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
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.
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.
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12th this year and when thinking of gifts to give for our dear ones, we thought of the perfect gift idea: a Monarch Knitting wish list! Have you started yours? It’s not too late! Start adding goodies and ideas to your list to share with your family and friends.
Then, from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm on Saturday, May 4th, we’ll host a wish list event for those shopping for mom. We’ll have doughnuts, coffee and pretty gift wrapping, too. A perfect little outing for dads and kids to partake!
If your shoppers cannot make it in that day, not to worry – we will have your wish list available at anytime so they can shop for you at their leisure!
We’ve put together some ideas for you to share with your loved ones! Visit our web store anytime for a selection of kits, notions, yummy yarns and more.
It has been such a wonderful treat to get to know one of our favorite designers a bit more! Please join us as we welcome the ever so lovely and so very talented, Julie Weisenberger of Cocoknits.
How did you get started knitting/into fiber arts?
I learned to knit while studying at the university in Salzburg, Austria – and completely fell in love!
What led you to Cocoknits/designing full time?
I had several jobs after college, but was always designing and knitting on the side…and one day a shop owner said they’d buy my designs. So I found knitters in Ireland and had them knit my designs – and sold to Henri Bendel, Nordstrom and many smaller boutiques across the country. This was all before designing for handknitters-
What’s a typical day like for you/at Cocoknits?
Oh man, wouldn’t it be nice if I could say I just knit all day?! Actually, like any business, it’s so much busy-work! Answering emails, paying taxes and bills, making sure everything is running smoothly while planning for the next show or workshop. Everyday is different, but for me it’s pretty much 7 days a week of at least a partial work day!
Where do you draw inspiration from or what inspires you the most?
I love to people-watch while traveling, as well as keep my eye on my favorite boutiques and designers and the inspiration is constant – I wish I had more time to knit and design!
When you’re not traveling and teaching around the world, what are some of your other hobbies/interests?
Well, I’ll never turn down a fabulous meal or glass of wine! I also love gardens and architecture and wandering through museums…
You’ve taught countless workshops and classes, do you have any favorites?
I still LOVE teaching the Cocoknits Method…at some point the lightbulb goes on – whether it’s the shoulder construction or the ease of the worksheet – almost everyone falls in love and I don’t think I’ll ever tire of that!
We absolutely love the Cocoknits Method! How did this come about?
Years of teaching and designing – and listening to my students! I’m always paying attention to what they like and dislike – so my challenge was to find the easiest and most seamless way to knit the most flattering sweaters! It all came together in one class at Clara Parkes retreat several years ago – and then I knew I had to write a book.
What’s your most favorite fibers and colors to knit with?
Um, my favorite today?! 😉 I can say I will never tire of WOOL and I’m a sucker for un-dyed or very natural colors – especially naturally dyed…
Current WIPs, FOs or any sneak peeks?
I just launched Olivia, Amy and Renee…and have two more coming soon. And I’m never not working on new designs, so stay tuned!!
Can we just take a moment to gush over all of the wonderful cocoknits knitting accoutrement? We love them all! Can you share a bit about them? Any new ones?
Thank you!! At some point I just got so frustrated with the lack of quality tools for knitters – I decided to just jump in and make my own. I avoid plastic and garish colors in every other part of my life, so why was I accepting it in my knitting life? No more bright green or pink plastic, please…I would like knitting to be taken seriously as a craft for women – not seen as a joke. No one laughs at a man for his woodworking hobby – it should be the same for women and knitting.
The latest are the 4-corner linen/leather bags and the washable kraft Accessory Roll and Project Portfolio – which I hope people will use for everyday life beyond knitting!
Favorite thing to listen to/do while you knit … podcast/book/movie/show/etc
I “watch” tv while knitting – and love pbs, netflix, prime, hulu….there is so much good stuff. I’m bad about listening to podcasts and I should probably start listening to books on audible since it’s hard to keep up with my reading!
Where can our readers find you? Any sneak peeks/what’s in store for Cocoknits?
Find us at Cocoknits.com and we have a BRAND NEW website launching hopefully the first week in March so please give it a spin and let us know how you like it. We are hoping it is a more streamlined experience for people and you’ll still have all your patterns in your cocoknits account whenever/wherever you need to access them…
We’re so excited to see your new website! Thanks for visiting our blog and we hope to see you soon, dear Julie!
We’ve had quite the exciting last year here at Monarch: a ton of new projects, vending at new knitting conventions (hello, Vogue Knitting Live!), fantastic workshops led by wonderful makers, inspiring interviews, and the addition of some really beautiful new yarn brands onto our shelves. Here are some of our most popular posts and a collection of our favorites.
The Latitude Pullover by Elizabeth Doherty has been such a popular project in the shop! Once Ann knitted her own and gushed about how fun the pattern is to knit, so many of you wanted to cast-on as well. Our dear Jana knitted one in her favorite color, orange!
This has been our second year vending at Stitches West and we must say, we absolutely love it! It’s always so much fun to see so many clients from home and those from afar visit us in our booth. And getting to partner with our friends Shibui Knits is such a treat! We’re so fortunate to work alongside Sandy Barnes and Britt-Marie, too. They even joined us in San Francisco for Vogue Knitting Live. We cannot wait to work with them again at Stitches West 2019 in February!
We were so excited and honored to add three gorgeous bases of the Plucky Knitter to our shop. Their fibers, colors and overall aesthetic are just what we adore. Plus, they are just the friendliest! We loved knitting up the Whirlwind cowl with their Scholar yarn.
Another new favorite this year was the addition of The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers. Just absolutely stunning yarns! Read more about Candice, the owner and dyer of this beautiful brand.
It was such a treat to host Marie Greene of Olive Knits for two workshops this year. She even designed a shawl just for us! The Pacific Grove shawl is knit up in one of our favorite cashmere yarns, Lux Adorna and it is such a fun project. We look forward to working with Marie again next year… more on that soon!
happy five years.
Last but not least, we celebrated 5 years as the new Monarch Knitting! All in thanks to the support of our community, both near and far. We love opening our doors each day to welcome our wonderful community into our knitting home. We look forward to more happy projects, posts, events, workshops, and of course more photos of our sweet Linus!
From all of us at Monarch Knitting, we wish you a Happy New Year!
We’d like you to join us in welcoming Candice English, the brilliant creative behind The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers. We are so overjoyed to now carry a selection of her yarns at the shop: Squish Fingering, Craggy Tweed DK, and Squish Worsted. It’s been such a pleasure working with and getting to know Candice! We hope you’ll find this wonderful post just as inspiring as we have…
Your story behind your brand is rooted in history. How did you get started with fiber arts? What motivated you to start dyeing yarn?
My paternal grandmother did about every fiber art you can imagine, her craft room would put all of us to shame! I grew up doing a lot of cross stitching with her and I think the fiber arts was pretty embedded in me. It wasn’t until my early 20s when a friend taught me to knit, I was pregnant with my daughter and I became immediately obsessed. My Mom, sisters, and cousins are all extremely artistic – they can turn nothing into something beautiful. Whether it’s food, buckskin, wood, painting, beading, we all use an instinctual guide to our art. I knew almost nothing about dyeing yarn besides some plant dyeing I had experimented with, but woke up one day to find myself 30 something years old, working 60 hours a week in a corporate job, never seeing my kids, and my marriage kind of falling apart. I had this vision in my head how to put all of this creative energy I had pent up, and knew my color palette was fairly unique. So I dove head first into creating The Farmer’s Daughter Fibers. It was all out of place of desperation, cultural heritage, instinctual creativity, and a passion for knitting and yarn!
Your yarns are beautiful! Can you tell us a little more about Squish Fingering, Squish Worsted and Craggy Tweed?
Thank you! Squish Fingering and Squish Worsted are great workhorse yarns. They will basically do just about anything you ask of them. I love them for gift knitting, because they are easy to care for. Craggy Tweed is one of my favorite yarns to knit with, the little tweedy neps are so fun to work up.
Which patterns do you recommend for these yarns?
There are just so many to choose from these days! My current favorite in my closet and in my queue are Caitlin Hunter’s Ninilchik Swoncho for the Craggy Tweed. I wear that sweater at least three times a week, and I think everyone needs a swoncho! I also have some Squish Fingering stashed away for Caitlin’s Marittimo, it is going to be my Spring time knit! I am also dying to cast on the Nightshift Shawl by Andrea Mowry with some Squish Worsted. Too much to knit, so little time!
When you’re not dyeing, creating and being all around stellar at running your business, what are some of your other passions and/or hobbies? Knit, crochet, weave or all of the above?
Knitting of course, I still like to cross stitch once in a while and weaving is so relaxing. I am an avid reader and try to get up to the Mountains as much as I can to hike and explore! It’s my happy place.
We’re always looking for pattern inspiration, what’s currently on your needles or in your queue?
Right now I am currently working on the Rug Sweater by Junko Okamoto, not in FDF yarns but I think it’s important that I do some selfish knitting! Also, I’m desperate to knit everything in the new Winter issue of Pom Pom!
Favorite thing to listen to/do while you work and/or knit?
I typically watch TV shows and movies when I am knitting and I have been watching a lot of oldies lately. I think it must be the weather! John Wayne and the Cowboys is my current favorite, Lonesome Dove is another classic I watch every December. I just watched Urban Cowboy for the first time last weekend, now I want to take some two-step lessons! And while working, I typically don’t have a lot of background noise, boring but effective for me to stay focused.
It looks like you’ve had quite the busy last year (we love your studio space!), what’s in store for FDF for next year?
2018 was such a crazy whirlwind! We have a lot of fun events planned in 2019, our upcoming ones are VKL NYC, Stitches West, another trip to the East Coast in May, and our retreat in June. I am also super excited about some upcoming collaborations in 2019 with my near and dear fiber friends, stay tuned!
We can’t wait for your upcoming announcements! It’s always such fun and so inspiring to follow along with you on IG – always gorgeous shots of your yarn, projects, and Montana! Where can our readers find you online?
Thank you! We are so excited to be apart of the Monarch Knitting community!
On most days at the shop, you will find a cheerful, smiling, loving manager who is always ready and eager to help. Even amidst the piles of patterns to organize, shipments of new yarns to check in, orders to go out, shelves to be sorted, teaching classes, the list could go on – Koryn is there with a warm greeting to any who walk into Monarch. After taking some time off to be with her new little one, she is back at the shop and has indulged us here on our blog. We’ve all missed her so!
How did you get started knitting/into fiber arts?
I have always been interested in any craft I could do with my hands. I did a lot of macrame and beaded jewelry. I even worked part-time for about a year with a Venetian glass jewelry designer. The first thing I ever did with yarn was a big crocheted afghan that took me about 2 years to finish! While walking through a craft store looking for other projects to get my hands on, I found myself very attracted to the look and feel of some knitted items. I bought some yarn, needles and my first knitting book (Knitting for Dummies, ha!) and taught myself to knit a scarf….I was hooked!!! I could not put my needles down! I was so excited when I discovered Monarch Knitting in 2006. I started visiting often looking for new pretty things. I visited so often in fact, that I decided to ask for a part time job. I was shocked when I got hired on the spot! I had very little knitting experience but I made it a goal to absorb as much knit-knowledge as I could. I learned a lot from my co-workers, books and tons of practice, practice, practice! Turns out I was a knitting sponge! I was obsessed with all of the colors, textures and the endless possibilities. I had no idea my part time just for fun job would turn into my full time passion. I have been a part of Monarch Knitting ever since.
What’s it like to work at every knitter’s dream job?
I’m so happy to come to work everyday! I feel constantly inspired by all of the colors and possibilities. I also really enjoy teaching and sharing all of my knit-knowledge. My absolute favorite thing about my job is all of the talented wonderful people I meet everyday. We really do have quite an amazing knitting community here. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it. I was lucky enough to have met our Ann years ago and have since had the opportunity to help build such a beautiful shop we have today. I feel so proud of Monarch and how it has grown and continues to grow! (See some of us with Shibui below at Stitches West!)
When you’re not being a boss at managing Monarch, what are some of your other hobbies/interests?
I do love spending time with my hubby, Patrick, and my family. I love doing anything outdoorsy like camping and hiking. Yosemite is actually one of my very favorite places in the world! We try to visit once a year. On the flip side, I can also be kind of a homebody. I do enjoy my Netflix and knitting!
How do you keep from not buying everything in the store?
Oh my! That is hard!! I want just about every little thing in this shop! I have accumulated quite a collection of yarns over the years just like most crazy knitters.
What are some of your most favorite yarns/patterns?
These days I am really into anything Shibui. I recently finished a beautiful pullover by Elizabeth Doherty called Dillion (shown here). It is Shibui Pebble and Birch, held double. The fabric has the most coziest feel!! I am in love with Elizabeth Doherty’s patterns! Not only are they fun and interesting to knit from start to finish, they fit just perfectly. Her designs make you feel like a million bucks when you put them on! I’m hoping to add more of her sweaters to my wardrobe.
Hedgehog Fibres has caught my attention these days too. I’m in love with their colors!! I cannot resist! I have been knitting cute little ankle socks (Rose City Rollers, shown below) out of Sock Mini skeins. Quick and satisfying! I also have a collection of sock skeins at home to knit Andrea Mowry’s So Faded pullover. In case anyone hasn’t noticed… I love Andrea Mowry!! I have knit several of her patterns. I love her style! I am a huge fan of Caitlin Hunter too. Her pattern called Marettimo has caught my eye recently.
Oh Spincycle how I love you!! I can’t stop knitting with this yarn! I have now knit 3 projects with Dyed in the Wool. Andrea Mowry’s Harlow hat and Shift cowl have been my most recent. Its such a unique beautiful yarn. The self striping colors just grab me. I will definitely be knitting more things with it in the near future. I’m thinking a fair isle yoked pullover for winter perhaps. So many great yarns. I can go on and on!
We love taking peeks into people’s knitting & notion bags! What’s in your notion bag?
A tin full of markers! I have a lot of Cocoknits accessories (love their Maker’s Keep!). Darning Needles, pom pom maker (I LOVE making pom poms!) crochet hook, cute scissors, waste yarn (for provisional cast on or holding stitches), & pens.
You’ve taught countless workshops and classes at the shop, do you have any favorites?
I really enjoy teaching just about anything. My absolute favorite thing is Fair Isle. I love working with color and showing others how EASY it really is! Watching my students eyes light up when they finally get the hang of it is the best feeling. Fair Isle makes you feel like a genius. I’m excited to be teaching the Gretta Fair Isle hat class in January.
Also, I am having fun teaching brioche these days – it’s a little more of a challenge but I love a challenge! It such a fun & beautiful stitch. It’s has been so popular I see it more and more on Ravelry and Instagram these days.
Congratulations on your new adventure into motherhood. We are all so overjoyed that little Reid is here. He probably holds lead for the largest handmade wardrobe! We just love his little knitted Baby Smiles hat you knit for him. So precious!
I just want to say a really big THANK YOU to everyone!! You have all shown me so much love and support. All the well wishes and wonderful gifts I have been given for little Reid really mean a lot to me and my little family. I’m so lucky to have so many amazing knitting friends! All is well and I have adjusted comfortably to being back at the shop full-time again. It feels so inspiring to be back!