newly minted yarn lovers, hooked on the creative and stress-relieving properties of the craft, we soon met at a local knit night and became fast friends. Over the next year we daydreamed about creating the ideal knit shop – in an aspirational but totally idle sort of way. One day, when a local yarn shop owner who was moving out of town asked Melissa if she knew of anyone who might be interested in subletting her space, it took one phone call to Lisa and about five seconds for us to decide we would be the ones to take over the lease and open a store. Three months later, Espace Tricot was born!

What did each of you do before you became yarn shop owners and how do you think it informs what you bring to the business?

Lisa was a physical education teacher by profession and had worked most recently in the area of personal/spiritual development while Melissa’s varied background combined clinical psychology, non-profit management and website design and development. Neither of us had specific experience running a retail business, but we optimistically believed we had the personal and professional qualities, work ethic, and initiative necessary to make a go of it.

Fundamentally, creating and growing a successful store requires both practical and organizational skills, as well as interpersonal abilities. These aspects are especially important in the knitting world insofar as we are serving a community of people who love to share, learn, create, and connect through our craft. Having backgrounds in education and psychology enhance our capacity to understand our clients and to guide them in their projects, choices and learning in a supportive and instructional way.

Furthermore, Melissa’s experience in management and web development and Lisa’s work as a physical education teacher contribute to our ability to keep the various aspects of our business running smoothly. That said, we also recognize the limitations of our skill-sets and do not hesitate to engage outside professional assistance when necessary (e.g. accounting, product photography)!

How do you choose the dyers and brands that you carry?

As we’ve grown in our business, we’ve gained a better understanding of knitters and the market as a whole. We would say that the selection of dyers, and brands in general, is more art than science and there are many factors that enter into our decision-making process.

First, we consider our current inventory and determine whether there are particular weights or textures missing and prioritize filling those gaps. We constantly evaluate our shelves to decide if yarns need to be retired and replaced in order to breathe new life into our staples. We meet with yarn reps on a regular basis to see whether their product lines suit our needs and often ask for samples to knit up test swatches before finalizing our decisions.

This all sounds very methodical, but we are also not above making impulsive decisions when we fall for a yarn, even when any rationale for adding it to our shelves is entirely lacking. We are knitters, after all! When selecting hand-dyed yarns and smaller brands we rely heavily on our instincts, we tune in to what is capturing the attention of knitters, and keep a keen eye on sparks flying out in the ether.

Sometimes the clues are ephemeral and sometimes they are more concrete, taking the form of repeated customer requests! We might see something at a festival, twig on to something through social media, receive an e-mail from a new hand dyer, or develop a personal relationship with a producer. We also look to Ravelry for guidance. We check up on popular yarns and those gaining momentum and take note of what our favourite and/or popular designers are knitting their patterns with.

What made you decide to start a podcast?

Lisa had begun to delve into the fountain pen world and wanted to learn more about these curious instruments so turned to YouTube to find out more. She stumbled upon a podcast by a young entrepreneur with an online pen shop and mentioned it to Melissa. Melissa quickly set about exploring this intriguing world of podcasts within the knitting community and was immediately hooked on the plethora of wonderful channels already available. We didn’t dare dream of starting a podcast ourselves (what?! no way would we ever!), but on the urging of Lisa’s husband we decided to film an episode just to see if we could do it. Needless to say, we took great comfort in knowing our initial effort wouldn’t see the light of day if we felt it was just too terrible. And now here we are, 20 episodes later and counting.

Can you talk about any new products the shop is going to carry or special events in the works?

We are always on the hunt for new and exciting products and often bring them in irrespective of the season. This fall, however, we are turning our focus towards stranded colourwork projects and are working to bring our customers on a journey with us as we learn more about the incredible properties of minimally processed 100% wool. We are so excited by all of the beautiful rustic and breed-specific sheep yarns we’ve ordered and look forward to encouraging knitters to move beyond their immediate reactions to these yarns as scratchy or rough towards an appreciation of their warm, comforting, versatile and aesthetically stunning properties!

We’ve developed new relationships with the distributors of Rauma, BC Garn, and Garthenor, and are restocking our current offerings from Brooklyn Tweed, Tukuwool and Quince & Co. We’re also adding new lines from Kelbourne Woolens, Julie Asselin, Rowan and Lopi. Of course, all of these will find a home among our wide selection of hand-dyed yarns from producers such as Madelinetosh, Hedgehog Fibres, Artfil, Julie Asselin and Koigu as well as lines from Shibui Knits, Woolfolk, Lang, mYak, Berroco, Cascade and many others!

When and how did both of you learn to knit?

Interestingly, both Lisa and Melissa learned to knit around the same time in March 2008. At that time Lisa was at home with her 18-month old son and was looking for an outlet to express her creativity and to reconnect with herself. She found a little shop that was offering Learn to Knit classes and the rest is history.

Melissa had just moved to Montreal and asked her mother to teach her how to knit as part of a strategy to find community in her new city. Shortly after, we met at a local knit night and it was love at first sight! We’ve been great friends, business partners, and obsessive knitters ever since. Having each other has been wonderful for our knitting progress — we encourage and motivate one other, take great pride in each other’s successes, and support one another through the inevitable failures –- usually with wine!

Do either of you enjoy any other crafts in addition to knitting?

Lisa loves to dabble in art for self-expression, including painting, drawing, journaling, or collage, while Melissa enjoys a bit of weaving and sewing. Of course, all of these take a back seat to knitting…

Espace Tricot’s Wrapped in Lino shawl.

Tell me about each of your most memorable FOs.

Every project that has pushed our skills to the next level has led to a great sense of accomplishment (e.g. first pair of socks, first sweater, first colourwork project, etc). For Lisa, however, the most memorable ones are the projects she has knit which required kilometres of knitting and sheer perseverance, such as her Wrapped in Lino and European Road Trip shawls. She is also especially proud of her latest design, Étoile Maritime, which required her to figure out how to increase while maintaining a star mesh rib design!

Melissa’s favourite projects are usually those to which she’s added a strand of silk and mohair for that halo quality she can’t get enough of! Her most memorable ones, however, have been designs such as her Chevron Baby Blanket and Getting Warmer cowl which have resonated with so many knitters on Ravelry and which made her think that perhaps she had something to offer in the area of simple, straightforward knitwear design.

Indie Untangled goes to MDSW 2018

I usually like to go to fiber festivals with some sort of plan. At this year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, while I had a few things that I know I wanted to snag, like Anne of Middle Brook Fiberworks’ Vintage No. 4 (a blend of Shetland, fine wool, silk and a bit of ramie — the next best thing to cuddling her sheep!), I let myself get swept away in it all. Some of my purchases were guided a bit by Instagram:

Some of them were impulse buys, like the not-pictured Jill Draper Kingston, which I guess technically wasn’t an impulse buy since the color I wanted was sold out and I ended up buying it on Etsy Tuesday.

Aside from stashing, I also had fun taking everything in and spending time with my fiber friends.

The Knot House

The weekend started as it usually does at The Knot House indie pop-up. Well, it started with an amazing dinner at Black Hog BBQ a few blocks away. Then, after making sure my hands were completely clean of sauce, I petted the yarn.

The Friday night kickoff party was a much calmer affair than last year thanks to the early bird shopping that I couldn’t make it in time for. It was a nice atmosphere for chatting and snapping photos.

Autumn & Indigo

Linen bags from That Clever Clementine

The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers

Little Fox Yarn

The festival

Weather wise, this was probably the best Maryland to date. The temperatures were perfect T-shirt and shawl weather, whereas previous festivals were either “I really regret wearing any handknits” or “What is this, Rhinebeck?”

After snagging my Vintage No. 4 (which may become a Charlie’s Cardigan), I visited the Into the Whirled booth to see the Bruce Canyon-inspired Hoodoos in person and admired the rest of Cris and James’s new speckles.

Vintage No. 4 from Middle Brook Fiberworks

Saying Hi to James and Cris of Into the Whirled.

Into the Whirled Bryce Canyon-inspired Hoodoos colorway for Knitting Our National Parks on display.

Jill Draper models a cute short sleeved cardigan in her new Kingston base.

A close-up of Kingston, DK-weight Targhee wool from NY’s Finger Lakes.

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Kim Kaslow of The Woolen Rabbit

This is the eighth post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3. There are only a few tickets left to the Friday night sneak peek party. Get yours now!

Kim of The Woolen Rabbit was one of the first dyers I discovered when I fell down the indie rabbit hole. In fact, one of my friends organized a trip to her New Hampshire studio several years ago and I’m still kicking myself for not going (something about having too much yarn? I kind of laugh at that now — I did not have too much yarn compared to now). Kim was also one of the first dyers I contacted when I launched Indie Untangled in 2014 and I’m thrilled that she’s participated in my little venture, posting to the marketplace, sending yarn to sell at last year’s Rhinebeck Trunk Show and, finally, participating in this weekend’s show at Woolyn.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I have been dyeing yarn now for about 15 years. I started off with a bunch of sweet angora rabbits. I would dye their fur with Merino and have it processed into pin drafted roving for spinning. As I ventured further into dyeing, I found that I preferred dyeing yarn, so I moved more in that direction. After seeing a beautiful-in-the-skein yarn I dyed knit up horribly in the finished item because of the pooling, it became my goal to really focus on creating non pooling yarns, which I think I have been able to accomplish for the most part.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

Frequently I look to nature for colorways. The subtle blending of colors in nature are always such an inspiration for me. Coloway names… usually whatever pops into my mind. Years ago I had a color way named Iggy Pop… ha!

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

I love the colors of autumn, so I frequently turn to them when creating — colors such as New England Red, Butterscotch Pudding, Oakmoss, Birch Beer and Enchanted Forest. I don’t think my preferences have changed much as I love muted colors, but I am trying to challenge myself with some of the newer ways of dyeing. Not there yet, but I love new challenges!

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

There are times when I am focusing on creating a particular color but I just can’t get the exact color I am aiming for no matter how many times I try. But sometimes what I end up with can be an unexpected surprise. Many of my most popular colorways were created this way.

How often do you update your online shop?

My online shop is all dyed to order, so I don’t do massive updates. Years ago when I first discovered the world of hand-dyed yarns and the anticipated updated shops only to be disappointed that the yarns that I wanted sold out faster than I could type, I decided then that I would not do shop updates, but dye to order instead. So far it has worked for me, even though my customers do have to wait seven to 10 days for their yarn, unless I happen to have some from a show on hand. I am so fortunate to have some wonderful customers!

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

Over the years, I have run my business both ways — as my main business and with another job. When I was growing my business up, I was fortunate to be working at home which gave me a lot of freedom to learn the business and create. I left that job to pursue dyeing full time which I did for a number of years. Now, with my children grown and on their own, I went back into the work force part time, so that I would be around people, but I still enjoy the rest of my time creating in my studio.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

Time management and discipline, which is not always easy with an artist’s brain. It’s always my biggest challenge, but so important. One of the very best things are the amazing people I have met along my journey in this amazing field we are so fortunate to be a part of!

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Denise Gronda of Yoshi & Lucy

This is the seventh post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3.

I first met Denise of Yoshi & Lucy at last year’s Indie Untangled @ Woolyn Trunk Show. She was sitting next to me at Rachel’s long back table and introduced herself as an indie dyer who happened to live a few blocks away. What a great neighborhood find! She’s since posted often to the Indie Untangled marketplace and I used one of her hot pink colorways to knit a pussy hat last winter. I’m excited to see more of her yarns in person at Woolyn this weekend. Have you grabbed your tickets for the sneak peek party yet?

Yoshi & Lucy

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I started dyeing yarn because I’m a big fan of hand dyed yarn. I was curious about how to dye yarn so I found some Youtube videos and books. After six months of playing around, I had more yarn than I knew what to do with. I was also hating my current job so I decided to take the plunge and start my own business.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

I do a lot of experimenting and try to come up with colorways I would love to knit. Sometimes I have an idea beforehand but usually I just play around and see what happens. I’ll admit I’m very bad at picking colorway names so I usually take photos of the new yarn and send them to my best friend who is a genius with naming colorways.

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

My favorite color is purple and I have probably have too many purple colorways. Of course I try to expand the colors I offer with each update.

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

There is my Rainbow Dash colorway which was the result of an experiment. It is a multiple step colorway and sometimes it doesn’t come out as it should. I do end up selling those as “misfit” skeins. People seems to like them even if it isn’t exactly as I intended.

How often do you update your online shop?

I try to have at least three updates per month.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

Dyeing is my main business and it’s the best job I have ever had.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

I had to learn how to balance the business side and creative side of the business. I need time to create but I also have to do administrative tasks and keep up with my social media accounts so that my business will grow.

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Charisse Dicarlo of Color Craze Fiber

This is the sixth post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3.

As I’m primarily a knitter, Charisse Dicarlo’s work for Color Craze Yarn and Fiber wasn’t on my radar, but when Rachel introduced me to her Etsy shop a few months ago, I immediately added it to my favorites. Charisse not only dyes roving that tempts me to take up spinning, but also creates stunning variegated-speckle mashups using lots of pinks, purples and blues… and plenty of other colors. She lives north of New York City in Valhalla.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I started dying shortly after I started spinning back in 2008. First it was roving for spinning and I realized How will I ever spin all of this roving? and quickly started an Etsy shop. As of early this year I took my dying experience over to the other side known as yarn and kinda fell into an interview with Kristy Glass. Kristy gave me a few roads to go down, and inspired me to start a podcast that I’m so new at. I think I have 10 episodes so far. I had my first trunk show this year in May, posted on the Indie Untangled site, then got an email from you inquiring about the Woolyn trunk show. And here I am today — so exciting!

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

My colorway names? I’ve recently noticed that I name them (for) what they remind me of when it’s out of the pot and dried. Like, my colorway Bronx Life came to life as it reminded me of the park we always went to as a child. It consists of greys and a little bit of red, which resemble the swings and the slides. So, in essence, it’s whatever comes to me as soon as I look at it. It’s a weird process, but it works. Sometimes I let my little one name them — I like to see what a 10-year-old’s mind comes up with. I first started naming them (for) songs that I knew in the electronic age we live in, but it wasn’t making sense to me so I started looking deeply into it and feeling the color.

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

My god, yes. I seem to work with a lot of purple I love the way it wicks out and blends so well within each other. But it goes back and forth from time to time. Lately I love the neutrals and the fall colors. My recent project is Leventry by Sarah Jordan [https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/leventry] using my Beach Sand and NYC Snow Day colorways and I love the way the neutrals are working together. They are my new found favorites. They will be at the trunk show.

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

I’ve tackled speckles, I dipped into kettle/tonal. My favorite technique that I do is saturated color all throughout in different colors that complement each other with speckle on top. The only thing I hate that happens when I come up with new colorway is the muddiness that sometimes happens, so I’ll just overdye it and it comes out beautiful most of the time.

How often do you update your online shop?

I try and update every week, but I feel like it’s a little challenging because there are so many dyers out there and if you don’t update you may lose your opportunity. Sometimes I find it’s hard to get noticed being that there are so many of us out there. It takes that one customer that knows someone and then it’s a trickle effect as it did when I did my first trunk show this year. It is a labor of love for sure. You have to nurture the Etsy shop, and social media is key. So updates on Instagram are so important. I still have loyal customers that always come back because they know what they’re getting. I get compliments all the time. I always say to myself as the skeins dry, “I hope this is good enough.” Then you get the person that goes wild over it; at that point I’m like, “Phew!!!”


Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

It seems like it’s become my main baby. I’m just very grateful that I’m able to be here full time for my daughter, and having an absolute supportive man by my side makes it all worth it. I stopped for a little while about six years ago — life happened, if you know what I mean — then met a truly great man that threw me back into it and I found a new love of fiber and a new love of my life, my best friend all over again. Together, from here, he makes the possibilities endless.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

1. CUSTOMER SERVICE. I have 100 percent positive feedback and I always add little trinkets to the order. I always loved getting little extras when I supported fellow Etsy-ens. I’m very good with returns, although I haven’t gotten not one yet. I mail packages out right away, mostly the same day, unless I’m away or it’s after 5 p.m.

2. The fiber/yarn community is so very supportive, warm, and helpful. It’s like a secret society. Especially when you participate in these events, you are so overwhelmed at how many knitters and spinners there are in one place altogether at the same time. My better half looked at me like, “Are you serious?”

Pre-Woolyn Untangling: Lauren Bardelline of Old Rusted Chair

This is the fifth post in a series introducing the dyers who will be featured at the second annual Indie Untangled Trunk Show at Woolyn Brooklyn, taking place December 1-3. Tickets for the Friday sneak peek party are on sale now!

When Rachel, the owner of Woolyn, and I were coming up with ideas for this year’s Indie Untangled trunk show, we decided to stay local and feature dyers from the Northeast. Lauren Bardelline of Old Rusted Chair is the exception to this, but we figured Nashville was close enough to the Eastern Seaboard to work for our “shop local” theme. Plus, we couldn’t wait to get our hands on Lauren’s bright, fun colorways.

Tell me about how you got started dyeing yarn.

I had been working in an office job and wasn’t in love with that work. For almost a decade I had been knitting, and eventually got into test knitting and learning how to tech edit. I wanted to get deeper into the fiber arts community — I even worked part-time at a local yarn store in Oakland — and decided to try dyeing yarn to see if I was any good at it. It turns out, I was! I had struggled with every other form of art I tried, like painting, drawing, or pottery, but mixing dye and applying it on my favorite fiber just made sense to me.

What inspires your colorways and your colorway names?

Naming colorways can feel stressful sometimes. When I first started dyeing, I was inspired by the music I would listen to while working. Now I have a running list of words and phrases that I enjoy and think would work well as names. Sometimes there’s some banter back and forth between me and my husband until I land on the perfect name.

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

Purple has been my favorite color for many years, and that hasn’t changed! Because of dyeing, I am now obsessed with mixing purple and orange together.

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

I have a vision of an orange that I’ve been trying to create, and now I have a bag full of orange samples I’ve made throughout my testing. Something on the reddish side, but I haven’t been able to make my vision a reality yet. I’ll know it when I see it!

How often do you update your online shop?

Every two to three weeks.

Is dyeing your main business, or do you have another job?

Main business. When I first opened up my shop, I was still working full-time in San Francisco. I moved to Nashville in April 2017 and started working on my business, Old Rusted Chair, full time.

What are some of the best things you’ve learned running your fiber business?

I learned I can’t do it all, and that’s OK! I’m not the best at understanding social media marketing or building a website. Fortunately, there are lots of people in this community who are experts at the things I’m not great at, and they are more than willing to let me pay them for their help!

What to stash this week: A knitting bag to dye for

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Sue, the awesome mom of Asylum Fibers’ Stephanie, has sewn up limited edition project bags to celebrate the company’s six month-iversary. The bags are made with fabric in a blood splatter print by Robert Kaufman, reminiscent of the Asylum Fibers logo, which is displayed on the inside pocket. The bags include a unique feature that I haven’t seen on any other project bag for sale — a metal bar encased along the edge of the zipper, which holds the bag open to act as a yarn bowl. Stephanie notes that they’re roomy enough to hold her short-sleeved sweater WIP!

Also, if you live in or near NYC, come check out Stephanie’s yarn in person at the new Brooklyn yarn shop String Thing Studio, which is hosting an Asylum Fibers trunk show today and Saturday.

I need to make some room for a whole bunch of trunk show deliveries, so I’m offering a discount on my remaining stock of The Woolen Rabbit. Use the code YAYRHINEBECK for 20% off Airy single fingering and Silky Biffle BFL/silk sportweight yarn now through Oct. 1. 

There’s still some time to preorder La Bien Aimée’s Automne à Rhinebeck, Asylum Fibers’ Rhinebeck’s All the Craze and Eloise Narrigan-designed tote bags to pick up at the Rhinebeck Trunk Show on Oct. 20, and avoid the frenzy in the Indie Untangled booth.

Seneca Siren, the newest pattern from The Mouse House Fiber Co., is now available to download on Ravelry.

IU on the road: Lisbon’s Retrosaria Rosa Pomar

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I’m sure it’s no surprise that after learning that I would be visiting Lisbon, Portugal, in early February, I headed to Google to scope out the yarn scene there. Through my research, I learned that the place to go was Retrosaria Rosa Pomar. I checked out the location, bookmarked the site and filed the information away.

After seeing our packed itinerary — which included trips to the Jerónimos Monastery, Pasteis de Belem for the famous custard tarts, the Berardo Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art and Pena Palace — I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it but, after an inaugural tram tour around the city, the group was leaving to check into the hotel and we had some free time before dinner. I realized, with a quick consult of Google Maps, that the tram let us off on Rua do Loreto, right down the street from the shop. (Incidentally, while we were on the tram, one of the women in our group spotted another retrosaria, the Portuguese name for a haberdashery, and of course let me know — I was the knitter on the trip.)

Rosa Pomar opened her namesake shop in a former mannequin factory in 2009. It dovetails nicely with her work researching Portuguese textiles and is beautifully curated, with a mix of fabric, ribbon, notions, tools and, of course, yarn.

Much of the yarn here comes from some of the 14 breeds of Portuguese sheep, developed via collaboration with small factories and breeders associations; some are also handspun in small villages around the country. While some of the yarn felt sheep-y (read: rough for my somewhat princess-y skin) I was particularly drawn to the Beiroa, a DK-weight yarn made from the wool of the Bordaleira Serra da Estrela sheep, with a beautiful marled look and a promise of post-blocking softness, and the Zagal, a soft Portuguese Merino wool that Rosa designed a hat for, with a simple colorwork pattern inspired by a traditional handwoven blanket.

Gorgeous and inspiring colorwork samples filled the shop, and there was also a nice selection of books from some familiar faces, as well as Rosa herself. What also struck me were the yarn tags and ball bands, many of which featured illustrations.

Aside from yarn, I also took home a beautiful handwoven rag pillowcase (the exact one in the photo), made in Portugal out of old clothing. I was bummed that the shop had sold out of the tote bags with an original illustration found on the tag for the shop’s Larada yarn.

While I am so glad I paid this shop a visit — I could have spent all afternoon here — I was bummed that I didn’t get to meet Rosa herself, who is busy managing both the shop and a toddler. For now, I’ll just lose myself, and revisit Lisbon, via her Instagram feed.