The Jorstad Creek Dye Studio is a place that morphs from day to day. Sometimes it is a place to create beautiful things. Sometimes it is a place to learn, celebrate, console, or meet up with a friend. I often call it my “public living room.” We love our comfy couch (there are those who have been known to nap on it from time to time!) and find it to be the most pleasant place to spend a morning or liesurely afternoon.
One afternoon earlier last week we brought food and cider from our neighbors, the FishTale Pub, and lifted a glass to commemorate an accomplishment of a friend. Surrounded by beautiful woolie braids and yarn, it seemed like the perfect place to be happy with a group of friends.
When people first enter the doorway of our studio often we see them stand stock still, a bit dumbfounded by what they see. The building isn’t easy to find, and the front door can be elusive. So when a person steps from a rather rough and tumble parking lot into our little wonderland of color they are a little perplexed. This is the “Jorstad Effect.” Local people gaze at us a glassy-eyed and ask, “How long have you been here?” “About three years.” And next they say, “How could I not know you are here all this time?”
I think of about a thousand different things I could say. “We only appear in this location every three years, kind of like Brigadoon?” Or “You’ve crossed over a dimensional threshold to another world inhabited by color?” The fact is the Studio is one of those places that you find because you stumble upon it, or someone tells you about it. We don’t advertise in the newspaper (many reasons, ask me about it sometime), so we spend our meager advertising budget on Facebook. And we count on visitors to be amazed at our little warehouse that we’ve turned into a knitter and spinner’s Shangri La.
If you come to find Jorstad from out of town you can find us when you “Google” or search “Safari” on your iphone. We’re also in a yarn shop directory for yarn tourists. In a way it can be easier to find us if you are traveling here from out of town – local people don’t think to search “yarn store” in their own burg. I confess I am conflicted about the Studio being labeled a yarn store, due to the fact it just doesn’t quite fit the formula. We make most of our products here, or we do essential pieces of the process in making what we offer retail and wholesale to other stores. But we also have classes, knitting needles, needle-felting supplies, bags and stitch markers by local artisans, and now buttons!
The Studio is a multi-faceted place, and it has to continue to grow and change because we aren’t just a great stop on your summer travels (the pub next door is a great place to park the non-knitters among your group), but it is also part of a local community, this downtown Olympia, with its arts, colorful characters, craft brew, wine, cholocate, traditional music, farmer’s market, boats, and foodie destinations. Folks are passionate about the quality of life here, and having thriving local yarn sources are part of this ever-changing northwest town on the shore of the Salish Sea. That’s Puget Sound for those unfamiliar.
I wrote about change in a previous blog post, and how we were making adjustments to meet new expectations, and we have. The Studio now has permanently expanded our hours to include Thursdays from Noon to 5 p.m. You will find Pam and Heather at the Studio ready to help knitters find a new project, pattern, or fiber, or to get help with knitting questions.
In addition to our classes planned for the rest of May and June (see Class Schedule page), we have some “Jorstad Jaunts” that take us into July.
Black Sheep Gathering in Albany, Oregon. On June 28 the Studio is closed as we pack up most of our inventory and open a pop-up store at the Market at the Linn County Expo Center. This is a “sheep show” with live sheep, sheering, judging, and a sheep-to-shawl event. Classes and a market place with a spinner’s circle is also part of the festivities, find out more at www.blacksheepgathering.org. Lots of great farm and ranch booths are there selling their homegrown and crafted products, too. These events are important opportunities to support and sustain small land-holders who raise fiber animals and love what they do. We focus on outreach to new customers and returning friends who may not come north to Olympia to find us. The location is a beautiful drive south of Portland.
Stitch and Pitch at Safeco Field in Seattle. Thursday July 26 at 7:10 pm. Mariners vs. Kansas City Royals. We welcome the Northwest Yarns group to Safeco field, all the way from Bellingham to join us at our pop-up booth on the concessions deck. They sponsor our booth, and we show our appreciation for the support! You will find me and my crew ready to help you find something special directly from our Studio to this fun event.
We’re planning more events and trunk shows, and we’ll let you know when and where you can find us as dates are solidified. In the meantime thank you to everyone supporting our company, we love the feedback and appreciate the effort you make to find us wherever we go. Hope to see you soon! Kerry
Bring your tired old unloved skeins! With your input we’ll do our best to make them beautiful and fresh again. Donation to Great Steppe Fiber Project is appreciated.
Instructors Kerry Graber and Madison Wallace
Yarn blanks are pre-knitted pieces you can paint with long stretches of color, and then knit into a new design. We set you up with four knitted blanks and your choice of colors. Then we’ll show you the possibilities of applying dyes to the blanks! For knitters who want to knit two color patterns with a gradient background, or experiment with long color pieces. This technique offers many creative possibilities for weavers to dye unique warp or weft. This technique works to produce a yarn suitable for the Doodle Shawl.
Beginning Drop Spindling – May 19th – 9am -12pm – $75 per student. Learn to spin yarn!
This is the first step to learning how to make yarn. If you are considering diving into spinning with a wheel, we recommend starting with a simple spindle. We’ll show you how! Spindling is a portable craft you can take with you anywhere. Beginner spindles available for sale. Class instructed by Madison Wallace and Leanna Saplan of Spinners Anonymous.
Instructors Kerry Graber and Madison Wallace
Learn the art of hand painting skeins of wool or silk yarn with non-toxic low-acid dyes. We set you up with four skeins of undyed yarn and all the colors you can think of, show you different techniques of applying dyes to the yarn, and set you loose to create!
This is a fun session where the studio staff deal with setup and cleanup, you get to experiment with color. Get a glimpse of what we do to create our own colorways, and come away with beautiful hand dyed skeins of yarn.
Bring extra undyed skeins if you like! Wear comfortable clothing and shoes, bring rubber gloves (the dish washing kind).
Limited to eight students per class to make the most of the experience.
So you learned to spin yarn singles, now what? Come to this class and learn the two basic ways of plying your spun singles. We will demonstrate how to turn your singles in to a 2 ply and 3 ply yarn. Please bring spun singles and your spindles and be ready to make beautiful plied yarn. Class instructed by Madison Wallace and Leanna Saplan of Spinners Anonymous.
Instructors Kerry Graber, Madison Wallace, and Pam Ring
Learn the art of hand painting skeins of cotton or other plant fiber yarn with non-toxic fiber-reactive dyes. We set you up with four skeins of undyed yarn and lots of colors, show you different techniques of applying dyes to the yarn, and you get to play with color.
If you’ve wanted to try dyeing cotton blend, linen, bamboo, or other plant fiber yarn we show you how we do it.Again, we deal with the set up and clean up, you just get to have fun and create!
Have a wheel but don’t know how to get started? Want to try wheel spinning? In this two-part class, we will provide the basics for setting up your wheel properly and then the techniques for drafting and plying for a knittable or weavable yarn. Limited number of wheels for loan, please make arrangements prior to class. Fiber for spinning is provided as part of the class fee. Class instructed by Madison Wallace and Leanna Saplan of Spinners Anonymous.
In November here in Olympia we said goodbye to a Knitting hub and institution, local yarn and fabric store Canvas Works. This past year has seen many long established yarn stores close, sometimes due to financial stress after a long slog through the recession, and sometimes due to life changes for the owners. Canvas Works was strongly supported by loyal customers and we know that financially the business was strong. An opportunity came along to sell their building and move on to other things. We’re all grateful for the many years in the community!
Knitters are a fiercely loyal bunch. I shared a few tears and sad moments with distraught customers who shared with me their anxiety about a future without their special store. Canvas Works was also my place to buy needles and get inspiration for many years! When I started the Jorstad Creek Studio I talked with my friend Amy at Canvas Works who said unequivocally that more yarn in the community was good, it would help us all to bring more visitors to Olympia and continue growing the knitting movement. I will always be grateful for that word of encouragement!
You see it was not my intention to open the Studio for retail business. My plans were to grow my wholesale client list and have a place other than my backyard and basement to make beautiful yarn and fiber. However a condition of getting a business license in Olympia for the Studio’s location included the requirement to have a retail component. So when we opened to the public in July of 2015 we set up a retail display and knitter’s lounge. We established limited hours for welcoming in retail customers and embarked on building up a presence in the knitting community.
Over the past two and a half years many local and out-of-town knitters have found us tucked away as we are between two parking lots, a busy pub, and an apartment building. I am so grateful for the loyal support, the new friendships, and the volunteers that helped us through some critical moments. While the Studio is a welcoming place, it is the people who make it special. My heart is full!
Change can be hard, so how do we make it easier? How do we carry on with resilience? And how can the Studio be a positive part of positive change? I have grappled with this, talking to friends, employees, business partners and colleagues.
In the near term we are expanding retail hours for the holidays. In addition to our regularly established hours on Tuesday evenings, Fridays and Saturdays, we’re staying open on Friday evenings until 8 pm and adding Sunday hours from 1 to 5 pm. Once past the holidays we will evaluate expanding to more days or hours for 2018.
More permanently we are adding a supply of ChiaoGoo knitting needles. We’ve added needle felting wool to our fiber selection and in the coming weeks we will supply needle felting tools. Our class offerings for knitting, crafting, and dyeing will also be expanded as we identify more instructors and instruction needs.
We’re also thinking about better signage and other changes that would make us more visible!
With optimism I hope 2018 brings more crafters to our little corner of the world and that they will fall in love with our Studio. One way or another we hope our fellow knitters find a way to carry on with our beloved craft. We wish for you the best of the holiday season from all of us at Jorstad Creek! Kerry
Alissa Allen, experienced mushroom dyer and instructor is coming to teach! Join us on October 29 at the Jorstad Creek Dye Studio for a day of instruction on the collection, preparation, and use of mushrooms to dye yarn and fabric. This full day class will show you the techniques and provide skills you can build on to explore mushroom dyeing on your own. To register send at email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read on to learn more about Alissa and the workshop!
Date and Time: Sunday October 29th – 9am to 4pm
Location: Jorstad Creek – Olympia, WA
Cost: $150 – all materials included
Open to all skill levels
Regional Dye Palette Every region has its own palette of mushroom and lichen dyes. This class takes an in-depth look at using local, wild fungi as sustainable, safe dye sources. Starting with 10-12 species, with the addition of safe mordants and pH modifiers, we will create about 20 colors in all.
Wild Harvest All of the dyes are ethically harvested, dried, and weighed (using some fresh material if available). Students learn about mushroom safety, identification basics, habitats and ethical harvest. Participants receive a customized color guide to the best regional dye mushrooms and lichens and learn where to go for help with identification.
Working with Fiber We will be working with wool and silk fiber. Yarn for class is pre-mordanted to allow ample time to focus on dyes; however we will discuss the steps for preparing the fibers for the dye bath. This includes scouring, mordanting, and techniques to avoid felting wool.
Shibori Demonstration Participants will be guided through the steps to create an intricate arashi shibori inspired design. Each participant receives a blank silk scarf for practice.
Takeaways Students will take home a detailed recipe card showcasing the rainbow of samples dyed in class. The recipe card lists both the scientific and common names of the fungi and lichens, the ratios of fungus to fiber, mordants used, and pH modifications required to achieve the colors. Participants receive a detailed procedural handout, a customized guide to local dye fungi and a beautiful hand dyed scarf. This workshop covers all aspects of getting started with mushroom and lichen dyes and leaves the student with the tools to carry on their own exploration.
©Alissa Allen – Mycopigments – 2017
Speckled yarns were big this past winter and knitters love them. Once you’ve nestled beautiful speckled skeins into your stash, what to do with them? They’re not exactly hand painted variagated, and they are not a gradient yarn by any means. The little pops of color create are stunning in the yarn but how to use them to greatest effect?
Linda Gordon came up with this amazing pattern she named aptly “Falling Stars.” We created three speckled colorways for this great hat; Hello Cupcake, Embers, and Into the Mystic. Paired with either a white, black, or violet solid, the speckles pop out as you knit your way up to the crown of the hat. The yarn is Vashon, our super soft worsted weight four-ply in Superwash Merino.
We are putting together kits with the three colorways. They will be available soon at our new online store on Etsy as Jorstad Creek Yarns.
By popular demand we’ve opened an online Etsy store, Jorstad Creek Yarns, to post our beautiful hand dyed fiber for spinners and select kits for knitters. Keep checking our offerings, we will add more each month. We are putting together yarns and patterns from the BK Collective, Linda Gordon, and other designers to feature our hand dyed beauties and to help customers outside of our local area access our yarns on line. We also continue to work with our good friends at Row House Yarns, an on line yarn, pattern, and help portal, to create yarns and colorways for the beginning and intermediate knitter. Look for BK Collective/Row House designs to be rolled out paired with yarns and colors we created in partnership with their design team!
First up, we are invited to attend the Seattle Knitter’s Guild onWednesday, June 7 to display a table and talk about Jorstad Creek. Next is a trunk show on Saturday June 10 at Northwest Handspun in Bellingham, Washington! We will be in the store with a pop-up shop for the day. Later in the month we’re driving down to Eugene Oregon for the Black Sheep Gathering on June 23 through the 25th.
The Nordic Knitting Conference will be back this Fall! I just heard from organizers that this great event will be held October 6-8! More details to come, along with news about KnitFit in November with a new venue at the Seattle Center. Here’s a summary of the schedule as it stands:
Classes at the studio were rolled out this spring. We offer both knitting, spinning, dyeing and crafting classes at our spacious and friendly studio in downtown Olympia, Washington. We are almost through our May/June schedule – check on our class page on this blog for upcoming dates and class descriptions.
We had our first dye class! We hand painted silk scarves with dye inks, exploring several techniques with Kathie Adams, local fiber and surface design artist. This Saturday, along with our once-per-month Overdye Day we have a hand-painted skein class. We’re full this time, but we will be offering it again later in the summer so check back. Email me at email@example.com to reserve your space!
We’re open from 6 p.m. to 8:30 on Tuesday’s for drop in knitting, spinning, and crafting. There is always a skilled knitter “in residence” to help with knitting challenges. And if you need a skein of something, we’re open for sales, too!
Knitter’s who come to the studio seem to like the atmosphere and feel the creative energy flow as we work on our dye projects, wool, and talk about everything under the sun in a safe accepting place. Sometimes our little warehouse doesn’t love us back. We’ve had floods from the many rain storms this spring, and now a burst pipe as we plumbed a new hot water heater so we can scour fleece. Not to worry, there was minimal damage from this latest accident, and things are almost back to normal! Having a storefront has been a challenge, one we’ve been able to rise to with the help of many friends, family, volunteers, and just innocent bystanders! We are so grateful for the helping hand, the understanding sympathy, and the continued visitors and shoppers who are helping us keep “afloat” physcially and financially. You are so appreciated! As you go about your busy summer we hope you will think of us and stop in to say hello, start a project, or see what’s new.
Some of you know we’ve been stocking cashmere yarns and fiber directly from Mongolia for awhile. We are working on sending one of our own, Madison Wallace, to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, in July to help Zola teach friends and family about drop spindling! We are fund raising to help with travel costs and to purchase equipment for this trip. If all goes well Madison will come back to us with amazing samples of intricate felting by Mongolian felt artists, as well as stories of adventures and new friends. This trip is to scope out further opportunities to partner on what we hope will be a new enterprise. We will be sure to share updates here on this blog, including a soon to be established “GoFundMe” campaign.
Until then hope to see you at the studio!
Every year we begin preparations for Madrona a little earlier hoping that when the day arrives to bring our lovelies to the Hotel Murano to set up our booth that our display will be the best ever. Every year customers come back and we renew our friendships and make new ones with fellow fiber enthusiasts. I enjoy this time, plotting how to amaze and inspire each year. Really we spend all year creating new colorways and patterns and then revealing them to this annual audience for four days of fiber bliss.
This year we’ve expanded our selection and colorways of fiber braids for spinners. Added to our collection of yarn are some amazing cashmere and yak blended with silk. We have new patterns from the BK Collective! And at the urging of some of our fans, we had a special drawstring bag printed with our Jorstad Cat on the back, made in the USA of course. Oh we are going to have fun!
What we’re knitting these days are hats, mitts, socks, and the occasional large project like a sweater. Once the gift knitting was over at Christmas and the emergency pink hat production was done, we turned to projects that had been put on the back burner and spent our evenings cuddled up with larger projects on our laps. That’s all part of the charm of winter isn’t it?
We hope you will come to the Madrona Fiber Arts market to drop in and say hello. You can find out more about the details of this event at the Madrona website.
At the studio we have put together a class schedule for expanding your knitting skills. Yes, we will have dye classes too! A separate class schedule for learning dye arts, spinning, and doll making at our studio is in the works.
Use multi-colored yarn to create a beautiful patterned cowl. Using yarn with long stretches of color opens up a whole new world of possibilities of knitting “fair isle” projects without the stress of putting multiple yarns together. Get stunning results! Class is instructed by Linda Gordon.
The mysteries of cables and twisted stitches will be revealed! Cables look difficult and impressive, but they aren’t complicated if you have someone showing the way. A choice of patterns is included in the class fee. BK Collective designer Jann Hoppler, is the instructor.
In lace or textured knitting, charts are now being used instead of row by row instructions in today’s patterns.
Jann will guide you through understanding and using charts, opening up a whole array of patterns you might otherwise avoid attempting in your knitting. A choice of patterns from the BK Collective is included.
Are you ready to try knitting socks from the toe-up? Learn a technique that lets you use leftover yarn with confidence and try on the sock as you go. You will learn to make a nearly seamless toe and a modified Dutch heel that makes a great fitting sock. Pattern included with class fee. Class is instructed by Kerry Graber.
Make this charming magical creature from Jorstad Creek yarn as we provide the materials and you download the pattern. You will learn techniques you can use to make more stuffed creatures to delight. Leanna Saplan is the instructor.
A scoping project to establish a fiber company in Mongolia based on the principles of Fair Trade
A yarn and fiber company.
(and crochets, and stitches, and is otherwise generally crafty)
Interweaving life with fiber arts! (Photograph by Carly Moskat.)