It’s no surprise that fall is our favorite season (hello, sweater weather!), and we started the season with hosting monthly giveaways. Our September winner was selected (at random) from tagging her MK project on social media and Tara won! When we reached out to her about it she sent over some photos along with her heartwarming story…
“When lockdown hit, our daycare closed and my husband and I had to work from home while caring for our six month old daughter. We have no family in the area and it was the most stressful time of our lives, but an angel came to our aid. Donita helped us by watching our daughter every afternoon after her own shift was over, buying us a precious few hours of focus time. Donita had her own share of difficulties over the summer, her husband was hospitalized three separate times for complications related to a heart condition. His heart condition left him cold all the time, bundled up in layers but still unable to feel warm.
I imagine I’m not the only knitter that feels a sense of duty when they hear a loved one is cold! So I looked for a worsted weight cardigan that would knit up quickly, be easy to layer, with a little nice design details but neutral enough to wear anywhere with anything. Forest Park cardigan by Kay Hopkins fit the bill perfectly. Went to Monarch Knitting and chose the beautifully heathered Hudson + West yarn in Charcoal for the main color and Ash for the contrast color. It was such a joy to knit with these yarns. High squish factor, beautiful color. Also, the kind folks at Monarch Knitting helped me understand knitting up the button band (it was my first time) and it came out perfect as a result of their advice.
Anyway, finished the cardigan in 2.5 months, a personal record. He was beyond excited and, as he was showing it off kept saying “It’s like it was tailor-made for me!” and I kept saying “it IS tailor-made for you!” I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful LYS in Monarch Knitting that has a wide range of beautiful yarns, notions, sample knits. I can only imagine how hard it’s been to get through COVID but I’m so glad to see you still open.”
Along with hosting Julie Hoover at Stitches this month, we got to sit down with the lovely creative behind some of our most favorite designs.
How did you get started knitting/into fiber arts?
As long as I can remember, I’ve had an affinity for fiber. As a youth, my mother had a rule that if we (my sisters) wanted to watch television, we had to be doing something useful at the same time, so there was always a craft project in my hands. I learned every form of fiber craft you can imagine, except hand knitting. It wasn’t until I was nearly 40 that I picked up knitting needles and discovered that I was a knitter.
What led you to designing?
I think designing is in my DNA, and it has played a role in every part of my professional and private life. I have a BA in Clothing & Textiles, which gave me a broad range of exposure (to chemistry, design, marketing, etc.) and has been useful in the other careers I’ve pursued before this one (all involving designing in one way or another). Once I began knitting, I realized the skills I had assembled up to that point had closed in a perfect circle around what I’m doing now.
We love your modern knitwear aesthetic! Where do you draw inspiration from or what inspires you the most?
I find a lot of inspiration from textures, patterns, and colors found in nature and architecture. The aspects that inspire me most are the subtle details and the negative spaces that draw the eye in quietly and celebrate a sense of proportion.
We’re completely smitten with you latest collaboration with Shibui Knits, can you share how the partnership came about? What inspired the beautiful colors and designs?
The collaboration began over lunch with Sandy Barnes, Shibui’s head sales manager, one day when she was visiting Ann Arbor. (I’ve known Sandy for over a decade, and she has always been so generous with her time and encouragement.) I threw out the idea of me developing a few colors that they might put in their yarn lineup, and she said it sounded like a great idea. Within a day, I put together a mood board and sent it to her. The colors I initially presented (except Glacier) went through a shift as we dug deeper into their customer and which bases to concentrate on; however, each one is a color I felt was worthy of a fashion-forward handmade wardrobe.
What piece in the collection do you find yourself reaching for the most? (We wear Post all of the time at the shop!)
I had to send all the samples away for trunk shows, so it’s hard to answer this question! I think when they come back to me at the end of the year, I will be reaching for Hahn and Layton, most.
When needles aren’t in your hands, what are some other hobbies/interests?
The one thing I look forward to most is when I have time to cook. (Surpassed only by my love for eating!) I also love to sew, but sadly it doesn’t happen often. We have a demanding weed situation around our property, so I am outside pulling them most of the year. Thankfully I enjoy being outdoors, and it’s often the only form of exercise (besides yoga) that helps keep me moving.
Favorite thing to listen to/do while you knit … podcast/book/movie/show/etc
Spotify is almost always playing on the speakers (Women of Acoustic, Roots Rising are two of my favorite playlists). When I’m knitting samples, I admit to curling up and binge-watching TV (political/spy thrillers or gritty detective series are particularly hard to resist). I listen to the NYTimes “The Daily” religiously and other news-related podcasts in the car. There’s an ever-growing list of audiobooks in a wishlist queue that I compete with my husband to download (currently listening to Malcolm Gladwell’s Talking to Strangers”).
Current WIPs, FOs or any sneak peeks into new designs?
I’m currently knitting a rectangular wrap in Shibui Knits Tweed Silk Cloud that will be released later in the Spring. My biggest priority after that is deciding what to do for Sweater Club 2020 (many swatches in the works), but I also hope to have time for a few other things as well.
Stitches West is this month! We’re so honored to host you in our booth alongside Shibui. Are you ready for a weekend of fun with our local knitting community?
Yes, I am looking forward to that!
After Stitches, what’s next up for Julie Hoover?
I have two retreats coming up and planning another for late Spring in Spain, plus a sweater workshop series at my local yarn shop. I keep my events page updated here: juliehoover.com/events.
Want more from Julie? Follow her Instagram feed – it’s always so inspiring! Julie Hoover
Today a collaboration between two of my favorite things in the knitting world has launched and I am so excited. Julie Hoover, the designer behind such beauties as Cline, Docklight and Redford and Shibui Knits have worked together to create a collection of color and design.
Julie has created 3 new colors for Shibui: Black Plum, “inspired by the fruit, at is most perfect ripeness”, Vintage Rose, “inspired by her favorite shade of matte lipstick” and Glacier, “inspired by the reflections of sky and water on a cold, clear day.” The colors run over five of Shibui’s bases: Nest, Twig, Pebble, Tweed Silk Cloud and Silk Cloud.
If you have been in the shop recently, you have seen these new additions to our Shibui wall, so they are no surprise to you. But, today? Today Julie’s knitwear collection has launched and I must say it is filled with classic, wearable pieces for your wardrobe.
Post, is a popover knit in Nest. This simple and elegant design is just what I adore so I had one knit up for me. The poncho/cape design allows for ease of movement and I love the detail along the seams.
Hahn is a sweater you could live in all of the time. Pebble and Silk cloud are combined in a relaxed v-neck sweater with just a bit of texture for interest. Soft, and especially lovely in Glacier, it is one of the standouts of the collection.
One of my favorite yarn combinations, Pebble held double, is featured in Julie’s design, Layton. Julie describes this sweater as a “pullover you want to live in”. Look at the detail on the turned up sleeve! That alone wants to make me put this on my needles!
Blume is a tulip-hemmed pullover that is a great layering piece when knit without sleeves. Add sleeves and you will have a lovely sweater to keep the chill off your arms. The design, in Twig and Silk Cloud, allows for a nice drape that is flattering all body types. Blume worn over a pair of black pants, classic!
Julie included an accessory in her collection as well. Wells is a reversible cowl worked in Pebble, Tweed Silk Cloud and Silk Cloud. With both a small and large version, for cozy doubling around your neck, this is a great basic.
Come see the yarns at the shop or if you are further afield we will have the collection at Stitches West (February 20-23) in Santa Clara. We are so excited as Julie Hoover will be joining us, along with Shibui, in the booth so please be sure to stop by and say hello and see this collaboration in person!
All photographs courtesy of Shibui Knits and Julie Hoover.
Instead of coming up with a new year’s resolution, which is usually broken within weeks of turning the calendar, this year I decided to focus on a word throughout the year.
The last couple of years have flown by too quickly and I feel rushed. This year my goal is to simplify things so I can take a breath. More time to spend with my husband, family, friends and pups. More time to be creative and, quite honestly, just be quiet.
My daughter drew a little reminder for me to put in the front of my calendar book.
Part of the way I am going to simplify my life is to not wait until the last minute to do things. This, my friends, is going be my toughest assignment yet because I am an excellent procrastinator. My goal in 2020 is to get it done, move on AND don’t circle back to make it perfect. Planning for Stitches, monthly newsletter tasks, emails, stuff around the house… whatever it is, I want to check it off my list. Can I bring the “touch it once” rule into practice?
I have even written “simplicity” on each page of my calendar to remind me to be focused.
Part of plan to simplify my little piece of the world will stretch into my knitting life too. I am going to focus on knitting things I truly love and will wear. 2020 will be the year I will knit what I want with joy. Last year was filled a ton of projects, this year’s productivity will be lower. (Do not fear, we will continue to have a lot of new samples in the shop…I have some amazing help in the lovely ladies of Monarch and some fabulous knitting friends.)
So, what do I want to knit this year? I know that I want to knit something out of a Hudson +West yarn. When we received the book, I Knit San Francisco, one sweater caught my eye. Ferry Building, knit out of Weld, is a great looking sweater; oversized but tailored. The sweater is designed by Sloane Rosenthal, a master of all things cabled. Euclid, a shawl by Isabel Kraemer, has also struck my fancy. I really admire her aesthetic and well written patterns. Knit in Phoebe or maybe a Shibui combination, it will be a stunner to wear!
Two projects I hope to knit this year were designed by some lovely people that I have been lucky enough to meet over my years as a shop owner. Elizabeth Doherty of Blue Bee Studio, a good friend and a great source of knitting inspiration, designed a pullover, Elorie, last fall. The slip stitch pattern creates a stunning yoke that flows into a beautifully draped sweater. While Elizabeth knit her sweater in Quince Kestrel, I might try mine in Woolfolk Far for a cozier version.
Shellie Anderson’s vest, Astoria is the perfect quick winter knit. A combination of Shibui Nest held double with Silk Cloud on a size 10 needle and no sleeves?… It is calling for a few rainy days filled with movies and knitting. The vest is simple and classic, just my kind of garment.
The message for me this year, will be to take a breath, to slow down and enjoy life and embrace all the little moments. I hope all of you find peace in the new year and can find time for yourself and what you hold dear.
Last year’s blog was launched with a blog post called “Knitting Intentions for 2019” in which I talked about my intentions for the new year, knitting and otherwise. So, I thought that it might be nice to take a look at what I knit in 2019.
(If you are counting, there are a couple missing as I gave them away!)
My 2019 knitting log was filled with projects! In 2019 I cast on 30 knitting projects, completed twenty-two, five are works in progress that I will finish over the next couple of months, one sits in my car and is used only if I forget my other knitting projects and I frogged four. If I cast a project on and dread working on in, I am not afraid to abandon the project and find another use for the yarn.
While I do knit to relax, the reality is, knitting is part of my JOB. As you know, seeing samples in a shop makes all the difference in the world and we, at the shop, are here to create them. So where you may knit for a couple of hours in the evening, I might knit for 5 or 6 hours in a day. No complaints here, I am lucky to do what I love! So on to what my fingers were busy with the last 12 months….
Top row – Mariechen by Isabell Kraemer in Rowan Felted Tweed, Turtle Dove by Espace Tricot in Woolfolk Luft, Weekender by Andrea Mowry in Shibui Pebble and Birch
Bottom Row – Mitchell Poncho by Shibui in Shibui Vine, Shifty by Andrea Mowry in Spincycle Dyed in the Wool and Versus, Clark by Sivia Harding in Shibui Nest
Top Row – Songbird by Shannon Cook in mYak Tibetan Cloud, Hipster Cowl by Joji Locatelli in Woolfolk Tove, Iqaluit by Petite Knitter in Magpie Swanky Sock
Middle Row – Mini Morning Walk Hat in Big Bad Wool, Beekeeper by Marie Greene in Quince Phoebe, Tiny Boats by Elizabeth Doherty in Hudson + West Weld
Bottom Row – Beloved Berlin by Isabell Kraemer Woolfolk Tynd, Thaliah by Andrea Mowry in Shibui Lunar and Birch, Anna’s Summer Cardigan by Petite Knit in Rowan Kid Silk Haze and Baby CashSoft
And I need to finish these pieces – Sleeves are all that is left on Machi by Rievive in mYak lace (coming to the shop soon). Jennfier Steinglass’s Aboreal, knit in Rowan Moordale, will get a lot of attention this week as I have some hospital waiting to do. Dunham in Shibui Nest and Silk Cloud, in my FAV color, Velvet, only has a few more inches to go! Ronin by Julie Hoover, knit in Shibui Silk Cloud and Fern, will be seamed in the quiet of January. (Sorry for the wrinkles, but hey, they have been squished in my knitting bag.)
A few pieces have not be photographer here: Destination Unknown by Cheryl Faust, featured on the January 2020 newsletter, Sunday Cardigan by Petite Knitter, Tincure by Andrea Mowry and Some Kind of Wonderful by Susan B. Anderson.
So there you have it… 2019 wrapped up with wooly hug.
Best wishes to all of you for a happy 2020. May you have peace and joy in your life and time to… Knit and be happy!
P.S. **check back on January 10th for my 2020 intentions**
What’s black, brown, and white and creates joy wherever he goes?
It’s Basher! Linus’s little brother and Monarch Ambassador in Training. He still has much to learn, skeins of yarn are not playthings, customers don’t want their laces untied, and those little teeth are sharp so don’t bite the hand that wants to pet you. But he couldn’t have a better mentor than Linus and he seems to be a quick study. We are looking forward to having him at Monarch on a regular basis.
It was a special 25th wedding anniversary gift for Ann as little Basher arrived as a surprise, just before midnight, on November 9th after a plane ride from Albuquerque. He will be all of twelve weeks old the first week of December.
Ann and Basher went to their first puppy class last week and he did well socializing with the other pups and work hard to listen to her and follow instructions. It was his first go at it but Ann thinks he shows potential to be a first-rate Monarch shop greeter.
On the home front Basher is learning to eat from his food bowl and not to try and sneak over to Linus’s dish for an extra snack. He is working hard to be Linus’s little buddy, still quite a bit of work to do in this area, but Linus is generous with his patience as Basher enjoys barking directly into his face and has taken over the stash of dog toys in the house. Progress is being made but it will be a bit of time before Linus refers to the young pup as his BFF.
Ann is making sure that Linus is getting extra doses of love, and special snacks, to help ease the new arrival into the family. He will always remain Monarch’s number one ambassador but we think he is looking forward to sharing the duty with Basher once he gets through his training period. After all there are plenty of Monarch dog lovers to go around and it will not be too long before there is double the Berner fun at your local yarn shop.
We’ve admired Sloane Rosenthal’s designs for quite some time now – classic knits with a modern flair that are wearable, wardrobe staples. She’s become known for her love of cabling, as well as her penchant for using thoughtful and inspiring yarns. Her latest endeavor, Hudson + West Co. is a product of that care. Grab a cup, pull up a chair and read all about her start into designing, her latest & beautiful collection, and her current favorites. (She’s certainly one of ours!)
How did you get started knitting/into fiber arts (background)?
I’m actually a bit of a late-comer to knitting, despite having a mom who knit and a grandmother who crocheted, and (later) a mother-in-law who knits as well. I started knitting shortly after my daughter (who is now 8) was born. I was pretty anxious as a new mom, and I desperately needed something to do with my hands. The meditative aspects of knitting really appealed to me initially and, like many things in my life seem to, it escalated pretty quickly.
We love your classic take on knitted sweaters and accessories! What led you to designing? Where do you draw inspiration from or what inspires you the most?
Thank you! I think, like a lot of designers, I started because I found a lot of things that were close-but-not-quite to what I wanted on Ravelry (and, when I was practicing law full time, a lot more time spent fantasizing about what I wanted to make than time actually making it). I did a lot of modifying, and eventually started working from a blank page myself.
Honestly I’m really most inspired by things I see in ready-to-wear. I do draw a lot of inspiration in terms of texture from our beautiful natural environment, but a lot of the silhouettes, the concepts, the overall drive behind the work really comes from what I see people wearing in real life and what I observe about how they interact with their clothes, and what they need them to do. I try to really take a step back in my design process and have a sense of what the overall finished garment will be and why it will or won’t work in my life (or “my knitter”’s life) before I get too into the details of how I want the stitch patterning to work. It has to have a “why” before the stitch patterns can really drive the math and the rest of the process — otherwise you end up with cables that look really cool but a garment you aren’t really sure what to do with.
Your latest endeavor, Hudson + West is stunning. Can you share more about the start of H+W (and why it is so special)?
Thanks so much! It’s been a really amazing project. Hudson + West was founded almost a year ago, right after Rhinebeck 2018. Meghan Babin and I knew each other from her days at Interweave Knits, and both of us were looking for our next projects. I had been doing a lot of freelance design work and teaching, but had been thinking about doing a yarn project for a long time. Meghan and I were both separately talking to Mary Jeanne Packer, from Battenkill Valley Fibers, about developing a new yarn, and MJ connected the two of us and said, “why don’t you do this thing together?” We have a really great combination of experiences—Meghan has a publishing background and I practiced law for a while before I started designing and publishing—so we’re fortunate that we have a lot of the foundational non-design-related skills to give the project legs.
Both of us have worked with a lot of different yarns over the years, and in my personal design work, I’ve been particularly focused on helping knitters learn how yarn choice and design go together, and how their yarn choice influences what their FOs turn out like. We had a lot of ideas about kinds of yarns interest us, but both of us were really drawn to making a really great garment yarn that would balance softness and wearability with texture, visual interest, and durability, and we wanted, for a variety of reasons, for it to be U.S. sourced and produced from sheep to skein. It took a little bit of trial and error, but we ended on a heathered blend of 70% merino, 30% corriedale that’s in our first two yarns, Forge and Weld.
There are a lot of things I love about our yarn in terms of the way we make and source it, how it feels and looks in the skein, and the colors we landed on, but to me the thing that’s most exciting about it is how it knits up, and how the finished garments look and feel. As we were getting the collection ready to shoot, I was getting all of our samples in from the independent designers we’ve worked with, and the texture was just this unbelievable balance of stitch definition, softness, and identifiably wooly charm. The heathering shows up really beautifully in the finished objects, but they look sophisticated and modern and totally at home in your closet, and while they’re soft enough to wear, they’ve held up incredibly well (seriously — the Weld sweater I wore at Rhinebeck is barely pilled after having been worn under my vest and backpack all weekend). You use your best judgment and experience about how a yarn is going to behave when you design it, based on what you know about structure and fiber blend and spinning technique and what have you, but it’s still been super exciting to see how the actual projects have turned out and how they’ve worn in the real world, and that we ended up pretty much exactly where we hoped we’d be.
What’s the process to create an American-made yarn line like?
Not a straightforward one, unfortunately. The reality is that there just isn’t a huge range of yarn and textile manufacturing resources in the U.S. right now (though we very much hope that’s changing, and that we’re helping support that resurgence). But, we’ve been incredibly fortunate in our manufacturing partners, who have not only helped us produce a yarn we really love, but have shared insights with us along the way that have been invaluable.
MJ Packer and her team at Battenkill Valley Fibers spin our yarn, and MJ also helps is with sourcing fiber. We’re hoping to operate at a scale that would make single sourcing (that is, buying fiber from a single farmer) would make sense, so we buy pooled fiber that meets our specifications as to breed, micron count and staple length, from sources that remain traceable. In our case, this means Corriedale from New York, and Merino from Colorado and New Mexico. Because Merino needs special equipment to scour and card, we source our Merino as what’s called “combed top,” which is then combined with Corriedale later in the process. The raw Corriedale fibers are processed directly at the mill. Our yarns are then dyed by Kim Livingston at Caledonian Dyeworks in Philadelphia, a family-owned dyehouse that’s been in business since 1911.
American wool — and the farmers who produce it — are amazing, and we want to be able to honor both that raw material and our values by turning it into the best yarn we can as traceably, sustainably, ethically, and environmentally responsibly as we can, and to us, this means doing it right here at home. We’re always trying to figure out how to streamline our process, minimize shipping, and be more efficient where we can.
It is not the cheapest or the easiest way to make yarn, but to us, the benefits of ending up with a product that both feels amazing to touch and that we can feel amazing about are worth it.
We’re so excited over the launch of this beautiful yarn. We’d love to know more about the H+W designs and the inspiration behind them.
We really, really wanted to build a collection of knitwear that was at home in knitters’ real lives.
I think both of us, like a lot of people in their early knitting lives, had a lot of what I used to call “Saturday morning sweaters,” the sweaters that you’ve knit and you’re excited that you knit them, but that never really fit into your day-to-day life because they don’t match the environment you really live in. You know the ones — they’re not formal enough for your work or they’re in colors that don’t match anything you have, or because it turned out that particular texture really wasn’t something you wanted to wear every day, or they’re the wrong silhouette for your life, or whatever, and so you end up wearing them with your PJs while you walk the dog, or while you lounge around, but they don’t get worn and lived in in your everyday life. And those are great to have, but we wanted to build a collection that was a little bit more in conversation with the ready-to-wear world, that had the kinds of sweaters that would make people say, “where did you get that?” And we wanted to do it using beloved knitterly techniques like cables and textured stitches, but to use silhouette and stitch pattern placement thoughtfully to keep the overall vibe really modern and wearable and sophisticated. We shot the Autumn/Winter collection in the DUMBO and Brooklyn Heights neighborhoods in Brooklyn, and I really love how effortless and at home the garments and accessories look there (even though, real talk, it was 90 degrees on the day of the shoot).
When needles aren’t in your hands, what are some other hobbies/interests.
Honestly I’m usually working out, at the barn, or with my family! I rode horses seriously as a kid and came back to the sport a couple of years ago, which has been an amazing (and also super humbling) experience. My daughter also rides, so some decent chunk of the weekend usually involves some mother-daughter barn time. We’re still pretty new to California (we moved here in 2015), so we try to spend some of the weekend out exploring new-to-us places that are within driving distance, going on hikes, etc.
Favorite thing to listen to/do while you knit … podcast/book/movie/show/etc
I’m totally a podcast person! I’ll watch TV while I knit, but there’s so much really great TV on now that I’m trying to actually watch enough to appreciate the visual storytelling in a way that I can’t always do if I’m staring at my needles (and every now and then, I need some single-tasking in my evening, even if it’s just to watch TV!). My faves are The Ringer’s Binge Mode, NYT’s The Daily, Radiolab’s More Perfect, and The West Wing Weekly and Passenger List from Radiotopia/PRX.
Current WIPs, FOs or any sneak peeks into new designs?
I’m on a hat kick lately, it seems—I’m working on a new freebie cabled hat pattern for our H+W Newsletter subscribers in Forge, and I just finished a colorwork hat for our winter collection. I’ve got a couple of sweaters I’m working on finalizing the math for for both our winter colorwork collection and Spring 2020, so I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to keep for myself and what I’m going to have to farm out to sample knitters. It took unbelievable restraint not to immediately bust open the skein of Forge in Red Feather that arrived at my house for product photography the other day, so there’s a good chance that might turn into a quickie hat for the holidays, too.
What’s next for you and H+W? Any shows/events/workshops?
We’re gearing up for our online and in-store launch in November, and working with our Flagships on trunk shows for late 2019 and early 2020. We’re also hard at work on our deep winter collection, which will feature a range of colorwork designs, and our spring collection, which features relaxed, textured knits perfect for life here in Northern California!
SEASON: Summer! Definitely not when I was in D.C., but summer is pretty fabulous both here in Northern California and where my folks are in Wyoming.
COLOR: Navy, grey, and cordovan
FOOD: Butter chicken
SIPS: Zinfandel from Grgich
YARN GAUGE: I was totally a worsted weight person until I knit with Weld! Now I’m torn.
PLACE TO KNIT: Our yard at home.
YARNS: Wools and wool-blends. I love a wool-silk two-ply for neck accessories, in particular.
We were so delighted that this month we got to chat with Shannon Cook, well known knitwear designer and creator of the stunning Songbird shawl. Read all about her start into knitting, her current favorites and what’s in store for Very Shannon, her beautiful brand…
How did you get started knitting/into fiber arts?
I got started knitting from my mom and Omi (my grandma) when I was a young girl. I’ve been hooked ever since.
What led you to Very Shannon/designing?
I started as a full time blogger after my first daughter was born 11 years ago. That led me to start designing sewing patterns and then into knitting patterns and that’s what I’ve been lucky enough to still be doing to this day.
We love your fresh take on knitwear and accessories – your designs are so lovely! Where do you draw inspiration from or what inspires you the most?
Thanks so much! I tend to find myself more and more inspired by my life if that makes sense. Certain things I’m experiencing or dealing with in my life I’ve now been using my designing as an outlet for healing or artistic expression. I’ve also always been heavily inspired by music, books and sometimes even storylines of tv/movie characters.
When you’re not busy with your little ones and cute pup, what are some of your other hobbies/interests?
I’ve recently gotten very into baking and have fallen in love with it. I started to learn to cook / meal plan for my families sanity (I was a complete newbie and dinnertime in our household was stressful) a while ago and slowly but surely I’ve come to enjoy and love it more and more. We’re currently getting ready to move in a few days as I type this and this summer was very stressful so baking became quite the soothing outlet for me. I also live with adult onset life threatening allergies to tree nuts (& peanuts) so eating out is not easy and learning to cook has helped me to regain control back over my meals and to make some of the yummies I had been unable to eat for years.
I also really enjoy sewing, reading (I’m a huge bookworm), drawing, photography, and other crafts like macrame, embroidery, and quilting. I also love yoga and a good cup of coffee…lol.
What are your most favorite fibers and colors to knit with?
I looooove wool. I’ve got a real soft spot for any wool that is great for texture (my fave!). I enjoy loft and squish factor for sure! As for colours, I’m a gemini so one day I crave gorgeous neutrals and the next I’m yearning for golden deep mustards and tones of turquoise and blues.
Current WIPs, FOs or any sneak peeks into new designs?
The last few months have been very hectic for our family so I have hardly had time to knit or design too much. I do have plans in the works for a sweater based on my Courage shawl as well as a few other accessories for next year. As for WIP’s I have a top and a pair of socks for myself on the go.
We love taking peeks into people’s knitting & notion bags! What’s in your notion bag? Or which bags do you like to use?
My current FAVE is my Project Tote from Bookhou – I take it with me everywhere! I also recently got the Moon Pouch from Ritual Dyes (my notions pouch is from her as well) and am so smitten with it as well as my Fringe Supply Co. bags etc for project storage. In my notions bag you will find stitch markers in a cute little flip open compartment container along with my darning needles, a wooden needle sizer/ruler, tape measure, my fave mechanical pencil, small dot journal, pen, my fave scissors and way too much more to type here…lol – I fill it to the max!
Favorite thing to listen to/do while you knit … podcast/book/movie/show/etc.
I’m a die hard tv/movie buff while working (esp while knitting) but I also read while knitting – I find I do that the most though when my kids are at classes or waiting for appointments etc. I do enjoy podcasts as well. When I have a lot of computer work or things like grading (I go with music…I’m a big music lover as well).
What’s next for Very Shannon? Any shows/events/workshops?
I don’t have many travel plans at the moment but what’s next for me is settling my family into our new home and continuing to work on finding balance in my life and more self-care. This helps to inspire and motivate my creativity & work life. It’s been an ongoing process after finding myself burnt out a few years ago from working too much for too long.
When you think of summer knitting, does you mind automatically turn to linen tops and scarves as light as a feather? Perhaps you have a simple pattern to follow as you travel to a favorite vacation spot or enjoy evenings out with your knitting circle. Well, oddly enough, my mind turns to fall and the many sweaters I want to incorporate into my wardrobe for the cooler seasons. My summer is filled with knitting swatches, yokes, button hole bands and sleeves.
Since the beginning of May, I have knit two sweaters. The first was the Sunday Cardigan by Petite Knit. This sweater is perfect to pop on when I want a big soft hug. Knit with Rowan Brushed Fleece, on nice, big needles, this pattern was a breeze. Nothing is quite as satisfying as getting a sweater done in about 10 days.
Ready for blocking and buttons!
Shify, the second sweater I completed, took a little bit of thought as I changed it from a pullover to a cardigan, lengthened it a bit and alternating the bands. I must admit, when I first started knitting the sweater, I thought that I would knit it as a store sample and then give it away when we were done displaying it. Once I got through the yoke, I fell in love with the fabric. The colors in the sweater remind me of a foggy day on our coast. I spent a long weekend at Squam Lake with friends where I had a ton of knitting time. We sat on the porch of our cabin or on the dock to knit, drink wine and take the beauty of Squam all in…and before I knew it, I had a sweater!
Ready for blocking and buttons!
(two projects same status, are you seeing a theme?)
(A few people have ask how I modified the sweater and that will be featured in an upcoming blog post.)
Six weeks and two sweaters down… and two shawls for projects of the month. What is next?
As I was perusing Instagram one Sunday I saw Julie Hoover’s new pattern Ronin. A long cardigan with big wide stripes? It was but a few hours before that was on my needles! Using Shibui Fern and Silk Cloud held double, I knit a swatch right away and started knitting. I am almost done with one front and plan to work on it over the 4th of July week. We have friends coming into town so there will be plenty of knitting time as we catch up.
For some reason I am obsessed with the idea of having an orange sweater. Fall is my favorite season. When my girls were home, I always loved routine of the start of school and all of the holidays. And I LOVE pumpkins. One of my college friends owns a personalized stationary business and she made me the most darling note cards with pumpkins on them.
(I just had to share them!)
I had three sweaters in mind to knit Tinder by Jared Flood, Mariechen by Isabell Kraemer and Ebbetts by Elizabeth Doherty. I could not decide between the three so I put them up to a vote on Instagram. Mariechen was the winner by a hair. I decided to use Rowan Felted Tweed in Ginger. So that will be my next cast on at the end of this holiday week. Can you tell that I like to have more than one or two or three projects going at the same time?
Photo by Isabell Kraemer
So there you have it, my knitting plan for summer. By the time Fall sets in, I will have four new sweaters ready for cooler temperatures!
It was an absolute pleasure to spend some time getting to know Kjerste, the powerhouse mixologist behind Wax&Wool. Read all about her start in the world of candle making, where she’s headed, and what’s currently on her needles…
What led you to start Wax&Wool?
Wax and Wool really grew out of a hobby that revealed itself over time to be a viable business option. When we needed to add a second income to support our family of seven, I knew I wanted to work from home. Candles (and originally hand-knits) were a natural choice for me. They were both outpourings of my creativity that had a marketable value. The added benefit was knowing I would love my job. It was (and is!) a win:win proposition.
From ocean breezes (hello, Pebble Beach!), to floral hints from cherry blossoms to complex sophisticated aromas… how did you develop a love for candles?
I still remember the first time I walked into a candle store as an adolescent. I was captivated by the beauty of the pure white soy wax candles, and by the ability to capture a particular scent that brought back so many memories and feelings, and could transport me to anytime and anyplace. I walked out of that store with a small travel tin candle that I could take anywhere with me, and with a deep love for candles.
Do you have an absolute favorite scent?
Amber Noir, hands down. Runners up are Tobacco, Evergreen State, and Brown Sugar & Fig.
We love sneak peeks of your workspace! What’s a typical day like in your Studio?
Derek, my husband, aka The Shipping Department, fills Big Bertha, our wax melter, at 6 am. I wander out at 8am to get the heaters running and check in on what needs to be done for the day. Pouring starts just after 9am, and continues off and on through school pick up runs and nap time and after school activities. After 8pm when the kids go to bed, we start labeling stock, pulling orders and shipping. During slow season, we try to be done for the night by 9 or 9:30. During Busy Season (fall, holidays, and early winter), we try to make 11:30 our cutoff, but that doesn’t always happen.
When you’re not busy being the mixologist and hand pouring wax in your studio, do you find time to knit? Current WIPs, FOs or next knitting project?
I’m an obsessive knitter and never leave the house without a project. I even have an emergency sock project in my minivan! I knit when I’m standing in line or waiting for the kids, sitting at the library and the park, and always before bed. It’s a regular part of my every day, and I often tell people I depend on it for my sanity. I’ve recently branched out into pattern design, and I’m excited to be working with some magazines and stores to get some patterns published in the next 12 months.
What are some of your other hobbies/interests?
I love to entertain, and regularly host the neighborhood over for dinner. We eat together every Monday night, and I love feeding my people! Someday I want to publish a cookbook based on the recipes I’ve developed to feed a crowd.
Favorite thing to listen to/do while you work/knit …
I love audiobooks and British television: Current audiobook is The Hate You Give, Favorite shows are Foyle’s War and Father Brown.
You’ve hosted several pop-ups over the last year, so exciting! What’s in store for Wax&Wool next? (If you’re ever in Pacific Grove, we’d love to host you!!!)
I would love that! Our upcoming events include Knit City Live, Indie Untangled (fingers crossed!), Stitches West, and Vogue Knit Live Seattle.