Drea Renee Knits

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Yarn Babies // An Interview with Bethany of Woolberry

giveaway, knitting, yarn babies, yarnAndrea Mowry465 Comments

Well Hello!
It's been a minute over here on the blog :) I've just returned from a gorgeous trip to Australia, where I got to teach and speak at the Soul Craft Festival in Melbourne. I am still processing what an amazing trip and moment in my life it was. So while I soak up some time with my family and get through those early brain fog/jet lag days, I thought - why not check out some super gorgeous yarn and the woman behind it??

Without further ado - here is an interview I got to do with the super lovely, Bethany of Woolberry!
PS - fun fact: We both lived in New Zealand!

Rose Cardigan Giveaway.png

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

It came on a bit of a whim, actually. My husband and I had just moved back to the States from New Zealand and I really had no clue what to do with my life - I think I was experiencing a quarter-life crisis haha. I wanted to do something totally different than what I had been doing for the past few years (nannying) and wanted to incorporate my love for knitting into it. I started brainstorming and remembered how much I loved seeing the different colorways dyers like A Homespun House or Voolenvine Yarns were coming up with and thought why not! I had tried dyeing yarn a few times before (which usually ended in disaster....but that’s a whole other story), so I figured with a bit more research and help from YouTube I could figure it out. So that’s all to say, I basically started out by calling my husband at work one day and asking him if I could can I open a little Etsy shop selling hand-dyed yarn and 1 1/2 years later, here we are!

What inspires your gorgeous colors?

Mostly nature! I lived in New Zealand for a few years with my husband and became more of an outdoor person haha. I began the business using photographs I’d taken while we lived there and transforming them into colorways. Now a lot of my inspiration comes from walks we take on the trail behind our house or our visits to our local botanical gardens.

I know it is probably so hard to pick, but if you had a first timer wanting to try your yarn - what base would you suggest?

Ohhh! I would say my Berry Merino which is a 2-ply 100% Superwash Merino fingering weight yarn. It is so soft, plump, and knits up beautifully. I could knit my entire wardrobe with that base.

What is your favorite type of pattern to knit?

Lately, I’ve really been enjoying making garments. I can’t seem to stop putting sweaters and cardigans on my needles.

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

I would say, don’t start your business with the intent of making it big because you’ll just end up trying to please all the people around you. Create with what’s already inside of you, find that thing that burns a fire in your soul, and take a leap of faith in yourself because chances are it is just the thing the world needs to see.

What is your favorite noise?

Waterfalls. My husband and I were married close to a waterfall and the sound always reminds me of our wedding day.

What is your spirit animal?

Hmm...I think a dove. It reminds me of peace and hope which is something I always try to carry with me.

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Thank you so much for sharing your story, Bethany!

You can find Bethany and her yarn at the following places:

The Woolberry Fiber Co. Website

Instagram

The Woolberry Fiber Video Podcast!

 


Bethany and I have teamed up for a super fun giveaway! Leaving a comment below telling us what your favorite summer knit is, and you will be entered to win a Birds of a Feather Shawl kit!! The giveaway will close Wednesday, 6/20/18 at midnight EST.

Plum Dandi // An Interview with Alicia & Melissa

giveawayAndrea Mowry404 Comments
 Photo Credit: Interweave Press

Photo Credit: Interweave Press

I am so excited to share an interview today with Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary - the two incredibly talented and hard working mamas behind Plum Dandi Knits - Simple Designs for Luxury Yarns! (Interweave Press, $24.99, 2017)

Let's jump in!


How did you get started as a designer?

Alicia: I jumped right into knitting, but after a little while I just found that the things I was making didn't quite suit my personality or my lifestyle up here in Maine! I realized that I had the tools to make things that were truly "me", and Melissa encouraged me so much. Right from the beginning of our friendship she encouraged me and supported me, sending me my first stitch book and telling me I should go for it. We were talking so much on Ravelry that we moved it over to facebook...then, we decided to collaborate on a submission for Petite Purls-- I ended up having to call her on the phone for the first time about a piece of math. I was nervous to talk to her--but we spent 5 minutes talking math, and then 45 minutes chatting after that. From there we have talked daily since then! Soon we were bouncing all our ideas off each other, so in a way all of our designs have been very collaborative. Even though they're fully our own, they have a piece of each other in all of them.

Melissa: I started designing not long after learning to knit in 2009.  While I loved working from other published patterns, there was something so exciting about trying my own thing.  I had a LOT of failed attempts at projects (sometimes they seem so easy in my head lol), but I also successes too and those things kept me going.  Putting my first written pattern out there in the world was really nerve wracking and that initial experience of dealing with constructive (and sometimes not so constructive) criticism was something that really helped me to grow as a person.

You are both prolific designers with gorgeous patterns!  Where do you find your inspiration?

Alicia: My inspiration comes mostly from life--memories, feelings. I'm a very emotional person and I want to feel something when I'm making. Even if it's grief (like in the Campside Shawl), it's a good way to pour out emotions. Other times it's that certain colors will bring back memories or fleeting moments that I treasure. The Thunderstorm MKAL clues follow the cycle of an actual thunderstorm, with each clue relating to a different phase. It really helps me pause in the moment and soak up the beauty that life has to offer.

Melissa:  For inspiration, I get this question so often and never really now how to properly answer it, mostly because there are SO many things that inspire me.  Sometimes it’s a song, or a movie, the color of the sky, or the way a campfire smells.  Other times it’s simply wanting something… an actual knitted piece or a piece with a certain feature….

What do you feel has been the most important factor in pushing your design career forward?

Alicia: That’s a tough one! I think my unfortunate night-owl personality has been a big contributor. I try to make myself sleep earlier at night but most nights I am wired until around midnight. So I make use of that. The other huge factor has definitely been my friendship with Melissa. From consulting on this cable or that, shooting in this scenario or that one, her input, encouragement, and friendship has kept this job fun for me! I don't think I would be anywhere close to where I am without her.

Melissa: Hands down the most important factor in pushing my design career forward has been having a best friend to tackle things with.  As the saying goes, 2 heads is better than one.

You both have children. I'd love to ask you one of the main questions I get asked: How do you balance work and family?

Alicia: Hmmm…I honestly don't think I do! haha. My house is often messy because when I'm homeschooling and we're doing activities and extracurriculars, that's what gets left to the wayside! Sometimes I feel defeated, like I can't do it all. Striking a balance is a hard thing, but I think one of the most important things we can do is give ourselves what God gives us--grace! Not everything is going to be in balance all the time, not all the shoes will be lined up in the entry, not all the paper scraps from when your kids make "snow" will always get sucked into the vacuum. Sometimes their dirty socks are lying in the middle of the kitchen. But being gentle with ourselves and realizing we are doing the best we can is important. And I'm not perfect, nowhere near it. So I don't balance it all always. Sometimes I run to the farmstand and buy a pre-made chicken pot pie so my family can still have a warm, homecooked meal without the extra effort. And that's okay. :)

Melissa: This is something that has changed throughout the last 7 years, since my youngest was born.  At the that time 7 years ago, my oldest was 5 and still taking nice long naps. lol I had a lot of time available during the day to research things, crunch numbers and be involved online making friendships and growing my brand.  But as the girls have grown, I’m finding that I have less and less time for designing and all of the wonderful things that come along with it.  At the moment my oldest is in 6th grade and my youngest is in 1st.  We homeschool and both girls are heavily involved in music as well as competitive dance.  Any time I had for designing is now spent teaching and then driving 4-5 days a week into the city for dance and, or music.  It’s an exhausting, crazy fun time of life and I know that if I don’t enjoy every second of it I’ll regret it because it’ll be gone too soon.   The knitting, however, will be here for me, like an old friend, when they are grown and have lives of their own.  On days when I get a little down that I might not be doing all I used to, I remind myself of that.

The book is stunning! Can you tell us about your inspiration for it's focus?

Alicia: The biggest inspiration for us both I think was those little moments of rest, moments of finding beauty in the life around you. The times that you take pause to admire the way the golden late winter sun streams in through the windows, or the coffee (tea, in my case, decaf black with milk!) steaming from a warm mug as the daybreaks and the house is silent... (again, I often miss those moments because I'm not a morning person!), a solitary walk through the woods as the smell of fallen leaves and rich earth rises on a balmy autumn day. We wanted to capture those feelings and put them into a book the best we could!

Melissa: Thank you so much! Our primary focus for the book was creating beautiful knits that worked up easily; low stress, comfort kinds of projects that you end up living in and loving. We wanted the overall mood to feel relaxed and luxurious and we incorporated gorgeous yarns that we love and believe in.

Where can we find your patterns?
Alicia: www.ravelry.com/designers/alicia-plummer
Melissa: www.ravelry.com/designers/melissa-schaschwary

What is your spirit animal?
Alicia: Hmmm! Wild or tame? (we're studying both in first grade science right now!) I can identify with a yellow lab. Not the most exciting animal, but loyal, warm, trusting to a fault and always ready to have fun. Can be a lazy bum in the right circumstances! For a wild animal, I'd love to say a deer but I'm really not graceful. Maybe a fox?

Melissa:  A coffee bean.

What is your favorite noise?
Alicia: That’s a tough one! The sound of my girls belly laughing, the sound of a strong midsummer rainstorm on the roof of our little camp, the sound of peepers (frogs) in early spring heralding the arrival of warmer weather!

Melissa: Big belly laughs from my kids, and also crazy wind whipping around outside when I’m super cozy under all of my blankets.

What is your dream yarn to work with?
Alicia: That is always changing! Right now it's rustic, airy and light, but also chunky. Sticky enough to do colorwork easily and so reminiscent of life straight off a farm, straight from the source.

Melissa: I LOVE bulky/chunky weight yarns.  If it’s super soft, knits up quickly….I’m there.  

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

Alicia: Don’t be afraid of your mistakes. Not everything has to be perfect all the time! Let your creativity take you where it will, and enjoy that process. When you focus too much on perfect stitches or designing something everyone will love, you lose the one thing that makes your work so special—you!

Melissa: Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to fail! Some of my biggest failures have given way to my greatest accomplishments.  Following dreams always has some scary parts,…some “what ifs” but knowing you did what you dreamed is worth the risk.


Thank you so much Alicia and Melissa!! It is always so great to hear about other people's creative process and how they have achieved their dreams!


Do you want to win a copy of Plum Dandi??? Leave a comment below! I will pick a winner on Friday, 2/16/18!

ETA: Congratulations to Kim W!! I've emailed you :)

Yarn Babies // Hue Loco

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry463 Comments
 Rainbow Brite

Rainbow Brite

This past March I had the good fortune to be able to spend a weekend in Fort Collins, Colorado, teaching at My Sister Knits. It was such an amazing weekend and I got to meet some truly beautiful people! One of those people was the extremely talented Nicole of Hue Loco. What stood out to me the most about Nicole is how incredibly generous and supportive she is. If you check out her Instagram feed (which you should), you will notice that she regularly shares yarn from other dyers. Instead of viewing them as competitors, she sees us as a large community and puts her efforts into supporting her fellow dyers! She told me how she wants to share her creative knowledge with everyone that she can, and this just filled my heart! I LOVE this mentality. We are all in this awesome knitting family together, so let's inspire each other and help each other to learn, grow and share what we create!

Read on to learn more about Nicole and Hue Loco! And bonus - Nicole also has a fabulous video podcast!


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

I taught myself how to knit in 2010 shortly after my first son was born. Soon after I stumbled upon the amazing world of hand-dyed yarn and was smitten! I began to dabble in dyeing purely for selfish reasons, eventually opening an etsy shop in 2015. The rest is history! I have been blown away by this amazingly supportive community.

Was there a pivotal moment that made you start your business?

Here was that pivotal moment: “I need to find something to do that doesn’t involve changing diapers, cooking meals and nursing or I'll go nuts.” Answering this question totally made me laugh! Our family of four, soon to be 5, moved to California early 2014; landing right outside of Los Angeles. My husband was working on a show for Discovery so he was completely devoted to and involved in his career. I was a full time stay-at-home mom and absolutely loved the job! We spent most of our days outside catching lizards, going on bike rides and playing at the pool. While I felt very fulfilled as a mother I knew my creativity had come to a complete halt. My husband and I both agreed that we would start to enact something we so affectionately named Dadderday. Every Saturday morning John would take over all the parenting responsibilities while I dabbled in whatever creative process I was into at the time. This eventually led me to dyeing and present day I find fulfillment in both being a mother and an artist. The best of both worlds!

 Lucky Charm

Lucky Charm

What inspires your colors? 

I've been in a long-term, romantic relationship with color for most of my life. What inspires my colors? The list could go on and on...I’m not kidding, it totally could! For me, the best part about dyeing is seeing how colors harmonize and layer on top of one another. Every time I get to create a new colorway it brightens my day, especially when it turns out just like what was in my head. I tend to create colorways that I gravitate toward...I love all shades of green, purple and teal. You’ll notice I have plenty of those to choose from in my shop!

Can you tell us about some of the different bases you offer and if you have a favorite?

I offer a range of fingering weight blends, sport, DK and worsted that are exceptionally lovely. I absolutely adore my 50/50 merino silk blend called Opal Sock. It has a beautiful shine and drape that looks drop dead gorgeous on shawls! Definitely the most popular blends are a high twist MCN (Spun Sock) and a traditional 75/25 blend of merino and nylon (Phyllis Sock). I also regularly stock singles, glitter and tweed blends. 

What is the most unexpected thing that has happened since creating Hue Loco?

This community of knitters has been completely unexpected! I discovered Ravelry late 2010 but wasn’t fully utilizing the shared threads, groups, etc. I was primarily using it as a resource for patterns. Little did I know that this community would play a crucial part in supporting and encourage me in making my creative dreams come true. I have been a recipient of such generosity and kindness in the last two years. A big hug and thank you to each and every one of you that has supported Hue Loco. It means so much to me, truly. 

You have 4 little ones at home - any tips to other work at home mamas about how you manage to run your own business while raising children?

Owning a business means you have to juggle a lot and it’s imperative to not lose focus on what’s most important to you. My family is my first priority. There’s never an end to the demands of my business and there are times when I feel completely overwhelmed by tasks. I’ve found that this is when it’s most important for me to come back to my number one. I have to brag on my children a bit because they totally make entrepreneurship a possibility for me. They are the best kids! I keep them on a pretty tight schedule when it comes to sleep. All of my kiddos (4 months - 7 years) go to bed at 7pm. It sounds early but it’s really a matter of personal sanity. Early bedtime gives my husband and I enough time to talk about the day, ship packages and finish up left over work; don’t forget all those household chores too. Sleeping kids for the win!

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

Go for it! Absolutely run with your dreams, there’s nothing better you could do with your life than step into your passion. Even if nothing makes sense and you can’t possibly fathom how taking this leap could affect your present life it’s SO important to just start. Whether a bible believer or not, take the story of Moses and the Red Sea. God didn’t part the waters and let Moses walk through. NO! Way too easy! He waited for Moses to step into the sea out of faith before he parted the water. Sometimes all you need is that first step and a little faith! That forward motion! 

 Minis in a variety of colorways

Minis in a variety of colorways


What is the most important thing you have learned since starting your business?

One word comes to mind and that's balance. Owning a business is absolutely the best. I love it but It can be difficult to manage alongside all of my other responsibilites as a mother and wife. I’ve had to work extremely hard to be in every moment and not be distracted with the next task. Hue Loco has enriched my life in so many ways and I am so extremely grateful to be learning more about who I am through it. 

What is the soundtrack you have playing while dyeing yarn?

It would have to be Brandi Carlile’s Firewatcher’s Daughter album. I’m such a fan of hers. Loud Harp is another favorite of mine. Really any music that’s genuine and soulful, I’m sold. 

Where can we find your yarn?

My yarn is primarily sold on hueloco.com. Here you’ll find the biggest selection as I’m always doing my very best to keep the shop stocked with signature colorways and fresh new combos. You can also find Hue Loco yarn at a number of local shops as well. To name a few: Wildfiber Studio of Santa Monica, Colorful Yarns & My Sister Knits of Colorado and Simply Socks of Indiana.

What is your favorite thing to knit?

My favorite thing to knit on right now is my cozy memories blanket. My life is crazy busy but it’s always a knit that I can come back to at the end of a long day. I don’t have to think, my hands move and something is accomplished. I love seeing each square and remembering each moment that it's attached to. I also love knitting sweaters, it’s so much fun to see the construction come together and completely rewarding to wear. I’m working on an Alicia Plummer design right now called In Stillness with Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage, one of my absolute favorites!

What is your spirit animal?

I’d have to pick the stingray. I come from a long line of strong, independent woman in my family which I’m very proud of. The stingray isn’t naturally aggressive but can be very calculated and strategic. I can relate to many characteristics of this majestic creature. 

What is your favorite noise?
There are a few obvious favorites for me; my children laughing, early morning sounds in the mountains and the ocean. Grasshoppers in the evening take me back to my childhood. My father was an avid bird watcher so I can’t help but love the sound of birds as well.

 Nicole

Nicole


I am SO excited to team up with Nicole to offer an awesome giveaway this week! We will be giving one lucky ready both of my newly released patterns - So Faded and So Faded Pint Sized, along with a 5-skein Fade Kit of Hue Loco yarn!! (Pictured below.)

To enter, simply leave us a comment telling us your favorite way to wear your handknit sweaters! Remember to include your email address or Ravelry name in the body of the comment so we have a way to contact you if you win! The giveaway will close Friday, 4/28/17 at midnight EST!

All images in this post were provided by Nicole of Hue Loco.

Yarn Babies // Circus Tonic Handmade

giveaway, KNIT in COLOR, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry168 Comments

I have to say that one of the best things that has happened since the Find Your Fade shawl went live, was how many new-to-me and AMAZING independent yarn dyers I have discovered! Shortly after it's release, I began seeing gorgeous gradients pop up in my Instagram feed created by these talented artists. It immediately made me want to cast on another, and also to get to know the people dyeing them!

Hannah from Circus Tonic Handmade is one of those delightful people. It has been such an honor getting to know her - and oh my goodness, is her yarn just stunning!! I am so excited to share her interview today! And lucky for us - I get to give away one of her beautiful skeins to a lucky winner!!


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

Soon after learning to knit at the end of 2013 I found hand dyed yarn. I quickly became absolutely obsessed…to such a point that my stash grew rather alarmingly! Even the mailman was wondering what on Earth was going on! I was still working as a scientist and up until that point had been a quilter drawn to the riot of colour in modern quilting. Once the kids came along and sitting with my back to them at a sewing machine became impractical (and have you ever tried to baste a quilt with toddlers around?!!) I knew I needed to switch to knitting and yarn. I just couldn’t get over how beautiful hand dyed yarn could be….and I loved being able to actually wear items handmade by me…so the love of knitting and yarn came hand in hand. Throughout the years of maternity leave, going back and forth to work and struggling with daycare, work and family balance I remember trying to come up with ideas that could allow me to work in what I loved which could also involve less crazy rushing around and expense! I enjoyed my previous science life, I had studied well over ten years for that position but with three kids in four years the lifestyle was just not practical anymore and as soon as the enjoyment goes it just makes it hard work.

Was there a pivotal moment that made you start your business?

I resigned from my career! From the day I realised everything had to change it was all done within a few short weeks. All the kids were at a University daycare where I worked, so they were all pulled out and we were home. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I was totally lost. I remember looking down at my hands…holding some magnificent Lemonade Shop yarn…. It took about 8 days before I had hotplates, yarn, dye and a mask ordered! I opened an Instagram account and started….the only way I knew how….studying!! I practiced and practiced….I dreamt yarn, I lived and breathed it…and still do. Obviously my kids and husband were top priority….but as far as I was concerned then and there I was so afraid not to be also “working” I had to throw myself head on into soly launched the business about five months later.

What inspires your colors?

I studied genetics, not colour and so I could only start with what I liked and I went with that. I actually turned…again….to books. I collect antique science and natural history books. Colour plates within books on Australian native birds became a huge focus and there is so much scope there I have yet to move on! There are even a lot of incredible birds to spot just around and about at home and on our travels. I have amazing books from the early 1900’s on gemstones, insects and flora. There is so much to pull from so that is where I am at the moment. I have become far more confident with new colourways lately, as I really explore the craft as there is a lot to learn!! There are so many ways to achieve fascinating speckles and highlights which are such a joy to knit in a skein and make wonderful fabric. Even in quilting, I fell in love with the whole “Low Volume” movement….and you can see that in a lot of my yarns lie Galah, Skylark, Wattlebird and Southern Cassowary. There is something so magical though about the depth a good semi solid tonal can lend to a garment. I’m totally hooked! I hope to continue on and on!

Can you tell us about some of the different bases you offer and if you have a favorite?

We offer local fingering, DK and Aran weight Australian merino bases which are extremely soft and delicious. Our 80/20 Australian merino nylon Revelry Sock base is the most popular…my favourite to dye and of course the most difficult and unreliable to source! As my shawl knitting obsession has expanded, we now carry a single ply merino fingering base, a higher twist merino cashmere silk blend, a stunning merino silk lace, a BFL sock and stellina fingering yarns. We try to offer a good sized range for sock, accessory, garment and shawl knitters.

What is the most unexpected thing that has happened since creating Circus Tonic Handmade?

The biggest surprise has been the incredibly generous and encouraging knit community!! Designers, yarn dyers, vendors, publishers, podcasters and makers all interconnecting and lifting each other. It is incredible and I truly think unique to our community. Never have I seen such kind acts on such a consistent and inspiring level….it’s been the icing on the cake! I’m really looking forward to building the business into a situation where I can start meeting up with online friends at faraway fibre festivals!!!!

What is the inspiration behind the name - Circus Tonic?

When people enter our home I’ve always said “Welcome to the Circus!” Knitting and making and yarn and fabric have been my survival strategy since having kids….my tonic. Tonic is also a play on words as our surname is Ginn, which is often mispronounced Gin like the spirit!

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

My top pointer would be to focus on something you really really LOVE as you should be prepared to work really REALLY hard!! The commitment needed to make a small business succeed is massive…..which is lucky for us as I do believe it’s easier for creative people to live, dream and sleep their business. There is that saying “The right time and the right place”. Once you think you are there you need to pull out all the stops and go for it!

What is the most important thing you have learned since starting your business?

I worked in many many different types of jobs while I studied…..florist, waitress, maître di, bartender, clothing retail, making hummus and tabbouleh in a Lebanese restaurant, librarian, tutor, lab demonstrator and research assistant. All of those involved customer service face to face. You could gauge situations in person most of the time and act accordingly. With almost 100% of my interactions now online I have really had to learn this new way of life…..and I believe it has unique customer service related challenges. I’m still learning but I really do enjoy having the odd live event, or Trunk Show….as meeting customers in real life and seeing their knits made from my yarn is a true thrill!

What is the soundtrack you have playing while dyeing yarn?

Bonobo mainly, with Air, Royksopp, Tame Impala, Fat Freddy’s Drop and then old school Basement Jaxx, Beastie Boys and Fatboy Slim if things need lifting a bit!!

Where can we find your yarn?

I currently sell on Etsy at etsy.com/shop/circustonichandmade and the best form of communication and keeping up with what is going on is to follow me on Instagram @circustonichandmade We have a thriving Ravelry group Circus Tonic Handmade Yarns and there are a whole lot of really fantastic projects to have a look at there.

What is your favorite thing to knit?

I started out knitting baby jumpers and cardigans and love how quickly they come together! It was shawls that really got me addicted to knitting larger projects....and now I have recently learned how to knit socks they are super fun to showcase my yarns. So I love those…but in 2017 I will be striving to attempt several sweaters and cardigans for myself! I have at least eight projects I would dearly love to make….most with colourwork yokes…and with our very short winter and knit wear season here in Sydney, those should last me quite some years! So I completely failed to answer that question…..but as I’m still a relatively new knitter I really can’t say yet!!

What is your spirit animal?

Can it be mythical? If so, Sphinx, for sure. But the benevolent Egyptian kind, not the monstrous Greek kind.

What is your favorite noise?

A champagne cork popping….daaaarling! No seriously!! It means there are friends, it’s the weekend, there’s great food…..family are happy and there are more adults around than just me…..and the mailman!!

Anything else you would like to include?

JUST THANK YOU ANDREA!!!!

Thank YOU Hannah for letting us peek behind the scenes of Circus Tonic Handmade!


To enter the giveaway to win a skein of Hannah's gorgeous yarn, please leave a comment below telling us what in nature inspires you? Remember to leave your email address or Ravelry name in the body of the comment so that I have a way to contact you!! The giveaway will close 4/1/17 at midnight EST.

All the images in this post were provided by and used with permission from Hannah Ginn.

Book Review & Giveaway! // Maine Knits by Beatrice Perron Dahlen

giveaway, knittingAndrea Mowry109 Comments

Happy Sunday everyone! I've been spending mine curled up with a cup of tea and this stunner of a book, Maine Knits, created by Beatrice Perron Dahlen, who you might know as Thread & Ladle.

I was lucky enough to spend time with Bea this past fall during our trip to Rhinebeck. She is someone that you immediately want to be friends with, and her passion for a handmade life with her family is infectious!

Her book is such a labor of love, and you can feel it in every single page. Bea, along with her contributors, really transport you to Maine and all of its wild beauty. The photographs are just as delicious as the patterns, and it is definitely a book to keep out for inspiration, instead of tucked away on a book shelf. I look forward to many more mornings getting lost in its beautiful pages!

So let's jump right in - I would love to share with you my favorites from the book!

 Astrantia Pullover by Beatrice Perron Dahlen

Astrantia Pullover by Beatrice Perron Dahlen

Oh my gosh, y'all!! This lace yoke pullover is just so beautiful! Bea wore this while at Rhinebeck, and it has jumped to the top of my selfish knitting queue! I absolutely adore it!!

 Quarry Shawl by Bristol Ivy

Quarry Shawl by Bristol Ivy

It's no surprise that I love the Quarry shawl by Bristol Ivy. You had me at shawls and speckles ;)

 Mountainside Pullover by Alicia Plummer

Mountainside Pullover by Alicia Plummer

I always love a good textured motif, like the center panel in Alicia Plummer's Mountainside Pullover. I especially love it layered over a collared shirt like she has it here!


The book also includes patterns from Carrie Bostick Hoge, Cecily Glowik MacDonald, Mary Jane Mucklestone, Leila Raabe, Elizabeth Smith, Kristen TenDyke, and Leah B. Thibault! Such a talented group of Maine designers!!


The best part?? I get to give away 2 autographed copies of this amazing book! I will be giving one away here on the blog, and one more on Instagram! So make sure to enter both to double your chances to win!! To enter here, leave a comment below telling me which pattern you can't wait to cast on! Remember to leave either your email address or your Ravelry ID in the body of the comment so that I have a way to contact you!! The giveaways will close Friday, 2/24/17 at midnight EST.


A big congratulations to last weeks winner - Megan!!

New Pattern // Kingston // PLUS Interview & Giveaway with Wool Days!!

giveaway, knitting, new pattern, sale, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry179 Comments

Hey everyone!! I am SO thrilled for today's post! Not only do I have a new pattern to show all of you (eek!!), I also get to share an interview with Megan from Wool Days, whose gorgeous yarn you see above in the photograph of my new Kingston Tunic! (And...a giveaway and sale!! Ah!!!)

I used Wool Days luxurious Scout yarn to knit up this super cozy and flattering sweater! Ever since I designed the Kingsley Hat (one of my very first patterns!) I have been itching to use the same stitch pattern in a larger piece. When Megan sent me this stunning Blueberry colorway, I knew I had finally found the perfect project for one of my favorite textured stitch patterns! Kingston is perfect over slim jeans or leggings and is incredibly flattering on all different figures, thanks to slim sleeves and a cozy cowl neck!

So let's jump right in to Megan's interview!


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

Wool is a fibre that ticks ALL the boxes and I'm just a wee bit obsessed. It is nothing short of brilliant in its simplicity. A renewable and regenerative resource when managed with care, wool has virtually unlimited uses – not least of all to delight the hearts & minds of those who love creating with good wool. My love of good wool has grown out of my thirst for knowing where things come from and how processes can be simplified. Which goes hand-in-hand with knitting. Creating practical, beautiful and enduring items with my own two hands for those I love is one of my most treasured skills. Knitting is such a richly fulfilling and creatively inspiring part of my story - introducing me to joy, patience, ambition and connection in a way I never could have imagined. And knitting with wool, good wool, is one of my absotule favoruite things. Wool, gently spun into yarn designed to be held by loving hands; yarn that responds well to direction and is full of character - lively, forgiving and buttery soft. Wool from happy sheep and caring farmers, wool that has not been stripped of its natural goodness or treated with chemicals. I love good wool. 

I waited such a long time for someone create a business that celebrated the incredible history, diversity, passion, strength and community that surrounds Australian wool. Because I think it's such an important story to explore and I wanted to support it - the story of the farmers and their land; the story of sheep and their breeds; the story of mills and their mix of traditional & modern practices; the story of dreamers and doers. The story of the things we make & the things we hold dear. It needed to introduce transparency into an 'old fashioned' industry by exploring fresh ideas and sustainable thinking. 

But no one ever did. So, along with my handsome blue-eyed man, I started the business I didn't want to wait any longer for. Neither of us have done anything like this before, but we do both have incredibly varied work (& play) backgrounds. So we took what we knew, learnt what we needed to and dived in. Wool days took 3 years of solid work by the two of us to build before we launched in April this year. 

Was there a pivotal moment that made you start your business?

No moment as such, more of a slow but strong realisation that I was spending more and more time exploring & enjoying my absolute passion for good wool, and that I wanted to create something more with the energy and drive I had. I thought by moving from passion to business I could create a space and a product to inspire, educate and facilitate the most beautiful conversations. 

What inspired the palette of your yarns? 

We want our yarns to be practical, beautiful & enduring. So our colours needed to stand alone, play well together, be suitable for garments & accessories, work for boys & girls, kids & adults. Our first batch of yarn has 5 colour ways, and an undyed yarn was a must (because it's my absolute favourite!) and then I picked my 4 favourite colours to create with. Simple really ;) 

 Megan holding a basket full of Scout!

Megan holding a basket full of Scout!

Can you tell us the story of your yarn?

I spent so long perfecting Scout's design structure - softness, adaptability, forgiving - but more than anything it's the character of the wool that I wanted to highlight. And it's without a doubt that the wool is the true star of the show of our yarn. 

Scout wool comes from Eden Valley Farm in Dumbleyung, Western Australia. The 2000 hectare property was settled in 1905, and has been in the Lloyd family since 1945, with Ross and Terri Lloyd as the current owners (sheepdogs Jeff & Dot help out too). The property has been certified Demeter Biodynamic since 1988, a system that supports and develops world class ecological & sustainable production of food and natural fibres. As well as raising sheep, Ross and Terri also grow grain crops which they process into grain flour and stockfeeds.

Eden Valley is home to 4,500 Merino sheep (originally descendants of Collinsville Merino). Since 1950 the family have been breeding their own Stud Merino Rams to do well in their Biodynamic farming system, with a quiet temperament and natural resistance to parasites, they thrive in the low rainfall environment, producing a bright white wool with a soft handle (the fibre is 21 microns).

Shearing takes place mid August when the weather starts to warm – it takes 4 shearers 8 days to shear all 4,500 sheep. Ross and Terri do all of the sheep handling & management themselves – sheep classing, feeding, lamb marking, crutching, pregnancy testing etc. They feel that avoiding outside contractors for stock handling (except shearing) benefits the sheep’s wellbeing and enables them to treat each animal as an individual. It has been an absolute pleasure and a wonderful education sourcing our wool from Eden Valley. 

From here Scout is minimally processed in New Zealand, then packed with care by us and sent off to its new home for wool lovers to make it their own. We design knit & crochet patterns to work with our yarn - beautiful, practical & enduring patterns. They delight on first sight, inspire the making process and bring endless joy as a finished item - whether you are picking up your needles / hook for the first time, looking to progress your skills or searching for a particular technique to explore. 

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

Believe in yourself & what you are doing. Don't ask permission, don't follow and don't compromise. Do it for the love of it and be kind to yourself. 

What is the most important thing you have learned since creating your business?

I am incredibly passionate about what we're doing and so by far the greatest expectations and pressures come from myself. I am constantly needing to remind myself to slow down and take care of my little family (my man and I) otherwise we would work 24/7 and burn out! 

Where can we find your yarn?

You can purchase our yarn from our gorgeous (if I do say so myself!) online store wooldays.com 

What is your spirit animal?

It's not a spirit animal, but when I was a little person my nickname was wombat. Because I plodded along doing things in my own time, I always got there in the end but I never wanted any help .. I just wanted to keep on plodding at my own pace! 

What is your favorite noise?

We have been living on our beautiful bush property for almost a year now, and every morning I wake to the sound of kookaburras laughing away in the gum trees. It's such a joyful start to my day and I have come to love it dearly. 

Anything else you would like to include?

Just a massive THANK YOU to you Andrea. I have been a long time lover of your story, your passion, your patterns and voice within this incredible community of wool lovers. I can't get enough of your blog posts, and feel incredibly honoured to be here in this space with my own yarn baby. Also, in May this year we are launching our new yarn - a 100% Aussie grown and processed biodynamic single source beauty. Very exciting!


So, are you dying to get your own Kingston Tunic on the needles??? Great! Let's have a sale and a giveaway!!

Thanks to Wool Day's incredible generosity, I get to give one of you lucky readers a Kingston Tunic Kit, complete with the pattern .pdf and Scout yarn in the color of your choice! To enter, leave a comment below telling us what you look for in a good sweater! Please remember to include your email address in the body of the comment so that I have a way to contact you! The giveaway will be open until Friday, 2/10/17 at midnight EST.

For those of you who just can't wait:

  • Receive 15% off of your pattern in my shop or on Ravelry with the coupon KINGSTON until Friday, 2/10/27 at midnight EST!
  • Receive free worldwide shipping when you order your Kingston yarn at wooldays.com before February 21!

Interview & Giveaway // WITHIN by Jane Richmond & Shannon Cook

giveaway, knittingAndrea Mowry93 Comments
For all of you who have had to take “the journey.” May you stay strong and true.
— Journey, by Jane Richmond & Shannon Cook

Back in 2013, I bought a knitting book that would change the course of my future. That book was Journey, by Jane Richmond and Shannon Cook. Journey is stunning. The photographs, the words, and of course the patterns. I found myself flipping thru those pages again and again. Every single pattern was one that I wanted to knit, and I wanted to be on that Journey. I wanted a suitcase full of hand knits as I set off on one of life's great adventures. In my own way - I did just that. I had been longing to design my own patterns and to submerse myself deeper into a creative life, and that book was like a whisper in my ear "what are you waiting for??" I set off on my own Journey and have never looked back. I am so grateful to Jane and Shannon for putting something so beautiful and inspiring out into the world. I have often wondered if they know how much they have impacted myself and others.

Life is a journey, not a destination.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was thrilled when they released Within, another collection of 6 breathtaking patterns, submersed in the pages of an inspiring book full of gorgeous photographs and a story of a strong, independent woman that I think speaks to many of us. Yet again, I want to knit EVERY. SINGLE. PATTERN! This is never the case for me, and I think a massive accomplishment on the part of these two talented women. Their work is truly admirable. I thought it would be amazing to gain a little more insight into Shannon & Jane and who they are, and I am happy to be able to share this little interview with them today!

 Fireside Pullover by Jane Richmond

Fireside Pullover by Jane Richmond


How did you come to knit design?

Shannon: I started blogging after my daughter was born in 2007 about what I was making, sewing, knitting & so on and once that began to take off I started some themed knit alongs hosted on my blog. For one of the knit alongs in 2011 I decided to make up my own design to knit, and after that a cowl for my daughter. During all that I got bit real bad by the design bug! I was in love. I had already been designing sewing tutorials & patterns by this time so starting in knitting seemed really natural for me. I now design way more knitting patterns than sewing which is funny how things work out!

Jane: During my pregnancy and afterwards I found myself knitting a lot more than I ever had in the past. While on maternity leave I discovered Ravelry and that opened up an entire world of knitters to me. Although I'd been knitting since I was young, I had never had any knitting friends before. Creating my own patterns was just a natural progression and the encouragement from knitting friends and this newfound online community gave me the courage to share my work.

What is your comfort knit?

Shannon: My comfort knit is always shawls. I love them. They represent blank canvases to me. Fun open spaces to explore stitch patterns, texture and movement. I never get tired of them.

Jane: Sweaters are definitely my go to -- they are my knitting happy place. I love the process of knitting a sweater and the sense of accomplishment once it's finished. A hand knit sweater that fits well and is flattering is very rewarding.

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Shannon: I find myself inspired for designs by music the most. I will hear notes in a song, or a special lyric and bam - inspired! I'm also inspired by tv/movie & book characters. There's always something so fun in the "story" behind the knits and I love designing things I adore that are inspired this way. I'm also lucky enough to live in a breathtaking city on Vancouver Island that provides an endless backdrop for inspiration.

Jane: I really just design for my wardrobe (or my daughters wardrobe!). My designs are just things I'd like to have and wear.

Can you tell us a bit about your design process?

Shannon: For my design process I usually always start with some sort of texture/movement that is representative of what inspired it. I then sketch and find the drool worthy yarn to make the project with and begin to swatch. After I'm happy with my swatch I formulate a plan and what I call a "loose pattern". I've found that as I've grown as a designer I love the freedom of thinking of my pieces as canvases to design on. Growing up I spent my days in school in art class and the darkroom and I think I work best thinking of each pattern as it's own blank canvas. I like to be able to knit what I feel if that makes sense, almost like sketching but instead with needle/yarn. I like to see how the fabric is making me feel, the movement in the stitches etc. Sometimes a swatch is not enough for me and I like to just go with it when working on the pattern design. I take copious notes and after following my "loose pattern" (this is for stitch counts, gauge, etc) I then type up the final copy after which then gets tech edited and then tested before release.

Jane: Inormally begin with lots of swatching! I will swatch to determine the general fabric and stitch pattern as well as to practice and test design elementsI plan to use. From there I'll work through the math using enormous spreadsheets. Once I have the numbers firmed up, I begin the written pattern. From there I can knit the sample. I like to work from a finalized pattern because it puts me in the shoes of the knitter and I can tweak the writing and format based on my experience during the process. The pattern also goes through professional technical editing and test knitting before being published.

What do you feel has been the most important factor in pushing your design career forward?

Shannon: Believing in myself and having confidence that there are people who also love what I love. I only design things that I'm passionate about and thoroughly enjoy making/wearing and I feel so blessed that other knitters/sewers have embraced my patterns and feel the same way. Without them I wouldn't be doing what I am lucky enough to do each day. They truly allow me to live out my dreams and to grow as a designer. I pinch myself each day that this get's to be my job.

Jane: I’m not sure if I can name one particular factor, it's felt very gradual to me as I've built and developed my portfolio over the years.

Within is absolutely stunning! How did you arrive at the focus for this book?

Shannon: Thank you! I'm so glad you are enjoying it! This is a tricky question..that doesn't actually have an easy quick answer....lol. Jane and I both have different ways that we approach design and when we put together new collections we have to marry our two styles and design processes. Within organically took shape based on what we were both going through in our lives over the past few years and also the story we wanted to show in the photo essay. We really wanted "Gryffin" to represent that one can truly be comfortable and at peace with oneself and in doing so - can then feel the same with that special person in her life. We wanted the pieces in Within to be cozy and comfortable - those key pieces you turn to again and again that are effortless to wear and relaxing/fun to make. They make you confident and comfortable in your own skin so to speak.

Jane: The focus for Within was on warmth and coziness -- deep winter and bundling up. That was our starting point, from there, is where I feel most of our decisions stemmed. We chose suitable yarns that were warm, woolly, and hard wearing. Our mood boards were full of snowy, deep winter scenes. The styling and photo shoot was a bit moodier and more seasonal. I think all of the pieces certainly work outside of deep blustery winter weather but it was fun to design with woolly warmth in mind, daydreaming of snow days and cozying up near a crackling fire.    

If you could give one skein from your stash to a new knitter, which would it be?

Shannon: Brooklyn Tweed Shelter or Arbor. I would want to start a new knitter off with a wooly texture. I feel like as I've grown as a knitter this is my happy place. I love wool. I feel like sometimes new knitters get swayed by the "softness" factor and then don't appreciate the special nuances of wool as they get turned off by it or scared to work with it. I'd throw them in right off the start with wool and I think Shelter and Arbor would be great places to actually have them feel and experience both things. Wool, texture and softness and lightness.

Jane: I love this question! Quite honestly I would give the knitter a skein of Cascade 220! I love wool, pure wool, and this yarn is a work horse! It's smooth and soft for 100% wool, it's durable and hard wearing, economical and generous in yardage, and it comes in the most amazing heathered colourwars, Mustard is one of my faves but they're all lovely! It's a really versatile yarn suitable for so many projects (hats, mitts, sweaters, you name it).

You are both mamas - how do you balance motherhood and your work?

Shannon: Hahaha.....I wish I had an answer to that. I'm still learning and I think this is something all mothers work on and struggle with for life. It's a constantly changing lifestyle so you're always having to learn to adapt and move along with the changes. My girls are both in school now but my days are short. I typically work from 9am to 2pm. Then try to squeeze in an hour or so before dinner while they play. Most days though I work at night. I do a lot of knitting at night etc and I've been learning to save my weekends more for me and my family where in the past I had to work on weekends. I struggle with finding the time in each day to get all the things done I'd like to and also be a good mother and wife. Life's not easy working from home and the hours are hard but I've learned to work very well in chaotic environments am and I'm an ace at multi-tasking. It's the only way I've survived up to this point.....lol....that and my microwave timer (I use this for timing tasks etc).

Jane: For me, I really struggle with multitasking, and found working around Elsie very challenging. I felt I was doing everything marginally and it was hard for me to find balance during the first few years. When we reached a point where daycare was a necessity (I went back to working a day job in addition to designing), things really shifted for me in a positive way. I was able to set regular work hours and be more productive during my work day. During my off time I felt more present as a parent and turn off work mode, it helped me feel more balanced.


Do you feel that your creativity has helped to sustain your personal identity since becoming a mama?

Shannon: A HUGE yes. I'm a very creative person and always have been. Whether it's art, dance or making- I've been doing it since I was a little girl. Without creativity you don't have me. I felt lost after I had my first daughter and really struggled being out of the "typical" work environment. I'm very social and love people so starting to blog about my creative passions and what I was making helped me to nurture, grow and turn my passions into my career. I'm so glad I woke up in the middle of the night one night and just started blogging and reaching out to other moms who were at home and looking for a sense of "community" online. It's been a dream come true and a saving grace for me.

Jane: Definitely! Especially having a creative outlet that is shared with such a warm and responsive community like the one I've found among knitters. I feel so encouraged and supported.

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

Shannon: Do it - you never know unless you try and seriously - life is just too darn short not to just give it a go. Also research, research and research more. Ask advice and reach out to your peers. I learned so much from other people in the industry and have always been so thankful for the online and one on one support other sewing/knitting bloggers/designers have given to me. I suggest having a plan and slowly implementing it. The biggest thing is not to set too high of an expectation for yourself. For example do not expect to be able to sustain blogging 7 days a week for life....and so on. Be reasonable and realistic with your goals and plans - and expect super long hours and tons of hard work. It takes a lot of serious dedication and sacrifice but if you love it and it's in your soul it's all worth it <3

Jane: When I began designing,  I did not have the luxury of jumping in feet first without any supplemental income or safety net. I worked full time and did design work on the side. It took years of doing both before I was finally able to leave my day job and pursue my dream job full time. Having another income while I was building my design portfolio relieved the pressure for my creative work to fully support me right away. I honestly felt that if the situation had been different, if it had been all or nothing, the pressure and obligation to succeed would have really dampened my creativity. It's hard to be creative out of necessity rather than just pure passion and love for what you're doing.

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING WITH US TODAY, SHANNON & JANE!!


Accept what is,
Let go of what was,
and believe in what will be.
Be you.
— Within, by Jane Richmond & Shannon Cook
 Timber Cardigan by Shannon Cook

Timber Cardigan by Shannon Cook

I hope you will go check out all of Shannon & Jane's books and that you will find inspiration, friendship, and warmth within their pages! I am stoked that I get to giveaway a copy of Within to one of you lucky readers!! Please leave a comment telling me about a turning point in your own life - whether it lead you to greater self love, a new career, or even just a new haircut that made you feel awesome! Remember to include your email address in the body of the comment so that I have a way to contact you if you win!

Congratulations to last weeks winner of the West Water Tunic - Amber!!!

Happy Knitting and Happy Holidays!!

 

Squam Love & West Water Tunic Giveaway!!

teaching, workshop, giveawayAndrea Mowry23 Comments

Good morning!

Let's chat about dreams and happy places. I have always had a deep love for crafting and creative outlets. I get the most "filled up" when I get to spend time submersed in creativity with other like minded people. Which is why I love to teach knitting workshops! Getting to spend the day with other knitters, talking about my favorite thing in the whole world - what could be better?? I find that I feel most at home and with "my people" at these times.

A few years back when I was beginning to grow some real friendships with some other knitters on Instagram, one of them, Brienne, told me about Squam Art Workshops and said that I would love it. I immediately went to look it up, and it has been on my wish list ever since. If you don't know much about Squam, here is a little taste for you:

A week of pursuing creativity, filling up, exploring, relaxing and connecting with nature. Not to get too mushy - but it honestly makes me tear up! I love the idea of people coming together to create with their hands, to support each other and to share how beautiful this life is. I believe it is so important that we make space for creativity and connection in our lives.

Ever since Brienne pointed me in the direction of Squam I have been following along on Instagram and dreaming of the day I would be able to go myself. It quickly moved to top of my bucket list! So when I was given the chance to be one of the teachers at Squam for Spring 2017, you better believe there was a big yes, followed by a million exclamation points!!!

This coming Spring I will be sharing two of my favorite things to knit -shawls and brioche! I believe both inspire endless new ideas, and they are my go to comfort knitting! I hope I will get to share them with you! It is really a dream come true!

I am so honored that Elizabeth, the founder of Squam Art Workshops, asked me to chat with her on her podcast - Morning on the Dock.

So how about celebrating our creativity with a giveaway?? I am so excited that I get to share the West Water Tunic sewing pattern with one of you lucky readers! As some of you know, I have started a #sewfridaysewfun sewing day for myself. With my busy schedule juggling work and kids, I knew I wouldn't get to explore my love for sewing unless I actually scheduled it in! I can't wait to get this tunic onto my machine in the coming weeks!

 West Water Tunic image from Squam Art Workshops

West Water Tunic image from Squam Art Workshops

For your chance to win, leave a comment telling me about if you have been to a retreat how it impacted you, or if you haven't, but want to - what retreat tops your list?? Don't forget to leave your email address in the body of your comment so that I have a way to contact you if you win! The giveaway ends 12/17/16 at midnight EST.

// Yarn Babies // Julie Asselin Yarns // Giveaway

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry131 Comments

I was so lucky to meet this amazing duo while I was at Rhinebeck - Julie and Jean-Francois of Julie Asselin Yarns. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and their commitment to their craft is admirable. If you were one of the lucky ones to take their course thru Knit Stars, then you know exactly what I'm talking about! Their gorgeous line of yarns are the sort that make you feel really good about what you are working with. Perfect for knitting up a treasure of your own, or better yet, something special for the one you love. Read on to learn more!

 Nurtured Base

Nurtured Base


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

I have been a knitter for all my life, starting at a young age coming from a very crafty family. Growing up I was, and am still, very much into learning new things and understanding how things work. Coming from knitting and loving to know about things I was curious about fibers, yarns and dyeing so that’s how the business came to be.

Was there a pivotal moment that made you start your business?

I have to say that the business came naturally in a way.I was making small batch of yarn and dyeing for myself and friends and then it translated into stores wanting to purchase from me and it led to making this our every day job. We are very thankful to the knitting community for trusting us with making yarns and colors, as we get to have an amazing job!

What inspires your colors? 

Whenever I think up new colors I always think about wearability and purpose of colors as what we knit, someone will wear. I draw inspiration from nature, food, also feelings and emotions in the sense that some colors will translate a state of mind.

What inspires the yarn you use for Julie Asselin Yarns?

We are interested in yarn making as much as we love creating colors. We make it a point to work with Mills and people that are close to us and with fibers that are local when possible or that come from a source that we want to support because of the good work they do for the fiber industry. We are also very conscious about everything that we do and decide on making it as responsible as we can. Choosing sources, procedures and materials that make the most sense environmentally and that promote growth for the great industry that is yarn making. Wanting to make a difference, ever so little, in helping it grow.

Can you tell us about some of the different bases you offer and if you have a favorite?

We have two main line, a 90%Merino 10% Silk (Leizu Fingering,DK,Worsted) that we love for basics and baby knits and a 75/15/10 Merino/Cashmere/Silk that makes for luxurious gift or special garments and accessories.

We are also very happy to be working on a yarn with our good friends at the Green Mountain Spinnery, Nurtured. It is a Woolen Spun, 3 ply worsted weight that we are trilled about as it is durable yet lofty and soft, it only gets better with time and wear!

We have just introduced a Mohair/Silk lace weight that is great for pairing with one of our other bases for extra fun.

We are now working on a new sock yarn and a bulky weight that we hope will be available soon.

I don’t have a favorite, its like choosing a favorite child

What is the most unexpected thing that has happened since creating Julie Asselin yarns?

As I said before, we are amazed and very thankful to the response we have received from the knitting community and to be able to do what we do is a dream come true.

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

Do it! Be authentic, always trying to think outside the box to bring something new to the table to make your business unique.

What is the most important thing you have learned since creating your business?

It is easy when you work from home to think you can do it another day. You must have a schedule and I learned that fast in the beginning, other wise you can’t keep up!

What is the soundtrack you have playing while dyeing yarn?

It is very difficult to answer as we love music all genres for different reasons! I don’t think I could name 1 song/genre or artist but lets say that if we want to have fun and groove in the studio it will probably be the Jacksons Five or Michael Jackson as it is closely tied to memories for me and very much my kind of beat for dancing.

Where can we find your yarn?

We mostly sell our yarns through yarn shops, an updated list is always available on our website. We also sometimes do Pop Up Updates when a pattern using our yarns come out, knitters can be on the look out for those.

What is your favorite thing to knit?

HATS!!!!! OR SWEATERS!!!! Can’t choose!

What is your spirit animal?

12 years ago, Lonely, our Chihuahua came to me. Jean-Francois, my husband, always says that the belief that a dog and its master are somewhat alike really applies in our case.

What is your favorite noise?

Our Chihuahua makes the cutest noises when dreaming. Or wind blowing by a river on a summer”s night, precise and poetic but true. lol

 The beautiful photography in this post was shared by Julie Asselin!

The beautiful photography in this post was shared by Julie Asselin!

Julie, thank you so much for taking the time to share with us!


Would you like the chance to try out some amazing Julie Asselin yarn?? Leave a comment below telling us about your favorite gift to knit for others, and you will be entered for a chance to win a Wanderers: Modern Mukluks kit, complete with digital pattern and yarn from Julie Asselin! The giveaway will end 11/20/2016! MAKER SURE TO INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN THE BODY OF THE COMMENT SO I HAVE A WAY TO CONTACT YOU :)


You guys - I can't even tell you how much I loved reading your Christmas memories on last weeks giveaway post!! I can't wait to make memories like those with my own children! Congratulations to last weeks winner of the Comfort & Joy e-book, Mary!

 

Blog Tour // Comfort & Joy

giveawayAndrea Mowry48 Comments

Hey everyone! I am so excited to share a little about my friend (and fellow Michigander!) Melynda Bernardi's new book -  Comfort & Joy! If you have ever wanted to knit stockings for your family, you NEED this book!

You can see right away all of the love that was poured into this book. My favorite part being that it all began with Melynda knitting stockings for her family over the years. That, in itself, is such an act of love. Knitting away, stitch by stitch, to create something so special that will be used year after year! Decorating and preparing for the holidays is always so special, and it brings me back to my own childhood. My mother sewed us all stockings, and to this day they are still the most special part of our Christmas decorations!

So, let's get on to the book! Included are 7 different stocking patterns, like the ones you see in the picture above. But - the possibilities are endless! Melynda includes a few extra motifs, the alphabet so you can easily add the names of everyone in your family, and a great pictorial for using duplicate stitch if you aren't up to fair isle! (But you should totally try fair isle, because - fun!!!!) There is even a couple pages of blank graph paper so you can plot out your perfect stocking!

I am so excited to see what beautiful stockings and new family traditions are stitched up thanks to Melynda's book!

The best part?? I get to giveaway a copy to one lucky reader!! Leave a comment below sharing your favorite holiday memory, and I will pick a winner by the weekend to win a digital download of Comfort & Joy!! (Giveaway ends 11/12/16.)

For those of you who can't wait to get your holiday knit on you can get your own hard copy here, or download here or here!

Want to see what some other awesome ladies think? Follow along with the blog tour:

Week of 11/4..............................By Annie Claire

Week of 11/21......................................Knitterella

Week of 11/28...........................Flax and Twine

Week of 12/5...................................Tot Toppers

// Yarn Babies // Tanis Fiber Arts // Giveaway!

giveaway, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry170 Comments
Tanis.JPG

In this day and age of electronic communication, many of the people I "meet" in my industry are thru Instagram and email. This allows us to put forward whatever version of ourselves we choose, in whatever amount we feel comfortable with. Some of us our vague, only giving away a little bit of who we are, and others are an open book, letting it all hang out. Every once in a while, I get to "meet" someone whose true self shines thru in their written word and photographs. I immediately feel like I know them, and we could easily talk for ages over a cup of coffee and our knitting! Tanis, of Tanis Fiber Arts, is one of those people that I would love to take to my favorite bakery for croissants, coffee, and hours of yarn talk! (And maybe a little kid talk, too ;) I love that she runs her independent business with her husband in a studio behind their house. And I certainly connect with juggling your own business and two small children! I'll let Tanis take it away, so you can get to know her a little better, too!


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

I started dyeing yarn purely for my own selfish knitting. I studied fine arts in university and knew a little bit about dyeing textiles but learnt mainly from experimenting in the tiny kitchen of my first apartment. I was getting seriously into knitting and didn't have the budget to buy all the gorgeous hand dyed yarns I wanted to be knitting with so I thought that it might be fun to experiment with dyeing some myself. I started with kool-aid and quickly moved on to more professional acid dyes. I opened an Etsy shop and things just kinda went from there. It was a very organic process from enthusiastic knitter to yarn dyeing entrepreneur.

You have a wide range of really gorgeous colorways. Can you tell us what inspires you? 

I have a background in watercolour and I think that it translates really well into hand dyed yarn. I love watching the different coloured dyes overlap to create new translucent layers of colour. At the end of the day, I think that's my greatest motivator, I have a very deep, very sincere love of colour! I would say that my biggest inspiration is our palette. As soon as we start mixing dyes and applying them to yarn, magic happens and we never know what direction it's going to take us in. Some of our strongest colourways are the ones that resulted from the most experimental layering of colours. It's something that I still find very exciting and am amazed at the variety that can be achieved by combining the same colours in different ways.


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

We carry a variety of bases from our classic Blue Label Merino/Nylon sock yarn to our more luxurious Silver Label Mulberry Silk. I love them all for different reasons! It's impossible to pick a favourite, but there are a few yarns that I've developed myself working with mills and obviously those are extra special for me since I was able to tailor them to my exact preferences. I really love our Grey Label Merino/Alpaca Chunky yarn because, well, chunky yarns are awesome! And it takes the dye so beautifully. Literally each stitch can be a different colour. It's such a fun yarn to knit with. 

You have a new line called Purewash, that a lot of us are really excited about! Can you tell us about, and what made you decide to add this line?

Our new line of PureWash yarns is, hands down, the most exciting thing we've ever done as a small business. Just over a year ago when I learnt about the impact the super washing process has on the environment, I started looking into alternatives and quickly realized that there weren't any! There are a few large yarn companies that cater to the hand dyer and offer a catalogue of lovely merino's and merino/cashmere blends, but when I went looking for an organic, eco-friendly, washable wool option I came back empty handed. It was initially very frustrating because I had realized that as a knitter, that's what I wanted to be knitting with, which obviously led to the next step being that as a dyer, that's what I wanted to be dying and offering to my customers! I felt so strongly about it that I set out to create it myself. It was a completely new process for me and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It's a dream come true to be able to offer this yarn to our customers. I'm so proud of it!

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

I truly believe that the best way to be successful in any creative milieu is to be completely authentic. To be the best expression of your own creative vision. If you're producing something that you love and can stand behind 100%, people can tell. You'll find the right audience for you and you will love your work every single day!

Where can we find your yarn?

We are exclusively available online. Our permanent collection of colourways are available on our website at www.tanisfiberarts.com and we do frequent Etsy updates featuring one of a kind colourways and bases: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/tanisfiberarts

What is your spirit animal?

I have no idea... I asked my husband and he said squirrel, so... squirrel? He says it's because I'm small and quick and I'm always running around. I think it must be because I'm cute and perky. ;)

What is your favorite noise?

I was going to say that my favourite noise was the sound of ocean waves lapping against the shore. Or the sound of the rain on a tin roof... but then my baby laughed and that definitely won out. My 13 month old son giggling is pretty much as good as it gets!


Thank you so much for sharing some of your story with us, Tanis! Tanis Fiber Arts is having an update tomorrow - Monday, August 15 at 12pm EST!! Make sure you don't miss it, so you can enhance your stash with some of this amazing yarn!

Tanis and I have teamed up to create a super fun knit kit as a giveaway! She is generously offering a skein of her PureWash Worsted in the Stratus colorway to go with my Chevy hat pattern! (And let me tell you, her new PureWash line is such a delight to work with, and a yarn you can really feel good about having on your needles!!) Check out how amazing that texture is!

To enter to win, leave a comment below telling us what different art mediums in your life influence each other! Don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment so I have a way to contact you if you win! The giveaway will be open until Thursday 8/18/16 at midnight EST!

Om & Yoga Shawls KAL Wrap up!!

Finished objects, giveaway, knittingAndrea Mowry2 Comments
  Sarah 's Yoga shawl makes me want one in gray!

Sarah's Yoga shawl makes me want one in gray!

I am so blown away by all of the beautiful Om Shawls and Yoga Shawls created this summer by all of you!! Here is just a few of them, and the beautiful people that created them with their own two hands. By far, the best thing about designing knitting patterns, is seeing how all of YOU knit them up and make them your own! I hope you all stay super cozy in your new shawls in the coming months (and years!)

You can check out more projects over on Ravelry, and we would love to have you join our next KAL - the Anniversary KNIT in COLOR KAL!!

Congratulations to Karen Stocks - the winner of the KAL giveaway prize!!

  Brittany's  beautiful neutral and marled Om shawl!

Brittany's beautiful neutral and marled Om shawl!

  Anne's  bright Om Shawl knit with Plucky is amazing!

Anne's bright Om Shawl knit with Plucky is amazing!

  Julie 's Plucky Knitter Om Shawl is beautifully unique!

Julie's Plucky Knitter Om Shawl is beautifully unique!

 Love this Navy Blue with pops of color by  Amber ! Wow!

Love this Navy Blue with pops of color by Amber! Wow!

 Absolutely loving these pinks by  ArsinoeLaCrapaude

Absolutely loving these pinks by ArsinoeLaCrapaude

  Katharina  also knit up a Yoga Shawl!

Katharina also knit up a Yoga Shawl!

 Beautiful Yoga shawl by  ARockandaTree  using yarn she dyed herself!

Beautiful Yoga shawl by ARockandaTree using yarn she dyed herself!

 I love  Rebecca's  Hinterland Om Shawl!!

I love Rebecca's Hinterland Om Shawl!!

  Dana 's multicolored Yoga Shawl is so inspiring!

Dana's multicolored Yoga Shawl is so inspiring!

  Katharina 's beautiful Om shawl!

Katharina's beautiful Om shawl!

  Alexa  is such a cutie in her Om Shawl!

Alexa is such a cutie in her Om Shawl!

//Yarn Babies// Republic of Wool // Giveaway!

giveaway, KNIT in COLOR, knitting, yarn, yarn babiesAndrea Mowry80 Comments
 Somersault, Atmosphere, Demolition

Somersault, Atmosphere, Demolition

Today's Yarn Babies post is super special. Michele from Republic of Wool helped spark in me a new found passion for using color in my designs. Her impeccable use of the much coveted speckle combined with her bold color mash-ups put me on a full-blown yarn hoarding bender and I hunted down her yarns anywhere and everywhere that I could find them! Michele inspires me to be bold and reach beyond what feels safe when choosing colors. It's like being given an entire new palette to work with. I know you will find her work just as inspiring as I do, so I made sure to time this post with one of her shop updates! She is planning an update for Wednesday 7/27, and you'll want to be quick so you don't miss out!

 One of my forever favorites - Cameo

One of my forever favorites - Cameo


Take it away, Michele!!

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

What brought me to dyeing was a love of playing with color, and all the various combinations. I started playing with color in my knitting, and got such great responses that I thought "Why not put these colors together for other people to use in their knitting!?".

You have a special magic when it comes to color, and always seem to find ways to combine unexpected color combinations. Can you tell us what inspires you? 

Most combinations just kind of pop into my head. I am constantly thinking about color, and often at night before falling asleep an idea for color pairings will pop into my head, so I have to write it down or text myself so that I remember it in the morning.

There are times though when I am out around town and colors will jump out at me from random places, like chipping paint on a building, or a mural.

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

Naming my color ways actually is not an easy thing for me. I over think it, and then second guess it, and it ends up being stressful, so I would have to say that dyeing is where the most fun is had! ands down!

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

I have tried to keep it pretty simple with bases. It has been Twist Fingering and DK for quite some time. Twist Fingering is a high twist SW Merino/Nylon blend, and DK is 100% SW Merino. I recently added a new base to the mix though. Mighty Merino is a hefty skein of 100% SW Merino Fingering weight yarn that is currently my new favorite. Its soft and has a nice drape to it!

 Plume &lt;3 &lt;3 &lt;3

Plume <3 <3 <3

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

Just do it! Dive in with all of your heart and make it happen! The internet is an amazing tool for putting yourself and your creations out there, and the worst that can happen is you end up with a bunch of lovely things you have made!

Where can we find your yarn?

My online shop (www.republicofwool.com

The Knitting Bee in Portland OR

Twisted in Portland OR

StevenBe in Minneapolis MN

The Altered Stitch in Valley Village CA

What is your spirit animal?

A sea horse!

What is your favorite noise?

The clicking of knitting needles!

Anything else you would like to include?

If you don't already play with color... Try it! You will surprise yourself!


 Well hello there Speckles - How you doin'?? (Another favorite colorway - Grand Budapest!)

Well hello there Speckles - How you doin'?? (Another favorite colorway - Grand Budapest!)

To see some of the outstanding creations Michele has knit out of her yarn, I highly recommend following her on Instagram! She also posts new colorways and shop updates there, as well, from time to time. Summer is the perfect time for color inspiration, and a few of Michele's skeins will help carry you right thru the darker and more monochrome days of winter!

One lucky winner will receive a skein of Heat Wave - one of my all time favorite Republic of Wool colorways! (It looks great paired with so many other colors!! Think turquoise ;) To enter, leave a comment below with a new way you would add color into your life and don't forget to include your email address in the body of the comment! Giveaway ends Sunday, 7/31/16 at midnight EST. And don't forget to check out Michele's shop update on Wednesday!


A big congratulations to Hannah - winner of the Lily Jade bag!! I've emailed you :)

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 :)

//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, &amp; 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 &amp; 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

//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 &amp; 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 &amp; 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!!