Happy Knit Year, everyone! Hope you had a lovely one. Jon and I have a tradition of cooking ourselves a fancy dinner at home and watching the ball drop. I like doing that so much! It feels like a real treat and we don’t have to feel like we’re being lame since we’re staying in. (I love staying in. If you’ve seen me in the past 6 months, you are very lucky.)
Anyway, Pantone announced the color of the year last month. It’s always exciting for me because I’m a nerd for color. I wasn’t very excited about last year‘s color since I don’t really like bright purples. But this year’s color, Marsala, I just love. It’s like the color of my favorite lipstick, a really deep red-brown that’s a little vintage and very easy to wear.
Let me tell you, it was not easy finding yarns that matched this year’s color! I’m not sure if it’s because dyers aren’t into an earthy color like this or that this is a very unique shade of red. Anyway, let me share what I found!
1. Madeline Tosh Pure Silk Lace in Byzantine
2. Sweet Georgia BFL Sock in Terra Firma
3. Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky in Claret
4. Lion Brand Superwash Merino Cashmere in Wine
5. Purl Soho Worsted Twist in Mixed Berry
Will you be wearing Marsala this year? What’s your favorite earth-toned yarn?
Tags: 2015, Blue Sky Alpacas, bulky yarn, color of the year, lace yarn, lion brand, madeline tosh, marsala, new year, Pantone, purl soho, red, red yarn, sock yarn, superwash merino cashmere, Sweet Georgia, worsted yarn
Rhinebeck this year felt a lot like Black Friday shopping. I’ve never gone Black Friday shopping but I imagine getting a Cabbage Patch Kid the day after Thanksgiving 1987 was a lot like trying to get into the Miss Babs booth Saturday morning at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. Lisa said that she crawled on her hands and knees into the booth to secure three skeins of worsted-weight yarn. (That’s why I love her.) (Babs herself was there being just lovely. She told me in hushed tones that it was ok to squish all the yarn, pick a color, and buy it online.)
Let’s start with the bad news, this is the yarn I didn’t buy.
We all have different strategies for fiber festivals but this is mine: I do a lap before I buy anything. In fact, sometimes I do many laps. Now, there are exceptions to this rule, sure. If it’s the last skein in that base I love or I can’t get it online or I just feel like it’s THE ONE, snatch it up. But this way is the best for me to prevent impulse-buying. At the end of the day, if I still hear the yarn calling out to me or I can’t get it out of my head, I’ll go back for it.
I walked away from a lot of yarn but that’s not to say that none of this was gorgeous. I wanted it all. But my budget (and overflowing stash) keeps me from getting everything. Part two of my strategy is to take a photo and write it down so that I can buy it later online when I either have a project or the money.
I went with a list this time but, let me tell you, it was very overwhelming to make big decisions in this atmosphere so I didn’t end up checking anything off of my list. The big ticket item was yarn for Benton. I’d love to make one for NaKniSweMo but I’m not sure what colors I want. I wear a lot of blue so I’m trying to stay away from navy. I was thinking a clay red, forest green, or maybe gold? In the end, there were so many fibers and so many color choices that were so perfect for this sweater (plus so much yarn substitution and price math), I just couldn’t choose. So I have a list of possible choices that I’m going to compare when I have my wits about me.
Here’s what I did buy. And looking at it now, I feel kind of silly because it’s really all the same. But, like I said, I have lots of yarn that are buzzing around my brain. And, spoiler alert, I did get some Christmas gifts that will have to remain a secret.
I’ve got too much sock yarn but Into the Whirled is just so yummy. All of these are the Manchester Sock base which is merino/nylon/cashmere. It’s so soft. I’m addicted to sock yarn.
When we arrived at the house Friday night, I put on some hand knit socks to get cozy with a cider (as you do at the start of a Rhinebeck weekend). I can’t tell you how sad Jon was that he hadn’t packed any knit socks. This boy loves cuddling up in handmade socks and it just really tickles me. His appreciation for socks makes me want to make him a billion (he only has two pair, that’s not right!) and it feels like a pretty valid excuse to add to my sock yarn stash. So when I was browsing the racks at ITW, I decided not to go with something pretty and purple. I picked out Wanderlust because I thought it was really masculine.
I was also totally drooling over their new semi-solids like this peacock colorway, Qualinesti. I’ve got plenty of self-striping and variegated yarns and I just feel like they limit me to making slip stitch or plain socks. I can only cable with semi-solids and solids! It’s just a thing.
So I said that that was enough sock yarn. I was just going to make some soft, amazing socks for my boyfriend…But then I went back to ITW with Panda and she convinced me that buying this skein of Cherry Bomb because it matched my nail polish was a totally legit reason. (Nail polish is Essie “In Stitches” because it’s also totally legit to buy nail polish just because it’s named after knitting. Knitting-themed nail polish, nail polish-themed yarn…This is getting a little meta.) It’s a little tough to photograph. In real life, it’s a little more on the mauve side.
I did end up getting something that’s been on my list. Ever since I saw Dana’s earrings at VKL in January, I’ve coveted a pair of Jennie the Potter earrings. It was really tough deciding which ones to get but I really love these!
So there you have it. I came, I saw, I bought yarn.
What did you get at Rhinebeck?
On 364 days of the year, I would never be caught dead wearing an American flag t-shirt or rocking stars-and-stripes nail art. I wouldn’t say that I’m not proud to be an American but I wouldn’t go singing about how I’m free, yadda yadda. To me, America is like an embarrassing parent. It’s great and it doesn’t give me a hard time about my curfew but sometimes I wish it would wear something different when we go to the mall. (Can you go lead the free world away from me and my friends? I’m trying to get Europe to notice me!) To put it simply, I am not an American of the AMURICA variety.
All of that aside, I love Independence Day. I love grilling, I love drinking domestic beers, I love the Founding Fathers (sorry those assholes are always dragging you guys into everything). I want to get drunk and watch 1776 on full volume.
Since tomorrow is AMERICA’S BIRTHDAY, I thought it would only be appropriate to share some yarns that are Made in America. There are lots of amazing yarns coming from around the globe but there is an excitement for me in buying locally and supporting America’s textile renaissance.
Here are some yarns hailing from California to the New York Island.
1. A Verb for Keeping Warm Floating in Transitional Fury
2. Quince & Co. Puffin in River
3. Jill Draver Makes Stuff Mohonk in Bing Cherry
4. Imperial Yarn Columbia 2-ply in Natural
5. Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Almanac
In the spirit of the holiday, I am reminded of the American colonists who eschewed British fabrics and produced their own homespun to boycott unjust taxes. Those are our very own forefathers of American DIY!
I’d love to collect a better list. What are your favorite American-made yarns?
While I visited a lot of museums, my first stop when I go to a new city is the LYS. It makes me feel like I’m part of the community, like I could picture myself living there a little bit. Every store I’ve visited is different and really shows what the area is all about but at the same time it’s very familiar. There is no better home away from home for me than a LYS.
Speaking of homes away from home, I was just about ready to move in when I got to A Verb for Keeping Warm. I’d always wanted to go after seeing photos by other bloggers and it was so exciting to finally be able to make the trip. I decided to dedicate a day of my adventure to Oakland so that I’d have a good amount of time to spend at Verb. It was way more than what I’d expected!
Verb is just a lovely shop with a great selection of the higher-end delicious yarns we all love. The fabric selection is something else. There were so many bolts that caught my eye, everything from organic, natural-dyed cottons to Japanese Nani Iro prints. There were a lot of things that wanted to go home with me. Verb recently released their first sewing pattern so I had to pick up a copy of that.
Sarah gave me a little tour of the shop. Verb specializes in natural dyeing. They sell dyes (which I was VERY tempted to buy but have promised myself that I will not take up dyeing. I can’t have another hobby!) as well as their own line of natural-dyed yarns. I’m absolutely obsessed with these yarns and spent a long time petting them. Sarah explained that the fleeces come from a nearby organic cotton farm which is fertilized by sheep. The mill is also located within 90 miles of the shop and everything is dyed in house. I don’t think it can get more local than that.
I wish I could’ve taken one of the natural dyeing classes while I was in town. Luckily, Verb’s owner Kristine Vejar is busy finishing up a book about the subject. Those of us who are not lucky enough to be in the Bay Area for lessons will soon be able to learn at home!
This bold red “Transitional Fury” really stood out to me so, I had to have it.
My favorite thing about the shop is the garden. Not only is there a beautiful and sunny place to take your needles, there is a little garden of plants that can be used in natural dyeing. It really made me want to make better use of my window garden. Maybe a project for next summer? I got to meet Verb’s very own angora rabbit, Marcel. He was the sweetest! So soft and happy. He’s sheered four times a year and the angora yarn quickly sells out every season.
I’ve certainly seen my share of LYSs. This one is definitely one of my favorites. I love it when a store not only is beautiful and friendly but has a really solid identity. Verb is really dedicated to being a great resource for all crafters and you can tell just by spending a few minutes in there. I’d love to take another visit (maybe when I can afford to bring more souvenirs home) and attend one of the classes there!
Have you been to A Verb for Keeping Warm? Do you want to learn more about natural dyeing?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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?
This has been a long time in the making but I have a really exciting announcement today! After months of work, I’m ready to introduce to you to Bridge and Tunnel Yarns!
Inspired by the subways of New York City, this yarn is spun from 100% American angora rat fur. Angora rats are incredibly friendly and clean. They are terribly smart! I think they’re going to be the next big thing in knitting. Super soft and durable, our first base is a lofty fingering weight perfect for socks and shawls.
When I first met some happy angora rats and pet their luxurious fur, I was captivated by the idea of making yarn! I’ve partnered with Moonflower Ranch, a sustainable angora rat farm located in western Pennsylvania, as well as the 100-year-old, family-owned Quickspring Mills in New Hampshire.
Hayleigh, owner of Moonflower Ranch, has told me all about the tradition of rat shearing. This almost-forgotten domestic art is gaining a new following with the homesteader movement. While the numbers of angora rat shearers and spinners has grown, it’s always been a very homemade operation. It’s never been done on a scale like this but the yarns will still be more “small batch” as we grow.
In case you haven’t caught on already, April Fools! That’s actually Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud Lace Yarn. I wouldn’t really ask you to knit with rat fur.
I mean, would you?
Let me be honest with you. When I wrote about how I wanted to bring Timberline on vacation with me and have this really complicated project to focus on, I was lying. I didn’t know it at the time because I was lying to myself and I ended up lying to you, too. (Please forgive me.) Every time I’ve thought about working up a swatch for that sweater since my first attempt, I get a little dizzy. Maybe I was hoping someone would talk me out of it.
I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t confident enough to move ahead with that cardigan. I think it’s more of a commitment issue than an actual fear of the pattern. I’ve knit aran sweaters before. Now just isn’t the right time. I’m just not excited about it and I can’t get started unless I’m really psyched out of my mind. I’m ok with that. All in good time.
Of course, that means that I had to admit to Jon that he wasn’t going to get a Timberline any time in the near future. I think he was a little bummed. This boy loves cardigans. But I have something else up my sleeve.
While I was browsing the Brooklyn Tweed site a few weeks ago, Jon caught a glimpse of Grettir over my shoulder and made me show him all of the photos. Then he forgot that he’d pointed it out to me. But I remembered and I decided that he should have this sweater in his wardrobe. I love colorwork and I haven’t knit that many circular-yoke sweaters so this will be fun. Besides, it’ll look really handsome on him and it’s very different from the rest of his clothing.
I stuck pretty close to the sample pallet. I decided to go with Cascade 220 instead of Brooklyn Tweed for some budgetary reasons but also because my LYS didn’t have all of the grey shades of Shelter in stock. Really, I fell for this blue-grey for the main color. It’s really a pewter which is one of my favorite colors.
Jon did seem a little disappointed that the main color yarn isn’t heathered the way that Shelter is. (He asked, “How will you get those dots in it?” to which I answered, “Uh…it won’t.”) But I’m confident it’ll still be a beautiful sweater. He’s pretty easy to knit for, not afraid of color or being bold. He’s a pretty stylish guy.
What do you think? Am I chickening out? Do you prefer colorwork or cables?
When we last saw our hero, she was going through a rough patch with a swatch. Can you believe it’s been over six months since I made my first attempt at Timberline? I have good excuses for not getting back to it (see here and here) but to be completely honest, I was intimidated and frustrated and I gave up a little bit.
It seems like Jon has asked me every day this year when his sweater would be coming. What about a nice raglan or an Icelandic yoke sweater? I even tried to tide him over with a pair of socks. No, this boy will not forget about the 2000 yards of Shelter that’s hiding under the bed.
I think it’s time that I give this sweater a second chance.
I’m going on a short vacation next month and I’m super excited about it. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’ll be a good time to start working on any new designs (though I have ideas coming out my ears right now). Now, the crazy part of me thinks that this is a perfect opportunity to knock out some big chunks of this sweater. Why not? I know it sounds totally crazy to schlep an intensely cabled sweater piece on vacation but I feel like it’ll be a great time to just focus on knitting and not worry about getting laundry done or waking up for work in the morning. At least it’ll give me something to focus on while I’m in the air (I hate the whole flying experience from definitely probably getting cancer in those full-body scanners to everyone in the airport hating you to the roller coaster feeling of take offs and landings). I’ll have some unadulterated time with my needles and no one can tell me otherwise when I’m on my own vacation thankyouverymuch.
Now, the rational part of me thinks that I’ll become terribly claustrophobic and frustrated when I mess up a cable six times on the plane. I won’t be able to get up and take a lap or lie on the floor as I like to do when knitting isn’t working out so I’ll end up stabbing my boyfriend with a knitting needle. Then I will be arrested and probably put on the no fly list (not really a loss there) and maybe a pair of socks would be nicer?
OF COURSE, I could always bring a sleeve AND a sock. Why not both?
Anyway, I have about a month to plan but if I’m taking this show on the road, there is yarn to be wound and some SERIOUS swatching that needs to happen.
What do you think? Do you pack small projects or go all in? Also, somewhat related, any book suggestions for the beach? (I like mysteries, cults, pirates, and young adult dystopias.)