Yarn & Pattern Launch: Heirloom and the Rose Cottage Cap!

Hello yarn folk! Todays the big day: a combo yarn and pattern launch!! All the specifics are at the end of this blog post . . .

First up, Cathe Capel’s “Heirloom” yarn is now available (as of Nov 10th at 2:00pm US Central time). It’s a gorgeous, two ply farm-to-skein, longwool yarn that’s perfect for outerwear and accessory projects (250yds/3.4 oz)! Cathe is a longtime shepherd with a beautiful flock. Some of her sheep even pastured with us this summer. I love visiting her farm and I’m so happy to help launch this yarn into the world! You can learn more about the yarn on the YouTube launch video. And if you want to get your hands on the yarn, email Cathe at Cathe505@gmail.com and she’ll send you a Paypal invoice for your purchase. The yarn is in limited supply, so orders will be processed in the order that they are received. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

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To go along with this yarn, three os us designed patterns (see the end of this post for more info). I designed the Rose Cottage Cap that is full of texture and fun stitch patterns.  You can grab a kit for the hat by getting in touch with Cathe (Cathe505@gmail.com) OR you can take advantage of this promotion code, KTS_RCC and download the pattern for $1 until Nov 17th!

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YARN and PATTERN INFO:

  • Heirloom yarn (250yds /3.4oz) is $20/skein, plus shipping (flat rates in the US and calculated for international orders)
  • Rose Cottage Cap Kits are $22, plus shipping
  • Heirloom Ankle Sock Kits are $22, plus shipping
  • Fountain Leaf Shawl Kits are $62, plus shipping
  • Patterns are also available on Ravelry as individual downloads

Giveaway Info: To win one skein of Heirloom yarnl, please leave a comment here, on the YouTube yarn launch video, or on the Ravelry thread. I’ll draw one winner in two weeks time via random number. Good luck! International winners will need to pay shipping.

Please email Cathe (Cathe505@gmail.com) with any questions about the yarn. You can always get in touch with me about anything fiber related–or even this hat pattern!

Posted in commissioned project, community, design, hat, Heriloom Yarn, Rose Cottage Cap, yarn, yarn launch | Leave a comment

Yarn Launch for Seven Sisters Farm!

Hello my fiber folk! Last year, I launched my first yarn, Shorn and you all were so supportive and welcoming of those skeins of Cormo and Corriedale! Thank you!

As many of you know, Shorn II (2019 clip) is in the works–we’re in the pattern development stage right now!!–and I’ll be releasing it in Jan/Feb 2020!

In the meantime, my good friend, Cathe Capel of Seven Sisters Farm, has put together a new farm-to-skein yarn, Heirloom, and I am so happy to partner with her to launch it into the world! The yarn is a longwool blend and a group of us have been lucky enough to work with it and develop patterns over the past few months: a hat, a shawl, and some beautiful socks! So, consider this your teaser and get ready for the launch party on November 10th!

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I’ll be sending out a follow-up an email to those of you on my “yarn launch list”–if you would like to be added, please send me an email at knittingthestash@gmail.com

Included in the email will be a few more teasers about the three new patterns that were knit especially with this yarn in mind 🙂

Happy knitting and I’ll see you on Nov 10th!

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Posted in community, custom yarn, farm, Seven Sisters Farm, yarn, yarn launch | 2 Comments

Episode 66: Test Knits, Special Guests, and Mohair Magic

Hello fiber folk! I am happy to be back this week with an episode chock-full of all the best stuffs: a chat with Spencer that had us laughing–we hope you’ll laugh along, too; a call for test knitters! I have a new hat pattern coming out and need some help; a review of Independence Wool–and a sweet, sweet GIVEAWAY; plenty of Norwegian knits in translation: this time, it’s books and designers! Come hang out a while?

**Love the content? Buy me a coffee at http://www.ko-fi.com/knittingthestash

Giveaway Info: To win one of two prizes from Independence Wool, please leave a comment here, on the YouTube episode, or on the Ravelry thread with a question about yarn processing/milling. Anything you want to know or learn! I’ll draw two winners in two weeks time via random number. Good luck!

SHOW NOTES:

 

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If you’re feeling the KnitCrate love and want some excitement in your mailbox each month, you can Subscribe to KnitCrate via this link http://mbsy.co/lDCgM and use this Discount Code to get 20% Off: KTS20

Posted in episode, farm, giveaway, Independence Wool, indie, knitters, knitting, knitting podcast, mill, mohair, podcast, test knitting, test-knit, video, woolen mill, yarn, yarn review, yarn weight | Leave a comment

Review: Hikaru Noguchi’s Darning

Repair, Make, Mend–it’s a philosophy, and a good one, if you’re a knitter or a crafter of any kind. It’s also the subtitle of Hikaru Noguchi’s Darning book, now available in an English language edition. Published by Hawthorne Press, the book is a visual stunner, stocked with full color photographs of garments–and other fabrics–that have been given a second chance.

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Cover, courtesy of Hawthorne Press

When I was approached to review this book, I have to admit that I did not know much about Hikaru’s work. As it turns out, she has been working in the fashion industry for over 25 years and during that time she has amassed a wealth of information, skill, and experience working with fabrics of all kinds, from denim to knitwear. Hikaru Noguchi’s Darning (which was originally published as Darning Repair Make in Japanese) covers 12 distinct darning techniques that you can put to use right away! I’m no sewist, but the techniques are so clearly explained and photographed that even I could take on some mending work!

Of particular interest to knitters are the sections on darning knitwear: socks, sweaters, mittens, scarves–all of the much loved pieces that we want to keep in our wardrobes even when they start to wear from use.

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Darned Mittens, courtesy of Hawthorne Press

I am enamored with Hikaru’s use of bright, often contrasting colors–it’s both practical (so readers can see the mending in action) and rejuvenating: there is, after all, something special about calling attention to the care and time it takes to slow down, repair our favorite objects, and extended their lives. One could, of course, darn in more inconspicuous colors! But, for me, part of the fun is the recognition of the process itself.

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Darned Sweater, courtesy of Hawthorne Press

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Darned Socks, courtesy of Hawthorne Press

Aside from sweaters, socks, and mittens, Darning demonstrates how to mend denim, upholstery, pillows, shirts, and coats. It’s playful, thoughtful, and incredibly easy to follow. Alongside the specific darning techniques, Hikaru also includes some sample projects and photo galleries of various darning techniques on different fabrics to help you choose what’s right for the task ahead of you. And, if that’s not enough, the book also includes some terrific inspiration in cases where darning might become an embroidered enhancement.

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Denim Sampler, courtesy of Hawthorne Press

Repair, Make, Mend is a philosophy I can get behind. In fact, I have a couple of darning tools (thanks to some wonderful friends out in the blogosphere!) and this book is just the push I needed to fix my jeans, pull out those hole-filled mittens, and have some fun taking better care of the objects that have served me so well. If you have clothes that you love, you need Hikaru Noguchi’s Darning.

Posted in book review, books, community, craft, darning, Hikaru Noguchi, Japan, mending | 6 Comments

Indie Wool Feature: Independence Wool

Well, fiber folk . . . I’ve been at it again! I’ve found a lovely indie dyer for you: Dawn Brown of Independence Wool–a Texas-based mill! I discovered Dawn when I noticed an Isabell Kraemer IG post that featured a GORGEOUS purple sweater knit in a yarn called Texas Tweed Lite (to be restocked soon!!). I had to know more and Dawn was generous enough to spend some time with me via email so that I could learn more about her yarn and the mission of Independence Wool. It’s quite a story and one that includes the acquisition of goats, a mill take-over, and so much future potential–and all of this after a full career as a medical doctor! What?!? I love it! The interview is below–along with some beautiful images of Dawn, her yarn, and the mill. And, on the next episode of the podcast, we’ll get down to business with a giveaway from Dawn–you won’t want to miss it! Enjoy!

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Dawn Brown

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Texas tweed: 50/50 Rambouillet, natural grey mohair

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100% mohair Diamond DK

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Mill building

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Raw wool during spring wool classing, sourcing wool for the mill

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Mohair Rug

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Texas Tweed, Diamond DK . . . Balmorhea colorway

KTS: You are based in Texas, have a flock, and run a mill  . . . but how did you get started AND/OR how did your longtime multigenerational farm get its start? Where did the inspiration for Independence Wool come from?

Dawn: Well, I’m a born and raised Texan…of many generations! My family raised fine wool sheep beginning in the 1870s, both my mom’s side, as well as my dad’s family. However, over the years, most have left the land and ranching behind. But …I am back at it! My educational background is in medicine–I’m a retired OB/GYN–so the mill is an encore career for me. While in private practice, I suffered an injury to my neck and shoulder which ultimately led to retiring my surgical practice and entering nonprofit, rural women’s health in Northeast Arkansas, working in an ambulatory community healthy clinic, providing prenatal care and general gyn health services. The injury also led me to learn how to spin and knit as a way to maintain and aid in my manual dexterity. While in rural Arkansas we started a farm; I have always loved goats! So, fiber goats it was! Also, in this rural area, happened to be a cottage industry fiber mill that came up for sale as we were then moving back to Texas. My parents, back in Texas, were having health issues, and I needed a change in work-life balance. So in 2015, I left medicine and opened the mill on our Texas farm. We started with 12 goats in Arkansas in 2009 and now our herd is almost 100, mostly Angora goats. We also have added a growing flock of natural colored Rambouillet, currently 16.

Our driving mission with Independence Wool & Mohair is to be a regional mill, processing the bountiful fibers grown in our state; and in doing so, help to support and celebrate our Texas sheep & goat ranching industry. Also, in working solely with fibers produced on our farm, or in our state, our footprint for yarn in small. I call it intensely local, grown and spun.

Our farm/mill is named for our location: we reside in the the historic village of Independence, Texas. The village dates back to the Republic of Texas–when Texas became its own nation (1836-1846). My dad’s family came to a nearby area in 1821 when what would become Texas was a territory of Mexico. His line is one of the original 300 settlers to migrate to Mexican Texas and receive land grants to start building their new life. This is what is called “Austin’s Old 300”. Interestingly enough my ancestor that received a Mexican land grant in 1824, a league and labor of land, was a woman, a widow. Her name was Elizabeth Tumlinson. My middle name is Elizabeth, and my maiden name is Tumlinson. The women of pioneering Texas were spinners, weavers of wool, flax, and cotton.

KTS: One of your products is mohair (from your own flock and flocks with known provenance), why did you decide to focus your work on this particular fiber?

Dawn: The Edwards plateau region of Texas is Angora goat heaven! Texas is the largest mohair producer in the US…and second …or third now..in global mohair production. So it is plentiful right here at home!

It is an amazing fiber, known as the Diamond Fiber in the textile industry, it has unmatched lustrous dye properties. It is lovely on its own,  or blended with wool.  Kid grade mohair in Texas is exceptional quality due to almost 150 years of genetic selection. The coarser grades of mohair are also very desirable for the equestrian industry as a chosen fiber for saddle cinches. Angora goats are known for a fairly docile temperament, and are excellent foragers.We love them! The Texas landscape was so much better off at its peak of 4.5 million goats; they controlled the brush and cedar overgrowth that now is a problem in many areas of the Texas Hill Country.

By the way, Texas also has one of the finest (lowest micron) wool clips in the nation, mostly due to commercial Rambouillet sheep being the predominate breed raised, along with some debouillet and Delaine merino.

KTS: Who are your biggest crafting influences/inspirations?

Dawn: From a mill standpoint, Mountain Meadow Wool in Wyoming; I love what they are doing for their state’s wool ranching industry. We are a smaller scale mill, but definitely inspired by their work.

The American clothing company, Duckworth, founded by the Helle Rambouillet sheep ranching family in Montana–grown, spun, dyed, cut and sewn in the USA. Their production of wool garments for activewear is a game changer–I wear wool year round in Texas!

Sandi Brock, of Sheepishly Me on Youtube…incredibly inspiring Canadian sheep rancher; she does it all!

I am also inspired by the work being done in the UK–with their amazing efforts to recognize the importance of breed specific wool, to support and celebrate their farmers and flocks.

The Shetland Island culture and nordic countries with their color work heritage…very inspiring.

From a knitting standpoint, Isabell Kraemer–shawls and sweaters, Virginia Sattler-Reimer, Marie Wallin, Kristin Drysdale–for color work.

Handspinning/fiber arts/dye work- Bren Boone; every craft she masters beautifully.

Podcasts- Fruity Knitting, Sandi Brock – Sheepishly Me

KTS: How do you decide on colorways for the yarn?

Dawn: I do a mood board of sorts, collecting pages of color inspirations from magazines–I am a hoarder of any and all British Home and Garden Magazines!! Favorites include Country Living, British Homes and Interiors, British Period Living. I always find a few sheep in the pages! And, of course, always inspired by our vast and varied landscape in Texas. No shortage of colors!

I use Greener Shades Dyes–only 9 to choose from, so you can create your own unique palette through blending. The dyes are GOTS certified. We mostly dye in the wool or mohair, only occasionally skein dyeing.

KTS: Any advice for folks who might want to start a mill someday or process their own yarn with a mill such as yours?

Dawn: Having a good foundation in hand spinning is a huge asset. Learn about all of the fiber types, and their spinning properties. You must enjoy being dirty, lifting heavy things, standing on your feet for long hours, and working with wool as much as with machines.

There isn’t really a great mill “college” out there, but try to get in some work at a mill to see if it is a good fit. We started an apprenticeship at our mill this year; our first fellow has been here since February. He wants to start his own alpaca processing mill in the near future.

KTS: What’s your process for establishing relationships with designers and do you have plans to expand your pattern offerings?

Dawn: We’re new to this area, so I can’t say that I have a process yet, really. I would love to have designers work with our yarn, including our 100% mohair yarn.

I recently met Isabell Kraemer at a knit retreat this summer; the retreat was held very near a wool and mohair ranch that I use as one of our fiber suppliers, so I gifted her some skeins from that particular ranch. She loved them and very quickly designed a pattern with them! I about fell over! She is such an amazing designer, great teacher, and wonderful company at a retreat. She publishes patterns a lot faster than I can make the yarn, lol!!

KTS: Where can folks find your shop? or find out more about you?

Dawn: Website and Shopify store www.independencewool.com

KTS: What’s new on the horizon for Independence Wool?

Dawn: Increasing production with mill apprentice, artist in residence, and branching out into finished products, such as woven wrap blankets, throws, rugs.

We added a commercial sized dye vat and planning for some other equipment additions. Also we have a Youtube channel planned: The Great Texas Wool Project, which will be about mill processing and yarn, but really more about wool and mohair production–the agricultural side of the industry. It’ll be about connecting fiber artists to where their yarn really starts.

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Thanks so much, Dawn, for sharing your history, inspiration, yarn and a bit about your life with us! I love meeting new people (and sheep!): if you are an indie dyer, a hand spinner, a shepherdess, a small flock owner, a mill operator, or a wool trader, I would love to feature your work on this site. Please get in touch via email or Ravelry by clicking the “About” tab (above) Happy knitting! 🙂

Posted in community, Independence Wool, indie dyer, interview, mill, spinning, Texas yarn and fiber, Uncategorized, woolen mill, yarn, yarn-lover | 7 Comments

Episode 65: Sleeve Island

Well hello there! I missed you all last week . . . we went to Del Rio, TX to visit our grandbaby and had to skip out of town for the weekend, so no podcasting for me! This week, I’m back with some stories from sleeve island, details about Norwegian yarn, and a fun shawl WIP in progress designed by Melanie Berg. Plus, the winners of the Audrey Borrego patterns and some farm life chatter. Come hang a while? ~Melissa

SHOW NOTES:

Posted in Audrey Borrego, gradient yarn, hand dyed yarn, knitters, knitting, knitting modification, knitting podcast, Melanie Berg, Norwegian Knitting, Norwegian yarn, Old Crow Art Yarns, shawl, Sweet Georgia, SweetGeorgia, translating knitting patterns, triangular shawl, Uncategorized, yarn | Leave a comment

New School of SweetGeorgia Classes!

Hello Fiber Folk! As many of you know, I’m a self-taught knitter and spinner. I’ve had plenty of wonderful teachers . . . but, like most of you, perhaps, many of those teachers have been virtual or unconventional. Luckily, we live in an age of connectivity: across nations, cultures, communities, the list goes on! Some of my favorite teachers have been in my own “backyard” thanks to the Champaign-Urbana Spinners and Weavers Guild; and some of my favorites can be found half-a-world away from me via podcasts, YouTube, and Craftsy. And now there is a new kid on the block that I really love: The School of SweetGeorgia!

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For the past year, I’ve been part of the School of SweetGeorgia (SSG) as a student–I purchased Felicia Lo’s Dyeing Intentional Color and Dyeing Complex Color with some birthday money my dad sent (yes, I’m a lucky duck–I know!). Once you own the courses, you have lifetime access and you get to be a part of the larger SSG community, including Felicia’s virtual office hours. It’s quite a cool package deal! And I would recommend both of these dying courses to anyone who is either serious about learning to dye OR who really wants to understand the processes and mathematics behind the creation of color + yarn. Plus, all of the videos have excellent production quality and at this point, a few years into the SSG’s development, there are classes on spinning, weaving, dyeing, and knitting–a little something for everyone. And if you subscribe, you have unlimited access to all of the courses–yes, you heard that correctly!

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Fast forward a year and I find myself serving as a SweetGeorgia Ambassador–I love how these yarn and fiber communities and relationships continue to evolve and change! As I’ve said on the podcast, one of my favorite parts of being an Ambassador is the access I have to the growing library of classes on the SSG platform. So, I thought I would share a bit about my experiences there and offer a review of two new classes: Spin to Knit Socks and Spin to Knit a Sweater–both are taught by Rachel Smith of the Wool n Spinning Podcast.

First, the teacher. Rachel Smith was one of my first and favorite spinning teachers. On the ground, I learned from my guild mates Debbie and Beth; and in the virtual world, there was Rachel! She was a wonderful teacher in part because she was so exploratory and curious: she was always trying a new technique and then reporting on the results. She took time to explain properties of fibers, colors, fiber prepping techniques, etc. Plus, when I found Rachel’s podcast, she was in the midst of knitting ONLY with her handspun, and that idea was just, well, revolutionary to me. Despite her busy schedule as a nurse, mom, and fiber teacher, she was willing to chat with me via YouTube and, eventually, a blogspot interview I posted several years back. In short, I feel like I’ve know and learned from Rachel for a long time and she is an excellent teacher!

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Second, the SSG classes. Given everything I’ve told you about Rachel as a podcaster and spinner, you won’t be too surprised to learn how excited I was to find out that she would be hosting a SSG class on Spin to Knit a Sweater! In my mind, it would be a class that gathered all of the bits and pieces of her podcast experiments and hand spinning to knitting experience into one place. And I was not disappointed. The class is a serious resource for anyone who dreams, as I do, of taking the leap and designing a sweater from fleece to finished object. The curricula is pasted in below, and includes everything from sampling to swatching–all of the considerations you need to address if you want to come away with a useable yarn that is designed for the kind of garment you intend to produce! Pair this class with Rachel’s co-authored book, Unbraided: The Art and Science of Spinning Color, and you have an amazing amount of information to work with for any spinning –> knitting undertaking.

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Rachel’s second SSG class is Spin to Knit Socks and it’s also a keeper. This one takes you through twist, various types of ply and color play, consistency, and fiber content–basically everything you need to consider to spin a yarn that will hold up to lots of wear. I was particularly impressed by the module about modifying the twist of your singles and modifying the twist of your ply–it turns out different twists in either of these moments can produce amazingly distinct yarns that fulfill different purposes for knitters. Plus, this course includes tons of resources, as does Spin to Knit a Sweater, that you can download and reference again and again. I’m beginning to think I need my own box of handknit socks . . . my husband loves his (I knit them for him often), but I rarely knit any for myself! This may need to change 🙂

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If you’re interested in Rachel Smith’s new class: Spin to Knit a Sweater you can access it via the link; and you can access Spin to Knit Socks via this link. Both classes are for intermediate spinners, so if you need to learn the basics of spinning (treading, drafting, spinning wheel basics), I would recommend that you take a class and/or become familiar with the basics before signing up for Rachel’s courses. You can find a SSG class taught by Felicia Lo called Spinning from Scratch here. If you have any trouble with access, let me know! Happy spinning, knitting–and learning 🙂

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Posted in community, knitters, knitting, online class, review, School of SweetGeorgia, Spin to Knit a Sweater, Spin to Knit Socks, spinning, Sweet Georgia, SweetGeorgia, Uncategorized, Wool n Spinning Podcast | 2 Comments