Friday, April 10

Save Our Stags

Early Spring can be such a stark time of year, it's tax season, here in the Northeast Winter still grips us with icy fingers, snow is dirty grey icebergs instead of fresh fluffy piles, we've eaten our share of stews so we dream of fresh corn & tomatoes.

I hear from the farmers I work with about daily lamb births and some of the sheep have already been freed of their year's growth in service of next year's yarn, so I know Spring is here whether she shows her face or not. Here at JDMS Spring means ordering yarn for next Fall & Winter, working on new kits & experimenting in my studio.
I've spent lots of time thinking about this business & how happy I am that other people seem almost as excited about the yarn as I do. Part of what I love so much about what I do is being able to make something that isn't finished until YOU add your creativity to it.  I can't tell you how special it is to see the things you make with the yarn. I am so grateful for your support that I'd like to offer you a token of my appreciation.  

Save Our Stags 
As you work up your skeins of JDMS yarn, cut the stag off the left hand side of the label & affix it to the sheet available for download here. Once you have collected 20 stags mail both pages (stags affixed to their page please) to us
 and we'll send you a digital gift certificate for $25 to use on

 The labels can be from any JDMS yarn and may have been purchased anywhere.  For obvious reasons all 20 stags need to be the actual piece of the label, not a copy and must be attached to the page provided. Within 30 days of receiving your completed pages you'll receive a digital gift certificate to use on

It's your yarn and you can do whatever you want with it but I hope this is an incentive to use the yarn you have in your stash.  I plan on running this program for a while so please don't feel like you need to rush to your craft room & cut the labels off yarn you aren't using yet. I like to think JDMS yarn is pretty great in the skein but it really doesn't reach its full potential until it's been made into fabric.

I have a Ravelry group and I'd love to see what your making with the yarn or answer any questions you may have about this new program.

I hope Spring is just dreary enough to help you stay inside to finish any WIPs, for me that means adding pockets to this languishing Rockwell sweater. Pocket linings are the only thing missing, and if you went to Stitches West, yes, I wore this with pocket 'holes' and all.

Friday, January 23

New Year, New Yarn

One of the best things about this job is the ability to make my own yarny daydreams come true.  This doesn't come without a ton of work, sometimes a little heartbreak and the help of some amazing collaborators. I'm so happy to share the story of one of my fibery dreams come true.

The first new Jill Draper Makes Stuff yarn of 2015, is Rifton and it has been a long time in the making.

Rifton started out like most of my yarns, with me dreaming of an imaginary yarn that would be perfect for an also at the moment imaginary project.  I love the self-striping & ombré yarns but felt there was something that I could do differently.  I love naturally colored wool, the number of shades it comes in will never ever cease to awe me! I wondered how it would look if a dyer (that's me) and the sheep truly collaborated on a yarn.  To that end I decided to make a spun to stripe yarn that used dyed in the wool by me brights & blended those with natural undyed sheep shades.

I'm lucky enough to have found great collaborators in Green Mountain Spinnery.  Besides having a business model I love, they are a worker owned co-op, they are easy to work with and willing to try almost any crazy idea I can cook up.  I spent a day there, working & laughing alternatively.  Maureen & I dumped wool into the carder under the watchful eye of Laurie, who was in charge of running the machine, reminding me to watch my fingers and providing levity at every opportunity.  

One thing you will notice when you visit Green Mountain, or if you ever get the chance to work with them is how into making yarn everyone is. Everyone there cares about what they are producing, the farms raising the animals, the knitters and crocheters who will use the final product and I think it is obvious in the yarn the produce.

We only made two colorways of Rifton for this small experimental run.  I called them Winter & Autumn, for reasons I don't think I need to explain.  Because of the experimental nature of this run, there are skeins of many different lengths.  Each skein is labeled with its yardage & priced accordingly. 

The final shop update of this run of Rifton will be this weekend.  I could not be more pleased about the reception it has received.  It is something I have had in my head for a while and hoped other people would be as excited for this as I am.  

Though we have almost reached the end of this first batch of Rifton I think I can close with a sort of clichéd year book quote and let you know not to worry, this is only the end of the beginning.

Monday, September 8


    I can hardly believe Fall and maybe more importantly Fiber Fest season are just around the corner!  I'll be updating the shops lots of the next few weeks.  The first big update is for a yarn I really love and think is pretty special, Rockwell
Rockwell is a marl yarn. What that means is the yarn is spun with plies of different colors to give a marled effect to the finished project.  The plies can be anything to qualify as a marl, but in the case of Rockwell we use 3 naturally colored shades of wool.  I work with local farmers, collect colored fleeces and then the people at Green Mountain Spinnery & I sort the fleeces by color, from lightest to darkest. We even out the yields and they spin three different shades that we refer to as light, medium and dark.  Each shade is really made up of dozen of colors from the many shades of fleeces. The end result is what you see in the skeins of Naturemade.

 I then overdye some of the skeins to make the rainbow of shades you see at the top of this post.  I love this yarn because it allows for an "even" variegation. The resulting projects have a lot of depth without dissolving stitch patterns the way multicolors can.

Rockwell is great for giving depth to stockinette stitch as well as adding some interest to cabled or textured stitches.  I'm making my Rhinebeck Sweater out of Rockwell and truly loving every second of it. You can check out my progress on InstagramRockwell uses all New England wool and is spun in Vermont which makes me really proud of its environmental footprint.

 I'm wearing an easy granny square poncho made out of Rockwell in this picture with Cal Patch & the ladies of Fancy Tiger Crafts from Rhinebeck last year. I realized this may be the only picture of the poncho (how'd that happen?!) so I'll make sure to get some new shots this year!
You can see some of what others have made with Rockwell on Ravelry.

Have you ever used a marled yarn? What do you think the perfect project for Rockwell would be?

Thursday, August 14

Summer wanes, wool waxes

It seems impossible that Labor day is only a few short weeks away which means cooler, shorter day are on the horizon.  I woke up this morning to the first really cold morning air. Which is bittersweet, always.  I'll miss the long Summer evenings, grilling and those tomatoes from the garden I've been feasting on.  But I'm looking forward to a super busy, fun Fall and of course sweater weather!

My big summer knit has been Vertices Unite made with almost all the bases from my line.  You can read all the specific details on my Ravelry project page. I'd finished the knitting a while back but I made the large version (and even larger because I used US6s to accommodate some sportweight inclusions) so it just got too big & hot to have on my lap in the humid mid-Summer heat.  Now that it has cooled a bit I've been slowly finishing the I-cord bind off.  I love the look of I-cord edging but it is quite slow going.  I use a DPN for I-cord bind offs, I find it SO much easier to maneuver a short DPN with some much moving back & forth of stitches.

I've been busy in the dye studio, you WOULD NOT believe the quantity of yarn here. It is truly staggering.  I've amped up production on a few of the favorites so hopefully the stocks will last longer, but that being said the yarn that uses local wool has a finite amount every year.  Because I work with farms directly for some of the bases once we've gone through this year's shearing, there just isn't any more wool until the following year. 

Empire is about to make it's reappearance and I know that when it ran out last year I heard from a bunch of you disappointed not to get your hands on some.  I use a local flock of Rambouillet, to which, this year we have added a large quantity of western grown wool to hopefully meet demand.  I'll be adding it in batches to my shop over the next few months & it will also be showing up at shops across the US and one in Canada.

Which shops you ask? Well, I have a handy list here.  This yarn is not at these shops yet but if one of these LYSs is your LYS you can keep your eyes peeled for it in September.

That's most of the news for now.  This Fall & Winter will bring lots of new patterns, kits and even a yarn or two.  I'm so excited to start sharing all this stuff with you guys, but first. I have a few more tomato sandwiches to eat.

Don't forget about my Instagram contest!  There are some great entries already & I can't wait to see even more! Did I mention there are $100 JDMS gift certificates for the winners? There are!

Thursday, July 17

Empire state of mind

It has been a hot & humid start to Summer here in the Hudson Valley.  I've been trying to squeeze in gardening & grilling all while doing tons of prep for Fall.  You wouldn't believe (or maybe you would) how much behind the scenes work goes into this yarn line.  I'm so excited about a couple brand new things I'll be releasing, but you'll have to wait just a little bit longer for those.

A couple weeks ago I dropped the last of this year's Rambouillet fleece off at Green Mountain Spinnery for them to work their magic on & turn it into Empire.   Empire is made with Rambouillet wool from a local flock in Albany county as well as some from out West - only because we've exceeded the output of the family farm I've been using! Empire is aran weight & put up in giant hanks of 1280yds, enough for a sweater in many cases and is also standard sized skeins of ~4oz 213 yds.

You can read about my start in dyeing, Empire & a bit about the farm that raises the sheep in Ysolda's book The Rhinebeck Sweater.  Also included is the fab pattern Artichoke French from Laura Nelkin.

Anna from Tolt Yarn & Wool with her Empire last year

Laura & I both wearing (and holding!) Empire shot by Ysolda

There is just something about Empire that makes it quite photogenic & fun to hug, some even tend to treat it a bit like a "yarn baby"...

I love seeing what people do with their Empires both before they get used & after, I've also been loving Instagram lately.  It is a fun way to share pictures & see little snippets of people's lives.  

So, I was thinking how about a little Instagram contest?

It's super simple:
* Post a pic of your Empire skein, your finished Empire project or if you haven't gotten you hands on Empire yet maybe the 'empty space' Empire would fill
* Please use the hashtag #jdmsempirestateofmind so I can find all the beautiful pictures!

ETA: I added JDMS to the front of the hashtag because I should have realized that lots of JayZ fans would already be using #empirestateofmind, but I didn't :) if you @jillmakesstuff I'll be sure to see it!

* That's it really it, be funny, be creative, be yourself!  

Oh, I almost are probably wondering what you will get for sharing & tagging your lovely pictures? I've wrangled a few impartial judges with widely different tastes & they will each pick 1 picture to win a $100 gift certificate for Jill Draper Makes Stuff Yarn which you can redeem online or at a fiber fest that I'm vending at.  The contest will run from now until Labor Day, so you have plenty of time to play with pictures. There's no limit to how many you can enter, just start shooting!

Wednesday, March 5


I see so many metaphors between gardening & knitting.  Maybe it is because both things occupy a fair amount of my brain space or maybe there is a true correlation.

The way I see it gardening & knitting both take a great deal of care & time for an end result that on the surface isn't so terribly different from what you could "just get at the store". Neither is an inexpensive or quick-resulted.  I think the slowness of the process might be what I enjoy best about both. I love eating fresh tomatoes as much as wearing a wool sweater in February but I equally love sitting in warm dirt in May or feeling yards of wool slipping through my fingers as I knit.
Both practices slow me down, give my fingers a task, allowing my mind to wander to the quiet, dark spots in the back.

I've been thinking more about gardening as the days lengthen slowly and the seed catalogs pile up on the chair by the fireplace. I think the whole Northeast is collectively willing Spring to arrive. I hope it works.

I saw a post on Facebook from my local farmer's market about an indiegogo campaign for a community education garden at the local YMCA.  I've been thinking about it ever since. I live in a city, not a big city like New York but a place where the majority of residents are apartment dwellers without any green space of their own. I think it is so amazing for children to get the chance to grow vegetables, dig in the dirt and see the literal fruits of their labor.  Besides the time spent outside & the healthier eating it promotes, it is just an awesome feeling to grow something.

I knew that I wanted to donate to the campaign and then I had an idea sparked in part by a great discussion going on in my Ravelry group about what they (and you too if you want to join the discussion) want from me.  I heard there and have heard many other times that people would love the chance to custom order Empire colors.  Well, really all the bases, but let's stick to Empire for a moment...

I decided to list a really limited number of custom color Empire hanks. I'm releasing just a few at a time over the next 4 weeks, I'll release them at different times of the day and days of the week with no announcement until they go up.  I think this is the fair way to give everyone a chance.  The custom colors will be an additional $15/hank and all of that will go to the Kingston YMCA Farm's indiegogo campaign.  I may open custom colors up again later in the year but if I do they will be more expensive than this and without the warm fuzzy feeling you'll get from doing good for some local kids.

If you aren't interested in Empire custom colors, you could just donate directly to the campaign if you still want a good deed done.

Now, the sheep are still wearing their coats so delivery of the yarn won't be until late Summer but by purchasing one of these custom colors you'll be getting the very first Empires of the season, these will be the very first out of the dyepots!  You can pick any semisolid shade from my line, for the closest match I suggest using Empire or Mohonk colors.  When you purchase a skein you do not need to know what color you want it to be, yet.  If you know for sure which color you'd like, feel free to add a note to your order.

Thanks for helping me plant seeds, both literally and metaphorically this time.

Wednesday, February 26

Our wool could be your sweater... longjohns, smart wool socks, handknit wool socks, Carhartt overalls, cotton thermal, wool & angora sweater, wool sweater, quilted vest, handknit wool hat...

No, that is not a list of all the Winter gear I own, just what I put on yesterday am before heading to shearing at Catskill Merino. It was a really fun & inspiring day but, man, was it cold!

Eugene & I were introduced by the fine folks at Green Mountain Spinnery a couple years ago when I was on the hunt for more locally grown wool and I have been using his crossbred flock for Mohonk ever since. If you followed along with Clara Parkes' Great White Bale you might recognize Eugene...

This is a lock of the wool palmed from one of the MANY huge bags packed to the top with some of the most gorgeous fiber I have laid eyes on.  I have Mohonk spun into a soft & spongy 2-ply sportweight, which I think takes best advantage of its squishy crimp and almost velvet-y texture.
Triad - made with Mohonk
Each Stitch sweater made with Mohonk
I realize to most people the thought of spending a totally frigid day outside standing in poo might not have qualified as one of the most inspirational days. But to me it was.  I love being able to spend time with some of the people who raise the wool I use to make my yarn. It warms the depths of my soul to see people shearing at lightening speed with incredible care. I am so proud to play a tiny part in keeping this cycle of growing/shearing/spinning/making whirring along.  It makes me humble and awestruck to think of these creatures giving up their coats on a cold February morning so someone can wrap themselves in cozy yarn in September.

Driving home from Goshen all I could think about was how privileged I am to be a single step in the chain of making.  I send a partially finished product out into the world and YOU turn it into the thing it was meant to be.

The yarn is so deeply special to me,  knowing, liking and respecting so many of the people involved with the processes makes it feel so close to home & so right.  Knowing the animal participants are well cared for & healthy means the conscientiousness that goes into knitting, weaving or crocheting has its start waaaay back at the very beginning of the process for JDMS yarn.

a fleece flipped onto the skirting table to remove dirty or short pieces 

Now that the sheep have been sheared comes the waiting. Tom Petty is totally right, waiting IS the hardest part! Before re-emerging as gorgeous squishy Mohonk, the wool travels to be baled, scoured, spun and will finally make its way undyed and ready for color back to the Hudson Valley.  It is a process that takes a few months, is not inexpensive and requires collaboration with lots of people. The results are SO worth it though. It should arrive at just the right time as I just opened the last undyed box of Mohonk from 2013's clip (though I've heard there may be a mislaid box or two still at the mill)

Besides the crossbred flock that I use to make Mohonk, Catskill Merino raises some of the most fine  (in both a "that's mighty fine" and a low micron count fine) Saxon Merino I've ever seen! You can see it for yourself Saturdays at the Green Market in Union Square in NYC or buy it online.

I'm so grateful to everyone involved with making the yarn and to all of you for appreciating it.

Parenthetically (without the parentheses - well, except these) if you are a wool grower or know one looking to sell a whole clip please feel free to email me jillATjilldraperDOTcom