Thursday, July 16, 2015

New Jersey Dyer Profiles: MollyGirl Yarn



I first saw MollyGirl Yarns in January at Vogue Knitting Live and was immediately inspired by their candy colored yarns. Six months later, Jersey Shore Knits was published and MollyGirl was a huge contributor to the project, working to pick the perfect colors for the Ferris Wheel Shawl and later offering project kits in their online store. Angela, the owner of MollyGirl, was kind enough to answer some interview questions and share images of her yarns.

Q. What are your names?
A. My name is Angela. The rest of my "team" involves my boyfriend (commonly referred to merely as Boyfriend, but his real name is Mark), a petulant fluffy rescue kitty named Bosco, and a cute if somewhat impish 6 month bichon/shih-tzu  mix named Izzie. The latter two generally just sit and look cute, but I like to say they're for morale.

Q. Can you share a little about your business and how you got started?
A. I started out by selling stuff I had knitted & crocheted at craft shows. My mother signed me up for my first craft show at my old middle school when I was in high school, declaring I needed to clean out my stash of FOs. I did the north Jersey craft circuit for quite a few years but I was frustrated. I wanted to do something that set me apart from the tables full of people with their $5 Red Heart scarves.
So in 2010, having finally gotten into Ravelry and thereby discovering hand-dyed yarn, I thought I would give that a go. Just something else to have at shows to set me apart. The dyeing very quickly took over, though it took me a few years to really pin down  a technique. In 2013 I stopped using the company name I'd developed in high school. Yarn Monkey Productions, and MollyGirl was born. Named after my bestie, a shih tzu named Molly, and revolving around music, it was meant to be a perfect marriage of my passion for fiber arts and my Music Business degree. The music half has sort of fallen by the wayside to this point, but who knows where we'll go next!


Q. What about your yarns, colors, or dye process sets you apart?
A. I love, love, love color, the crazier the better, and so all of our colors are super saturated. I couldn't tell you any of the "processes" I use even if I wanted to - I'm as self-taught as can be. I've never taken a lesson and my reading on the subject doesn't extend past how to affix the dye to the yarn (powdered citric acid, a dyer's best buddy!). All of my techniques are the result of extensive trial and error - generally more error than anything else. But some of my favorite colors are the results of mistakes, and I think it makes for some truly unique yarn.


Q. What inspires your colors?
A. Music! All our colors are named after songs, and our bases are also musically-oriented. Sometimes the song inspires the color, sometimes the color reminds me of a song, but music is always a factor.

Q. Do you craft with your own yarns?
A. Sometimes! Not nearly often enough, I think. It's a treat for me. I'm always so worried about keeping the shop full that I feel greedy keeping too many of them. You will find more than a few skeins hanging out in my stash on Ravelry though. 


Q. What is your personal favorite yarn to work with and why?
A. It completely depends on what I'm making. I almost never knit with fingering weight yarn, but if I have something special that calls for it, Duet is my go-to because it's super soft & blocks like a champ. For something soft & snuggly for someone that I know won't accidentally toss it in the washing machine, Aria is my FAVORITE. I actually refer to the combination of baby alpaca, merino, & silk as "the trifecta" because it's just the BEST fiber blend, in my opinion. For something that needs to be washable, Rock Star is a no brainer. I'm going to be an aunty come the fall, so I've been making a lot of baby items and let's just say there'll be at least a few made out of Rock Star.


Q. Where can people find your yarns – in addition to an online shop, do any local stores stock your yarns, do you go to craft shows, do you also sell patterns or tools that crafters would be interested in? A. Yes to all the above. In addition to our online shop, there are three stores in north Jerz that stock them (a full list is always available on our website). I'm hoping to add to this number very soon, too. I also do fiber festivals as often as I can. We did Vogue Knitting Live this past January and will be doing it again in 2016. I'll also be at the New Jersey Sheep Breeder's festival in September and the North Jersey Fiber Arts festival in August. Setting up a few trunk shows for the summer too. And I do some designing as well - patterns are also available in our online shop or, of course, on Ravelry.

All images provided by MollyGirl Yarns

Note: MollyGirl Yarns is having a trunk show this Saturday, July 18th at Llama Llama Ewe  in Ridgefield Park , NJ.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

New Jersey Dyer Profiles: Nooch Fiber

This is Mariana and Nick of Nooch Fiber.

Q. Can you share a little about your business and how you got started?
A. Nooch Fiber started because I was looking for an apartment-friendly way to explore color: I had just finished up a double major in studio art and psychology.  Having moved to New York City for grad school that wasn’t related to art, I quickly found that tiny apartments do no lend themselves to smelly oil paints and huge canvasses.  I had been an avid knitter for years, but had never gotten the idea to dye yarn before moving to NYC - I had previously been pouring all of her creative energies into painting and drawing!  I started off with food colors and, after some successful attempts, moved on to professional dyes and yarn bases.

Q.What about your yarns, colors, or dye process sets you apart?
A. I like to apply my knowledge of color theory and my artistic sensibility to every yarn I create.  Each skein is its own small artwork!  True to my painting background, all Nooch Fiber yarns are dyed one at a time in a small dyeing pot.  This means that all skeins are one of a kind.  Although I can produce the same colorway multiple times, each skein will have its own personality.

Q.What inspires your colors?
A. My color choices are inspired by my abstract painting background

I just like to have fun and experiment!


Q.Do you craft with your own yarns?
A. Yes.





Q. What is your personal favorite yarn to work with and why?
A. I love all of our sock yarns!  One of my main goals when choosing yarns to stock is that they be versatile – all of our fingering and sock yarns work well for several different projects.  I really enjoy mixing different bases and colors to create interesting looks.  These are some of my favorite projects I’ve made with my own yarn:




Nooch Fiber is one of the NJ based  dyers Featured in Jersey shore knits.
They created a beautiful colorway to reflect the colors of the ocean for the Atlantic Ocean Cowl

The color way is called O Trem Azul, named for this song :
You can get this special colorway in the Nooch Fiber Store.

You can find Nooch Fiber's yarns in thee online stores – noochfiber.com or noochfiber.etsy.com

Their yars are also carried in the following stores –
New Jersey: Chelsea Yarns (Colts Neck)
Do Ewe Knit (Westfield)
New York: Knitty City (New York City)
Pennsylvania: Conversational Threads (Emmaus)
Main Street Yarn (Rebersburg)

All images provided by Nooch Fiber.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Jersey Dyer Profiles: Interview with Myra Rubin of Woolbearers




As part of the Jersey Shore Knits project, it was important to make sure that local companies played a big part. It wasn't hard to find some really talented people with great hand dyed yarn based in the garden state, it was however quite unusual to have the opportunity not only to work with Myra Rubin of Woolbearers in Mount Holly, NJ, but to visit her incredible store. There she is on the left wearing the Seashells Shawl, knit in her Fingering Wool. Below she answered some interview questions about her story, yarns, and retail shop. 


Q. Can you share a little about your business and how you got started?   
A. I started Woolbearers 11 years ago with a partner.  We envisioned a tiny yarn shop with lots of our hand dyed and hand crafted  yarns. It morphed into a big yarn shop with lots of commercial yarns as well as Woolbearers hand dyed yarn. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Jersey Shore Knits

I'm proud to introduce my first collection of accessories, inspired by the Jersey shore. It contains 4 projects perfect for beach knitting. Each is inspired by a part of the Jersey Shore culture and setting and is knit in a yarn from a different New Jersey dyer. I'll be interviewing each of the dyers over the next few weeks to highlight their unique and individual approaches.

People have asked why I'm focused on New Jersey and I have a very simple answer: The Jersey shore is a beautiful American treasure, filled with unique small businesses. In recent years, press from shows like Jersey Shore have colored people's perception of what it's like to vacation in New Jersey, but there's so much more to the shore than partying and wearing flashy clothing.

My Jersey shore experiences are all about the fun, food, and a beautiful setting.

I've been traveling to the shore often thanks to my aunt and uncle, owners of the Northwood Inn in Ocean City NJ. It is a treat to stay in one of the best B&Bs on the island. The Queen Anne style Victorian, was built circa 1894 and was restored inside and out by John Loeper. It has a porch that's made for sitting and knitting.

It would be a crime not to mention Marj's breakfasts. She's known for her orange chocolate chip muffins, but personally I am a fan of the lime nut muffins and the coconut bread. Marj will be sharing some of her recipes in the next few weeks. 

One of the unique and interesting attributes of the shore is the variety of colorfully painted victorian houses, known as "painted ladies." The Northwood has a palette of wheat, salmon and sage - beautiful, but calm in comparison to some other houses. Cape May, only 30 minutes from Ocean City is known for an abundance of beautiful Victorian houses. These lacy motifs and and historical colors inspired the Seashell Shawl. 


You can see how the intricately painted houses influenced the colors and detailing in this shawl. The yarn from Woolbearers in Mount Holly, NJ is a traditional colorwork yarn hand dyed in semisolid colors. 

When you stay in one of these nice houses, you can smell the ocean air coming in with the tides. On the beach, there are surfers, swimmers and sunbathers, but the beauty of the ocean is in the way the waves break at the shoreline. As they come in, they split into a bunch of smaller ripples, creating an interesting texture in the water. 

The Atlantic Ocean Cowl is inspired by the way these waves break on the sand. 


In between the ocean and the land there's the boardwalk. It's the center of the entertainment day and night with all the snacks, amusement parks, and arcades.

In 2012, hurricane Sandy decimated businesses along the coast. The boardwalk in many towns was hit hard. But in spite of the devastation, many people have worked hard to rebuild. On my most recent trip, reminders of the storm were almost unnoticeable and are mostly visible in placed where the planks on the boardwalk were replaced with new wood. 

You can see the repairs in this early morning photo taken before the shops open for the day and the crowds arrive.

The Boardwalk Wrap knit in Spark Story Toughie Sock is an openwork mesh perfect to wear on a warm day. The geometry in the lattice knit motif reminds me of the way the planks of the boardwalk make interesting patterns. It is hard to convey in a photograph just how nice this fabric feels to wear.

So what kind of businesses are along the boardwalk? Mostly surf shops and junk food, I cannot resist sharing a few images of food eaten during the Jersey Shore Knits shoot:

There was more, But I'll stop and tell you about another big part of what's on the boardwalk. Amusement parks are one of the biggest draws to the Jersey shore. These small family run establishments have none of the outrageous lines  and gimmicky feel of big parks, in fact many have historic carousels and an old time feel. They also almost always have a huge ferris wheel, acting as a beacon to guide arriving tourists towards the beach.

We were lucky enough to plan the photo shoot so that the annual opening of the parks was our last night there. It was a pleasure to see everyone out to celebrate and to photograph the Ferris Wheel Shawl, knit in MollyGirl yarn, right in front of those iconic lights.


You'll be hearing mor about these patterns, yarns, and locations over the next month, remember it's not too late to book a vacation to the shore, but if you 'd rather just knit your way there, check out the Jersey Shore Knits E-book on ravelry.

Monday, June 15, 2015

How to knit the lattice stitch

Tomorrow I'll be releasing my first pattern collection, Jersey Shore Knits, and in it there's a super airy openwork scarf inspired by the boardwalk.

You can see that this stitch is neither a traditional lace or mesh, it looks a lot more like crochet. It is in fact very different from other stitches that I have used before in patterns, but it's my favorite new thig to experiment with.

A closeup of  the base stitch looks like this:
It's something worth learning for summer and winter use, so I've put together a series of videos to show how it works.

The cast on

The base stitch


The bind off

You can use the stitch without the special cast on and bind off as well, so give it a go.

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