Dye Studio Chronicles

 Hello from my new studio in Olympia, Washington! Located at:414 1/2 Legion Way SE Olympia, WA. Open house was great, so many friends and family came by and I was finally able to show them this crazy fiber-love thing I do. Not that it convinced them of my sanity, but at least now they have a visual.

 I’m also pleased to say that knitters are finding me in this little out of the way place in downtown Olympia, and seem to like the space. I am able to showcase the local wool and shine a spotlight on the beautiful yarns created from local fiber. The local movement is strong here in my community, and I am encouraged that Jorstad Creek will be able to continue to support the local farms we partner with as we keep growing the market for locally produced yarn.

With the imported hand-dyed yarn line I am both happy and chagrined to see sources of British Blue-faced Leicester yarns sell out as fast as they can be produced. I found some very special BFL yarns I’ve been dyeing for a number of years, and now others have also found them – poof! They are gone from the supplier. I am encouraged that British BFL is making a comeback, and hope to see the resurgence of this amazing breed of sheep continue and be sustainable.  Because of the success and limited supply I will have to move on to discover new and equally amazing yarns that knitters will appreciate. And I will cast around for locally grown BFL, as I recall there is a small grower in southwest Washington that sells wool from their flock!

It has been a slow summer for the yarn stores I partner with, even though we’ve collaborated on trunk shows and other events to keep up the excitement around handdyed yarns and summer projects. This is part of the cycle for this craft, compounded by extreme summer heat in the northwest. We put together small projects in kits and focused on color as well as yarn blends with silk.  Next year I hope to bring to the yarn collection organic cotton. I am careful to look for fibers that do not require toxic chemicals to make, and come from sustainable sources. Part of the fun is experimenting with prospective yarns and really looking at quality as well as source.

With the new expanded space for the dye studio I will begin working on Fall/Winter seasonal colors. I’ve already discovered an amazing seasonal blue that pairs with a gold-toned brown and “marsala,” the Pantone color of the year. And I now have the time and equipment to be able to produce hand-painted yarn again! I’ve been photographing inspirational color combinations in preparation for being able to do this technique. I am also planning to make a foray into painting roving for spinners. I hope to post next time more about colors, and include photos.

  I will be setting up a schedule for Fall for a monthly spin-in and a monthly knit-in. The interaction with my fellow fiber artists is what so often provides the inspiration and the energy to try new things. The feedback loop is an essential part of what I need to keep inspired, so I look forward to the cooler weather as a time for coming together again, old friends and new. If you are interested in attending one of these groups please send me your email address and I will add you to the notification list – you will get an email with the schedule and occasional updates. Until next time, keep knitting! Kerry

July Trunk Show at Maker’s Mercantile

tiled cat blue greenHello from the hottest July in Washington State that I can recall in all my years living here! It is perhaps not the best month for knitting with the wool fibers I love, but I persist! Fall is coming, and I am preparing to show you all the projects I’ve been working on in Jorstad Creek yarns, including another foray into a fair-isle design. Before we get to Fall there is a world of wonderful silk blends and light, fingering weight projects and patterns to delight in, and that is what is going to be shown at Maker’s Mercantile on Saturday, July 18, 2015.

Maker’s Mercantile is a craft store in Renton that features both the full line of Skacel needles and yarns (courtesy of Karin Skacel, owner), and a collection of local yarns from growers and hand dyers. This is a friendly welcoming store with a gluten-free bakery at the back, an amazing wall of buttons, felting supplies, fabric, and ribbons, and a spacious knitting lounge. It is certainly a destination to put on your list if you are near the Seattle area. I can tell you from experience that the baked goods do not taste like gluten-free fare, they are amazing! And I appreciate the opportunity for local and artisan crafted products to have a showcase, too.

Maker’s is displaying some of the light, summer yarns in the Jorstad Creek repertoire, including St. Clement, a 50% Merino/50% Silk blend, Cornwall, a Blue-Faced Leicester/Silk blend with a touch of cashmere, Isle of Skye, a dreamy kid Mohair/Silk blend, and Iona, a Merino/Silk blend.  We’ve come up with some one skein projects that will entice you to take up your needles even in this hot weather, and the luxury fibers in fingering or lace weights help keep your work from making you too warm! For those persistent types like me that don’t mind a larger project even when the heat is unbearable, there are a couple of more ambitious projects too.

I’ll be appearing on trunk show day at Maker’s with at least one of the designers from BK Collective patterns to show off the samples, talk about new ideas in the pipeline, and get your feedback about color for Fall. I will be working on color development as the summer wanes, so I am looking forward to chatting with knitters for opinions about the Pantone colors, and what you like to see in Fall collections. This kind of collaboration is invaluable to me, it keeps me from getting trapped in my own little color bubble.

I’ll also be talking about alpaca/silk and alpaca/merino/silk blend made with local alpaca from a northwest mill, a new experiment for me in seeking to source more of the yarns and more of the manufacturing, close to home. I learned so much in this endeavor, and I am humbled by once again realizing there is much I do not know about the world of fiber. That is what continues to fascinate!

I will also talk about the new Jorstad Creek Dye Studio opening July 24 and 25 at 414 1/2 Legion Way in Olympia, Washington.  The dye studio is a dream of mine to take the process out of my home and into a larger location where people can come for a tour, hang out in the knitting lounge and chat with me, try the yarns at a yarn-tasting table, or purchase a sample pack of yarns to try at home. I hope this new space will be as friendly and inviting as the many local stores that I love to frequent, my local Canvas Works also in Olympia, Yorkshire Yarns in Tacoma (adore my friends there!), and Bazaar Girls in Port Townsend, a home away from home. The new dye studio is not meant to replace any of these stores, as the focus is on the dye process, interacting with other knitter’s about color and fiber, exchanging ideas (I hope to host a spinning group there!), and showcasing the locally made yarns that come from northwest fiber.

Summer can be hard for yarn stores to keep going, so I hope you will take time to visit, encourage these entrepreneurs, and pick up your knitting supplies. Yorkshire, Maker’s, and Bazaar Girls all have a quantity of select Jorstad Creek yarns in stock. Bazaar Girls have a supply of locally grown yarn made from Finn sheep, the 100% Finn (Finnlanka) and the Finn/Alpaca blend (Finnpaca), in natural colors, in addition to the hand-dyed artisan yarns.

When I post again I hope to share with you a discovery in American made needles, and talk more about the dye studio endeavor as well as share some photos of the new space. Check back soon! Kerry

Close encounter with inspiration and gluten free baked goods

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I dropped in to Maker’s Mercantile in Kent, Washington, to enjoy their anniversary celebration on Saturday February 28. I arrived early and was amazed to see a long lineup of customers waiting to get in the door! I know this is a special store from my own experiences, and apparently a lot of other people know this too!

Along with mimosa’s served on a tray, customers were handed a raffle ticket for an hourly drawing. My style is usually to hang back and observe, so I watched as customers lined up at the gluten free bakery, Rylie Cakes, (http://www.makersmercantile.com/pages/our-bakery) to get breakfast, espresso, and baked goods.  Karin Skacel greeted  customers and took orders while Rylie herself, along with a small crew of bustling staff, efficiently served up the food.

Since I like to come home with a few choice sweets I confess I got a little worried nothing would be left, but this worry was overcome with the desire to look at yarns in the store.  The full line of Skacel yarns are available, along with local yarns, a wall of Turbo needles, and another wall of buttons that overwhelm.

On this day I was looking  for a high-twist sock yarn to make a second version of a cardigan/wrap I am designing for my own high-twist sock yarn “San Juan”.  I am part of BK Collective patterns with two designs to my name and many more in my head.  With one foot in the yarn company and one foot in design, I like to create patterns that work for my lines of yarn.  I also want knitters to be able to adjust them for readily available yarns or from their stash.  So having a version knit in a commercial yarn is a way to appeal to a more knitters.

Now I admit it had been awhile since I have purchased yarn. When I started the yarn company I drastically downsized my stash to a few unique yarns with sentimental value, such as yarn obtained on a trip.  So I had not experienced that yarn-buyer’s rush in awhile.  You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? That endorphin rush you get when you are looking for the perfect, inspired colorway, and you find it?  That feeling as you drive home that you are carrying precious treasure? The almost undeniable urge to sit down right away and begin a project with that fiber slipping through your fingers? This was the experience I had been missing, and Maker’s Mercantile helped me get it back.

I always like to see the samples knit up in yarns and learn about new patterns from designers as part of my browsing experience.  I like to jot down pattern names and look at them later in Ravelry.  This time I was irresistibly attracted to a cowl by Alex Tinsley called “Chevzam by Dull Roar”, knit up in four colors of cotton.  The grey on a bright background of several tones of yellow is fascinating to me.  I had to snap a photo.

2015-02-28 11.09.47Another color pattern that caught my eye was a display of Stephen West designs.  I snapped a picture of a grey-on-red patterned scarf from WestKnits Book 5.

I recently confessed on twitter that I like to cruise used book stores looking for stitch dictionaries. It is a little obsession of mine. Even better is to see some of those stitches expertly executed in an inspired design. I feel a swatch binge coming on…

I made my choices of yarn, needles, and a couple of buttons to sew on my knitting basket.  Then I joined the line at the bakery counter at the back of the store to purchase a hand-made pork pot pie for lunch along with a lemon bar, a coconut lime bar, and a miniature triple berry pie for my husband. (One must stave off complaints about cabinets filled with yarn, after all!) With a bag full of edible and knittable booty I was ready to return home having taken in sights, tastes, and heavenly inspiration.

If you too want to get inspired, find your way to Makers Mercantile:  http://www.makersmercantile.com/pages/visit.  You will find a supply of Jorstad Creek Tweed Sock displayed near the other local yarns!

 

BK Collective 2015 patterns with Jorstad Creek Yarns

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The new Cedarbury cowl was rolled out to knitters at a recent event at Maker’s Mercantile in Kent, Washington, along with the new Traveler’s Creek Toe-up Sock, each in tweed. The cowl is knit in Jorstad Creek’s Tweed DK, and the sock is in a Blue-faced Leicester wool Tweed Sock. Both patterns were received well and made a splash with customers who turned out for a trunk show and presentation.

In fact I am thrilled with the pictures modeled and photographed by two talented ladies from Olympia, Washington. Amber Gizinski modeled our 2015 designs, and Christine Corrin took the amazing photographs. More patterns from this photo shoot will be introduced in 2015 as the year progresses. Some patterns are being test knit, and others are just waiting for the right moment. We will keep everyone on their toes a bit as we get them out into the knit-o-sphere when the timing is perfect!

Another great piece that was rephotographed to put into the BK Collective format is the spiral cowl made from Whidbey, the Jorstad Creek 100% merino fingering weight.

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All of these great patterns can be knit in yarns from your stash if you have the correct weights – the Cedarbury Cowl includes an option for a different commercial yarn, for example. The Traveler’s Sock could be knit in a lace weight or fine sock yarn that calls for a size 0 or 1. Of course I hope you will try them in one of my hand-dyed yarns, but either way I think you will enjoy the patterns. All three are available from the BK Collective on ravelry.com.

I am also pleased to be able to introduce a new worsted weight yarn called
“Vashon”, the worsted version of “Whidbey.” It is an ultrafine superwash merino that turns out fantastic using my dye techniques. I’ve been developing the colorways for this yarn over the past year and will be able to offer a good quantity at our booth at the Madrona Fiber Festival in Tacoma starting February 12 through the 15th. I am working on knitted items to show this very soft, beautiful yarn worked up into wearable items.

Speaking of Madrona, I hope to see you there. Please stop by and see what’s new at the Jorstad Creek booth! Kerry

Jorstad Creek at Fiber Fusion NW Oct 18-19

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Isle of Skye Merino-Silk in two colors “Departure Bay” and “Maroon 5”

I’m on the road again to Fiber Fusion Northwest this weekend, taking Jorstad Creek yarns to Monroe, Washington and the Evergreen State Fairgrounds for this fiber-and-yarn oriented show. Take a look at their website at this link:  http://www.fiberfusion.net/

Every year this event gets bigger.  This will be my second year as a vendor, and I look forward to seeing knitters who stopped in at my booth last year.

The organizers of this event are great to work with.  I love the variety of vendors ranging from fiber artists with fantastic felted clothing and rugs, to pattern designers, to farms selling raw fleece.  The classes offered reflect this variety, too.  Felted slippers and sculpted “bowls” are among the unusual project-oriented classes. They also put  together an amazing number of door prizes for visitors to the event.

I will be featuring new hand painted fingering weight “Whidbey” for this event in two colorways, “Calypso on the Beach” and “Suspense”.  Whidbey is one of the first yarns I added to my line, featuring superwash merino in an amazing lofty spin.  This yarn is one of my favorites for the dye pot, it brings out the best in any color I use.  It is a natural choice to try out hand painting longer pieces on super-long skeins.  I think they turned out fantastic.  I hope you will come by and tell me what you think.  There is a limited supply available for sale.

Also featured will be kits for the Churchmouse folded poncho pattern that I put together using two strands of yarn, Isle of Skye mohair/silk blend, and Iona merino/silk.  Iona is hand painted in small color pieces.  Together they make a fabric that looks like a Monet painting.  I have a number of new color ways in Isle of Skye to pair up for different hazy effects (see first photo above), and a sample poncho knitted up for trying on.

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Returning this year with me is the BFL Tweed Sock, in new colors.  I am also bringing  the BK Collective Patterns reworked in a new improved format, featuring options for yarn weights. For spinners I will offer natural colored Icelandic, Gotland, and Finn fleece processed either into roving, batts, or washed locks.

I hope you can join me at this fun show.  The facility and the show itself (with animals to see and pet!) make this a great event for families.  Please stop by, say hello, and show me what you’ve been knitting!  Thanks, Kerry

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Finding the Best Yarn Companions

Jann talks about yarn choices that make a big difference when paired together either in providing a contrasting effect, or harmonious effect.

KnitKnot Adventures

It is fall in the Pacific Northwest and my urge to knit is strong. Even stronger than the urge to buy school supplies! (Every September I want to buy pens and paper. How can that still be true, after all these years?)

One of my favorite yarn choices is a combination of a one multi-colored and one solid-colored yarn, probably because a wide range of effects are possible. Some combinations have a bold, high contrast look while others combinations are subtle and complex.

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These pictures show details of a vest I made using sock yarns. Much of the impact of this combination comes from the high contrast between these two yarns. The contrast is created in part by a light-dark contrast and in part by a contrast of hue or color. (These are only two of seven kinds of contrast Johannes Itten discusses in his classic work The Elements of Color

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Remember these?

Remember hot water bottles? My first winter in my little 1938 cottage with baseboard heating, my hot water bottle was my best friend. In the evenings I knit warm sweaters on my lap. Just prior to going to bed I would pre-warm the sheets with a hot water bottle. I remember wrapping my toes around it and drifting off to sleep cozy with the wind blowing outside. I love this kit idea, it takes the humble red hot water bottle up a few notches…

Fall knitting is nearly here.

girl with scarfI am looking ahead toward the winter, not because I want cold weather, but because I am thinking about knitting projects.  Like so many knitters I embrace the fall because it brings with it possibility, choices, design, and all the potential pleasant hours quietly knitting.  It is that emotive power of potential that stimulates the creative side of us.  For some this causes us to not only want several projects lined up like mason jars filled with food, but a whole shelf, cupboard, or even closet full of yarn stashed like a doomsday hoard.  Such a stash provides us comfort and the security of knowing that we will not run out of inspiration anytime soon.

As a dyer and yarn provider some of my clients are snowbirds.  The process of choosing yarn for the winter is a summertime necessity, but it also can be difficult to think of what would please and delight the eye in the waning light of winter days at a time when the yellow Apollo sun is beating down full force.  Do not underestimate the power of light to affect how we see color – a bright full summer sun can make the subtle fall colors we love look dull and lifeless, only to come alive in the cooler and less yellow light of fall and winter.

In the summer we may be quite content to have a cream, a cornflower blue or a deep pink on the needles, growing into a light accessory or garment.  But fall brings with it a desire for depth, complexity, texture, and colors that say “I am complicated, don’t underestimate me.”  As a dye artist I have to think about these things well before cooler temperatures begin to take over the evenings. Even when the days are at their longest I must develop my sense of what will please a few months ahead.  Along with playing with the “color of the year,” vivid orchid, (a true jewel tone), it is necessary for me to develop deep chestnut, persimmon, forest green, and a red that will speak to you when you see them.

When I hit upon the right tone or shade, I have my own sense of satisfaction and achievement.  My certainty reaches an even higher level when I hear someone say with instant recognition  “Yes! That is exactly right!”  This is what I am building toward right now, leaning over a steaming dye pot and plotting my next color.

New worsted weight Vashon works beautifully for the Churchmouse Ferry Boat mitts, a very quick project and simple too.  I will be knitting them for presents, as they work for both women and men.  I made up kits for this pattern with specially dyed fall colors for Yorkshire Yarns in Lakewood.  The kit comes with the pattern and enough yarn for a pair.  Making its debut is “Sonya’s Red”, a blue-ey red with pieces of dark and light that make for a multifaceted colorway.

What are the colors you look forward to knitting with this fall? Are you thinking about gift knitting and Christmas?  Tell me what color you are dreaming of for the coming season.