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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
Want to talk furniture again?
This whole table thing is actually ending up easier than I’d expected. But there’s a real ongoing theme of not knowing what we’re doing slash not bothering to plan anything ahead of time. It’s a blast. Don’t do it that way. In case you were like, “Hm. I too would like a trendy reclaimed wood table” but weren’t sure about what to do after purchasing said reclaimed wood, well, I’m here to help.
At the lumber yard, they were able to scrape down the wood to get most of the major gunk off. That helped a lot. The guy recommended that we don’t do too much sanding lest we strip the patina right off. Once we got it home, we gave it a good scrub. First, we mixed some Mrs. Meyers dish soap (I like lavender) with warm water. After that, and probably more importantly, we washed it again with a cup or two of borax in warm water. The borax was really difficult to find for some reason but I found it at Target. This second wash kills any bugs and other gross things that I don’t want to think about living in my kitchen table.
After the table was dry, we decided we really needed to do a light sanding. Things were kind of treacherous without. I was going to rent a sander but did you know that they sell little sanders for $30? I have a sander now but not that many things to sand. Anyway, Jon removed the gigantic rusty nails that were sticking out using lots of elbow grease while I got to use the power tools. I went over once with 160 grit and once with 280. Did the trick perfectly.
Next was sealing. Staining was something we toyed with briefly (after we went to the hardware store and bought everything but stain) but we thought that it was best to leave the wood as close to the way we got it. A lot of people in my brief research suggested not sealing the table at all and letting all of the spills and dings and scratches become part of the weathered look. That sounds lovely but I’d really rather keep the wood stuff in the table and everything else out. I’ve had butcher block tables before and this just isn’t quite the same since it’s a bit bumpy and everything. We used a polyacrylic sealer (instead of polyurethane) with a satin finish. It dried super fast and really kind of woke up the wood and made it look fresh and happy.
So that’s just about where we’re at. It’s not very exciting to look at but one day, this little door will grow up to be a real table! Next step is the legs and, well, maybe that’s it!
How much patina is just right for you?
Hunger Games: Catching Fire comes out next month which means a big dose of one of my favorite things: Jennifer Lawrence! While my love for JLaw and the Hunger Games books is no secret, something new has caught my eye and I know I’m not alone. Lots to cover so let’s dive right in and talk about this fantastic cowl.
I caught a glimpse of this cowl months ago when the teaser came out and I knew this was going to be a big deal. Now that the trailer is here, I’m basically just drooling over this gorgeous piece. I love the rustic tweed. It reminds me of Roman Hills’ Winters Bone color way! (Winters Bone, Jennifer Lawrence, IT’S MEANT TO BE!) While it’s kind of earthy and has that hand-crafted look, it’s got a fantastically futuristic shape. I love knits that are minimal and trendy and I’ve found that it’s really really hard to pull off knits that are cool in a modern way instead of a comfy cozy camping kind of way. But this piece finds a way to straddle both looks perfectly. I’m really in awe.
When Jess and I were tweeting about the cowl earlier in the week, we started doing some research. The cowl, featured in Capitol Couture’s profile of Katniss, was designed by Maria Dora. I’m now completely obsessed with her work. Her pieces are being worn by celebrities right now and it looks like she only has more interesting things to come.
This stunning photo really shows off the details and amazing construction of the cowl! A cowl with an arm hole, YES PLEASE.
Jess reached out to the designer and Maria was nice enough to tell us that the cowl is woven not knit. (Doesn’t stop my imagination from running wild!) But! She said that they are developing a knitting pattern and would keep us posted.
This aspect really excited me. I’ve been looking forward to writing about the cowl and saying, as I always do, “Oh, I’d love to figure out how to make my own.” But I’m crazy about that idea of a couture/high street designer sharing their brand with people who couldn’t afford it (or maybe just wouldn’t be interested) off the hanger. If you’ve been keeping up with knitting news, you know that Fred Perry tried and failed to do something similar but I hope other designers put some genuine thought into it. It’s a really interesting way to create conversation between makers that work on completely different scales (without, in my opinion at least, devaluing their brand). I do feel a little sad when I want to rip off designs that I see in stores and there are tons of knitters that don’t have the interest or skills or time to invest in knitting “knock offs” (sorry, I can’t think of a better way to put it but I mean that with love). I’d love to collaborate in this way with mainstream fashion.
Either way, I salute Ms. Dora for her fabulous work. It makes me not only excited to see this movie (the production design is just going to blow the first one out of the water) but excited for the future of knitwear. That’s a pretty big thing to say but I mean it!
What do you think about big brands sharing patterns with knitters? Do you think this cowl is funky in a good way or would you be afraid to wear it? How excited are you for Hunger Games? My weapon of choice is the knitting needle.
ps. Thanks, Jess, for fangirling over this cowl for like three hours with me!
Tags: armhole, braid, capitol couture, catching fire, costume, couture, Cowl, design, fred perry, futuristic, hand knit, hunger games, Jennifer Lawrence, katniss, knit, leather, maria dora, movie, pattern, production design, shaping, witchin in the kitchen, woven
When Meredith at One Sheepish Girl was looking for guest bloggers while she prepares her book (!!!), I raised my hand really high and went “Oo oo oo pick me!” I absolutely love her blog and adorable style.
I wrote up a really fun pattern for a Plant Cozy to share with her readers. You should go check it out (along with the rest of her blog) here!
Do you dress up your plants?
In my ongoing efforts to live my life by the Gospel of Martha Stewart, praised be!, I’m going to build some furniture and it’s going to be adorable.
I don’t really talk about interior decorating because it’s not really something that I have time and money to invest in. But I have big plans. The last apartment that Jon and I lived in remained largely unfinished for the entirety of our stay there (13 months). We painted a few walls but we didn’t hang any pictures or shelves or even the mezuzah which literally required five minutes and a slice of velcro. We moved to the south side of Williamsburg back in February and, while the apartment itself is beautiful and new, we’ve taken a terribly long time to get everything the way we want it. We are about 25% there* which is disappointing but things are finally happening.
First of all, we framed and hung all of the artwork that was sitting in boxes for the past two years. Yay! I’m still in desperate need for more pieces but I’m at a place now where at least it looks like we’re trying. Second, we bought a new grown up person couch. Our last place was only big enough for a little loveseat from IKEA which is not so good for entertaining** and looks odd now that we have room for real furniture. Between you and me, I can go crazy in the IKEA marketplace but I’m way over their furniture. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “Oh, you just have to treat their stuff right and it’ll last a while.” I was lying to myself. And I think it’s time to invest in some furniture that’s not going to fall apart. The couch isn’t here yet because it’s being custom made by hand which is pretty awesome! Can’t wait to tell you more about that!
So since we’re being grown ups that will soon have a fancy couch, it’s time to we get our act together with a real table so we don’t ruin this thing. We’re building a dining table (I typed dining room table but that would require another room which does not exist). We checked out some vintage tables and the like on Etsy but I somehow convinced Jon that it would be way more fun and cool to build one from reclaimed wood. Groovy. But there are basically only three places within 50 miles that sell reclaimed wood and only one of which is open on the weekends. Which is how we ended up at Real Antique Wood.
There was so much lumber there, it was kind of incredible. Pieces of all kinds of buildings just outside of the city. They showed us to a room full of doors. It was incredible. Doors from inside and outside houses new and old with all kind of great fixtures and knobs and hinges. It was fun. The door idea was actually pretty smart because not only is it super cool to use doors as tables but it also means that you don’t have to actually put anything together besides the legs.
The lovely people at Real Antique Wood actually picked out the perfect piece for us before we’d even arrived: a hayloft door from an 1800s barn that had just been dismantled in Ohio. The hinges are original and handmade by a blacksmith. I love that because I’m a total nerd for history. And they also gave us a super price.
Once we dragged the thing home (it’s solid oak and about 4×4), we realized that it’s kind of a filthy mess and it’s going to need a huge amount of work. So there is a lot to be done and hopefully we can execute it before the weather turns too cold. But we’re about 25% into the process of making our apartment into a real live grown up place to live. Hopefully we’ll never have to move because that piece of wood is heavy as all goddamn! Can’t wait to share the door-to-table process with you!
Have you worked with reclaimed wood? Have you built any furniture? Do I have any idea what I’m doing?
* The other 75% includes a lovely pipe dream of building custom bookshelves with a custom computer desk, buying a giant photograph of a sleeping woman, hanging a mirror and little key basket by the front door, making a billion kitschy embroideries for the bathroom, figuring out an attractive way to store our shoes, and buying some dining chairs.
** By entertaining I mean the pile of yarn and miscellaneous craft projects that live on the couch with me.
I promised last week that I’d share more of that sneak peek I posted. I hope you enjoyed the WIP photos! Suspense is over!
When I was dreaming up something special to make for Jon’s brother and soon-to-be sister-in-law in honor of their upcoming nuptials, I had lots of Judaical themes in mind. I really loved making a piece of art for my friend’s wedding last summer and I wanted to do something like it again. (What can I say, I want to make things for every occasion!) While I originally wanted to do some sort of phrase in Hebrew, I thought that a hamsa would make a really beautiful wall hanging and a perfect gift to give at their Moroccan-style henna bridal shower.
The hamsa is a hand symbol that is meant to protect against the evil eye. It’s popular in Middle Eastern cultures and I love that, since it’s so old, it spans across different religions. Jon’s family is from Israel so the hamsas can be found in just about every room of his parent’s house and now my own apartment. I really liked the idea of giving a gift that was kind of a good luck charm, a symbol to help protect their new life together. Traditionally, hamsas appear with an eye in the palm but I also added the heart. I’m not a superstitious person but I’m pretty sure that love is the key to keeping away any bad energy!
I sketched out a few different hamsa designs before deciding on this one. I wanted something a little modern and simple yet true to the roots of Jewish art. The woven gold parts remind me of the artwork at the temple that my family’s been members of for fifty years. (It’s kind of an earthy, 70s folk arty looking place.) I picked up a fat quarter of some pink fabric from Purl Soho. It was a nice change working on something that isn’t white or beige!
I was also really inspired by this Nepali embroidery tutorial. I was dying to incorporate painting with the embroidery. Adding fabric paint really accentuates the three dimensionality of the stitches and adds even more layers there. It was a fun experiment that I definitely want to try again!
Of course, I also included a lot of chain stitching. Really, it’s my favorite embroidery stitch. It’s just so perfect! I also found that using chain stitch to outline the satin stitching worked best. I’d read that using split stitch would do it but it really wasn’t as big and defined as chain stitch. See, chain stitch is the best.
Since I leave everything until the last minute, I didn’t have a frame when it came time to photograph the piece. You’ll have to forgive any wrinkles, etc. I can assure you, though, it looks really stunning on the wall!
What’s your favorite embroidery stitch? Have you incorporated paint into your embroideries? Do you have any hamsas hanging on your walls?
ps. Have you entered The Crash giveaway yet?
Tags: chain stitch, diamond, embroidery, evil eye, fabric paint, frame, gift, hamsa, handmade, handmade gift, hanging, Jewish, middle eastern, moroccan, nepali, satin stitch, split stitch, symbol, tapestry, wall, wedding, woven
Once the weather gets the slightest bit of chill in it, I am craving pumpkin. Pumpkin soup, pumpkin coffee, pumpkin pie. From September 1st to December 1st, I am annually on a mission to ingest as much pumpkin as possible.
Maybe this season we can wrap ourselves in pumpkin-colored sweaters, too! Here are some spicy, warm, and sweet yarns in your favorite flavor!
I’d love a big cowl or maybe a pair of mittens in pumpkin. But a wooly pair of socks sound nice too! There’s just too much pumpkin and not enough time.
What’s your favorite pumpkin treat for the fall?
ps. The winners of the #kollabsockalong were announced yesterday! Congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated!
It’s here! I just wanted to stop by to remind you that the Holla Knits F/W 2013 collection is out TODAY.
I haven’t shared any photos of the second sample which is knit with Unplanned Peacock Studio yarn. The shoulder details are knit in the same colorway as the rest of the sweater (but in the bulky weight) so you can see everything in monotone! Check it out!
You can purchase a PDF of the pattern right here!
And I hope you’re not tired of seeing The Crash because I’ll be hosting a Blog Tour Stop (with giveaways!) on Friday. Stay tuned!
Shall we play a game? There was another piece I finished recently that I kept pretty hush hush.
Here are a few shots!
It’s pretty easy to narrow down what’s going on with embroidery. But the piece is very special and of my own design. I really love photographing embroidery. Something about the way it stands up off of the fabric really fascinates me. I can’t explain it. Do you know what I mean? I think I feel the same way about cables.
I can’t wait to show you more but you’ll have to wait until next week!
Don’t forget! Holla Knits Fall/Winter 2013 collection comes out Monday!