Drea Renee Knits

Lily Jade // The Perfect Handbag for Knitters // GIVEAWAY!!

giveaway, toolsAndrea Mowry199 Comments
Lily Jade Caroline Bag

Lily Jade Caroline Bag

Good morning and happy Sunday! Today I want to talk about what so many of us knitters (and mamas!) need in our life - organization. And maybe even more importantly - something pretty that helps us achieve that!

When I was introduced to Lily Jade bags, I was so happy to find a diaper bag that didn't scream, well, DIAPER BAG! I also refuse to buy items for myself that I feel I would only be able to use temporarily - during my pregnancy, or while my babies were very young. Outside of a few pairs of maternity pants, I opted for shirts and dresses that I knew I could keep on wearing long after I no longer looked like I had eaten a watermelon whole. So, why then, would I buy a frumpy, plastic-y (yes, that's a word) diaper bag to use (begrudgingly) for a couple of years?

Enter the Caroline bag - a leather handbag, with a pop of red for the interior that need not be relegated to any one category. It has everything a mama, knitter, or crafter needs! Plus, being a total sucker for details - I also just really love that tassel with the jade beads!


Why yes, that is my yarn and sketchbook snuggled up with diapers, sippy cup and burp cloth - necessities whenever we leave the house!

Why yes, that is my yarn and sketchbook snuggled up with diapers, sippy cup and burp cloth - necessities whenever we leave the house!

Perks for the mama:

  • Pockets for all of baby's (and your!) necessities - from diapers, wipes, snacks and lanolin, to lipstick and a change clothes.
  • Changing pad, that rolls up neatly, and doesn't take up too much room.
  • And something I really love - a removable baby bag organizer (which is washable, along with the changing pad). Why do I love this? Because sometimes I won't need all of my baby supplies (or gasp - knitting supplies) and I just want a nice handbag to take out on a date with the hubs! (Someday we'll get to do that again, right?!?!)

On those rare and wonderful occasions that I get to sneak off and knit sans babies ;), here she is, filled to the brim with my latest yarn haul, interchangeable needles, and sketchbook, inspiration sparked and ready to go!

On those rare and wonderful occasions that I get to sneak off and knit sans babies ;), here she is, filled to the brim with my latest yarn haul, interchangeable needles, and sketchbook, inspiration sparked and ready to go!

Perks for the Knitter:

  • POCKETS!! Seriously, I counted 19! Knitters NEED pockets. We have knitting needles, stitch counters, stitch markers, tapestry needles, tape measures, YARN, notebooks, pens, patterns - so many things to keep tidy when we head out to knit night!
  • Magnetic closures - I love this. No snagging your beauitful WIP on a zipper!
  • Space for everything, while toting around your latest project (instead of looking like a bag lady - my usual go-to ;)

Are you ready for a chance to win your own Lily Jade Caroline bag??? Leave me a comment below with your favorite ways to stay organized (as a mama or knitter - I need all the tips I can get!). Don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment! Giveaway is open until Friday, July 22!!

Magpie Fiber Yoga Shawl Giveaway Winner & Your Questions Answered!

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry1 Comment
Swish Domestic Worsted

Swish Domestic Worsted

Y'all left so many great suggestions for questions you would like answered! Sweet Dami of Magpie Fibers has kindly answered some more questions for us! So, without further ado...


“What are you knitting now?”

Right now I’m working on a new shawl pattern in the Domestic fingering, hopefully it will be ready for release next month. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll already know I’m about to start a colorwork project, again with the new Domestic, I’m thinking a Fair Isle hat.

“What are your favorite things to knit?”

My favorite things to knit are sweaters and hats! I’m also a bit of an A.D.D. knitter, endless stockinette and I are not friends, so I love anything that keeps my attention, the more cables and colorwork the better!

"Can you share some more about your history and getting started?"

I was a jewelry designer for the 15 years before I started dyeing and before that I was a color consultant and decorative painter. Starting a new business is never easy, but it wasn’t foreign to me either. I was also incredibly lucky to have the support of my LYS, The Knot House, from day one. They really helped me understand the business side of things as well as hone my colors and select my bases.

I have some amazing friends too. My Mom and my girlfriends have been incredible; always willing to help out when I need it, the pre-Stitches tagging parties are becoming a ritual! And when I need help or advice or just someone to complain to, Veronika from YOTH Yarns is always there for me. I am so blessed to have so much support from so many wonderful people.

 "What music do you listen to while working?"

I like just about everything, but I love old school R & B. If you’ve checked out the website “About” page you’ll know the Magpie Fibers “Girl Friday” Tracey Lambert, when we’re working together you’ll most often find us listening to ‘80s rock on Apple Radio’s “The Mixtape”, “David Bowie Radio” or “Depeche Mode” radio. When I’m working alone I’ve also been known to listen to books on tape, yes, I’m an Urban Fantasy geek :)

"Let's talk tattoos!"

Yup... I got ‘em! The most recent are the feathers on my shoulder and back. I’m not sure they are Magpie feathers exactly, but close enough. Somewhere along the line I realized that, completely by accident, all my tattoos had been done by women, even the really awful one I got when I was 18. So now it’s become a bit of a thing and I go out of my way to find amazing female tattoo artists when I’m traveling who can add to the feather collection. Lindsey Lawson at Slave to the Needle in Seattle, Angela de Rosette at Graceland Tattoo in Brooklyn and Dana Jones at 717 Tattoo in Pennsylvania have all added to the collection.


Thank you so much for sharing some more insight into your life and your business, Dami! And thank you again for the incredibly generous giveaway! And the winner is....

Sara (SallyHP)!! I've emailed you :)

Goldfinch Shawl Pattern Release (& new patterns available in the shop!)

knitting, new pattern, sale, yarnAndrea Mowry2 Comments
Knit up in O-wool O-wash Sport in Paw Paw, Devil's Pool, & Watermill

Knit up in O-wool O-wash Sport in Paw Paw, Devil's Pool, & Watermill

I am thrilled to be releasing my Goldfinch shawl today! This shawl came out of the pure necessity of having a fun shawl on my needles! I wanted something super enjoyable to knit - the kind of pattern that you just can't put down!

Originally, I had hat plans for these beautiful yarns from O-wool, but as they lay there all snuggled up together, I just couldn't bare to separate them! This is one of those designs that I did very little preparation for - instead choosing to let the yarn tell me what it wanted to be. Short rows just felt right! And then stripes, yes stripes. How about some simple lace? Yup, perfect! I hope you have as much fun with this shawl as I did! And I can't wait to see all of the amazing colors everyone chooses to use! So what are you waiting for?? Save 15% with the coupon code Goldfinch until 7/6/16 at midnight EST! And don't forget to share your progress and finished pictures with us all by using the tags #goldfinchshawl and #dreareneeknits!!


I am also thrilled to announce that I have 2 more of my favorite patterns up in the shop!

This is Nascha - the perfect layering piece to knit up in preparation for fall! If you have yet to try your hand at brioche, this is the perfect beginner pattern. Even better? The two-color brioche gives you a completely reversible fabric, making it a versatile piece in your handmade wardrobe! Knit up in Quince & Co. Owl & Owl Tweet, it is pure, woolly heaven!

This is the Om Shawl! This large shawl can be worn in so many different ways, and is SO.MUCH.FUN to knit! Squishy texture, colorwork, relaxing garter stripes - what more could you ask for? How about worsted weight yarn that results in a surprisingly quick knit?? It's not too late to join the Om & Yoga Shawl knitalong taking place in my Ravelry group! We will be knitting together until August! And once you have bound yours off, make sure to check out this video for a peek at a few of my favorite ways to wear this style shawl!

//Yarn Babies// Magpie Fibers

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry121 Comments
Swish Domestic Worsted in Shocking

Swish Domestic Worsted in Shocking

Hello sweet friends! After taking a wee break to focus on the newest member of our family, Yarn Babies is back and I am so excited about the beautiful fibers I will be sharing here in the coming months. I couldn't be more thrilled to kick off this new season with Magpie Fibers and the woman behind the scenes - Dami Hunter!

I was incredibly lucky to meet Dami at Stitches West this past winter. Dami's enthusiasm for her beautiful yarns is infectious, as I am sure you will soon see why! I am especially excited about her new line of "sheep to needle" Domestic Yarn (I love a good woolly yarn just as much as an ultra-soft yarn!) Let's hear more about Magpie Fibers from Dami!

Swish Domestic Fingering in Tidepool

Swish Domestic Fingering in Tidepool


Could you tell us a little bit about what brought you to dyeing yarn?

I learned to knit a few years ago during a turbulent time in my life. I had moved to a new town that had great LYS (The Knot House) that coincidentally opened the same day I moved in. I had always wanted to learn to knit and they were offering beginner classes. I was hooked from the first day, the joke at the shop is that I was in there every single day for the next few months.

At some point, not too long after, it occurred to me that I could combine my new passion for knitting and my lifelong obsession with color… and that there were people out there actually making a living doing it! I had tons of support from The Knot House and our amazing local knitting community and in December 2014 Magpie Fibers was launched with a trunk show at the shop.

I am truly blessed to have found this amazing community of fiber folk, their encouragement and support has allowed me to create a new life full of wonderful things and fabulous people that I could not have even imagined a few years ago.

Where do you find inspiration for your amazing colorways?

Inspiration comes from all over the place, but mostly from nature. I love deeply saturated colors, like those intense dark pink peonies, but also the subtle shades you see in the sky at dawn. Usually new colors happen by accident, one of the regular colors comes out of the pot wrong for some reason, which can be frustrating when you’re on a dead line, but I try to embrace it and make it an opportunity to play freely. Sometimes I just need to fill a gap in my colors (yes, I hear you all you Hunter Green people!).

Swish Domestic Fingering in Alloy, Amber Waves, & Tidepool

Swish Domestic Fingering in Alloy, Amber Waves, & Tidepool

Seriously, what is more fun - dyeing or naming the colorways?

Naming can be really fun, I try to come up with clever names or at least fun ones, but sometimes, forced cleverness doesn’t work out so well for me. When I get stumped I’ll shout out to my friends for help, some of the resulting text/email threads are pretty entertaining. Dyeing is a lot of hard work and can definitely get tedious, but there is a little bit of Christmas morning every time you pull a batch out of a pot and again when its dried and skeined up. There are lots of mornings I run to the studio to see how the yarn I hung up to dry the night before looks in the daylight.

Can you tell us about a few of the different yarns you carry? Do you have a favorite?

I think I’m best known for my Swanky yarns. They’re a Merino, Cashmere & Nylon blend in fingering, DK and worsted weights and are incredibly soft and silky. They have great drape and sheen, and take color beautifully too, so it’s hard not to love them… a lot!

Recently though I’ve been totally obsessed with the new line of Domestic yarns I’ve just released. Right now there is a fingering and a worsted weight available in selected colors. They are 100% domestic Merino and are nice and round with tons of bounce and spring. I love my soft yarns, but nothing makes cables pop like this new worsted!

I’m really proud to have a fully “sheep to needle” domestic yarn and have had a great time developing it. I’m a little nervous because people do identify my brand so much with all that Swanky softness, but I’m hopeful people will love these new yarns just as much.

My favorite new accessory! Stitch marker bracelet!

My favorite new accessory! Stitch marker bracelet!

What advice would you give to people out there wanting to follow their creative dreams?

DO IT! Trust yourself, trust your vision and surround yourself with supportive creative people. Get out there and meet people doing what you’re doing and become part of that community. Amazing opportunities can present themselves if you’re at the right place at the right time. Don’t ignore the boring stuff either… sorry! Creating a brand, building a social media presence, and dealing with all the paperwork… are all essential too.

Where can we find your yarn?

The biggest selection will always be on the Magpie Fibers website: www.magpiefibers.com, also check my events page for upcoming conventions and trunk shows. I have recently begun expanding my list of stockists, Magpie Fibers could be at an LYS near you!

The Knot House – Frederick, MD

The Loopy Ewe – Ft. Collins, CO

Gauge – Austin, TX

Black Mountain Yarn Shop – Black Mountain, NC

Loop – Philadelphia, PA

Brooklyn General Store – Brooklyn, NY

In The Loop – Plainville, MA

Nido – Burlington, VT

What is your spirit animal?

Think I have to go with a Magpie on this one!

What is your favorite noise?

Definitely water… ocean waves, running streams, the little lapping noise of ponds and lakes. I find them all very soothing, maybe its my water logged Scorpio-ness coming through :)

Anything else you would like to include?

Just a great big huge “THANK YOU!!” For including me in your blog!!


Swish Domestic Fingering in Castaway

Swish Domestic Fingering in Castaway

Isn't Dami awesome?? On top of sharing some of her story with us today, she has also offered a super generous giveaway! We have teamed up to put together a Yoga Shawl Kit for one lucky winner! Included in the kit is my Yoga Shawl pattern and 5 skeins of her amazing new Domestic Fingering in Castaway! So if you have been thinking about joining the Om & Yoga Shawl KAL I am hosting on Ravelry - it's not too late!

To enter the giveaway, I would love to hear what other questions you would like me to ask in these interviews to these amazing artists! So leave a comment below, and don't forget to include your email in the body of the comment! The giveaway will be open until Thursday, July 7 at midnight EST! Good Luck!

Swanky Sock in Amber Waves

Swanky Sock in Amber Waves

Knitting with Yak Down, Fiber Wash for Fine Fibers, & the Importance of Blocking Your Swatches

knitting, techniques, yarnAndrea Mowry4 Comments
Bijou Bliss 50/50 Yak Down & Cormo Blend

Bijou Bliss 50/50 Yak Down & Cormo Blend

Let's start with the yarn, Bijou Basin Ranch Bijou Bliss - because without the yarn, there would be no swatch. This yarn was an unexpected treat for me. I had never knit with Yak Down, but I knew I loved Cormo. Cormo is so springy and soft, and I highly recommend it! Blended with the Yak Down, you get a yarn that is supple and soft enough to wear next to your skin, but that feels sturdy enough to be sweater worthy. The kind of sweater you adore and that can be lovingly handed down thru generations. This bouncy yarn was was telling me it wanted to be cables, and with my new stitch dictionary at hand, I happily agreed.

Cable Fabric knit up from The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

Cable Fabric knit up from The Knitting All Around Stitch Dictionary by Wendy Bernard

I would love to knit a cabled Fishermen's sweater out of this yarn. I love both the cream and brown natural colors, but I also think the cream would be a delight for any natural dyer to work their magic on!

Allure Fine Fiber Wash

Allure Fine Fiber Wash

After knitting up my swatch I gave it a soak in Allure Fine Fiber Wash. This fiber wash is amazing for any of your specialty fibers, including cashmere! It is a no-rinse wash, which if you read my last post on blocking, you know I highly prefer, especially for delicate fibers! I then squeezed out the extra moisture, gently, using a hand towel, and pinned it on a blocking mat to open up the cables while it dried.

So youmight be thinking to yourself - "Ugh! I already avoid swatching like the plague, and now you want me to block my swatch as well?!?! I just want to cast on!" I feel ya. But let's take a look at my swatches before and after blocking.

My swatch BEFORE blocking.

My swatch BEFORE blocking.

My swatch AFTER blocking.

My swatch AFTER blocking.

My swatch before blocking was 5 x 4.5 inches, after blocking it grew to 5.5 x 4.75 inches. Think about the difference in gauge! If you are knitting a sweater and try to go by your unblocked swatch, once you block your finished garment, it will be way too big. The nice thing about swatches - lay them in a sunny spot, and they only take afew hours to dry. It is so worth that extra bit of time to ensure that whatever you are knitting, will turn out just how you had hoped! This will also tell you what sort of drape can be expected of your finished fabric. Depending on what you are knitting, this may lead you to want to change needle sizes. And as you can imagine - when it comes to cables and lace, you have to block to open them up! Swatching has become a part of the process that I really enjoy now. I like to think of them as quick little "palette cleansers" between projects. Its my first opportunity to get to know the yarn and stitches that I will be using for my project, and I can't help but love my little basket full of swatches. Each one a memory of that time in my life and the project I was working on!

I highly recommend this yarn, especially for all of you breed-specific yarn fans! And now you know which fiber wash to get for your more delicate blends! Get swatching and blocking my friends, you won't regret it (and some of you may even come to love it!)


Congratulations to Meg on winning last week's giveaway!! I've emailed you!

Gather Shawl // A New Pattern

knitting, KNIT in COLOR, new pattern, saleAndrea Mowry4 Comments

I designed this shawl for Gather DTLA and the LA yarn crawl using gorgeous hand dyed yarn from Stimpy Lab and Quince & Co. Tern! Shawls are a year round wardrobe essential for me. I love trying to wear one of my handknits everyday of the year, and shawls make that easy!

Gather wears well thru out all of the seasons and in any climate with its open lace, great drape and generous size. Pair your favorite fun sock yarn with a solid, and the color combinations are endless! I am always looking for ways to use my coveted hand dyed yarns that I tend to hoard in my stash. I think a lot of us keep them as little trophies, as they are so beautiful all skeined up. But they are even better knit up - and such a delight to watch the color changes as we knit stitch by stitch! That being said, this shawl would be just as gorgeous knit up in neutrals - or even in a single color, really allowing the texture to shine!

I hope it will become a wardrobe staple for you, just as it has for me! The techniques used (even the lace!) are simple enough that any level of knitter should have no problem with this project. Using different colors and textures, it is such a fun knit that it just flies off the needles!

To celebrate the release of this shawl, I am offering the coupon code GATHER for 15% off of this shawl pattern until Wednesday, May 4 at midnight EST!

Gather DTLA still has a limited supply of the yarn that was hand-dyed by Stimpy Lab for this pattern! I believe there are just 5 kits left, and she can ship anywhere! And if you are in the Los Angeles area, they are hosting a KAL for this pattern beginning on Wednesday!!

//Yarn Babies// Hedgehog Fibres & a Briochealicious Kit Giveaway!!

giveaway, KNIT in COLOR, knitting, yarn babies, yarnAndrea Mowry422 Comments

Photographs from Beata Jezek and her beautiful Instagram.

#Specklesaresohotrightnow - Need I say more? Good - because I could talk about yarn, color and speckles all day!

If anyone has mastered the art of the speckle yarn, it is Beata of Hedgehog Fibres. Even my sister (a non-knitter) was blown away by the depth of each skein, and all of the little surprises hidden among the layers of color! Hedgehog Fibres yarns are so stunning, you could easily leave them skeined up in a bowl in your living and be done decorating. Although, then you would miss out on how fun they are to knit with! Even plane jane stockinette and garter stitch become exciting as you encounter every little pop of color! And don't even get me started on brioche! Brioche is so beautiful with bold yarns like these. Not to mention, if adding a little more color into your yarn diet feels a little intimidating - brioche is a great way to do that. Use a more neutral yarn as your dominant color, and then add a color that is new for you (but that you have a sneaking suspicion is actually the perfect color/s to express the real you) as your secondary color.  Trust me, once you start playing with color in your knitting - it is really hard to stop! Blending yarns using techniques such as brioche and marling feels to me like mixing paint, and allows a whole new avenue for your creativity!

Colorways include: Fool's Gold, Zephyr, Crybaby, Urchin, Pine, Ghost, Whisper

Colorways include: Fool's Gold, Zephyr, Crybaby, Urchin, Pine, Ghost, Whisper

We all have different avenues that inspire us, and that is what yarn, in all of it's many different forms and colors, does for me. I know what you are thinking - "well, duh. That's no surprise!" But seriously, I keep my entire stash out on shelves in my studio\ so that I am constantly looking at it. I love being able to touch the different fibers, all spun differently, and dyed (or not!) by different amazing artists. We are SO LUCKY to have such talented people in our community who put their hearts and souls into their work. You can really see Beata's personality shine thru her yarn, and that is such a gift. You can find her yarns thru her online shop where they do updates (subscribe to her mailing list so you don't miss them! You can find the form at the bottom of any page on her website.) Or at yarn shops all around the world! I joined her Yarn Sock Club this past Autumn and loved it. You receive 2 skeins of yarn for 3 consecutive months. Each skein is unique and never to be repeated. So. Much. Fun. It's like Christmas for 3 months straight!

So let's hear from Beata herself about her inspiration, naming colourways, and her love for our 4-legged furry friends!


Could you tell us a little bit about what brought you to dyeing yarn?

As soon as I got sucked into the knitting world I knew I wanted to create my own line of hand-dyed, soft, squishy yarns. I was always very visual and colour obsessive and I felt that none of the yarns on the market really catered to what I was interested in at the time. I love creating new colours, changing things up and staying current. I think Hedgehog Fibres really reflects that attitude as an extension of my personal style. 

Your yarns are truly unique. Where do you find inspiration for your amazing colorways? 

I love coming up with new colours, techniques and applications. I'm always thinking of the next thing, trying new ways of laying the dye on yarn, new colour combos. It's always the colours I'm into at the moment, or in another words it' a collection carefully curated by me as the creative director. 

Sometimes I think of a great name and then create a colourway to match (like Teacup) or sometimes I realize there's something missing in the line and then get completely obsessed with a colour (I had to have lilac, so we have 'Birthday Cake’). But some colours are definitely happy accidents! Crybaby was such a great potluck that we added it to the line.

I also paint, well it's more like just putting colours on paper, but it's a great way of getting inspired and playing with colour. I use big brushes and thick acrylic paint, I like how quickly I can visualise ideas.

Photograph credit: Beata Jezek

Photograph credit: Beata Jezek

Seriously, what is more fun - dyeing or naming the colorways?

We have colour naming parties at work! I like to gather everybody and brainstorm when we have new colours coming out, it's a ton of fun. We also keep a list of potential colourway names to which everybody can add their suggestions. 

Dyeing is fun too, I'm still a head dyer and hopefully I'll always be, but it can be challenging balancing the admin side of things as well as being in the dyerooms.

Can you tell us about a few of the the different yarns you carry? Do you have a favorite?

I’m very picky about our bases. I want the most buttery soft sock yarn, the shiniest silk blends, the squishiest singles. As a knitter, I will only sell something I am happy to use. I love our fingering weight yarns - Sock Yarn and Skinny Singles, mainly because of versatility - you can knit shawls and accessories holding a single strand, or you can hold it double (the Sock Yarn fabric in particular is lovely held double). Even 2 different strands together for marled or gradient effect... so many possibilities!

I also adore our Kidsilk Lace too. Nobody does colour on mohair like HHF!
I must admit though, for me it's colour that draws me in. I'm really into speckles on white base and bright pastels combined with a good strong contrast like Graphite or Electric at the moment. 2016 will be a big year for pastels and mohair I think!

Pollen, Pine & Damp Skinny Singles

Pollen, Pine & Damp Skinny Singles

What advice would you give to people out there wanting to follow their creative dreams?

I started full time from the beginning, no messing around. I was pretty broke for a while. Staying motivated and working hard on perfecting your craft are crucial and having a clear vision definitely helps!

Where can we find your yarn?

All over the world! Our full list of retailers is here http://shop.hedgehogfibres.com/retailers

We sell directly through the website as well (http://shop.hedgehogfibres.com/) but stock levels can be limited and shop updates are a bit of a frenzy. We also run 3 different clubs at the moment, which are so much fun! More info: http://shop.hedgehogfibres.com/category/clubs

 

Photograph credit: Beata Jezek

Photograph credit: Beata Jezek

What is your spirit animal?

I guess I should say a hedgehog, but that's just my surname. My spirit animal is my rescue terrier Lola - she's old, grumpy, missing teeth and looks like a gremlin hairy potato. She's perfect, love her to bits!

What is your favorite noise?

My dogs sleeping, so I guess quiet? Or maybe ice cubes in a glass of G&T that's pretty soothing too :D

Anything else you would like to include?

I love my dog babies and I work sometimes with our local dog shelter as a foster home. My boyfriend and I have fostered over 20 dogs in the last couple of years, all of which have found wonderful permanent homes. We have taken a break from fostering recently as a blind kitten found us and is now part of the family - adding new dogs to the mix wouldn’t be fair to her at this point. I often share pictures of our weird pack on my Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/hedgehogfibres/?hl=en

Photograph credit: Beata Jezek

Photograph credit: Beata Jezek


I am so excited about this week's giveaway - Beata has very generously sent me 5 skeins of skinny singles to giveaway to a lucky winner paired with my Briochealicious Shawl pattern!!

What colors inspire you? Tell me about it in the comments along with your email address to enter for a chance to win the Briochealicious Shawl kit!! The giveaway will end midnight May 7!

Congratulations to Keri - the winner of last week's giveaway!!

//Yarn Babies// & Yarn Ladies! Spincycle Yarns

giveaway, KNIT in COLOR, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry59 Comments
I loved this wall art at Drygoods Design in Seattle, where I took my sewing class!

I loved this wall art at Drygoods Design in Seattle, where I took my sewing class!

I loved reading the amazing comments on last weeks post about creativity! Thank you all so much for sharing your dreams! I hope you continue to find inspiration and joy in all of your pursuits - whether it is trying out a new knitting technique, making more time and space for your crafts, or taking the leap in building your career around your passions! I hope this space can continue to help motivate all of you in this amazing community and we can be each others cheerleaders in living creative lives!!

I am so thrilled to be able to continue the conversation this week with two amazing women, Rachel Price & Kate Burge, who have turned their dreams into a thriving business that provides the rest of us with stunning, American - sourced yarns! These two hard working mamas are such an inspiration to me and I've loved learning more about their story and Spincycle Yarns - I think you will love it, too!

The Spinsters - Rachel Price & Kate Burge!!

The Spinsters - Rachel Price & Kate Burge!!

Could you tell us a little bit about what brought you two together and to owning your own yarn company?

We met in 2004, when we were both working at the local co-op. I - Rachel here, doing the storytelling - had just landed in Bellingham rather accidentally, when my then-boyfriend and I ran out of money after spending a couple of years traveling around the US and England. Among the few possessions I owned was an Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel and a huge bag of mohair locks. How Kate wound up living in Bellingham is an equally roundabout and accidental story, but the short version is that, having grown up in Ohio but spending one very lovely summer on Salt Spring Island in BC, she knew that the PNW was for her.

We started hanging out as soon as we discovered each other's love of spinning, dyeing and knitting. Kate had had a booth at our local farmers' market the year before I moved here and she was reluctant to sign on for another year solo, so she invited me to join. Thus was Spincycle Yarns born.

Congratulations on your success! It had to have been a big move to go from spinning your yarns to finding a mill to help boost production. Can you tell us more about that and the amazing mother-daughter team you found?

Yes! It was huge! When I think back on the timing of the whole thing, the shift that really reinvented our business, I'm still surprised at how it all came together. The early years of Spincycle, when we were exclusively a hand-spinnery, corresponded nicely with our young, free and (mostly) single years. We lived with lots of housemates, paid a pittance for rent, and somehow had loads of free time while still making enough handspun yarn to support ourselves. But there is a very finite number of skeins that can be made by hand every week, and we hit that wall hard when we had our kids, back to back. (Hank is my son, and he's ten months older than Kate's daughter, Iona. They're five and four now.) The business plateaued, then took a dive. We were at a crossroads. I was looking for other work. It was grim.

Then one day, I was in our local yarn shop and a woman came in to drop off some flyers for the mill she was opening on Camano Island. Her plan was to spin yarn from her beautiful alpacas and to take in custom work to work the mill at capacity. Kate and I had a light bulb moment.

After a few visits and conversations with Cheryl, the mill boss and the most patient person we know, we began to bring her our dyelots. We changed absolutely nothing about our dye process except the size of our dye pots - we went from 3 gallons to 16 - so that our yarns would maintain the look that our customers associated with a Spincycle yarn. But those spinning frames - holy crap! - surely do make handspinning look slow by comparison. Our mill, though still small by some spinning factory standards - can crank out in a day what would have taken Kate and me two weeks to spin together!

We did have a few growing pains along the way. Working with a new mill and bringing them a variety of wool fibers with instructions like "make it look just like this handspun" can be challenging for all parties. We knew nothing about the equipment; they knew nothing about handspinning. Trying to find the equivalent terminology to talk about something like a drafting triangle with people who are essentially machinists... Well, we all had to take a lot of deep breaths. Then Cheryl brought in her daughter, Audrey, to run the machinery. Audrey is the most detail-oriented, hard-working and troubleshooting person we know. Finally we all found our groove.

Do you still spin any of the yarns you sell?

We still ply each skein of Knit Fast, Die Young by hand. The mill makes the singles, but their equipment can't handle the thickness of it once plied. So we ply it old school. That's why our turnaround time on that line is so slow. (Sorry, stockists! We love y'all! We're spinning as fast as we can!) We also have a line called Feral, which we handspin 100% and which we are almost never stocked in. It's so time consuming to make and sells out immediately.

Can you tell us more about "dyeing in the wool" and why you chose to go this route?

A "dyed in the wool" yarn is named after its dyeing process. Quite simply, it means that the fiber is dyed before it is spun. It differs quite a bit from the other, more common, hand dyeing methods of "painting" or "dip dyeing" in which a skein is dyed after being spun. Our method could also be called the "pain in the ass" method, which is probably how our mill refers to it behind our backs. We dye many, MANY pounds of fiber in each lot, and it's quite a challenge to keep the colorways consistent throughout. We're up against temperature variations in the kettle as it gets fuller and fuller, as well as having to remix our dye blends halfway through if we miscalculate volume. And then our mill has to deal with the insanity, making sure that the yarns end up as consistent as possible and that any knots in the skeins don't cause a sudden break in the color transition!

But the results are worth all the trouble! The colors shift and transition slowly, sunsetting into one another in unpredictable ways. Each skein is unique. They look like handspun skeins, which is just exactly, precisely what we are going for!

Can you tell us about a few of the the different yarns you carry? Do you have a favorite?

Well, Dyed In The Wool, our first mill-spun line, is probably the one that we tend to favor. It's so perfect for garment knitting. I bet I have no less than a dozen sweaters alone knit with DITW, not to mention my obsession for cowls. It shows off that slow color progression the best, and I just cannot stop using it for fair isle projects. And stripes. Dyed In The Wool plus a solid color for a striped cardigan? Forget about it. It's insanely beautiful.

I have to say, though, that I'm knitting my first sweater project from our heavy worsted weight line, Independence. I've used it a lot for accessories, but then I got kind of obsessed with the Arrowhead Cardigan, a pattern released by and featuring Imperial Yarn. I paired their Columbia 2-ply in a gorgeous chocolate with a colorway of ours called Grumpy Birds. I'm dying to finish. It's gonna be a stunner.

We also have a tonal lace weight, Debauchery, which I'm just getting into. Because, you know, lace knitting. It is slow. On the other end of the spectrum is Knit Fast, Die Young, our super bulky 2-ply. All of our yarns, incidentally, are dyed in the wool.

Where can we find your yarn?

All over! We have an ever-expanding list of stockists, which you can find on our website, www.spincycleyarns.com, or you can come shop it up in person at Stitches West every February, the TNNA summer show (for shops only), and a number of craft fairs and trunk shows in the Pacific Northwest. Oh, and we will be at the Indie Pop-Up that will be taking place at The Knot House in Frederick, Maryland, during Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May!

I love that you keep your yarns US made from sheep to skein. What prompted you to go that route, and has it been challenging?

Initially, sourcing the wool was difficult. The decision was easy; it just felt right and we called it. Then we had to seek out a source that could provide us with a consistent blend and at the tons per year that we require. It was challenging and a little scary! Instead of buying a couple hundred pounds per month of, say, our superwash American wool, we had to agree to buy over a thousand pounds at one time. Suddenly, we were using freight shipping and had to figure out what a bill of lading was and how to rent a pallet lifter for a day! It was a different scene from the old days!

What advice would you give to people out there wanting to follow their creative dreams?

Hmmmm, I really love to tell people what to knit and in what colors... But business and dream-following advice? I will say this: There are a lot of ways to start living your dream. We definitely turn a little greenish with envy when we see companies who have just gone all in and have the most beautiful websites and top notch marketing and travel to every retail and trade show. But we had a very humble beginning and have grown slowly. Sweat equity has been our friend. We've paid for everything outright and never gone into any business debt. It's been slow, but it's always felt safe. Our energies go into yarn development and relationships with designers and collaborations with other yarn companies, rather than losing sleep over paying our bills.

One other thing: Love your product. Live in your product. Put your personality into your marketing and social media. Be your tattooed, rap-music-listening, weirdo self at shows when you meet your customers. (Ok, that's sort of specifically us, but you get it.)

What are your spirit animals?

Besides sheep?! I guess maybe I am the possum. I get a lot of work done in the middle of the night and have been known to play dead when stressed. Kate - and I'm speaking for her now, so she may object - is the rabbit. She's all over the place. She talks really fast, never sits down, is a non-stop fountain of ideas.

What are your favorite noises?

Kate can't really focus unless she's listening to the Notorious B.I.G. Me, I am really, really into this app on my phone called Extreme Rain Pouring. I cannot sleep unless I'm blasting it.


Stitches West 2016

Stitches West 2016

I was lucky enough to get to meet Kate & Rachel at their booth at Stitches West this past February. Their Independence yarn in the colorway Greed immediately drew me in, and I've already got a new pattern planned out for it! It is the perfect tones of yellow, which I have been obsessing over lately!

Lucky for all of us, I was just over - ahem, shopping - at the Spincycle Yarns Online Shop, and they recently did an update, so there is plenty of yarn for us all! They are also so generously giving away a knit kit to one lucky winner!! Just leave a comment below (with your email address!) telling us how you would use these beautifully unique yarns!! I will pick a winner next weekend ;)


Don't forget our Range Shawl KAL starts in a week!! We will be casting on May 1 - so you still have plenty of time to get your yarn!! Head over to Ravelry for all of the info! Congratulations to Ryan - the winner of last week's giveaway!! I've emailed you about your prize!  And don't forget to tag your Instagram pictures with #rangekal so we can watch your progress!

//Yarn Babies// Hinterland Yarn, the Range Shawl, a giveaway and a Knit-along!

brioche, giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry123 Comments
Working away on my Range Shawl knit out of it's namesake - Range from Hinterland Yarn

Working away on my Range Shawl knit out of it's namesake - Range from Hinterland Yarn

This past winter I was fortunate enough to get my hands on some of the amazingly woolly, squishy and soft Range yarns from Hinterland! These undyed beauties worked so perfectly in a gradient, and played the role of muse as I found different ways to explore texture and the melting of one color to the next. The Range Shawl definitely tops my list for some of the most fun I have had in exploring creativity in my design work!

Utilizing slip stitches to form a tweed pattern that melted from one color to the next!

Utilizing slip stitches to form a tweed pattern that melted from one color to the next!

I can't wait to get some more of the Hinterland yarns onto my needles, and I want you to have the chance to try it out as well! Read on to learn about Hanahlie - the woman behind the alpacas and Hinterland Yarn, in her own words, and to enter your chance to win the Range Shawl pattern and the yarn to knit it up!!


Hanahlie's Alpacas! Image captured from http://www.hinterlandfarm.ca

Hanahlie's Alpacas! Image captured from http://www.hinterlandfarm.ca

Could you tell us a little bit about what brought you to starting your own yarn line?

I started Hinterland after taking on a few alpacas that were in need of a home. At that point I didn't really know very much about alpacas or llamas, but had a great interest in fibre and working with my hands. Slowly, over the course of a few years, the herd started to grow. My husband and I got involved in helping out animals in rescue situations, and managed to build our herd from these rescues along with helping many of them find new homes. 

After a few years the fibre started piling up in my garage (as it does at many fibre producing farms). I couldn't keep up with hand spinning, nor am I very good or fast at it, so I decided to get some yarn commercially made. I wanted to keep my production in Canada. It was important to me to have woollen spun yarn, so with our limited options here, I went with a small mother and daughter owned and operated mill in northern Alberta. After a year or so of experimenting with different yarn combinations, I settled on a 50% alpaca and 50% Canadian Rambouillet (French Merino) wool. 

Can you tell us about the different bases Hinterland has to offer? Do you have a favorite??

The Hinterland bases are Range, which is somewhere around an American worsted weight yarn, Ravine, a bulky aran weight, and Watershed, which is a softly spun single chunky yarn. I also do a few small batch single breed yarns like Alpine & Glade (both BC grown Corriedale), and Cabin & Burrow (Washington grown Navajo Churro). But those yarns come and go. 

My favourite is Range. I think it's the most versatile, and I just love the intense bloom after blocking… it totally changes the fabric. It's also the yarn that other people seem to love the most too, which is great! 

Range Yarn in "Honey"; image capture from http://www.hinterlandfarm.ca

Range Yarn in "Honey"; image capture from http://www.hinterlandfarm.ca

Where can we find your yarn?

The Hinterland online shop : hinterlandfarm.ca 

Tolt Yarn and Wool, in Carnation WA, and the Beehive Wool Shop in Victoria BC. 

What advice would you give to people out there wanting to follow their creative dreams?

Start with doing some diligent market research, and figure out who your market is and how to connect with them. Making the right connections and alliances are not only valuable from a business stand point, but also extremely necessary for maintaining momentum and staying positive. I have found it deeply fulfilling on so many levels to have made new friends, and supporters along the way. Without them I wouldn't have continued in the way that I have. So I would say that is the biggest piece of my business that I have found the most crucial, above and beyond the dollars. Secondly setting some short term and long term goals. Knowing where you want to be and how you plan on getting there is another really big one. Always look ahead and be thankful for the people who have helped you get to where you are. 

What is your spirit animal?

I have always thought my spirit animal was a bear… not for the reasons you might think of when imagining a bear (standing on their hind legs being ferocious), but because they remind me of the forests around where I live. Here the bears are very docile and peaceful. They are a very important part of our natural landscape and even protected in some areas in the rainforest and along the coast. They are a big spirit, scary and beautiful at the same time. I am fascinated by them. 

What is your favorite noise?

I think my favourite noise would be the sounds that the forest makes in the fall when it's getting cold and wet. It's kind of eerie, but complex too. 

Anything else you would like to add?

I'd just like to thank Andrea for including me and my story about Hinterland. I truly appreciate every connection I've made with my small business and feel just so thrilled that knitters, crocheters, and weavers out there are enjoying the product that I make - in collaboration with the alpacas ;-) 

Hanahlie; Image captured from http://www.hinterlandfarm.ca

Hanahlie; Image captured from http://www.hinterlandfarm.ca


Have you been thinking about getting your own Range Shawl on the needles?? We would love to have you join us for a Range KAL for the month of May! We will cast on May 1 and knit together thru the month! For all of the information and to get signed up - head on over to my Ravelry group!!

To kick things off with a bang, we are giving away a Range Shawl kit to one lucky winner! Leave a comment below telling us about some of your creative dreams, along with your email address, and I will pick the winner next weekend!


Congratulations to last week's O-Wool Giveaway Winner - Katrina! I've emailed you about your prize!!

//Yarn Babies// Part 7 - O-Wool

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry38 Comments

This weeks Yarn Babies is very near and dear to my heart! Last year, I began emailing with Jocelyn Tunney of O-Wool, and have been working on some really fun projects with her yarns ever since. Earlier this week I got to release the first pattern, Pollen, in a series that I am designing with her amazing range of yarns! Every yarn she offers is so unique, and her color palettes are just breath taking! I am thrilled to share some of her story, as told in her own words below!

Pollen Hat knit in O-wool Local in the River Oat Colorway

Pollen Hat knit in O-wool Local in the River Oat Colorway


Could you tell us a little bit about what brought you to owning your own yarn company?

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs so owning my own business was always something I aspired to. After working in yarn retail and then wholesale for a number of years, and having come from a fiber arts and design educational background, it seemed like a logical step. I heard through the grapevine that Vermont Organic Fiber Company, the founders of O-Wool, were looking for a new owner, and in May of 2010 O-Wool was mine! Thinking you can own your own business and actually owning your own business are two different things, though. After a steep learning curve the first few years, I feel like O-Wool and I have settled into a great groove of beautiful colors, fun knitting pattern designs, lovely yarns and fantastic customers.

O-wool has one of my favorite color palettes! How involved do you get to be in in the dyeing process (i.e. picking out and developing the colorways for O-wool)?

I am 100% behind the development of O-Wool's colors! I feel, after a number of years, I've developed a palette I really love. And I am psyched to hear you love it, too! Choosing new colors and editing the palette is the most fun and also most difficult thing. If a new green is just slightly too yellow, or light, or what-have-you, it won't sell, so I have to be really thoughtful. When I started, I was choosing colors that I thought I needed and that I thought other people would love and want to buy. Over the years I've realized that my personal vision is what is contributing to O-Wool's success, so now I only choose colors I like. And then I show them to my trusted colleague who proceeds to tell me that I can't ONLY make greys and blue-greens. I'm not convinced. :) I work with professional dyehouses and it is a communication adventure. They are scientists and I am a designer, so we approach the same thing from completely opposite perspectives. Even though we come from different worlds, they understand weird feedback I provide, like, "this red is too blue" and always produce a stellar product.

A new design coming soon, using some of my favorite O-wool colorways!!

A new design coming soon, using some of my favorite O-wool colorways!!

Can you tell us about the different bases O-wool has to offer? Do you have a favorite??

I feel like choosing a favorite yarn base is like admitting you have a favorite child... I feel guilty about it. However, in confidence, I will admit right now I am obsessed with my newest yarn called Chunky Merino. It's a big, fat, chunky 100% organic merino 2-ply and knits up like a soft, fluffy dream. It also has the dreamiest palette - really gorgeous, weird, muted colors. I envisioned this being a great sweater yarn, so I went with a more wearable color palette to start.

I'm also very fond of my yarn called Local. This yarn is a labor of love. I drive around to small family alpaca farms about an hour radius of Philadelphia, buy their clip, load it into the truck and take it home. Once I have about 500 lbs, I "skirt" it all (unroll the fleece, remove the dirt and yucky hairs, roll it back up). This takes one filthy, exhausting weekend. And then I stuff it all into big freight bags on pallets (more filthy, tiring hours), and send it off to be scoured, spun, skeined and dyed!

My O-Wash Fingering and O-Wash Sport line I am so proud of. This is a highly unique yarn for handknitters - it is essentially organic superwash merino. So it is organic, machine-washable, crazy soft and has gorgeous colors. I hope to offer dk, worsted and chunky weights in the next couple of years. Superwash is so popular, so I think it's important to offer an organic alternative in every weight.

In addition to Chunky Merino, I have two other classic 100% organic merino yarns that have been workhorses in the O-Wool line for many years. Classic Worsted is the flagship O-Wool yarn, and Legacy Bulky is not far behind. This stuff wears like no other. I call it "bomb-proof". Whatever you make in these yarns, if you take good care of it you will have it for years and years. I hear from folks who knit their kids sweaters in this yarn years ago, have passed it along to other children, and it still looks amazing.

And then there's the most popular O-Wool kid - Balance! This yarn has been so popular because it is a really unique and useful yarn. It is 50% certified organic cotton and 50% certified organic merino in a light worsted weight. When dyed, it has this fantastic tweedy look to it. The cotton makes it great for Fall and Spring items and also makes it very soft and cool to the touch - folks love it for baby stuff. There's also Balance Bulky, which is the same thing in a bulky weight for folks like me who like a quick knit.

Where can we find your yarn?

I mainly sell O-Wool through my website o-wool.com, but I am also a vendor at the New York Sheep & Wool Festival every October in Rhinebeck, NY, and I do a pop-up at Knothouse Yarns in Frederick, MD during Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival in May. I know some folks find it hard to buy yarn online, but I sell shade cards for all the colors in every line, and am totally into answering emails like, "is the color Oyster Mushroom more of a pink, or a beige, or a grey?"

I am blown away by how you have been able to keep your yarns organic, cruelty-free, environmentally friendly and processed here in America. On top of all that, they are very fairly priced.  What do you feel has been the most challenging aspect of this?

Educating my customers, processors and suppliers about what can and does go into making O-Wool has been the biggest challenge. Also, not compromising on any of the above-mentioned issues can be challenging. I have a Frequently Asked Questions card you can download on my website that I update periodically, and I am as transparent as possible about every step of O-Wool sourcing and production - I encourage everyone to read through it. Many folks assume that I have a sheep farm, have my own mill, and hand dye all of the yarns with natural dyes. Let me tell you - this is my DREAM! However, there are many lovely folks who offer that product, and O-Wool offers something different. O-Wool supports commercial sheep farmers who have chosen to undergo the difficult and expensive process of becoming certified organic. O-Wool supports some of the very few remaining spinning mills in the USA in hopes of reviving the USA textile industry (and I will say my mills have become exponentially busier over the course of the last 5 years, so things are looking up!!). And O-Wool supports commercial dyehouses in the USA for the same reason. I actually don't use the term cruelty-free to describe my products anymore, because I want folks to understand the nuances of the lives of animals being raised in certified organic husbandry instead of reading that phrase and making a snap decision. So read through my FAQ card to learn more! https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0155/0473/files/O-Wool-FAQ-Card.pdf?7089696914339681033

What advice would you give to people out there wanting to follow their creative dreams?

This is probably some sobering, un-inspiring advice but I think it's important. If your dream is to be an entrepreneur in an art/design/craft realm, then take some business classes in additional to your art and design education. I have a BS in Studio Art and did 3 semesters coursework in a Textile Design and Engineering graduate program. All of this education was truly priceless for informing the creative half of my business, but it took 3 years and some expensive lessons to learn how to do the other half - the business half. So balance your creative and business learning!

What is your spirit animal?

A PitBull! Because they are very loving, kind, loyal, enthusiastic and resilient. And sometimes hyper and annoying :)

What is your favorite noise?

The cacophony of a huge band of starlings hanging out in the trees above my house.

Thank you so much, Jocelyn, for taking the time to tell us more about O-Wool today!!


I absolutely fell in love with O-wool Local, and designed a sweater that I can't wait to share with you in a couple of months! In the meantime, I was lucky enough to have some left from my sweater, and new I needed a beautiful textured hat knit out of this light-as-air yarn for Spring! So - Pollen was born! Knit up in the River Oats colorway - it reminds me of the pollen coating all of the bees legs as they busily move from blossom to blossom in Spring! With instructions to fit the whole family, Pollen is my ideal hat. Textured, cozy but light, and a fun, quick knit! You can find the pattern here in my shop and also over on Ravelry! And keep an eye for more fun designs knit up with O-wool, coming in the next few months!!

Leave a comment below to have a chance to win the Pollen hat pattern .pdf, as well as a skein of O-wool Local!! Tell me if you continue to knit thru the warmer months, and don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment!!

Want to make sure you that you don't miss out on interviews, giveaways, and new pattern releases?! Make sure to subscribe but filling out the quick form in the right hand sidebar!


Want to hear more of Joceyn's story?? Check out her interview on the ever-engaging Woolful Podcast!


Congratulations to the winner of the Silver Spun Giveaway -Taciana Simmons!!

//Yarn Babies// Part 6 - Feel Good Yarn Co. Silver Spun & a Giveaway!!

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry49 Comments

As some of you know, I taught at the Lantern Moon Retreat a few weeks ago. I met an amazing group of women, and learned so much as a teacher! Two of these women really opened my eyes to something that I think can be easily forgotten - they can't use any animal fibers. They both happen to have really bad animal allergies, and even yarns that should be okay (i.e. Alpaca), cause a reaction. This was such a great reminder on how important it is to remember we are all different, and have different needs! I'll be the first to admit that plant & man-made fibers take a back seat in my stash to wool and other animal fibers. I am so happy that they reminded me how useful, fun, and interesting other yarns can be, and that we all have different preferences for what we put on our needles - whether it be due to allergies, ethics, climate, or what just feels good in our hands!

So it was rather serendipitous that just a week earlier, I got to emailing with Laurie Gonyea, the creator of Silverspun yarn! This yarn is truly unique - American made cotton spun up with pure silver! The silver in the yarn adds some amazing thermal, conductive and therapeutic properties. Much to my surprise, the yarn is incredibly soft and springy. Such a treat to knit with!

~Silver inhibits the growth of bacteria (including those that cause odor), thus SilverSpun is an excellent choice for socks!
~Those who suffer from diabetes, arthritis, or sensitive skin will enjoy the thermal and non-toxic properties of the yarn. The anti-microbial properties of the yarn help to prevent infection.
~ ... because of the thermal properties of the yarn it is warm as wool without the itch. Great for people who have an aversion to animal fibers!
— Feel Good Yarn Company
The conductivity of the silver means you can use them with your touch screen!

The conductivity of the silver means you can use them with your touch screen!

My very good friend, Annie Rowden of by Annie Claire, just happens to be finishing up the sweetest collection of baby knits with Silverspun! This yarn is great for baby knits as the anti-bacterial properties of the yarn inhibits the growth of germs! Keep an eye for the collection mid-April! You can find Annie and her amazing patterns on Ravelry, Instagram and Ello as byAnnieClaire !

I highly recommend listening to Ashley and Laurie chat more in depth about the Feel Good Yarn Co. and Silverspun yarn on the Woolful podcast!  Laurie's story is truly inspiring!

Do you want to try out this amazing yarn for yourself? Leave a comment below telling me about your favorite non-animal fibers and you will be entered for a chance to win a Tumnus Hat kit! The kit will include Silverspun yarn and the Tumnus Hat pattern designed by Courtney Spainhower of Pink Brutus Knits! Don't forget to include your email address in the body of your comment!


Congratulations to the winner of the Ancient Arts giveaway - Mary Jo!! I've emailed you :)

//Yarn Babies// Part 5 - Ancient Arts Yarns & a Giveaway!

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry90 Comments

One of the best parts about my job is being introduced to new yarns! Being the shawl lover that I am, I especially love a yarn that has been hand dyed with care, and that offers unique colorways to inspire my designs!

Ancient Arts Yarns combines interesting fibers with low impact, environmentally friendly dyes to create some truly unique skeins! I love how they talk about the inspiration for dyeing their yarns:

Here at Ancient Arts we use only the best quality yarns in order to ensure your creative journey is superior. We draw our inspiration for our beautiful colours from three places: nature, art, and stories of everyday life. Our colours begin with primary pigments, and are dyed using an immersion style dye process, which draws on the principles of water colour painting in order to give each colour way luminosity, character, and light, no matter how saturated the hue. Colour is gently applied in layer after layer, building exquisite tones that present a story in each skein of yarn, and allow us to capture the complexity of the world around us.
— Anicent Arts Fibre

You can really see the depth of color they have added to the yarn, and it gets even better as you knit it up! I love this "Where the Coho Go" colorway, that reminds me of Torch Lake, where we have a cabin up north. I plan to use my skein in a summery lace shawl, knit up lake side, while I dip my toes in the cool, spring-fed water. Even better? I get to give a skein to one of you!

Leave a comment below telling me what you would knit up with your own skein of Ancient Arts fingering weight yarn and don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment! They giveaway will be open until 3/26/2016 at midnight EST!

Head on over to Ancient Arts Fibres to check out their amazing selection of colorways, and interesting fiber blends. I hope to try their Blue Faced Leicester next! And for all of you animal lovers - they even have to yarn collections based on our four legged friends, with a portion of the proceeds going to help stray and abandoned dogs and cats: Meow & Woof! I love supporting companies with a heart!


Congratulations to the winner of the Fringe Supply Co. giveaway - Hannah!! Want to make sure you don't miss any blog posts? Subscribe using the form in the left hand sidebar and they will arrive directly to your inbox!

Favorite Tools // Fringe Supply Co. Giveaway

giveaway, knitting, toolsAndrea Mowry89 Comments

When it comes to the tools I use everyday - I get pretty passionate (and opinionated). If I find something I like, and that works well for me, I want to tell everyone about it! So I figured, it was time for a blog post, so all of you can check out some of the items that make my work life better!

Let's start with something that has been near and dear to my heart since I was a wee one. I use to use my allowance every week to buy school supplies. What can I say - I've just got a thing (or what some would call - an obsession) with pens and notebooks. I find it so satisfying to have a shelf lined with notebooks that I have filled with notes, recipes, journal entries, patterns - all in my own handwriting. I also have at least one notebook and one pen with me at all times. (Okay, if I am being honest - more like 3 notebooks and an entire pack of pens.)

So, my current faves??

1. Frixion Erasable Pens - I am the kind of person who had a "messy" notebook and a "tidy" notebook in high school. I couldn't stand bad handwriting, or crossed out lines - so I would rewrite everything nice, neat and organized into my tidy notebook after taking speedy notes in class in my messy book. These pens solve that. They are truly erasable - but still good quality pens that write smoothly! Major bonus - you can get a pack with 24 different colors! Whoop whoop! (Thank you for introducing these to me Melynda!!)

2. Dot Grid Notebooks - Woah Mama. In love. So tidy. So fun. Perfect for knitters! Without the confines of lines (horizontal or in grids) you can make each page what you want it. Perfect for sketching, writing, graphing - whatever you need. I am also a huge Bullet Journaling fan (thanks to Annie!), and these are ideal for that. (Again- thanks for introducing these to me Melynda!!)

3. Knitter's Graph Paper Journal - as many of you already know, knit stitches are not a perfect square - they are more like a rectangle. So when it comes to charting out designs for color, cables, lace and texture - if you don't want it to be distorted, you need knitters graph paper! These journals from Fringe Supply Co., are perfect! Not only are they affordable - they also have super handy hand drawn notes in the front and back covers (needle charts, graph keys, ect.)

4. Fashionary Sketchbook - My drawing skills aren't quite as advanced as my knitting skills. But that whole "I like my notebooks tidy" issue, means I want tidy sketches, as well! Enter the Fashionary Sketchbook. Each page has 3 faint dot-lined female figures. They are faint enough that you can easily write over them, otherwise they are perfect to use as a guide to draw out garments and accessories on a model. Perfect for designers, but also great for those of us who desire a handmade wardrobe, or plotting out outfits.

The infamous and highly-coveted Fringe Field Bag

The infamous and highly-coveted Fringe Field Bag

Let's talk project bags. I love to keep all of my individual projects tucked away in their own special bag. That way I don't lose anything, I've got everything I need for that project and I can just grab and go! I am not a monogamous knitter - I tend to have 2 to 4 projects on my needles at all times. When I am heading to my knitting group, I just pick the easiest one to work on while chatting and I am out the door. At home in my studio - having everything in their own bag, helps me keep organized! I also usually keep a row counter in each bag, that way I don't get them mixed up and end up on the wrong row in my project!

My absolute favorite bag is the Field Bag by Fringe Supply Co. This is a seriously well made bag. It is sturdy, stylish, and functional. I love the simplistic design, and useful details. It has a sturdy bottom and sits upright on the table, so I can utilize it like a yarn bowl. It has a drawstring and handle for easy portability. Pockets!! I've mentioned how I like to keep everything I need for a project all together in one bag - now I have space for pens, pencils, stitch holders, scissors, stitch markers, row counter, notebook, scrap yarn and spare needles. Seriously - I just can't say enough good things (which is why I own four - no joke.)

My "I use these for every single project" notions.

1. Lantern Moon Sheep Measuring Tape- I've had this little guy for probably 14 years. I love him. He brings me joy every time I use him. Every knitter needs a tape measure - might as well make it a cute one! (You can probably find this at your LYS! Support small business if you can!)

2. Clover Row Counter - There are all kinds of row counters out there and this one is by far my favorite. Again, I began using it way back when I first started knitting. I have tried others. Simpler ones, and fancier ones - and I just find this is the best for me. The "click" helps remind me that I pushed it so I know I am not forgetting rows, and it's sturdy. I have a couple so I can have one for each project. (You can probably find this at your LYS! Support small business if you can!)

3. Chibi Tapestry Needles and Holder - As you can tell from the wear and tear, I also got this when I was a relatively new knitter. Nostalgia and functionality holds its place in my top fave tools. It does exactly as it is suppose to, and I like its now worn look. There are some much more modern holders available these days, so go with what fits your style - but for me, this guy is perfect! (You can probably find this at your LYS! Support small business if you can!)

4. Stitch Markers and Pouch - I got this as a gift from my friend, Marlee, and I adore it! The brass stitch markers are perfect for many different needle sizes, and the pouch is just so special. Little pieces like this (especially when received from friends) add so much joy to my work days.

5. Sharp, Small Scissors - (not pictured) I use small, gold handled embroidery scissors that I keep in my notion bag. They are probably about 10 years old, and still sharp and easily portable. And pretty - very pretty. I don't think you can get that particular set anymore, but there are sooo many options out there for all different kinds of styles. You can find them at your LYS, Fringe Supply Co., and any craft store.


So there you have it! Some of my all time, and most used, favorite tools. These are the workhorses of my collection, that I am utilizing every single day. I really like to "use" my tools - I am not gentle. So to have high quality, durable items, is really important to me. I hope you found this useful!!

To help you build up your own hard working tool set I am SO excited to announce that Karen of Fringe Supply Co. has offered a $50 gift certificate to her shop (does not include shipping costs)  for one lucky winner!!! To enter, simply leave me a comment below carrying on the discussion! What are you favorite tools? Are their items you want to see a post about? Let me know! And don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment so I have a way to reach you if you win! Giveaway is open until March 13 at midnight.

Two New Hats for Tolt Yarn & Wool // Snoqualmie & Rudbeckia

brioche, knitting, new pattern, tolt yarn and wool, yarnAndrea Mowry2 Comments

In February, I released the Range shawl, which was the first piece of a fun little collection with a focus on texture and yarns with a story, for Tolt Yarn & Wool. I am so excited to kick off March by releasing the second part of the collection, which is two hats knit up with Tolt's very own Snoqualmie Valley Yarn! This yarn is so special - sheered from pasture-raised grass fed sheep using organic practices, it is truly "farm to needle." And so dear to my heart - Tolt generously donates 20% of the profit from this yarn to the Seattle Children's Hospital. As some of you know, we are forever grateful to the Children's Hospital near us that helped save my daughters life, and they can always use whatever support we can give them!

First up is the Snoqualmie Hat! When I started this hat I wanted it to be something that I just couldn’t set down, but that also felt soothing to knit. A pattern you could finish in a weekend, and that looks great in everything from a natural undyed yarn, to more bold colors. This hat is all about the texture. It is addicting to knit as you move from one fun stitch pattern to the next. The different textures play well together to form a flattering slouchy style hat. Fun to knit and easy to wear!

Next up - the Rudbeckia Hat! Two of my favorite details of the Range Shawl were the brioche and tweed sections, that melted from color to color. I had so much fun knitting those - and knew it would be equally as fun (and so satisfying) in a quick hat! The Snoqualmie Valley yarn used for this hat was dyed by the amazingly talented ladies of Local Color Fiber Studio, whom I blogged about a couple weeks ago! The blue was dyed with Red Cabbage and the green with Rudbeckia (which is the hats namesake). I love these colors, and even more so together! By alternating sections of two color brioche and a simple tweed, you get to see the colors play off of each other, as well as adding a texture that "pulls and gives" just enough to add the perfect drape to this slouchy style hat.


You can save 15% on all patterns in the Tolt Yarn & Wool collection until Wednesday, March 2 at midnight EST with the coupon code TOLT!


In super exciting news - I will be teaching these hats at Tolt Yarn & Wool in Carnation, Washington on March 12! If you are in the area and would like to sign up or get more info you can head here. I will also be hanging out at their open stitch night on Thursday, March 10 from 6-8! If you want to stay up to date with more events, keep an eye on my Events page, and don't forget to subscribe to the blog!

Stitches West Recap!

knitting, NaturallyStraightForward, yarnAndrea MowryComment
Ready to go in my Range Shawl, with my trusty helper sharing the load!

Ready to go in my Range Shawl, with my trusty helper sharing the load!

If you follow me on Instagram, then you probably know that I was at Stitches West last weekend with my good friend (and Naturally Straight Forward partner) Annie Rowden! Both of us are work-at-home-mamas, and this was a big trip away from the littles. Ashley was also able to sneak away from her business trip to join us for a couple days! We sacrificed sleep to soak up every spare minute of knitting and girl time, loading up our days with classes, yarn squeezing, knitting and meeting new and old friends!

Veronika from YOTH and Dami from Magpie Fibers! Veronika is wearing the Marley Shawl knit up with a combination of their amazing yarns!

Veronika from YOTH and Dami from Magpie Fibers! Veronika is wearing the Marley Shawl knit up with a combination of their amazing yarns!

The YOTH & Magpie Fibers booth made you feel like you left the convention center and walked into a trendy yarn shop, complete with clothes, accessories, YARN, and couches (where I crashed with my knitting for most of the day Sunday - it was glorious!) As you can see from my yarn picks below - I apparently was in a very blue mood.

It was amazing to see the ladies of Spincycle and their yarns in person! Their booth was overflowing with color inspiration! This two-woman company sells yarns made in the USA from "sheep to skein" (which sets my heart a flutter) and offers truly unique products (more on them coming to the blog soon ;) .

Kate and Rachel of Spincycle!

Kate and Rachel of Spincycle!

I was also hugely drawn to yellows this weekend - can you tell I have spring fever? This colorway from Spincycle is called Greed - and I love it!

I was also hugely drawn to yellows this weekend - can you tell I have spring fever? This colorway from Spincycle is called Greed - and I love it!

Kristine from A Verb for Keeping Warm

With our love of naturally dyed yarns, Annie and I were in heaven at the AVFKW booth. Gorgeous isn't a big enough word to describe the amazing collection of yarns. A picture might say it better (because you know I couldn't leave without some of this yarn! Naturally...)

I wish you could reach out and touch them, and turn them over in your hands to see all of the amazing subtleties in the color.

One of my absolute favorite keepsakes from the trip is Sincere Sheep's Sheep Tote! I mean - come on! How cute is this bag? Love it!

One of my absolute favorite keepsakes from the trip is Sincere Sheep's Sheep Tote! I mean - come on! How cute is this bag? Love it!

If you read my previous blog post, you know that we were lucky enough to release two new patterns with Brooke of Sincere Sheep (click here to read all about it!) And I'll say it again - if you haven't had the opportunity to work with Brooke's yarns, you should really head over to her site, because they are amazing! And while you shop you can listen to her awesome Woolful interview. She has a company you want to be supporting!

Inspiration was not in short supply - between stunning yarns, beautiful tools, and motivating classes - I am already busy plotting and scheming for well into next year! Stay tuned for some amazing collaborations, including some Yarn Babies posts with these amazing people.

And Stephen West - because the knitting world just wouldn't be the same without him!

And Stephen West - because the knitting world just wouldn't be the same without him!


Congratulations to Carmen Bockman - the winner of last weeks giveaway! I've emailed you :)

Naturally Straight Forward // Spring Fever Flash Sale!

knitting, NaturallyStraightForward, saleAndrea Mowry2 Comments

As some of you may know, one half of Naturally Straight Forward (By Annie Claire) lives in Northern California, where they are already seeing signs of spring. The other half (yours truly) lives in Michigan - where we just got 12 inches of snow! The snow is beautiful - but my heart strings are tugging for some green - some afternoons spent outside with my daughter, and some sunshine on my skin. To help us get thru the rest of winter, and to celebrate what is coming soon, we wanted to have a little sale!

Use the coupon code SPRINGFEVER in my pattern store or on Ravelry for 15% any and all Naturally Straight Forward patterns 2/26/16-2/28/16 at midnight! Enjoy and Happy Knitting!!!

Naturally Straight Forward // Wildberry & Freshwater Shawls

knitting, NaturallyStraightForward, new pattern, yarnAndrea MowryComment

As many of you who follow me on Instagram know, I just spent the weekend at Stitches West with my Naturally Straight Forward knitting bestie - Annie Rowden of By Annie Claire!

Always looking to push our creative boundaries, we really wanted to do something special for Stitches West. So we teamed up with Sincere Sheep to create two new shawl designs- Freshwater (pictured top) and Wildberry (pictured bottom). If you haven’t experienced Brooke’s yarns - they should move to the top of your list!! Amongst my favorites our her Cormo (used in the Freshwater Shawl), Equity (used in the Wildberry Shawl), and Bannock (used in my Chevy Hat.)

Annie and I each started a shawl without telling the other what our plans were. Then about halfway thru we stopped and mailed it to the other person so they could finish it up however they desired! The result was two designs we couldn’t have achieved on our own! It was such a special way to celebrate our partnership and love of naturally dyed yarn and knitting!

We hope you love them as much as we do!

We originally released the patterns at Stitches West, but they are now available both here and here in my pattern shop and also on Ravelry! Both patterns are welcome additions to the ongoing Naturally Straight Forward Knitalong that I host in the DreaReneeKnits Ravelry group!


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//Yarn Babies// Part 4 - Blacker Yarns Tamar & a Giveaway!!

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry43 Comments

I am so excited about today's yarn chat! Blacker Yarns is getting ready to launch their new yarn line - Tamar Lustre Blend on March 3, and I got an early sneak peek - and a skein to give away! First, let's talk about this stunning new yarn. I'll let Blacker Yarns tell us a bit in their own words...

Tamar is a lustre blend yarn with a fluid sheen, reminiscent of flowing water and the river which gives this blend its name. This luxurious lustre yarn has been worsted spun to enhance the fibre’s inherent drape and shine.

Tamar is made from historic Wensleydale, Teeswater, Cotswold and Black Leicester Longwool, which are amongst the most distinctive British breeds. Tall and elegant with long lustrous ringlets of wavy fleece, their fibre is smooth and sleek with a distinctive silken sheen.

Pure lustre blend yarns may be rather lean and lack ‘give’, so we’ve added 30% Cornish Mule to Tamar, helping the yarn retain that characteristic woolly bounce. Mules are a crossbred sheep and can be found on most British farms. For Tamar, we’ve hand selected only the finest local Cornish lambs’ fleece. The baby-soft Cornish Mule creates a fine cloud of delicate fibre which perfectly complements the long staple of the lustre breeds creating a yarn which is durable, yet velvet soft. Due to the long fibre length this yarn will get softer and softer with every wash.

Using different ratios of Black Leicester Longwool, we’ve hand blended two natural shades and added a modern colour palette with fifteen dyed shades. Tamar is available in both DK and 4-ply.

Despite their glorious fibre Teeswater, Wensleydale, Cotswold and Black Leicester Longwool are all listed as either ‘at risk’ or ‘vulnerable’ by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust. These breeds are an important part of our heritage, with Cotswold and Leicester Longwool dating back to the 13th and 17th centuries respectively. The fibre used in Tamar has been bought directly from UK based small producers, who are working to preserve these lustre breeds.
Tamar DK in Valency

Tamar DK in Valency

I couldn't wait to get my samples on my needles and began swatching up some of my favorite stitch patterns! After a bath, my swatches blocked out beautifully. Great drape, perfect amount of shine, and beautiful stitch definition. I am already dreaming up a cardigan with the DK and a shawl with the 4-ply!

Tamar 4-ply in Trevella

Tamar 4-ply in Trevella

This is the yarn that you want people to ask you about, because it so special! I love the care that went into creating Tamar, and how there is such a beautiful story to go with it. Blacker Yarns is invested in keeping their environmental impact low, growing their local economy, and focusing on sheep breeds that may otherwise die out. This is a yarn company I want to support. When wrapping up garments and accessories made from their beautiful yarns, I know I am helping to support abusiness I can believe in, and one that is so very important to our fiber community. Blacker Yarns is a company with a soul - and we need more of those in our world today.

Blacker Yarns believes it is wrong to use oil-based or high energy input fibres when wool and other natural fibres are sustainable high-performance raw materials providing warmth, insulation and comfort. For the sake of the people living on the planet in future, we believe in doing as little damage as possible...
— http://www.blackeryarns.co.uk/about/our-values

For your chance to win this beautiful skein of Tamar DK, just leave me a comment below, joining in on the discussion! I want to hear your thoughts on everything - fiber preferences, how you feel about woolly yarns, companies that care...And don't forget to include your email address in the actual comment so I can contact you if you win!!


Congratulations to Kate - the winner of the Mushy Vest Giveaway!

We Are Knitters // Mushy Vest & Giveaway!!

Finished objects, knittingAndrea Mowry62 Comments
IMG_3345.JPG

Apparently, I am all about quick bulky knits these days! And expanding the color palette of my wardrobe! Here is my latest finished object - the Mushy Vest from We Are Knitters!

I cast this on in the afternoon, and was completely finished by the following afternoon. Talk about satisfying! I also had a lot of fun playing with the large needles and super bulky, singly ply yarn (which is SO soft!)

A knitting kit from Urban Outfitters is actually one of the things that really got me back into knitting in my teen years. I remember it came with neon yellow and neon pink acrylic yarn and needles, and you could choose to knit either a scarf, skinny tie, or leg warmers. I, of course, went with the leg warmers. I wonder if I still have those somewhere...

Knitting kits have come a long way since my teen years! I was so impressed with the options available, everything from blankets and pillows to sweaters, hats and baby knits (Hello, Teddy Sweater!!).

My kit came with all the yarn I needed, wooden needles (definitely nicer than the aluminum needles of my youth ;), directions for the pattern, a label to sew into my completed vest, and a darning needle to sew the pieces together. In other words, everything I needed to complete my project.

These kits would make awesome gifts for any knitter in your life (or a gift for yourself!) They come with everything you need and everything is high quality. The patterns are all modern and fun. And the really exciting news?? I get to give one away!! To enter for your chance to win the kit of your choice (up to $100), just leave a comment below telling me which kit you would pick and make sure to leave your email address in the comment! The contest will close Saturday, February 2/20/16 at midnight EST. Can't wait to get your hands on your own kit? You can use the coupon code DREARENEE to save 15% off of your order at www.weareknitters.com! You can also find their fun and inspiring feed on Instagram!

Want to see some more pictures of my finished vest? Head on over to my Ravelry project page!!

Agnes Sweater KAL #havefancyhouse

knitting, Finished objectsAndrea MowryComment

Designing knitwear doesn't leave me a lot of free time to knit other people's patterns. But I really love to support my fellow designers, and sometimes a gem comes along that you just can't turn down! Jaime (Fancy Tiger Crafts), Marlee (Have Company) and Lizzy House, decided to host a fun little knitalong (#havefancyhouse) for the Agnes Sweater. If you aren't familiar with this sweater, let me share with you the key points - bulky, quick, top-down, seamless, pockets. Pockets. Seamless. Bulky. QUICK! I couldn't resist (even knowing that with this ever-growing belly of mine, I wouldn't actually be able to wear this sweater until next fall.)

I picked up some Quince & Co. Puffin in Fox for the body and Osprey in Audouin for the pockets from Have Company. (Not to mention a really adorable new dress from Conscious Clothing that I will be able to wear while pregnant and after!!)

I have a strong tendency to lean towards greys and greens when knitting up sweaters for myself, so I pushed myself to go against my norm with orange. I am so happy I did. What a fun addition to my wardrobe!

This knit was super fast. This sweater could easily be knit up in a weekend. The result is a bulky knit sweater, that doesn't leave you feeling like you just added 10 pounds of bulk to your frame (huge win!) I love the deep ribbing for the neckline, hem and wrists. The directions are very simple, and easy enough for a beginner. I would happily knit myself a couple more of these! I will have to see if, sans belly, the torso is long enough next fall. I am very short waisted - so I think it will be okay, but luckily, I have a whole extra skein of the Puffin if I decide to add some more length! To see more pictures, you can hop on over to my Ravelry project page!