Archive for May, 2014

27
May

Meet Kettle Yarn Co!

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, photos, yarn

Have you picked up Pom Pom Quarterly’s summer issue yet? I’ve been so pleased with the response to Creamsicle. But I have to give credit where credit is due. Linda’s fantastic yarn really took the design over the top. I can’t stop raving about the color and delicious softness. Which is why I asked her to do a little interview!

Aside from having yummy yarns and gorgeous colorways, Linda is very serious about being environmentally friendly. She recently began dyeing full time and I’m so glad that she’s been able to take that step! Linda was kind enough to share the process and philosophy behind her company Kettle Yarn Co.

kettle yarn co wimbledonWimbledon in Creamsicle colorways Melon Balls and Sherbert

How did you begin dyeing yarn?

My journey into yarn is a somewhat personal one that I haven’t discussed much publicly.

My yarn dyeing adventures started a few years ago during a period of illness. I was a practicing artist at the time and found that preparing canvases was just too much for me so I started knitting so that I could continue to create while conserving energy.  Dyeing my own yarn was a logical melding of the two disciplines!

After over a year’s worth of poking and prodding by medical professionals and my health deteriorating to the point where I could barely get up a small flight of stairs, I learned my illness was largely due to severe fragrance allergies. Kettle Yarn Co. was started in the hopes that one day I’d be able to have a bit more control over my working environment and lessen my exposure to the perfume chemicals that were currently damaging my lungs in the open plan office environment at the university where I worked.

I have been very fortunate. I have left the university and am now not only able to work from home a good portion of the week but am doing a job I truly love and am passionate about. My health has improved exponentially and I feel that I’ve finally found my creative niche!

kettle yarn co dying

left: Wimbledon Sport – SW Merino – Blue Pictsies in the dye pot
right: clear water remaining after dyeing process is complete

One of your goals is to be eco-friendly. How do you make your yarns a little “greener?” 

My partner is an Environmental Project Manager and I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot of free help and advice on how to make my processes as low impact as possible.

I have chosen to use a local dye supplier and the most toxic thing I use in my process is regular household vinegar! I try to ensure that I use up all dyes in the pot when dyeing. I’ve even developed a line of OOAK (one of a kind) yarns – TWIST 100% British Bluefaced Leicester fingering – that helps me to use up every last particle so nothing gets wasted or ends up back in the water table.

islington kettle yarn coIslington colorways

All my yarn blends are chosen to ensure animal welfare and humane wool production. Any Merino I use is Peruvian to ensure that absolutely no mulesing is done to the sheep and many of my blends use 100% British Bluefaced Leicester. It is very important to me to support the British Wool Industry and help to maintain traditional breeds.

I always joke that British Bluefaced Leicester is the Holy Grail of wool blends as the fleece combines three of  the most highly prized qualities for handcrafting:
1.  a softness comparable to Merino wool – delicate enough for the most sensitive skin;
2.  a long staple fibre, making yarn hard wearing, long lasting and extremely low pilling;
3.  the fleece is formed of crimped fibres, creating a natural lustre and elastic bounce.

This gives the yarn a gentle sheen, which reflects light to enhance stitch work and colour while also giving the blend elasticity, warmth and a luxurious drape. Purchased from the British Wool Marketing Board, we only use supersorted 100% British Bluefaced Leicester fleece. ‘Supersorting’ is when the fibre is picked through (cleaned of any unwanted bits!)  twice as much as normal wools are handled and then is examined again before being combed and sent for processing at the spinning mill. This ensures that only the very softest BFL is used for Kettle Yarn Co. blends.

creamsicle cardigan

What’s next for you and Kettle Yarn Co?

I have two UK trade shows coming up in July and am in a yarn dyeing frenzy for the next month in preparation. I am so excited about them both as will have my very own solo both for the first time! Unwind is the first, which takes place July 12th and 13th in the beautiful seaside town of Brighton and Fibre East is at the end of the month July 26th and 27th in Bedfordshire.

I am working on a few new blends to release for the shows and they will be available in August in the shop! So exciting.

Thanks for sharing with us, Linda! So many amazing insights into the knitty gritty (excuse the pun) of yarn dyeing. If you’re in the neighborhood, you should definitely check out the Kettle Yarn Co booth at those upcoming festivals! Luckily for the rest of us, Kettle Yarn Co is available through Etsy. And Linda has put together Creamsicle kits in Sherbert and Melon Balls, just add an issue of Pom Pom Quarterly and needles!

Have you knit with Kettle Yarn Co before? How important is it that your yarn be eco friendly?

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23
May

Further Reading 5/23/14

Written by Sarah. Posted in further reading

Starting off with something fun, there’s the teaser for Shaun the Sheep, the next film from the creators of Wallace and Gromit. Shaun was the star of my favorite Wallace and Gromit film, A Close Shave, so I’m very excited to see what he’s up to in this movie. Guess I’ll have to wait until next year! Some extra links for your holiday weekend are coming up!

>> In case you were hoping to buy me a gift but were short on ideas, this handmade hamburger bow would be awesome. I mean, just throwing that out there. (Thanks, Dana!)

>> Two big brands have recently announced projects for handmade/fair trade products. West Elm has committed to giving $35 million to 20 artisan groups that make goods by hand. You can shop for anything from couches to gorgeous drawer pulls that are all handcrafted here. Similarly, Kate Spade, Jack Spade, and Saturday have started a project called On Purpose. They are teaching women in Rwanda to make accessories for their brands in order to help them earn a living wage. While there are similar programs out there (I’m thinking about Ricefield Collective), I think it’s really important to give companies like these a hand for taking on these ventures. Sure, there’s more work to be done, but we should encourage these bigger brands to keep adding fair trade and handmade items to their inventory.

>> I’m really dying to make some of these little fabric bracelets. They look super simple and very cute. I like to make and wear friendship bracelets as soon as the weather turns but I always want to mix it up. Looks like I’m going to the craft store this weekend.

>> Have you ordered your digital edition of Knitscene Accessories? (No pressure.) Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes at the photo shoot for the issue. I’m always in awe of their hair stylists! And, gosh, do they have fun on these shoots or what?

>> I saw this recipe for tahini cookies in Martha Stewart Living and I immediately started to drool. I love the idea of using sesame paste instead of peanut butter in a cookie. Why didn’t I think of that? Maybe I need to make a batch of these this weekend, too. (Am I being over-ambitious?)

>> Knitty shared this amazing story earlier this week of knitter Eileen Scrivani. She loves to knit beautiful cable work and doesn’t let the fact that she’s visually impaired get in the way. What an amazing woman! Eileen is a New Yorker I’d definitely love to meet!

>> I am freaking obsessed with this handmade Clara Oswald dress! While Amy Pond is my favorite companion (ginger, duh), I’ve always coveted Clara’s style. This dress was absolutely my favorite thing she wore so it was very exciting to see that another fan had made her own.

Will that hold us over until next week? I’m hoping to spend the long weekend working on some upcoming posts. And knitting, of course. I’m still having some pretty bad startitis and general crankiness with everything I’m working on. There’s been a lot of bouncing from my sewing machine to knitting needles to cross stitch. I just don’t know what I want to do and I feel it kind of spilling over into the rest of life, like I don’t know what kind of music I want to hear on the train, or what I want to write about, etc. Am I in a creative funk? Or am I just overwhelmed by how much of everything I want to accomplish simultaneously?

Are you making time during the long weekend for crafts?

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20
May

Sphinx Hat in Knitscene Accessories

Written by Sarah. Posted in design, FO, hat, knits, KYC Presents

Good morning, lovelies! I have been really busy, guys, but it all seems to be falling in place. I’m so excited to say that I have another pattern to share with you today! A little change of pace for me, this is an accessory. I seem to dream in sweaters but it’s a fun challenge, doing something that requires a little less labor that still packs a punch visually.

sphinx hat 2

This one is called Sphinx and you can find it in the upcoming issue of Knitscene Accessories! Sphinx is a slouchy hat with colorwork and contrasting ribbing, perfect for anyone who’s intimidated by two-color knitting or anyone new to knitting in the round.

sphinx hat

The theme for this part of the issue was all about mythology. (Have I ever mentioned that I love themes? I LOVE them. I love the problem-solving they require and I also love how much inspiration they can provide.) So I wanted to go with an Egyptian theme with these jewel tones and clay colors. I think that the Brooklyn Tweed Loft is perfect. Not only are the colors absolutely gorgeous, the heathered hues look really antique.

sphinx hat 3

I’m so excited for this issue of Knitscene. Of course, the photos are just great. I love the styling. As always, I’m part of a great group of designers!

This issue of Knitscene Accessories featuring Sphinx is available for pre-order. But you can buy and download digital copy of the issue right now! So what are you waiting for?

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16
May

Me Made Mavens

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, holiday, Me Made May

It’s Me Made May which means everybody is busting out their handmade outfits. I’ve always wanted to participate in MMM but I don’t feel like I have enough to wear. I know, right? I can’t believe it either. It’s tough to wear hand knits when the weather is turning warm and I’m dying to bust out my summer wardrobe.

While I’m here making excuses and dreaming of sewing some lovely summer tops, there are plenty of other makers offering daily doses of their handmade outfits on Instagram. Here are just a few!

memademayGinger Makes
Untangling Knots
Craft Sanctuary
Oona Balloona

Mainly, Me Made May makes me want to get on my sewing machine. I am in awe of all of these talented ladies! And there are so many more of them. All of the #mmmay14 outfits are inspiring me. Aren’t they great?

Who’s Me Made May outfits are you coveting? Are you participating? Post a link in the comments! I’d love to see your outfits!

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14
May

The Shepherd and the Shearer

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, yarn

When I heard about The Shepherd and the Shearer, I was all, “Shut up and take my money!” The concept, in short, is a domestic sheep-to-sweater project with two aran patterns by amazing designers Kate Davies and Kristen Kapur. The concept of sheep-to-sweater really had me excited.

We make our clothes so we know the hard work and resources that go into each stitch. But taking that back even further is so interesting. Let’s talk about the mills and the farmers and the sheep themselves! This is something that indie dyers have really embraced (see Jill Draper Makes Stuff) and Brooklyn Tweed has brought it to the mainstream. But we should not forget that even DIY has its roots on a farm, in a mill, and in someone else’s hands.

Susan just announced that there will be another installment of The Shepherd and the Shearer this year. So I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to share the gorgeous yarn I received from the project last year.

shepherd and shearer
Each kit came with a pattern book featuring the special designs, a project bag, and some of the yummiest fresh-off-the-sheep yarn. Susan’s concept was not only to give buyers insight into the process but to come out with some real, old-fashioned yarn. This is rugged and hard-wearing, none of that silky, slinky yarn. There’s a time and a place for those soft yarns but this is about wonderful, traditional arans and natural colors.

shepherd and shearer
The yarn came to me with that funky sheep smell, still greasy with lanolin. It really felt like I was getting this straight from the shearer herself. Unfortunately, since receiving the yarn, I haven’t had any time to knit it up. I haven’t even decided which of the two patterns I prefer. But I just love the look of this yarn.

This year, there will be a limited release of The Shepherd and the Shearer so keep your eyes on the Juniper Moon blog for more information. It sounds like they’ve worked some of the kinks out of this massive undertaking including changing mills. I’m excited to see what these designers come up with!

Do you knit sheep-to-sweater? Did you pick up one of these kits last year?

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09
May

Further Reading 5/9/14

Written by Sarah. Posted in further reading

anna maltzSceles by Anna Maltz in Pom Pom Quarterly Issue 9

 

While I’m pimping my own pattern in the upcoming issue of Pom Pom Quarterly (now available for pre-order), I feel that it’s only right I show a little love to its friends. PPQ does a great job of curating a limited amount of patterns that are just gorgeous. You should really take a look at them; they’re all going in my queue! Honestly, I’m just so honored to have a pattern alongside these beautiful pieces by designers I really admire!

>>  In case you need a last-minute Mother’s Day gift (I won’t tell), consider making a donation to Action Kivu in your mom’s name. Action Kivu helps train women in Congo to be seamstresses so they can support themselves. They set them up with sewing kits to get started with their own businesses.

>>  Speaking of pre-orders, Amy Christoffers’ amazing new book is coming out this summer. I don’t even have the book yet and I’m already having trouble deciding which pattern to start with!

>>  I love this comic. It’s so adorable!

>>  The super talented Onyee modified a McCalls pattern to sew her own Lupita Golden Globes dress! Her replica of the Ralph Lauren cape dress is pretty spot on. It’s stunning, really.

Very excited to hang out with my mom this weekend. She’s got some great knitting projects that I’m looking forward to seeing. I am dreaming of spending my paycheck on some fabric. Just what I need, more projects! What are you working on this weekend?

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06
May

Creamsicle in Pom Pom Quarterly

Written by Sarah. Posted in cardigan, design, FO, knits, KYC Presents, pattern, yarn

creamsicle cardigan

After all of the complaints about startitis last week, I am super excited about what I have to share today! The preview for Pom Pom Quarterly’s summer issue came out on Friday so you can finally get a peek at my first design for their magazine.

Creamsicle is a summery sweater, slightly cropped with half sleeves and a bobble front. You know I love bobbles. I’m always pleased when I can put my personality and style into a piece of knitwear and this vintage-inspired, whimsical top is exactly that.

creamsicle_4_medium2

The sweater is knit with Kettle Yarn Co’s gorgeous Wimbledon yarn which is the most delectable superwash merino I’ve ever laid my hands on. Working with it is a dream and it’s super soft and silky which is perfect for a light sweater like this. Linda is a really fantastic dyer. The colors were beyond anything I could have imagined. I’m obsessed with how the peach and melon work together.

And, of course, I’m just completely over the moon with how amazing the photos are. The ladies at Pom Pom always impress. They really know how to style things perfectly.

creamsicle cardigan 2

The summer issue of Pom Pom Quarterly is available for pre-order right now in both print and digital forms! I definitely think you should pick up a copy and not just for the purposes of shameless self-promotion. All of the patterns in this issue are going into my queue. Speaking of, you can add Creamsicle to your queue and add it to your favorites on Ravelry. Best of all, Kettle Yarn Co has already opened a pre-order for Wimbledon kits so you can have your yarn on hand when the magazine comes out later this month. Did I mention how amazing this yarn is?

Will you be knitting a Creamsicle? Do you love bobbles or do you love bobbles?

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02
May

I Have Startitis

Written by Sarah. Posted in cross stitch, embroidery, gift, knits, photos, sewing, shirt, sweater, WIP, wip

Welcome, I’m glad you could all join us for this week’s meeting. Who’d like to share first?

Hi, I’m Sarah. I have Startitis.

Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the fact that I read two issues of Molly Makes and the new Martha Stewart Living while I was off on Wednesday. I want to do everything. I want to renovate an old house and start a garden and build furniture. I just want to make stuff.

grettir sleeve

I’m so frustrated because I haven’t had any FOs to share in such a long time. I’m working on everything at once so nothing’s done. I’m just wanting to do it all, I’m exploding with inspiration, I’m running in every direction.

tova

Some of this craft mania is due to the fact the weather is changing. I want to be sewing some summer pieces. I want to get rid of everything in my closet and start fresh which adds this urgency to it. I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing when it comes to sewing. I started working on the Wiksten Tova top. It’s kind of a mess but I really don’t want to get into that. I’m making something.

I’m still working on that Grettir sweater for Jon. There’s a lot of stockinette. ‘Nuff said. I have plans to make something for my grandma’s birthday. (And thanks for all of your helpful suggestions!) I still don’t know what it will be. I think I’ll end up working around my stash because I just did some spring cleaning and the amount of yarn I have should be illegal.

zelda cross stitch progress

And if you follow me on instagram, you know that I’ve picked up my Zelda cross stitch again. It was hidden away for a few months. (Okay, I forgot that I was working on it.) This project has been going forever but I’m actually quite pleased with how far it’s come. I think it’s actually nearing the home stretch. And every time I look at it, I get excited because goddamnit it looks like the real thing! It’s funny, although this has been incredibly tedious and time consuming and I hope I never try this again, I always enjoy coming back to this project. Something about the simplicity of it after doing an intense knit is really satisfying. It’s intricate, I won’t pretend it’s easy but it’s methodical to the point that it’s meditative. And, like I said, look at the result.

So I have a bit of Startitis. I just can’t commit to any one thing. Maybe once I finish something I’ll feel relieved. Maybe I’ll finally be able to figure out what’s next. But until then, I’m just going to keep stitching away.

Because it’s all about the process isn’t it?

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