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 forgot...you 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

Plotting


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...

http://www.ravelry.com/discuss/jill-draper-makes-stuff---and-so-do-i/2870318/1-25

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...



...silk 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.

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/triad-2
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

Tuesday, January 28

New Year, New Sweater

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or if you're in my Ravelry group you may be sick of seeing pictures of this sweater.  I can't help it! I'm in the "new romance" stage of making this sweater and I just can't knit on it often enough.  

The pattern is Jenny at the Fair designed by Mary Jane Mucklestone for The Rhinebeck Sweater.
I knew when I first saw the book that is had to be the first sweater I knit from it.  The factors were all in its favor; I love knitting colorwork, I've had a design crush on Mary Jane ever since seeing this blog post of hers before attending my first Squam Art Workshop and I am in almost dire need of a slightly oversized cardigan.

My mom wanted to make one too, which lucky for me, meant I got to pick two different colorways & 2 sets of Jennie the Potter buttons!



If you don't know, picking color combinations out is one of my favorite things!  I've gotten lots of questions & compliments about my sweater and I thought I'd share a couple suggested combinations with all of you, in case you're inspired to make your own (you totally should!).  This sweater, even with all the colorwork is flying off the needles using worsted weight, super squishy & soft Windham.  Windham is completely sheep to skein made in the US using 21.5 micron Merino.  The round 4-ply construction makes it great for sweater knitting!

I needed 4 skeins of the MC and you'll need 1 skein each of the 4 contrasts.





These are just a few of the many possible color combinations for Jenny at the Fair.  I'd love to see what colors YOU put together. 
Do you have a current project crush? I want to hear about it!



Friday, November 22

What a blur!

Fall has flown by in a blur!  Which is always the way it is for me (and I suspect many other yarny types).  Since NYS Sheep & Wool I've been to Chicago for Vogue Knitting LIVE and Canandaigua, NY for the Knitter's Review Retreat not to mention NYC for a couple of classes at Purl SoHo.
I have pretty much no photographic proof that I was at these events but I swear I was!






This is me & Kristen who came to help out in the booth while Ysolda was signing her new book The Rhinebeck Sweater. Because, let's face it 90% of the fun at fiber fests is sweater spotting, I'll tel you I'm wearing Each Stitch in Mohonk and Kirsten is wearing Party Mix in Hudson.






 



And here is a pic (obviously from almost the same moment) of me & Ysolda, she's wearing Laura Nelkin's Artichoke French from The Rhinebeck Sweater made with a skein of Empire.










I'm back home and busy shooting all sorts of yarn plus working on a couple secret projects I can't quite tel you about yet.

But I can tell you that I'm super psyched that Lee Meredith designed a hat (well, actually 2) in Hudson for the latest Holla Knits collection.

I have been a huge admirer of Lee's designs for a long time, especially since Cal Patch wears her Vortex EVERYWHERE. One skein of Hudson makes both versions of the hat so you don't even need to decide which on to make!  Allison has a skein to giveaway if you pop over to her blog and make a comment you're in the running.

The accessory collection is quite beautiful, I an especially enamored with the heart cut outs on the gloves & the colorwork hood. I'm so proud to have played a small part in this collection!

What's on your needles & hooks these days?


Wednesday, October 23

Rhinebeck Wrap Up

Well...




NYS Sheep & Wool flew by in a blur of beautiful pottery, friendly faces and amazing yarn creations of knit & crochet variations.  Seriously a BLUR.  I took exactly 0 pictures, bought almost nothing, mostly because I barely had a chance to leave Jennie's booth.  I did manage to score a bottle of SOAK, some gorgeous buttons from Jennie and just a couple skeins of yarn, but they are for something gifty so they'll be my secret stash for now.

I got so many compliments on my sweater on Saturday, which as we all know makes a knitter feel GREAT!  I made it for O+ festival in Kingston, and if you haven't seen it yet, here's a pic.


I made it with Mohonk in North Atlantic, Rust and a sort of renegade batch of Petunia and used (basically with a few teensy mods) Elizabeth's Percentage System and it kept me nice & cozy!


I saw SO many good sweaters, and shawls & accessories.  I loved seeing Laura Nelkin wearing her Artichoke French and apparently so did lots of other people, because I ran out of Empire in semi-solid shades! There are more coming out of the dyepots everyday but your next chance to snag one will be at Vogue Knitting Live in Chicago.




At Vogue, I will have lots of both semi-solid & variegated Empire hanks and I'll also have copies of Ysolda's The Rhinebeck Sweater, which not only has Artichoke French but includes 11 other beautiful sweaters (I kind of want one of each)

Even better? The lovely Ysolda herself will be doing a book signing from 12:30-1:30 on Saturday 11/2 in my booth.

I've got a lot of dyeing to do before heading to Chicago so I better sign off for now!

Before I go I'll mention I have a few kits left for Twister and more coming to Chicago with me. A KAL is starting in my Ravelry group 11/15, it is a fun and pretty simple knit, I'd love for you to join us!